Too many parents wrongly assume that the sun is only dangerous when it’s shining brightly. The fact is, the sun’s rays are dangerous no matter what time of the year, and too much exposure during childhood can lead to serious problems later in life.
Parents should pay special care to protect their kids when playing outdoors. Here are a few simple tips to prevent overexposure to the sun:
- Protect infants
Keep babies younger than six months out of direct sunlight, protected by the shade of a tree or an umbrella.
- Seek shade
When possible, find a shaded area or take a break indoors to avoid sun exposure for extended periods of time.
- Limit outdoor play
UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it’s best to avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun during midday.
- Cover up
Protective clothing that cover the arms and legs and wide brim hats can keep kids protected from sun damage.
- Always apply sunscreen
Choose a sunscreen made for kids with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Apply to all areas of the body and reapply every few hours.
Sunburn is an obvious sign of sun damage, but a child doesn’t have to get a burn to experience the negative consequences of too much exposure to the sun. The effects of chronic sun exposure can also contribute to wrinkles, freckles, toughening of the skin and even cancer later in adulthood. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing skin cancer later in life.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By setting good examples and teaching kids the importance of sun safety now, parents can significantly lower their child’s risk of developing skin cancer and other signs of sun damage as an adult.
Always talk to you pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about sun safety and prevention.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, caused by excess yellow pigment in the blood called bilirubin, which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. When bilirubin is produced faster than a newborn’s liver can break it down, the baby’s skin and eyes will appear yellow in color.
In most cases, jaundice disappears without treatment and does not harm the baby. However, if the infant’s bilirubin levels get too high, jaundice can pose a risk of brain damage. It is for this reason that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should be examined for jaundice within a few days of birth.
Is it Jaundice?
When parents leave the hospital with their newborn, they will want to look for signs of jaundice in the days following, as the condition usually appears around the second or third day of life. Most parents will be able to detect jaundice simply by looking at the baby’s skin under natural daylight. If you notice your newborn’s skin or eyes looking yellow, you should contact your pediatrician to see if jaundice is present.
Also, call your pediatrician immediately if your jaundiced newborn’s condition intensifies or spreads. The following symptoms may be warning signs of dangerously high levels of bilirubin that require prompt treatment.
- Skin appears very yellow
- Infant becomes hard to wake or fussy
- Poor feeding
- Abnormal behavior
While most infants with jaundice do not require treatment, in more moderate to severe cases treatment will be recommended. Some infants can be treated by phototherapy, a special light treatment that exposes the baby’s skin to get rid of the excess bilirubin. Infants who do not respond to phototherapy or who continue to have rising bilirubin levels may be treated with a blood transfusion.
Always talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about newborn jaundice.
Have you heard about the Amherst Pediatrics Summer Health Challenge? The Challenge lasts all summer: June 26th-August 25th and is a fun way for you and your family to make healthy eating choices and get more exercise. Kids of all ages are welcome to join and they do not have to be patients of ours in order to sign up!
Using the SuperTracker website, you earn points by participating in some type of physical activity or healthy eating. All members who are entering their activities into their SuperTracker profile will be entered into a weekly raffle. Prizes will be awarded to participants with the most points at the end of the summer as well.
Physical activity points can be earned by doing lots of different things like walking, running, dancing, playing a sport, mowing the lawn, etc. You can earn points by making sure to eat fruits, vegetables, and other healthy choices throughout the day. Create a profile on the SuperTracker website:
Kids pick up germs all day, every day. Whether they are sharing toys, playing at day care or sitting in the classroom, whenever children are together, they are at risk for spreading infectious diseases.
Parents should play an active role in helping their kids stay healthy by taking extra precaution to minimize germs. Here are a few tips on how.
Spending just a few extra minutes each day tidying up your household can go a long way to keep your home germ-free and your kids healthy. Disinfect kitchen countertops after cooking a meal, and wipe down bathroom surfaces as well—especially if your child has been ill with vomiting or diarrhea. Doorknobs, handrails and many plastic toys should also be sanitized on a routine basis. Simply by disinfecting your home more regularly, and even more so when someone in your household has been ill, you can significantly cut down on re-infection.
Set a Good Example
Parents should set good examples for their children by practicing good hand washing and hygiene at home. Encourage your kids to cough or sneeze into a tissue rather than their hands. Children should also be taught not to share drinking cups, eating utensils or toothbrushes. If your school-aged child does become ill, it’s best to keep them home to minimize spreading the illness to other children in the classroom.
Finally, one of the easiest (and most effective) ways to prevent the spread of infection is by hand washing. At an early age, encourage your child to wash their hands throughout the day, especially:
- After using the bathroom
- Before eating
- After playing outdoors
- After touching pets
- After sneezing or coughing
- If another member of the household is sick
The Centers for Disease control recommends washing hands for at least 10 to 15 seconds to effectively remove germs.
Parents can’t keep their kids germ-free entirely, but you can take extra precautions to help keep your environment clean. It’s also important to help your child understand the importance of good hygiene and thorough hand washing as a vital way to kill germs and prevent illnesses.
Summer is here and that means a lot of kids are not getting their daily breakfast, lunch, andsnacks at school. This added cost can be a burden for some families. Luckily there are a lot of towns and schools that offer free meals for kids under age 18:
Amherst Survival Center SUMMER BOOST: Families with school-age children will receive extra food per child from the Pantry (the equivalent of nine additional meals), in their June, July and August distributions. In addition, families can also come to the Amherst Survival Center for food from these Center programs:
- Lunch Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from noon-1pm,
- Light supper on Thursdays from 5-6pm, and
- Get fresh produce from 11am-3pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, and from 11am to 7pm on Thursday.
The Amherst Pelham Regional School District is participating in the Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided to all children without charge. Meals will be provided at the sites and times as follows:
- Meadowbrook Apartments - Meal Service Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 491 Bridge Rd, Florence, MA 01062
Greenfield Public Schools The “Eat 4 Free” Program: From June 26-August 18 at six different sites. Kids will be able to get free meals Monday through Friday, every workday of the summer aside from July 4. Free breakfast will run from 8 to 9 a.m. and free lunch will go from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The sites in Greenfield include:
- Greenfield YMCA
- Greenfield Gardens
- Oak Courts
- Greenfield High School
- Leyden Woods
- The Green River Swimming and Recreation Area
In addition to these sites, kids can also get free lunch at the Greenfield Farmers Market from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays, running from July 1 to Aug. 12. Special to this year, there will be several incentives for kids to eat breakfast through the program, including the chance to win a bicycle.
Gill-Montague School District: Seven locations throughout the summer for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. There is no enrollment or cost to participate.
- Turners Falls High School Cafeteria: Bfst 8:30-9am; Lunch 11:30-12:30pm (Mon-Thurs,7/5-8/10)
- Sheffield Elementary School Cafeteria: Bfst 8:30-9am; Lunch 11:30-12:30pm (Mon-Thurs; 7/10-8/10)
- Unity Park Field House: Bfst 8:30-9am; Lunch 11:30-12:30pm (Mon-Friday; 7/3-8/18)
- Highland Park, Miller s Falls: Lunch Only 12:00-12:30pm (Mon-Friday; 7/10-8/10)
- The Brick House Community Resource Center, Turners Falls: Lunch Only 11:30-12:30pm (Mon-Thurs 7/5-8/17)
- Erving Elementary School: Bfst 8:30-9am; Lunch 12-1:00pm (Mon-Friday 7/5-8/18)
- Carnegie Library: Snack 3:30-4:30; (Tuesday’s 7/11-8/15)
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