Parents, it starts with you. You are the first and most important
influence on the current and future health of your children. The example you set could put your children on a course for a lifetime of healthy living, especially when it comes to heart health. The health risks posed by a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and
obesity are immediate because heart health matters at any age, even in young children.
Najman, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares some easy ways that parents can set a heart-healthy example for their children while also improving their own health:
Healthy diet. If you want your children to eat fruits and vegetables,
you need to set the example by eating fruits and vegetables yourself. Include your children in the decision making and help guide them by discussing the benefits of the delicious fruits, vegetables and whole grains that you will eat together as a family
every night. If children grow up eating healthy foods together with their parents, eating those same foods as young adults and adults won’t feel strange or difficult at all; those same foods will be what they ate growing up.
Show your children that exercise is important by maintaining a regular workout routine. And, as often as you can, get every member of the family involved in a fun, physical activity. Jog together as a family; ride bikes together as a family; go on a brisk
evening walk together as a family. Children experience the same health benefits of exercise as adults—strong bones and muscles, maintenance of a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a regular exercise routine reduces one’s
risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and more. Get your kids moving now and they will likely maintain that active lifestyle later in life. Lead by example!
Smoke-Free. If you quit smoking, your kids are less likely to start.
Smoking is more common in teenagers whose parents smoke. If you are still smoking, quit. Secondhand smoke is linked to lung cancer but it also increases the risk of multiple types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and many other medical issues as well.
Maintain a healthy weight. Today in the U.S., one child out of three is considered obese or overweight. Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, once common health issues encountered only in adulthood, have developed in children as young
as seven. Obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, increasing their risk of developing heart disease later in life. Don’t focus on weight with children; instead, shift to leading a healthy lifestyle as a family. Lifestyle changes
like eating right as a family and exercising can make all the difference.
What do you do to set a heart-healthy example for your children?
Every parent has been there at one point or another—at the mercy
of his or her child’s tantrum in the checkout line at the grocery store, in a crowded restaurant or at home. In a matter of minutes, your child goes from quiet and well-behaved to completely inconsolable.
The good news is
that temper tantrums are entirely normal, especially in toddlers. For toddlers, tantrums are often brought on by a young child’s inability to understand and cope with his/her emotions, emotions related to hunger, tiredness or feeling overwhelmed and
While it’s not possible to prevent every single emotional meltdown, there are ways to manage them. Leslie
Deitch Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, discusses some of the best techniques for approaching tantrums:
Don’t overschedule. Try not to overexert your child by packing too much into the daily schedule. This
is not to say that every day needs to be the same, but when possible try not to push your child to the limits with errand running. A hungry or tired child is much more likely to act out. If you know you have a long day ahead, let your child know in advance
so he or she will be better prepared for the change of pace.
Be consistent with your approach. Try your best to manage your child’s behavior during every tantrum. Encourage communication during a tantrum. Say, “Use
your words” or ask clear questions to better understand what might be causing your child’s frustration. Lastly, do not give in. Letting your child have his or her way during a tantrum won’t help break the cycle, even if it ends the immediate
tantrum. Ideally, you don’t want to give your child any attention—positive or negative—while he or she is having a tantrum. So, as long as you are not in public and your child is not going to hurt him or herself, the best approach is to completely
ignore your child until the tantrum stops.
Distract. Distract. Distract. If you can, try to divert your child’s attention away from what may have prompted the tantrum in the first place. Be sure that you recognize that
he or she maybe be upset by a situation, but then offer different options or new activities. For example, if your child has a tantrum over wanting a new toy or treat at the store, you can suggest that you find the “new” toy she got most recently
when you go home. A similar approach can be tried with treats. If necessary, try to avoid going down aisles at stores that might prompt meltdowns.
Celebrate (and embrace) the good times. Let your children know when they are
behaving well and encourage this type of behavior. Tell them how happy it makes you when they listen and follow the rules. Along with acknowledging good behavior (and even rewarding it), be sure your children know how much you love and care for them. Much
of what triggers tantrums is children wanting to express their emotions and wanting attention.
Have questions about tantrums? Get answers from other parents and our team of experts in our new online community The Parent 'Hood.
Find out more here: The Parent 'Hood.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a typically mild but highly contagious
viral infection most common in children under seven years of age. The illness is characterized by mouth or throat pain (due to sores), fever and a rash (typically involving the hands, feet, buttocks, arms and legs). The infection is caused by enteroviruses—most
often coxsackie virus A16—which are transmitted from person-to-person by oral contact with stool, saliva, fluid from skin lesions or respiratory fluids via coughs or sneezes. Herpangina, also caused by enteroviruses, is a cluster of symptoms characterized
by fever and mouth lesions (but no rash). These illnesses are particularly common in child-care settings because of the frequency of contact and germ sharing between children and inadequate handwashing—especially after diaper changes or toilet
use. The viruses can also be transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, like toys.
Outbreaks occur most often in summer and fall but can happen anytime, especially if your child is in daycare. Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares symptoms parents should watch for and outlines ways you can make your child more comfortable while the virus runs its course:
Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease:
Symptoms of Herpangina:
Fever and mouth/throat pain usually last three to five days. Other symptoms, like mouth sores and rash (with HFMD)
can last up to seven to ten days. The virus is shed orally for one to three weeks and in stool for two to three months after infection. While there are no cures for HFMD or herpangina, there are things you can do to make your child more comfortable during
those first few days, as well as reduce the risk for dehydration which can occur because of pain and difficulty swallowing.
What can parents do?
Keep little ones hydrated. Try Pedialyte or Gatorade to keep
their electrolytes up. Also popsicles, ice chips and other frozen treats can replenish fluids while also helping with pain.
Reduce pain or fever. Use Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen but check age-appropriate dosages before administering.
