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Posts for category: Child Care

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.

 

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!  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Life with kids can be chaotic. There is a reason schools follow a routine schedule. But routines shouldn’t stop when your child leaves school. Establishing an after school routine for your children will make your afternoon easier. How you structure your child’s after school routine can also have a major impact on their overall health. Here is what you need to know about creating a healthy after school routine for your child:

Why An After School Routine Is Important For Children?

 

Your child has spent an entire day in a highly structured environment while at school. When they arrive home in the afternoon, they are probably hungry, loaded with homework, and ready to relax. If your kids come running through the door and throw their bookbags on the floor, it may put you in a cranky mood. Establishing a consistent after school routine helps your child know what to expect when they get home, improves overall behavior, and makes your afternoon a little less chaotic.

Tips For Creating A Healthy After School Routine

 

After school routines are as unique as the individual needs of you and your children. While most after school routines will include the same basic essentials, the order in which you choose to do these steps will vary based on the needs and preferences of you and your child. For example, some children may prefer play before completing their homework while others will prefer to get homework out of the way first. Here are a few basic essentials you should include in your after school routine:

Bookbags

Almost every after school routine starts off with the bookbag and lunch boxes. When your children walk through the door, they should have a designated space to hang their bookbags and to place their lunch boxes. This will help make the start of the after school routine less chaotic for you. Some parents prefer to unpack bookbags and to sort through school papers immediately, while others wait to do this step after snack.

Snack             

Children are often hungry when they arrive home from school. They also are probably very excited to tell you about their day. Snack time is a great time for you to sit down with your child and discuss their day. Try to choose healthy snacks such as low-fat yogurt, fruit, whole grain crackers, string cheese, or veggies and dip. Healthy snacks will give them the energy they need for their remaining after school activities.

Exercise / Play

Physical activity is important to the health of our body and our brain. Being active increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain. This improves our focus and concentration. Many children find it beneficial to have a period of play or exercise time before they sit back down to do homework. The key here is for your children to be active, not just playing video games or watching tv. Encourage activities like outside play, riding bikes, walking the dog, or playing sports.

Homework

Your child’s after school routine will likely involve homework at some point. You may need to experiment to find the time that your child is most productive at completing homework. It is important for your children to have quiet spaces established specifically for them to do their work and study. You should also be available to answer questions or help your child during this time. You should keep all electronics off until they finish their homework, unless they need it to complete assignments.

Bedtime Routines

Once you have completed all your other after school activities, it is important to have a period of wind down time before bed. Your bedtime routine should begin with a period of relaxation. This may include spending time together as a family, reading, or watching a short television show. However, it is important for children to have at least an hour of screen-free time prior to bed. So if part of their “wind down” time involves electronics such as the tv or computer, make sure this period begins early enough to allow screen-free time. The rest of your bedtime routine will include things such as having dinner, taking a bath or shower, and preparing for the next day. Make sure your children are getting to sleep early enough to get the amount of sleep they need to be healthy and successful.

Some children attend an after school program such as HOST. These after school programs will usually address steps like snack and homework. If your child attends an after school program, adjust your after school routine at home accordingly.

Discuss Your Child’s Unique Needs With Their Pediatrician

 

Your child’s pediatrician is concerned about caring for their whole-health. If you have concerns about any area of your child’s after school routine, discuss these needs with your child’s pediatrician. Contact Children’s Medical Center and make your child’s next annual well-child appointment with their board-certified pediatrician 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!