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What Every Parent Needs To Know About The Dangers Of Vaping & E-Cigarettes 


Over the past couple years, E-cigarettes have been exploding in popularity among both youth and adults. But E-cigarettes and vaping are creating a growing concern about teen health and safety among parents and healthcare professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports actions to prevent youth and children from using or being exposed to vaping and E-cigarettes. We’ve gathered the facts parents need to know about this dangerous trend so you can discuss these risks with your teens. 

Vaping Is Not A Healthy Alternative To Smoking 


Although E-cigarettes have been promoted as being a safer alternative than cigarettes, it is important to know that vaping devices are still unhealthy and dangerous. Traditional cigarettes contain up to 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. While it is possible that E-cigarettes expose you to fewer toxic chemicals, we do not yet know how many toxic chemicals the vapor is made up of. We do know that the solution used in E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals like antifreeze, diethylene glycol, and cancer causing carcinogens. Additionally, E-cigarettes have not been on the market long enough for the long-term effects to be studied effectively. 

Vaping Is Causing A New Generation To Become Addicted To Nicotine 


Another major concern surrounding vaping devices is that it is leading to a new generation of youth becoming addicted to nicotine. Most E-cigarettes still contain nicotine – a highly addictive, toxic substance that causes the craving to smoke and withdrawal symptoms when those cravings are ignored. Nicotine is known to raise blood pressure, cause spikes in adrenaline, and increase heart rates – all of which can lead to a heart attack. Nicotine is also harmful to the development of the brain – which isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. Additionally, E-cigarette users are also often exposed to higher doses of nicotine than they would be with a traditional cigarette because the cartridges can be bought in extra-strength doses and the voltage of the vaping device can be increased. Finally, there is also a major concern that vaping acts as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes and using illicit drugs.

Many Teens Hide Vaping 


Vaping devices are known by many names, including: E-cigarettes, E-cigars, vape pens, personal vaporizers, E-hookah, and pod systems. Additionally, teens often use code language when speaking about vaping products. For example, teens may say they are “Juuling” – a term that derives from the brand name of a vaping product. Vaping devices may also be easy for teens to hide as they don’t always look like a cigarette. Vaping devices can look like a pen, a flash drive, a key fob, an inhaler, or a flashlight. It can also be difficult for parents to detect when their children have been using vaping products because they do not leave behind a smell like traditional cigarettes do. 

Discuss Vaping Concerns With Your Child’s Pediatrician 


Talk to your child’s pediatrician about how to discuss the risks and dangers of vaping with your teen. If you are concerned your teen is already vaping, discuss your concerns with their pediatrician. Your child’s pediatrician can help you explain the dangers to your child and provide resources to help prevent and stop the use of vaping products. Contact Children’s Medical Center to schedule your child’s next annual wellness visit today. 


For many families Halloween signals the start of the holiday season. But many parents worry about keeping their children safe while also allowing them to have fun trick or treating. Knowing a few simple safety tips can help you ensure this Halloween is full of spooky good memories and not frightening trips to the emergency room. To help keep your family safe while trick or treating, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following


Costume Safety 

Halloween safety begins long before the night of. You should already be thinking about your child’s safety when you are choosing Halloween costumes. Some costumes add safety risks that can be avoided. Here are a few costume safety tips:  

  • Make sure all costumes, wigs, and accessories are fire-resistant. 
  • Apply reflective tape to your child’s costumes and treat bags. 
  • Try to make costumes bright by choosing light colors and incorporating glow sticks into costumes.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses. Doing so without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal.
  • If using Halloween makeup, ensure makeup is non-toxic and test on a small area before fully applying. 
  • Choose costumes that are short enough to prevent tripping hazards. Children should wear their normal tennis shoes and be comfortable walking in their costumes.
  • Avoid face masks as they can obstruct the senses. Face masks can obstruct a child’s vision or hearing. They can also block the nose or mouth and obstruct their breathing. 


Using Street Smarts 

Here’s a scary fact: children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year. Here are a few safety tips for the street: 

  • Avoid running. 
  • Stick to the sidewalk. 
  • Everyone, both adults and children, should carry a flashlight. 
  • Avoid distractions. Using a cell phone while walking creates a distraction and can be dangerous. 
  • Children under the age of 12 should always be accompanied by a responsible adult. It is best to stay in groups for greater visibility and safety. 
  • If older children are going out alone, make sure they stay with a large group of friends, know an approved route, and check-in frequently. 
  • Cross the street safely. Always use street corners and crosswalks. Never cross in-between parked cars. If there is a car coming, make eye contact with the driver before crossing. 


