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The Children's Wellness Blog

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.

Smoking

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.

How You Can Prevent Choking at Home

July 20, 2016

how to prevent choking in kidsChoking is a leading cause of injury and death among children in America, especially children 4 years old or younger. Recent studies have shown that a child dies from choking on food every five days in the United States. An additional 10,000 children are hospitalized annually due to injuries related to choking on food. Obviously these statistics are immensely concerning for parents with infant or toddler-aged children. We at Children’s Wellness Center know this and so we’ve taken the time to deliver some basic knowledge on the subject in an attempt to lessen the chances of such an incident occurring in your home. Below we have provided a series of warning signs of choking, as well as especially dangerous foods for young children to avoid and tips for how to react to a choking situation in case one should ever occur.

Signs Your Child May be Choking

  • Child is unable to breathe
  • Child is gasping for air or wheezing
  • Child is unable to talk, cry or make noise
  • Child appears panicked or flushed
  • Child turns blue in the face
  • Child grabs at his or her throat or waves arms
  • Child loses consciousness

Tips To Avoid a Choking Scenario At Home

Be Alert and Attentive During Mealtime

Never leave a small child unattended while eating. Direct supervision is a necessity.

Avoid Foods That Pose the Greatest Choking Risks

Even if your child is a picky eater, you’ll want to avoid foods that are a similar size and shape to a child’s airway. Hot dogs, grapes, raw veggies, nuts, raisins, hard or gummy candy, chunks of meat or cheese, and popcorn are prime examples of popular foods that can cause a serious choking risk for young children.

Make Sure to Serve a Child’s Food in Small, Manageable Bites

This will require cutting grapes into quarters, cutting hot dogs lengthwise and into pieces and cooking vegetables rather than serving them raw in order to ease the chewing process. It is also important to teach kids to sit down while eating and not to talk or laugh with food in their mouths. Model safe eating habits and chew food thoroughly.

Food Isn’t the Only Source of Choking Risk

Toys and household items also can be just as dangerous.  Choose safe, age-appropriate toys.  Adhere to the manufacturer’s age recommendations at all times. Any toy smaller than a golf ball (like marbles and jacks) has the potential to create a choking hazard. Deflated balloons, coins, small toy parts, and batteries can be especially dangerous.

What to Do in Case of Choking

Partial Obstructions

If a child is choking and coughing but can breathe and talk, this means the airway is not completely blocked. Advise your child to cough, which may dislodge the object. Don’t try to remove a foreign object unless you see it, or you could push it farther into the airway. Stay with the child and remain calm until the episode passes.

If Child is Conscious but Choking

If the choking child is conscious but unable to breathe or speak, or is turning blue, this could be a choking emergency. Call 911 or tell someone nearby to call 911 immediately. Next, begin administering the Heimlich maneuver if you are trained to do so. If you haven’t been trained, and no one else is available who has been, wait until help arrives.

If Child Loses Consciousness

If the child was choking and is now unconscious and no longer breathing proceed immediately to CPR, if you’ve been trained in it. 30 chest compressions and two breaths—repeatedly for two minutes before stopping to call 911. Those first two minutes are vital for potentially dislodging the object and opening the child’s airway. If you don’t know CPR, in cases of emergencies call 911 once your child has fallen unconscious. We recommend parents of young children to take a first aid course that covers infant and child choking and CPR.

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