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Knowing How to Use an AED Can Save a Child’s Life

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:28 pm

We have a problem in this country, sudden cardiac arrest. Approximately 450,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the United States. It can happen to anybody, anywhere, anytime and without any warning, so helping a person suffering from cardiac arrest is all about what you do immediately following the persons collapse.  The best “save” rates have been reported when using an automated external defibrillator or AED to deliver an electric shock or defibrillation within three minutes of the patient’s collapse. Early defibrillation in conjunction with C.P.R has been found to be the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest goes without being successfully treated by defibrillation the chance of survival decreases by 7 percent per minute in the first minutes, and decreases by 10 percent per minute as time advances beyond 3 minutes, so starting life saving measures such as CPR and using the AED as soon as it arrives it essential.

Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest include:

  • Collapse
  • Lack of pulse
  • No breathing
  • Unconsciousness

With time being of the essence and the average response time for emergency services being 10 to 12 minutes (which may not be fast enough for a patient because after approximately three to five minutes irreversible brain damage may begin to occur if there is no defibrillation), having access to an AED and knowing how to use it is very important. So how do you use an Automated External Defibrillator? As we said before, AED’s are very user friendly and speak in plain English and will walk you through the entire process, even reminding you to call for help if you haven’t already done so. In the basic life support class we have a pneumonic that helps people remember the 4 basic steps to using an AED: P.A.A.S. This stands for Power, Attach, Analyze, and Shock.

  • Power: Most AED’s turn on when open but some may have a power button.
  • Attach stands for attaching the defibrillator pads to the chest of the patient to match the pictures that are provided on the pads.
  • Analyze means to let the machine analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and determine if the patient needs to be defibrillated,
  • Shock means to manually press the shock button and shock the patient if and when the machine says it’s time to do so.

Now as we said before, having the proper training will make this whole process much smoother but is not a requirement. I would however recommend it.

Where to find an AED? AED’s either held by trained personnel who will attend events or are public access units which can be found in places including corporate and government offices, shopping centers, airports, airplanes, restaurants , casinos, hotels, sports stadiums, schools, and universities, community centers, fitness centers, health clubs, theme parks, workplaces and any other location where people may congregate. In many areas, emergency vehicles are likely to carry AEDs, with some units carrying an AED in addition to manual defibrillators. Some areas even have dedicated community first responders, who are volunteers tasked with keeping an AED and taking it to any victims in their area. AEDs are also increasingly common on commercial airliners, cruise ships, and other transportation facilities and with advances in technology and policy requiring AED’s to be placed in more and more places AED’s are becoming more accessible as well as more affordable.

Automated External Defibrillators are truly miracle machines and are changing people’s lives for the better and I hope this article has given you a basic understanding of how to use one should the time come. I encourage everyone to take a certified AED instruction course and really become familiar with these machines and the process involved in using them because you never know when you could be called to action and as we said before, there is nothing better you can do in a cardiac arrest situation than using an AED.

Thank you and Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season.

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Editor’s Note:  Sudden cardiac arrest among young athletes is nowhere near as common as it is across the general population, however when it occurs, it is unexpected and the results are often tragic.  It’s estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 young people experience sudden cardiac arrest (or SCA) each year, and only about one in 10 survive. An AED can save their life, however today only 15 states require them on school campuses.  Not all of those require them to be present on athletic fields.  Parents that means its up to you. Be observant.  During the sports season, look out for signs that your child may be struggling. And talk to your school about AED’s.  Source: Nemours Children’s Hospital

How to Raise a Charitable Child – Hidden Ways They Benefit

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:29 pm

You know charity starts at home. Here’s how to cultivate a giving spirit in kids and start an UnSelfie Revolution, so they think we, not me!

Samantha is not yet 4 years old, but she already has the makings of a charitable child. She was distributing school supplies with her family to kids at a shelter and noticed one child in a corner didn’t have a backpack. She picked up a spare, walked to him and said, “I sorry you don’t have one. I hope you happy.”

The preschooler may have missed a few words. But her message displayed empathy and a charitable spirit, all because her parents were raising her to care about others. And the benefits of doing so? Oh, let me count the ways.

  • Over and over, researchers are finding that empathy is the cornerstone for becoming a happy, well-adjusted, successful adult. 
  • Studies show that possessing empathy also makes children more likable, more employable, better leaders, more conscience-driven, and even increases their overall performance.

