eating disordersEating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding both the issues of food and the person’s weight. However, these disorders often go unnoticed by the victim’s family and friends. Eating disorders often develop during the teenage years or the stage of early adulthood. The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.

Anorexia is an emotional disorder that is characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. Bulimia is an emotional disorder in which a large quantity of food is eaten in a short amount of time, followed by purging. Binge eating disorder is an emotional disorder in which one frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food and struggles to stop eating. This disorder is similar to bulimia; however; people with binge eating disorders do not purge after eating.

If these disorders are left untreated, they can cause serious health problems that can become life threatening. It is crucial that parents are able to recognize the warning signs of an eating disorder in their teenage child:

Anorexia: 

  • Becoming very thin
  • Feeling overweight in spite of being very thin
  • Having an extreme fear of gaining any weight
  • Obsessing about the amount of food he or she eats
    • Constantly counting calories, carbs and grams of fat in the foods they eat
    • Skipping meals throughout the day
    • Creating “food rituals”, such as chewing each bite of food a certain number of times before swallowing
  • Exercising excessively
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide their weight
  • Taking diet pills, water pills or laxatives
  • In females, missing their period or having very irregular periods

Bulimia:

  • Skipping meals or eating very small portion sizes
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Vomiting after eating (leaving the room immediately after eating to go to bathroom for an extended amount of time)
  • Sneaking food
  • Hiding empty containers of food
  • Fasting
  • Exercising excessively
  • Taking water pills or laxatives

Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Eating even when not hungry
  • Eating so much to the point of feeling uncomfortable
  • Eating large amounts of food in one meal or a short time period
  • Eating normal portions during meal times, and then eating large amounts of food afterwards when alone
  • Eating alone
  • Sneaking food
  • Constantly feeling depressed, moody or guilty after eating large amounts of food

It’s difficult to determine what causes eating disorders in teens, but there are theories. Experts believe it usually happens between the ages of 13 and 17 for a reason: this is a time of heightened emotional and physical changes, academic stressors and peer pressure. Additionally, during this time in a child’ life, teens may feel that they are not in control of their freedom and controlling what they eat and when they eat it, offers a certain control that they desire. For young girls, it’s normal and necessary to gain weight during puberty. This weight gain may make a girl feel insecure and unconfident, causing them to lose the weight any way possible.

If your teen has exhibited any of the symptoms listed above, contact your child’s doctor immediately. His or her medical provider can help evaluate your child’s specific symptoms and offer you recommendations of what to do next. By seeking professional help for your child, you are preventing him or her from developing even more serious health issues. In most cases, teenagers dealing with eating disorders seek treatment through counseling and working alongside a dietician to develop healthy eating habits.

Discussing your child’s eating disorder with him or her will not be easy; however, the conversation must happen. Despite how difficult it may be, remember that you are only doing what is best for your child’s health and happiness. For more information on the warning signs of eating disorders or tips on how to address your child’s eating disorder, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD. at 618-235-2311.

Hyperthyroidism In ChildrenIs your child lethargic, experiencing on-going belly pain and exhibiting a change in behavior? Changes in school performance and even some delay in growth and development may mean your child is suffering from hyperthyroidism problems due to Graves’ disease, an immune disorder and over-activity of the thyroid gland. Pediatric Graves’ disease is less common than a diagnosis for adults. In addition, a diagnosis of Graves’ disease can be rare. However, if either parent or their siblings have thyroid problems, it may be time for a visit to the Association of Childcare Physicians office to determine if hyperthyroidism is present.

What happens in children with hyperthyroidism? Along with a delay in growth and development, you may notice delayed puberty in your pre-teen. Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems, so it’s often difficult to diagnose. In infants, the delays can be more severe and therefore more noticeable. Children with hyperthyroidism usually look younger than they are, may experience sudden weight loss yet an increased appetite. They may display increased anxiety and changes in bowel movements. It’s important to know that symptoms in children may develop over time as well, which makes an accurate diagnosis sometimes difficult. For example, there are cases of children being diagnosed with ADHD or ADD but instead have an overactive thyroid.

