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Winter Blues or Something More? Helping Kids and Teens Cope

Winter can be a particularly blue time of the year for people. Darker, colder days and the post-holiday letdown often cause a decline in mood and motivation.

It’s normal for all kids to experience emotional ups and downs, including the winter blues. With the COVID-related changes in school and social activities this winter, youth may be especially vulnerable to increased moodiness and irritability. But at least one in five kids will have a diagnosable mental health problem that needs treatment.

Parents can support their child or teen as they cope with seasonal sadness, while being alert to the signs and symptoms of mental health problems that require expert care. Read full post »

Knock Out Flu with the Vaccine

Both the Washington State Department of Health and Seattle Children’s infectious disease expert, Dr. Matthew Kronman, are spreading the word near and far — this year, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu vaccine can keep you and your family from getting and spreading the flu to others during the COVID-19 pandemic. We may not have a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but we do have one for flu.

“The flu vaccine is urgent – every year. Getting the flu vaccine is the single best way to avoid flu illness, flu hospitalization, and even death due to flu for children,” Kronman said. “Yet this year we have an additional reason to strongly encourage parents to get the flu vaccine for their children: COVID-19. The course of the pandemic is unpredictable, and we want to remove any other strains on the healthcare system that we can. In this case, getting the flu vaccine does exactly that.” Read full post »

Returning to Sports Safely During COVID-19

As our state and counties progress through the Safe Start phases, our local athletic teams and activity centers will look to return as well. We are all anxious to get back to our regular activities, but how can we ensure that we are doing this the safest way possible?

Our athletic training team is here to help. We have compiled recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington State Department of Health, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), National Federation of State High School Associations, and Korey Stringer Institute. Our goal is to provide you with some questions to ask and information to look for so that you can feel prepared and make the most informed choices around re-engaging your child safely into sports. Read full post »

Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19

As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, adults, children and teens are trying to make sense of what the outbreak means for their families and communities. Those with anxiety disorders may feel more worry than usual.

On the Pulse asked Dr. Jennifer Blossom, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Clinic, how to share information with the children and teens in your life in a way that helps prevent too much worry. The good news is that just as there are steps you can take to help you and your loved ones try to avoid the illness, there are steps you can take to help your child or teen cope with the situation.

“There are a number of ways parents can successfully help their child stay on track during this time,” Blossom said. “In general, the goal is for parents to encourage their child’s participation in routine activities, such as going to school (as informed by the most recent public health recommendations or decision by your child’s school district), while helping their child think realistically about the risks.” Read full post »

New Guidelines Hope to Increase Family Knowledge of Water Safety

It’s the stuff of nightmares: a young child slips away unnoticed, wanders into a backyard pool and drowns. A teen swimming to a floating dock begins struggling and disappears. News reports of these tragedies and other drowning stories are too common. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death in children. In 2017, almost 1,000 U.S. children and teens died from drowning and 8,700 visited a hospital emergency room because of a drowning event.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is taking further action to educate about water safety. They recently revised their policy statement, Prevention of Drowning, to help pediatricians teach families about drowning risk and provide prevention strategies that are tailored to each family.

“We know from data that pediatricians don’t spend much time talking about drowning prevention. They have so much to cover in very limited time with families — development, mental health, school readiness or progress, the list goes on. Drowning kind of falls to the bottom,” said Dr. Linda Quan, co-author of the policy statement, and an emergency physician at Seattle Children’s. “What we wanted to do with this policy is highlight that some families are at higher risk for drowning and we can tailor education to their specific risk.” Read full post »

2018-2019 Flu Update with Seattle Mama Doc

Flu season is coming so it’s time to add scheduling flu vaccines to your to-do list. On The Pulse sat down with Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, also known as Seattle Mama Doc, to get the latest flu news as the 2018-2019 flu season approaches. Spoiler alert: avoid promising a “no-poke” visit.

Q: What have we learned about last year’s flu season?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classified the 2017-2018 flu season as a “high severity season.” Flu activity was widespread across the country, and the season was long. There were large numbers of doctor office visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations related to flu. The flu season came earlier than expected and was severe, by the numbers.

Read full post »

Begin a Lifetime of Sun Safety Early in Childhood

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun early in childhood increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Fortunately, childhood is also when many good habits form, like behaviors to increase sun protection. Dr. Robert Sidbury, division chief of Dermatology at Seattle Children’s, sees early childhood as the best time to begin teaching families about sun safety practices that will serve them well throughout life. Read full post »

Indoor Active Play for Heart Health

Active kids enjoy improved mental wellness and reduce their risk of heart disease. While the days are short and the weather is often cold or dreary, kids still need to be getting physical activity each and every day.

February is American Heart Month and On The Pulse asked Emily Carter, athletic trainer, and Dr. Monique Burton, director of the Sports Medicine Program, to share ideas for indoor activities that put a smile on a child’s face and get their heart pumping. Read full post »

Keeping Tradition Alive

As friends and families gather together to observe winter holidays, many follow traditions as part of their celebrations. There are typical traditions, like lighting a menorah each night of Hanukkah, decorating a tree for Christmas, or making resolutions for the New Year. Some families have more unusual traditions, like having a dress-up theme for Christmas Eve or throwing a BBQ for winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Some traditions instill faith, but whether faith-based or not, practicing tradition is a way to teach values, build relationships, foster a sense of belonging and create positive memories. These are all things that make a strong positive impact on the life of children.

On The Pulse asked Seattle Children’s Dr. Mollie Grow, pediatrician, and Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine, to share their top winter holiday traditions. Read full post »

Safe Travel Tips for Active Families on the Go

The school year has begun, the days are getting shorter and the holidays are right around the corner. As a result, families are on the go in less daylight and variable weather, by foot, bicycles and vehicles. It’s a good time to think about how to use active transportation while staying safe in an increasingly busy world.

“Walking and biking are fantastic ways to get exercise and I want to see more families choosing active transportation,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, attending physician at Seattle Children’s and lead of the Safe and Active Transport Section at the University of Washington/Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. “Parents can help keep their children injury-free when they’re on the go by advocating for safe places for active transportation and consistently practicing and enforcing safe behaviors while traveling by any mode, whether near or far.” Read full post »