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Signs of Hearing Loss for Babies and Children

Early identification and intervention of childhood hearing loss is linked to improved outcomes in communication and learning. Most newborns receive a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. However, some children may experience hearing loss sometime after that initial screening. Childhood hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors including family history, health problems at birth, syndromes, persistent middle ear fluid, chronic ear infections, and exposure to loud noise or head trauma. Children with normal hearing typically demonstrate similar listening and vocalization behaviors. If your child does not display these behaviors, it may be a sign of possible hearing loss or other problems.

Does your baby…

 

Birth – 3 months

  • Wake or startle in response to a sudden noise?
  • Seem to be soothed by your voice?

4-6 months

  • Move ...

Dirt is good for kids

I remember one day during my pediatric gastroenterology fellowship, a mother and child were walking in front of my professor and me, as we made our daily rounds in the hospital.  When the pacifier fell out of the toddler’s mouth and the mother picked it up and put it right back into the child's mouth, my professor remarked to me, "mark my words....that child will never get Crohn’s disease!"   My professor was referring to the theory of the "Hygiene Hypothesis".  This theory  is thought to explain (at least in part) why so many more people in developed nations become afflicted with autoimmune diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD - Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis) as well as food allergies, compared to people in non-developed nations. 

In non-developed countries, where children are...

Back to School Health Tips

The last days of summer are counting down!  Here are some timely tips to help ensure the school year goes well.

To and From School Safety:

  • The school bus is a great way for children to get to school.  To ensure safety, make sure young children are supervised at bus stops.  Parents trust bus drivers to keep our kids safe, therefore it is very important for children to know and follow bus safety rules.
  • Carpooling?  Buckle up!  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a booster until the seat belt fits correctly, typically when they are 4’9” (age 8-12). Use the seat belt fit test to determine if your child still needs a booster. (For safety reasons, it is against the law in Washington for a child under 13 to ride in the front seat.)  

  • Supervise young children and make sure well-fitted helmets are worn when riding a bike, scooter, or skateboard.  And, don’t forget to review pedestrian safety rules for when they are commuting.

  • In case of unforeseen circumstances, ensure your child knows your phone number and address.  An ID with this information in your child’s backpack can be helpful in case of emergency.  (A review of “stranger danger” is also a good idea.)

Nutrition:

  • Provide your children with ...

Food allergies and emergency epinephrine in Washington State schools

Food allergies have been on the rise in recent years.  Studies suggest that up to 1 in 13 children are affected by a food allergy.  Egg and cow’s milk are the most common food allergies for infants and toddlers.  Fortunately, most children will lose a milk or egg allergy by the time they enter school.  Peanut and tree nut allergies are also becoming more common.  Unfortunately, only 10-20% of children will ever outgrow a nut allergy.

Currently there is no cure for food allergies.  Instead, doctors rely on an accurate diagnosis, avoiding food triggers, and being prepared in the event of a severe reaction.  Making the situation more challenging, nearly half of children with a food allergy may be at risk for a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:

  • hives or itchy welts
  • swelling
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing (cough, wheeze or shortness of breath)
  • dizziness or passing out

During a severe food allergy reaction, epinephrine (“adrenaline”) can be a life-saving medication. Epinephrine is typically injected into a thigh muscle with an “auto-injector” device like EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™.  Oral antihistamines like Benadryl, Allegra, or Zyrtec can help with some anaphylaxis symptoms, but are not considered life-saving treatment.

Emergency Epinephrine in Schools

Until recently, only certain students in Washington State could receive a life-saving epinephrine injection while at school.  They needed to be diagnosed with a food allergy and already have an epinephrine injector in the health room.  However, some students may not have an injector at school, or they have their first serious allergic reaction while at school.  In that case, the school could only call 911 and hope they arrived in time to save a life.

In January 2013...

Beware: Magnets May Be Hazardous To Health!

Magnets, a common household object with which we are all familiar, can be surprisingly dangerous, especially to children.  If this statement is startling to you, here’s what you need to know. 

Beginning in the 1970s and 80s, scientists discovered a new type of magnet, the so-called “rare-earth magnet”.  Made from some of the “rare earth” metals of the periodic table such as “Neodymium”, these new magnets are not only the strongest, most powerful magnets known to man (magnetic forces up to ten times that of other magnets), they are also permanent and relatively inexpensive to manufacture.  These properties revolutionized the production of many household products, even toys.  Basically, magnets we find in everyday items today are no longer made using old-fashioned magnets from a generation ago!

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I am writing this blog to warn you of the dangers, should these powerful magnets be accidentally swallowed.  If more than one magnet is swallowed, or if a magnet is ingested along with another metallic object, the formidable strength of these magnets can attract 2 pieces of bowel to stick together with such great strength, it results in serious injury, even death.

This video ...

Kids with kidney disease and cold and flu season

With the summer winding down, the dreaded cold and flu season is just around the corner.  Parents with children who have a history of kidney disease need to keep in mind a few things during this season of stuffy noses and coughs.

  • Avoid NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, naproxen, and Aleve.
    • NSAIDs are known to decrease blood flow to the kidneys and can cause more damage.
  • Avoid Pseudoephedrine or any medications that may contain similar ingredients.
    • Pseudoephedrine is usually an ingredient for decongestants like Sudafed and is known to increase blood pressure.
  • Say YES to the flu shot early.
    • Children with kidney disease ....

Handling stress with kids in the hospital

As the back to school sales begin, we are reminded that soon our kids will be back on the bus and returning to school routines.  As adults we may look forward to the return of a consistent routine or dread the increased activity that comes with sports, homework and friends.  For our children school can be both exciting and anxiety producing as well.

Stress can be a contributor to many illnesses and is something that we all can use help managing. (Want to find out how much you know about stress and your kids? Take this 5 question quiz here.) The questions bring up some great ways to manage stress daily for our kids; but what about the stresses of chronic illness or hospitalization?  What can you do for your child to decrease their anxiety in the hospital?

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