Skip The Tricks, Go Straight For Treats 

It might be called trick or treating, but you want to ensure your children make it through the night without encountering any tricks that put their safety at risk. Here are few safety tips to keep in mind when it comes to treats: 

  • Children should never enter someone’s home or car. 
  • Only go to homes that have their porch light on. Try to stick to homes you know.
  • Eat dinner before going trick or treating so children aren’t tempted to eat their candy before they get home.  
  • Encourage children to wait until they get home and you inspect their treats before eating any. A responsible adult should always check for any signs of tampering and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, home-made, or other suspicious items. 
  • Keep food allergies in mind when accepting and inspecting treats. Children should be encouraged to take non-food treats when they are available. 


Discuss Safety Concerns With Your Child’s Pediatrician 

If you still have any additional concerns about your child’s safety this Halloween, discuss them with your child’s pediatrician. The board-certified pediatricians at Children’s Medical Center are happy to address any concerns parents have about protecting their children all year long. We can help you come up with a safety plan that will meet your child’s unique needs.


Whether we were the one being bullied, the one who was the bully, or the one who stood by and didn’t do anything when someone else was being bullied – almost all of us have some story of bullying we can look back on and remember from our childhood. It’s common for the victim being bullied to be a child who is physically smaller or weaker, shy, and generally feels helpless against the situation. But there are things we can do as parents to help our children prevent and address bullying. 


Facts About Bullying 

Before we can address bullying, we need to know the facts: 

  • More than 1 in 4 children in America says they have experienced being bullied. 
  • Of those who have experienced being bullied, only about 20-30% have reported it to an adult. 
  • Both girls and boys can be the victim of bullying and can be bullies.
  • Bullying can take the form of physical violence, verbal threatening or teasing, and social isolation or exclusion. 


Talk To Your Child About Bullying 

The first step in helping your child prevent and address bullying is to talk about it with them. Even if you don’t think your child is involved with bullying as a victim, bully, or bystander, talking about bullying with them can help prepare them to recognize and address situations that occur later on. Here are a few questions you can ask your child that can alert you to signs of bullying: 

  • “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” 
  • “Who did you play with on the playground?” 
  • “What do you think of the other kids at school?” 
  • “Are there any kids who get picked on or bullied?” 


Teach Your Child How To Respond To Bullies 

Your child’s first defense to preventing and addressing bullying is knowing how to respond to the bully. If the bully doesn’t get the response they desire from their actions, they will be less likely to continue the behavior. Teach your child to first remain calm and walk away. When ignoring the bully doesn’t work, teach your child how to stand tall, hold their head high, remain calm, look the bully directly in the eye, and firmly respond to the bully by saying something like “I don’t like what you are doing” or “Do NOT treat me like that.” It is important to let your child practice these responses frequently so if they are faced with a bullying situation, they are able to respond naturally. 


Teach Your Child When To Tell An Adult About Bullies 

Sometimes standing up to a bully isn’t enough to stop the behavior. You need to teach your child that bullying is never ok, and they should always feel comfortable bringing it to the attention of a trusted adult. Let your child know they can always come to you if there is a problem with a bully and encourage them to speak up if they are a witness to bullying. They should also have at least one adult identified at school that they feel comfortable going to such as a teacher, counselor, or administrator. Any time your child notifies you of a situation involving bullying, address it with the school in writing.


Your Child’s Pediatrician Can Help You Combat Bullying 

Pediatricians are responsible for protecting your child’s whole health. Pediatricians are trained to screen for and recognize signs of bullying in children. Your child’s pediatrician can help ensure your child doesn’t need additional mental health support such as a therapist and can give you a referral if they do. Pediatricians are also sometimes able to identify bullying that parents miss. Contact Children’s Medical Center to schedule your child’s annual wellness visit with one of our board-certified pediatricians today!




The Pros And Cons Every Parent Should Know About Social Media & Teen Health

Social media is a daily part of life for most of our teenagers. In fact, Common Sense Media conducted a report that found 75% of American teenagers have social media profiles. Undoubtedly, our teens are under great pressure to be available online all the time. But many parents worry about how the use of social media impacts the health of their teenager. And there certainly are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Here is what parents should know when considering whether to let their teenagers use social media: 

Social Media Use Creates Mental Health Concerns For Teens 

The largest concern related to teen use of social media is the impact it has on their mental health. Mental health issues have significantly risen over the last decade. Research performed by the American Psychological Association has found significant increases in the number of adolescents and young adults who report experiencing negative psychological symptoms, with no corresponding increase being observed in adults. This may be because adults have much more stable social lives offline than teens do. Recent research suggests that increased social media use is associated with increased reported symptoms of social anxiety, isolation, feelings of loneliness, lower self-esteem, depression, sleep deprivation, cyberbullying, and even suicidal thoughts. Research has found that cyberbullying has a harsher impact on teens than regular bullying, possibly because of the far-reaching public impact associated with cyberbullying. If teens are already at risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, social media can increase this risk. The adolescent years are a period of rapid brain growth and development, so social media should be used cautiously during this time. 

How Social Media Can Be Used To Positively Impact Teens

Despite the concerns that social media usage creates with mental health, there are also a few ways it can impact teens positively. Many teens are able to use social media to find a community they fit into when they otherwise may not fit in as easily. For example, teens who struggle with their sexual identity or who have difficulty making friends at school have an increased likelihood of finding like-minded peers online who can provide support and make them feel less lonely. Social media has the ability to provide teens with a safer space to explore their identity, gain social support, and increased opportunity for self-disclosure. Many teens report that social media helps them better understand their friends’ feelings and feel more connected to them. 

What Parents Should Do To Decide If Their Teen Is Ready To Use Social Media 

So how do you decide whether your teen is ready to use social media or not? The answer lies more in why and how your teen uses social media than it does their age. Generally speaking, parents should try to keep their teenagers off of social media for as long as possible. But if you have reached a point where your teen is constantly asking to create a profile, you need to evaluate their motive. Take into consideration the reasons they want to create a profile and their maturity level. 

If you do decide to let your teen create a social media profile, make sure you are friends with them online and monitor their activity. You should also try to limit the amount of time they spend on social media. Establish technology-free zones in your home, such as your child’s bedroom. Make sure your teen is not using social media to replace in-person interaction. Parents should set the example by following the same rules their teens have for social media and technology use. 

Social media use by teens is all about balance – finding the help and support they desire online while also being able to filter out the negatives. 

Discuss Concerns About Your Teen & Social Media With Their Pediatrician 

Your teenager’s pediatrician is a great resource when it comes to concerns about their mental health and social media usage. To schedule your child’s annual wellness visit with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to meeting you and your child! 


Transitioning from high school to college is a major life event. For most students, this will be their first time away from home for an extended period and the first time they will make many of their own decisions. During this transition, students often aren’t aware of what they need to do to maintain their health. Proper care of your physical and mental health will set you up for a thriving college experience. Here are a few tips to help both students and their parents prepare for a successful transition into college: 


Advice For Parents Who Have Students Entering College 

Your child transitioning from your home into college is just as major of a life change for you as it is for them. It is important for the parents to recognize that this is both an exciting and uncertain time for you both. Careful planning and support will make this transition easier on both you and your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents encourage a visit to their child’s pediatrician during this time. Your child’s pediatrician will help ensure they are physically prepared and up to date on their immunizations and will also help your family prepare for the mental and emotional support they will need. We also recommend parents make sure their child knows where they need to go on campus for urgent healthcare. Parents should also make sure their child has health insurance and knows how to access it while at school. Your child’s pediatrician can also serve as a liaison to ensure their school has the proper medical records and care treatment plans they need on file. Once your child makes their transition into college, make sure you are keeping up frequent contact and ask about how they are doing physically, mentally, emotionally, and academically. This will allow you to provide any continuing support they need while at school. 


Advice For The New College Freshman

Your transition into college will be filled with exciting changes and new opportunities. One major change you will experience is the responsibility for taking charge of your own healthcare. You should visit your pediatrician before heading to college so they can help you have a healthy transition. Many young adults continue to see their pediatrician as their primary care provider until they turn 19, at which time your pediatrician will help you transition to an adult primary care provider. 

Here are a few things you should know before you make your transition into college: 

  • All the facts about any existing diagnosis, including how the condition affects you and how your condition is treated
  • The name, dosage, side effects, and instructions for any prescription medications. 
  • How to get your prescriptions refilled while you are at school. 
  • Where you should go for healthcare treatment while at school. This includes your campus health center and off-campus hospitals and emergency rooms. 
  • How your health insurance coverage works. Make sure you have a copy of your insurance card and know how to use it. 
  • Be prepared for how to handle and respond to pressure to drink alcohol, take drugs, or engage in sexual activity. Your pediatrician can give you advice on how to handle these situations. 
  • Attend orientation and know what resources are available to you on-campus. 

Once you make your transition into college, there are many things you can do to maintain your health. Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy and successful while in college: 

  • Make healthy eating choices. 
  • Stay physically active. 
  • Get a proper amount of sleep each night. 
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol, and smoking. 
  • Maintain a healthy social life to prevent mental health issues. 
  • Study consistently over time and take regular study breaks instead of cramming the night before a test. Cram sessions place unnecessary stress on the brain. 
  • Make sure your friends and roommates know about any chronic conditions you have, signs of a problem, and how they should respond in an emergency. 

Following these tips will help you establish life-long habits that will keep you healthy and strong. 


Your Pediatrician Can Help You Prepare For A Healthy Transition 

It is strongly recommended you have a visit with your pediatrician before you transition into college. Your pediatrician can help you prepare for a healthy transition by addressing physical and mental health concerns for this life change. To schedule your annual wellness visit with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to helping you prepare for a healthy and successful transition into college!  


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