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The Children's Wellness Blog

Bexsero – New Meningitis B Vaccine for Children

June 8, 2016

Bexsero – New Meningitis B Vaccine for ChildrenThink about how many people we have the potential to interact with on a daily basis – in grocery stores, malls, post offices, schools, work offices, playgrounds, gyms, you name it. No matter how careful we may try to be to avoid germs and illnesses when out in public settings, and even in our own homes, we still have the possibility of being exposed to unforeseen infections, viruses, and diseases. From mild colds to more severe forms that can be dangerous to the health of our children, family, and others, we can come into contact with unknown carriers of any number of easily transmittable conditions (more than most realize). It’s the constant exposure and ease that germs can be shared that make us susceptible to dangerous illnesses and the main reason that vaccines are encouraged – to protect against those that can cause the most harm.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating over-the-counter and prescription drugs. New prescription drugs must demonstrate safety and effectiveness before receiving approval, and this typically comes only after extensive research, studies, and trials prove its benefits for mass distribution and use on patients. Some drugs and vaccines can take many years before becoming FDA-approved, but ones that show great initial results in being able to prevent potentially life-threatening conditions are ones the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians stay on top of. Bexsero – the newest FDA-approved meningitis B vaccine for children is one such drug that we now offer to our patients to prevent one of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. Here’s what you should know:

Meningitis, also known as meningococcal disease, is an inflammation of the meninges (a type of membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, creating a protective barrier for the central nervous system). It generally starts with an infection of some sort (it can be viral, bacterial, parasitic, or even fungal) and can strike without warning – to a person of any age, gender, or race. Infants less than one year old and those between the ages of 16-23 years old are at higher risk of contracting the meningococcal disease and it’s extremely easy to spread from person to person (including coughing, kissing, sharing food/drinks/utensils, and can lead to long-term damage, or worse, be fatal).

Bexsero is only the second FDA-approved meningitis B vaccine that protects a patient’s immune response (it’s a two-dose regimen that allows a flexible dosing schedule). Even with the treatment of antibiotics and quick medical attention, 20% of meningitis survivors suffer long-term injuries such as brain damage, kidney disease, or limb amputation, and as many as 12% of reported cases have resulted in fatalities. There hasn’t been a helpful treatment to come out yet, but Bexsero is currently one of the most effective ways to prevent meningitis B and lessen those risks of permanent damage/death – which is why we are excited to be able to offer it to our patients within our practice.

Meningitis vaccinations (like Menactra®, which is given at ages 11 and 16) are already a part of your child/teen’s vaccination schedule and now includes the latest addition of Bexsero. Teens age 16 and up receive two doses at least one month apart during their annual check-up. Bexsero treatments are covered by most insurance carriers but we recommend checking with your specific carrier first for details regarding your coverage.

Prevention is the key to getting ahead of meningitis and diminishing the potential harm it can do to our children’s health before it happens. If you’re interested in learning more about Bexsero, talk to your Children’s Wellness Center provider or give us a call at 404-303-1314 to schedule your child’s next visit with us. We certainly want them to have an enjoyable summer and want parents to have the peace of mind that their child is best protected each and every day as they grow with us!

Meet the Children’s Wellness Center Pediatricians

May 21, 2016

If you’re an expecting parent, new to the neighborhood, or looking to make a switch, and hoping to find a trusted pediatrician for your child (or children), then you’ve come to the right place. At the core of Children’s Wellness Center, we may be a small practice but we have a lot of heart and a strong passion for providing exceptional quality and personalized care for our patients. Entrusting the care, safety, and well-being of your loved ones to any pediatrician is a big decision – for this reason, our team enjoys spending time not only with our patients and their families, but also getting to know parents as they navigate choosing the right pediatrician to provide the best care for their child. Our dynamic team members are all parents themselves and collectively like to approach each child’s healthcare as if they were our own family members. Without further ado, we’d like you to meet the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians and discover what makes each of these individuals such an integral part of the CWC family!

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Building strong relationships with our patients is something we take pride in being able to offer within our practice and we like to encourage all interested parents to take advantage of the Children’s Wellness Center Meet & Greet events. Each month, Dr. Julie Segal, Dr. Kirsten Mekelburg, Dr. Gary Loventhal, Dr. Anjali Modi, and Heather Bean, CPNP host a Meet & Greet evening for interested parents to come meet the provider of their choice (details can be found on our Children’s Wellness Center Meet & Greet calendar for specifics on the date and time each provider will be hosting) and learn more about the Children’s Wellness Center practice as a whole.

Parents are encouraged to research our pediatricians and come meet us in person, at an informal informational event. It’s a group event, so all parents will register prior to the start (either 4:30pm or 5pm dependent on the provider) where they’ll receive a welcome gift bag of information, be taken on a guided tour of the practice (we’ll show you our three separate rooms – the Newborn Room, Sick Room, and Well Room), learn about pediatric topics like what we do once your baby is born or how to get help in case of after hour emergencies, as well as answer questions that may have been brought in or come up during the event.

