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The Children's Wellness Blog

The Importance of Vaccinations for College Students

August 18, 2016

The Importance of Vaccinations for College StudentsIt’s never easy sending one of your kids off to college. The idea of your child leaving home for the first time can be a frightening proposition for parents. One way to help alleviate some of the stress and worry of your bird leaving the nest is to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to prepare your teen for college. This could mean anything from talking to your kids about avoiding drugs and alcohol and teaching them how to prepare healthy meals to instilling healthy habits like cleaning contaminated surfaces and getting them all the necessary vaccinations.

Immunizations are important for anyone, but especially college students living in extremely close quarters like dormitories that can be breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria and diseases. Common practices like sharing bathrooms, showers, drinks and various other personal items can make your teen extra vulnerable to these potential threats. All these factors solidify the need for proper immunizations for your teen before leaving for school.

Listed below are some of the most common vaccinations for college freshman as well as some others to consider:

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is one of the most essential vaccines for students starting college. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne infection that can be transmitted through sexual activity. The disease can cause long-term liver damage if not properly treated. Hepatitis B can be contracted through contact with bodily fluids from someone who already has it. Sharing personal hygiene items like razors or toothbrushes can also spread Hepatitis B.


Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. College students may be at an increased risk for contracting bacterial meningitis. If not treated, meningitis can lead to severe, permanent issues like hearing loss, brain damage or even death. Common symptoms to look out for include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Both bacterial and viral meningitis are contagious and can be spread from coming into direct contact with people.

Here at Children’s Wellness Center we offer two of the more commonly-recommended meningitis vaccinations, Menactra® and Bexsero®. These vaccines work by exposing the patient to a small dose of the inactive bacteria, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. Both vaccines come highly recommended for college-aged students.

Additional Vaccines to Consider

All states have different vaccination requirements for college students, so keep that in mind if your teen will be attending an out-of-state school. In most states, an up-to-date Tetanus booster is required. Additionally, many colleges require immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella varicella (chickenpox). Other vaccinations we recommend for your teen include shots for Hepatitis A and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

We can’t tell you not to worry about sending your kid off to college. After all, we know you’re only human. At least take some comfort in knowing that thanks to these immunizations, you can scratch these potentially dangerous diseases off your list of things to be concerned about while your teen is away at school. If you have any questions or concerns regarding immunizations for your child, please don’t hesitate to contact Children’s Wellness Center today at 404-303-1314.

Adolescent Warning Signs for Heart Disease

August 11, 2016

Adolescent Warning Signs for Heart DiseaseHeart disease, the number one cause of death in the US is especially common for people with a family history of heart disease, people who are overweight or obese, diabetics and smokers. Age and gender are also contributing factors. And while heart disease is traditionally associated with adults, recent studies indicate that the risk factors and root causes of heart disease are widespread among children and adolescents.

While it’s been known for some time that being overweight was potentially harmful, The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a report that only solidifies this case. Their findings indicate that body mass index (BMI) in teenagers just 2 points higher than the average had a far increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The same study showed that for teens with a BMI 4 points higher than the average, the risk for heart disease doubled.

We know this subject can be frightening for parents, after all, we know there is nothing more important than the health and wellness of your kids. Below are some common risk factors that you can monitor in your kids to help prevent heart disease.

Warning Signs for Heart Disease in Youth

High blood pressure

Though rare for children, high blood pressure (or hypertension) is a serious condition that often goes undetected due to a lack of obvious symptoms. Make sure that your child’s blood pressure is checked at his or her yearly check-up. Children born into families with a history of high blood pressure should have their blood pressure watched more closely.

How it can be treated: Since children who are overweight usually have higher blood pressure than those who are not, it’s important to stress maintaining a healthy body weight. Promote increased physical activity. Preparing healthy meals and limiting a child’s daily salt intake is also recommended.

High cholesterol

Although the effects of high cholesterol are rarely seen during youth, fatty plaque buildup that begins in childhood can ultimately continue into adulthood. This process is known as atherosclerosis. In time, atherosclerosis is known to lead directly to heart disease. For families with a history of high cholesterol, it is essential to be aware of the added risk.

How it can be treated: 30-60 minutes of daily exercise is recommended. Let’s face it, it’s no fun to talk with your kids about nutrition, but it is definitely important. Try to stress the benefits of foods with whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Maintain a healthy body weight and avoid the risks associated with childhood obesity.


According to the CDC, more than 90,000 people in the US die annually from heart diseases caused by smoking. For young people who would otherwise have a low risk of heart disease, cigarette smoking can drastically increase the risk of heart disease. The longer someone smokes, the higher the risk of heart disease, so starting at a young age is especially dangerous.

How it can be treated: First and foremost, warn your kids of the dangers of smoking. Since the vast majority of smokers start before finishing high school, preventing smoking at a young age can often result in avoiding smoking and living a healthier life.

Our goal here at Children’s Wellness Center is not to frighten parents, though rather to educate them on the dangers of heart disease and what they can do to help. Parents and family physicians should consider the prevention of these key risk factors a top priority in the fight against heart disease. For questions about the services we offer at Children’s Wellness Center, don’t hesitate to contact us at Children’s Wellness Center at 404-303-1314.

How Safe Are Insect Repellents with DEET for Kids?

July 27, 2016

How Safe Are Insect Repellents with DEET for KidsIf we lived in a world where insect bites and stings didn’t exist, imagine how much more enjoyable spending time outdoors would be for everyone! Unfortunately, this is not a luxury we are given and insects can damper summer fun for a lot of folks. Insect repellents tend to be the first defense many of us choose to protect the body from pesky mosquitoes eagerly waiting to have a field day on any exposed parts of the skin. While repellents certainly can be helpful, there are certain ingredients used to ward off mosquitoes that you should pay particular attention to – insect repellents that contain DEET. If you’re curious to know how safe using insect repellents with DEET is on kids, the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians have put together our recommendations and precautions to take when buying an insect repellent for your family.

