Join the Conversation! NorthShore’s New Online Community—The Parent ‘Hood

Monday, January 05, 2015 12:24 PM comments (0)

pedsLife can be hectic, especially the life of a parent, which is why we hope to provide our community members with a place to find the answers they need. NorthShore’s new community is an online destination for parents to share their experiences and support each other, as well as connect with our team of medical experts, from obstetricians to pediatricians. Carl Buccellato, MD, OB/GYN at NorthShore, and an active expert member of the community, says, “I hope my experience both as a physician and a parent will be a resource for expecting parents” of the Parent ‘Hood.

The community will cover a variety of topics, from pregnancy issues like gestational diabetes and nutrition to parenting topics like how best to address your toddler’s tantrums and childhood vaccinations. You can join the conversation now!

On-going conversations:
Toddler Tantrums 
Itchy and Pregnant
Post-Partum Hair Loss

Sign up and start your own conversation:
Click "New Post"

Read articles on health topics relevant to parents in our community:
Blogs and Online Medical Chats

Watch videos from NorthShore physicians and NorthShore patients stories:
Featured Videos

What topics would you like to see in The Parent 'Hood?

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In the News: What’s an Enterovirus?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 2:37 PM comments (0)

enterovirusHundreds of children across the Midwest and some bordering states have been hospitalized for what appear to be severe summer colds that are caused by enterovirus. As one of many common summer viruses that cause colds, enteroviruses are not unusual this time of year but hospitalizations for enteroviruses are. The majority of patients presenting with symptoms of enterovirus up to this point have been children but adults can also contract the illness. Prevention of illness is important no matter your age. 

Typically with enterovirus infections, symptoms will be mild and treatment of these symptoms will be the only intervention necessary. It is believed that the enterovirus currently causing most of the hospitalizations across the Midwest is enterovirus D68, which can cause fever and severe respiratory symptoms. Children with asthma are at higher risk due to their increased chances of wheezing.

Lindsay Uzunlar, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some important prevention measures and symptoms parents should watch for in their children:

Symptoms
The symptoms of enterovirus are the same as a bad cold. Similar to colds, there isn’t much that can be done except to treat symptoms and let the virus run its course. Most infections will be mild but some could eventually require hospitalization and intensive supportive therapy. If symptoms are especially severe including difficulty breathing, fevers lasting longer than 72 hours or if a child with asthma is wheezing, contact your child’s pediatrician or seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of colds, including those caused by enterovirus:

  • Fever
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Rash

Prevention
Wash hands often. There is no better way to prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, multiple times per day. This is especially important for school age children. Encourage your child’s teacher to schedule hand washing at various points throughout the day.

Model good hygiene. Make sure that your family practices proper coughing techniques such as coughing/sneezing into the elbow instead of the hand. If you do use a tissue or cough into your hands, make sure to wash them immediately afterwards.

Clean surfaces. Make sure you are cleaning surfaces that are touched frequently, including keyboards, doorknobs, phones, toys, countertops.

Stay home. If you or your children are feeling sick, think of others and stay home to prevent the spread of infection to co-workers and other children.  

Have questions about enterovirus or any other pediatric illness? NorthShore's new online community, The Parent 'Hood, has answers. Join today to connect with other parents in the community as well as our expert physicans.  Click here to start now

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Four Essential Nutrients for a Healthier Lunch Box

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 4:06 PM comments (0)

lunch boxHot dogs, pizza, tater tots, chicken nuggets, ketchup and bagged chips – these high-fat, high-sodium and low-fiber foods are made available every day in some schools across the country. With over one-third of American children overweight or obese, it’s little wonder First Lady Michelle Obama has made improving standards for school lunches a focus. And improvements are happening, but packed lunches are still a great way to help your children keep calories and fat under control, as well provide the essential nutrients they need to grow and thrive. 

Kimberly Hammon, Dietitian at NorthShore, shares some healthy lunch tips for how to include essential nutrients – vitamin D, calcium, fiber and potassium – into your kid’s packed lunch:  

Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to various cancers, including colon and breast, heart disease and depression. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium to maximize bone growth and strength. 

What to pack?

  • Most milk products have vitamin D.
  • If your child isn’t a milk drinker, pack vitamin D-fortified orange juice instead.
  • Up vitamin D intake in the morning with yogurt, oatmeal or cereals.

Calcium: Calcium is an essential nutrient that helps build strong bones, but it also can help with heart rhythm, blood clotting and muscle function.

What to pack?

  • Milk or flavored milk is a healthy addition to every meal.
  • Orange juice with added calcium is a non-dairy option.
  • Add cheese to sandwiches or include cubes or sticks. Low-fat mozzarella and Swiss have the highest amount of calcium.
  • Trail mix with raw almonds is a healthy dessert or snack. Almonds are high in protein, fiber and calcium, and promote heart health and, when consumed in moderation, can help prevent weight gain. 

Fiber: Fiber can help prevent type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. It also helps tummies feel fuller longer. 

