How Can Genetics Impact Your Child’s Oral Health?

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 03:59 pm

Family DNAYour child’s oral health depends on a variety of different factors, including how often he or she brushes and flosses at home, the number of times he or she visits the dentist, and even genetics. Like many other aspects of your health, oral health is affected to a degree by your genes. While a majority of oral health issues are caused by poor habits, there are some oral health problems that can be inherited. As a parent, you have the ability to help your child maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime. By knowing what factors play a role in the health of your child’s mouth, you can take the proper steps to ensure that your child will develop healthy teeth and gums.

One of the most common issues that people know to be passed down from generation to generation are crooked teeth. If you have crooked teeth or had to have braces at some point, there is a good chance that your child will also be born with crooked teeth. Misaligned teeth can also result from having too small a jaw, another feature that is a product of your genetic makeup. A small jaw doesn’t always allow enough room for adult teeth to come in, so they become overcrowded. Fortunately, there are several different orthodontic procedures that can help correct these issues. Children are encouraged to have their teeth checked at a young age (usually by the time the first baby tooth erupts), so these issues can be detected and treated early on. Interceptive orthodontics can be used to treat patients as early as age 5. This can sometimes completely eliminate the need for treatment in the future.

Recent research has also found a genetic link to periodontitis. Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a leading cause of early tooth loss. It often occurs in members of the same family, and some forms can develop during childhood. Up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to developing periodontitis. Studies have found that if you as a parent have periodontitis, your child is 12 times more likely to have the same bacteria that leads to gum disease. In addition, those who were born with an immune deficiency are up to 20 times more likely to develop periodontitis.

Another common problem amongst children is cavities. According to Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease amongst children. Over 50% of children ages 5-9 have at least one cavity, and 78% of teenagers around age 17 also have at least one cavity. Similar to the development of gum disease, your child might be prone to cavities because of certain genetic variations.

If any of these oral health issues run in your family, talk to your dentist to find out if your child might be at a higher risk of developing any of these problems. Knowing that these issues might exist in their genetic make-up can make it easier to prevent problems from persisting down the road. There are plenty of preventative measures and treatments that can be done to combat most all types of oral health problems. Schedule regular check-ups, and ask your dentist what you can do at home to help your child maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Baby Silk

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:47 am

Editor’s Note: we first introduced you to Baby Silk in December of 2009. With all the new products they’ve developed since then, we thought now might be a perfect time to re-introduce them to you. Also, this gives you the chance to meet the MD Moms 2014 Charity of the Year: UCPlay. **************************************************************************************************************************

Hi, we’re Dr. Diane Truong and Dr. JJ Levenstein, pediatricians and founders of MD Moms, makers of Baby Silk, the first personal care line for babies developed by pediatrician-moms. As pediatricians and moms, we’ve cared for thousands of children for nearly a quarter of a century. Baby Silk LineIt’s no surprise that during this time we’ve fielded hundreds of questions from concerned parents about common skin conditions and the safety and efficacy of the products available to treat them. One of the most common questions asked in our practices was, “How do I treat my baby’s cradle cap?” Cradle cap, for those unfamiliar, is a greasy, flaky rash that develops on the scalps of many newborns in the first few months of life. As parents ourselves, we couldn’t find any baby products on the market for our own children with ingredients that made sense (i.e., there were plenty of oily emulsions out there, but none with specific keratolytic or exfoliating ingredients). Our solution? To make one ourselves. But we didn’t stop at cradle cap. Because parents also asked about how to treat skin conditions such as diaper rash and dry skin, we created a full line of skincare solutions for babies.

Building MD Moms from the ground up meant we’d need to make sacrifices, but we believed strongly enough in our vision that it was more than worth the investment. With the help of a consultant, feedback from our own patients and a veteran cosmetics formulator from a respected research and development laboratory, our Baby Silk line—inspired by our Gentle Scalp Rub—was born in 2006. In our early stages, we borrowed against all of our assets (college fund, savings, and our home and retirement accounts) so that we could fund the first couple of years of MD Moms until we started to see an increase in sales. Personal time was spent traveling, arranging promotional events and taking part in weekend meetings and special projects. And when we weren’t treating our patients, we spent many late nights rebottling, repacking and shipping thousands of promos.

