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Seattle rain? You can still play inside!

In the last few years, I’ve taken note of various national campaigns encouraging improved health and wellness in children. Some aim to inspire at least an hour of play daily. Others focus on movement in conjunction with eating nutritious food to help fight childhood obesity. All of these campaigns share a common important message: regular physical activity improves a child’s overall health.

With the winter months upon us, my patients and families are concerned how to maintain activity levels when it’s cold, rainy, and gets dark outside too early. Even in the warmest months, there may be reasons a child might be inside more than out – including safety concerns. Fortunately, there are many fun ways children CAN stay active indoors when playgrounds are cold, ball fields are icy, yards are soggy, or the sun goes down too early.

Here are some ways kids can play inside while also working on strength, balance, flexibility, or coordination:

Support siblings when a child is in the hospital

Anytime a child is admitted to the hospital, it’s a scary and stressful experience for the entire family, including siblings. Siblings may have a vast range of different reactions and feelings so it’s just as important to support the siblings through this difficult time as it is for the patient.

No “window of opportunity” for celiac disease prevention

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I’m often asked whether there is any way to prevent a child from developing celiac disease. Based on what I knew regarding how food allergies develop, I used to counsel families that there might be a “window of opportunity”, between four and six months, when it’s possible to introduce grains and other gluten-containing foods that could potentially “teach” the immune system to tolerate gluten and thus lower the risk of developing celiac disease.

However, my “window theory” recently got thrown out the window when the results of two important scientific studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Parents: talk to your kids about e-cigarettes

Do you know what an e-cigarette is?  Does your child?  You may be surprised.  In 2012, 1.78 million U.S. students reported having used e-cigarettes.  And that number has only continued to increase.  Our communities have been slow to realize the impact of electronic cigarettes on our children, but this is an issue parents and pediatricians need to tackle head-on ...

What to do if your child swallows something

With the holiday season fast approaching, the environments around us are about to change. Glitter, lights, tinsel, ornaments, decorations, new toys and many other exciting trimmings are bound to be a part of daily life for a while. It’s no doubt that kiddos will be curious about all of this new shiny stuff!

Many kids will likely explore these things with their mouths. Exploring the world by mouth is a normal part of development for babies, but what should you do if your baby or child swallows an object? The answer: stay calm and think! There are some situations in which your child will require the help of a doctor, however many situations can be managed from home. Many items are small enough to pass through the digestive tract and out in a bowel movement, and in this instance your child will likely have no symptoms.

Here are the red flags to look for if your child swallows a foreign object. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek medical help.

New recommendations for children’s screen time and media usage

Screen time is a hot topic for parents, especially in our tech-savvy part of the world. In 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics addressed the subject of screen time and recommended no more than 2 hours of screen time per day and none for children under 2 years of age . The world has changed considerably since 2001 and screens are more prevalent than ever. Recent surveys suggest that the average child in the US actually spends about 5 hours per day in front of a screen. Recent data (2013) suggest that the average 8 year old spends up to 8 hours per day in front of a screen. Some teens spend up to 11 hours per day in front of a screen. This is not a surprise since 75% of teens have their own phones and most teens text. The average teen sends 3,364 texts per month.

The changing world of media has prompted new recommendations with the hope of fostering a healthy approach to media. New ...

Can food allergies be undiagnosed?

With food allergies on the rise in the past several years, you probably know at least one person who is allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, or seafood. Individuals with a food allergy typically experience symptoms every time they eat a particular food. These symptoms range from relatively mild like hives and swelling to more severe such as coughing, vomiting, or loss of consciousness.

Unfortunately, there are no approved treatments for food allergies today. Individuals cope by avoiding the food and having proper medications nearby in case of an allergic reaction. As most children eventually outgrow some food allergies, it’s important to get tested for an accurate diagnosis.

To diagnose a food allergy, allergy specialists usually ...
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