Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Remembering the Sandy Hook tragedy, protecting kids from gun violence

On Dec. 14 of last year, 20 children and seven adults lost their lives in the senseless tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. As we approach the anniversary of this horrific event, we remember and mourn the victims and the families who have been affected by this tragedy.

No parent should ever have to suffer through the pain of losing a child to gun violence. And with guns in more than one third of all U.S. households, firearms present a real, everyday danger to children, especially when improper safety techniques are followed.

Frederick Rivara, MD, MPH, division chief of general pediatrics and vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offer the following tips and advice for parents looking to keep kids safe from firearms, and to help reduce their exposure to gun violence in the media.

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Doctor offers tips to keep kids safe this holiday season

Holiday Dangers‘Tis the season for mistletoe, gingerbread and carefully strung lights. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also a potentially dangerous one for children. And although festivities, candles and garland may make the holiday season more cheerful, with them come some serious safety concerns.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says the most important thing to remember this holiday season is supervision.

“The holidays are a fun and exciting time, but there are a few more things inserted into the environment, like holiday plants, electrical cables, new toys and festive beverages, which are potentially dangerous,” says Woodward. Read full post »

How a Purple Knitted Cap Can Protect a Baby’s Brain

For months, Amy Owens has been seeing purple.

Little, hand-knitted purple caps are overflowing from giant bags in the Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program office at Seattle Children’s, where she is senior program coordinator. Hats are spilling out of cabinets, covering her keyboard and peeking out of overstuffed envelopes under her desk.

By the end of November, each of these 3,600-plus purple hats will be cradling the head of a newborn at a birthing hospital in Washington state.

The hats will remind their parents that it’s normal for babies to cry – and often, there is nothing a parent can do to stop it.

Research shows that prolonged, unrelenting crying is the number one reason parents (and other caregivers) shake a baby. Research also shows that simply understanding the normal pattern of infant crying and learning a few coping skills significantly reduces the likelihood that a child will be shaken or abused.

Thanks to the Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program team at Children’s, parents of newborns in Washington are learning about crying and coping before they leave the hospital through a video-based training program called “Period of PURPLE Crying.”

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National Diabetes Month: Helping families manage the disease

SONY DSCOdds are you know someone with diabetes – a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or family friend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 million people in the U.S. currently have diabetes, and it is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents. About one in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes. That’s a lot of finger pricks and insulin shots, which is why, in recognition of National Diabetes Month, Seattle Children’s Hospital’s diabetes expert, Karen Aitken, ARNP, offers advice to parents to help manage a child’s diabetes. Read full post »

Going old school: Researcher encourages walking school bus to prevent childhood obesity

Walking school bus

More than one third of children and adolescents are obese or overweight, and more and more families are coming to Jason Mendoza, MD, MPH, for advice on how to help their kids lose extra pounds. But obesity treatments can be difficult to complete and are often expensive. Mendoza is testing a new approach that aims to prevent obesity using ideas from eras when obesity was uncommon.

“I’m looking at whether getting children to walk or ride their bikes to school can increase children’s physical activity and reduce their risk of obesity,” said Mendoza, a principal investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Washington.

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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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