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Whooping cough and the TdaP vaccine

There has been a recent outbreak of pertussis, a disease also commonly known as whooping cough, around the country. In the state of WA there have been 58 infants less than 1 year of age diagnosed with whooping cough; among these cases, 22 were hospitalized and 2 have died.

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is particularly severe in infants. . It is an infection of the airways caused by bacteria. More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized

In infants and children, the disease usually begins with runny nose, low grade fever, and mild cough that last for about 7-10 days. The cough usually worsens and infants may develop bursts of numerous rapid coughs. These bursts of cough are accompanied by sweating, facial flushing, and sometimes vomiting. With this disease, about 1 in 5 infants may develop pneumonia, about 1 in 100 will have seizures, and in rare cases whooping cough can lead to death.

Adults and adolescents also acquire this infection but do not have as a prolonged course as infants.
They usually have a prolonged, persistent cough that is often confused with acute bronchitis.

Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent the disease. 2 vaccines are available – the childhood vaccine is called DTaP vaccine and the booster vaccine for adolescent and adults is called the TdaP vaccine. Although both these vaccines protect against Pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria, the immune response can fade with time.

It is important as parents and caregivers that we are all immunized in order to prevent the spread of the disease to infants and children, who are most vulnerable. The vaccine recommendations are as follows:

It's Snow Laughing Matter

Winter’s here and just a little more than a week away will be winter break for most of our kids. If we’re lucky enough we’ll get a chance to get out and play in the snow.

Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or a good old-fashioned snowball fight sound like a family memory waiting to happen. Let’s make sure it’s happy memories we’re creating not a regretful ones.

Most parents these days grew up in the time where we didn’t wear helmets when riding bikes much less on the slopes, but what we know now about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) will make you think twice about sliding off the ski lift without one on.

Safe Passage

Traveling with children can be loads of fun but it also poses challenges that can test even the calmest of parents.

The safest way for your child to travel is in their car seat, even if they’re on a plane.

If there is a sudden change in trajectory, that 5-point harness will be able to hold onto the child better. We have a much better probability of surviving a crash (and less injury) if we stay where we’re seated. If we’re flinging around the inside of a car or plane, our chances of injury or death are increased.

Children are at a disadvantage because they’re lighter weight and have much more flexible cartilige than they do rigid bone because of all the growing that they have to do. That means that the 5-point harness that the car seats use hold in that little flexible body way better than just a 3-point seatbelt would. (A 3-point seatbelt is a standard lap-shoulder seatbelt), or a 2-point (lap belt) on a plane.

Let’s go back to the How do You Catch a Raw Egg demonstration.

Consumer's Choice

In our country, we get to choose what to purchase. It’s a wonderful thing. Ford or Chevy? Levi’s or Wranglers? Wii or XBox? Whatever the choice may be, we have to make decisions. Advertising often influences which product we choose, as well as, reviews from friends, family, magazines, and the consumer reviews online.

When I look at a review, I tend to skip past all the ‘happy, 5-star” reviews. I want to know what sorts of problems people are experiencing, not how quickly the package arrived. I want to look at what the product does and how it functions. Especially, if it’s for a child then is it safe and age-appropriate? (I don’t want to give a choking hazard to a child who likes to put things in their mouth).

The holiday season and shopping process can be difficult for parents. We have a special set of challenges put to us:

Grand-Parentelligence

Every family is unique, but those families who have grandparents who live nearby or are involved in their children’s lives are lucky. It somehow seems just a bit brighter for kids who get to be regaled in stories of long ago, those stories about when mom or dad was a child.

However, some of you with grandparents nearby might wish there was a bit more distance between your house and theirs.

When a baby is born, we have a new baby, new parents, and new grandparents. Our roles have all instantly changed. The new grandparents can be a wealth of information. They have amassed 20, 30, or 40 years of parenting experience. Everything from infants to teens to parenting adults. It’s only natural that they now want to share with you everything that they’ve learned. (They also might want to try to correct what they believe are mistakes that they made as parents.)

The most important thing that new parents need is:

Boost 'em

Booster seats are like a combination of a glorified phone book and an advanced pelvis for your child. While most of us rode around without car seats or booster seats or even seat belts in the conversion van or in the back of a pick-up when we were kids (and we made it out just fine), we were the lucky ones. The kids who didn’t make it aren’t around to advocate for advancements in safety. Their parents had to do all the work in their honor, to which I would like to say thank you.

What most parents don’t understand is that the seat belt in a car is designed and tested for a manikin that is 5’10” and 180lbs. Seat belts don’t fit most adult women much less an average 8 year old child.

The ambiguous cut-off for kids to be old/big enough to not sit in a booster seat is somewhere around age 8, or 4’9”, or 80lbs. In fact, most kids don’t reach 4’9” until somewhere between 9 to 12 years old, according to the CDC (boys and girls).

While your 9 year old might fit properly in say a Mini Cooper without a booster seat, they might still need one in an SUV because of the larger seats and attachment points of the seat belts.

Proper fit has much more to do with the placement of the seat belt across the child’s body, than it does with the child’s age.

My baby has a cold: What can I do at home and when should my baby be seen by the doctor?

This is a question that parents typically ask during this time of the year. Common cold or upper respiratory infections are common in children during the first few years of their life. Some children may have about 8-10 colds by the time they are two, and may experience many more if they are in daycare or if they have older siblings attending school.

Children generally show symptoms that differ from that of adults. Usually, parents notice that their child has runny nose, cough, sneezing and nasal stuffiness. The nasal discharge is clear at first, but may become yellowish-green in color. A low grade fever may also be present the first few days. These symptoms usually last for about 10 days and then improve. However, complications sometimes occur, including bronchiolitis, croup, ear infections, sinusitis and pneumonia.

Unfortunately, there are no medications that can cure the common cold. These colds are caused by viruses, and antibiotics have no role in their treatment .The best thing that parents can do....

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