Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Silk Road online marketplace for illicit drugs reemerges, tips for parents

In today’s digital age, it seems you can find and buy almost anything online, of course with a few exceptions. However, this is shockingly more true than one would think with a website called the Silk Road. The name may sound harmless, but it’s actually an anonymous online market place for illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. The site uses software that hides a buyer’s search engine and reroutes their traffic to make purchases anonymous and untraceable.

Who would have thought an eBay for illicit drugs could exist?

The original Silk Road site was shut down in early October by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but headlines this week have reported that a new Silk Road site has emerged. The new site claims it offers enhanced security and privacy for users.

Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine division, was dumbfounded when she heard about the site at a symposium last week. She also learned that many teens are aware of how to get drugs online.

“What does this mean for parents of teens? To me, it re-enforces the need to monitor what our teens are doing on the internet,” said Evans. “I’m not endorsing sitting over their shoulders every time they’re on the Internet, but I do think parents should periodically check in.”

In a Teenology 101 blog post, Evans discusses this issue and offers tips for parents about how to best monitor and be aware of their teen’s online activity. She also advises that parents should trust their gut and if they are concerned about their teen’s Internet safety or possible drug use, they should have a conversation with them and talk with their doctor about resources.

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Tips for having a nutritious Halloween

Halloween&PumpkinsThe leaves are changing colors, the temperature is dropping and pumpkins abound. Halloween is right around the corner and on the minds of every little ghoul and goblin are sweets, treats and the fun of trick-or-treating. But while most children are eagerly awaiting and planning for the candy filled holiday, many parents are wondering how to have fun while reducing the chance of stomach aches and sugar rushes.

Finding a healthy treat to distribute come Halloween night may sound more like a trick, but Mary Jones Verbovski, a clinical pediatric dietitian at Seattle Children’s Hospital, assures parents there are healthy alternatives and ways to incorporate candy into a child’s well-balanced diet.

“Children often get excited about Halloween because it’s the one time of the year that they know they’re going to get a lot of candy, but remember that all of the sugary treats can be hard on your child’s body,” said Jones Verbovski.

Halloween is meant to be fun, but overindulging in sweet treats doesn’t need to dominate a family’s Halloween traditions.

“As long as you treat candy and the holiday treats involved like they are special and ‘once-a-year,’ it can remain a happy and healthy holiday,” said Jones Verbovski. Read full post »

Children’s fights to ensure all Washington families have access to the health services they need

UPDATE: Seattle Children’s reached an agreement with Molina Healthcare of Washington and Children’s is an in-network provider on the plans Molina offers through the state’s Health Benefit Exchange.

National healthcare reform has dominated headlines with the recent government shutdown and the opening of Healthcare Exchanges across the country, offering health benefits to individuals, families and small businesses who are not currently insured.

Seattle Children’s Hospital is taking a stand on the issue, working hard to ensure that children in Washington have adequate access to the care they need, when they need it.

On Oct. 4, Children’s filed a lawsuit against the state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) citing the failure of the OIC to ensure adequate network coverage in several of Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange plans. The suit aims to make sure that children can access the health services they need through the insurance plans purchased via the state’s Exchange, a new marketplace where individuals and families can find, compare and buy insurance.

Today, Children’s is going a step further and filing an administrative appeal requesting the OIC to reverse its decision to approve the Exchange plans from Coordinated Care Corporation (aka Ambetter), Molina Healthcare of Washington, Premera Blue Cross (including LifeWise) and Regence (aka BridgeSpan) because they do not provide adequate network access for plan enrollees. The appeal also asks the OIC to reconsider how it approves Exchange plans so that only plans with adequate networks are approved.

Here, Dr. Sandy Melzer, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Children’s, answers a few questions about the actions that Children’s is taking to encourage the state to guarantee adequate coverage for kids and families in Washington.

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Tips for identifying, treating and reducing risk of three common fall sports injuries

Breaking the TackleShorter days and cooling temperatures mean school is in full swing. While it’s important to help students succeed in the classroom, it’s also important to arm them with the right tools and information for a fun and safe fall sports season.