The best news is that empathy can be cultivated, and one of the best empathy generators are service projects to help kids step out of their comfort zones, open their eyes, and expose them to others’ lives. And there are other proven ways to raise an empathetic child as well. Here are simple, science-backed tips adapted for this blog from my book, “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World” to inspire generosity in your children 365 days a year:

1. Prioritize caring. Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Project report, “The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values,” found that most teens value academic achievement and individual happiness over caring for others. Their reason for this? Kids believed that’s what adults value.

Prioritize charitableness in your family chats. Be clear that you expect them not only to do their academic best, but to care about others. Display photos of your kids engaged in thoughtful endeavors, rather than just showcasing their school successes, athletic prowess or having them look cute for the camera, so they recognize that how much they care about others matters to you.

2. Be a charitable role model. The old saying, “Children learn what they live,” has a lot of truth to it. Studies show that if parents are generous and giving, kids are likely to adopt those qualities. So show your child the joy you get by giving.

There are so many daily opportunities: phoning a friend who is down, collecting blankets for the homeless, volunteering at a food bank. After volunteering, be sure to tell your child how good it made you feel.

3. Make it a family routine. A simple way to inspire children’s generosity is by reinforcing it. Keep a box by your backdoor to encourage family members to donate their gently used toys, games or books. Then each time the box is filled, deliver the items as a family to a shelter or needy family. Make charity a routine ritual that becomes a cherished childhood memory.

4. Acknowledge charitableness. Whenever your child acts in a kind-hearted way, say so: Thank them for being kind or helping out. Also, let your kids overhear (without them thinking they’re supposed to) you describing their caring qualities to others.

5. Use real events. Instead of just bemoaning bad news, talk about how you might help in the local community. It could be donating items to help after a widely publicized fire, or thinking about ways to assist the most vulnerable – like the homeless – during the winter. You can start at home, too, such as teaching them to be there for a family member who is going through a hard time.

6. Start a “giving plan.” Encourage your children to give a portion of their allowance – or tooth fairy money – to a charity of their choice. Provide three small plastic containers for younger kids or envelopes for teens that are labeled: “Save,” “Spend,” and “Give,” and help them decide which percentage of their money is to be allocated to each container.

7. Find your child’s passion. Kids are more likely to want to get involved in service projects that match their interests. Help your kids choose something they’re good at and enjoy doing. If he loves reading: read to the blind; enjoys writing: be a pen pal to an overseas orphan; likes sports: volunteer for the Special Olympics; is musical: play at a homeless shelter; enjoys knitting: knit a beanie for a soldier. You get the idea.

8. Make charity a family affair – or share the experience with friends. Find a service to do together, like serving in a soup kitchen. If your child enjoys volunteering with friends, ask if she’d like to do her project with someone. Or your child can form a club with neighbors, classmates, members of their scout troop or a church group.

9. Recap their impact. Research has found that children who are given the opportunity to help others tend to become more helpful, especially if the impact of their helpful actions is pointed out. So encourage your child to reflect on her volunteering experiences: “What did the person do when you helped? How do you think he felt? How did you feel? Is lending a hand easier than it used to be?” And do remind your kids that their caring efforts are making a difference.

10. Keep giving. A once-a-year day of volunteering is rarely enough for a child to adopt a charitable mindset. Look for ways to help your children experience the joy of giving on a regular basis: baking an extra batch of cookies for the lonely neighbor next door, adopting an orphan overseas (a portion of their allowance each week goes to that child), singing to a nursing home to add a little joy. The goal of getting kids involved in charity is not about winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but to give them the opportunity to experience goodness.

The truth is, kids don’t learn how to be kind from reading about it in a textbook, but from doing kind deeds. The more children witness or experience what it feels like to give, the more likely they will develop a charitable spirit. And that’s how we’ll raise the next generation to be good, caring people.

What are you doing to help your children learn the value of giving to others?

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UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

Why Research Says it’s Actually Good for Kids to Daydream

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

School has been in session for a couple of months now, but winter break is still weeks away. This is prime time for kids to start to be a little less focused, distracted, and perhaps even daydream during school time. In our culture of hyper-stimulation and constant information flow, the idea of daydreaming often get met with judgmental glances and even reprimand from teachers. While we all want our kids to focus on their school work, research suggests that there may be a valuable place for daydreaming as well.

