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Visiting Your Hospitalized Child

January 12, 2015

When your child is hospitalized, it’s understandable that family and friends will want to visit. This is often a help to both the patient and the parent at the bedside. To maximize the benefit of this support, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Visiting hours: Check with your nurse for the visiting hours and let your nurse know when you are able to visit. If there are extenuating circumstances for your family’s situation (e.g., a parent works night or swing shift and can only visit before or after), let the nursing staff know.

  • Security ...

Pediatric Experts Voice Concern Over Feeding Children Rice

January 09, 2015

A recent consensus statement written by international pediatric nutrition experts has recommended that infants and young children avoid rice-based drinks.  This is due to the fact that some types of rice contain large concentrations of inorganic arsenic, a first-level carcinogen.  There is no safe level of intake, because any exposure is risky.  The longer the exposure to inorganic arsenic, the more toxic its effects.

The newly published report reminds us that rice and derived products such as starch, flour and syrup are used to fortify different foods, including drinks, purees, and snacks.  These are foods often fed to infants and young children.  Since most of the inorganic arsenic in rice is concentrated in the outer bran layers, the report also highlights that potentially, the most harmful type of exposure is that which comes from products manufactured from brown rice...

FDA Questions Safety of Constipation Medication

January 07, 2015

On Monday the New York Times published an article about the FDA’s plan to research the safety of a very commonly prescribed medication, polyethylene glycol 3350 or PEG 3350 (most commonly known under the brand name, MiraLAX®).  As a pediatric gastroenterologist who often recommends this medication, I wanted to share my personal thoughts after reading the article.

First of all, although the news was certainly a surprise to me, it was a pleasant one. I was ...

Seattle rain? You can still play inside!

December 19, 2014
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:

Circumcision: Yes or No?

December 13, 2014

On December 2, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a draft of its proposed recommendation that doctors should counsel all males (including parents of all male children) on the benefits and risks of circumcision.  This comes after a policy statement was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2012, stating that the benefits of infant circumcision outweigh the risks. 

The federal regulation has sparked a national debate, which I thought would be a good time to remind families about the pros and cons of the procedure.  

Support siblings when a child is in the hospital

December 12, 2014
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

December 08, 2014

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

November 24, 2014
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

November 19, 2014
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

November 05, 2014
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 ...
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