Answers to Common Pediatric Health Questions

Premier Physician Network doctors answer frequently asked questions about pediatric health.

What is the difference between a regular physical and a sports physical for children?

A regular physical – often called a well-child exam or well-child check – is more detailed than a sports physical.

A sports physical is focused on providing information that coaches and trainers at the school need to know.

A sports physical includes:

  • A detailed past medical history
  • A detailed past sports-related medical history – including concussions, broken bones, surgeries, injuries that have caused restrictions
  • Allergies
  • Any conditions that might lead to limitations in the future
  • A quick physical exam of the head, nose, throat and muscular and skeletal systems
  • Concerns that could create possible heart or lung problems, including asthma

In addition to these things, regular physical includes a physician looking at:

  • A child’s growth over time
  • How a child is doing in school
  • How a child is doing at home
  • Behavioral concerns
  • Family medical history

At Premier Physician Network, the importance of scheduling yearly well-child exams is stressed, as they help catch and diagnose medical conditions early, allowing a plan of attack to be put into place right away. If your child has not had a well-child exam this year, please call to schedule it with your family physician or pediatrician.

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What is the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks?

Sports drinks and energy drinks are very different, but they often can be confused, especially by teenagers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

An energy drink contains substances that act as stimulants, including caffeine, guarana and taurine, according to the AAP. Some energy drinks contain more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is about the amount of caffeine as in 14 cans of soda.

Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring. According to the AAP, sports drinks are supposed to replace water and electrolytes that have been lost through sweating.

For more information about the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks, talk with your physician.

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How can energy or sports drinks be harmful for children or adolescents?

Dr. Ruff discusses energy drinks and sports drinks. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Both energy drinks and sports drinks can be harmful for children and adolescents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Energy drinks contains stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana and taurine, according to the AAP. For example, some energy drinks contain as much caffeine as about 14 cans of soda – about 500 mg.

Energy drinks can be a health risk because these stimulants should not be consumed by children and adolescents, according to the AAP.

Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that are supposed to replace these elements when they are lost through sweating during long stretches of physical activity, according the AAP.

Children don’t need the extra calories contained in sports drinks during their daily routine, according to the AAP. These drinks can contribute to obesity and tooth decay.

Talk to your physician for more information about the harmful effects energy drinks and sports drinks can have on children.

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What is the best way for children to hydrate before and after participating in sports?

Dr. Ruff discusses the best way for children to hydrate before and after sports activities. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

To keep kids hydrated, water is usually the best option, according to Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that are supposed to replace these elements when they are lost through sweating during long stretches of physical activity, according the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Sports drinks are usually only helpful for highly intense activity that last longer than an hour. With normal play, having a healthy snack and a drink of cold water during a break is a much better option, according to the HSPH.

It is also good to avoid soda and juices because they are high in sugar, which shows down how the body absorbs sugar, according to the HSPH.

By sticking with water before and after sports, parents can help keep their kids hydrated and refreshed, according to the AAP.

Talk to your doctor for more information about the best way to keep children hydrated before and after sports.

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What is a concussion?

A concussion is the most common kind of traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC).

Getting hit on the head, a fall or by a hard hit to the body that causes the head to be thrown quickly forward and back all are common causes of a concussion, according to the CDC. The hit or fall jars the brain around and changes the way the brain would normally work.

Concussions are sometimes known as “mild” brain injuries because usually they aren’t life threatening, according to the CDC, but they should still be considered serious injuries.

Talk to your doctor for more information about a concussion.

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What are symptoms of a concussion?

Concussion symptoms aren’t always noticeable right away, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon Some symptoms don’t show up and become problems until days, weeks or even months after the head injury. Some symptoms, according to the NIH, include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurry vision
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty remembering new things
  • Dizziness
  • Extra sleepy
  • Feeling mentally fuzzy
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of consciousness for a short time
  • Nausea
  • Overly emotional
  • Sadness
  • Sensitivity to light and sounds
  • Trouble sleeping

Having the following symptoms can mean a much more severe concussion, according to the NIH:

  • Balance problems
  • Loss of consciousness for a long time
  • Ongoing confusion
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Unequal size of pupils
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Weak muscles on one or both sides

For more information about concussion symptoms, talk with your doctor.

