Author Archive

Washington State Measles Outbreak: What To Do For Infants And Children

There is a measles outbreak unfolding in Washington. Unfortunately, there have been multiple outbreaks across the US in the past few months. Here’s info about outbreaks in 2018, as well.

The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. If you’ve hesitated or declined the vaccine in the past, please reconsider the science and risk to your child and their community now.

I haven’t written much about measles since 2015, but an outbreak in Washington State has prompted me to send out a few reminders. The first thing to know, which I know I already said, is that the MMR vaccine (protects children and adults against measles, mumps, and rubella) is safe & highly effective. If your children are immunized there is very little to worry about during a measles outbreak. The 1st dose (and 2nd dose for those infants and children who didn’t respond to the first) of the vaccine work to trigger lifelong immunity. Typically after the 1st dose (at 12 months old), 95% of people are protected for life. The 2nd dose (age 4) protects those not protected from the 1st dose and brings protection to 97-99%. If your child hasn’t had a 2nd dose of the MMR vaccine and you live where widespread measles infections are being reported, you can get the 2nd dose of MMR now as long as it’s been 1 month since the 1st dose. Call your pediatrician to inquire if you’re interested. The bottom line: immunized children can play and go to school and go to assemblies and even visit a clinic safely during an outbreak because the vaccine is so effective. Hurrah for science!

What To Know About Babies Too Young To Be Immunized For Measles(MMR):

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Teens, Technology, And Parenting in 2019

Happy Friday all! As promised, here’s a quick recap of last night’s event with Common Sense Media on tweens, teens, and technology and the effects it’s having on their developing brains. I learned so much participating on the panel alongside Dr. Mike Robb & Dr. Pat Kuhl and hearing from parents and educators who attended. I think we are all feeling a lot of anguish and overwhelm when it comes to deciding how much time we let our children use devices, what types of content we let them access, when they should have a smartphone, digital peer pressure, the list goes on and on. My goal for this post is to aggregate the best takeaways and tips that were shared last night in the hopes that it brings you some clarity and actionable steps to set your family up for digital success.

You can view the entire event online, at your convenience, on the Seattle Mama Doc Facebook page.

Tips For Parents – The Event’s Top 15 Takeaways:

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Devices, Gaming, And Smartphones Are Changing How We Live And Who We Are

I’m speaking tonight on a panel about tweens, teens, and technology and the impact it’s having on our children’s developing brains and well-being with Common Sense Media’s lead researcher, Dr. Mike Robb and University of Washington brain researcher, Dr. Pat Kuhl. The event is sold out because I think we’re all overwhelmed about the challenge of growing up digital. AND what is happening to our children. So if you haven’t registered- no worries – you can watch live on the Seattle Children’s Facebook page from 6:00 – 7:30 PM PST tonight. I will also share the video on my Facebook page tomorrow if that timeline doesn’t work for your schedule. The reality is, we are living in a new time where our tween and teens are exploring video games, smartphones, and screen time en masse. Just shy of 90% of teens have smartphones so this really is a everyone-issue. Fortnight has 200M users and people literally sit around on Youtube watching people play. Further, this isn’t just about being strict or employing numeric rules for devices. Many of us know that the challenge is more nuanced than “screen time” and just setting time limits. These smartphones are changing how we all live and ultimately who we all are. What does this mean for our children and their brains as they grow themselves into adulthood? And what does it mean for their mental health and connection? Their sense of belonging and their sense of safety…and what does it mean for our relationships with them? Read full post »

Bounty

It’s been a really long time since I blogged here about the comings and goings of life with two little boys. When the blog began (9+ years ago) I journeyed much more of the day-to-day raising, the emotional swings and glories, the experience practicing pediatrics, and the maneuvers it took to endure it all. And to enjoy it. I shared so much with the public then because I was learning that it could both be beautiful and meaningful for me to do so as a writer and pediatrician, but also could position the relevance of new science and bring the importance of believing it when making decisions (hint: vaccinate) into scope.

Work and life and my mind have gotten busier. The boys have gotten bigger. I’ve more fiercely protected their privacy in not sharing as many stories here. I’ve moved ideas and storytelling to other more constrained channels (TV, Instagram, Twitter, Alexa, speaking, new work). In the beginning, there were loyal readers and commenters; I would think about them when moments happened and I’d sit down to write in part because I wanted to share with them how I felt and why it mattered. So we could raise our children as best we could, together. And I know we haven’t grown the blog up over time, in fact, the way it looks today is exactly the way it looked when I wrote the first post in 2009. So in some ways it’s slowed down as my efforts at work and in digital health have really picked up.

But this morning there was a moment that swept me sideways a little. It was just so pretty. All of the sudden I wanted to share it here with you. And some of those long-ago loyal readers. So if this reaches you Viki, please enjoy.

Like a twinkle you see in a dark sky, the one you can sometimes feel might have traveled through the universe at the speed of light just for you to notice the change of light, my little boy did something he’s always done. And it felt as big as that kind of twinkle in a far-off sky. I know I’m possibly the only one on the planet, maybe the universe, who could see the history in it. Who could feel gravity in it. The bounty in knowing it’s just he who it belonged to. A fingerprint of who he is and who he has always been. And it was one of those triumphant moments in being alive. I’m not overstating that, I know you know them. One of the moments in being a parent that is so big and yet so undetectable to anyone else it’s hard to hold in your mind. Or even share with someone else. It could look trivial at first glance. It could feel small or irrelevant to another when spoken. But when you raise a child this is something you know….that regular life, regular little moments, can fuel the empire of your soul. Read full post »

Which Flu Vaccine Is Best For Children?

Injected flu shots or nasal flu spray?  The short answer, like so many things in life: it depends.

Data out this week summarizing the effectiveness of influenza vaccination for children over the past few seasons. The study published online was a meta-analysis –meaning it was a study of previously published studies — looking for the aggregate effect. Researchers wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of the flu shot compared to the nasal flu mist in protecting children. This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended injected flu shots over nasal flu mist (the CDC recommended both without preference) and this study sought to evaluate the data used in that recommendation and evaluate the track record for influenza vaccinations in recent years.

There’s bad news, so-so news, and I think good (great) news here.

Background: There are multiple kinds of flu (called strains). The flu vaccine typically has 3 or 4 of the strains thought to be the ones that will likely come to the US. The nasal flu mist always has all four. This year the flu vaccination was changed to include two new strains compared to the vaccine last year (one new Influenza A and one new Influenza B). And as below, the nasal flu mist vaccine was redesigned to provoke better protection in the lining of your nose and throat based on data that efficacy had been poor, specifically for children, in recent years. Read full post »