It has been over 20 years since the National Institute of Child Health and Development launched its Back to Sleep campaign to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That first initiative, started in 1994, saw infant death rates by SIDS drop by over half in 10 years. Further research, however, showed that in the same time period, many babies died not only while sleeping tummy side-down in their cribs, but also while sleeping in beds and on couches with their parents.
With the arrival of warm weather, so comes the potential for tragedy . Every year in the United States, more than a thousand children die in drowning accidents. The peak period of risk is among toddlers and preschoolers, but a child of any age can be at risk in the wrong circumstances. What can we do to prevent these devastating accidents? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following guidelines:
The onset of menstrual cycles, or menarche, is a defining moment in a girl’s physical development. It is important to keep tabs on this important health marker throughout adolescence and beyond. It is so significant, in fact, that the American Academy of Pediatrics urges healthcare workers to treat the menstrual cycle as another vital sign, along with pulse, temperature, respiration and blood pressure.
Exposure to toxins is an important and preventable cause of childhood injury. Children are by nature curious and lack the judgment to avoid many harmful exposures. Keeping kids safe from poisoning involves building up layers of protection, from securing dangerous substances in the home environment to supervising children constantly.
Over the past 40 years, public health campaigns and legislative policies have helped get the message out that cigarettes are a bad idea for everyone, especially kids. The last few years, however, have seen a skyrocketing trend that threatens to undo the progress we have made in curtailing children’s interest in — and access to – cigarettes. I’m referring, of course, to electronic nicotine devices (ENDs), also called electronic cigarettes, e-cigs or vapes.
Cold and flu season is right around the corner! Now is the perfect time to arm yourself and your children against influenza. While it’s important to take general health precautions like washing your hands, not touching your face, and steering clear of sick people, often these measures are not enough. A flu vaccine adds an important layer of protection against this miserable and sometimes dangerous illness.
School has started, kicking off a new semester of homework, group projects, field trips and sports. For some children and their families, though, these aspects of the school year bring outsized stress and struggle. Routine assignments beget hours of procrastination and redirection, collaboration turns into conflict with peers, permission slips lay crumpled at the bottom of the backpack and coaches wonder why so-and-so can’t keep his head in the game. Cue the concerned teacher emails. Is it ADHD?
Pediatricians are passionate about the health and safety of every child, but sometimes that role can make us sound as if we are on a crusade against enjoyment. Turn off the TV! Get off the trampoline! No tiny pet turtles! No honey under 1, no popcorn under 4! No, we don’t have lollipops, but we do have stickers. And so on. It’s hard to be the heavy.
I spend a lot of my day talking to moms and dads about the challenges of bringing up children. All parents, newbies and veterans alike, need advice now and then. As a mother of three, I am no exception. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to pass along some of the best words of parenting wisdom my own mom has shared with me over the years, in no particular order.