Posts for category: Pediatric Health Care
Vitamin D is critical for all of us, but especially children. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, as well as for the support and development of a healthy body. Children with severe vitamin D deficiencies may develop muscle weakness, delayed motor development, rickets, and fractures.
Unlike most vitamins, which we can often get through diet alone, vitamin D is acquired through time spent in the sun. You won’t find many foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Unfortunately, if you’re in a place that doesn’t get much sunlight then chances are good your child may not be getting enough vitamin D.
Children get about 80 percent of their vitamin D from sunlight. So if your child doesn’t spend much time outdoors (especially during the winter months) it’s a good idea to talk with your pediatrician about ways to ensure that your child is getting enough vitamin D.
Children with certain health problems such as cystic fibrosis or celiac disease, as well as children who’ve undergone bone surgeries may require more vitamin D. This is something you should discuss with your pediatrician. Children over 1-year-old need at least 600 IU of vitamin D (or more) a day. Ideally, children should get around 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day.
We also know that too much time in the sun can also pose risks for children, especially their skin. During the summer months, children only need a few minutes a day in the sun to get enough vitamin D. During the winter months, kids should get about 2-3 hours per week. Children under 6 months old should never be placed in direct sunlight.
Children with darker skin will also need to spend more time in the sun to produce the same levels of vitamin D as kids with lighter skin. Just sitting inside near windows won’t be enough for your child’s body to produce vitamin D.
The single most important way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through social distancing. This is true whether you are ill or well. For this reason, Amherst Pediatrics is now scheduling Virtual Visits to allow you to stay home when you are sick, while still being "seen" by one of our providers. Before you can be seen in a Virtual Visit, there are a few important things you need to do. Please click on the image below to learn more about preparing for and scheduing your Virtual Visit.
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.
As the spring & summer seasons approach, let's review some recommendations about bug bite safety. Most bug bites are harmless; however, insects can expose children to disease and health risks. Ticks can spread Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes can spread certain viruses, such as West Nile and Zika.
Here are some simple recommendations that can help lower the risk of getting bug bites:
Avoid areas that bugs enjoy - For example: large gardens, areas with uncovered sitting food, and areas with standing water.
Limit the amount of standing water (ponds, buckets, birdbaths) in your own yard.
Avoid wearing scented lotions, perfumes, and hair products when you're outside.
If possible, wear long sleeves and pants when outside in the evening.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends the use of insect repellents containing DEET for children over the age of 2 months, when needed, to avoid exposure to insect related diseases.
Do not use repellent containing DEET on children younger than 2 months of age.
Read the label of a repellent before purchasing or using it. Different products contain different amounts of DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends products that contain between 10% and 30% DEET to be applied as directed on the package.
The amount of DEET varies in each product. Usually 10% DEET lasts for 2 hours, while 30% DEET lasts for 5-6 hours. Choose the lowest amount of DEET that will provide you the lasting coverage that you need.
Wash your child's skin once they come indoors.
Products that have bug repellent and sunscreen combined are not recommended. You will most likely need to reapply sunscreen more frequently than you can apply DEET to your child's skin.
Remember, bug repellents do not repel stinging insects, such as bees. If your child has a severe allergy to stinging insects, always carry your Epi-Pen.
Most bug bites are harmless. However, you should seek medical attention if:
your child develops a fever, rash, joint pain or headaches within 2 weeks of a bite
your child has bug bites that look infected (redness, swelling, drainage from the skin)
your child develops an immediate rash or reaction to bug repellent.
Especially during the younger years, adequate food and nutrition is vital for a child’s growth and development. But for some children, a snack or meal as simple as a peanut butter sandwich or a cup of milk can cause serious health problems. So, what’s a parent to do when they suspect their child is allergic to a certain food?
A food allergy is the abnormal response of the immune system to a food. It’s possible to be allergic to any food, but these particular foods are responsible for the majority of allergies: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and peanuts. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerance, or food sensitivity, which is more common and less severe.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction typically occur within just moments to an hour after the child ingests a food. They can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening, so it’s important for parents to understand what to do if they suspect their child is having an allergic reaction to food. Symptoms will vary for each child, but the most common telltale signs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth or throat
- Light-headedness or loss of consciousness
Food allergy symptoms often resemble other medical conditions, so always contact your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, remove that particular food from your child’s diet immediately. If the allergic reaction is severe, seek medical care right away.
The good news is that food allergies are often outgrown during early childhood. Your pediatrician or allergist can perform tests to pinpoint and track your child's food allergies They can also work with you to modify and manage your child’s diet to ensure they are receiving adequate nutrition for growth and development without putting them at risk for additional allergic reactions.