Our main goal is to really familiarize parents with us, who we are, and what we do within our pediatric practice. It’s one thing to read our credentials online but we really like to get personalized face time with perspective patients outside of the hustle and bustle of caring for patients during the day. Our Meet & Greet events are free but we do ask that you RSVP by giving us a call at 404-303-1314 to reserve your spot. We always look forward to meeting new families and are honored that we’re considered as your child’s healthcare provider; so come to one, or come to all – it’s up to you!

Car Seat Safety

May 16, 2016

Car Seat SafetyCars were invented with adults in mind but not necessarily our children. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 12 so ensuring our children are well protected when they’re inside of a vehicle (car, van, or truck) is vital. Each state has its own rules and regulations, but at the very core, child safety seats (or car seats) are required for children of certain ages to reduce the risk of potentially fatal injuries. Whether you have a newborn on the way or a child that’s nearing their teenage years, the Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) providers educate parents on car seat safety and the important safety tips for choosing the best car seat for your child – and ultimately their safety.

If you’re an out of state reader, you’ll want to check with your own State’s specific requirements for car seats but in Georgia, the Child Passenger Safety Law (Code 40-8-76) makes it mandatory for guardians to properly secure children under 8 years old in an approved car seat any time they are in a motorized vehicle. Under the current law, guardians must ensure the following:

  • Car seats must be placed in the back seat of the vehicle. Car seats help to reduce the amount of turbulence and shock to an infant’s body, just as seat belts help to secure adults. Air bags are put into place to protect, but when deployed, they can be extremely dangerous for babies and toddlers just from the sheer force itself. Having children secured in the back seat reduces this potential trauma and subsequent injuries in the event of an automobile crash.
  • Car seats must meet all U.S. Federal standards. When we buy new cars, we take into the safety rating that tells us how the car performs under crash testing. The same performance testing concept is applied to car seats, so choosing a seat that meets/exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 will ensure that your child’s car seat has been inspected properly and approved to provide the type of protection it’s claiming to offer.
  • Car seats must be used in accordance to your child’s weight and height. There are a variety of different types and styles of car seats/booster seats that are meant to be used at different stages of your child’s growth and development. Each type takes into account a child’s height and weight, not their age, to ensure the maximum amount of safety coverage. Unlike clothing, this is one item that you do NOT want to buy so your child can “grow into it” – think of bicycle helmet safety; if it’s not properly fitted and securely fastened, it may not be able to properly protect like it’s intended to do.
  • Car seats must be installed and used in accordance to the manufacturer instructions. Just having your child in a car seat is not enough – you have to make sure that it’s installed correctly in order for it to do its job most effectively. Car seats can seem tricky, but there are state funded resources, like Child Safety Seat Fitting locations, that can help install your child’s car seat, or just make sure that the installation you’ve done at home is correct.

Outside of using seat belts, there are three types of recommended car seats for parents to choose from. The CWC pediatricians encourage parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for rear-facing car seats, front-facing car seats, and booster seats from the time of your child’s birth up until 12 years of age, or until they reach the maximum height and weight requirement for their safety seat, as stated by the manufacturer. Rear-facing seats are seats that have their back to the driver and face the back of the car. These types of car seats are recommended from birth to 22-35 pounds (depending on the specific car seat) and come equipped with a harness that cradles your child to reduce stress to the neck and spinal cord. It’s recommended that children remain in rear-facing seats until at least two years of age. Even if your child has outgrown their infant carrier, we support the recommendation that children should remain facing backwards, just in a bigger sized seat, to maximize their safety. Front-facing car seats are the next step up in the graduated car seat plan. Intended for children who have outgrown their rear-facing seat, children between 20-80 pounds typically use front-facing car seats which are also equipped with a harness to limit the shock from forward movements in the event of a crash. Lastly, booster seats help to raise children to a higher position in the seat so the seat belt fits their smaller bodies properly. Seat belts were intended for adults, so the positioning doesn’t always fit as snug as it should on the shoulder and chest. We want to reduce the strain on the body and seat belts can often cross a child’s neck or face – which can lead to extra trauma to vital parts of the body during a crash.

The American Academy of Pediatrics created the Healthy Children website to provide parents with additional resources on the health, safety, and well-being of children and teens, including helpful information on car seats (from checkups and installation to buying guides and recall information). The best way to keep your children safe is to read and follow your specific safety seat instructions. We recommend having your child ride in the back seat for as long as possible, or at least until they reach age 12 (or typically once they’ve reached the height of 4 feet 9 inches) before letting them sit in the front seat. The most expensive car seat may not be the best, but accepting used car seats can be dangerous as well as parts may be outdated or unknown safety recalls could have occurred. For extra safety if you’re going the used route, make sure the car seat is less than 6 years old and has not been involved in a crash (just because it looks good cosmetically doesn’t mean that it’s good mechanically). On top of everything, we recommend registering your child’s safety seat through the manufacturer as it will help keep you in the loop of any recalls (if you don’t register you may miss this important information) and always, always wear your seat belt. Set a good example for your kids and help promote car safety that can keep them healthy and safe for years to come!