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What places a child at a higher risk for a concussion?

A variety of factors can increase a child’s risk for a concussion.

Having had a previous concussion or other kind of brain injury can greatly increase the risk of having another concussion, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Premier Physician Network and Premier Physician Network’s physicians also point to previous brain surgery, brain cysts or scar tissue in the brain as issues that could increase the risk of concussions. Certain types of infections also can increase the risk.

Having ADHD, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities and migraines also lead to a higher risk of a child suffering a concussion, according to Premier Physician Network’s physicians.

Talk to your doctor for more information about what can put your child at a higher risk for a concussion.

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How important is it for families to be educated about the risks of drowning?

Dr. Weber discusses the importance of families being educated about the risks of drowning. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Making sure your family is educated about the risks of drowning is an important part of discussing water safety, according to Premier HealthNet (PPN) physicians.

Though drowning rates have fallen steadily since 1985, it continues to be the second leading cause of death for children between 1 and 19, according to the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP).

Being too casual about pool and swimming safety can lead to an increased risk for drowning, especially if families don’t have their pools properly secured or if they over estimate a child’s swimming skill, according to PPN physicians.

Talk to your doctor for more information about what you can do to make sure your family is well educated about drowning risks.

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What are steps a family can take to reduce the risk of drowning?

Dr. Weber discusses steps to help reduce the risks of drowning. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

There are many things families can do to reduce drowning risks both at home and when out having other water fun, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC).

The CDC and the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP) provide the following recommendations:

  • Be aware of underwater risks – In open water, be aware of sharp rocks or other dangers. In a pool, be aware of drains that hair or small arms and legs can get stuck in.
  • Build barriers – If you have a pool at home, installing isolation fencing and using a rigid pool cover can add a layer of protection against drowning.
  • Know how deep the water is – Don’t allow diving in shallow areas of pools, ponds, or open water.
  • Learn CPR – Parents and caregivers, especially if you own a pool, should know CPR in case of emergency.
  • Never leave a child alone in or near water – Whether it’s a family pool, pond, blow-up baby pool, bucket of water, or a bathtub, an adult should be supervising children every minute.
  • Teach children to swim – It is recommended that children 4 and older take swimming classes to help reduce the risk of drowning. Not all children will be ready to develop swimming skills at the same age.
  • Use a life jacket – Inflatable arm bands and swim rings are not a substitute for a life jacket.
  • Watch closely -Infants and toddlers should be within arm’s length. Older children and better swimmers should still have an adult’s focused attention. Even if your child has had swim lessons, there is a difference between learning to swim for fun and swimming for safety or rescue. Drowning can happen quickly, so close supervision, even in very shallow water, is important.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about how to prevent drowning.

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What are the warning signs that a person might be at risk of drowning?

Dr. Weber discusses the warning signs that someone might be at risk of drowning. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

There are a few different groups of people who are at higher risk of drowning than others, according Premier HealthNet (PPN) physicians.

Very young children – especially those less than a year old – are at higher risk of drowning, according to PPN physicians.

Teenagers also tend to be at increased risk of drowning because they may participate in water activities, such as swimming, canoeing, and kayaking, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to PPN physicians. With their lowered inhibitions, their downing risk increases.

People with medical conditions, especially children with a history of seizure disorder, should not be left alone to swim because of their increased risk of downing. It is safest to make sure people with a history of seizures are watched closely by an adult or swim with a partner, according to PPN physicians.

For people with seizure disorders, even the bathtub can be a drowning risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC). It is recommended they take showers whenever possible.

For more information about warning signs that a person might be at risk of drowning, talk with your doctor.

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How do I decrease my child’s anxiety about starting school?

Dr. Lauricella discusses pediatric health concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Physicians often encourage parents to get their children into routines – bath time, bedtime, meals – because they can help create a sense of comfort and calm.

The transition of first starting school, changing grades or changing schools can be difficult for children because it changes their routine.