Monique Burton, MD, director of Seattle Children’s Sports Medicine Program, shares tips for identifying, treating and reducing risk of concussions, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and shin splints – three of the most common fall sports injuries in young athletes. Each year, Burton and her team provide care and rehabilitation to hundreds of athletes in the Puget Sound.
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Results of a parental survey may help predict childhood immunization status

Survey checkbox

Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise. Nationally, it’s an issue, and the non-medical exemption rate continues to increase annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.6 percent of children entering kindergarten in Washington state in 2012 had an exemption, and the figure was 6.1 percent in Illinois and Vermont.

Our Seattle-based team of researchers has been investigating if there’s a valid way of identifying parents who are hesitant enough early on in their child’s life that they will accept fewer immunizations than is recommended. Knowing early whether a parent is hesitant and will under-immunize their child might be helpful to clinicians as they try to understand and lessen a parent’s vaccine concerns.

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Child passenger safety, keeping kids safe while on the road

Child Passenger SafetyPeople often say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and when put in the context of child passenger safety, that statement couldn’t be more true. Every journey should be safe. Which is why, in recognition of Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 15-21), experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital are urging parents to put safety first when traveling in a vehicle with a child.

According to safecar.gov, car accidents are the number one killer of children ages 1 to 12 in the U.S. From 2007 to 2011, a staggering 3,661 children were killed in car accidents and an additional 634,000 children were injured.

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Helping Kids Cope with Violence in the News

Children are exposed to violent events by seeing them in the news or by hearing about them from friends, and they’re likely to have fears and questions. Studies show that children can suffer long-term emotional damage from exposure to violence in news coverage.

Bob Hilt, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says parents should be prepared to help their children deal with traumatic events, such as natural disasters and acts of violence.

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Vaccinations vital for teens as they head back to school

Vaccines for teensAs summer comes to a close, parents are getting their preteens and teens ready for back-to-school, from stocking up on pencils, notebooks and new clothes, to preparing for their busy fall schedules. But what’s also important to add to the list, is making sure teens are up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations.

As kids grow up, protection from certain childhood vaccines begins to wear off. Teens may also be exposed to different diseases than they were when they were younger. Therefore, it’s important for parents to know what vaccines can protect their kids, their schoolmates and our communities from unnecessary illness.

Ed Marcuse, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has a special interest in immunizations and wants parents to know that today’s vaccines are a very safe and effective way to prevent the infections that teens are at risk of contracting.

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Dangerous dares, stopping the next cinnamon challenge

SONY DSCNow that kids are headed back to school, more time with friends, an increased amount of peer pressure and less supervision all combine to make a dangerous mix. “I dare you” is how it usually begins – a few simple words, a group of kids and a smartphone to document the foolery. From the cinnamon challenge, attempting to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in 60 seconds without drinking water, to the milk challenge, attempting to drink a gallon of milk in one hour without vomiting, a recent trend in the media has parents and doctors sounding the alarm.

However, more and more kids are attempting rather than avoiding the dangerous dares and challenges they see on the internet. Which begs the question, are we doing enough to end the trend? Or are we waiting for the next cinnamon challenge to hit the web?

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Fat letters from schools spur childhood obesity debate

Childhood obesityReceiving report cards from schools is a standard practice that helps parents stay informed about their child’s academic performance. But now, schools in some states have been going one step further and are also letting parents know how their child’s weight measures up.

A new report released this week in Pediatrics has spurred debate around this issue as it states that Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings in schools and subsequently informing parents about their child’s weight category is a necessary step in the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic.

Twenty one states, not currently including Washington, have enacted policies or made recommendations about collecting height and weight data and assessing body composition in schools. In some states, like Massachusetts and Arkansas, a confidential letter that has been dubbed a “fat letter” is mailed to parents whose child has a high BMI, informing them of their child’s weight status and advising them to talk with a doctor.  

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