In recent years, researchers have begun to look into what the brain does during these times of “day dreaming” or what they call “inward attention.” They are beginning to see how time spent focused inward may actually help students focus better on outward tasks. Some research has shown that when times of inward reflection were incorporated into the school day, students often became less anxious, performed better on tests, and were able to plan more effectively.

Time for inward reflection is also linked to social-emotional development. In order to understand the feelings of others, our own feelings, and gain insight into moral decision-making, allowing time of inward reflection is necessary. Kids’ brains are still quite immature in many ways. If time is not allowed for them to decompress from constant input and have time to actually make meaning of all the information they absorb, it will ultimately have no place in their lives in the long-term.

This idea of inward attention, of course, goes against much of our cultural atmosphere at this time. We are constantly bombarded by information, technology, screens, etc. Even for adults, this constant stimulation can be overwhelming, but for kids it can be paralyzing. I’ve seen examples of this in my own experience with youngsters. While volunteering in my son’s kindergarten class, I sometimes notice kids just staring off into space and not “paying attention.” While they may seem “unfocused” to the observer, I wonder if they are not just having a moment of this “inward attention” to help their brain re-group from all the stimulation.

Children are learning and absorbing information almost constantly, especially at school. It’s great to be able to allow them some time to just day dream or let their mind wander without having to worry about the end product. I have noticed this even with my 3-year-old. After playing for a while, he will often just lay down and drink something or hold a toy, seemingly “doing nothing.” After a few minutes, however, he will perk up and say something clever or begin playing in a new way. It seems that, given the opportunity, kids will carve out this “day dreaming” time for themselves.

If this time of inward attention is so important for children’s development, how can we allow space for this in our homes?

  • Allow time after school for kids to “decompress” from the day without other forms of stimulation (e.g., TV, tablets, etc.)
  • Allow for quiet time on a regular basis. Kids may resist this at first, but once it becomes routine they usually learn to enjoy it. They can read books or play quietly with toys but the overall goal is time without a set goal or schedule.
  • Time in nature can often promote inward attention. Allow kids plenty of time to be outside, go for hikes or just play in the leaves.
  • Promote a mindset of reflection in your home. Recognize that not everything you or your child does has to be productive. This goes against what our culture tells us, but it’s possible. Your child spending an hour playing in the leaves or sitting in their room daydreaming is not “wasted time.”

We all know the importance of children learning to focus their attention on tasks or assignments. In fact, the ability to focus on a task and persist when it gets difficult has been linked to many positive outcomes for kids. An inward focus, however, may be equally important for children to help develop these focusing skills, as well as develop social-emotional skills.

How to Care For Your Child if They Chip a Tooth

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

As parents, we do our best to care for our children when accidents or injuries occur. In dentistry, one of the most common dental emergencies that family and pediatric dentists see is chipped teeth.

By being prepared and knowing how to handle a chipped tooth, you can ensure your child is well looked after from the moment the injury occurs to when your family finally makes it to see your dentist.

Control Any Bleeding

The mouth bleeds easily and heavily, due to the many blood vessels supplying it. Apply pressure with a clean cloth or sterile gauze (a facial tissue works if you don’t have anything else on hand) to help stop any bleeding that’s occurring.

Look for the Tooth Fragment

If the damage to your child’s tooth is significant, your dentist may be able to bond the broken off portion back into place. The key is to find it quickly and store it properly, so that it doesn’t dry out. Place it in a sealed container and submerge it with milk, contact solution, or if nothing else is available, tap water.

Take note not to scrub the tooth fragment clean, especially if it’s a completely knocked out tooth. Doing so could make it harder for your dentist to put back in place.

See your dentist within the next hour if at all possible. The sooner you seek out care, the more conservative treatment will tend to be.

Baby vs. Permanent Teeth

How your dentist handles treating a chipped tooth will depend on if it’s a baby or adult tooth. Adult teeth need to be treated quickly to avoid permanent nerve damage or deterioration of the compromised enamel. However, baby teeth are typically handled on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the size of the chip, your dentist may only want to monitor the tooth to make sure it doesn’t start to die before it exfoliates (falls out) naturally on its own time. However, larger cracks and chips may require some type of filling or a crown.

Preserve Your Child’s Smile

The health of your child’s teeth plays a direct impact on the development of their adult smile, speech patterns, and even their self-esteem. If your child has chipped a tooth or suffered from a bump to the mouth, see your dentist for a quick exam and X-ray to determine the severity of the trauma.