Because safety is our top priority, each of our products undergoes strict clinical testing and exceeds industry guidelines for safety. We use the latest medical data to ensure that each is effective, gentle and safe for infants. We further validate our products’ gentleness and safety by performing RIPT (repeat insult patch testing on sensitive subjects) to assure that our products are least likely to irritate baby’s skin. All of our products rated “0” on a 1-5 scale (perfect, hypoallergenic, non-irritating score) in the first round of testing. Additionally, we enlist a chemist and Pharm D Safety Assessor to review the chemical specifications and toxicological profiles of our ingredients to ensure that they are safe and fulfill the needs of our young consumers. And with the needs of our little patients in mind, we’re continually working to enhance and improve upon our line.

We know we’ve accomplished our mission when we hear from parents who were elated to find us after unsuccessfully searching for solutions to their little ones’ skin conditions. Also, our company has made it possible for us to raise awareness of the UCPlay Project, our children’s Charity of the Year for 2014, which brings brings creative, sensory and highly interactive performing arts programming into public schools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. We’re fortunate to be able to address children’s needs—whether it’s through charity or our Baby Silk line—and will continue to look for ways to improve the health and lives of children.


Q: Aside from using Gentle Scalp Rub, what else can I do to treat my baby’s cradle cap?

A: Cradle cap is best treated by removing the crusts and flakes on baby’s scalp with an oil-based shampoo. Shampoos with an oily base essentially soften the greasy scales, and separate the scales from the baby’s hair. When combined with a gentle exfoliator, like salicylic acid (a derivative of aspirin), the flakes will be easier to rub or comb off the baby’s scalp.

Q: Are there different types of sunscreen?

A: Yes. A variety of sunscreens exist to provide protection from sun exposure: chemical sunscreens, physical sunscreens, or a combination of both.

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation on the skin, then disperse this energy into harmless rays. They are made from active ingredients like octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone (which provide UVB protection) or avobenzone (which provides UVA protection). Chemical sunscreens require 20 minutes to activate, and ideally should be applied in 2 coats 20-30 minutes apart, before going outside.

Physical sunscreens (containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide) are not absorbed into the skin, but rather sit on its surface and reflect, scatter and block UVA and UVB rays. These ingredients are less irritating, in general, and are immediately active upon application. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Dermatology advocate their use in children, and even in infants under the age of 6 months if direct sun exposure cannot be avoided.

Some sunscreens combine both chemical and physical agents in order to provide broad spectrum protection. Our sunscreen uses only physical agents to provide both UVA and UVB protection.

Q: How can I prevent diaper rash on my baby?

A: The best way to prevent diaper rash is to keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry at all times. Since this is not always possible, using a barrier cream to keep baby’s skin from coming into direct contact with irritants in a dirty diaper will help.

Q: Why is my baby’s skin dry?

A: A newborn’s skin dries out almost immediately after birth, as baby transitions from the moist environment of the womb to his or her new environment in the outside world. Within the first 2-3 weeks of life, a newborn’s skin will typically flake and shed, regardless of what a parent does. After that point, if your baby’s skin continues to feel dry, regular application of a moisturizer can make a difference.

Saturday, AMC Sensory Friendly Films will show The LEGO Movie

Last updated on September 21st, 2014 at 07:34 pm

Sensory Friendly Films logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! “It can be challenging enough to bring ANY child to a movie Lego Movietheater” says PedSafe Special Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves.  “For a parent with a special needs child attempting an outing like this may seem overwhelming. And yet getting out, being with the community and sharing in an experience with an audience can be invaluable for just such children”.

