Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? With Fairfield County experiencing both a minor earthquake and a major tropical storm in August, it’s definitely a good time to take stock of our lives and make sure we’re prepared when the next weather event or other emergency situation occurs!
Like many people in the area, we at Willows Pediatrics lost power and dealt with issues ranging from flooding to downed tree limbs during Irene last month. That’s why we wanted to share with you some advice on preparing for emergencies. The three steps we recommend for emergency preparedness are (1) get a kit; (2) make a plan; and (3) be informed! Read More
Whether your children have been home for the summer or away at camp, when mid-August hits everyone’s minds can’t help turn to “back to school” time! Along with the excitement of buying school supplies and finding out which teachers your children will have comes a bit of planning and preparation. Today Willows Pediatrics would like to address two big school-related issues: backpacks and school lunches.
On the subject of backpacks, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is working to educate students and their parents about the dangers of wearing backpacks that are either too heavy or worn improperly. Overly-heavy backpacks or those worn on one shoulder can cause pain in their neck, shoulders and back as well as posture-related issues. Read More
Having a teenager who is learning to drive can be one of parenthood’s most nerve-racking times. Not only are our children being given the keys to more freedom, they are being given control of a potentially dangerous motor vehicle.
Here in Fairfield County, where highways can be dicey and back roads can be slippery, encouraging our youngest drivers to navigate the roads safely is of the utmost importance. Here are some sobering statistics from the CDC: Read More
Willows Reports: Your Child & Social Media
Adolescents and even children are spending more and more time on the Internet. Online activities can provide our kids with entertainment, technical skills and the ability to communicate with others. However, social interaction via the Internet—social media—can sometimes become unhealthy and unsafe, and Willows Pediatrics is here to help advise you of the Internet’s potential hazards.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a clinical report on “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” The report concludes that not all social media sites are healthy environments for children and adolescents and that parents should be urged to monitor for potential problems that can include cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting and exposure to inappropriate content. In addition, young people who spend too much time on the Internet have been found to have problems that include Internet addiction and sleep deprivation.
As pediatricians, we want to remind you that many of these online behaviors are extensions of issues that are affecting our children off-line in the real world, like bullying, popularity and status, depression, social anxiety and sexual development. Facebook, for example, can be difficult for kids already dealing with self-esteem issues, according to Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines. “With in-your-face friends’ tallies, status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times, Facebook pages can make some kids feel even worse if they think they don’t measure up.”
With these issue in mind, we (and the AAP) advise parents to:
(1) talk to your children and adolescents about their online use;
(2) become better educated about the technologies your kids are using;
(3) develop a family online-use plan that includes family meetings and emphasizes citizenship and healthy behavior; and
(4) supervise online activity through active participation and communication.
Please note that age 13 is the minimum age for most social media sites. Falsifying ages so your child can participate on these sites can open the door to an unhealthy social media interaction, and it also sends mixed messages about lying. Online safety must always be the primary message being emphasized.
As with all aspects of adolescence, it’s important to find the right balance between giving your child freedom and autonomy and also maintaining a certain amount of control. As parents, it is our job to keep our children safe. Just as we would want to meet our child’s friends and their parents or do some background research on a school or summer program, we should take the time to understand the social networking they are involved in … and to monitor for potential problems.
If you have any specific questions in this regard, please let us know. As pediatricians and parents, we are doing our best to keep up to date on these technologies and their benefits, as well as their potential dangers.
Willows Talks About The Family Bed & Co-Sleeping
Many families spend their days together. Others stay together at night too! The “family bed,” or co-sleeping is a common practice in many societies, and there are advocates for it here in the U.S. too. However, there are child safety concerns related to having adults and children share a bed. So, is it an acceptable practice?
A recent blog posted on CT Now (and written by former local mom Sarah Cody), asked the same question. She’d heard about the possible benefits of co-sleeping—better nursing and enhanced emotional security—but worried about the dangers to newborns and infants, including injury and suffocation.
She turned to Willows Pediatric Group physician Dr. Jeff Owens for his take on the issue. Dr. Owens rightly pointed out that ‘”The American Academy of Pediatrics still doesn’t recommend it.” He also noted that the dangers stem from two major concerns: soft bedding and impaired judgment. A baby should never sleep on a futon, couch or waterbed, and a parent should not drink, smoke or use drugs with the infant nearby. Moreover, twenty-four hour bonding can challenge a couple’s need for a healthy physical relationship and leave a mother drained and exhausted.
However, Dr. Owens did allow for some wiggle room. “If it’s a stark, firm [bed] and the baby is on his back, the baby is probably safe.” Dr. Owens believes we should also respect different cultures, some of which believe “the family bed” is the answer to peaceful nights and strong attachments.