Talking With Our Kids After Acts of Violence and Anti-Semitism

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

The violence that the Tree of Life Synagogue experienced and the hatred that was behind it has been terrifying. It is heartbreaking and for many angering. We need healing–and so do our kids.

Many of us wonder how do we speak to our children about acts of terror when we cannot fully comprehend them ourselves. We are thrown by such unexpected and horrific violence. It makes sense that talking to our kids feels daunting. Truthfully, it is.

Yet, talking to our kids is essential. While we may wish to avoid talking about violence and anti-Semitism; sadly our children hear and learn about the through other sources. Terror, violence, bigotry are part of the world we live in and on the news frequently. By engaging our children we are ensuring that they do not have encounter these scary issues alone. We may wish to shield our children, but it is as important to prepare them and comfort them.

It is difficult to watch our children in pain or fear. While parents can’t make their children’s pain disappear, you can help to instill in children the ability to cope with loss and cultivate a sense of resilience. There are ways parents can engage their children in conversation, storytelling, prayer and ritual, which can be useful tools in supporting them. Ultimately, parents play an important role in offering safety and helping them make meaning and interpreting such a significant event.

Here are some suggestions to prepare you and support you in the challenge of responding to the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue with meaningful and comforting conversations with your children:

Check in with yourself

All of us are affected by this horrifying act. Before talking with your child make sure you are in a place to do so to offer yourself as a listener. If you need to talk with someone to process your emotions, please do so. It is ok to be emotional in the presence of your children, but make sure to the best of your ability that you are centered enough to be there for your child.

Be Present, Not Perfect

Perfection is not the goal, being present is. There are no perfect words. While it may seem like kids want answers, they also need to feel like they are being listened to. See what they already know. Children are perceptive. They may have heard directly about the tragedy from the news or from other children. But even if they have not, children are quite perceptive. They can sense when their parents are keenly attuned to watching television, checking their phone, having hushed conversations. This can create confusion and lead them to create some of their own conclusions. Be present to them can alleviate that.

Think about some prompts that can get them started. You can check in with them very generally about how they are feeling or about their day. Or you may want to ask them a questions like “You may have heard that something very sad happened, what have you heard?”

Establish that you are a person your children can speak to about their fears, their confusions, their feelings. Knowing that someone will listen creates comfort, but also do not force conversation. If they need take the conversation in small pieces.

Focus on Understanding

Prioritize your child’s feelings even if it feels self-focused. Depending on the age, children are often most concerned about the direct impact on them. While we want to support them to be caring and concerned members of the community, start where they are. Address their feelings, on their level. Knowing that they are safe is important and allows them to move on to concern for others and understanding more of what happened. Your willingness to listen to them models very important behavior for the long term.

Helping children develop a palette of feelings is important. Explore with them what they are feeling and how they feel it.

Start with Simplicity

Our children do not need to know everything right away. Limit how much exposure they have to news. Be discerning about what information they need. Give them as much information as they need and are able to process, both about this particular act of violence and also about the violent nature of anti-Semitism. Violence has lasting effects on children so be judicious; neither shelter them nor deluge them.

As a young child, I was exposed to too much violent information and images of the Holocaust and it was unhealthy and unproductive. We have much better ways of introducing our children to these topics. Start with the underlying values of dignity, respect, loving kindness. Share with them the reassuring responses of courage, concern and unity.

For very young children, use the most basic language and concepts. Follow their lead; no need to complicate things for them.

Assure and Equip Them

Violence and terror are so rattling because they are beyond our control. Hate crimes pack a double whammy because not only does it undermine our control, but we feel targeted for who we are.

Worried child in front of graffitiWith our children we need to both support them in acting on areas where they do have control of their own safety and feeling connected to who they are. Parenting experts recommend looking at the ways where young children can help protect themselves and pointing that out. In an article in Parents Magazine, “How to Talk to Kids About Terrorism” by Ellen Sturm Niz, there is great advice by Denise Daniels. “Daniels recommends talking to little kids about strategies they use for keeping themselves safe, like wearing a seatbelt in the car, wearing a helmet when riding a bike, and practicing fire drills. “Simple little things like that all help kids think, ‘Well, gosh, there are things I can do to keep myself safe.'”

Focusing on ways that children actually do have control in many areas of keeping themselves safe and understanding how you keep them safe is important.

