Under 2? Rear-facing for you!

Under 2? Rear-facing for you!

  It is something that parents do on an almost daily basis, and you probably don’t think twice about it.  Putting your kiddos into their car seat when you head out on the road.  But did you know that studies estimate that 75% of car seats are installed or used incorrectly?!! Car crashes are the leading cause of death in children 1 to 13 years of age.  Since this week is National Child Passenger Safety Week, over the next few posts, I hope to answer some of the most important questions parents may have about car seats.  Today, we will focus on perhaps the biggest “error” I see parents making…turning their child forward facing too soon. For the past 6 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics along with every car safety organization have recommended that ALL children remain rear-facing until AT LEAST 2 years of age.  In fact, children can remain rear-facing until they reach the height and weight limit for the specific car seat in the rear-facing position.  For many rear-facing convertible car seats, the weight limit will be between 35-40 pounds (some even up to 45 pounds), and the height limit is the same for all car seats- the top of the child’s head should be 1 inch below the top of the car seat.  Most state laws are lagging when it comes to catching up to this most recent car seat recommendation.  Only 8 states- California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina- have laws that require children to remain rear-facing until 2 years of age. So what is the big deal...
“Dry Drowning” – What Parents Need to Know

“Dry Drowning” – What Parents Need to Know

As if the idea of drowning didn’t strike enough fear into the heart of every parent, recent news headlines and social media posts have brought a new term to the forefront…”dry drowning.”  You might be thinking, “Well of course my kiddo has had a cough a time or two after their face inadvertently went into the water. Is this something to worry about?”  Here is what parents need to know about so called “dry drowning.” What is “dry drowning”? To get scientific, there are actually two entities here: Dry drowning- This occurs when a small amount of water gets into the nose or mouth, and this water causes a sudden spasm of the airway where it shuts close.  It is almost like the airway is “over protecting” itself from the water that isn’t supposed to be there.  With dry drowning, there is no water in the lungs.  In these cases, you will see symptoms almost immediately after the water gets into the airway (the airway will not spasm if the water isn’t there). Delayed or Secondary drowning- In delayed drowning, a child inhales a bit of water through their nose or mouth, and the water actually does make it down into their lungs.  Once in the lungs, the water begins to cause significant irritation and inflammation (after all, water is not supposed to be in our lungs) which leads to something called pulmonary edema.  This can occur anywhere from 1-24 hours after the initial inhaling of the water. You can see that while these two terms mean something different from a medical standpoint, the term “dry drowning” is often...
Hold the Juice

Hold the Juice

You may have heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics published new “recommendations” in regards to juice consumption in children.  I put the word recommendations in quotes mainly because, as a pediatrician, I RARELY recommend or encourage a parent to give juice to their child (some types of juice can do wonders for short term issues with constipation).  Now, I have nothing against the juice industry!  However, I am all about helping parents understand ways to keep their kiddos healthy and growing, and in my mind, fruit juice does not have a place in the daily diet of children. But let’s get back to those new “recommendations” for just a second.  Children under 1 year of age should not be given juice unless instructed to do so by your child’s pediatrician. For children 1-3 years of age, up to 4 oz of juice can be offered while 6oz can be offered to those 4-6 years of age.  And finally, for children 7 and older, up to 8oz of juice per day can be offered.  Let’s put those amounts in perspective…a regular Capri Sun pouch is 6oz. Your typical fruit juice box is 6-8oz, and those fruit juice bottles sold near the checkout counter at your local grocery store come in at almost 16oz.  So you can see that none of these options are “appropriate” for the recommended juice amount for toddlers. Juices really do not add anything nutritionally for kiddos, especially if your child is eating fruits.  Fruit juices do not give more vitamins than eating “real” fruits and in fact, the bottled version of your favorite fruit likely...
Sunscreen 101- Time to go shopping

Sunscreen 101- Time to go shopping

  After reading my post from earlier this week, you know what to look for on the front of that bottle of sunscreen (click here in case you missed it).  As you head out to the store to stock up on your broad spectrum, SPF 30, water resistant sunscreen before your weekend trip to the pool/beach/T-ball tournament, you happen to stumble across a headline on your Facebook news feed that reads something like “Sunscreens can be dangerous for your children.”  Geeze! As a parent who is just trying to protect their child from those harmful UV rays from the sun, now you read a story proclaiming that the exact thing recommended to keep them safe, can in fact, cause them harm.  What is a parent to do? Well, first let’s try to understand what these headlines are really about, and this time, we will go to the back of the sunscreen bottle. There are two main classes of ingredients used in sunscreens- mineral and chemical filters.  Mineral based sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which provide a physical barrier on the skin to protect it from the sun’s rays…they literally make the UV rays bounce off the skin.  These provide protection from both UV A and B rays. These are probably my favorite kind of sunscreens especially for sensitive skin kiddos since these are not absorbed into the skin.  The downside to mineral based sunscreens??  They can be difficult to rub in leaving a lovely white film covering the skin (or hot pink or blue if you remember those zinc noses that lifeguards had in the 90’s).  Here are a...
Sunscreen 101- The Basics

Sunscreen 101- The Basics

  Swimsuit? Check!  Goggles? Check!  Sunscreen? Uhh…since the mostly empty bottle from last year that was caked in food crumbs in the bottom of my diaper bag probably wasn’t going to cut it, I headed to the local drug store to stock up.  Now, I always like options when I am shopping, but my goodness! Have you seen the sunscreen aisle recently?  Literally hundreds of products on store shelves.  In my next two posts, I will discuss the finer points of picking out a sunscreen to keep everyone in your family from getting burned this summer. Let’s start at the beginning and understand what we are trying to protect ourselves from when we use sunscreen.  Ultraviolet (UV) rays are part of the light spectrum that is emitted from the sun.  Two types of UV rays, A and B, have long enough wavelengths to penetrate into the Earth’s atmosphere.  UV A rays have the longest wavelength and can therefore penetrate the deepest into the skin.  These rays are the ones responsible for skin aging and wrinkling related to sun damage (think UV A- Aging).  UV A rays are present year round at about the same intensity throughout the day, and these rays can penetrate through clouds and even glass.  UV B rays are responsible for the actual redness on the skin that is associated with sunburn (think UV B–Burn).  The amount of UV B rays you are exposed to is dependent on the time of day, the time of the year, as well as your location on the Earth.  Here in the US, we receive the most UV B rays from...
Mumps- What you need to know

Mumps- What you need to know

This week Louisiana joined the ranks of 37 other states to have reported cases of mumps since January 2017.  In an urgent memo released on Saturday, March 11, the Louisiana Office of Public Health reported that several cases of mumps have been confirmed in students at LSU.  The number of student affected as well as their vaccine status has not been released at this point in time.  So here is what you need to know about mumps and how to protect yourself and your children. What is Mumps? Mumps is a viral illness that is spread through respiratory droplets or saliva (so coughing, sneezing or sharing drinks).  An infection with the mumps virus may begin as nonspecific fever, headache, and malaise, but then often progresses to the most common symptom of mumps which is pain and swelling of the parotid gland.  As you can see in the pictures below, the parotid gland is located just in front of the ear and at the upper part of the jaw.  Swelling of the parotid gland, called parotitis, can be quite impressive and cause the ear to push outwards and the angle of the jaw to no longer be easily seen.  More serious complications of mumps include orchitis (which is swelling of the testicles that may lead to sterility) or oophoritis (which is swelling of the ovaries), encephalitis (swelling around the brain) or deafness.  Death from mumps is very rare (even in the pre-vaccine era).                     How common is Mumps? Mumps vaccination became commonplace in 1967, but prior to that time, there were...