winter safety tips for kidsWinter is a magical time of year: snowflakes, hot cocoa, warm mittens, sledding, skiing and more. What isn’t so magical is getting hurt from being out in the cold for too long. Keep your child safe this winter season with these winter safety tips for kids from the Association of Childcare Physicians:

  • How to Dress

When spending time outdoors, remember to dress your child warmly. Dress them in several thin layers to stay snug, dry, and warm. Don’t forget to cover extremities with hats, gloves, and boots, as they are more likely to get frostbitten. For long car rides, dress babies and children in snug, thin layers rather than bulky coats.

  • Avoiding Hypothermia

Hypothermia is defined as “having an abnormally low body temperature, typically one that is dangerously low.” This occurs when a child is exposed to cold weather without proper winter clothing. The risk for hypothermia greatly increases when clothes get wet. Warning signs for hypothermia include shivering, clumsiness, lethargy, slurred speech, and declined body temperature. If you suspect hypothermia in your child, call 911 right away. While waiting for help, seek shelter indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap the child in warm layers.

  • Preventing Frostbite

Frostbite tends to affect extremities like the toes, fingers, nose, and ears when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. Warning signs include red and tingly skin, which may become gray and painful, and ultimately white, cold and hard with no pain. To prevent frostbite, avoid going outside when the temperature or wind chill is below -15 degrees Fahrenheit. When your child does go out to play, dress them in warm layers. If their clothes get wet at any time, bring your youngster inside to change. If frostbite does occur, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten area in warm (not hot) water. You may want to administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen during this process, as thawing the skin is painful. If blistering occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Winter Health

Cold air and winter winds are typical causes for nosebleeds. To soothe dry and irritated nasal tissue, try using a humidifier in your child’s room at night. Saline nose drops and petroleum jelly can help prevent nosebleeds by keeping nasal tissues moist. Viruses also tend to be more common during the winter, so it is important to stay on top of your child’s health by encouraging frequent hand washing and proper sneezing/coughing techniques.

  • Sun Protection

Many people associate sunscreen with summer time, but applying sun block is just as important during the winter. In fact, it might be more important to be diligent about protecting your skin during the winter, as the sun’s rays can reflect off snow and cause sunburns. Extra moisturizers are also important, because skin can become dry and cracked over the cold, blistery winter months.

  • Winter Sports Safety

While playing outside in the snow seems like infinite fun to children, it’s best to set limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Supervise young children when they are using winter equipment such as sleds, skis, and snowboards. Hills and slopes should be clear of debris and obstructions. Your child should always wear appropriate safety equipment when playing outside, and supervision is especially important when playing on fast moving sleds and snowboards. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye!

The Association of Childcare Physicians hopes you have a happy, healthy (and warm) winter this year. If you have questions about keeping your child safe in the cold weather, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. If it’s time for a check-up, visit to set up an appointment today.

Food Allergies During the HolidaysHolidays are a time for fun, cheer, and delicious food! However, for some families, food allergies make holidays less than “holly-jolly”. Food allergies can range from mild to severe, but all reactions are equally scary. Mild reactions may involve stomach cramps, hives, or an itchy throat. More severe allergies include anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. With such dramatic symptoms, it’s no wonder holiday dinners are a source of anxiety for those living with food allergies, especially if those individuals are children who don’t fully understand their condition. If you or a loved one has a child with food allergies, consider these tips when approaching the holiday season:

  1. Educate

Ignorance is the greatest threat to a child with food allergies. Well-intentioned family members, teachers, and friends would never knowingly put a child at risk, but may unwittingly expose the child to an allergen. That is why it is so important to stress the severity of the food allergy and explain what it means. For example, if a child is allergic to tree nuts, explain which nuts are considered “tree nuts” (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.). It also helps to go into detail about how severe the allergy is. Some allergies are less severe than others, but anaphylactic allergies can be life-threatening. Explain that cross-contamination could be a danger, and that all ingredient lists should be thoroughly examined.

  1. Take Precautions

Even after explaining an allergy, it is always better to be safe than sorry. When attending holiday dinner functions, bring along a few dishes you know are safe for your child with food allergies. If your child’s classroom is having a holiday party, send along a special treat that your little one can enjoy instead. That way, they don’t feel left out, but are safe from allergens and cross-contamination. Always keep your child’s allergy medicine and/or epinephrine injector available, in case of emergencies, and be aware of hospitals that are nearby. It may be beneficial to teach family members and friends what to do in case of an emergency, for future reference.