Older kids can be encouraged to take their concern into action. Whether it is by raising money for the communities affected or educating others about bias and bigotry knowing they can take their worry and turn into impact is an important lesson. (It also applies to us; it is why I am writing this.)

Revisit the conversation

You can discuss this more than once. Information keeps coming in to our children from friends, snippets of conversations at school. Particularly, around issues like anti-Semitism, keeping the channels open, is important to support our kids in forming a positive identity and pride in who they are. They may also experience heightened awareness of who they are as a Jew and the vulnerability it causes. Your presence is invaluable in assuring their ability to claim their Jewishness as a vital part of who they are.

You can find children’s book for all ages on the ADL Website to help further the conversation on anti-Semitism. Similarly you can find resources to keep the discussion going at the PJ Library Website, too. And when the bombing in Paris occurred, I found this article in The Guardian had very useful book recommendations for children on terror, also note the suggestions they crowdsourced at the end.

Resilience is Spiritual, Not Just Practical

While my Jewish education about anti-Semitism and violence was heavy handed, it was balanced out by the importance of ritual and prayer. Understanding that your children have a spiritual is important.

For parents, it can feel incredibly challenging to understand the best ways to respond to the spiritual issues and questions that arise from kids. While there is a strong connection between the psychological aspects of fear and grief and the spiritual ones, many people feel particularly inadequate in providing what children need spiritually to navigate loss of this magnitude. Many children have an inherent way of seeing the world through a spiritual lens–with a sense of wonder, awe and a desire to seek.

How do you answer where is God in all of this?  Again, it is fine and expected not to always have definitive answers, but to recognize that this is an opportunity to ask them them what they think. By all means, share with them your beliefs.

For me, this is an opportunity to talk about God being present when we create openings for God’s presence. God is in the healing and the comfort; in the grieving and in tears. We all have choices how much we want to connect to godliness and the more open we are, the more connected we are.

Rituals and prayers are containers for the unspeakable and important channels for our feelings. Saying kaddish, lighting candles, doing tzedakah can be important ways to move beyond just words of explanation. Also rituals of safekeeping, like the bedtime Shema or chanting prayers like “Hareni m’kabel alai…”, I take upon myself the mitzvah of loving my fellow human being as myself” upon waking create a consistency and sense of comfort and purpose.

Taking a child to a vigil or attending services are important ways for them to feel like they belong.

And this approach, I believe is a double healing in that it both offers meaningful solace and connects them deeply to being Jewish and a part of the Jewish community.

There is no life without loss: In conclusion, it compounds our heartbreak to see our children scared and in pain. While parents can’t make our children’s pain disappear after such violence, they can help to instill in children the ability to cope with loss and cultivate a sense of resilience. Helping children navigate terror and bias is extremely important because they are beginning to assimilate new information, which is confusing and fraught. The role of parents is to be companions with their kids on this challenging aspect of life, not to pretend it didn’t happen. This is the learning of a lifetime and we grow as we prepare and love our children through these unspeakable events.

May we find comfort and strength together.

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Editor’s Note:  Although Pediatric Safety is a secular publication, we felt these words of support and healing from Rabbi Joshua touched all of us.  We were glad we could share them with you

Are You or a Family Member Ditching Dairy? CAUTION!

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:31 pm

I once attended a Dairy Forum in Alexandria, Virginia that was all about lactose intolerance. It amazed me to learn how many people avoid dairy products because they think they are lactose intolerant! Before ditching the dairy, consider my caution for you and/or your family, as it can have major nutritional consequences.

When people think of milk and other dairy foods, they think of calcium. But the truth is that milk contains 9 essential nutrients that our bodies need in order to function normally. Of those nine essential nutrients, milk meets at least 20% of your daily value for not only calcium, but vitamin D, riboflavin and phosphorus. That is why the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans strongly recommends including servings of fat free or low-fat dairy each day in order to meet your minimum nutrition needs*. Did you know that dairy foods are most Americans primary food source of vitamin D? Much in thanks to the great work by Dr. Michael Holick, we have been learning more and more about the epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency that is having serious health consequences.