Make swallowing easier. Eliminate salty, spicy or acidic foods to avoid further irritating mouth sores. Consider providing a variety of soft foods, like yogurt, pudding and rice. And always rinse mouth after meals.
is not always possible to prevent your child from contracting hand, foot and mouth disease, you can reduce his or her risk, and your own. Here are some ways to keep your kids healthy and prevent the spread of HFMD in your home:
If your child does get hand, foot
and mouth disease, watch for these signs of complications:
Have questions about hand, foot and mouth disease 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.
Katie Clarke was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction at NorthShore Glenbrook Hospital, followed by four months of chemotherapy and a year-long course of Herceptin treatments at Evanston Hospital.
Before her own diagnosis, and in memory of her best friend who lost her own life to the disease in 2006, Katie and her family would make a point of cheering on the participants of the three-day breast cancer walk in Chicago armed with motivational signs
and licorice. This, and her own breast cancer journey, would later inspire Katie and her sister to found
The Licorice Project, an organization devoted to spreading joy during a difficult time and bringing together breast cancer patients, survivors, families and friends.
In part two of her NorthShore patient story, Katie shares one of the most difficult but important moments following her breast cancer diagnosis:
I’m often asked, “How and when did you tell your kids you had breast cancer?” My husband and I agreed
that we wanted to be open and truthful about everything as soon as my diagnosis was confirmed. We turned to my breast surgeon, Dr. Winchester at NorthShore University HealthSystem, for advice on what to say to our three middle school-aged boys. We planned
a family meeting and decided that I would do the talking.
I began the conversation by telling them that I’d found a lump in my chest, to which my youngest shouted, “You’re pregnant!?” When I said, “No,” he answered, “Phew!” I told them that the lump was in my breast and they wanted to know immediately if it was
cancer. When I said that it was, they all began to cry. It broke my heart to see them so sad and frightened. Holding their hands, I assured them that the doctors were very encouraged and had given me a good prognosis since the lump was very small and I had
caught it early. I explained to them that there would be many steps, tests and procedures. I explained that it would take time and patience but that when I finished the therapy, I would be okay. Of course, many questions followed:
“Are you going to die?”
“Will you lose your hair?”
“Will you get a wig?”
“Who knows about this already?”
“Can we tell people?”
“What should we say?”
“Does this mean we can get breast cancer?”
“Are people going to bring us dinners?”
My husband and I answered the questions as best as we could, which, of course, led to even more questions. Since school was about to end for summer vacation, we assured the boys that all their summer plans would stay intact. We wanted to keep their lives
as “normal” as possible. The family meeting concluded with lots of hugs and kisses.
Telling our children that I had cancer was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; however, it was also one of my proudest moments because of the strength and composure that I maintained during such a difficult conversation. There’s no right or wrong way
to explain a cancer diagnosis to children. Each family will deal with it in their own unique way and to the best of their ability.
When children get sick, the simple solution isn’t always just a pill or spoonful away. Aside from the fact that many medications are not
recommended for children, it's also much easier for a child to overdose on medication than an adult.
In most cases, the amount of medicine a child should receive is determined by age, weight and height. When it comes to children and medication, reading labels is very important.
Dirk Killelea, Manager of NorthShore Evanston Hospital Pharmacy, shares the following “must-know” tips for giving children medications:
The best remedy for most kids is rest and hydration. If your child has a fever or cold, keep activities to a minimum and make sure they aren't too strenuous. Coloring, drawing or reading stories is a great way to spend time until he or she feels better.
If your child is experiencing loose stools or diarrhea, make sure to provide plenty of water or electrolyte-containing drinks like Pedialyte to prevent dehydration.
How do you manage your kids’ illnesses? What remedies work best for you?
A good night’s sleep can be the difference between night and day with children. Frequent lack of sleep can greatly impact a
child’s physical, mental and social well-being. It's also hard on the entire family.
It's recommended that children between the ages of six and twelve get 10-11 hours of sleep each night. This allows them to be better rested for school, and to further their growth and development. The challenge with childhood sleep disorders is that they
aren’t always easy to recognize. In fact, since the symptoms are so similar to other conditions (such as ADD and ADHD), sleep disorders often go misdiagnosed.
Mari Viola-Saltzman, DO, Sleep Medicine specialist, who sees both pediatric and adult patients, identifies some of the secondary effects childhood sleep
disorders may have:
How many hours of sleep do your children get each night? Do they have a nightly routine?
Now is the time when our shopping lists for holiday giving may include items for children of varying ages. While walking through the aisles, you’ll see plenty of new toys along with many of the tried-and-true classics (like building blocks and dolls). With
all the options out there, how do you know which toys are best suited for what ages?
The most colorful or cute toy on the shelf doesn’t always make it the best choice. It’s worthwhile to recognize that children of varying ages have achieved different development milestones. Just as you wouldn’t give an infant a LEGO® set, you also wouldn’t
buy a four year old a teething rattle.
Kenneth Fox, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore, gives the following recommendations when shopping for age-appropriate toys:
Play is essential to a child’s physical, cognitive, social and moral development. Toys, books and experiences that enrich creative play make wonderful gifts for the season and support healthy child development all year long.
Can you remember a time when one of your children received a toy not well suited for his or her age? What did you do?
If you’ve had young children, you’ve probably received a note from their teachers or administrators saying that there has been an outbreak of lice at school. Head lice are a very common problem for preschool, kindergarten and elementary students. In fact,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 6-12 million infestations occur a year among children ages 3-11.
While typically not known for spreading disease, these parasites can be a nuisance to identify, treat and exterminate. Felissa Kreindler, MD, shares her insight on warning signs for detecting and treating head lice:
Have you or your kids ever had lice? What did you do to get rid of them?