In other words, “do what works for your family as long as it’s a safe situation.”
Last fall, we blogged about the importance of correctly using car seats and booster seats to keep babies and older children safe while driving. Just a few weeks ago, however, the AAP released new recommendations relating to car safety, and we wanted to share them with you.
The AAP issued two important revised recommendations:
(1) Parents are now advised to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.
(2) The AAP now recommends that children ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
More detailed information on these guidelines can be found at the AAP’s website.
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. Willows Pediatrics is here to answer questions about car seats or child safety in general. In addition, most of our local communities offer car seat check services.
We hope you will take these new recommendations into consideration when putting your children in the car. Use your best judgment and try to adhere to the weight/height guidelines, even if the age guidelines might not be appropriate for your child. For example, as Dr. Czuzcka notes, “The new 4’9” advice to stay in the back booster seat would mean that my wife’s grandmother would be a in a booster seat until she died in her 80s!” In other words, while these are important safety recommendations, each child is unique and there are times when exceptions may be made. (Feel free to ask us about your own child and your specific concerns at your next appointment.)
Thanks for checking in today … and, please, drive safely!
Heather Buccigross, PA-C
Lately, concussions and head injuries have been making national headlines; the NFL has even changed some of its rules regarding permissible tackles to address the issue. On a more local level, concussions during sports—and the impact they have on the brain—are something we take very seriously here at Willows Pediatric Group.
With that in mind, we offer ImPACT testing, a computer-based testing program specifically designed for the management of sports-related concussion. ImPACT testing is widely used in concussion management and has been implemented in many high school and college athletic programs.
The test measures attention, memory, processing speed, and reaction time. In addition, it asks for the individual taking the test to indicate the presence and level of concussion symptoms, if they exist. One of our Physician’s Assistants, Heather Buccigross, has been specially trained in this area and can help manage and treat children ages 12 years and up. (Some schools perform baseline ImPACT testing on students playing contact sports. Results of the testing can guide when it is safe for an athlete to return to sports. If your child does not have a baseline test done at school, we can perform one-please speak to your physician or PA about scheduling one.)
Recently, Heather spoke to parents and coaches in Fairfield about concussions and sports, and we thought we would share some of the highlights of her speech. If you would like more information, please let us know.
A concussion, known in the medical world as MBTI (mild traumatic brain injury), is a disturbance in brain function that occurs following either a blow to the head, or as a result of the violent shaking of the head. The CDC reports 300,000 sports related concussions occur annually in the U.S, and it is believed that sports concussions are under reported and this does not reflect the true incidence.
If your child participates in sports, here is a list of some of the most common symptoms reported by athletes with head injuries:
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or fuzzy vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish
- Feeling “foggy”
- Change in sleep pattern
- Concentration or memory problems
- Also, here is a list of the most common behaviors others have observed in athletes with head injuries:
- Appears to be dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignments
- Forgets plays
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even momentarily)
- Shows behavior or personality change
- Forgets events prior to hit (retrograde amnesia)
- Forgets events after hit (anterograde amnesia)
Even if you don’t think your child was hit in the head, if he or she is experiencing these symptoms, it is best to have him or her evaluated. Something called “Second Impact Syndrome” occurs in athletes with an unreported, prior concussion who return to play before resolution of the symptoms and can cause a very serious increase in intracranial pressure.
This is one of the reasons coaches are encouraged to remove athletes from the game after any head injury and to perform an on-field mental status evaluation. When in doubt, it’s best to keep an athlete out of the game and refer him or her for a full evaluation in a medical office. With proper diagnosis and management, we can maximize recovery after a concussion and take steps to avoid risk from returning to play too soon.
Your child’s safety is very important to us, and the proper management of head injuries is crucial. Again, if you would like to schedule baseline ImPACT testing or have any concerns about your athlete, please contact us.
Take care, and enjoy the spring sports season!
We’ve been saying it for years: a teaspoon in your kitchen is not a “teaspoon” in medicine dosing terms. Same goes for the tablespoon. In other words, kitchen spoons are made for eating, not for measuring medicine!
Though it may have been the crib you spent time in as a child—and you did just fine—your old crib is most likely not suitable for your new baby. It’s tempting to purchase a used crib from a tag sale or to accept one from kindhearted family or friends whose children have grown up, but Willows Pediatrics recommends avoiding cribs that are more than 10 years old. (This means avoiding them at home, and also at day care centers and grandma’s house too!)
Here are just some of the dangers of older cribs:
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