Parents can help ease anxiety about school by:

  • Visiting the school and/or classroom in advance
  • Keeping your own anxieties from your children
  • Not belittling the child’s feelings
  • Relating stories of your childhood, for example, about your first day of school

Talk with your child’s physician for more information about how to help your child feel comfortable about starting school.

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Why are childhood immunizations important?

Dr. Lauricella discusses pediatric health concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Childhood immunizations are important because they prevent people from getting certain diseases.

Some people believe that immunizations are not important anymore because the diseases that the immunizations prevent are not common anymore. But, physicians insist the reason these diseases are not common anymore is because so many people have been vaccinated and protected against them.

Many schools require children be vaccinated against certain diseases before starting school. Find out what immunizations your child’s school requires.

Making sure children are up-to-date with immunizations is the best way to protect your family, school and community from outbreaks of unnecessary illnesses and deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information about why childhood immunizations are important, talk with your physician.

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What types of immunizations should children receive before they start school?

Before children start kindergarten, they are required by the state of Ohio to have certain up-to-date immunizations, according to the Ohio

Department of Health (ODH).

The following immunizations are required for Ohio students entering kindergarten, according to the ODH:

  • DTaP – Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
  • Hep B – Hepatitis B
  • MMR – Measles, mumps and rubella
  • Polio
  • Varicella – Chickenpox

Making sure your children are up-to-date on their vaccines before they first start school and throughout their school years is one of the most important things a parent can do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Protecting your children against vaccine-preventable diseases also helps protect their friends, classmates and the community overall, according to the CDC.

Talk to your physician for more information about immunizations needed before children start school.

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How can I tell if my child has the back-to-school jitters or if it is something more serious?

It can be common for children to feel anxious about going back to school. Every new school year brings new challenges and a new routine to get used to.

It is normal for children to say they don’t want to go to school or even that they feel sick or have a stomach ache. In those situations, parents should try to get children to feel comfortable with the upcoming school year, but they likely don’t have bigger issues to worry about.

If, however, your child completely changes his or her personality and becomes withdrawn, it might be more than just a case of the jitters.

Red flags for kindergarten and elementary children:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Becoming overly withdrawn
  • Frequent complaints of feeling sick

Red flags for middle school children:

  • Becoming overly withdrawn
  • Stop doing things they enjoy
  • Neglect hobbies
  • Avoid certain activities
  • Frequent complaints of feeling sick

Talk with your child’s physician for more information about your child’s back-to-school reaction and how to best address it.

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What should a family look for when researching a primary care physician or pediatrician?

Dr. Lauricella discusses pediatric health concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

When you first start looking for a family physician or pediatrician, talk with people at work, friends and family for their recommendations. Once you have a few in mind, do some research on their background,

Some important things to keep in mind:

  • What hospitals are they affiliated with?
  • Where are their offices? Are they near your home?
  • How many appointments do they have open in a day?
  • How quickly can a person get seen for a sudden sickness?
  • Do they have evening or weekend hours?
  • Do you and would your family have a good rapport with this person?
  • What does your gut instinct tell you about the doctor once you meet them?

If you meet a physician or pediatrician and don’t feel comfortable with them, it’s your responsibility to meet another one to make sure you find someone who you trust will provide you and your family the best care and experience.

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Why is it important for kids to continue to get an annual well-check even when they appear healthy?

Dr. Ruff discusses the importance of taking kids to annual well-check visits. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Annual well-child visits are an important chance for your children’s doctor not only to make sure they are caught up on vaccines, but also to check their development, behavior and overall well-being, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Some things your children’s doctor might look into, according to the AAP, are any concerns about:

  • Attention
  • Eating
  • Learning problems
  • Sleeping
  • Social behaviors
  • Toilet training

Well-child visits can help identify possible concerns about your children’s health, including hearing problems, vision problems or learning disorders, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

There is more time to focus on your children’s overall health at a well-child visit because there is not the immediate focus on any sickness they might have. To make the most of your time with your children’s doctor, the AAP recommends making a list of three to five questions or concerns you want to address during the visit.

For more information about the importance of your children’s well-child visits, talk with your child’s physician.

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Why should parents make an annual well-check a routine for each child, regardless of age?

