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Smooth Milestone Transitions for the New School Year

With fall around the corner, families are preparing for the new school year. Whether you have a child headed to preschool or kindergarten, or a tween or teen making the jump to middle or high school, Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children’s, provides the following tips to help milestone transitions go well for the whole family.

“Parents set the tone for how well the transition to a new school goes,” said Breuner. “When parents are worried about the transition and put too much focus on it, children take notice of the anxiety and feel that they should be worried, too. The best approach is to talk about the transition as a normal next step, prepare for the year and take time to ask about what’s exciting and what’s concerning to your child.” Read full post »

Choose Safe Fun for the Fourth of July

Independence Day is soon, and families are busy planning for fun that may include celebrating with fireworks, a day at the beach or a barbecue. Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, urges families to choose safe options for a fun holiday. Read full post »

Treatment Helps Kids and Teens Control Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response that alerts people to situations that they find threatening. Anxious feelings are a part of life for kids, teens and adults, but when anxiety is severe, frequent and lasts for months, it requires professional treatment. Dr. Kendra Read, attending psychologist on Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine team, works with kids and teens with anxiety disorders, helping them identify their anxiety triggers and learn how to control their worries and fears.

“Research shows that once anxiety becomes problematic, most kids do not just grow out of it,” said Read. “In fact, left untreated, anxiety can result in problematic long-term consequences that impact academic achievement, employment, substance use, and development of additional psychological disorders, such as depression.” Read full post »

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 »