Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Doctor offers tips for a smooth transition from summer to school

BacktoSchoolPack away the flip-flops and beachwear. Bring on the mechanical pencils and 3-ring binders. School is almost back in session, and it’s time for kids to transition to a more structured, scholarly schedule.

Heading back to school can be a stressful time for parents and kids, but planning ahead and talking through issues can help. Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, offers tips to ease the transition from summer to school.

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Magnets pose an increasing risk to children

MagnetsAn 8-year-old girl comes to the emergency room with what her parents think is stomach flu, then is rushed into surgery after X-rays show she swallowed three tiny magnets. A toddler eats magnets that look like candy, then has part of her bowels removed after the magnets click together inside her.

They’re stories that make parents squirm – and they’re becoming all too familiar to Julie Brown, MD, co-director of pediatric emergency medicine research at Seattle Children’s. Brown treats children in Seattle Children’s Emergency Department and is seeing more and more cases where kids accidentally swallow magnets or insert them into their nose, ears or other orifices, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

In a study published Aug. 6 in Annals of Emergency Medicine, she and her colleagues found that this is a national trend: From 2002 to 2011, there was a significant increase in kids receiving emergency care after accidentally taking magnets into their bodies, indicating that magnet-related injuries are an increasing public health problem for children.

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Dating violence a common experience for teens

Teen datingRecent research presented at the American Psychological Association’s meeting in Honolulu finds that about one in three American teens report being victims of dating violence. Almost one in three teens also acknowledge they’ve committed violence toward a date.

Researchers analyzed information collected in 2011 and 2012 from 1,058 youths, ages 14 to 20, in the Growing Up with Media study, a national online survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study defines teen dating violence as physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship.

“When we think about violence, we often think about someone being punched or beaten. Physical abuse is a devastating type of dating violence, but psychological and sexual violence also hurt keenly and can cause lasting damage,” said Jen Brown, a nurse with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine team.

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Helping new parents cope with normal infant crying

Typical newborn cryingOne of the biggest surprises new parents face is just how relentlessly a normal, healthy infant can cry during their first few months of life. This crying can lead people to question their fitness as parents, raise unnecessary concerns about their child’s wellbeing and result in overwhelming feelings of anger, frustration and guilt.

Research shows that bouts of prolonged, unrelenting crying is the No. 1 reason parents – and other caregivers – shake a baby. Shaken baby syndrome can cause blindness, seizures, physical and learning disabilities, and even death.

Thankfully, research also has shown 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. Read full post »

Tips to Keep Kids and Teens Safe this Fourth of July

Fireworks safetyThe Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration; however, families should follow precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable occasion. Not only do parents need to worry about firework safety, but families should also keep in mind alcohol and sun safety, too.

Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recommends some basic safety tips to keep your kids out of the emergency department this year.

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Doctor offers 8 tips to keep kids safe while biking

boybikingThe long, sunny days of summer are the perfect time to get the bikes out of the garage, but parents should hit the brakes and talk to children about bike safety first. Bike accidents are the second-leading cause of serious injury in school-age children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care. Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says most biking injuries occur because a child either isn’t wearing a helmet or is putting themself in a potentially dangerous situation. “Children may see themselves as invincible when they are on a bike, which is not the truth,” says Woodward. Read full post »

Summer routines help keep kids thinking and moving while school’s out

GirlReadingAs the song goes, school’s out for summer! Children across the country are putting another school year behind them and welcoming, with open arms, the long days of summer. But while summer might seem like the perfect time to put aside routines and schedules, Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says a little structure is critical for kids’ growth and development.

Summer schedule may sound like an oxymoron, but kids need direction and routine, says Grow. Some children can experience a loss of cognitive ability during summer break, according to some studies. By encouraging mental stimulation throughout summer, parents can help children maintain math, reading and spelling skills. Research suggests a significant positive effect when children are enrolled in summer learning programs, compared to children who are not. Promote daily reading or math problems, select educational television programs and games and plan educational “field trips” with the family, like nature walks or trips to museums. Read full post »

More kids accidentally poisoned by legal marijuana, study finds

Medical marijuana

A Colorado study finds that more of the state’s children have accidentally ingested marijuana since medical marijuana was legalized. Suzan Mazor, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Seattle Children’s and a medical toxicologist at Children’s and the Washington Poison Center, says parents and doctors can expect to see similar effects in Washington state.

The study, published May 27 in JAMA Pediatrics, was conducted at a children’s hospital in Colorado, where medical marijuana was legalized in June 2001 and recreational use of marijuana was decriminalized in November 2012. The researchers saw a sharp increase in emergency department visits for marijuana ingestion after October 2009, when the federal government stopped prosecuting medical marijuana users who were conforming to their state’s laws.

Fourteen children between 8 months and 12 years old were evaluated and treated for accidental ingestions between October 2009 and December 2011. By comparison, there were no accidental marijuana ingestions between January 2005 and September 2009.

Mazor says it makes sense that as marijuana became more available in the community, children’s exposures to the drug increased. She suspects that researchers would see the same results in Washington state, which has similar laws. “More availability of any poison usually translates to more unintentional poisonings in kids.”

The emergency team at Children’s has already seen several cases of unintentional marijuana ingestion. “One child in particular was quite sedated, and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit after eating a homemade product containing marijuana,” says Mazor.

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Water safety tips for kids

Life jacketIf you’ve ever spent time with a toddler, you know how quickly they can move. One minute they’re standing next to you, the next they’re sampling from the dog’s bowl, drawing on the wall or crawling up the stairs. Elizabeth Bennett, drowning prevention expert with Seattle Children’s, says toddlers’ speed and curiosity can be especially dangerous when it comes to water.

“Water is a magnet for kids,” says Bennett. “The one- to four-year-old age group is at very high risk around the water.” Over 1,500 children and teens die every year in the U.S. from drowning. In Washington state, an average of 20 children and teens drown every year.

Bennett says families’ Memorial Day preparations should include a water safety refresher, because this is an especially dangerous time of year for drowning.

“People underestimate the power of the water, especially in the spring,” she says. “The water’s really cold right now, and the rivers are running high. The minute you go in the water, you’ll feel the effects of cold water shock. It’s critical that you are already wearing a life jacket, because your limbs will start to stiffen right away.”

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Camping safety tips for families

Camping kidsGet the tents out of storage, shake out the sleeping bags and head for the campgrounds. Temperatures are on the rise and nature is calling. But before you load up the minivan and head for the great outdoors, Michelle Terry, MD, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has some tips to keep you and your family safe and well while camping. When you’re camping with small children, Terry advises parents to follow the three P’s – planning, preparation and precaution.

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