This year has been filled with unprecedented challenges – physically, mentally, financially – and families are looking forward to putting 2020 behind them. As we collectively usher in a new year, it’s an opportune time to think about small changes we can make to better children’s health in 2021.
Dr. Pooja Tandon, a researcher in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, says this year has caused all kinds of disruptions to children’s lives, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Routines have been shattered, physical activity has decreased, sleep has been affected and the hardships of the year like uncertainty and isolation have impacted children’s mental health.
“Many things are hard right now,” Tandon said. “But for the things we have control over, we can make little changes that can promote health.”
Below, three experts break down three key areas to help support better health in 2021 – physical activity, sleep and nutrition. Read full post »
When it comes to rashes, Seattle Children’s dermatologist Dr. Markus Boos is like a detective. When he meets with patients and families who are concerned about a rash, Boos first listens to their story, looks at their skin for clues and then works with them to determine the cause.
Dr. Markus Boos, Seattle Children’s dermatologist, is grateful to be entrusted by parents to care for their children, and to have the opportunity to do something that he loves every day.
“When I meet with families, there are two important things I always want to emphasize in order to help allay any anxiety they may have,” Boos said. “The first is that we see rashes all the time – literally every day. Their child often has a condition that many other children do as well. Secondly, I reaffirm that I’m glad they came to see me, no matter how mild or severe their skin condition is. I’m a parent and I get it. It’s distressing when something is wrong with your child, and I’m here to help.”
Most of the rashes Boos sees are manageable with topical medications or observation and there is usually no cause for concern, but there are some cases when parents should seek treatment more urgently.
“What should make you worry about a rash is when there are symptoms that involves systems outside the skin, like high fever, vomiting or lethargy,” Boos said. “Those things definitely make me more concerned. For the most part, the majority of common skin rashes won’t have those.” Read full post »
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 »
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient and has many important functions in the body. A mother’s vitamin D supply is passed to her baby in utero and helps regulate processes including brain development. A study published today in The Journal of Nutrition showed that mothers’ vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with their children’s IQ, suggesting that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy may lead to greater childhood IQ scores. The study also identified significantly lower levels of vitamin D levels among Black pregnant women.
Melissa Melough, the lead author of the study and research scientist in the Center of Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says vitamin D deficiency is common among the general population as well as pregnant women, but notes that Black women are at greater risk. Melough says she hopes the study will help health care providers address disparities among women of color and those who are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. Read full post »
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 »
Maxford Brown, 16, with his family at Seattle Children’s. Maxford was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in 2017. Pictured from left to right: (front) Maxford and his younger brother, Zachary; (back) Maxford’s dad, Jeff; mom, Tracy; and older sister, Grace.
It’s been over three years since Maxford Brown woke up one morning not feeling well. Neither Maxford nor his family had any idea that it would mark the beginning of a life-changing journey with a rare, but serious neurological condition called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.
“I suggested it might help for him to lay down. When I went to wake him up, he had lost all ability to move on his own,” remembered his mom.
In a state of shock, Tracy Brown called their pediatrician to describe what had happened to her son.
“I remember asking our doctor if we should make an appointment,” she said. “That’s when they told me we needed to get Maxford to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department right away.” Read full post »
There are not many areas of life COVID-19 hasn’t directly impacted. Like with so many other things in 2020, families have had to try to find silver linings during this difficult time. Major milestones like birthdays and graduations have, for the most part, been cancelled, gone remote or shifted to incorporate social distance and extra precautions.
As fall approaches, many parents may be wondering how COVID-19 will affect beloved traditions like trick-or-treating. According to Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s, families can still have fun, but may need to apply some extra creativity to Halloween this year.
“COVID has taken away a lot, especially for kids,” Grow said. “The things that anchor us, are still having a chance to celebrate things we have looked forward to. Trying to figure out different ways to honor our traditions as a family and community can lessen the pain of all the things we’re missing out on because of COVID.”
Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s, said answering the question of whether Halloween and traditions like trick-or-treating are safe is complicated. Read full post »
Emily Caveness, 9, had always been a very active sleeper. When her lack of restful sleep started disrupting her social and school life, her parents sought the help of sleep medicine experts at Seattle Children’s where they first learned of restless sleep disorder in children.
An international panel of sleep experts is adding a new pediatric sleep disorder they call restless sleep disorder, or RSD, to parents’ and pediatricians’ radars.
Led by Seattle Children’s pediatric sleep specialist, Dr. Lourdes DelRosso, the group shares their consensus on a medical definition of RSD in a new paper published in Sleep Medicine. Known to occur in children 6-18 years old, RSD can lead to attention impairment, mood and behavioral problems and other issues at home and school due to poor sleep quality.
“For many years, those of us in sleep medicine have recognized a pattern of sleep that affected a child’s behavior but didn’t fit the criteria for other known sleep disorders or conditions linked to restless sleep like obstructive apnea or restless legs syndrome,” DelRosso said. “This work provides consensus on a definition and diagnostic criteria for RSD, offering a new tool to help more children suffering from restless sleep.” Read full post »
Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) is more than a medical home for families. OBCC is often affectionately called a second home by the patients and families it serves, and the clinical staff are referred to as an extension of their family. OBCC is a clinic, but it’s also something much larger: it is hope.
The team at OBCC represents the communities they serve and advocates for the well-being of patients and families both inside the walls of the clinic and beyond.
Today, Boeing has committed to investing $2.5 million to help fund vital programs at OBCC and a new, second OBCC to better serve under-resourced, ethnically diverse communities. Read full post »
Summer is heating up and COVID-19 has left public pools closed and many beaches and lakes without lifeguards. Because of this, families are turning to their own backyards to stay cool by purchasing temporary above-ground pools. These types of pools have specific drowning and safety concerns that families should be aware of.
Dangers of backyard pools
Backyard pools in general pose the greatest threat to children ages 1 through 4, who are unlikely to have had swim lessons and unaware of the dangers of water. Backyard pools tend to be placed close to a house, so it is easy for young children to get out of the house and into the water without anybody noticing.
“Kids have drowned when parents didn’t mean for them to be in the pool,” said Isabell Sakamoto, Suicide and Injury Prevention Program Manager at Seattle Children’s. “With that in mind, having a pool set up in the backyard requires a different level of attention than planning a day at the lake or ocean.”
Read full post »