  1. Supervise

Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not recognize the severity of their own allergy. Older children may be able to steer clear of unsafe foods, but younger children may not understand their food allergy. Children are tricky; they may seem perfectly safe sitting in the front room playing with other children, but all it takes is a few seconds and a bowl of mixed nuts on the coffee table for an emergency to occur. Because of this, it is important to keep an eye on your child. Plan with your partner, or another adult, to take turns supervising the child. You don’t have to hover, but keep a watchful eye on their activities. That way, you still get time to socialize, while still making sure your child is safe.

  1. Keep Calm

Even though the holidays can be stressful for parents with allergy-prone children, it is important to stay calm, cool, and collected. If you are anxious and worried about your child’s food allergies, it will rub off on them. It is vital that your child not fear their allergies, but rather be knowledgeable and confident about them. Talk with your child ahead of time about what to expect. Walk them through what they can and can’t eat. Always have an action plan prepared. Try not to scare the child, but rather prepare them so they can enjoy the holidays and stay safe at the same time.

The Association of Childcare Physicians understands you may have concerns about your child’s allergies and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about their health. It is our goal to keep your child happy and healthy! To schedule an appointment or physical, please call Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit

Stay Well When Your Kids Get SickDuring cold and flu season, it’s pretty much inevitable that someone you know either at work, school, or in your household will get sick. Especially in the close quarters of your home, having a child battling a cold or flu virus means it’s important to be diligent about staying healthy. As their caregiver, staying well means taking care of their needs as they arise and doing everything possible to stop those nasty germs in their tracks so no one else gets sick.

In the well-insulated rooms of your home, germs can spread easily in tight spaces, which can cause colds and flu to hang around the home longer. Follow these tips to help stay well when your kids get sick and keep everyone happy and healthy.

Child sick? Wash your hands often. It’s also a good idea to have your son or daughter wash their hands if they are moving around beyond the comforts of the couch. A thorough washing of the hands includes soap and water for at least 20 seconds, in between fingers and under fingernails. Additionally, it’s never a good idea to touch your hands to your face, especially if a loved one is under the weather.

Clean the surfaces in the home. If your child has been snuggling on the sofa all day long with a bad cold, take extra steps to limit the spread of germs: make sure the remote has been cleaned prior to using it, pillowcases and blankets are washed, and other surfaces are disinfected. Hard surfaces like countertops, handles, doorknobs, and tables can all aid in the spread of germs if they aren’t cleaned properly. Some germs can live for up to 24 hours! Clean with a disinfectant of your choice or use ¼ cup of bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water for a DIY formula.

As a caregiver, take it easy. We tend to worry when our little ones are sick. Let’s face it: it’s often hard to sleep at night when our child has a cold and is coughing at night, disturbing their sleep and a peaceful house. Generally, our immune system protects us from illness, but it can be challenged when we undergo stress, our sleep is affected or our healthy-eating regimen is comprised. To keep your immune system intact, eat right, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest. Include a regular exercise routine for the best results and to stay healthy. It’s also a good idea to limit the stress in your life, not just when illness hits but as a general practice. Some experts believe in the power of Vitamin C, however; there’s no real proof it does anything other than possibly shorten an illness if you do become sick.

Limit contact as much as possible. Limiting contact with a sick child or loved one may sound like an impossible task, but certain things can be done to help keep you, the caregiver, well. If possible, let the child with an illness stay in their own room to sleep and relax. Offer them all the amenities needed like snacks, plenty of water, a trash can and reading material. Keep guests at a minimum, such as grandparents and friends, so the germs are contained as much as possible. Even if your child feels better snuggling with you at night, it’s in everyone’s best interest to limit those snuggles (at least to the primary caregiver).

Flu shots do make a difference. Want to know one of the best ways to keep germs from traveling around the home? Get a flu shot. It’s one of the best ways to stay well. The vaccine is different every year, so schedule a flu shot with our office if you haven’t already done so. Please give our office a call if you have questions about this year’s flu shot.

If you’re already feeling under the weather, remember the following:

    • Cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow
    • Wash your hands after you blow your nose
    • Steer clear of healthy people in your home until you’re feeling better
    • Remember to not share glasses or utensils if you start to feel under the weather

Cold and flu symptoms can take up to 10 days before diminishing. If you have questions about your child’s symptoms, notice anything unusual about their virus, or if he/she refuses to eat and drink for more than just a couple hours, please give us a call. If it’s time for a visit or check-up, contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you and hope you have a healthy fall and winter season.

teething childToothache pain can make you miserable, and there’s nothing worse than seeing your little one suffer because of teething. Pointy, sharp teeth poking through gums of your child is certainly going to cause discomfort! Luckily there are various things you can do to ease the suffering, helping your child during this time. Some remedies, like putting a child’s feeding spoon in the refrigerator to chill it off prior to feeding time, will make teething a better experience for your baby and your entire family.

Teething rings. Many babies love using teething rings, and parents sometimes need to figure out which ones seem to work the best depending on their baby’s preference. Teething rings can be chilled in the refrigerator and placed on the gums to help ease the pain. Most babies like to “chew” on the teething ring, alleviating pain on the surface of their gums. Some teething rings are textured and some or not, while some babies prefer the feel of a cold washcloth on their gums instead. You’ll just have to see which method is best for your little one.

There are even newer, creative solutions for moms of teething babes! Specially designed teething jewelry like Teething Bling from Smart Mom Jewelry is made to be gummed by little ones. Made from FDA-approved silicone that is free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, latex and lead. Learn more at

Gum massage. Parents, your clean finger, love and patience can also help ease your child’s pain! Gentle counter pressure from a parent or caregiver’s cleanly washed finger being applied to a baby’s sore gums can ease the pain of teething. This method works in a pinch if you’ve left the teething rings at home and find yourself out and about with an upset teething baby.

Breastfeeding. There are many benefits to breastfeeding, and teething pain relief is yet one more! You may find your baby is wanting to nurse more often now that he/she is teething because it gives them comfort. However, it’s important to note that every baby teethes in a way that is unique, and in some cases breastfeeding may cause irritation. If you find that during teething your baby is on a “nursing strike”, talk to one of us at Association of Childcare Physicians for assistance. One recommended tip is to use the massaging gum technique as stated above prior to feeding. This simple trick can help your child to continue on a healthy, breastfeeding path.

Over the Counter (OTC) Pain Relief. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician prior to using any pain relief medication, but it may be a viable option. If your child is an early teether, a doctor approval should be given for acetaminophen in babies less than 3 months of age and ibuprofen in babies less than 6 months of age. Some patients find that a dose of infant pain medication, especially in the middle of yet another sleepless night, is very beneficial. Make sure you read all labeling carefully. Another benefit of using a pain reliever is that it also helps to reduce any fever that may accompany teething. It can help make your child more comfortable and definitely less irritable.

Other natural solutions, including teething gels. Baby Orajel Naturals, for example, is free of benzocaine, alcohol and dyes and is a natural alternative to OTC meds. The active ingredient in Baby Orajel Naturals is eugenol, which is derived from the oil of the clove plant and is known for its antiseptic and local anesthetic properties. Ask a member of the Association of Childcare Physician’s team if you need more remedies or have a question about a solution for your baby’s teething needs. Sometimes simply a change of scenery for your baby – a distraction like singing, playing or a warm bath – can help ease the pain while building fond memories, too.

Luckily, teething pain isn’t constant in babies and there are many options to help ease their discomfort when it happens. If you notice more pain than usual, or if he/she refuses to eat and drink more than just a couple of hours, don’t hesitate to give us a call. If it’s time for a visit or check-up, contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you!

Homemade Baby FoodAs new parents, we want to do what’s best for our baby. Creating a healthy, safe haven for our newborn takes precedence over all else, and once baby is old enough to have solid foods (around 4-6 months), parents begin to discuss if the store bought option or homemade baby food is best for their child. The good news is there are many healthy choices available today, including organic options at the grocery store and recipes available online for making your own baby food. Here’s an overview of some reasons why parents may prefer one baby food option over the other.

