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The Children's Wellness Blog

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.

Parent’s Guide to Swim Safety for Kids

July 13, 2016

Parent’s Guide to Swim Safety for KidsThis Georgia heat is showing no signs of going anywhere soon and what better way to beat the heat than a fun day in the water? A day spent at the pool, beach, water-park, or lake should be an enjoyable time but the dangers of drowning pose a greater threat that parents should be extremely aware of. Even if your child is a swimming fanatic, certain risks can be dangerous to their well-being. The Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) providers have put together a parent’s guide to swim safety to help keep everyone happy – and most of all out of harm’s way!

Be Water Wise

Safety, whenever being around water of any kind, is crucial and instilling good water safety practices in your kids can easily start at home. Teaching kids about the dangers of drowning and discussing pool safety rules help to prevent major injuries. Covering why they aren’t supposed to run on the pool deck, shouldn’t horseplay on slippery surfaces, or dive into shallow areas helps keep them, and other kids around them, much safer. Something else parents should consider is formal swim lessons as they help prepare children for being more comfortable in, and around, water. They may even help teach them what to do in case of an emergency. Flotation devices and life jackets are designed to offer extra support for kids when they’re playing in the water, but it’s important to make sure they are well-fitted and properly used (or else they can end up being worthless and do more harm than good).

Buddy Up

A child should never be left unattended around pools (or any large body of water for that matter). If you have a pool, fence in the entire area and make sure the fence is at an appropriate height, has properly working locks, and is secure enough to keep the kids out. Taking your eye off your child even for one second can be costly and we know as well as you do how fast little ones can move sometimes! Accidents can happen to even the most experienced swimmers and they too shouldn’t be excused from needing a watchful eye. For older kids, always having a swim buddy, like a friend, older sibling, trusted relative, or parents, around is a safe swim practice that we encourage. Cramping, dehydration, or fatigue can make it difficult for even adults to navigate in water and not having someone around to help in a timely fashion can be costly.

Be Prepared

In the case of a physical injury or drowning emergency, it requires fast action. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • We can’t stress this one enough – supervision is a must. Designate an adult as the “pool watcher” or lifeguard. When it’s each parent’s turn, wear a designated colored card, hat, or shirt while on “duty” to let parents know who is in charge of monitoring the pool area. Rotate every 30 minutes or so to give parents the freedom to socialize, eat, etc.
  • Always have a cellphone or cordless phone nearby for calling 911 immediately.
  • Consider getting CPR certified – it gives you the skills to help get air flowing back into the lungs until emergency responders can arrive (911 respondents are also prepared to assist over the phone if you’re not familiar with best CPR practices).
  • For potential spinal or neck injuries, make sure you keep your child as still as possible, until paramedics can get to you. Most importantly keep their neck still so further trauma is prevented.
  • Whenever an incident happens, act quickly and try to remain as calm as possible. It can be difficult during times of stress and panic to keep your cool, but it helps your child also remain calm. You’re they’re rock so if you’re scared and stressed they will be too.

There may not be a sure bet way for preventing swim-related injuries, but making sure potential threats are identified and addressed ahead of time is a huge advantage. We want you and your kids to have an enjoyable summer, one that’s safe and full of fun. Don’t forget to remember to always pack the sunscreen because sunburns can easily ruin a day’s fun in a matter of minutes! For questions about the pediatric services we offer at Children’s Wellness Center, don’t hesitate to contact us at 404-303-1314. You can stay connected with the CWC team by also joining us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Children’s Wellness Center Pediatrician Q&A

June 14, 2016

Children’s Wellness Center Pediatrician Q&AWe take great pride in working with children of all ages at our Children’s Wellness Center practice and are firm believers in establishing long-standing personal relationships with patients and their families. Choosing a pediatrician for your child is an important decision because you’re entrusting your child’s growth, development, and overall health in their hands, so not just anyone will do! Extensively researching a prospective pediatrician is important and while it can start at home, thanks to the internet, parents should get a genuine feel for the practice and their potential pediatrician firsthand – with a physical visit. While at the practice, ask any and all questions to our providers to help you feel confident in choosing one of us as your child’s healthcare provider. To give you an idea of some of the most popularly discussed topics we cover, and helpful questions to ask your future pediatrician, here is a brief Children’s Wellness Center pediatrician Q&A:

Q: Are your pediatricians board certified?       

A: There are currently four Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians and all of us are board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (AAP), meaning we have all passed the rigorous qualifications and specialized exam set by the board for in pediatrics. Additionally, we have a highly-experienced and certified pediatric nurse practitioner who has tremendous experience in all thing pediatrics, including newborns.

Q: What inspires the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians to practice pediatric medicine?

A: Each one of our providers are parents themselves and understand the demands of parenthood and devotion to making sure our kids are strong, healthy, and happy. We are a small practice because we wanted to give our patients the individual, personalized medical care that is sometimes lacking within bigger practices. We believe in a family-oriented pediatric practice where patients aren’t just patients, but they are extensions of our own family and are treated as if they were our own.  Growing with our patients is something we value at Children’s Wellness Center and making sure they are protected on a physical and emotional level is what inspires us on a daily basis.

Q: Are there separate waiting rooms at Children’s Wellness Center?

A: This is probably one of the most popularly asked questions we hear. When a child is sick, parents want to get them feeling better as quickly as possible. If a parent is bringing their child in for a well-child visit when they are not sick, most prefer to have a room where they don’t have to worry about their child getting sick from another child, a toy in common areas that have been touched by a sick child, etc. Children’s Wellness Center has three separate waiting rooms including a newborn room, a sick room, and a well room. We feel it’s important that your children not be exposed to illnesses, viruses, or diseases that are easily spread and it also gives parents the peace of mind of knowing they’re in the room that will keep increased risks at bay.

Q: How are after-hour emergencies handled?

A: One of our pediatricians is on call 24/7/365 to help if your child develops a serious illness or injury during a time when our office is closed.  We recommend taking your child to Kid’s Time Pediatrics for urgent, but not non-emergent, after-hour pediatric care. For medical emergencies, we suggest parents take their children to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) urgent care center or your nearest emergency room (ER) for immediate attention.

These are just a few of the dozens of questions you can ask your future pediatrician when you go to meet with them. Your eyes, ears and your intuition are great tools to helping you decide if a particular practice is right for you, your child, and their healthcare needs. Don’t be afraid to ask any, and all, questions – there is no such thing as an unimportant question if it helps give you the peace of mind in your decision-making process. Each month we host several Children’s Wellness Center Meet & Greet events where we invite new and expectant parents to meet with one (or all) of our providers. We feel it’s a great time to get a better feel for who we are, what we do, and how our practice is set-up and run. It’s free to attend; all you have to do is tell us you’re coming so we can make sure we have a welcome bag ready with your name on it. If you’re interested in learning more about Children’s Wellness Center, our practice, or our providers, don’t hesitate to contact us at 404-303-1314.

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!