Sleep deprivation

March 6th to 13th is National Sleep Awareness Week.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sponsors the week (#7Days4BetterSleep) to raise awareness of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.

As if we didn’t know!

But if you need a reminder, here’s a TED-Ed video about the effects of sleep deprivation:

Good sleep habits are best learned at a young age. If you are a parent, help your kids find a healthy balance between all their activities and their sleep needs.

The NSF has lots of information about sleep, as well as sleep tips … Continue reading

How much sugar is in that beverage?

Ever since watching That Sugar Film, I’m trying to be more aware of how much sugar I eat or drink every day.

Because there is more and more evidence that too much sugar is bad for us, we all need to be more aware of what we’re eating and drinking.

I think we need to be especially careful with beverages. The trend is to sell larger and larger cup sizes (a Double Gulp is a whopping 55 ounces!) and bottle sizes, so we are probably drinking way more sugar than we are eating it.

The Centers for Disease Continue reading

Home remedies for lice

home remedies for lice I just learned that my state, Washington, is one of several that is experiencing an outbreak of “super-lice”, or lice that are resistant to the traditional pyrethrum-based treatments (Rid contains pyrethrin; Nix contains permethrin).

Super-lice aside, the common louse has been increasingly resistant to the standard over-the-counter products for many years. Which begs the question: Why are Nix and Rid still the recommended first line of treatment by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)??

Probably because there are few other tested and FDA-approved methods.

So what should parents do? Let’s look at the options.

There are basically three ways … Continue reading

The HPV vaccine is working

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that shows since the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine was introduced in 2006, HPV infections

have dropped by 64% among females aged 14 to 19 years and by 34% among those aged 20 to 24 years.

That’s great news. HPV is responsible for most forms of cervical cancer, as well as an increasing number of rectal and oral cancers.

Related post: HPV and cancer

But we can do better.

The American Cancer Society reports that only about 40% of girls and 21% of boys have received the recommended 3 doses … Continue reading

Protect yourself from food poisoning

Cases of food poisoning, or food-borne illnesses, have been on the rise.

A lot of media attention was on the restaurant chain Chipotle recently because of an outbreak of the potentially deadly bacteria E. coli.

But it seems there is always a story in the news about contaminated foods, food recalls and outbreaks of the most common culprits of food poisoning: E. coli, salmonella, listeria and hepatitis A.

As the health news website Medscape reports:

Contaminated-food recalls in 2015 were on pace to exceed those from 2014, with bacteria discovered in everything from ice cream to spinach. Companies in

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Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?

A friend and I were discussing the documentary That Sugar Film the other day and she asked me about the claim in the movie that artificial sweeteners were bad for you, too, because they actually made you eat more.

I couldn’t recall exactly what was said in the film, but decided to do a little research on my own to answer her question.

The FDA-approved artificial sweeteners are saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet), neotame, sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame K (Sweet One) and stevia (Truvia).

Because they are “low-energy” sweeteners and don’t contain any calories, it seems a no brainer … Continue reading

HPV and cancer

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Following the recommended guidelines for Pap smears is a good way to find and treat cervical cancer early, when it’s basically curable.

A Pap smear is one of the few screening tests for which there is good evidence that it’s effective, plus it’s relatively cheap and painless.

The American Cancer Society, The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend the following:

  • No screening before age 21.
  • Screening every 3 years between ages 21-29 with Pap smear only, no HPV testing. (The rate of
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First aid for choking

I read a post by a pediatrician last week that gave her opinion that while our government is throwing a lot of money at new nutritional guidelines in an attempt to “fight” childhood obesity, it’s ignoring another food-related danger: choking.

Childhood aspiration (or choking) on food is a major public health issue. Anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 kids visit emergency rooms each year in the U.S. alone, after having suffered a food-choking accident. Hundreds die each year, either in the hospital or before they make it in the door. Most of these kids are under the age of 5, and

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Tips for the doctor’s office

A pediatrician posted some useful advice to parents on KevinMD: 4 mistakes parents make in the pediatrician’s office

With office visit’s getting shorter, and co-pays getting costlier, it’s more important than ever to make sure each visit counts, and communication is efficient.

What struck me when reading her post was that these tips easily apply to patients of all ages, and any doctor in any specialty.

I encourage you to read the whole post, but in short her tips are:

1. Come prepared.

[W]e aren’t mind readers, and we have a limited amount of time. It’s frustrating when people don’t

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In favor of childhood vaccines

zuckerbergIt was a nice surprise to see a celebrity use the power of social media to speak in favor of getting children vaccinated.

Well, not so much speak as show. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, recently posted this cute photo of himself and his baby daughter at the pediatrician’s office. He simply wrote “time for vaccines”, but surely he realized that he was encouraging his millions of “friends” with kids to vaccinate, as well.

As you can imagine, he received both likes and dislikes for his post.

The Washington Continue reading

Kids and codeine cough syrup

Last month, a medical advisory group to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted “overwhelmingly” to limit the sale of codeine products without a prescription and advised drugs containing codeine should not be used to treat children or the majority of teens suffering from pain or a cough.” [my emphasis]

I knew you could buy codeine painkillers and cough syrups in Canada, but apparently you can in 28 states, as well. The FDA hasn’t acted on the advisory committee’s recommendation yet, so these products are still available over the counter.

Parents—be especially cautious when buying cough or cold medications … Continue reading

What is shallow water blackout?

Last week a young college student drowned.

Normally I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the media surrounding this tragic event—Dartmouth swimmer dies in pool mishap on vacation—but sadly the young man happens to be the son of friends.

He was a life-long swimmer and was on his university’s swim team; the least likely person, you would think, to drown.

But I learned something about a potential danger to young swimmers, and want to help raise awareness about  “shallow water blackout.”

Experienced and competitive swimmers are most at risk, as they may challenge themselves or others to do … Continue reading

Stay healthy – FDA tips for colds and flu

fda healthy winter season psaCold and flu season is in full swing!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released a public service announcement with tips to help people stay healthy this winter.

In addition to what we already know—but the basics bear repeating—such as get a flu shot and wash your hands frequently, their web page Get Set For a Healthy Winter Season also provides information about what to do if you’re already sick, how to choose over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu products, and when you should seek medical care.

Related post: Be informed – The best cold and flu medicines

The … Continue reading

“That Sugar Film”

that sugar filmIt probably wasn’t the best idea to watch this documentary just a few days before one of the most sugar-laden holidays of the year.

On the other hand, I will definitely be more conscious about how much sugar I eat and will hopefully avoid a huge sugar hangover—that slightly sick, tired, yucky feeling I get after eating too many sweet foods.

That Sugar Film is one of several sugar documentaries that have come out recently that attempt to show us just how bad sugar is for our health.

Related story from Time: Sugar is definitely toxic, a new study saysContinue reading

Antidepressants and autism

Women who take common antidepressants while pregnant have a slightly higher risk of their children developing autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

This study was just released by JAMA Pediatrics.

Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD in children, even after considering maternal depression. Further research is needed to specifically assess the risk of ASD associated with antidepressant types and dosages during pregnancy.

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, include Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and Sertraline (Zoloft).

They are by far the … Continue reading