When to start solid foods

If your baby is around the age of 4 months, can sit up well with support, and shows interest in the foods he sees the family eating, it’s probably a good time to introduce solid food. Another indicator is your baby should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow it, instead of using the tongue to push food out of the mouth. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, it is recommended that you wait until he is 6 months to start solids. As always, please ask any of the medical professionals at our office if you have questions or concerns about the proper time to introduce solid foods.


The benefits of homemade baby food are many. As parents, we want to know what’s in the food we are feeding our little ones. When you make your own baby food, you know exactly what’s in it! Also, many of the pre-packaged baby foods come in only 1-2 variations. When you make your own food, you can get creative with the food that you choose to puree and blend together. This gives your child more variations, hopefully creating a more adventurous eater as they age. One of the main reasons parents like to make their own baby food? From the start, your baby can begin eating the same food as the rest of the family but just in a mashed form.

Advocates of homemade baby food also believe that it’s more cost-effective, although parents with busy schedules may believe the opposite is true. Homemade baby food doesn’t have as long of a shelf life, so it’s important that parents refrigerate or freeze the baby food to make it last longer. Store bought baby food doesn’t require refrigeration until after it’s opened. Jarred baby food is cooked at higher temperatures to kill any bacteria for that longer storage time, but advocates of homemade food don’t like the idea that the high temps also remove some of those healthy vitamins and nutrients.

There are numerous online resources for baby food recipes and many require a simple food processor. Moms and dads alike can make various batches at a time using different fruits and veggies, making a month worth of food in advance and then storing it properly. Online websites like Cooking Light, Parents, and Parenting all offer baby food recipes for parents wanting to try the homemade baby food route. When making homemade baby food for your little one, it starts them on the path of enjoying healthy meals as he or she grows.


Although it’ll be hard to find parents completely against the idea and benefits involved in baby food that’s homemade, some parents simply do not have the time it takes to make and prepare a lot of smaller servings for their baby. If there’s not enough time in the day, it may not make sense to make baby food in the little “free time” you have. For example, if you are working full time and only get a chance to spend quality time with your baby on weekends and in the evenings, do you really want to be in the kitchen making baby food for hours instead of playing and snuggling as a family?

Pre-packaged baby foods are available in measured amounts and ready to serve portions, making store bought a more convenient option. As mentioned previously, homemade baby food can spoil more quickly and requires proper storage. Experts say that today’s baby food is very pure to begin with, and if making your own food seems too daunting, focus more on healthy table food later and as they grow. Overall, it’s really a short period of time your child will be on pureed food anyway. Depending on your family and your lifestyle, store bought baby food may be the best option, offering more family time and less stress.

Association of Childcare Physicians welcomes any questions that you may have regarding your baby, including nutritional recommendations. We can help navigate you during this very new and exciting time in your baby’s life! Please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

asthma flare-UpsNo one likes to see a loved one suffering, and sometimes the thought of seeing your child with asthma flare-ups is simply too much to bear! There are ways to develop a management plan to assist your child when asthma flare-ups happen. It’s important to know the common triggers of a flare-up as well as symptoms.

Asthma causes the airways of lungs to be inflamed. During a flare-up, the airways become even more swollen causing muscles to tighten. This triggers wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and a tightness in the chest. Obviously, these symptoms are hard to ignore and can be scary for a child. Common asthma triggers vary, but there are common ones we as parents can identify.

Children with asthma often have allergies, triggering asthma flare-ups. Allergens in the home can be house mites, animal dander, dust, and certain molds. If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, they can also cause an asthma flare-up. If you know seasonal allergens like pollen, grass and others may affect your child, it’s helpful to be prepared with a preventative treatment plan. Tobacco smoke can be an irritant as well as air pollution, too.

Keep in mind that some medications prescribed can worsen asthma symptoms. Aspirin and ibuprofen have been known to make symptoms worse in some people with asthma. Triggers like anxiety and stress can potentially increase asthma systems as well. Other triggers include viral and bacterial infections, exposure to cold or dry air, and acid reflux. That’s why it is always important to eat right and get rest when needed. When your child has good health and follows good lifestyle habits, it can help minimize flare-ups and improve your child’s overall quality of life.

There are asthma medications that help prevent flare-ups and control symptoms, reducing airway inflammation and offering your child the comfort he or she deserves. Typically there are two types of medications for asthma. One is for “quick-relief” and the other type is to gain long-term control of the symptoms. Bronchodilators are common inhalers your child can use to offer temporary comfort. Nebulizer machines and a type of medicine called an anticholinergic can also be used for “quick-relief”. If your child suffers from more frequent asthma symptoms, taking long-term, daily medications is preferred. There are several options available. Talk to an allergist or your child’s pediatrician for more information on what’s best in your particular situation.

As previously mentioned, creating an asthma management plan with your doctor or allergist is very important so that your child receives the best care possible. The plan should include the following:

  • Ways to avoid the triggers of an asthma attack
  • Medications that prevent symptoms or are used for “quick-relief”
  • Identifying when and why your child is doing well and when to seek help

This plan creates a partnership between the family and caregivers so when a flare-up does happen, it can be remedied in a quick and comfortable manner. The goal is to minimize the discomfort as well as cut down on the interference of an asthma attack in your child’s daily life.

Because asthma triggers can vary, it’s important to vary your treatment plan. An allergist can help determine what your child may be allergic to, and then how to avoid those allergens. Over time, adjustments may need to be made to ensure the medication’s continued effectiveness. Asthma symptoms and triggers may change as your child grows, so continued communication is important between family members and medical providers.

As always, we look forward to talking with you about your child’s health and answering any questions that you may have, including any concerns you may have about your child’s allergies or asthma. It is our goal to do what’s best for your child’s health! For more information on creating an asthma management plan or to schedule an appointment or physical, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD. at 618-235-2311.

back to school vaccinesEven though it’s the lazy days of summer, before we know it the bus stops will be bustling and the school bells will be ringing once again. School means it’s time to figure out if and when sports physicals are due and schedule back to school vaccines for any soon-to-be students in your home. Our office is here to answer questions that you may have about vaccinations, why they are important and which ones are typical.

Staying current on vaccinations is highly important, giving your child the best defense against preventable diseases. We tend to think that disease and illness can’t happen, either to ourselves or those that we love. Unfortunately, complications happen when vaccine-preventable diseases are disregarded and vaccines are neglected. One of the main reasons vaccines are important is because we live in a global society today, and there are viruses that are NOT globally eradicated. As we continue to travel internationally in our society, any viruses can be spread between us.

The risk is real. There are still people that do not believe in vaccinations. Many believe it’s a personal choice to decide if their child should be vaccinated. The reality is, when you decide NOT to vaccinate your child, you are endangering the entire population. Non-vaccinated children and adults can spread diseases to babies that are too young to be vaccinated. People with cancer, transplant recipients, the elderly and sick are all at a higher risk when exposed to people that have not been vaccinated.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a thorough list of vaccinations that they recommend children need. The AAP recommends that vaccinations begin when your child is two months old, scheduled at the appropriate time in conjunction with a child’s development. Specific vaccinations for school depend on where you live, so it’s best to call your local school and ask the school nurse. Also, you can usually find the information on your state or city website. You can also view a current list of common vaccines by visiting the website link

Typically, common vaccines include Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), HPV, Meningococcal and flu. Your child’s physician will have a schedule for the vaccines and which ones are necessary. It’s important to talk to your child’s doctor or nurse in our office about the vaccinations best for their age. A recent study by the Journal of Pediatrics stated that vaccines save the lives of approximately 42,000 children and prevent 20 million cases of diseases every year in the US. Also, because vaccinations are considered preventative care, most insurance companies pay for them 100%. The benefits of vaccines for your child, your family and the world in which we live are quite extraordinary.

As with any medical treatment, there could be side effects. Common side effects may include a slight fever, skin rash, or soreness at the site of the injection. Typically, any side effect goes away quickly. If your child is known to experience any of the aforementioned side effects from vaccinations, your doctor may recommend ibuprofen to be taken prior to their scheduled appointment. We strive to provide a comfortable, nurturing environment for your child during their visit with us. Please let us know if your son or daughter has any anxiety about receiving their vaccinations so we can make sure the experience is a pleasant one.

We look forward to talking with you about your child’s health and answering any questions that you may have, including your inquiries about recommended vaccinations. It is our goal to do what’s best for your child’s health and happiness. For more information on your child’s vaccination schedule or to schedule an appointment or physical, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD. at 618-235-2311.

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:


  • 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


  • 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,, 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 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.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »