Monthly Archives: November 2013

Keeping Healthy

Cold and flu season is here.  It arrives with colder weather as people spend more time indoors, in close quarters, where germs are more easily passed from one person to another.

Here are just a few reminders of how to help keep your family healthy.

  • Wash hands.  Good old soap and water are still the best protection against contagious diseases that get passed through touching surfaces, shaking hands, etc.  Get your family in the practice of washing their hands often.  When soap and water are not handy, use hand sanitizer.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Being well-rested keeps your immune system stronger.
  • Don’t share.  Okay, you teach your kids to share, but some things ought to be for just one person.  Water and soda bottles, lip balm, musical instruments all fall into this category.  If you have a youngster in child care, make sure the provider sanitizes toys and tables daily.
  • Cover.  Cough or sneeze into a tissue.  If there’s no tissue, use the crook of your elbow instead of your hand.  Germs on the hand are more easily transferred to other people or surfaces.

Already have a cold?  Continue to do all the above, and make sure you stay hydrated.  Drinking plenty of fluids keeps mucous thin and your throat moist.  Avoid caffeinated beverages.

It’s going to be a long winter, and your family will likely get colds at some point.  Use the common sense advice above, and you may have fewer of them.


artwork by Kennedy

artwork by Kennedy

© 2013, MBS Writing Services.  All rights reserved.

Television–friend or foe?

Well, honestly, it can be both.

With all the appropriate attention given to the internet these days, and its inherent worries for parents, we seem to have forgotten the conversation about television.

How many TVs are in your home?  Who has access to them when?  What are your children watching?  And what are your kids watching when you’re not watching the kids?

Content on television, even content aimed at youngsters, varies from brilliant to pitiful.  Additionally, the volume of television or videos watched can make a difference in your child’s mental and social development.

Any parent these days occasionally pops in a video or turns on the television so you’ll have a few uninterrupted minutes to cook supper, take a shower, or just relax without hearing a thousand questions.  There’s nothing wrong with that, to a point, because television has its good and bad aspects.

First, the good.  Most American kids today have learned or practiced their numbers and letters with Sesame Street, and have absorbed important social skills from Mister Rogers.  Or, they have simply been entertained by cartoons, music, and Animal Planet.  There is a big world out there, and television is a good source for information and for reinforcing skills learned at home or school.

But, not all is perfect in front of the TV.  Here are some concerns you should be aware of:

  • Social.  Though social skills can be reinforced effectively on the screen, nothing takes the place of real interaction.  Turn off the television and play a board game.  Perch your child on a chair in the kitchen while you cook and encourage him to tell you about his day.  Give the video screen in your vehicle a rest and play a car tag game or have a conversation about your road trip, whether it’s a couple of miles or a couple thousand.
  • Physical.  Too much television means too little physical activity.  That can lead to weight gain (especially when high calorie snacks are involved) and other health and wellness issues.  Get your child involved in a sport, or just play catch in the backyard.


What to do, then?  Here are some thoughts.

  • Limit viewing time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO television for children under the age of 2, so that they can develop through interaction with adults and other children.  They also recommend limiting television viewing for older children to 1-2 hours/day of “educational, nonviolent programs,” supervised by a responsible adult.
  • Supervise.  You should know what your child is watching at all times.
  • Keep the television out of your children’s bedrooms.  Not only will they watch things you don’t want them to watch, their sleep patterns may be interrupted and they may be tempted to “hibernate,” avoiding healthy social interaction with family and friends.
  • Talk about television programs.  Older children and adolescents, especially, can benefit from conversations about their favorite (and your favorite) shows.  This is a good way to share something that’s important to your teen, while being sure she knows your values.
  • Turn it off.  Don’t keep the television on for “background noise.”  And be sure to limit when you have on the news.  Young children don’t need to see scenes of war, destruction, natural disasters.  Such  images lead to anxiety and sleeplessness.


Television can be a great tool for education and for fun.  We just need to make sure it doesn’t take the place of more important things!

artwork by Emily N., winner of our Pumpkin Coloring Contest!

artwork by Emily N., winner of our Pumpkin Coloring Contest!


