Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Study Links Exposure to Common Chemicals During Early Pregnancy to Altered Hormone Levels in Fetus

Food is the most likely source of exposure to the most harmful phthalates, which can also be found in household and personal care products.

Exposure during early pregnancy to some phthalates—man-made chemicals commonly found in household plastics, food and personal care products—can have adverse impacts on developing fetuses, according to a new study led by Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatric environmental health specialist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Washington.

The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that increases in exposure to certain phthalates during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with higher estrogen concentrations and lower testosterone concentrations in the fetus, thus increasing the chance of a genital abnormality in male babies at birth.

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 »

7 Tips to Manage Your Child’s Routine During the Holiday Season

Dr. Mollie Greves Grow offers parents several tips and reminders to help foster a peaceful and joyous holiday season for the entire family.

The winter holiday season brings with it much more than wonder and merriment. Weeks and sometimes months of holiday shopping, traveling, food, parties, visits and visitors can create enough stress to exhaust the most festive of us.

Children of all ages feel it, too, especially when their routines are interrupted with an overload of events that are often out of their control. The changes in schedule, though well-intentioned, can impact behaviors and moods.

“In general, we all do better with routines in day-to-day life,” said Dr. Mollie Greves Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Structured routines, even during busy times like the holidays, help parents regulate the emotional and functional changes their children undergo as they develop. Routines help children know what to expect as they go through these changes.” 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 »

New SIDS Research Shows Carbon Dioxide, Inner Ear Damage May Play Important Role

Dr. Daniel Rubens published a new study that shows the buildup of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage may be linked to SIDS.

Dr. Daniel Rubens published a new study that shows the buildup of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage may be linked to SIDS.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) may be linked to the build up of carbon dioxide and existing inner ear damage according to a new study in the journal Neuroscience. Author Dr. Daniel Rubens, an anesthesiologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says the finding could help researchers understand the sequence of events and risk factors that lead to SIDS deaths.

“This is potentially an important breakthrough in understanding the biological underpinnings of what may be causing SIDS,” Rubens said. “We found that exposure to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage in mice resulted in a lack of movement toward safety and fresh air during sleep. We want to fine tune this discovery and study the connection to carbon dioxide in more detail.” Read full post »

New Media Guidelines for Kids Move Beyond Screen Time Limits

New media policies from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend creating customized plans for your family’s media use.

In our digital age, it’s not uncommon to see a toddler on an iPad at the airport or a teenager at the mall fixated on a smartphone. To help families establish healthy habits for media use, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new media and screen time policies for children, from infants to teenagers.

The two new policies update previous recommendations and emphasize the importance of critical health behaviors such as sleep, cognitive development and physical activity. The policies recommend those daily priorities be addressed first, followed by mindful selection and engagement with media. 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 »

Researcher Launches Childhood Chemical Exposure Study With NIH

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana says there are thousands of chemicals used in products that are consumed by the public, but there is little information about how most of them impact human health.

Babies and children are exposed to chemicals when they play, eat and go outside, and a $157 million new initiative launched by the National Institutes of Health aims to create a comprehensive understanding of how chemicals and environmental factors like air pollution impact childhood development.

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatric environmental health researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was selected as one of the principle investigators whose focus is chemical exposures.

“We have very little data about how most chemicals impact fetal and childhood development,” Sathyanarayana said. “This national study will give us a clearer understanding of how chemical exposures impact child health and what researchers, policymakers and parents should be most concerned about.” 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 »