On Saturday October 5th at 10am local time, The LEGO Movie will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming March 29thMuppets Most Wanted


Editor’s note: Although The LEGO Movie has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for mild action and rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Helping Your Baby Communicate and Develop

Last updated on February 17th, 2014 at 10:43 am

Helping Baby CommunicateFrom the day he was born, your baby has been trying to communicate with you. That’s what all the crying, smiling, cooing, and babbling have been about. He’s saying, “I’m hungry,” “I’m sleepy,” “You make me happy,” and “I love you.” With each passing day, his communication skills improve. Sometime around your baby’s first birthday, he’ll probably come out with his first real word.

What’s more, speech development and social skills go hand in hand. Learning how to express his thoughts, wants, and needs will eventually help your child learn to connect with the people around him and become a sociable toddler. How can you support this amazing process?

  • Help your child find words. At 6 to 12 months, your baby isn’t ready to start talking yet, but when he puts forth a syllable, she’s making an attempt at words. So when she says, “ba,” help him out: “Are you looking for your ball? Do you want your bottle? Where did you put your book?” Speak slowly and enunciate clearly so she can hear the different sounds and connect them to what they mean.
  • Pay attention to your child’s nonverbal communications. Speech isn’t the only means of communication your baby will use. Between 8 and 12 months, she may start sending more and more nonverbal messages by pointing, gesturing, looking at what she wants, making faces, and even dancing. Grabbing a toy and banging it on the table may mean, “May I have your attention, please?” or “I’m so happy with my truck!” Whatever he does, take notice and respond.
  • Have conversations with your child. While you can’t expect your baby to talk back at this age, asking questions and waiting for a response teaches her the rhythm of conversation: You talk and I listen, then I talk and you listen. And don’t forget to respond when your little one cuts loose with baby babble. You may not understand her words, but your response will encourage her to keep trying.
  • Narrate your day. Tell your baby what you’re doing, ask her what she wants, and name what you’re seeing: “Let’s go find your blocks. Do you want the red ball or the blue one? Oh, look! There’s your stuffed bear.” Rest assured that even though she can’t reply with words yet, she’s listening to and learning from everything you say.
  • Read to your child. Sharing books is an important way to support your baby’s early childhood development. It reinforces the power of words and helps your child move forward on the road to literacy, language, and learning.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-03-2014 to 02-09-2014

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:32 pm

twitter thumbWelcome 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 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:
Children’s Hospital doctor warns of the dangers of hair straighteners to youngsters after burn cases double in one year

Surgeon General: Scary Information on Kids and Smoking

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:33 pm

Teen smoking - a timebombLast month marked the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on the health effects of smoking. In 1964, this report was the first to definitively link smoking to lung cancer. Back then – if you’re old enough to remember, or you watch Mad Men – people smoked everywhere…in offices, restaurants, hospitals and airplanes. No one spoke about smoking as a cause of cancer, heart disease or emphysema. No one had heard of COPD or secondhand smoke.

Fifty years later we know much more. And with last month’s release of the 32nd Surgeon General’s report on the issue, we have learned that smoking causes even more diseases than previously thought, including 13 cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, erectile dysfunction, ectopic pregnancies, and impaired immune function. The effects of exposure to cigarette smoke on children and fetuses are also dire, including cleft palates and possibly other birth defects, impacts on brain development, respiratory illnesses and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Earlier Surgeon General Reports have emphasized that smoking affects nearly every organ and system in the body, which is confirmed by this new information.

My family provides a classic case study on the devastating effects of smoking. I was a baby in the 1960s and – although I have never smoked – I grew up with parents and relatives who smoked frequently and heavily, and I know they wish they had known the effects of smoking much earlier. My parents have expressed their regret for the health effects I have experienced that could very likely have been due to exposure to cigarette smoke. At less than one year of age I was in the hospital in an oxygen tent in the hospital with pneumonia, and had frequent bouts of bronchitis throughout childhood – continuing with more than the usual number of colds and infections as an adult. I also have allergies, which could have come partly from smoking’s effects on the immune system. And I have experienced an ectopic pregnancy. My father has had serious heart disease, resulting in triple-bypass surgery and now has diabetes. My mother has already lost 2 siblings to lung cancer (both current or former smokers), including one of my favorite aunts just last year.

