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Prescription Opioids and Pain Relief in Teens

With increasing frequency, stories of opioid overdoses are making headlines, with tragedies striking people from all walks of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declares that the United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic, and says that every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

Amid the growing epidemic of opioid abuse among adults, parents are increasingly showing concern when their teens are prescribed opioids after procedures such as wisdom tooth removal or surgery for a sports injury. Dr. Gary Walco, director of Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s, helps parents and teens understand the important role that opioids can play in managing pain, and also teaches healthcare providers in training about the importance of safe prescribing practices. Read full post »

Liquid Nicotine and Kids Don’t Mix

March is the month to spring forward with daylight saving time, enjoy the college basketball tournament and renew efforts to prevent poisonings through National Poison Prevention Week. Last March, Dr. Suzan Mazor, medical director of Toxicology at Seattle Children’s, gave advice for how to give and store medicines safely. This year, she’s sharing information on how to prevent childhood poisonings from a newer product – liquid nicotine used in electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs.

E-cigs and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems became available in the U.S. about 10 years ago, and with their arrival came a growing number of calls to poison centers related to nicotine exposures in children. Read full post »

Sneaky Sodium is Hard on the Heart

Nearly 90% of kids in the U.S. consume too much sodium, putting them at risk for high blood pressure in childhood, and heart disease and stroke later in life. While everyone needs a small amount of sodium to help control the fluid balance in the body and allow nerves and muscles work, too much sodium is harmful and is dubbed the ‘silent killer.’

In honor of American Heart Month, On the Pulse asked Kirsten Thompson, a dietitian in Seattle Children’s Pediatric Hypertension program, to provide insight into how kids are consuming so much sodium.

“When I ask patients and families about sodium intake, they often say that they don’t eat too much sodium because they don’t add salt from the salt shaker to the foods they eat,” said Thompson. “They’re often surprised to learn that sodium is actually hidden in a lot of foods that we wouldn’t normally think of as salty.” Read full post »

Doctor Suggests Social Media Detox in the New Year

The New Year is a time to look forward and consider making changes to improve health, wellness and overall happiness. Typical resolutions revolve around being more physically active, eating better, spending quality time with loved ones and breaking bad habits. Dr. Megan Moreno, adolescent medicine specialist and a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offers an idea that can help parents and teens free up time to focus on those resolutions or can be a worthy resolution of its own – a social media detox.

“A social media detox is a period of time in which a person steps away from using social media and reflects on the positives and negatives of being connected via social networks,” said Moreno. “Changing up your family’s social media use in the New Year can benefit you in many ways, from freeing up time for making healthy lifestyle changes, to improving your outlook on life.” Read full post »

Tweens, Teens and Young Adults Need Checkups Too

When parents get through the early years of teething, toilet training, temper tantrums, early growth spurts and endless viral seasons, they often stop scheduling annual checkups for their child. This is despite guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends one physical checkup and two dental checkups each year through the tween, teen and young adult years.

To understand the importance of these adolescent and young adult wellness visits, Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence, as well as a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children’s, provides the following advice to parents.

“Adolescents are the healthiest population statistically,” said Breuner. “And while that’s true, it’s also true that other than the first year of life, adolescence brings more rapid brain development and physical growth than any other period in an individual’s lifetime. With so many changes taking place, it’s important to work in partnership with your child’s doctor to monitor physical, sexual and emotional health and prevent risky behaviors.” Read full post »

Tips for a Safe Halloween

Boo! Halloween is on a Monday this year, making it trickier to get in all of the treat-gathering fun. However, you can maximize your family’s enjoyment by planning ahead. Dr. Tony Woodward, chief of Emergency Medicine at Seattle Children’s, offers tips for how to safely celebrate what many kids consider to be the best holiday of the year.

“Halloween is a holiday that kids look forward to for weeks or even months in advance,” said Woodward. “I encourage families to think about safety as they start selecting costumes and making plans to celebrate with others. Taking steps before the big night, like agreeing on ground rules and ensuring costumes will be seen in the dark, provides more time to safely enjoy Halloween.” Read full post »

Preventing Obesity with Mindful Eating

Traditional advice for helping families ensure their children and teens maintain a healthy weight begins with a focus on balancing calories consumed from food and beverages with calories used through physical activity and growth. Dr. Lenna Liu, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and Child Wellness Clinic, uses a slightly different approach to support families with the complex issue of weight management. She starts by encouraging families to adopt a mindful approach to eating. Read full post »

Lights Out: Sleep for Health, Safety and Success this School Year

It’s that time of year again – time to prepare for the new school year. Soon-to-be kindergarteners are getting familiar with their new playground and are shopping for crayons. Older grade schoolers are guessing what teacher they’ll have and hoping their best friend will be in their class. Middle schoolers and high schoolers are anxiously awaiting their class schedule and are picking out an outfit for the first day. Meanwhile, parents are planning for the fall schedule and thinking about how to best set their child up for success in the new school year.

“Before parents get too far down the road of scheduling the carpool or adjusting their work schedule, take a minute to know what time your child’s school day starts. Some school districts have made significant changes to their bell schedule in a move to align the school day with the time of day that kids are the most alert and focused,” said Dr. Maida Chen, director of Seattle Children’s Sleep Disorders Program.

She shared more on the reason some districts are making changes to start times and provides tips for helping your child get enough sleep. Read full post »

Keeping Mosquitoes Away: Insect Repellent and Children

Summer is here and backyard barbecues, camping trips and youth camp sessions are in full swing. Amidst all of these fun activities is often a far less welcoming sign of summer: mosquitoes.

While the Pacific Northwest is not home to the type of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, on very rare occasions, mosquitoes here can carry the West Nile virus. Most often, however, mosquitoes simply leave people with uncomfortable, itchy bites. To help protect your family from mosquitoes as you enjoy the outdoors, Dr. Suzan Mazor, medical director of Toxicology at Seattle Children’s, shares the following advice. Read full post »

Just Ask: Are Your Firearms Stored Safely?

The first day of summer marks a season when kids often spend more time at the homes of friends and other family members. Before children head off for playdates or childcare in another home, parents often ask common safety questions about the house their child will be visiting like “Who else will be home?” “Are there pets in the house?” Or, “Can I install the car seat in your car before I leave?” There’s one other important question parents should add to the list: “Is there an unlocked firearm in your house?” Read full post »