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Posts for category: Children's Health

By Amherst Pediatrics
May 18, 2022
Category: Children's Health
Tags: Anxiety  

Be able to spot the warning signs of anxiety in your child.

Anxiety is undoubtedly on the rise, not just for adults but for children. The pandemic has certainly left kids feeling uncertain and worried about the future. It’s important to pick up on the signs that your child might have anxiety so you can talk with their pediatrician about tips and strategies to help them better cope with the issues they’re facing.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Children with anxiety may display these behaviors or motions,

  • Avoidance
  • Anger and aggression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained physical symptoms such as stomachaches
  • Nail-biting and other “nervous habits”
  • Bedwetting
  • Appetite changes
  • Insomnia
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Issues focusing or concentrating

How Can I Help My Child?

It’s important to figure out the type of anxiety your child is dealing with to help them cope with these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. There are certain habits you can start adopting now that can help your child better deal with their anxiety symptoms,

  • Don’t try to reason with your child when they are panicked or anxiety
  • Help them take deep belly breathes to help stabilize their sympathetic nervous system
  • Validate your child’s fears and listen to them; never dismiss them or tell them to “buck up”
  • Don’t avoid the fear, which can often make it worse, but help your child face the fear with baby steps (talk to your child’s pediatrician about the best ways to do this)

These are some helpful tips to get parents started when they notice their child’s “worry brain” taking over. Of course, if you suspect that they could have a true anxiety disorder, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician right away.

How Are Childhood Anxiety Disorders Treated?

In most cases, your pediatrician will provide a referral to a psychotherapist that works with children. The first appointment, or intake session, will allow the therapist to get to know your child and determine if they have an anxiety disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy tends to be the ideal treatment option to help children talk through their fears and discover effective coping strategies to help them face and overcome their fears. Sometimes medications are prescribed in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle changes.

Worried that your child might have an anxiety disorder? If so, this is the ideal time to speak with their pediatrician to find out if they could benefit from additional diagnostic testing or talking to a mental health professional who works with children. A pediatrician can provide resources, support, and referrals.

** Note: information is changing rapidly. We wil update this page as we learn more **

As coronavirus information and recommendations seem to change hourly, it is difficult to keep up and know what we should be doing to keep our families and communities safe. Amherst Pediatrics strives to keep up as well, and will continue to provide you with the most accurate information we can. That said, there may be no single answer to some of the questions that you have about this outbreak.

As you may know, the state has issued new guidance for the management and follow-up of COVID-19 cases and close contacts. DESE and DPH released updated protocols for schools late last week which can be found in full HERE.

A summary of key points and changes is outlined below.

ISOLATION (for those who tested positive, regardless of vaccination status)

  • Stay home for 5 days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house. If you have a fever, continue to stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours or more. 
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.

QUARANTINE (for those who were  exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19)

FOR FULLY VACCINATED INDIVIDUALS: If your child is vaccinated (it has been more than 14 days since they completed the primary series of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson): 

  • They do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask around others for the 10 days following exposure. At school, this includes while outdoors unless more than 6’ from others. 
  • A test on Day 5 from last exposure is recommended. 
  • If you develop any symptoms, stay home and get a COVID test. 

FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNVACCINATED OR NOT FULLY VACCINATED: If your child is not fully vaccinated (they have less than 2 doses of Pfizer) or it has not been 14 days since their second dose: 

  • IF your child is part of a school testing program and they were exposed at school, they may participate in the 5 day Test & Stay program which allows them to continue to go to school provided they are asymptomatic and continue to test negative.
  • Children who are not in a school testing program or were exposed to a case outside of the school setting, must quarantine at home for 5 full days.
  • Though not required, an antigen or PCR test on day 5 is recommended to help rule out COVID infection. 
  • For days 6-10 after exposure, wear a well-fitting mask around others.
  • If you cannot quarantine, wear masks around others for 10 full days.  
  • If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home

TESTING: Both PCR and antigen tests are accepted, including home tests for all testing purposes. PCR tests are still the best option and are recommended. 

