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'parenting' posts

Vomiting in the newborn: when is spit-up something to worry about?

I have never met a baby that didn't on occasion spit-up. Many perfectly healthy babies can even spit-up quite a bit. Reflux is often the label given to babies who vomit, and this rarely amounts to a significant problem.

However, there are a few things that a parent should watch out for:

The most important thing is the color of what a baby is throwing up. Dark yellow and especially green vomit is never normal in a baby and demands immediate medical evaluation as this could represent a dangerous twisting of the intestines (midgut volvulus), which is linked to abnormally positioned intestines (intestinal malrotation).

Another consideration is quantity. If a baby is throwing up...

Summer, sun, and why you still need sunscreen in Seattle

Summer is almost here, so this is a good time to talk about sunscreens.

We all get excited when the sun comes out in our area, but it is always important to remember that everyone should avoid direct sun exposure when it is the harshest -between 10am and 4pm during the summer months,. Everyone should wear sunscreen, hats and covered clothing when exposed to the sun. Cloudy days do not offer too much protection as the UV rays can penetrate through the clouds and affect the skin the same way. Children and adolescents in particular should avoid tanning beds.

What you should know about different types of sunscreen:

How to avoid and care for cuts

It happens so quickly. You’re innocently chopping up vegetables for dinner when you find yourself on the receiving end of a cut — ouch! “Cuts are very common,” says Steven Rittenberg, M.D., who specializes in Internal Medicine at the Swedish Issaquah Primary Care Clinic. “However, there are some practical ways to prevent them, and some specific steps for treating them that can save you a trip to the doctor.”

Avoiding The “Ouch!”

Preventing cuts in the home is largely common sense, but life gets busy and we get careless, so here are a few reminders:

  • Keep knives sharp. Although this may sound counter-intuitive, a sharp knife slides more easily through an item avoiding a slip that may cut something you didn’t intend to cut, like your finger.
  • Pay attention. Resist the temptation to become distracted while using a knife.
  • Cut away from, not toward, yourself.
  • Don’t hold food that you are cutting; use a cutting board.
  • Don’t leave knives in dangerous places — loose in a drawer, in the sink, on the counter or facing up in the dishwasher — especially if you have children.
  • When handing someone a knife or sharp scissors, hold the flat part of the knife blade or closed blades of the scissors so they can grasp the handle.
  • Don’t pick up broken glass; sweep or vacuum it up thoroughly.

Treating It Right

When a cut does occur, the proper treatment will help to avoid infection or other complications:

The Practice Argument

 Practice, practice, practice...all kids are involved in something they have to practice. They all practice spelling and math equations. They might practice their soccer drills, or their cello. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is true.

So, did you know that arguing with your kids is also practice? Practice for what? What possible good could come from arguing? Just like any other skill, when you argue with your kids you’re developing their ability to stand up for themselves. This is crucial in standing up to peer pressure and bullies.

No one person is right 100% of the time, including parents, but parents often don’t want to admit when they’re wrong. When our kids make mistakes, and we tell them 'it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes' and yet, some parents refuse to admit when they make mistakes. Is it a matter of pride, or do we believe that if we admit we made a mistake that it will appear as though we’re weak?

Preventing Pertussis

We currently have a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic occurring in Washington State. Infants under 6 months of age are particularly vulnerable but anyone, even if you are fully vaccinated, could potentially contract the disease and spread it.

(Is it really an epidemic? Yes: an epidemic (of a disease) affects many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent.)

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the United States (CDC).

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

The early signs for pertussis are ...

Look Before You Lock

 Why is it so dangerous to leave a child alone in a car?  Because of biology, anatomy, thermodynamics.

Let’s talk a little about Infant and Child Anatomy:

  • Infants and children do not temperature regulate well. They have too much surface area for their body mass, meaning they lose heat too quickly because they don’t have enough mass to contain the heat.
  • Because they lose heat quickly, they generate it faster, 3 to 5 times faster than adults. For example, when you’re holding a baby for a while and then hand them off to someone else, you feel chilled. This is because the baby was generating so much heat that our temperature drops. (We are the best thermo-regulators that a baby can have.)

Next, let’s set the stage and look at what happens in a car:

Sleep Deprived in Seattle (And Everywhere Else)

There are many things we do less of now than in the past, and sleeping is one of them. In fact, studies show that people sleep an average of 20-percent less today than they did a century ago. Then, nine hours of sleep a night was typical; today it is closer to seven and a half hours spent in bed, with considerably less spent actually sleeping. And it’s not just adults that are sleeping less. The National Sleep Foundation’s annual survey in 2004 found that children were also getting less sleep than they needed, including infants.

“A few reasons we are sleeping less include the invention of electric light, jobs becoming more urban in nature, and an increase in technology in the home,” explains Darius Zoroufy, M.D., medical director of the Lake Sammamish Sleep Center.

Technology is one of the most glaring reasons behind American’s lack of sleep. “A 2009 study reported that TV is the number one factor keeping adults awake,” says Dr. Zoroufy. Computers, iPods, and cell phones are similar culprits.

“Not only are these things taking up our time, but they are stimulating us mentally, making it difficult for us to shift gears and fall asleep.”

Swedish Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Preetam Bandla, M.D., agrees. “Light from screen media can activate the light-sensitive circadian cells in our brains that regulate when we are maximally alert and maximally sleepy,” he explains, “So our TVs and computer screens can keep us from wanting to sleep.”

Technology is not solely to blame for our lack of sleep, however. “The majority of sleep problems result from self imposed and externally imposed factors,” says Dr. Zoroufy. “There are simply too many opportunities and pressures to stay awake.”

The demands of work, school, family and social activities are causing people to become overscheduled and the first thing people give up is sleep. “The idea that we can sleep less and still function well is a misperception,” says Dr. Bandla.

So how much sleep do we need and what can we do to obtain it?

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