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'children' Parentelligence posts

Talking to kids about cancer

What do I tell my kids?” 

This is often the first question I’m asked by a parent with a new cancer diagnosis.  One of the most important things for parents to remember is that they know their children better than anyone else and they love them more than anyone…they can trust themselves to do this well.
 
Beyond that general reassurance, however, there are some practical tips for talking with children about a cancer diagnosis. 
 
Prepare for the conversation 
 
Think about your goals for the conversation.  What does your child need to know?  How you can help your child understand what’s going on?  How do you want your child to feel after the talk?  Who should tell your child you have cancer and can the person talking to your child stay relatively calm?
 
When and where should I have this conversation?  You don’t have to wait until you have all the answers.  Be prepared to ...

Spiders and Bees and Bugs, Oh My! Treating insect bites and stings

Another beautiful Seattle summer is just around the corner.  As we stare out windows and wait for our long days of sunshine to begin, know this – the bugs are doing the same thing!  Any day now all our biting, stinging, and pinching friends will begin to appear.  Make sure you prevent bites with insect repellants.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using repellants containing 30% or less of DEET for all children older than 2 months of age.  But if a bite happens, arm yourself (and your medicine cabinet) with a treatment plan to get your kids back outside ASAP.
 
Treatment for ...

Helping kids heal with music and technology

A young girl is cowering in the corner - it is the first day her care-taker has left her side. She has backed herself into a corner as far from anyone as possible. She appears to be filled with anxiety. Staff members and nurses try calming her, but nothing seems to work.

With her back turned, the little girl doesn’t notice a young man entering the room. He is holding a tool, one of which the full power and potential is still unknown to most. Even though he has witnessed its abilities before, what happens next still takes even him by surprise.

Not knowing what to say, he says nothing at all. He lifts his instrument and strikes the first chord. The girl stops. He continues to play. The girl turns and slides to the floor. The young man sinks to his knees, the same level as the girl. Strumming his ukulele the young man begins to sing. The little girl begins to scoot herself across the floor, 20 feet to where the young man kneels, closer and closer until her knees touch his.

There are gasps coming from the doorway, as a handful of hospital staff and nurses witness to an amazing transformation. In a flip of a switch, the little girl went from utter anxiety to calm and happy, soothed by the sound of music. As the young man finishes his song, the little girl smiles, reaches out her hand to touch his, then falls back, smiling and laughing.


This is the story of Melodic Caring Project Founder, Levi Ware, on his most recent visit to provide live music to pediatric patients at Swedish First Hill.

“I've been playing music for a long time and I've seen a lot of amazing things happen when music is introduced into certain situations. What happened on the Pediatric Unit at Swedish was one of the most wonderful, beautiful and undeniably powerful music experiences I've had.  ...

New Washington State Law to Help Children with Food Allergies

It is with great happiness that I update an earlier blog posted several months ago with the news that patients with food allergies now have a law that helps them afford their treatment.  On Friday March 28th, Governor Jay Inslee signed a law that makes Washington the most recent state in the country to set a mandate for medical coverage of elemental formulas in the treatment of Eosinophilic GI disorders (EGIDs).  EGIDs are a severe form of gastrointestinal inflammation that results from food allergy. 


New nutrition labels, same healthy eating advice

We all know that as a nation, we are getting bigger and heavier. Worse still, our future - our children- are becoming obese and unhealthy at increasingly younger ages. For decades, the scourge of obesity was blamed on a high calorie, high fat diet. Turns out, we have probably been doing it wrong all these years and our bulging waistline attests to this colossal failure. Research and the medical community now have increasing evidence that the real villain of the story is a very sweet little molecule called fructose. Fructose is what gives us the sweetness in table sugar (sucrose)…also in brown sugar, honey, agave, and of course, high fructose corn syrup. Call it by any name, but sugars are dangerous to our health. Fructose is addictive, much in the same way as alcohol and illicit drugs are. In fact, sugar (fructose) metabolism closely replicates alcohol metabolism except for the acute effects on brain. Sugar has been likened to alcohol without the buzz!

You may already have heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the FDA which has led to newly proposed changes to nutrition labels on packaged foods. The amount of sugars, specifically, “added sugars” will be part of that new label. I am not implying that a zero added sugar diet will be the panacea for the pandemic of obesity and ill health. We still need to eat healthy and exercise right. There is no magic pill, no startling new advice. Remember what our grandmothers used to say:
 

Lymph nodes in children

One of the most common referrals to my pediatric surgery practice is (in the parents’ words) “to check out this lump and make sure it’s nothing to worry about.”  Lymph nodes are part of the less publicized part of the circulatory system: the lymphatics.  Lymphatics play a key role in our body’s immune system, and lymph nodes grow in response to an infection in the “neighborhood” to produce cells necessary to hopefully resolve the infection. 

About half of all children will develop enlarged lymph nodes (cervical lymphadenitis) in the neck for example, and the vast majority of these are in response to a minor infection in the area (sore throat, sinus infection, ear infection, etc.).  Often the infection is quite subtle and might not be identified.  These nodes typically go through a pattern of growing and then receding in size once the infection resolves.  This process can take several weeks to months.  The nodes may become tender, warm, and there may be some redness of the overlying skin.  Your child might complain of pain in the area, be fussier, have fever, and/or have decreased appetite.  If the node itself becomes infected, it can turn into an abscess and would require antibiotics and a drainage procedure.  Any possibly infected lymph node should be evaluated by your doctor.
 
Some enlarged lymph nodes ...

When do kids need antibiotics?

Winter can seem like one long continuous “sick day” for families - kids pick up frequent infections at school or daycare and pass them around to everyone at home.  Often it feels like by the time the illness has worked its way through the household, a new one has started!  Even for physicians, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections.  Since antibiotics cannot treat viruses, they are often over-prescribed - which can lead to significant side effects in children and also contributes bacteria becoming resistant to existing medications.  In November 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics released an updated guidance regarding antibiotic treatment, helping answer the frequently asked question about when kids need antibiotics.

Here's what you should know about antibiotics in these situations:

  • Ear infections ...
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