My name is Dr. Edna Tello, MD. I am a board certified pediatrician, wife, mother of two, and community health educator. I started this blog in response to questions and requests from many of my parents, friends, and family members.
The school year is over, summer camp is in full swing, and the kids are exchanging sneakers for flip fops and backpacks for beach towels. Parents are hauling coolers brimming with drinks and fresh fruit, eager to enjoy a scintillating summer day. As you prepare for the perfect beach or pool day, however, please remember the A, B, C’s of preventing drowning.
While drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the USA among children under 14 and the leading cause of accidental death for children age 5 and under, according to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, it is extremely PREVENTABLE.
Of all preschoolers who have drowned, 70 percent were in the care of one or both parents and 75 percent were missing from sight for five minutes or less (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control). In short, it can happen to ANYBODY.
How Do We Prevent Drowning
1.D is for Direct Supervision-Watch your little one at all times. If you are not watching the children yourself, please assign a water watcher (a sober adult) during parties and social events. Parental supervision is the single most important form of prevention.
2. D is for Deterrence- The use of protective barriers like properly installed pool fences, door alarms, secure sliding doors or any other doors that lead to a body of water can also help prevent tragedy.
3. D is for Don’t Dive Deep until you learn Swim in Shallow- Swimming instruction can start from 6 months and up. All adults caring for children should know how to swim and should also know Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Enquire in your area for free swimming and CPR lessons, which are often offered by organizations like your local YMCA or hospital.
In honor of National Eye Care Month, I will be dedicating this month’s posts to vision care tips. In the spirit of the New Year, there is no better time to schedule a new eye exam for the entire family.
As a part of the health screening before school entry, I recommend having your children’s vision formally checked. Between the ages of 3 and 4 all children should have their vision screened. Your child should have his/her eyes check by the pediatrician with every well visit. However, I recommend a more detailed exam and it should be performed by a pediatric ophthalmologist or by an optometrist who is comfortable evaluating young children.
These are some red flags that should be immediately investigated in regards to your children’s vision:
- A severe headache that is persistent; Children should not have headaches. Mark a calendar for everyday he/she complains of headache and make note of the time of the day. This could be a sign of a vision or a more serious problem. If the headache is associated with other symptoms always contact your pediatrician immediately.
- Watching TV, playing video games or computer games too close as if unable to see clearly
- Needing to read books too close
- Squinting frequently
- Lazy eye
- Family history of refractory eye problems like astigmatism, far sightedness or near sightedness
- History of Prematurity
Eye exams are as important as your dental exams. Have your eyes checked once a year. And kids remember to eat your carrots: Vitamin A is good for your EYES.
Stay tuned for my next post on Vision Nutrition!
The Flu Season has already begun are you and your little ones prepared? I am sure that you are all seeing and hearing the commercials to come and get “The Flu Shot.” They are giving them at your local pharmacy, at the health department, and in your primary care physician’s office. Before you make your decision about receiving this vaccine, I’m sure you have several questions.
What exactly is this “Flu Shot?”
There are two types of influenza vaccines: a live and non live. The live means an actual viral particle is given to the patient, this vaccine is popular because is non injectable and given through a nasal spray. The live vaccine should never be given to children under age 2 years, children who have asthma or recent history of wheezing or anybody who is immunocompromised. The non live is injectable but it contains the inactivated virus as the main component of the vaccine. There are also a preservative free or with preservative version of the vaccine. In this case the preservative is thimerosol which contains small traces of mercury. I never like to give my children or my patients anything with mercury preservative if I can prevent it. Ask your provider which version they have so you can make the best decision for you and your child(ren).
Why is there a new vaccine every year?
There are different influenza strands and every year the virus mutates or changes. Therefore a new vaccine is made using a combination of strands from the most recent outbreaks worldwide. Once the vaccine is given to a patient it will start working in the immune system at day three of vaccination, but it is not until after day 7 that you will have full immunity. If during that period you are exposed you will still get the flu.
Who is more susceptible to the flu?
I recommend the flu vaccine every year for all children who are six months and up especially for little ones with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, history of extreme prematurity, and heart disease.
What are the possible side-effects?
All vaccines have potential side effects. The possible side effects of the flu vaccine can range from nothing, to minor redness and swelling at the site of the vaccine, to pain and soreness of the site for several days after the vaccine; to the most unusual but possible fever, body aches and headaches. Other possible side effects may present if the child is allergic to any components of the vaccines, then the child should not receive the vaccine: the possible side effect can be hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing which are signs of severe allergy called anaphylaxis. The vaccine contains some chicken egg component therefore if a child is allergic to eggs he/she should not receive the vaccine. Thankfully the most severe side effects are very rare.
As I stated in my previous posting the best preventions for the Flu are hand washing and the vaccine. I arm myself, my family, and my patients with the flu vaccine every year.
For more information on the flu vaccine visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/#flu .
During the holidays not only do we get to wear pretty clothes, eat great food but we also get to go on a plane, train or car to visit relatives and friends as part of your family tradition.
Here are a few tips to make your trip an enjoyable and healthy experience for the family whatever your destination or mode of transportation.
What to Pack?
- Pack lightly, but even if you are going to sunny California bring a couple of long sleeve cotton shirts and a pair of long pants in case the weather changes.
- Bring movies, video games, coloring books or age appropriate quiet activities like coloring. If you are traveling with multiple children and it is a long trip bring a little treasure box with small treats from the dollar store, one per hour of flight/drive and take out one at a time.
- Bring their favorite blanket or teddy bear to comfort them and hopefully help them take a nap.
- Bring a few treats such as pretzels or crackers as there may not be food served on the plane.
In the Plane:
- For infants and toddlers prepare for takeoff and landing by giving a bottle or pacifier to help with ear pressure.
- It is ok to let them be active and play before traveling or if possible in the afternoon or evening where there could be a better chance they will sleep during the flight. Do not get them over tired or ever medicate them with antihistamines (like Benadryl) or cough medications. These medications can cause hyperactivity and jitteriness instead of somnolence. Children should not be medicated with this purpose ever.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes in layers; it is usually cold in the plane and remember you must remove clothes when going through security. So make sure shoes and jackets are easy to remove and put on.
- Bring sanitizing wipes and clean their little hands after checking in and after going through security. Thousands of people traffic these areas every day.
In the Car:
- All of the above apply with the exception of the ear pressure issue unless you are going to very high altitudes, like traveling to the mountains.
- Prepare to make several stops during the trip and make them count by strategically planning interesting places to stop for bathroom and food. Road trips can be interesting and very relaxing if well planned.
Make the best of every situation and make sure they get enough food and rest and your children will be fine during the trip. If your child is very young and gets fussy remember not to have unrealistic expectations: I get a little fussy when I don’t get to sleep on my bed.
By: Dr. Edna Tello, MD