Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-13-2012 to 08-19-2012

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 10:41 am

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Back to School Online Safety Guide MUST READ for parents of tweens & teens

Healthy Back to School Lunches Kids Will Want to Eat

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 11:50 pm

For many kids across the country, school is starting and that means kids will be eating lunch away from home. Proper nutrition is important for physical health and brain function. A child who does not get enough nutrients in her lunch or has a sugar crash shortly after lunchtime may have a harder time focusing and learning. But how do we get kids to eat healthy at school whether they are choosing from the cafeteria foods or taking a lunch from home?

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Here are some ideas I shared on Oklahoma City’s KOKH Fox 25 morning show to help your kids choose or take healthy lunches they will actually want to eat and won’t trade with their friends.

Get Kids Involved in Choosing What to Eat

Kids who are given choices about what goes in their lunchbox will be more likely to eat what is packed. The key is giving two or three choices among healthy options. Would he prefer whole grain bread or a whole grain tortilla or pita pocket? Broccoli or carrots? Grapes or an apple? Milk or water?

Teach your kids what different foods do for the body and how our body needs nutrients offered by these foods to fuel it so we can do the things we need to do and the things we enjoy. Does your kid like sports or have a favorite athlete? Point out how athletes (such as all our great Olympic champions) eat healthy foods and avoid junk foods so they have the energy and the strength to participate and excel at their sport. When kids understand how healthy foods can benefit them (make them stronger, faster, and even smarter) then they will be open to eating those foods.

If your child eats the school cafeteria’s food, get a menu for the week or month and have your child make some choices from the menu before going to school. This way, you can help guide the choices. If there is not a healthy option listed for a certain day, you can plan to pack a lunch that day.

Packing a Balanced Lunch

A balanced lunch is one that consists of a serving of protein (think lean meats, low-fat cheeses, nutsor nut butter, beans), a vegetable, a fruit, a serving of whole grains (whole grain bread, whole grain tortilla or pita pocket, whole grain rice, etc.), and a dairy serving (if able to have dairy).

Let your child help choose the foods he will take to school and help assemble his lunch. Kids who make their own lunch will want to eat it. Guide the choices when needed and praise healthy choices. And remember, it is okay to pack a little sweet treat too. A small cookie, fun-size piece of candy, or other small treat helps kids learn that these foods are okay in small portions and not with every meal. All things in moderation! As long as it is a small treat, even if she eats it first, she’ll still have room for the rest of her healthy lunch.

Add some WOW Factor to Make Lunch Fun

Another way to get kids to enjoy eating healthy lunches is to make them visually appealing and fun. Think outside the boring sandwich box! Cut foods into fun shapes with cookie cutters or fun-shaped sandwich cutters. Or consider making lunchtime kabobs using wooden skewers or thick big pretzels and alternating meat cubes, cheese cubes, and cherry tomatoes or a variety of fruits and veggies. Mix up some healthy trail mix to eat instead of chips or fries or pack some pita chips, wheat crackers, or crunchy carrot sticks. The more colorful the fruits and veggies, the healthier they are, so make a colorful lunch salad with dark leafy lettuces, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and pack a side of a low-fat, low-calorie dressing.

Do your kids love pre-assembled lunchable-type lunches? Make your own healthier version with whole wheat crackers, lean meats and low-fat cheeses cut down to size and in fun shapes. Do they like to dip their foods? Veggies and fruits can be dipped into low-fat yogurt or veggie dip. Do they like bite-sized foods? Cut up everything and pack them into separate compartments or put them in small snack-sized sandwich bags. Love a variety of fruits? Cut them up and mix to make a yummy fruit salad. Like to grill or cook-out? Make “campfire” foil packets with their favorite lean meat and veggies, grill until done and pack for lunch. Make it fun and they will be excited to eat their lunch and won’t be tempted to trade!

Protecting Our Teen Athletes – ECG Screening Saves Lives

Last updated on March 9th, 2018 at 09:59 am

Gabby Douglas, Jordan Wieber and McKayla Maroney from this year’s US Olympic team are truly amazing athletes, captivating to watch. They are 16 and 17 years old. It’s hard to imagine that any one of these could have an underlying, perhaps lethal heart problem. It’s equally hard to believe that any of our teenagers could.

Yet every year, a hand full of high school athletes across the country suffers sudden cardiac arrest. One huge difference between our Olympic athletes and our ‘normal’ teenage athletes is that the Olympians have undergone thorough and complete physicals including ECG’s.

In researching this I found a variety of red flags including that national testing standard for teenage athletes exists but is often not followed and often ECG’s are not included due to expense. I also read of one area where local EMS is used to conduct the ECG which is then read remotely by a cardiologist. This is one way to overcome the expense and it just required asking.

I also discovered that 44 states require screening but the nature of the screening is all over the place and that many doctors simply don’t know to or include ECG’s.

It is hard to define the exact number of teens and families this impacts each year- one article suggests as many as 2000 a year. The underlying etiology is almost completely invisible. A couple of histories that may be relevant include a history of fainting by the teenager and a history of sudden cardiac arrest in family members under 50 years old. Even without these, every teen athlete should be properly screened.

Another reason that this is called invisible is that a teen may attend every practice, participate in game after game, go full out with no signs or consequences and then… sudden cardiac arrest.