Taking children to well-checks is an easy routine when they’re very young, but it’s important to continue adding these checkups into your annual routine as your kids grow up.

According to the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon(AAP), well-child visits are recommended from infancy through adolescence.

These checks are important not only to establish your children’s current state of wellness, but also to make sure they are up-to-date on vaccines and that they are hitting age-appropriate growth, development and behavior milestones, according to the AAP.

Make a list to take with you to each well-check about any questions or concerns you want to talk to your child’s physician about. The AAP recommends the list includes any concerns you have about your child’s:

  • Eating habits
  • Learning problems
  • Sleeping habits
  • Social behaviors

For more information about why well-child visits are important, even as children grow up, talk with your child’s doctor.

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What are some common misconceptions about childhood immunizations?

People sometimes get concerned about getting their children immunized, but vaccinations are in your child’s best interest.

Some common misconceptions about childhood immunizations include:

  •  Misconception: Getting multiple vaccines at once can be harmful – Fact: Whether a child gets one vaccine or multiple vaccines at the same visit makes no difference to the health of the child.
  •  Misconception: Vaccines can cause autism – Fact: There has been no proven connections between vaccines and autism. Premier Physician Network’s Dr. Anessa Alappatt said that though sometimes people are concerned about vaccines, “in no way is there any harm that a vaccine might cause in comparison to the risk of the illness.”
  •  Misconception: Children who are nursing don’t need immunizations – Fact: Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby and might keep your child from getting many colds, but it does not prevent infections the way vaccinations do.
  •  Misconception: Children don’t need vaccines because these diseases have almost been eliminated in the U.S. – Fact: Immunizations are the reason the diseases have decreased in the United States. Without the vaccines, it could still be possible for your child to catch infectious diseases that cause serious illnesses.

Talk with your child’s family doctor or pediatrician for more information about vaccines and any concerns you might have.

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Is there one meal that is more important than another when it comes to a child doing well at school?

Most everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

The American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP), agrees with the old adage when it comes to the most important meal for school-aged children.

Studies continue to prove how important it is that kids not skip breakfast, according to the AAP. Students who eat breakfast score higher on math and reading scores and improve their speed and memory on cognitive tests.

Studies also show that children who eat breakfast at school – closer to the start of the school day than if they ate at home – score better on standardized tests, according to the AAP.

For more information about the childhood nutrition talk with your doctor.

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What are harmful foods that can negatively affect a child’s learning?

Dr. Allen discusses food that can negatively affect a child’s learning. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Too much junk food – especially fast food – can have a negative effect on a child’s ability to learn.

According to a study printed in journal Clinical PediatricsOff Site Icon, kids who ate fast food at least four times a week had lower test scores in reading, math and science than kids who had had no fast food.

Diets high in fats and sugars and low in nutrients have been shown to hurt immediate memory, learning processes and cognitive development, according to the study.

To learn more about how unhealthy food can affect learning, talk with your doctor.

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Does an unbalanced diet and its link to childhood obesity affect learning?

Dr. Allen discusses how an unbalanced diet and childhood obesity can affect learning. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Eating an unbalanced diet and the link that has to childhood obesity has a negative effect on learning, according to Premier HealthNet (PPN) physicians.

Poor diet and childhood obesity can make it difficult for children to remember information and to process what they’ve learned, according to PPN physicians.

Students living with childhood obesity also suffer from chances of other issues, such as bullying and social discrimination, according to LetsMove.govOff Site Icon, a website dedicated to the campaign that strives to raise a healthier generation of children.

These social aspects can also affect a child’s concentration and interest in school, making learning more of a challenge, according to PPN physicians and LetsMove.gov.

For more information about how diet an obesity affect learning, talk with your doctor.

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How much screen time should a child have each day?

Dr. Allen discusses how much screen time a child can have. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Screen time is a term used to talk about any kind of activity done in front of a screen, including watching TV, playing video games, or working on a computer or a tablet.