Fun in the Sun – Summer Safety Tips

May 11, 2016

Fun in the Sun – Summer Safety TipsSchool will officially be out for the summer and that means our kids will have a lot of extra free time to do the things they love! As we get closer to May, many kids are already gearing up for vacations, summer camps, sports, outdoor recreational activities, having a great time with family and friends, and much more. The Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians encourage all patients and their families to have fun in the sun, but want to remind everyone of some key summer safety tips to make sure that everyone in your family stays safe this summer.

Sun Safety for Kids

Too much sun exposure can cause sunburns or worse, skin cancer. Sunburns and skin cancers can be detrimental to anyone in the family and a big reason why we are big advocates for safe sun practice, especially in the summertime when we’re spending more time outdoors under the sun’s bright rays and sweltering heat. For kids under 6 months, they’re particularly susceptible to the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays so we recommend limiting their exposure to direct sunlight and providing extra shade (like under trees, umbrellas, and beneath stroller canopies) for when you’re spending time outside.

No one is immune to sunburns/sun damage and it’s important to deck everyone in the family out with wide-brimmed hats or baseball caps that cover the face, sunglasses with 99% UV protection (they even make these to fit kids), ALWAYS use sunscreen, and when possible, wear lightweight clothing that covers exposed parts of the skin. Picking the best sunscreen for your entire family is crucial in providing that extra layer of much needed sun protection. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection from both UVB and UVA rays with an SPF of at least 15 (but the higher the SPF, the more UVB protection you’ll give yourself). Generously apply sunscreen according to the manufacturer’s recommendations before heading outdoors to allow it time to really get absorbed into the skin (this can range from 40 minutes to 2 hours) and reapply every two hours, or immediately after being in water.

Outdoor Safety for Kids

Outdoor fun is something many kids look forward to during their summer vacation. Whether going on a family vacation, having a sleepover at a neighbor’s house, play date in the park, or heading off to summer camp, outdoor activities are in abundance. Not every activity requires adult supervision, but it’s vital that certain safety precautions be taken to give your child extra protection when they’re playing and enjoying land and water activities. We’ve rounded up some of the top safety tips for a variety of summertime activities:

  • Bicycle, Skateboard, Skating, & Scooter Safety – there should never be a time when your child should not be wearing a helmet while they’re biking or skating, no matter how long their ride is or how close to home they’re staying (yes, even in the driveway). Falls can cause minor to severe injuries including trauma to the brain, cuts and bruises, sprains and broken bones, so making sure your child is wearing their helmet, wrist/elbow guards, and kneepads whenever possible is the best defense for their body’s protection. Protective gear should be properly fitted, snug but not overly tight, and worn by all in the family (parents can help set the example themselves by promoting helmet use at all times). Young children under eight should be supervised and older kids should always have a buddy when riding/skating. Just as important, make sure they also stay away from major traffic areas as vehicles can pose greater threats to young riders.
  • Bug Safetyinsect bites can introduce a plethora of viruses into the body, like West Nile, Chikungunya, Zika, etc. so using insect repellent gives that extra layer of defense when spending time outdoors. Avoid using hygiene products that are fragrant (mosquitos will be attracted to the scent) and playing in areas where high concentrations of mosquitos are living (like stagnant water). When choosing a bug repellent, make sure that it contains DEET (note that it’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians that DEET not be used on children under 2 months), which is the active ingredient needed to prevent-insect related diseases and cover up exposed areas of the body with long clothing when outside at night.
  • Water Safety – splashing around in pools, lakes, and oceans can be a great way to beat the heat and enjoy time with friends and family, but water safety is vital as kids are at risk of drowning under certain conditions. Often, parents can get a false sense of security from floatation devices but nothing is a substitute for supervision and a bit of swimming instructions. Life vests should be mandatory whenever boating and also work extremely well in other large bodies of water. Kids should NEVER be left alone around a pool, in fact, home pools should be secure and completely fenced in so children can stay out, in the event they attempt to swim on their own. Having an adult on deck who is trained in CPR is also recommended to help act fast in the event of a water emergency – even the most experienced swimmers can harm themselves in water and therefore approach this activity with the mentality that nobody is immune.
  • Fireworks Safety – fireworks can cause severe burns, scars, blindness, and even death. Even those types of fireworks we may consider “harmless” for kids, like sparklers, can generate enough heat to burn your child or even those they happen to be nearby. They may be fun for a short period of time, but injuries resulting from fireworks or fire are not something that should be on the menu for the 4th of July celebration.

Kids are going to be kids, and accidents can happen virtually anywhere, so we don’t want you to feel you have to keep your kid indoors or covered up in bubble wrap to keep them safe. We want to make sure you’re well equipped to reduce your child’s risks of injuries like sunburns, broken bones, insect-related diseases, etc., and with a little diligence, leading by example, and prevention, you can help them to have a wonderful summer full of fun and adventures!

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