Graves’ disease is a common cause of hyperthyroidism in pediatric patients but a diagnosis of an overactive thyroid doesn’t automatically mean your child has Graves’ disease. Thyroids are located in the front portion of the neck, below the thyroid cartilage also known as the “Adam’s apple”. Thyroids are important because they regulate body energy and they play an important role when interacting with other hormones in the body. With a properly working thyroid, hormones successfully interact with nutrients in the body, offering proper growth and maturity of body tissues and optimum health.

If you suspect your child may have hyperthyroidism, more tests can be done to determine if Graves’ disease is the culprit. Patients with Graves’ disease may have a list of unexplained issues similar to hyperthyroidism, including rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, frequent bowel movements and/or sleeplessness. Because Graves’ disease symptoms are closely related to hyperthyroidism symptoms, making a confirmed diagnosis is important for proper treatment. If you notice some or many of these symptoms surfacing in your child, schedule an appointment with our office so that a diagnosis can be made.

A simple blood test can determine your child’s thyroid hormone level. If the diagnosis is confirmed by a high level of thyroid hormone level and a low level of pituitary thyroid stimulating level (TSH), your doctor will then need to determine the next steps for your child.

Depending on the diagnosis, treatment options will vary. For example, treating Graves’ disease can be done with the use of drug therapy. Other options, including surgical subtotal thyroidectomy or radioactive iodine can help with symptoms your child may be having. There are different options available when your child is experiencing symptoms of an increased thyroid level. The good news is that with thyroid hormone replacement and adequate treatment and medications, a child will catch up in height and weight to children in their age group and will begin to feel better.

Although Graves’ disease is an uncommon diagnosis, the genes have been known to be passed down from family members that have thyroid disease. That’s why it’s encouraged to receive testing for other family members after a confirmed diagnosis for Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. Left untreated, the disease has potential to be life threatening. There are resources available if your child has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. One website, http://www.gdatf.org/about/about-graves-disease/children-graves/, can help you determine if your child is exhibiting symptoms of Graves’ disease and if further testing is required.

Early diagnosis can be helpful in all illnesses, especially in children. If you notice any symptoms of hyperthyroidism or have a family member that suffers from thyroid disease, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com to schedule an appointment.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes With spring here and summer right around the corner, your child is spending countless hours of playtime outside. This time of year, it is critical to be able to identify and properly treat poison ivy, poison oak and any other plant-related rashes your child may encounter. The best way to prevent these rashes from occurring is to take the time to teach your child how to recognize these poisonous plants, and to reinforce how important it is to always stay away from them. Enforce the ‘leaves of three, let it be’ rule. However, in the unfortunate case that your child does come in contact with poison ivy or poison oak, take these preventative measures:

    • Gently wash the affected areas with warm, soapy water. After several minutes of washing, rinse and softly dry the area. Avoid scrubbing your child’s skin harshly, as this can cause more irritation.
    • Wash all clothes, shoes and pets that may have came into contact with the plant to get rid of any potential urushiol oil, which is produced by the plant that triggers the rash. This step is extremely important because if the oil comes into contact with other areas of your child’s body, the rash will spread.

Approximately 85 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy and poison oak. If your child is allergic, a rash will typically appear in one to four days after the encounter with the plant. More often than not, the rash appears in streaks on the skin due to brushing through the plants. If your child happens to develop a rash from poison ivy or poison oak, try these simple at home remedies:

    • Apply calamine lotion to the affected areas three to four times a day. The lotion will help calm your child’s constant itch. The lotion can be purchased at your local drug store.
    • Reduce your child’s inflammation by gently applying a one percent hydrocortisone cream to his or her affected area.
    • If the calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream do not help in soothing your child’s rash, give your child a cool bath or an oatmeal bath. Remember to avoid scrubbing his or her skin to prevent increased itchiness.
    • Apply a cool, wet washcloth on your child’s affected area. The cool compress will help soothe the annoying itch.
    • At nighttime, try an oral antihistamine to reduce the itchiness so your child can relax and fall asleep.
    • If your child has long fingernails, trim his or her nails to prevent rough scraping of the skin, which can potentially cause an infection.

