Parents who smoke around kids increase ear infections

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Here is some information on ear infections and smoking in children’s living space.

Ear infections are common in children. They include acute otitis media, which is an infection in the middle ear space associated with pain and fever. There is an estimated 5 million ear infections each year in the United States.

There also is otitis media with effusion. Children with otitis media with effusion have extra fluid in the middle ear, so symptoms may include feeling like the ear is plugged or difficulty hearing.

Even if these infections are common, they can have consequences. Sometimes they require surgery, and they may make the children at risk for hearing loss and delayed speech development. Continue reading

What you need to know about measles

Dr. Lauren Raimer-Goodman

Dr. Lauren Raimer-Goodman

Recently, my colleagues and I have been hearing reports about measles outbreaks around the country. New York, California, Dallas and even Hawaii have seen cases this year.

Many epidemiologists feel it’s only a matter of time before most major metropolitan areas in the U.S. are affected. Unless we see an improvement in vaccination rates, the Houston area is at risk of having its own outbreak.

So what is measles and why are doctors across the country up in arms about some people coming down with a little virus?

In short, because it’s highly contagious, can be deadly and is completely preventable with vaccination. Measles causes fever, cough, runny nose and pink eye in the early stages. People then usually develop a rash that starts at the top of the head and spreads down the body. Measles can cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. This can happen during the initial infection or any time after you have been infected with the virus, even years later. Some people who get measles will die from it. According to the World Health Organization, 122,000 people died of measles in 2012 globally. That’s 14 people an hour.

Why are we even in this situation? It started in 1998 when Andrew Wakefield, a former surgeon and researcher in the UK, published a paper suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Guess what? Continue reading

Poisons can be found all throughout the house

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

It’s important for parents to remember that not all poisons are in the garage or basement.

A number of poisons can be found throughout the house. Small children are both curious and fast, so parents have to exercise special care not to leave dangerous products open or within their reach.

Take a tour of your house or apartment to see if some of these dangerous conditions exist.

  • In the kitchen, check that all detergents, bleaches, cleaners and especially drain cleaners, as well as soaps and bug killers are not under the sink in an unlocked cupboard, but up high in a cupboard with a childproof lock.
  • Products containing lye are extremely dangerous. Don’t keep these in your home. Keep alcoholic drinks up out of the reach of children.
  • Buy products with childproof or child-resistant caps. Opening them should require thumb pressure beyond the ability of small children.
  • In the bathroom, besides checking that soaps are out of reach, keep medicines, cosmetics, colognes, toothpaste and mouthwashes out of reach — and preferably locked up.
  • Don’t leave pills in open bottles or in a dish of “the day’s dose of medicine.” Make sure all product labels are clear — both on medicine and on products that might be found anywhere in the house. In an emergency, you will need to know what product was involved. Continue reading

Be cautious with hot water around children, elderly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

No one wants to be burned. Even the smallest burn hurts more than a cut the same size.

Larger burns not only hurt but can result in significant pain, permanent scarring, loss of the use of limbs and even death.

Most scald burns can be prevented. Scald burns occur from accidental spills of hot liquids or from hot tap water.

Scald burns happen most often in children age 5 and younger and the elderly. Several things can be done to prevent these burns.

For accidental spills, always make sure that the handles of pans are turned away so that young children cannot reach up and grab them and extension cords to coffee pots and other electric cookers are not hanging off the counter.

About a 1-second exposure to water at 160 degrees will result in a third-degree burn, which is the most severe burn and will leave a scar. Continue reading

Chores instill values, teach life skills to children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

What are chores and why is it important for children to have to do chores?

Chores are simple tasks that help build planning skills and teach basic life skills.

These basic life skills will help your child for the rest of his or her life with such tasks as cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and household maintenance.

The better the parents are able to teach these skills while the child is young, the more capable the child will be able to do more complicated tasks later in life.

It is important for the parent to spend time teaching how to do a chore such as making a bed.

However, it also is important that the parent not spend too much time making the child do it perfectly.

It is more important that the child feel that he or she is part of the family and feels a sense of accomplishment. Continue reading

Help children learn how to deal with stress

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Stress is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you are worried, scared, angry, frustrated or overwhelmed.

Many adults think that stress is something that only adults have, but children also have stress.

Stress in childhood comes from many different sources. It may be from parents pushing their children to work harder on their schoolwork, sports activities or other extra curricular activities.

It may be from their friends exerting peer pressure to make them do things that they are uncomfortable doing. It may be from themselves with such pressures as “I need to lose weight, get better grades or make a better score.”

It also may be from watching parents argue, worrying about the neighborhood or world problems or feeling guilty.

The body reacts to stress by releasing a chemical (hormone) that sends a signal to the nervous system to turn on its emergency system.

This is a very important system that helps get us out of danger so that we can run faster, jump farther and climb trees faster. The same hormone is released with the “dangers” of exams, peer pressure, family problems or world calamities. Continue reading

Do everything possible to avoid shaken baby syndrome

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Recently, more than 2,000 infants and children were hospitalized as the result of being shaken by their caregivers.

Physicians suspect that the numbers are even higher since the syndrome often goes unreported.

Shaken baby syndrome refers to the violent and unnecessary repetitive shaking of an infant or young child.

A combination of a heavy head, weak neck muscles and a soft and rapidly growing brain can lead to severe bruising of the shaken child’s brain. Blindness, mental retardation or death can occur as a result.

Shaken baby syndrome can also occur when a child is bounced up and down on a person’s knee or tossed in the air. Playing games like “cracking the whip,” where a child is swung around by the ankles, or “skinning the cat,” where a child is flipped and somersaulted forward by the wrists, also have been known to cause shaken baby syndrome. Continue reading

Research: Probiotics might prevent or treat disorders in children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Probiotics — meaning for life — are microorganisms that may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria just as the existing good bacteria in your body already does.

The most common types of probiotics are strains of tiny organisms called bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.

Some formulas are fortified with probiotics, which are live bacteria. They are good or friendly bacteria that are already present at high levels in the digestive system of breast-fed babies.

Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for the probiotics. Prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes.

When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they are called synbiotics. Yogurt is an example of a synbiotics, which contains the live bacteria and the fuel they need to survive.

Some research has shown that the probiotics mentioned above may prevent or treat disorders such as infectious diarrhea and atopic dermatitis (eczema) in children. Continue reading

Mental health as important as physical health in children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Hissy fits. Temper tantrums. The blues. Like adults, children also suffer from these conditions from time to time.

But what if it has become an insurmountable problem for your child? When should you seek help for your child? A frank discussion with your pediatrician is a good place to begin understanding the seriousness of your child’s problem.

According to the Surgeon General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “In the United States, 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause some level of impairment.

“Yet, in any given year, it is estimated that less than 1 in 5 of these children identified as having a significant mental illness receives needed treatment. The long-term consequences of untreated childhood disorders are costly, in both human and fiscal terms.”

Unfortunately, there is a serious stigma that is placed on people with mental health issues. Because of this stigma, emotional, developmental and behavioral needs cause much suffering in children. Continue reading

Serve healthier drinking alternatives over sweetened soft drinks

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

All of us need to think about ways to encourage healthy lifestyles for your family.

Almost 25 percent of children in the U.S. are overweight.

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about soft drinks in schools and how they contribute to the increasing obesity problem in the U.S. Some legislators have even suggested a “sin” tax on high-fructose foods and drinks.

In an effort to control the growing number of children becoming overweight, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging school officials to remove soft drinks from vending machines in schools and replace them with healthier drinks, such as milk, 100 percent fruit juice or water.

Other suggestions for limiting access to sodas while children are in school include turning off vending machines during regular school hours and placing the machines in out-of-the-way places, so they are not as noticeable. Continue reading