All posts in Children’s Health

What Happened to the Flu Spray?

In case you haven’t heard, the flu nasal spray is not recommended for the 2016-2017 flu season. For those of you afraid of needles, this isn’t necessarily what you want to hear, but it’s for your benefit.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone aged 6 months or older receive an influenza vaccine every year, by the end of October if possible.

In the past, patients have had the option of either having the vaccine injected via needle or administered via nasal spray. Folks who are needle-shy – about 20 million of you – tend to opt for the nasal spray.

In fact, about a third of all children who were immunized in 2015 chose the nasal spray. flu shot

However, concerns arose last year about the effectiveness of the spray and this year the CDC is explicitly not recommending it.

The nasal spray contains a weakened, live flu virus intended to provoke a stronger reaction from the body’s defenses while the flu shot delivers an inactivated virus.

A CDC committee determined in June that the nasal spray showed just a 3 percent effectiveness rate in protecting against the flu among kids 2 to 17 in the 2015-16 season.

While there’s no clear explanation for the decrease in effectiveness, the influenza vaccine is still a very safe and effective option. And it only hurts for a few seconds – we promise!


Allergies Are on the Rise… But Why?

If you have small children, you may have noticed that kids with peanut allergies are on the rise. It’s not only peanut allergies, though. Allergic reactions in general are at epidemic levels right now, and no one seems to know why.

Regardless of why allergies are on the rise, there are ways to naturally treat them and even prevent them. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Use an air conditioning or filtration system that uses HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters
  • Consider switching to organic and biodegradable cleaning products, cosmetics and personal hygiene productspeanut-allergy
  • Wash hands regularly to get rid of the allergens you bring into your home
  • Avoid processed/packaged, canned and fast food
  • Utilize a dehumidifier to get rid of air-borne mold and other allergens that thrive in humid conditions
  • Eat a healthy diet and consider growing some of your own fruits and vegetables
  • Be smart about when you do outdoor work or play.  Remember, for example, that the pollen count is highest/worse between the hours of 5am and 10am.
  • Use nasal rinses, especially after being outdoors, being exposed to dusty conditions, etc…
  • Avoid known allergy triggers
  • Get allergen skin tests to learn exactly what triggers your allergies
  • Consider purchasing and using dust-proof pillow cases and bed and/or mattresses covers

For even more ways to treat and prevent allergy symptoms, visit


Pool Safety

Because temperatures are rising and pools are open, this week we’re going to continue to talk about pool safety for you and your family.

Last week we emphasized pool cleanliness, and this week we’re going to talk about safety tips that go beyond germs.

Never leave your child unattended at a public pool or spa. Constant supervision is an extremely important step to make sure your child is safe.pool safety

Never multi-task while your child is swimming. Talking on the phone, sun-bathing, reading a book or magazine — these all take your eyes away from watching your child, who can become injured in minutes if left unsupervised. As an extra precaution, always keep a cell phone close by.

Drain entrapments are often the result of a swimmer’s hair, limbs, clothing, or jewelry getting tangled in a faulty drain. Never let your child play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools. Entrapment caused by powerful suction from a pool or spa’s drain can trap a child.

Children’s public wading pools, pools designed for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.

Teach your child basic water safety tips, and practice them yourself. Make sure that everyone in your family learns to swim.

Understand the basics of CPR and other life-saving skills. Take CPR and first-aid courses, and continue to update your training through programs offered by the American Red Cross.


Swimming Safely and Cleanly

With Memorial Day behind us, most – if not all – community swimming pools are up and open for business. And as exciting as this may be for you and your family, there are some things you need to do to ensure your safety and help ensure the safety of everyone around you.

First, don’t make the chlorine do all the work! Before you get into a public swimming pool, you really ought to take a shower, or at least rinse yourself really well. Showers help reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses, such as diarrhea, swimmer’s ear and skin infections.swimming child

A thorough shower with soap helps remove perspiration, body oils, cosmetics and traces of urine and fecal matter on the body. Sending those substances down the shower drain goes a long way toward reducing the “yuck factor” for everyone who shares the pool.

Children who are not fully potty-trained need to wear swim diapers. “Accidents” from diapered children pose a risk of contamination. To minimize this risk, parents must wash children thoroughly, front and back, with soap and water, and make sure a clean, form-fitting “swim diaper” is worn by the child at all times. Just remember that swim diapers are not leak proof.

However, according to the CDC, no swim diaper holds fecal material beyond three to five minutes. One way to help maximize the efficiency of a swim diaper is to do a double diaper, where the child wears a non-disposable diaper or rubber training pants OVER the swim diaper.

Because this is just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to staying safe in public pools, next week we’ll discuss some other safety tips.


Have fun and stay safe this Halloween

If you’re taking your little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treating this Halloween, it’s important to remember to be safe while also having as much sugar-infused fun as possible!halloween_safety

Many organizations compile lists of safety tips, and below you can find some of our favorites.

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends the following:

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

And for those of you without little ghosts and goblins this year, popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during that time.