Flu cases in Washington state are already at higher-than-average levels, and experts say we have yet to hit the flu season’s peak. In the last few weeks, health officials have reported a spike in influenza activity. Seattle Children’s is seeing an increase in emergency department visits for flu symptoms. In the past week, 62 infants, kids and teens tested positive for flu, which is three times more than the number of cases seen in the first week of December.
Across the United States, 47 states are reporting widespread influenza activity, and at least 18 children have died from the flu this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Washington state, at least six people have died, including a 12-year-old boy.
Of the 50,000 people infected with HIV each year, 25 percent are teens or young adults ages 13 to 24, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parents need to talk to their teens about how to protect themselves from HIV – even if it’s uncomfortable, says Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine division.
“Teens and young adults are more likely to get a sexually transmitted infection than older adults,” Evans says. “It’s critical that teens have the facts about HIV and how to prevent it.”
Five doctors at Seattle Children’s offer their top tips for keeping kids healthy in the new year. Their suggestions range from protecting kids against the flu and environmental toxins, to helping them get the rest they need to succeed.
Make one of these your family’s 2013 New Year’s resolution:
1. Protect your whole family against the flu
Doug Opel, MD, MPH, general pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says “It’s not too late, but don’t wait” to get a flu shot. Opel advises parents to vaccinate their children and themselves against the flu, a contagious virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs, and can cause fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.
Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that has shocked the world, many families may feel uneasy as their children return to school this week. Not only has the tragedy made some parents question their children’s safety at school, but children and teens may also find it difficult to return to their normal routine as they remain concerned about the events that took place.
Seattle Children’s pediatrician and blogger Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson provides helpful advice about how parents can support their children as well as themselves in the next few days and weeks ahead.
Remember your child’s school is safe – Random shootings are an anomaly and it is important to remind yourself that this tragedy was an exception.
Get the information you need – Reach out to your child’s school to ensure there are good safety measures in place.
Step back from media reports – Any overwhelming informational stream can increase anxiety and heartache.
Listen to your children before you speak – Ask what your children have heard and how it makes them feel. If your children don’t speak about it, begin the conversation and ask open-ended questions.
Discuss the safety measures you take in your own home and at school to protect your children from harm.
Check in with your child when they get home from school – Ask open-ended questions to see what they’ve learned or how they’re feeling and continue to check in over the next few weeks. Read full post »
On the heels of Tuesday’s mall shooting in Oregon, this morning a tragic mass shooting unfolded at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Just like adults, kids are exposed to news coverage of violence or hear about it from friends, and they are likely to have fears and questions. Studies show that children can suffer long-term emotional damage from exposure to violence in news coverage.
Dr. Bob Hilt, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says parents should be prepared to help their children deal with traumatic events, such as natural disasters and acts of violence.
How to help your kids cope with violence
Dr. Hilt suggests parents follow these tips to help their kids process traumatic events:
Control what kids are seeing and hearing. Limit the amount and type of news coverage your child is exposed to. If the TV is on, make sure you watch with your kids so you can answer any questions they might have about what they’re seeing. Younger kids don’t have the ability to contextualize traumatic events. A child might personalize an event and worry that it might happen to his family. While teens are better able to emotionally process violence and disasters, they might still have questions. Make sure to check in with your older children as well.
Marijuana becomes legal in Washington state on Thursday, and a commercial marijuana market is on the horizon. Dr. Leslie Walker, chief of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and president elect for the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, says that now’s the time for parents to talk with their children – especially teens – about the consequences of marijuana use.
We all want our kids to lead vibrant, active lives, because childhood is such a dynamic time of discovery and participation.
But there are healthy – and unhealthy – ways to ensure that this happens.
One of my concerns right now is that caffeine is playing an unhealthy role in the diets of too many children and adolescents. Teens, for example, shouldn’t consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day. (The recommended caffeine ceiling for adults is about 400 mg per day.)
Unfortunately, there’s a problem with certain energy drinks that exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) mandated limit of 71 mg of caffeine for a 12-ounce soda.
Energy drinks are sold as nutritional supplements, so they’re not regulated as foods. As a result, their labels often don’t reveal the exact amount of caffeine in each drink. And, in addition to caffeine, energy drinks may contain other stimulants, such as taurine and guarana, a caffeine containing plant.
October 24, 2012 | Health and SafetyComments Off on Tips for a Fun and Safe Halloween
Some would say Halloween has always been scary.
It was first called “All Hallows’ Eve,” and people believed that there were no barriers separating the world of the living from the world of the dead. As a result, many locked themselves in their homes because they feared that ghosts and demons were roaming the streets. If people absolutely had to go out, they disguised themselves in costumes.
Halloween has become a lot more fun today, peppered with costumes, sweet treats and community events.
But, if you’re a parent, it can still generate some anxiety.
To help ease any worry, Seattle Children’s would like to share some guidelines to help you and your child have a fun and safe Halloween. Watch the video above for additional tips and treats.
September 6, 2012 | Health and SafetyComments Off on Prudence, Prevention and the Real-World Perils of Pertussis
It’s back-to-school time, so it’s back to wellness basics for our children. One of the most effective ways we can keep our children healthy is to keep them up-to-date with immunizations. And one of the most important immunizations a child (and parents and grandparents) can get protects against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
August 16, 2012 | Health and SafetyComments Off on Hot Cars and Kids – a Deadly Combination
What can happen when otherwise attentive parents get distracted
For most of us, especially those of us in the Pacific Northwest, when the sun comes out our moods improve with the increase in temperature. Unfortunately, what also increases is the number of children who die from hyperthermia or overheating of the body, after being unintentionally left in a car.
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