If your child’s rash does not respond to these treatments and begins to worsen or he or she develops a fever, you should contact your child’s pediatrician immediately to prevent infection. If you have any questions in regards to treating your child’s poison ivy or poison oak rashes, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.

Nutrition & Exercise Needs For TeensBetween balancing academics, a part time job and extracurricular activities, being a teenager is no easy feat. Your teen’s hectic schedule may interfere with receiving the proper nutrition and exercise his or her growing body needs. With these simple nutrition and fitness tips, your teen will have more energy to lead a happy, healthy lifestyle:

Nutrition:

To properly nourish their growing bodies, teenagers need to be eating high-energy, nutritious meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein and dairy.

Fruits and Vegetables: When preparing your family’s dinner, a good rule of thumb is to make sure at least half of your child’s plate contains fruits and vegetables. Dark green, red and orange veggies are best, as they contain high levels of vitamin C, calcium and fiber. Adding fruits and vegetables to your dinner menu can be done quite simply and affordably. For example, simply adding romaine lettuce and a slice of tomato to your child’s sandwich is a great, easy way to get more vegetables into their meal. Also, swapping out your child’s regular after school snack of potato chips with carrots and ranch dip or a fruit cup is a great way to practice proper nutrition even while snacking.

Your teen’s daily diet should contain whole grains, which are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, Vitamin B and antioxidants. Make their lunchmeat sandwich with whole-wheat bread rather than white and switch up your white rice stir-fry with brown rice. Starting the day off with a bowl of oatmeal and a slice of whole-wheat toast is a delicious, easy way to ensure your busy-bee teenager is eating enough whole grains.

With your teen constantly on the go, a protein-rich diet is a necessity to help him or her grow strong and have the energy to power through the day. Some protein-rich foods to pack in your teen’s lunch are: turkey, chicken breasts, eggs, beans, nuts, cottage cheese and greek yogurt.

Dairy is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals for your teen to grow strong and healthy, such as calcium, vitamin D and B and protein. A glass of skim milk with dinner is a simple way to ensure your child is consuming dairy. Yogurt, a cheese stick and cottage cheese are all delicious, healthy dairy options to have stocked in your fridge for snack time.

Fitness:

If your teenager does not play a sport, or even if they do and it is off-season, he or she may not be getting their daily dose of physical activity. Being physically active for at least 60 minutes per day reaps endless benefits for your teenager, such as weight control, increased flexibility and balance, better ability to focus during school and it can even improve his or her mood! Encourage your child to put down their game controller or turn off the Netflix and get outside and play everyday.

Being active doesn’t have to be hard or boring, it can be fun and invigorating when done alongside family and friends. Your teenager can be active through simple yoga poses or an intense game of tennis! Other fitness ideas include basketball, swimming, hiking, dancing, biking or walking your family’s four-legged, furry friend. Mix up the exercise routine with some favorite activities and you’ll find it’s much easier for them to “stick” with it.

Your child’s teenage years are some of the best years for making memories. Ensure their health and happiness by placing emphasis on their proper nutrition and fitness. The health habits they learn now are the habits they will carry with them into their adult years. For more information on your teenager’s nutrition or exercise needs, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com.

Breastfeeding Tips for New MomsBreastfeeding your baby is no easy feat. It may be a natural process, but it also can be a difficult one. However, we encourage all new mothers to at least try to breastfeed as it reaps endless benefits for your little one and yourself.

Early breast milk, called colostrum, contains countless nutrients and antibodies, helping your newborn grow stronger and fight off diseases. Breastfeeding helps mothers lose their pregnancy weight, and it also reduces the risk of postpartum depression and breast and ovarian cancer. Not to mention, nursing your newborn saves you money on pricey formula. Breastfeeding is truly worth the struggle and effort, as it creates a special bond between you and your little one. We have provided some tips to help make the process easier for both you and your baby.