© 2013 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Whooping cough–don’t take it lightly

Whooping cough.  It sounds like one of those old-fashioned diseases that shouldn’t be around anymore.  In reality, it’s as modern as today’s news, and more common than you might think.

The good news is that it’s mostly preventable and treatable; the bad news is that it’s still a dangerous disease, especially for the very young.

A few confirmed cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in the Scott County Schools have spurred us to remind you of the dangers of this disease.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection whose most striking symptom is described in its name—a loud, persistent cough that doesn’t easily go away.  In an older child, there is a “whooping” sound made as the child tries to catch her breath between coughs.  Infants may not “whoop,” but you should call the pediatrician if your infant has a persistent cough that seems to exhaust him, and his appetite has decreased.

This disease affects the lining of the bronchial tubes , and is very contagious because the vigorous coughing disperses the bacteria into the air.  Anyone of any age can get it, but it’s most dangerous among the very young.

Infants and young children, in particular, can develop life-threatening illnesses from whooping cough, including pneumonia. Hospitalization is often required.  This means that they, and the people around them, should be immunized.

          We cannot stress enough the importance of getting the appropriate immunizations at the right agesThe pertussis vaccine doesn’t last forever, and must be taken at intervals to be effective.

  • Children should have a total of 5 pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines before they start school.
  • The youngest children are at highest risk and the most vulnerable to this disease, and should have vaccines at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age.
  • Booster shots are given at 12-18 months, and
    again at 4-5 years of age.
  • The College of Gynecology and Obstetrics recommends that pregnant women receive a pertussis vaccine with each pregnancy to reduce the chances of whooping cough in their newborn.
  • Caregivers and other adults who live or work with infants should also be re-immunized, because they’ve lost immunity from their childhood vaccines.  They may not even realize they have whooping cough, because symptoms are not as severe.  It may simply feel like a lingering cough from a cold, but they can transmit it to the children in their care.

When should you bring your child to the pediatrician for whooping cough?  If he has cold symptoms, and you notice that the cough is worsening at about the time when it should be getting better, call our office for an immediate appointment.

There is a test we can do in the office, but it has to be sent to a lab, which takes several days.  In the meantime, if the pediatrician suspects pertussis, your child will be started on a five-day course of antibiotics.  The child is considered contagious and should not return to school or daycare until the five-day course has been completed.

To read more, check out this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Also, see our Facebook November 8 reposting of an article from two years ago by our own Dr. Hambrick.  The experience of one of his own children having been made dangerously sick by this disease makes him particularly diligent in trying to keep your child healthy.artwork by Macy


artwork by Macy

© 2013, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

On-the-go eating

Families today are scrunched with work, school, sports, activities, friends…and the list goes on.  And while all of you want to make sure your child eats well, that can be hard when you’re running from place to place.

Here are a few QUICK! guidelines to help.

  • Stay aware.  Know what your child is eating when.
  • Plan ahead.  Think about the week’s activities when you’re shopping and save yourself extra trips to the grocery.
  • Eat together.  Whenever you can, have a meal with your kids, even if it’s on the tailgate at the soccer field.  Eating is a great time for catching up, and for bonding as a family.
  • Check it out.  Is your child in a sport?  Ask the coach if there are specific nutritional guidelines to avoid fatigue and help with energy levels.
  • Think “nutrition,” not just “fill them up.”  Fast food isn’t evil, but a regular diet of it leads to obesity and doesn’t provide all they need.  For about the same amount of money, or less, you can pack a healthier meal.
    • Shelf-stable milk that doesn’t have to be refrigerated, string cheese, yogurt.
    • Carrot sticks, broccoli florets, apples, grapes.
    • Sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
    • Do a little research.  Not sure what your child needs, nutritionally speaking?  Here’s the perfect web page from the American Academy of Pediatrics, giving that information for every age group.
    • Let them help plan.  Sit down with your child or teen one evening and plan some meals and snacks for the week.  Use the internet to research healthy ideas.  Make some things together, like an easy homemade granola.

It takes a little extra planning, but your family will be much healthier and happier with good nutrition under the belt!

Artwork by Kendall

Artwork by Kendall

© 2013 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved