Willows Pediatrics Blog - We Know Kids

We Know Kids

The Willows Pediatrics Blog

Sledding: Winter Fun or Dangerous Past-time?

sledding safety

photo via wikimedia.org

It has been quite a winter so far here in southeastern Connecticut! Snow, slush, sleet … and more snow! With all of the winter weather and school closings, families have had more opportunities than ever to enjoy some favorite winter activities such as ice skating, skiing and snowman-building! Another activity that seems to be on everyone’s snow-day “to do” list is sledding. And while we know that sledding is a quintessential New England activity, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that sledding-related injuries are more common than one might think.

According to a recent article in Pediatrics, more than 20,000 children annually are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding injuries. Some other noteworthy statistics include:

  • Children 10 to 14 years of age sustained 42.5% of sledding-related injuries;
  • Boys represented 59.8% of all cases
  • The head was the most commonly injured body part (34.1%), and injuries to the head were twice as likely to occur during collisions as through other mechanisms.
  • The most frequent injury diagnoses were fractures (26.3%), followed by contusions and abrasions (25.0%).
  • Traumatic brain injuries were more likely to occur with snow tubes than with other sled types. Read More

Swaddling and Hip Dysplasia: There May Be a Connection

Infant Swaddling

photo via Wikimedia.com

Infants have been swaddled for hundreds of years to promote sleep, keep them warm and decrease crying. Recently, however, the popularity of the practice has increased, and the pediatric and orthopedic communities are concerned that swaddling may influence the rate of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).  An increase in DDH in infancy would lead to an increase in early arthritis in young adults.

If you are swaddling your infant, the most important thing to remember is that there should still be room for flexion in the legs. As the AAP stated, “Allowing even tightly swaddled infants to still have this flexion and abduction in their hips would allow for safe development of their hips.” Hip-safe swaddling is not difficult, and the International Hip Dysplasia Institute even has an online video, which demonstrates for new parents the safe swaddling technique. Read More

For Families With Food Allergies, Preparation Is Key During Thanksgiving and the Winter Holidays!

photo via Fickr.comIf you have a child with a life-threatening food allergy, you know the importance of planning ahead and carrying an Epi-Pen. You probably cook allergen-free meals or eat out at trusted restaurants, making day-to-day life a little easier on you and your child. However, as Thanksgiving and other holidays that involve a lot of eating approach, food allergies can become a more pressing daily concern. The family is snacking on the fly, attending parties with unfamiliar food and joining in family gatherings with well-meaning relatives who might not completely understand the severity of your child’s allergy.

The doctors at Willows Pediatrics are very familiar with food allergies, and several have family members with life-threatening allergies. Here is their advice as to how to prepare for, and navigate, the “eating” season.

First and foremost, always carry your child’s Epi-Pen and keep it nearby. Don’t leave it at home (where it will be of no use in an emergency) and don’t leave it in the car (where it can be rendered ineffective by extremely cold weather). Likewise, if you are dropping off your child at a party, leave the Epi-Pen with a responsible adult and take the time to train him or her on how and when to use it. Read More

Banking Cord Blood: Why Public Banks Are the Better Choice

At Willows Pediatrics we frequently meet with expectant mothers and fathers. At these consultations we are able to chat with them about a variety of topics including newborn care, lactation and what to expect in the delivery room. One of the issues our soon-to-be parents often raise is whether or not to bank their child’s umbilical cord blood … and where to do so.

Cord blood from the umbilical cord is a rich source of stem cells that can save lives through stem cell transplants. Parents of newborns can elect to have the cells from their baby’s umbilical cord “banked” for future use. There are two options for families to bank their newborn’s cord blood, through a private company or through the public cord blood bank.  Read More

From Infancy to Adolescence, Car Safety is a Must

Sometimes, especially with young children, making sure everyone is in the car and safely buckled up can be the trickiest part of the day! We know that just getting your children to an appointment at Willows Pediatrics can involve various forms of car seats, boosters and seat belts. So, to make sure all of our patients arrive here safely, we wanted to go over current car safety guidelines.

Buckle Up

According to the CDC, in 2008, an average of 4 children ages 14 or younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes every day, and many more were injured. These statistics are sobering, but there is also reassuring news: proper car seat safety can make a huge difference. In 2008, restraint use saved the lives of 244 children ages 4 and younger and child safety seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages one to four.

The AAP has put their car safety recommendations for 2010 on HealthyChildren.org.

Infant Seats

According to this very detailed paper, infants should be placed in rear-facing car seats and always in the back seat of the car. Infants should ride rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. (At a minimum, under Connecticut law, children must ride rear-facing until they have reached at least 1 year of age AND weigh at least 20 pounds.)

Read More

Your Teen and Vitamin D: Why a Supplement Might Be Necessary

Photo via flickr.com

Photo via flickr.com

Everybody—and every body—needs vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for bone growth and repair and many other bodily functions. A deficiency can cause a number of health issues including weak bones and muscles and, in severe situations, rickets. Unfortunately, especially during adolescence—which also happen to be peak bone building time—vitamin D deficiency is common.

One reason for the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is because very few foods in nature contain it. Fish liver oils and fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel are the best sources, and small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver and egg yolks. Fortified milk, juice and some cereals are other good sources of the vitamin. However, it is important to note (1) that many dairy products made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream are not fortified; and (2) at least one study found that 15% of milk samples from the U.S. and Canada had no vitamin D and more than half had less than 80% of the vitamin D content stated on the label. Read More

Lice: Keeping Those Creepy Critters at Bay … and Getting Rid of Them Once They’ve Arrived

Nothing gives our favorite Connecticut parents the heebie jeebies like a case of head lice! Head lice (pediculosis capitis), while relatively harmless to children, causes great anxiety and stress to families who find themselves dealing with a lice infestation.

Before we get into the “nit-ty” (pun intended) gritty, there are two things we’d like to remind our Willows Pediatrics patients of: (1) that head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene and (2) head lice do not carry disease. Read More

Preventing Pertussis Outbreaks: Vaccination is the Key

DPT Vaccine

Photo via Wikimedia

Most of our patients at Willows Pediatrics have heard of the DPT vaccine, but fewer know a whole lot about the diseases it was designed to prevent. Today, in light of a recent outbreak in California, we would like to shed some light on the “P” in DPT: Pertussis. Before vaccines, pertussis (also known as whooping cough) was a common childhood disease that caused thousands of deaths annually back in the 1920s and 1930s. The development of a pertussis immunization in the 1940s and the acellular version (which we now use in the DPT shot) in the 1990s, has reduced the cases of this disease significantly.

However, pertussis still exists and is a highly contagious childhood disease. According to the CDC, a typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks (or even months) of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. It is most often transmitted via airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze or direct contact with the respiratory secretions from an infected person. When it comes to symptoms, pertussis is most severe in infants. It can lead to pneumonia, apnea, neurological complications (such as seizures), dehydration and even death. Read More

Protecting Your Child From Overexposure to the Sun

Sun Protection for Children

photo via flickr.com

We all love sunny days in New England! The summer is our one chance to really enjoy our beaches, pools, backyard sprinklers, boats and everything else Fairfield County has to offer. However, as much as we adore the sun, we all have to be careful about exposing our skin—and our children’s young skin—to its rays. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it only takes one sunburn to double a child’s lifetime risk of developing melanoma.  Pediatric skin cancer, while rare, is an important health concern and melanoma accounts for up to three percent of all pediatric cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.  Read More

Staying Safe in the Driveway and Street

Photo via flickr.com

In Westport, Weston, Fairfield and neighboring towns, many of us live on cul de sacs, quiet streets or have paved driveways. These smooth surfaces are ideal for kids to play on scooters, bikes, skateboards, roller blades, rip sticks and other wheeled toys. While it makes us happy to see so many of our patients outside, learning balance, practicing coordination and getting exercise, we are routinely surprised by the sheer number of youngsters we see on a daily basis without helmets. Read More