The lack of nutrient information regarding dairy really hit home with me the other day. An amazing, well-respected doctor I work closely with in my practice shared with me that when a patient comes to him with lactose intolerance, he simply tells them to avoid milk and start a calcium supplement. I had to remind him that dairy not only provides so many more nutrients than just calcium, as mentioned above, it also contains naturally occurring ACE inhibitors similar to the same components given in prescriptive form that help regulate blood pressure. That is why the government-backed blood pressure diet, called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), has encouraged 3 servings of dairy, because it has all 3 of the nutrients of the DASH diet that help regulate blood pressure – calcium, potassium and magnesium. Milk also contains melatonin that helps decrease stress and promotes sleep. (Ever drink a warm glass of milk before bedtime? There’s a reason behind that!) And as if that was not enough, over the last several years there has been a slew of research coming out on the impact of dairy foods in weight management. Hmm…a link between a decrease in dairy foods and obesity? Many say, yes.

Use caution when avoiding entire food groups,
including dairy. You may be setting yourself up
for nutrition deficiencies that may manifest
in health problems.

Growing up, our favorite mealtime beverage was milk. I grew up in a combined family of 6 children (think Brady Bunch, and I was “Cindy” — the youngest) and my mother reports that we went through 5-7 gallons of milk every week! I drank milk with every meal and so did all my siblings. But I remember very well that when I was around 17 or 18 years of age, milk and I started having problems. Within 2-3 hours of drinking milk, I would have bad stomach pain, bloating and eventually gas that was very characteristic of lactose intolerance. Oh, the shame as a teenage female! The very easy thing to do was just eliminate dairy to avoid the very embarrassing consequences. But as I fell in love with nutrition in the 90’s, I learned that this move was costing me dearly and as a result, negatively impacted my nutrition status. Now, I am enjoying dairy again and that has helped me be a positive role model for my young children.

So, the question for you is – have you or a loved one ditched dairy for the same reason I did as a teenager? If so:

1. Get Diagnosed. Don’t self-diagnose like I did because it could be something other than lactose intolerance. All that rumbles is not lactose intolerance! A proper diagnosis is done via a hydrogen breath test and it is covered under most insurance plans. Keep in mind that lactose intolerance is very different than a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance involves the lack of an enzyme that helps digest the milk carbohydrate, lactose. Milk allergy, or milk-protein intolerance, is mostly found in young children, and involves an immune reaction to the milk protein. If you or your child has a milk allergy, it is highly recommended that you see a Registered Dietitian for nutrition guidance. In this case, complete elimination of dairy components is necessary due to possible dangerous allergic reactions. The good news is that most children outgrow milk allergy by the time they are 3 years of age. It is rare that a person continues the allergy into adulthood. If they do, there are actually immunologists that can do milk challenges that will decrease or even eliminate the milk allergy altogether.

2. Work it in. Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of milk at a time and most can eat yogurt and cheese without the negative side effects. At your local grocery store, there are lactose-free milk products of varying brands – Lactaid®, Dairy Ease® and even store brands now. Lactaid® even has an organic version of lactose-free milk for those that prefer organic varieties. There are even over the counter oral lactase enzyme pills that a person can take prior to the ingestion of dairy. The National Dairy Council has great educational resources to help you find ways to get dairy in even when you have lactose intolerance.

3. Seek a Registered Dietitian (RD). Anytime you are thinking of eliminating an entire food group, it is highly recommended that you meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in your area to develop a plan for you. You may not realize what key nutrients you are eliminating from your diet that may be compromising your health. As an RD myself, I am very sensitive to the food desires of my patients. If eliminating dairy or other foods are simply a personal preference, we will honor that and can ultimately work within your desires to put together an alternate nutrition plan that will meet all your needs.

Get the facts when it comes to nutrition. Even if it’s written, it doesn’t always make it factual. And we all come with our own nutrition biases, so ask questions about those biases that may have been handed down from generation to generation. Are they really true? As in lactose intolerance for instance, many African American families avoid milk altogether because they already assume it will be a problem. Lactose intolerance in African Americans is grossly overstated, and teaching your children to avoid dairy can have lasting consequences for for them and you. Proper diagnosis and learning ways to get dairy foods in can be the best move for your family. What is your nutrition bias? Dairy or otherwise, ask the questions and get accurate answers. You owe it to yourself and you also owe it to your family.

Editor’s Note:  all links have been updated to reflect the most current information available. 

  • According to the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended amounts of dairy in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern are based on age rather than calorie level and are:
    • 2 cup-equivalents per day for children ages 2 to 3 years,
    • 2½ cup-equivalents per day for children ages 4 to 8 years, and
    • 3 cup-equivalents per day for adolescents ages 9 to 18 years and for adults.