If possible, try to breastfeed your newborn within the first hour of birth. Do not be afraid to ask for help. The maternity nurses or a hospital lactation consultant can help you position the baby and ensure he or she is latching on correctly. While it might be uncomfortable when your baby first latches on, it should not be extremely painful if you position the baby correctly. It is important to make sure you are comfortable because if you are uncomfortable, it is likely the baby will be too. Cradle your baby close, bringing him or her to your breast, rather than leaning forward and bringing your breast to the baby. Support your baby’s head with one hand, while supporting your breast with the other hand. Once the baby begins nursing, look and listen for a rhythmic sucking and swallowing pattern.

During the first few weeks, newborns typically need to be nursed every two to three hours. Allow your child to drink as much as he or she wants. Breastfeeding is supply and demand and the more often you nurse, the more milk your body will produce for your baby. This is why it is important to listen to your baby’s cues of hunger such as sucking motions, stirring, restlessness and crying. To ensure your child is receiving enough milk, allow the child to drink from each breast during a feeding. Rest assured, you’ll know your baby is getting enough milk because of their diaper changes! To keep your milk supply in both breasts even, alternate which breast you begin nursing with for each session. If one breast seems to be retaining more milk than the other, you should pump that breast to preserve your milk supply.

During this time of constant feeding, it is important to stay hydrated to ensure your body can produce enough milk. Try sipping on a glass of water when nursing. As your baby and you get acclimated to nursing, try not to introduce a bottle or pacifier. The thrusting motion required to nurse is much different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle nipple, and this could confuse your baby. Also, do not offer water to your baby until he or she is around six months old. Your baby will get enough hydration from breastfeeding alone. After his or her first birthday, when your baby is eating solids and no longer breastfeeding, you can let your baby drink as much water as he or she likes.

The most crucial element of breastfeeding is relaxation. Try to nurse in a calm, quiet environment, as you will be more likely to release your milk. At first, you may need privacy to feed your baby. Over time, the process will become much more natural for both your baby and yourself. Until this happens, do not give up. As the saying goes, “patience is a virtue”, and this is certainly true for breastfeeding your baby. We hope these tips help you have a successful nursing process with your newborn! If you have more questions about breastfeeding your newborn, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow for further information. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.

dangers of OTC medicineDiscussing the danger of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine misuse is a very important but often overlooked conversation that every parent needs to have with his or her children. All too often, children are taken to the E.R. due to the accidental misusage of OTC medicines. Educating your children on the importance of medicine safety can help prevent these E.R. visits from occurring.

Making younger children take their medicine is certainly no walk in the park; however, you should never encourage them to take their medicine by comparing it to “candy.” Telling your child that their cough medicine tastes like bubble gum can cause them to want to take the medicine when they do not need to. This can lead to accidental indigestion and overdoses. When treating your child for an illness, you should take the time to talk to them about the specific reason for taking the medicine. Try using words like “treatment” or “cure” rather than “this will help you to feel better.” Explain that medicines should only be taken under adult supervision and when sick or hurt, and that if taken otherwise, OTC medicines can be extremely dangerous to their health and well-being.

The best way to prevent misusage of OTC drugs is to always practice proper medicine safety in your home and also teach your children the same safety precautions:

  • Always read the entire Drug Facts label prior to giving your child the medicine
  • Never give your child more than the labeled dose
  • Never take the medicine more frequently than directed on the label
  • Never take medicines for longer than directed on the label
  • Always check the medicine’s expiration date before taking, and immediately dispose of medication if it is expired
  • Never take medicines to treat symptoms that are not listed on the label
  • Talk with a doctor or healthcare professional before mixing different kinds of medication

When giving your child medicine, always use the dosing advice that originally came with the bottle. Kitchen spoons, tablespoons and teaspoons may not always measure the same amount as the actual dosing device. After your child has taken his or her medicine, put the medicine away immediately. A designated cabinet that is out of reach from all little ones is an ideal, safe location to store your family’s medicines. Choosing OTC medicines that are packaged in bottles with child resistant caps that can be sealed tightly will also help prevent accidental indigestion.

