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Archive for November, 2017

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

Holiday Travel Safety TipsThanksgiving is already here, and the rest of the holiday season is fast approaching.  For many families, the holidays involve some amount of travel, whether it’s a cross-country flight or a two-hour drive. As much fun as the holidays can be, traveling does have some safety risks. To have a safe and fun holiday season with your kids, our pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center have some helpful tips:

Car Safety Tips

If you’re driving to your destination, these steps can help you and your kids stay safe:

  • Use a vehicle that has enough seats for everyone. That means all children under age 13 should have a back seat that can accommodate whichever safety device they need.
  • Make sure to follow all of the appropriate car seat rules. There are a lot of details to remember, so refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics car seat guidelines for kids.
  • Some car manufacturers advertise that they use advanced airbags. While these air bags do appear to be safer for adults, their safety for kids has not been evaluated enough. Continue to keep children in the back seat. Even in cars with these advanced air bags.
  • If you’re going to a colder climate with winter weather, follow some additional safety precautions:
    • Don’t put your baby in a puffy coat underneath their car seat. In a crash, puffy clothing will compress and leave the safety harness dangerously loose. Instead, keep them warm by dressing them in thin layers along with a hat and gloves. For more warmth, you can put a blanket on them (on top of the safety harness).
    • If you’re not used to driving in winter weather, look up some tips. Know what to do if you start sliding on ice, how to tell if the roadway is frozen, how to get out if you’re stuck in a snow drift, etc.
    • Make an emergency winter safety kit to keep in your car in case you get stuck or stranded. This should include:
      • Long-lasting and easy-to-access foods like granola bars
      • Bottled water
      • An ice scraper and snow brush
      • Blankets
      • Dry clothing, hats, and gloves
      • A center punch (a tool to break the car window in an emergency)
    • Remember the rule of thumb to keep your child warm: a child needs one more layer than an adult.
  • RVs are popular options for a holiday outing. Make sure to follow some safety precautions, though:
    • Use an RV that has a forward-facing seat for every member of the family, and that the seats can accommodate the car seat, booster seat, or other safety equipment your kids need.
    • Make sure your RV meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, which means the seat belts have both lap belts and shoulder belts.
    • Practice driving the RV before you load up your kids and head for unfamiliar roads. An RV drives differently than your typical passenger vehicle, so it takes time to get used to.

Air Travel Safety Tips

For families traveling by plane this holiday season, follow these tips for a safer trip:

  • While it isn’t required to buy a seat for a child who is under 2 years old, the safest option is to buy a seat for your baby and use a safe car seat. Just make sure the car seat is approved for use on an airplane.
  • Dress your child in easy-on, easy-off layers. You never know what temperature the plane will be, and you have little control over it. Layers prepare you for every situation, but they also make diaper changes and bathroom trips easier in the cramped plane bathroom.
  • If your baby’s ears get uncomfortable, giving them something to suck on during take-off and initial descent can help. You can choose to breastfeed or give them a bottle or pacifier.
  • Some kids are bothered by the excess noise on an airplane. For these kids, cotton balls and earplugs may help.
  • If you’re renting a car at your destination, call ahead to make sure they can accommodate the safety equipment you need.

No matter how you’re getting to your destination, we have one final tip: find a great pediatrician and hospital near the place you’re staying. You never know when an emergency will arise, and you don’t want to waste valuable time trying to find a doctor in the midst of a stressful situation. To make this less likely, it’s also a good idea to schedule a physical exam for kids before you travel if your kids are due (or nearly due) for their next visit.

Ask the Parents: Why Do You Come to Children’s Wellness Center?

For a new parent, choosing a pediatrician is one of the most challenging and important decisions you’ll need to make. Your doctor needs to be knowledgeable and experienced. They need to connect with you and your kids alike. And of course, they need to be accessible when you need them…it’s not an easy task. Most of our pediatricians and nurse practitioners are parents ourselves, so we know how helpful it is to hear input from other parents. Fortunately, several of our patients’ families at Children’s Wellness Center are happy to share their thoughts with you.

We understand that choosing the right pediatrician is a process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Families’ stories like those in the video above can be a great step. But you should still take the time you need to research qualifications, meet in person, and ask all your questions to find the right pediatrician. Whether you’re about to have a new baby, you’ve moved, or you’re looking to switch from your current pediatrician, checking out all your options can help you find the pediatrician and “medical home” that will guide your kids through a healthy childhood. To find out more about our practice or to become a new patient, contact Children’s Wellness Center today. For more interesting articles about keeping your kids safe and healthy, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Flu Vaccine for Kids

Frequently Asked Questions about the Flu Vaccine for KidsIt’s that time of year again when temperatures are dropping and parents everywhere are bundling up their kids in coats and hats to protect them from seasonal illnesses. But about half of Americans don’t take advantage of the best way to prevent the flu: the flu vaccine. Our pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center know that parents have a lot of questions about the flu vaccine, so we’re answering some of the most common ones we hear from our patients’ parents.

Why is the flu vaccine so important for kids?

As beneficial as the flu vaccine is for everyone, it’s especially crucial for kids. Children are more likely to contract the flu because they tend to touch everything in their surroundings and then put their hands in or near their mouth and eyes. The risk is even higher for school-aged kids because they’re around so many other children in a small area.

To protect your kids from the flu and its potentially serious complications, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids get the vaccine, but especially kids between 6 months and 5 years of age. Babies under 6 months old actually have a higher risk for flu complications, but they’re not able to receive the vaccine, so it’s particularly important for your family and all of your child’s caregivers to get the vaccine if you have a baby or other high-risk individual at home.

Can my child get the flu from the vaccine?

This is a very common myth. The flu vaccine contains a deactivated (dead) form of the virus so the body can learn how to defend itself against the live virus. The vaccine will not cause your child to get the flu. Some side effects of the vaccine can mimic flu symptoms in kids, and some people mistake this for a mild flu.

Which type of flu vaccine should my child get?

The flu vaccine comes in two forms: trivalent (containing three strains of the virus) and quadrivalent (containing four strains of the virus). At Children’s Wellness Center, we always strive to offer our patients the most effective and safest vaccines on the market, so we only stock the quadrivalent vaccine, and our flu vaccine is preservative-free as well. The most important factor is just to get the immunization for your child.

In some past years, the flu vaccine has also had two options for administering: an injection or a nasal spray. This year, the only effective and approved flu vaccine is an injection. If you are offered a nasal spray flu vaccine, do not accept it.

When should my kids get the flu vaccine?

The flu virus changes each year, so kids need to get a new flu vaccine each year. The year’s vaccine is usually available in August or September, and we have already had the flu vaccine for the 2017-2018 season since September. We have plenty of supply for both patients and parents alike, so you should schedule a flu vaccine appointment at your earliest availability. For your convenience, we offer flu vaccine clinics most days of the week to make it easy and quick for families to come into the office for a nurse to administer the vaccine.

Does the flu vaccine guarantee that my child won’t get the flu?

As much as we would all love a 100% guarantee, this just doesn’t exist in medicine. Flu vaccines are about 60% effective. We do know, however, that vaccinated people who do get the flu tend to have a much milder case and are much less likely to end up with severe complications, like pneumonia. After all, the largest concern about the flu is that you never know which kids will have severe complications, so minimizing that risk is certainly worth the effort.

If my kids aren’t in a high-risk category, should we pass up the vaccine to conserve the supply for high-risk people?

Children who are at a heightened risk for serious flu complications include:

  • Kids under 5 years of age
  • Kids with certain chronic pediatric medical conditions (for example, a history of wheezing)
  • Children of American Indian/Alaskan Native heritage

If you and your kids don’t belong to one of these categories, you should still get the vaccine. There is no shortage of the flu vaccine this year, so there’s no need to put your child’s health at risk to conserve the supply for high-risk kids.

No parent wants to see their child get sick, and flu vaccines are among the most effective ways to keep your kids healthy. At Children’s Wellness Center, we’re here to help with flu vaccines, preventative guidance, and more throughout this flu season. To keep up with our future blogs and health tips for kids this season, be sure to follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Should You Let Your Teen Drive Your Other Kids to School?

Should You Let Your Teen Drive Your Other Kids to SchoolWhen teenagers first get their driver’s license, they’re typically excited to hop into the car every chance they get. Some teens even gain a sudden enthusiasm for running errands, just because they love the independence it brings them. In truth, this can be great for parents too, because you finally have someone else who can help with trips to the store, picking up dry cleaning, and other time-consuming jobs. Still, as we’ve often seen at Children’s Wellness Center, parents are much more hesitant to award the school commute to their teenagers when the new driver would be taking their siblings to school as well. So what’s the verdict? Is it okay to have your teenager drive his/her younger siblings to school?

As you can probably imagine, there is no clear-cut answer about how much driving experience a teenager should have before they’re comfortable enough behind the wheel to take on the added responsibility of young passengers. It’s really a question of each teen’s maturity level, willingness to follow the rules for safe teen driving, and experience level on the road. Some young drivers simply learn the skill better than others, so while one teenager may be a very safe driver after a certain number of months behind the wheel, it can take another teenager twice as long to reach that same ability level. It’s also about more than sheer driving skill. The largest danger for a teenager with young passengers is that the passengers will distract him/her, so as a parent, you should be able to objectively evaluate whether your driver is mature enough to stay focused on the road (and whether your other kids will cooperate and avoid distracting your teen driver).

If you do decide to trust your teenager with the school commute, here are a few kids safety tips to keep kids and teenagers safe during the drive:

  • Make sure there are enough seat belts and the appropriate car seats or booster seats available for every child, and make sure the driver knows how to properly secure kids in these safety restraints. Have them practice this while you supervise, because people often think they know how to use a car seat when they’re actually using it incorrectly.
  • Have your teenager do a dry run of the route while you ride along (several times, if necessary). This is especially true if they will be dropping off younger siblings at different elementary schools, day cares, or other facilities. If this is the case, make sure your teenager knows exactly where to drop off their siblings and what safety protocol to follow.
  • Teach your young driver that if a distraction arises in the car (caused by a sibling or something else entirely), they should pull into a parking lot of another safe place to deal with it, rather than trying to multi-task on the road.
  • Every teenager should know to never use their phone while driving, but explain to your teenager that this is even more important while they have the additional distractions and responsibilities of a car full of kids.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all kids under age 13 should always sit in the back seat of the vehicle, so make sure your teenager follows this car safety rule for kids. Of course, this also means that your teenager shouldn’t have more young passengers than the number of seatbelts in the back seat.
  • Make sure your teenager knows that their permission to transport their siblings should not be interpreted as permission to transport their friends. In fact, Georgia’s graduated driver licensing program puts legal limits on the number of young passengers a new driver can have (other than immediate family members). As a parent, remember that you can also put further restrictions on this as well.
  • Consider using a “contract” like the American Academy of Pediatrics’ teen driver agreement, which lays out the rules that both the teenager and the parents should adhere to for safe driving. Throughout the process, many teens respond better to respectful two-way conversations rather than lectures. If it seems to work for your teen, emphasize that you and he/she are a team with one goal – to get the entire family to school and back safely.

Ultimately, every family needs to make their own decisions about their teen’s driving restrictions. Whatever you may choose, our team of trained pediatric professionals at Children’s Wellness Center is here to guide you and answer your questions. To learn more about how to keep your teenager and your other kids safe, call Children’s Wellness Center in Atlanta. For more kids’ health and safety tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.