Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Doctor Explains Why Osteoporosis is a Pediatric Disorder, the Importance of Vitamin D

When people think of osteoporosis, most likely, they wouldn’t think about kids and teens. However, Dr. Michael Goldberg, director of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Skeletal Health Program, says osteoporosis is actually a pediatric disorder and childhood is the best time to think about bone health. By thinking about bone health at an early age, individuals can ensure they have strong bones later in life.

“Bones are very much alive,” said Goldberg. “From birth until age 35 you make more bone than you dissolve. From age 35 on, you dissolve more bone than you make. Think of it like needing a bone bank account. You need to make a lot of bone deposits early on; otherwise there won’t be much left when you’re old.”

And the best way to strengthen and build bone is with calcium and vitamin D. Read full post »

Give the Gift of Health: Toys that Benefit Your Child’s Development

blocksEditor’s note: Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offers parents the following advice when choosing toys for their children during the holiday season and throughout the year.

In the midst of the holiday shopping season, parents are faced with a plethora of toy options for their children. They must decide between the latest and greatest tech gadgets and old favorites that they may remember playing with as a child. Here are a few key principles for parents to keep in mind when considering what’s best for your child’s development.

Interaction is key

No matter what toy your child plays with, the best way to foster their development is to be an active participant in their play. Try to give your children toys that encourage interaction with other children or adult caregivers. Toys should not be viewed as a tool to occupy your child while he or she is left alone, but instead should provide opportunities for them to play with others.

You have to like it too

Give your child toys that make both of you happy and you will be more likely to play together. Avoid games with flashing lights or loud noises if you find them annoying. Instead, select toys you would enjoy playing with, such as your favorite children’s book or that barn toy you remember fondly. Your child will appreciate playing with you and their social skills will benefit from the interaction. Read full post »

Study: Half of Children with Abusive Head Injuries Will Die Before Adulthood

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Children are at greatest risk for abusive head injuries between about 2 weeks and 4 months of age, when they cry the most and cannot always be soothed.

It’s well understood that head injuries are harmful to children, but just how serious are the effects?

A new study published in Pediatrics reports half of children who experience a severe abusive head trauma before the age of 5 will die before their 21st birthday. The study, led by Ted Miller of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, also reports the quality of life of children who survive severe head injuries is cut in half.

Dr. Kenneth Feldman, a primary care doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital and former chair of the hospital’s Child Protection Program, was not surprised by the results of the study.

“These findings are in line with what we’ve experienced in clinical care,” said Feldman, who is also an investigator with the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Abusive head injuries have devastating affects. We know that of the infants that survive these kinds of head injuries, about a third develop life-threatening neurological disorders, another third have moderate dysfunction and the remainder appear healthy, but may experience significant problems in school.” Read full post »

Act Now to Protect Your Family From the Seasonal Flu

Child with fluIf you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about seasonal influenza, or the flu, and the important steps you should take to protect your child. Flu season can range from October through May, but most cases of the flu in the U.S. occur between December and February.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu complications. And there is not only the threat of hospitalization; in some rare cases the flu can become fatal. During the 2013-2014 flu season, the CDC reported more than 100 flu-related deaths in children.

With this in mind, it’s time to consider a very important safety measure: vaccination. Read full post »

Overloaded on Hidden Sugar

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When it comes to the holiday season, sugar is everywhere, particularly in desserts and holiday candy. But did you know that sugar is also added to many everyday foods, including soups and yogurt?

“Many people are unaware of just how pervasive added sugar is in our foods,” said Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It isn’t just cookies and soda, it’s being added to many foods that most people wouldn’t consider as sweets.”

The result: the average American adult is consuming three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – 76.7 grams per day versus the recommended 25 grams per day, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“The problem with sugar is that it presents a variety of risks to our health,” said Grow. “Some are more obvious, in the sense that more sugar means more calories which can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain leads to obesity, and can bring along many health problems like diabetes. But an excess amount of sugar also affects our long term health by altering our metabolism and causing inflammation.”

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Marketing Food and Beverages to Children is Big Business; Is it Bad for Your Kids?

Kids and TelevisionIt’s a serious business to win over the minds and taste buds of youth today. In fact, the food industry spends about $1.8 billion annually on food marketing to children and adolescents, according to a review by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2006, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) was launched by food companies to promote healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles in advertisements. But it may not be enough, says Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, Grow weighs in on a study published this year about how children perceived television advertisements by two national fast food chains. According to Grow, the study shows there is room for improvement when it comes to how the food industry advertises healthier dietary choices. Many fast-food chains have agreed to standards when advertising to kids, but it seems they are not always clear to children.

In the study titled “Children’s Reaction to Depictions of Healthy Foods in Fast-Food Television Advertisements,” researchers found that advertisements don’t adequately depict healthier options to children. Many children in the study couldn’t correctly identify the healthy food items in the advertisements. Furthermore, 81% of the children participating in the study said they remembered seeing french fries in an advertisement, when the food that was shown was actually apples. That has led researchers to beg the question: Can more be done by advertisers to influence children’s dietary decisions and curb childhood obesity? Read full post »

Debunking Three Common Myths About Eczema

More than 30 million Americans have eczema, a skin condition that causes dry, red, extremely itchy skin. It often starts before the age of 5 and can negatively impact children in many ways, including not being able to sleep and lacking focus in school or social situations because of frequent scratching.

I see many patients every week who suffer from eczema and other skin conditions. These patients and their parents often come to clinic with ideas about what causes these skin conditions and how to treat them. Below, I’ve debunked three common myths about eczema that we hear at Seattle Children’s Hospital on a regular basis. Read full post »

Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know

By now you’ve probably seen news reports about the outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) that’s been sweeping across the country, resulting in many children being hospitalized for difficulties with breathing. While there are no confirmed cases of EV-D68 in Washington state, Seattle Children’s has seen cases of severe respiratory disease in many patients who have tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing further testing to determine if any of these cases are EV-D68.

The primary message for parents worried about their own children: Be on alert, wash hands frequently, and see a doctor or take your child to an emergency room immediately if he or she is having difficulty breathing or wheezing.

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Study Finds 11.4 Million Unnecessary Antibiotics Prescribed to Children

IstockimageSMALLAntibiotics can be used as life-saving therapies, but many experts believe they are prescribed more frequently than they should be. This practice puts individuals at risk of dangerous side effects and exposes the public to drug-resistant bacteria.

To better understand how antibiotics should be prescribed, Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a member of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research, led a study published today by the American Academy of Pediatrics, addressing how antibiotics are used to treat common respiratory infections. He discovered there are approximately 11.4 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written to children and teens each year in the United States.

We asked Kronman the following questions to learn more about the overprescribing of antibiotics and his recently published research:

Why aren’t antibiotics appropriate to treat all respiratory infections?

Kronman: Respiratory infections are one of the most common reasons children and adolescents receive prescriptions for antibiotics, but not all of these illnesses benefit from antibiotic use. Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. Many respiratory infections are viral, and therefore, not helped by antibiotics. Read full post »

Later Start Times for Secondary Schools and Changing the Culture of Sleep

Later Start Times for Secondary Schools

New data suggests that adolescents in the U.S. are chronically sleep-deprived. Doctors recommend the average teenager get between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights, but a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 87 percent of high school students were sleeping far less.

That’s a real concern for parents and caregivers, as sleep deprived teenagers run an increased risk of physical and mental health problems, car accidents, as well as declining academic performance. But with homework and school start times as early as 7:30 a.m. in some parts of the country, is it even possible for teens to get the sleep they need?

“No, it’s not possible,” said Dr. Cora Collette  Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and co-author of a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement that recommends all middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.

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