OTC drug misuse is extremely preventable; however, it is important to keep the Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) in your phone in case of an emergency. Always remind your children how important OTC medicines are, that they keep us healthy, but only when used properly. Take the time to fully understand the medicine that you are giving your children, and help them understand it as well. For more information about preventing medicine misuse in your home or if you have any questions about OTC medicines, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311.

croup and your childAs parents, we know that sleepless night can happen. Whether it’s a knock on the bedroom door in the middle of the night because of a nightmare, or a sleepy-eyed child that can’t sleep due to a bellyache, we tend to sleep with one eye (and one ear) open and alert. When illness strikes upon our little ones, it can be heartbreaking. Croup is a common respiratory problem that generally occurs in younger children, often during the nighttime hours and in the fall and winter months. The main symptom typically is a jarring sound that no parent wants to hear: a harsh, barking cough that sounds awful, making breathing difficult in the child. But stay calm! Here are some tips from WebMD and our office explaining what you need to know if you suspect your child has croup.

Croup usually happens within a few days of your child having cold symptoms. The same virus that causes their cold usually brings on croup. It is contagious, so keep siblings and family members separated as much as possible and sanitize the surroundings to decrease the chances of passing on the virus. Germs are passed on by close contact, sneezing and coughing, similar to the common cold. The good news? Croup is rarely serious. Additionally, older children with more mature windpipes and lungs usually do not become sick with croup.

Croup occurs because the airways of the child narrows, causing that awful “barking cough”. It sounds more harsh and raspy than a normal cough. Children also have more labored breathing during the daytime hours, may breath faster or prefer to keep their head elevated so they can breath more comfortably. Unfortunately, symptoms of croup get worse at night for that very reason: lying down can irritate the airways, causing the croup cough. Generally, a child suffering from croup seems better during the day and can be even be fever-free. The illness can last up to 5 days.

Our doctors and staff can generally diagnose croup by discussing your child’s symptoms along with a physical exam of your young one. Even hearing the cough over the phone can help determine if it’s croup because the cough has such a distinct sound! Sometimes a pulse oximeter is used on your child’s finger or toe to check how much oxygen is reaching the blood.

Once your child is diagnosed with croup, the best thing to do for your child is to comfort them if they lie awake at night with a barking cough. A croup cough is very uncomfortable and can be scary for young children, so by helping them stay calm and tear-free it keeps their windpipes from swelling even more. Hot showers that create steam can help, so try running a hot shower and let the steam engulf the restroom while you snuggle outside the shower door. Cool air has also been known to help, so bundling them up and having them go outside for 10 minutes with you may ease their discomfort as well. Running a humidifier at night has also proven to be successful at easing the symptoms of croup. Cough medicines on the other hand have NOT been proven to be effective at treating croup. If the coughing worsens or does not improve after 30 minutes of at-home treatment, it may be necessary to contact the Association of Childcare Physicians exchange at 314/286-2530 if after hours. Severe difficulty in breathing may also warrant a trip to the ER.

By keeping your child hydrated during the day and away from smoking in the home, you are on your way to a healthier, croup-free household! A flu shot each year can also help prevent your child from becoming victim to the barking croup cough as well as other seasonal viruses that can contaminate your healthy home…taking away from a restful night’s sleep. If you have more questions about croup or its remedies please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow for further information. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.

Vitamin DSongs are written about it. Psychologists have proven that it can lift our spirits. It warms us, mystifies babies with its dancing beams, and creates a perfect day for us at the beach. Without it, our solar system wouldn’t even exist! Of course we are talking about the sun! Sunshine provides all of us with Vitamin D, an amazing nutrient that plays an integral part in our overall health. So, why is Vitamin D so important and what do we do with the conflicting information about this essential nutrient and sun safety?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that during sunny days, our bodies can make sufficient Vitamin D with just a few minutes of midday sunshine minus any sunscreen. We all know that dermatologists are wary of too much sun exposure without sunscreen due to the increase of skin damage and skin cancer among young adults. Supplemental Vitamin D is a good alternative to this essential nutrient that does wonders for our overall wellness and bone health.