While smoking rates have dropped significantly over the past 50 years, from 45% to 18%, we still have 42 million smokers in the US, including 3 million children – most of whom will die prematurely due to cigarettes. The release of this new report is a good opportunity to look at the issue of smoking in society and identify what we can all do to eradicate this country’s number one preventable cause of disease and death.

First we must look to our kids.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 90% of smokers try their first cigarette before age 18 and virtually all by age 26. Almost no one starts smoking after age 25. Unfortunately, about one-quarter of our high school students have smoked in the past month – a higher smoking rate than among adults. And according to a 2012 Surgeon General’s Report, in recent years the long-term decline in use of tobacco by our youth has slowed or even stalled completely in some cases. This matters because youth are not small adults: the younger they start smoking the more susceptible they are to the addiction of nicotine. Plus teens are still developing their lungs and those who smoke may end up as adults with lungs that will never grow to full size. Additionally, early cardiovascular damage is seen in most young smokers. Here are some actions parents can take to help their kids avoid smoking.

  • Stop teen smoking before it startsWhether or not you smoke, be an anti-smoking role model. If you smoke, try to quit, as kids are more likely to smoke if their parents do. But check out this Tobacco-free Kids fact sheet for other things you can do to set a good example whether or not you smoke
  • Ensure your child has access to good, engaging anti-tobacco education. Many schools and community health centers already provide proven programs. In Indianapolis we have a wonderful facility, the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center, which provides evidence-based smoking and other health education programs using engaging technology such as audience response, “smell-a-vision” and TAM, a “transparent anatomical manikin”, which demonstrates health impacts on the body.
  • Appeal to their priorities. Kids won’t really care that smoking increases risk for long-term chronic diseases, but boys might care that it contributes to erectile dysfunction (some doctors use this argument with young men) and girls might care that people who smoke are not thinner than non-smokers. They may also be persuaded against smoking if they understand how much faster it ages your face. Check out this New York Times article about a very interesting study assessing the difference in facial aging of adult twins with different smoking habits.
  • Know your child’s friends. Peer pressure is a big reason for starting smoking.
  • Try to limit your child’s exposure to smoking in movies and other media. There is strong data from studies that smoking in movies makes kids more likely to smoke. Those with the highest exposure to smoking images are twice as likely to smoke as those who have the least exposure. Yet, according to the Surgeon General, “in 2010 nearly a third of top-grossing movies produced for children—those with ratings of G, PG, or PG-13— contained images of smoking”. Even Disney has smoking in kids’ movies! To learn more about smoking in movies and what you can do check out the advocacy website, Smoke Free Movies.

Support Community-wide Anti-Smoking Policies

Smoking bans and other anti-tobacco policies have proven extraordinarily successful at reducing the access to tobacco and rates of use across all ages. Here are some of the proven strategies, supported by the Surgeon General, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

  • Anti-tobacco mass media campaigns.
  • Higher tobacco prices, including tax increases. Higher prices are particularly effective with young smokers who are more sensitive to the cost of cigarettes.
  • Restrictions on youth advertising and access to tobacco.
  • Smoke-free policies for public spaces and workplaces.

All people concerned about the impact of smoking on our youth and society can help advocate for better anti-smoking laws and policies by supporting organizations that work to establish these regulations through donation or volunteering – and by making your concerns known to elected representatives, policymakers, and local community leaders. We can also applaud the actions of businesses like CVS, who announced this week that they will stop selling tobacco products, as this is inconsistent with their strategy to be seen as a broad healthcare company – and send a message to others who have not yet made this move.