SYMPTOMATIC INDIVIDUALS (applies to those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated) 

Those with symptoms (see list below) should stay out until: 

  • A negative test result is received (PCR or antigen)
  • Symptoms are improved
  • Have been without a fever for at least 24 hours. 

If your child has symptoms and you do not want to have them tested for COVID in order to return to school, they must: 

  • Isolate at home for at least 5 days from symptom onset.
  • They may return on day 6 if they have been without fever for at least 24 hours and symptoms are improved. 

Please note: if the person with symptoms was a close contact they should follow the quarantine or isolation guidance above.
REMINDER: Please do not send your child to school if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Due to the elevated level of illness in our communities, please remain at home if you or your child is ill. If you have concerns about how your child is feeling, please contact us by sending a message through this patient portal. The clinicians will be able to respond to you during our regular hours. Calling the office may present a further delay in response times.

The COVID-19 situation is ever unfolding. We are dedicated to the safety of our patients and staff. Please refer to our website for updates on this changing situation.


Following a meeting and a unanimous (14-0) vote from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the CDC has recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, delivered in two doses spaced three weeks apart. 

In clinical trials in children ages 5-11, the vaccine was 90% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and there were no serious vaccine-related safety concerns. The vaccine offers strong protection against COVID-19 to young children amid the ongoing pandemic.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that is FDA authorized for use in children. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently authorized for adults 18 and older. 

Getting your child's COVID-19 vaccine at Amherst Pediatrics

Amherst Pediatrics is providing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to our eligible patients aged 5-11 years of age through specially scheduled COVID-19 vaccine clinics. COVID-19 vaccine clinic appointments can only be scheduled through your MyChart patient portal.

We can only offer appointment slots for the number of vaccines shipped to us. If you do you not see any available appointments, please keep watching for more openings. These will continue to open as additional vaccine is shipped to us.

We are not able to give COVID-19 vaccine at the flu clinics as the COVID-19 vaccine administration requires additional time which we cannot accommodate during the flu clinics. For this reason, while patients may receive a flu vaccine at the COVID-19 clinic, they cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine during a flu clinic appointment.

The COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines.

If your child has an appointment already scheduled with a provider and we have COVID-19 vaccine available, we will offer it to your child, even if they will be receiving other vaccines. 

For patients turning 12 years of age before a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends giving the dose appropriate to the age of the individual at the time the vaccine is due.  ie., if they receive the pediatric dose as a first dose but then turn 12 years old, they should receive the 12 and older dose when it is next due.

We do NOT have COVID-19 vaccine for patients ages 12 years and older. You will need to go into the community for that vaccine.

We are not able to maintain a cancellation list.  Please keep checking the portal for more openings.

We cannot schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments over the phone. You must utilize this portal for scheduling.

Thank you all for your patience! 

By Amherst Pediatrics
May 20, 2021
Category: Children's Health
Children's NutritionWhen you turn to your pediatrician for nutritional advice or help, they will always take a personalized approach to help your child meet their nutritional goals, whether that’s losing weight, getting more regular activity, or eating a healthier diet. You may have questions about your child’s nutritional needs, particularly as they grow. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions regarding childhood nutrition.
Is fruit juice healthy?

Many people seem to think that juice is healthy, and while it does contain vitamin C, there are certainly better sources for ensuring your child gets enough of this important nutrient. Today, most fruit juices found at the grocery store are chock full of sugar and can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk for cavities. A better alternative is whole fruits since they provide more nutritional value than juice will.
How many calories should my child consume a day?

How many calories your child consumes will depend on their gender, age, and activity level. A recommended calorie range for kids between 6-12 years old is between 1600-2200 per day. Verywell Family provides a more detailed breakdown by age and gender.
I’m worried that might child might not be getting the nutrients they need. What should I do?

First, it’s important to keep in mind that kids don’t need to eat as much as we do, so their portions will be considerably smaller than ours. If your child is growing then chances are good that they are getting the nutrients they need; however, if you find that your child is refusing meals or isn’t eating it’s important to bring this up with your pediatrician as soon as possible.
How can I prevent my child from becoming overweight or obese?