While these activities can be beneficial from time to time, they keep people away from being physically active and don’t promote a healthy lifestyle, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

In young children, too much screen time each day, according to the NIH, can cause:

  • Attention problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain

The current guideline for screen time, according to the NIH, are as follows:

  • Children under 2 years old - no screen time
  • Children over 2 years old – limited screen time of 1 to 2 hours each day

Talk to your doctor for more information about how much screen time is right for your child.

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What steps can a caregiver take to reduce the amount of screen time their child has each day?

Dr. Allen discusses how to reduce a child’s screen time. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Many children in the U.S. spend about five to seven hours in front of all types of screens, including about three hours watching TV, and the rest playing on computers or video games, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

It is recommended that children under 2 have no screen time and children 2 and older have no more than two hours of screen time per day, according to the NIH. More screen time than that can cause health problems, including anxiety, sleep trouble and obesity.

The NIH recommends the following steps to help cut down on your child’s screen time:

  • Be a good role model. Decrease your screen time also to only two hours a day
  • Decide which shows you will watch in advance, and turn the TV off when those are done
  • Do not leave the TV on just for background noise. Choose the radio instead if you must have noise
  • Keep track of the time you spend in front of the TV and have a goal of spending the same amount of time being active
  • Many TVs have a sleep function that will turn the TV off automatically when you set it. Use that to make sure you stick with your plan
  • No snacks during computer or tablet time
  • Plan a family challenge to go a whole day or week without watching TV or doing other screen activities, and find other things to do together instead
  • Plan other indoor activities, such as board games, puzzles, crafts or blocks
  • Plan outdoor activities, such as walks, biking, going to a park, or playing with a ball
  • Remove the TV from a child’s bedroom
  • Turn off the TV at homework time
  • Turn off the TV during meals and snacks

Making choices to do things that don’t involve screen time can help your whole family – especially your children – live a healthier lifestyle and be more active.

For more ideas about how to cut down screen time, talk with your doctor.

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Should a child stretch before exercising?

Dr. Lauricella discusses pediatric health concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

All children – especially those new to exercising – should stretch before getting started.

Stretching is a good way to warm up the muscles and increase flexibility to help prevent injuries.

It is also important for children to stretch after exercise.

Stretching after exercise helps in injury prevention by letting your body gradually slow down to its original state.

Talk to your physician for more information about the importance of children stretching before and after exercise.

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 Can children experience serious injuries on bikes?

Children can be very seriously injured in bicycle accidents, especially if they are not following proper safety steps.According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), head injuries accounted for 63 percent of all bicycle-related fatalities in children ages 0 to 19.

Helmets prevent brain injuries and are the most important piece of safety equipment for children riding bikes, according to the ODH.

Wearing other protective gear – such as knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards – can also protect children while biking and help prevent broken bone, according to the ODH.

Talk to your child’s doctor for more information about biking causing serious injuries.

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Are there certain safety issues caregivers should review with children during summer each year?

Dr. Ruff discusses summer safety issues to discuss with children. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 


After being cooped up inside during the cold winter months, most kids and families can’t wait to get outside and enjoy summer’s warm weather. Spending more time outside, however, comes with the responsibility of addressing safety issues with children before the fun begins. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following sun and water fun safety tips to discuss with kids:

  • Bicycle safety
    • Always wear your helmet
    • Wear knee and elbow pads
    • Only ride your bike with adult supervision in safe areas with little or no traffic
     
  • Bug/outdoor animal safety
    • Don’t play with or pick up bugs and animals that are not familiar to you
     
  • Fireworks safety
    • Fireworks – and the lighters or matches used to ignite them – are for adult use only
    • Sparklers can be fun, but should only be used with an adult’s help and guidance
     
  • Lawn mower safety
    • Lawn mowers are not toys. They are only for older kids (16 and older on a riding mower and 12 and older with a walk-behind mower) and adults to use
    • Dirt, stone and other objects can fly from the mower. Stay away from all mowers when they are in use
     
  • Playground safety
    • Shoes must stay on at all times
    • Do not leave the playground area where your parents or the adult taking care of you is
    • Be careful around slide, swings and other equipment that has been in the sun. Ask an adult to check to make sure they are not too hot
     
  • Pool safety
    • Don’t play in or near the pool without an adult
    • No running near the pool
    • If the child can stand in the pool, instruct him or her how far/deep they are allowed to go safely
     
  • Trampoline safety
    • Don’t jump on a trampoline with other kids
    • Only use a trampoline that has mesh safety walls
    • Only use a trampoline with adult supervision
     

Following a few of these safety tips and re-enforcing them to your children can help ensure a fun and safe summer.