DEET (which goes by the chemical name N, N-diethyl-tolumide) is the active ingredient used in insect repellents. Applied to the skin externally, DEET helps keep mosquitoes away rather than killing them and can come in a wide selection of concentrations (depending on the kind of insect repellent you buy). The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer you’ll be protected from mosquitos, which may sound ideal, but too much DEET can be harmful. The goal is to stick between 10%-30% DEET (do not use anything over 30% DEET concentration on kids) because the chemical can be extremely toxic.

Low concentrations of DEET, like repellents with 10% DEET, are recommended for use on kids who plan to be outside for just a few, short hours of fun in the sun while insect repellents with 30% DEET concentration would be more ideal for an all-day, outdoor adventure. DEET is directly absorbed into the skin and while high DEET concentrations may carry the stigma that they’ll work the best for intended purposes, repellents with more than 30% have been shown to not work any better than lower concentrated DEET repellents. It’s similar to the idea that sunscreens that have an SPF of 100 must work better to protect us than one with an SPF of 45 because the number is greater (but we now know that’s not always the case either).

Once you’ve made your purchase, properly applying an insect repellent to your child’s skin is just as important. Our most noteworthy suggestions include:

  • Never use insect repellents containing DEET on children under the age of 2 months.
  • Don’t apply repellents more than once a day. This isn’t the same rule where once you get into water or sweat a lot you must reapply like you do with sunscreens to avoid the dreaded sunburn.
  • Avoid applying insect repellent to your child’s face, mouth, and hands. They are more likely to accidentally ingest the repellent chemicals or experience some sort of irritation after being exposed to the repellent then touching their face or putting their hands in their mouths.
  • Always make sure you’re applying the insect repellent in a well-ventilated area to reduce your child’s chance of inhaling the chemicals.
  • When your child is in for the day and not planning on being outside for prolonged periods, be sure to thoroughly wash their skin with soap and water to remove any residual chemicals.
  • Don’t forget to also wash their clothes, especially before wearing again, in case any DEET lingers and finds its way back onto your child’s skin.

It’s important to check the active ingredients listed on a specific insect repellent to see what chemicals you’ll be exposing yourself and your child’s skin to. Be sure to always read and closely follow the product’s instructions to ensure proper usage and most importantly safety. Many insect repellents have been heavily tested and we recommend doing a bit of research to see which ones do its job most effectively without compromising your child’s health. If you’re traveling with the family, it’s a good idea to also remember to pack your own repellents, especially if going international.  Other parts of the world may not actively test products to the extent we do here, language differences could cause application errors, or perhaps the DEET concentration is higher than we would advise using. Either way, KidsHealth®, the FDA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer helpful guides for choosing the right insect repellent for your child – there are many out there, you just have to find the one that keep your child covered when they need it the most. We want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable, and bite-free summer!

Exposure to e-Cigarettes Could Be Harming Your Child

July 22, 2016

Exposure to e-Cigarettes Could Be Harming Your ChildElectronic cigarettes seem to be just about everywhere these days. Billed as an alternative to cigarettes for those trying to get a nicotine fix, electronic cigarettes are surging in popularity. Unlike normal cigarettes, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) use water vapor instead of smoke. Many experts have pegged e-cigarettes as an effective means of quitting smoking. But the prevalence of electronic cigarettes could be posing a greater threat to children than previously thought.

Potential Dangers to Kids

Recent studies have shown that exposure to e-cigarettes can be harmful to children in a variety of ways. Drinking e-liquid has led to a rash of poisonings. According to a recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of children under age 6 poisoned by nicotine in e-cigarettes rose by nearly 1,500% over the last 2 years. Because the e-liquid often comes in flavors lie bubblegum and candy that are appealing to kids, it’s not uncommon for a child to drink enough liquid to get seriously ill or even die. Symptoms of exposure include hyperactivity, flushing, sweating, headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea.

Kids witnessing the act of a parent smoking, whether it is a traditional cigarette or an electric alternative, can drastically increase the chances of that child becoming a smoker. You don’t want to instill the message that smoking of any kind is permissible. Even if the deadly smoke of cigarettes has been replaced by water vapor, your children may still be exposed to nicotine and other potentially hazardous chemicals through secondhand vapor. Certain brands of e-cigarettes are known to contain dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde that could be dangerous for both the smoker and those around them. Additionally, the e-liquid itself poses a threat to kids even when not in use. Kids who come into contact with e-liquid risk becoming sick from nicotine exposure, as well as skin irritation.

In the case of a poisoning emergency, we recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Call the Poison Help Line immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
  • Don’t smoke e-cigarettes in the presence of young children. This will help keep them from being exposed to nicotine and other chemicals like glycerol that could be harmful if ingested.
  • Keep e-cigarettes and e-liquid away and out of reach of your kids. Supplies should be kept in high shelves or cabinets, not bags or purses that kids can easily access.
  • If possible, lock up your e-cigarettes and e-liquid when you are not using them.
  • Use childproof caps for e-liquid containers to prevent danger of accidental poisoning.

Safety and prevention starts at home. Talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking. If you’re going to use e-cigarettes, use them in a safe and responsible way that will not adversely affect the health of your children. If you have any questions or curiosities, please contact your healthcare providers at Children’s Wellness Center, we would be happy to help.