What to pack?

  • A sandwich with whole grain bread. Whole grains not only have lots of fiber, but protein, B vitamins and antioxidants.
  • While fiber from whole grains and fruits and veggies is still the best option, cereal bars can be a complaint-free way to get a little more fiber into your child’s diet. Make sure you check labels! Some brands don’t have enough fiber to justify the added sugar.
  • Apples have lots of fiber. Tip: to keep apple slices from going brown, sprinkle with lemon juice. Other high-fiber fruits include bananas, berries and dried fruits. 
  • High in fiber and heart-healthy fat, avocados can add flavor, creaminess and nutrients to sandwiches and wraps. 

Potassium: Potassium-rich diets promote heart and muscle function, maintain fluid balance, energize and help build strong bones. 

What to pack?

  • Dried fruit, especially dried apricots, have lots of potassium, as do bananas, nectarines and oranges.
  • Try to sneak some vegetables into sandwiches or wraps, especially spinach, which is high in potassium. 

What do you pack to provide a healthy lunch for your kids?

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Q&A: Pediatric Food Allergies and GI Issues

Friday, August 01, 2014 3:19 PM comments (0)

tummy acheAre stomachaches and messy potty breaks frequent occurrences for little ones in your home? “Stomach problems” happen to everyone, and children are no exception. Sometimes an upset tummy is just an upset tummy, but children, just like adults, can suffer from food allergies and sensitivities, and just like adults these allergies and sensitivities can and should be addressed.

Vincent Biank, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterology at NorthShore, answers some common questions about GI food allergies and sensitivities in children: 

 Is there an easy, relatively non-invasive test to see which foods a child is allergic or sensitive to?
There are several simple blood tests for allergies but unfortunately we do not have simple tests for sensitivities that are accurate in children; therefore, we will commonly have to do an elimination diet.  We will remove one food item at a time for two weeks and then replace that food item after those two weeks, carefully documenting any changes in the symptoms. The two most common sensitivities are lactose and gluten. I would not recommend removing gluten from a child’s diet until they have been properly tested for Celiac disease otherwise you will just need to add it back in for one to two months before it can be accurately checked in the blood.

What foods are typically off-limits for child with soy and dairy allergies? Is it possible to eliminate these foods entirely from a child’s diet?
Soy and diary are in almost everything, so eliminating them is difficult. For this reason, we will have our pediatric dieticians work with families to make sure no soy or dairy in getting into a patient’s diet. Until then, check labels! Anything that has soy, soy protein, milk, milk protein, casein or whey in its label should be avoided.

Are children with GI food allergies more likely to develop other GI-related issues as young adults and adults? 
Unfortunately we don't have enough data to answer this question at this time. Although food allergy with typical symptoms of anaphylaxis, hives, trouble breathing etc. has been diagnosed and treated for many years, the majority of the GI manifestations of food allergy are recent in their discovery. For example it wasn't until 1995 that Eosinophilic Esophagitis was even considered a diagnosis and now we are diagnosing it one to two times per week. The result is we still don't have a clear idea of the natural history of GI food allergies over time.

Should children with stomach “issues” be given probiotics, as well as brought in for testing? 
The short answer is to go ahead and try probiotics prior to the visit. The long answer is that unfortunately we are only at the beginning of our understanding of what probiotics do, such as which varieties are best, how much to give and how long they should be taken.

What are some of the warning signs of GI issues in toddlers/children? Should a parent be concerned about frequent loose stools?
The biggest sign of GI issues is poor weight gain. Diarrhea can be a symptom of an underlying GI disorder but not always. We frequently see toddlers with loose stools with no additional systemic signs of disease, like poor weight gain; therefore, we will typically rule out some common GI-related problems. If tests are negative, we will then discuss how to thicken the stool.

Are the foods known to cause GI allergic reactions in kids the same as those that cause skin or more severe allergic reactions? What are the common foods for GI allergies?
Yes, for some individuals the foods that cause GI allergic symptoms could also cause skin and the typically more severe allergic reaction; however, this is not the case for everyone. Some individuals will only have GI symptoms and others will only have skin or respiratory symptoms. The most common foods for GI allergies are the “Big Six:” milk, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts and fish.

Does your child have a food allergy or sensitive that results in GI issues?

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Five First Aid Facts and Myths

Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:52 PM comments (0)

first aidThe kids are home from school for the summer, so accidents are bound to happen. Some injuries can be treated from home with the help of a first aid kit but some could require a visit to the emergency department. Make sure you are treating those bumps and bruises at home the correct way or know for sure you should be getting into the car and heading to the emergency department instead.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine at NorthShore, dispels some common myths with the help of the facts: 

Myth: Put your head back when you have a nosebleed.
Fact: Don’t put your head back! Blood could flow down your throat and potentially into your stomach, which can cause nausea and vomiting; instead, tilt your head forward and pinch your nose right at your nostrils, not higher. Hold your nose for a full 10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. If bleeding lasts much longer or if the bleeding was the result of an injury, head to the emergency department. 

Myth: Help soothe and heal a burn by applying butter.
Fact: Butter could make the burn worse and make treatment by a doctor more difficult. Putting butter on a burn means putting a non-sterile substance on an extremely sensitive area that is highly susceptible to infection. First-degree burns can be treated at home using cool, but not cold, water. Hold the burn under running water for approximately 10 minutes or until there is some relief of pain. Severe burns—second-degree and third-degree burns that exhibit blistering, swelling and intense pain—must be treated by a physician. 

Myth: Put cold red meat on a black eye.
Fact:  It’s the cold, not the steak, that’s important. Unless the steak is frozen and sealed completely, you don’t want that on any bruise—eye or otherwise—because it could introduce bacteria into the equation that could result in an infection. Grab a bag of frozen peas or a cold compress of some kind instead; it will help with swelling. 

Myth: Apply a hot compress to a sprained ankle.
Fact: Cold is the best way to combat swelling. Heat could actually worsen the inflammation of the injury. For ankle sprains, apply a cold compress for a full 10 minutes and then continue to apply cold as needed. For severe sprains, strains and fractures, seek immediate attention in the emergency department.  

Myth: A choking victim will require the Heimlich maneuver.
Fact: A choking victim might require the Heimlich maneuver for a complete blockage of the airway but you will have to keep your composure long enough to find out if that is the case. If the choking victim cannot speak and is turning blue, the Heimlich maneuver is required to allow air to push the obstruction out of the airway. Call 911 immediately and ask for help. If the victim can talk, it is a partial blockage, which can likely be resolved with coughing. 

Were you suprised by any of these first aid myths?

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Four Simple Ways to Make the Playground a Safer Place

Monday, June 30, 2014 10:48 AM comments (0)

playground safetyGetting outside and staying active during the summer is incredibly important for kids. Playgrounds are a great place for kids to combine making friends with some much needed exercise. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most common places for injury. Each year approximately 200,000 kids under the age of 14 will visit the emergency department because of an injury that occurred on a playground. And about 80% of these injuries will occur from a fall. 

However, the benefits of the playground far outweigh the drawbacks, especially if parents take a few extra precautions before heading to the park. David Roberts, MD, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at the NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute, shares some easy ways to make the playground safer for kids this summer and all year round: 

Supervise, supervise! Go to the park as a family. While there, you can make sure everyone is being safe by supervising play and have a little fun too! Getting outside and staying active is just as important for parents.

Slides are for kids only. Well-meaning parents might think it’s safer to go down the slide with toddlers on your lap; unfortunately, this is a common source of fractures in young children. When little ones go down the slide alone, they only have their own body weight to contend with. If they go down the slide with a parent and catch their foot on the side, the full force of the parent’s weight is behind them now too. So one at a time down the slide! 

Dress appropriately. This doesn’t just mean dressing appropriately for the weather. Avoid drawstrings and loose clothing that could catch on playground equipment and cause falls or other injuries. And always make sure shoes laces are tied. 

Make sure playgrounds are safe and age-appropriate. Not all playgrounds are created equal. Many modern playgrounds are designed to have lower height equipment and softer surfaces beneath, like mulch or rubber padding, which absorb the impact of falls. Try to keep outdoor playtime to these safer spaces. Also look for playgrounds that have separate equipment for older and younger children.  

Does your family spend time at the playground in the summer?

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Fruit Juice – A Healthy Substitute for Your Kids or Not?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:17 AM comments (0)

Many juices are advertised as being nutritious, and kids love juice, so parents happily provide it, believing it is a healthy choice. However, juice does not provide the same nutrition as a piece of whole fruit, and has been linked to obesity and tooth decay.  Juice should be given in moderation and should not be thought of as a substitute for healthier choices like whole fruit, milk or water.

If you choose to give your child juice, Sara Wiemer, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions for maximizing its nutritional value:

  • Read labels carefully. Many juices are high in calories and sugar, and low in nutritional value – no better than a can of soda!  Avoid juice from concentrate and juice with a lot of additives.
  • Opt for a serving of fruit instead of juice whenever possible. If this isn’t possible, try to select a 100% fruit juice with pulp. While 100% fruit juice does provide some of the vitamins and nutrients present in the fruit itself, it often lacks fiber and other nutrients,  and can have unhealthy additives.
  • Use a cup, not a bottle, when giving juice to small children and restrict its use to meal or snack times. If a child is “nursing” a bottle of juice over a long period of time, or falls asleep with it in the mouth, the sugars sit on the teeth and will lead to tooth decay.
  • Juice is filling and decreases your child’s appetite for more nutritional foods – be sure to offer healthier choices first.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following servings of juice:

  • Under six months – Not recommended
  • Ages one to six years– No more than 4 to 6 ounces are recommended per day
  • Ages seven to eighteen years – Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day

 

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