For more tips on summer safety topics to review with your children, talk to your child’s physician.

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How can summer’s extreme heat affect children?

Children’s body heat can rise faster than an adult’s, and it only takes a few minutes for children’s bodies to become overheated, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Health effects that could be caused by extreme heat, according to the AAP, include:

  • Dehydration – Caused by not drinking enough water. The hotter it is and the more active your child is, the more frequently they need to drink water.
  • Heat cramps – Low salt levels caused by sweating can cause these painful muscle cramps. The cramps are typically in the hands, arms, legs and abdomen and are usually the first sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.
  • Heat exhaustion – Loss of water through heavy sweating causes this mild form of shock. Heavy sweating, extreme weakness and fatigue, dizziness and clammy skin are all signs of heat exhaustion.
  • Heat stroke – If the body’s temperature goes over 104 degrees, seek medical treatment immediately for your child. Symptoms may also include dizziness, confusion, headaches and chills.

To keep summer’s extreme heat from affecting your children, the AAP recommends:

  • Protect yourselves from the sun – Try to spend time outside in the morning or at night when the sun is least bright. Try to find a shaded spot.
  • Find cool shelter – Plan to have a cool, air-conditioned place for your child. If this isn’t your home, find someplace else, such as a friend’s house or a library.
  • Increase water intake – Drink more water before, during and after your outdoor activities.
  • Rest – Heat can make children feel tired, so plan for extra downtime.
  • Wear hats and light colored clothing

For more information about how summer’s heat can affect children, talk with your child’s physician.

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How can parents practice sun safety with their kids?

Taking precautions to keep your children safe in the summer sun is important to their long-term health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following steps to keeping your family safe in the sun:

  • Keep babies 6 months old and younger out of the direct sun. Keep them in the shade by using an umbrella or a stroller canopy or finding a tree to be under.
  • Dress yourself and your children in cool, comfortable clothes that cover the body. For example, wear lightweight cotton pants, light long-sleeved shirts and hats.
  • Choose clothes with a tight weave because they protect better. To find tight weave clothes, hold them up to the light, and the less light that comes through the better.
  • Wear a hat with a brim that shades the face.
  • Limit sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm because that is when the UV rays are the strongest.
  • Wear sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection
  • Use sunscreen

Sunscreen helps protect skin from getting sunburned and from some skin cancers when it is used the right way.

Follow these steps when choosing and using sunscreen, according to the AAP:

  • Choose sunscreen labeled “broad-spectrum,” which means it protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Pick sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher because the higher the SPF, the better the UVB protection.
  • Choose sunscreen with UBA protection labeled by a high number of stars. One star is low protection and four stars is the highest protection available over-the-counter.
  • Apply the sunscreen about 30 minutes before being in the sun.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Reapply more often if you are swimming or sweating.

For more information about how to stay safe and healthy on sunny summer days, talk with your physician

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What areas of a family’s life should be considered when creating a health transition from summer to school?

Dr. Weber discusses health transitions from summer to school. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Working your way from a looser summer routine back into a more structured school-year routine is a great way to get a healthy start to school.

To start the school year off right, the American Council on ExerciseOff Site Icon (ACE) recommends some of the following tips:

  • Healthy breakfast – Give your kids healthy fuel to start the day. Try a fresh fruit and spinach smoothie, some oatmeal or some fruit and nuts.
  • Walk/bike to and from school – Incorporate healthy activity by taking an opportunity to walk or bike with your kids to school when you can. If they’re old enough, encourage them to walk or bike to school with friends and use it as an opportunity to talk about safety.
  • Smart lunches – Work to cut back on sugary drinks in your kids’ lunches by packing a water bottle instead. Try to include something protein-rich, like some almonds or apples with peanut butter. And, don’t forget to add a cooling pack of some kind to keep their lunch at the right temperature.
  • After-school activity – Once your kids are home from school, encourage them to have some fun outside when the weather is nice. Also, signing them up for after school activities, such as sports or dance, can keep the couch and screen time to a minimum.
  • Hit the hay – Children should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, and teens need at least eight hours. Starting to get back into good sleep habits before summer ends will help once school starts.
  • Comfy clothes – Help your kids choose loose fitting, comfortable clothes that don’t restrict movement and play while at school. Also make sure they’re wearing shoes that will let them be active – sneakers are always a good choice.

