Archive for September 2011

Monthly Archive

It’s Time For A Flu Shot

Why To Get A Flu Shot (Cliff Notes):

Influenza causes more hospitalizations than any other vaccine-preventable illness. It’s not just kids at risk for complications (asthmatics, diabetics, children with complex heart disease or immune problems) that die from the flu. Nearly 1/2 the children who died in this last year in the US were well, healthy children. PREVENT influenza, get a flu shot for all the members of your family. Although the flu vaccine dose is the same as last year, it’s recommended we all get a dose this season. For children who didn’t have a dose last year under the age of 9: they need 2 doses this year, separated by 1 month.

Links worth reviewing:

10 Things To Know About Influenza

Seasonal Influenza 2011-2012 from the AAP

Summary describing CDC data on complications and deaths from Influenza this past year

Flu Information from Seattle Childrens

ERRATA: I said that 46% of all children who died between Aug 2010 and Aug 2011 were healthy kids. The correct number is even higher: 49% of the 115 children who died in the US were healthy children without significant flu risks. My apologies.

We Can Engage With Grace?

Our kids teach us a lot about life. Doesn’t matter if they’re in-utero, a newborn, a toddler, or a teen. An obvious statement of course, but not only do our children teach us about their journey, they teach us about our own. Today it happened again, O taught me something. He reminded me about self. He reminded me about our need to be who we say we are and our need to perform at our best. When we don’t, it can unravel us.

It is our own disappointment in self that stings the most. I thought about this while reading Dr Atul Gawande’s recent New Yorker piece entitled Personal Best. To me, Dr Gawande’s courageous act of getting an expert coach exceeds his desire to better himself as a surgeon and beat the national averages on complications. He wants to stay true to himself; he wants ongoing improvement and escalating precision. He doesn’t want to let himself down. If we let others down, it feels absolutely terrible. When we let ourselves down by acting against our integrity or mission, it can feel far worse. Visceral. Two things converged on me today: Read full post »

Helicopter: You Betcha

The husband just took the training wheels off of F’s bike this morning. Mind you, F never really needed the training wheels as he’d already learned how to balance on two wheels with his “balance bike” as a toddler. But this morning, as sun cast gorgeous light over Seattle, we realized there were 2 days left of summer here in the Pacific Northwest. So, my dear husband proclaimed it was time.

Thing is, the training wheels have been on for me. I’m terrified of that bike. I worry about speed, my loss of control over major injuries and big falls for my little boy, and I worry about the greater transition to him biking off and away from home. Remember when he got the bike in July? Well, I admit it, I’m scared of it. And even though the training wheels never really govern F’s speed or his decisions, they have been a great security blanket for me.

Helicopter parent, you betcha.

I really don’t care what you call me. Okay, I do on some level, please be nice. But know I have distaste for the labeling of parenting “styles” and decision-making. Particularly when it enters the research world. I hated the media blitz earlier this month about the study describing the risks surrounding “helicopter parents” and obesity. I mean, come on. All this categorizing doesn’t really help us. I may be “helicopter” with this decision and then absent-minded-laissez-faire with another. You, too?

Please wish me luck. F doesn’t need the luck, of course; part of me knows he’ll do very well and make good decisions. We’re having our dry run, sans the 3rd and 4th wheel, around 5pm today.

What about you? Was it a no-brainer to shed the training wheels? Tell me your tips on how to make this better (for both of us).

I know as the boys get older the ante is only uped. Read this post by The Teen Doc where she talks about keeping your hands on your lap while watching the accident happen. Phew. Thank goodness I have 11 more years to prepare.


One Family Meal, A World Of Difference

Good Reads (Data) On Family Meals:

Correlations Between Family Meals and Teen Well-Being

Adolescent Risk and Mealtime Routines

Don’t have 100 or so seconds? Here’s the Cliff Notes on what I said:

Family meals matter. Not because of the fruits and veggies but because of the communication that occurs. Any meal can be a family meal (breakfast on Tuesday or supper on Sunday). Don’t think only about dinner. Aim for 100% of your family at these precious events, but I say anything over 50% will make a difference in not only your child’s, but also your life.


Work Life Balance? Milk And Cookies?

After a great day in clinic yesterday, I was up until nearly 2am this morning tidying my email inbox, meeting some deadlines, and readying for a talk tonight on work and life and finding balance. The timing of this talk bleeds irony, I know. I also acknowledge I’ve already used up my one night allowance of sleeplessness this week– if you’re keeping score (see my most recent blog post).

Tonight, I’m presenting on behalf of PEPS about finding balance in our transitions back into work outside of our homes and finding peace with the juggle between caring and loving our children while finding meaning in our work. I’ll talk about disobeying the rhetoric/rules that others share about “work life balance.” I’ll talk about my experiences as a working mom, I’ll share lessons I learn from my patients, I’ll share some research, and I’ll discuss some tools you can use to improve behavior change.

If you want to hear a bit of my thoughts– or better– if you’d like to school me on how to make this all work, please join me. Tell me what you think and know. I expect, like so many experiences in my life, I’ll get a lot more out of this than I’m able to give. I’m told there will be milk and cookies, too. Incentive enough?

RSVP: PEPS Parent Talk Lecture Series


5 Things From My Online Sabbatical

There are 5 things I took with me from my online sabbatical in August. Know, however, I didn’t do as stellar of a job staying offline as I’d hoped and the 5 things are harder to hold onto than those numbers you see me grasping right there. I’d envisioned an entire month like the family photos: unplugged, disconnected, liberated, and focused. It wasn’t entirely like that. Clinic got nuts a few times, there were minutes I was still staring at my phone and hours every day I’d sit at the computer responding to emails, there were upsetting mega-tantrums from the boys and there were a few phone calls I fielded with bad news from friends. There were moments I felt inexplicably tired despite the uptick in sleep. All was not peace on earth.

Yet, let me be very clear: the month away was worth it. I learned a bit more about my relationship with technology, who I am as a person amidst 2011 information flow, and how I want my life as a parent and person to change.

Clearly, part of the experience of being a parent is housed in the soul.

You know this. Something happens the day you become a parent. Like a huge shift in your footing, that unexpected large wave washing out the sand where you stand, or how it feels in your toes when you try to gain traction running downhill. It happens without our control. The transition is very loud yet somehow its inaudible. It’s huge, unquestionably bigger than any anticipation and warning about having a child. Being a parent is greater than our own capacity to explain it thereafter. And it’s tactile, although you can’t really feel the transition to parenthood like you feel a touch on your skin on a warm day or the cold air when you walk out into a mid-January night. Rather, you feel it shift inside. Somewhere in an unidentified part of who we are that isn’t detailed in the anatomy textbooks. Becoming a parent is becoming more aware. My time away helped me see this. So, here are the lessons:

Read full post »

Every Teen Needs A Yearly Physical

HPV Vaccine Safety

The current conversation about HPV vaccine is a perfect example that anecdotes about health are powerful. My belief: anecdotes with evidence can be more powerful.

I am going to write a series of blog posts about HPV virus and HPV vaccine. Please tell me what you want to know. What questions do you have about HPV vaccine safety? What concerns do you have about HPV virus in girls and boys, women and men? What can I clarify? I plan to write stories from my own practice, interview adolescent medicine experts, and talk with pediatric vaccine researchers. Who else should I talk to?

In clinic, I recommend HPV vaccine to girls at their 11-year visit. I talk about the shot yearly thereafter with girls and their parents if they haven’t completed the series. Boys can also get HPV vaccine (HPV4) to prevent genital warts. One of the most challenging parts of protecting girls (and boys) from HPV virus is completing all 3 shots in the series. In Washington State for example, over 69% of our girls have received the first HPV shot, but only 45% have completed all three.

For starters, here is a link from the CDC summarizing questions about HPV vaccine safety: HPV Vaccine Safety

And here’s a statement from the AAP about HPV vaccine in the news:

The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity. In the U.S., about 6 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.

Fast-Paced Media And 4 Year-Olds: Cartoons On The Brain

A new study, along with an incredible editorial, was published today in Pediatrics about the effects of watching fast-paced cartoons on the attention and working memory of 4 year-olds. It’s basically a Spongebob versus Crayola versus Caillou show-down. At least it feels that way in the media summaries today. And thus, it’s bound to hit the front pages of every parent’s windshield. First and foremost, it’s a genius study for getting the word out and attracting media attention–media love to talk about media. Especially when it comes to the effects on children; all forms of media are looking for a viable option for longevity. There is just so much competition now.

Also, the study is interesting. Plain and simple, I couldn’t wait to read it. We watch Caillou around here and my husband and I like to dissect and ridicule it (in private)–everything from the outfits to the color scheme to the lessons. As a parent, it’s kind of painful to watch–its just so utterly wholesome and slow. On the flip side because of this goodness in the the content and pace, we feel less “guilty” letting the boys watch it. The result has been a win-win: the boys looooooove it–I mean, love it–and we pat ourselves on the back for the choice. Good media is far better than bad media, we think. Fortunately, the data backs up our instinct. And this helps with our mommy-daddy-guilt. We’re a really low media viewing house, but not the lowest. We have friends whose children don’t see a screen for months at a time. Read full post »

What Can Babies Do At 12 Months? Seattle Mama Doc 101

I found my sons’ first birthdays very emotional. Magical, even. Looking back provided great perspective on how much can happen in 1 year of time. What our children accomplish in the first 12 months is simply astonishing.

Expected milestones at 1 year of age:

AAP’s comprehensive summary of 12 Month Milestones

CDC’s Important Milestones By The End of 1 Year (English & Spanish)