So, how does it work? From the physician-authored and evidence based website, UpToDate®, Vitamin D is a prohormone that is “synthesized in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Less than 10 percent of vitamin D comes from dietary sources in the absence of food fortification or use of supplements. The prohormone is then converted to the metabolically active form in the liver and kidneys.” Essentially, Vitamin D is important because it helps our body’s ability to absorb calcium, giving us strong bones and healthy muscles. Because there is an insurgence of more sunscreen use due to a focus on skin cancer prevention, doctors are seeing more Vitamin D deficiencies.

Dr. Ellen Raney of Shriners Hospital is joining forces with other physician groups nationwide so that Vitamin D awareness is raised. Raney explained in a recent AAP article that “Vitamin D deficiency or nutritional rickets can show up in several ways. If the problem starts early, kids’ growth may be severely stunted. The arms or legs may not grow straight, or bones may be weak and easily broken.” A daily intake of 400 IU per day of Vitamin D during the first year of a child’s life and 600 IU for children over one year is generally recommended. However, always consult your physician about any questions you may have about supplements and appropriate dosages.

Nutritional deficiencies are commonly the result of an improper diet. With a Vitamin D deficiency, usual intake is generally lower than recommended levels over time because of a limited exposure to sunlight. What happens then is the kidneys cannot convert the absorption of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can also often be associated with milk allergies, lactose intolerance, vegetarianism, and veganism. Babies fed solely by breast milk may also suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. Mothers who take Vitamin D supplements while breastfeeding pass those higher levels of Vitamin D on to their infant, benefitting their child. A new study has recently suggested that higher Vitamin D in infants is also proving to show a decrease in ADHD symptoms, as they become toddlers, offering one more reason to maintain a healthy dose of this nutrient.

Other groups that can often develop Vitamin D deficiencies include older adults that spend less time outdoors; people that limit their sun exposure either for religious reasons (a burqa, for example) or due to skin cancer awareness. Dark-skinned individuals and people with inflammatory bowel disease also have a reduced ability to absorb Vitamin D and may require the help of supplements.

Even though the sun is a potential source of Vitamin D, the AAP advises that parents keep infants out of direct sunlight and have them wear protective clothing and sunscreen during prime sunshine hours, which are 10am-2pm. If you are concerned about your child’s Vitamin D intake, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow for further information to ensure their optimal Vitamin D health. For more information on Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com.

halloween safety tipsOctober is here, which means it is time for trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, haunted houses and all the other fun, spooky traditions Halloween entails. Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to your child’s safety. Halloween is an exciting time of year for children, and we want to ensure that they have fun and are kept safe. Here are some simple, yet effective tips to keep your kids safe this trick-or-treating season.

Costume Tips

It is up to parents to plan their children’s costumes to be both comfortable and safe. Costumes should be both reflective and bright as possible. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags so that your child will be clearly visible when walking across the road at night. A child’s costume should be short enough in length to prevent them from tripping or getting entangled. Parents should make sure that the child’s shoes fit comfortably and correctly, and that their laces remain tied throughout the night. Since masks often slip and fall into the child’s eyes, try swapping out the batman mask for non-toxic face paint instead. When picking out wigs and accessories, purchase items that are labeled flame resistant. All costume props should be safety approved. For example, if your child’s pirate costume comes with a sword, ensure that the sword is not too long or sharp.

Trick-Or-Treating Tips

On average, children are more than twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. A parent or responsible caregiver should always remain with the child during their neighborhood trick-or-treating rounds. All children and escorts should be equipped with a working flashlight. Glow sticks also work great for the kids to carry along with them, so drivers will see them. Parents should only take children to homes with a porch light on and should never enter a home or a vehicle to get a treat. When making your rounds, always remain on well-lit streets and travel on the sidewalk. If a street does not contain a sidewalk, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic. Never assume that you have the right of way. It is dark and drivers may not be able to see very well, so always stop and look both ways before crossing the crosswalk. Never let children cut across yards or alleys to reach houses and always encourage your children to stay on the proper path. All escorts should carry a cell phone and report any suspicious or unlawful activity to the police immediately.

