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Paging Dr. Google

You may have decided to create family resolutions, or have a personal new year’s resolution. But, as parents our biggest resolution is to do our best to take the best possible care of our children.

One of the more nerve wracking moments is when a child develops a cough, rash, or earache. We don’t want to overreact and rush to the doctor, but what if it’s serious? How do you know? Unfortunately, a lot of parents turn to Google to find out. While searching online may result in some helpful information, it can also be uber-scary because you can find all these unique, rare, serious possibilities.

In my job in community education, I run into several people a week who have Google-diagnosed their health concerns. They might be right but they are often looking at some of the remotest of possible conditions. There are good resources online for searching for health information.

Childhood obesity

Eating healthy and being physically active are important things to keep in mind during and especially after the holidays when an abundance of food is present.

Parents often have questions about their child’s weight such as: Is my child’s weight appropriate? Is there a difference between being overweight and being obese? When should we be worried about his or her weight? If I am overweight, what is the risk that my child may become overweight?

Physicians often use the term BMI (body mass index) to define the terms overweight and obese, and this provides physicians and parents with a guide to monitor weight in children. BMI can be calculated using the weight and height (weight in kilo divided by square of height in meters; this can also be calculated using the BMI calculator. A child is considered overweight if the BMI is greater than the 85th percentile and obese if greater than 95th percentile. Once a child is obese, they are at risk of developing complications like hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, etc.

Physical activity should be a significant part of everyday life of your child. Each child should aim to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. They can be enrolled in an organized sports activity program like football, soccer, baseball, or swimming, or they can remain active by riding a bike, jogging and so on. Parents need to be aware if their child is playing video games for hours at a time and restrict the amount of screen time if necessary. Reduced television watching and computer use may reduce BMI and sedentary behavior.

Eating healthy plays an essential role in the well-being of every child. Studies have shown a lower prevalence of obesity in children who eat a healthy breakfast every day. Parents need to provide children with healthy food options at home so that they can develop a habit of eating healthy. It is important for children to try to eat all food groups, including grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meat or fish. Fats, oils and sweets must be consumed in limited amounts. Lifestyle modification involving the whole family is a key factor in maintaining healthy weight in children.

What if my child is obese or overweight?

Family Resolutions

It's a new year - have you ever wondered how to incorporate resolutions into family life?

Yes, parents are pressed for time, but remember we have strength in numbers. Family is our strength and our motivation. In Franklin Covey’s book titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, is a suggestion for creating a family mission statement. This is where each family member helps create a mission statement for the whole family. We add things in that are most important and beneficial for the family as a whole. It gets written up and framed on the fridge or hung in a prominent place. Because each member of the family had input and a say in what the mission statement represents, they all have a stake in it. This mission statement brings the family together to work for a common goal.

The same can be said for New Year’s Resolutions. I have heard more than once that New Year’s Resolutions can be hard to stick to be cause we’re still in the dead of winter with short, cold, rainy days. That makes it difficult to start anew.

However, creating Family Resolutions just might have an extra edge for succeeding. We have that wonderful built-in support system.

Here’s what to do:

How important is 'tying one on'?

New Year’s Day is a day of celebration. A day for starting anew. We create resolutions to become help us be steadfast in reaching personal goals whether that’s to lose weight or stop smoking, or just be on time to work. We have a happy, fresh outlook on a new year.

But, there is a lurking danger following all those midnight celebrations. There is an increase in infant deaths on New Year’s Day. A 33% increase in infant deaths, in fact.

There is not a clear reason for these deaths. They are probably not all SIDS deaths since SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion

The bottom line is parents of infants must make good decisions and safe arrangements for their infant before they decide to celebrate the new year....

Family Fertilizer

Family traditions are (technically) those repetitive memories from our childhood that are associated with a happy time. They could be repeated for holidays, birthdays, summer vacation, or any sort of annual occurrence. Some traditions are attributed to religions or culture, or for no reason other than they were fun to do.

Traditions create security and predictability during our childhood. We find comfort in predictability. As we get older and have children of our own, we like to recreate that secure, happy feeling for our own kids.

Some of us were not fortunate enough to have a family life as children that lent to the creation of traditions. Creating them for our children can be challenging. How do you create something when you never had it as a child, when you were never shown how?

The most important piece is....

Have a Safe Holiday Season

So, here we are again. Right in the middle of the holiday season. This beautiful time of year when we have extra lights and candles and glass ornaments decorating the house. Regardless of which, if any, holidays you and your family celebrate, chances are your child will be exposed to pretty, new, shiny things to discover.
When you’re decorating, and you have crawlers or toddlers in the house (whether they’re yours or they’re visiting), you’ll want to take certain precautions to protect both the babes and the pretty decor.

Once you decorate, crawl around on your knees and investigate the world from that angle.

  • Look for low hanging glass or breakable ornaments and move them higher. Put unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches and make sure they are not hung with metal hooks. A loop of ribbon can work instead.
  • Look for dangling extension cords and lights that the child could reach. Sometimes just sliding a piece of furniture over a couple of inches in front of the cords is all you need.
  • Look for tablecloths that could be pulled down, causing plates and centerpieces to fall.
  • Look for easy access to holiday plants. Poinsettias are not as poisonous as people think. It takes....

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:

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