To help your child maintain a healthy weight they must be eating a healthy, balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Make sure that they are also getting at least one hour of physical activity every day. Limit sugar and processed foods.
Is snacking okay for my child?

Young children may seem voraciously hungry and may beg for snacks. How many are actually okay? It’s normal for little ones to want food every 3-4 hours. While snacking can be a great way to prevent kids from overeating during mealtimes you don’t want to ply them with treats (and you want to be sure you’re providing them with nutrient-rich snacks rather than sugary ones).

A snack mid-day between lunch and dinner is typically the best time. If it’s only going to be a couple of hours before a meal, then something small like a piece of fruit or a slice of cheese with crackers is good. If your child isn’t going to eat for more than four hours then you’ll want a snack that incorporates protein, fat, and carbs to satiate their appetite.
If you are concerned about your child’s health because they are “picky eaters” or are struggling with their weight, you must speak with their pediatrician to find out options that can help them lead a healthier lifestyle.
By Amherst Pediatrics
February 05, 2021
Category: Children's Health
Tags: Diabetes  
Diabetes in ChildrenIn the past, the most common type of diabetes to affect children and teens was type 1 diabetes. This is also referred to as juvenile diabetes. In children with type 1 diabetes, their bodies do not produce insulin, a hormone responsible for helping deliver glucose into the cells. While type 1 diabetes is quite common in children, pediatricians are also seeing a rise in type 2 diabetes in children and teens. This coincides with an increase in childhood obesity rates.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
While type 1 diabetes can appear in children of any age, it’s most commonly diagnosed in children between the ages of 5 and 6, and 11 to 13. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of type 1 diabetes early, as high blood sugar levels can lead to serious complications. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes typically appear suddenly, and the most common symptoms include,
  • Frequent urination, particularly at night
  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Weight loss, despite increased appetite
  • Cuts, bruises, and wounds that don’t heal or are slow to heal
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes symptoms usually appear gradually. While type 2 diabetes has always been considered “adult-onset” diabetes, this has changed over the years, thanks to the obesity epidemic in children. If your child is obese or overweight, they may be at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to type 1 diabetes, the only marked differences in symptoms are,
  • Blurry vision
  • Severe fatigue
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
Treating Diabetes in Children

Even though there is no cure for diabetes, there are ways that your child’s pediatrician can help manage their symptoms. The goal of treatment is to control blood sugar levels to prevent complications and lessen symptoms.
The standard treatment includes managing diabetes through insulin therapy, which involves either daily insulin injections or an insulin pump. You will also need to monitor your child’s blood sugar levels throughout the day. Along with insulin therapy, you will also want to make sure that your child is eating a healthy diet and is getting regular exercise (at least one hour a day).
If your child is overweight or showing signs of diabetes, you must talk with your child’s pediatrician right away. A simple blood test can check their blood sugar levels and determine whether or not they have diabetes. Since uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious health problems, it’s a good idea to see a pediatrician as soon as possible.

Office Hours
Monday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Tuesday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Wednesday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Thursday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Friday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Saturday:8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Sunday:8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Contact Us

Our Address
31 Hall Dr.
Amherst, MA 01002
Tel: (413) 253-3773
Fax: (413) 256-0215
Email: [email protected]

Please note temporary office hours
during the COVID-19 pandemic

Patient Care Hours:

8:00 AM - 4:45 PM: In-office and MyChart Telehealth visits
4:45 PM - 7:00 PM: MyChart Telehealth visits only

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
: MyChart Telehealth visits only

Due to the pandemic, we ask that you please remain at home if you or your child is ill. If you have concerns about how your child is feeling, please contact us by sending a message through this patient portal. The clinicians will be able to respond to you during our regular hours. Calling the office may present a further delay in response times.

The COVID-19 situation is ever unfolding. We are dedicated to the safety of our patients and staff. Please refer to our website for updates on this changing situation.

* Please note: It is our policy that we do not approve referral requests for visits to outside urgent care centers during times that our office is open.

We are open for urgent visits only on most Holidays. Our office is closed on Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.