The timing is now as the Olympics wind down, middle and high schools all across the country are getting ready to start which means the new athletic season. Parents need to assure that their school is following national standards for screening. Look to cardiologists within the community and the parent group as well. Ask your EMS agency to participate.

Even though most schools are required by law to have EMS and physicians attend all football games, they often are not at other events. Schools MUST have AED’s at all sporting events- even when EMS is there. AED’s and EMS need to be close to the action. Often EMS and the AED are off on the side lines. It may seem close but the reality is it may take minutes to get to the patients side. Coaches, trainers, physicians, teachers etc should all know the new hands-only CPR.

Preventing a sports related sudden cardiac arrest is the best approach. But be prepared for those rare times when sudden cardiac arrest does occur.

In researching this piece I found two relevant sites both based on personal loss:

4 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Back-To-School

Last updated on August 19th, 2012 at 01:26 am

While somewhere, somehow, there are families happily waltzing back into their school-year routine, most face these first few weeks with a healthy dose of anxiety. “The start of school means the return to a more rigid schedule … the return of homework. In essence, it’s about change, and change is something that is hard for most people,” says Joe Bruzzese, author of A Parent’s Guide to the Middle School Years.

Change is most dramatic for children starting a new chapter — kindergarten, middle school, a move to a new school district. But even returning to what’s familiar can rattle kids. “A child who struggled with math during the previous year can approach the new year with a good deal of anxiety. Kids who have had a rough time with their friends at the end of the year may feel like, ‘Here we go again,’” says Diane Peters Mayer, a therapist in Doylestown, Pa., and author of Overcoming School Anxiety.

So how can you help? First, be calm — even if your child isn’t. Then, try these tips for a smooth ride into the new school year:

Simplify your mornings Scrambling to get your kids — and yourself — out the door can make for a pretty frenetic scene. “It’s crucial for parents to look at their mornings and ask themselves how they can make them better,” says Peters Mayer. Do all you can the night before — make sure backpacks are packed, school forms are signed, lunches are made. You can even ask younger kids to help you set the table for breakfast the next morning. Equally important, get yourself ready the night before so you can connect with your kids in the morning. If you have young children struggling with separation anxiety, it’s the perfect time to go over with them what they can expect for the day, and what Mom and Dad will be doing too.

Create a smart yet flexible after-school routine Sit down with kids and hammer out a schedule that works for all of you. Doing homework right after school may sound good to you. But some kids really need time to decompress, so you could work it out that they play at the school playground for an hour before they begin their homework. “Also, help your child figure out where she’ll do her schoolwork,” says social worker Connie Hammer, a PCI Certified Parent Coach based in Maine. “If she wants a study area to call her own, have fun setting it up with her.” Some kids prefer to be closer to where the action is when they do their homework … and that can work, says Peters Mayer. “As long as homework is completed, be flexible. It shows them you are open to their ideas and teaches kids to be able to say ‘Yeah, I can do this,’” adds Mayer.

Reach out at school There’s no need to wait for parent-teacher conferences or even back-to-school night to meet with your child’s teacher and get the lay of the land. “Much of the anxiety kids feel is their uncertainty about what their new teachers expect of them: ‘What is she going to want, how is she going to grade me?’” explains Hammer. If your child is struggling with significant anxiety or is having social difficulties or separation issues, you may also want to meet with the guidance counselor. “The more the school knows, the better it will be for the child,” says Hammer.

Keep the lines of communication open As kids get older, they often clam up — especially if they are struggling socially or are having a problem with their grades. “Typical parent questions like ‘How was your day?’ generally get a less-than-informative response because they are just too general. Kids don’t really even know how to respond,” says Mayer. Instead, try asking specific questions that show you’re interested in what they’re learning and doing. And once they start talking, just listen. “They may begin to open up about things you didn’t expect,” says Hammer. “Let them know: ‘I believe you can do this. I know we can solve this problem together.’”

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-06-2012 to 08-12-2012

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 10:44 am

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Is Honey a Safe Treatment for Toddlers with Cough?

Supporting Dreams…and Safety: the parent behind every Olympian

Last updated on March 12th, 2018 at 09:58 am

Michael Phelps. Missy Franklin. Ryan Lochte. These superb Olympic athletes have captured the attention and admiration of both adults and children. The difference is that adults understand full well the incredibly rare cocktail of talent, determination and drive that it takes to become an Olympian, much less ‘most decorated Olympian in history’ that Michael Phelps was just awarded. We know that it is a rare few people who will achieve this level and that for most of us, watching the elite perform is the closest we will ever get. A joy and inspiration in itself, but drastically different from being a participant.

Children, on the other hand, watch the performances and think, ‘I can do that…..what sport should I compete in during the next Olympics?’ They act out the competitions – at their local pool, using the sofa as gymnastics equipment and the front yard for the final soccer match or running track – their own Olympics, every bit as real and exciting to them as the real thing. As a parent you have a choice, burst their bubble or encourage them.

Whether your child is a non-swimmer, still flailing, or a talented competitive swimmer, take advantage of the buzz and excitement of the Olympics to encourage your child to spend more time in the water – not just regular, year-round swimming lessons, but also supervised play. Your child will not only become stronger, better coordinated for all sports (proven), and do better in school (also proven), but also safer as they understand how to act safely around water.

Olympians have one thing in common – someone who believes in them and has supported them as they have pursued their dream. Watch here for one of the best reminders I’ve seen of the importance of supporting a child’s dreams and enjoy watching the rest of the Games with your children!