If you are planning to have trick-or-treaters visiting your home, rid your porch of anything a child could potentially trip on, such as Halloween lawn ornaments placed inappropriately or garden hoses. Check your outdoor lighting system to ensure that your house is properly lit. There are many ways to properly light a home while also appealing to the “spookiness” that is Halloween! Sidewalks and steps should be clear of any tripping hazards, too. Also, all pets should be restrained while trick-or-treaters are in the neighborhood so they do not jump, scare or harm a child.

Before trick-or-treating, go over these safety tips with your child to make sure they understand that having fun is easier when everyone puts safety first. A great Halloween isn’t just about all of the candy; it’s also about remembering common safety guidelines so no one ends up hurt from a fall or other injury. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw want your children to have a happy and safe Halloween this year. For more information on Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com.

children and flu seasonDid you know that each year an average of 20,000 children aged 5 years or younger are hospitalized due to flu-related complications? Influenza, commonly known as the flu, causes more trips to the hospital than any other vaccine-preventable disease. In addition to getting your annual flu shot, there are ways that you can protect yourself and your family this flu season, reducing your chances of getting the virus and spreading it to others. The CDC recently published tips for parents on healthy choices that can be made at home and in the classroom to avoid the spread of flu this upcoming season.

Think you may have the flu? Stay home. As with many illnesses, the best way to prevent the spread of germs is to stay away from others when you think you may have become infected with the flu virus. Work, homework, and errands can wait. Even if you believe your resistance to the flu is stronger than others, think again. Exposing the flu virus to the elderly, young children, and expectant mothers should make you think twice about your decision to get out of bed and take that bus to work. When you are sick, avoiding close contact to people with weakened immunities not only helps stop the spread of disease but also keeps others safe from becoming seriously ill. This includes your own family members.

Coughing? Cover up. The flu virus is transmitted through the air, so covering up a sneeze and/or a coughing fit with a tissue or your bent arm by the elbow helps keep the germs under control. Tissues are an ideal remedy for stopping to spread the disease because after every sneeze or cough, they can be tossed in the trashcan. The worst way to block a sneeze or cough is by the use of your open hand. Why? Because right after you sneeze you may grab a doorknob or borrow a pen, transmitting the virus very quickly. By teaching young children the proper way to contain a sneeze or cough now, they will successfully continue the techniques they learned when they are older.

It’s flu season: wash your hands often. No matter what time of year it is, it’s always best to wash your hands often. With flu season upon us, it’s even more important to wash hands with warm water and soap. Also, take your time when washing. Experts say it’s best to wash hands for about 20 seconds. By washing the back of your hands, in between fingers, and under the fingernails you are protecting yourself (and others) from contracting the flu virus. Don’t have soap and water handy right after a cough? Keep an alcohol-based disinfectant handy until you can wash up at the sink. For children, it’s recommended that they sing a song or the ABCs while at the sink. This makes hand-washing go by much quicker and makes it a bit more fun!

Don’t be touchy! Unfortunately, most of us have a bad habit of touching our face while working at the computer or sitting at our desk, which may include itching our nose or rubbing our eyes. Germs are spread from the items we touch throughout the day to our hands and then quickly passed on to our eyes, nose, and mouth, exposing us to potential illness. Younger children often share toys and put items in their mouth (especially when teething), and this also can spread germs to others. When you try to avoid touching your face throughout the day and wash hands regularly, the odds are in your favor for staying healthier this flu season. Because it’s nearly impossible to stop a younger child from sticking items in their mouth, the last tip is very important.

Disinfect commonly used surfaces and objects. Keeping a tidy toy room, classroom and home disinfected during flu season is crucial. Frequently touched surfaces, especially when a family member or classmate is sick, are a germ breeding ground for the flu. There are many over the counter disinfectant spray options for cleaning surfaces and several today don’t include harsh chemicals. Hot water and soap work wonders too!

Want more information on keeping your family healthy this flu season? Download this informative two-page document from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention website to share with loved ones: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/everyday_preventive.pdf. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw can also discuss other preventative tips with you. You may also call our office to schedule a flu shot for your child or ask questions about immunizations for the 2016-2107 Influenza Season. Our office number is 618-235-2311.