Starting off the school year on a healthy note can help the transition from summer to school go as smoothly as possible.

For more information about making a healthy transition from summer to school, talk with your physician.

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How can a family work to transition their sleep schedule before school starts?

Dr. Weber discusses how to transition sleep schedules from summertime to school time. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Before the school year starts up, it’s important to start working from a less-strict summer sleep routine to a more-planned school sleep schedule.

Starting 10 to 14 days before school begins, gradually help your kids adjust back into their school year sleep schedule, according to the National Sleep FoundationOff Site Icon (NSF).

The foundation also recommends the following steps to help kids have a goodnight sleep every night:

  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment that is cool, quiet and dimly lit
  • Exercise and healthy eating both help promote good sleep
  • Have a relaxing routine that helps your kids wind down and fall to sleep peacefully
  • Keep electronics out of kids’ bedrooms, and make sure the end screen time at least an hour before bed
  • Stick with your bedtime as often as possible, even on weekends

Young children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, and teens need at least eight hours of sleep, according to the American Council on ExerciseOff Site Icon.

For more information about getting you kids back into a good school time sleep routine, talk with your doctor.

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What should parents keep in mind when choosing a backpack for their child?

Some school supplies are fairly easy to check off the list – crayons, pencils, notebooks, binders. But one school supply can have a negative effect on your child’s health if you don’t choose carefully.

When shopping for a backpack, your child might be most excited to find one covered in their favorite princess or superhero. The American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP), however, recommends paying more attention to other parts of the backpack:

  • Overall lightweight material
  • Padded back
  • Strap that fastens around the waist
  • Two shoulder straps
  • Wide, padded shoulder straps

Choosing a backpack that has these parts will help to make sure your child doesn’t have pain in his or her neck, back or shoulders from carrying things to and from school.

For more tips about what to looks for when picking a backpack for your child, talk with your child’s physician.

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What are some tips parents can share with their children about correctly carrying a backpack?

Dr. Weber discusses tips for carrying a backpack correctly. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Because of all the books, notebooks and other belongings kids carry to and from school, backpacks that are too heavy and worn wrong can lead to muscle and joint issues, according to the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP).

Parents can help their kids prevent back, neck and shoulder pains – and potential posture problems – by teaching them the right ways to lift and carry their backpacks. According to the AAP, some tips include:

  • Be organized and use all the backpack compartments, putting the heavier things closer to the back
  • Bend using the knees, not at the waist, when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack
  • Pack lightly and include no more than 15 percent of the child’s bodyweight
  • Tighten the straps to keep the backpack close to the body, about two inches above the waist
  • Use both shoulder straps

The AAP also recommends helping your children to learn some back-strengthening exercises to build up their muscles, especially if they frequently carry a heavy backpack.

Talk to your doctor for more information about ways to help keep your kids from hurting their backs while carrying a backpack.

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What symptoms can indicate that a backpack is negatively affecting a child?

From bruises to sprains, to strains and fractures, it’s estimated that more than 7,300 backpack-related injuries are treated annually, according to the Consumer Product Safety CommissionOff Site Icon.

Carrying a backpack that’s too heavy – more than about 15 percent of your child’s body weight – can have negative effects on a child’s neck, back and shoulders, according to the National Safety CouncilOff Site Icon (NSC).

Warning signs that could mean your child’s backpack is too heavy, according to the NSC, include:

  • Difficulty putting the backpack on or taking it off
  • Pain when wearing the backpack
  • Posture change with the backpack on
  • Red marks on the shoulders or back
  • Tingling or numbness

If you notice any of these issues with your child’s backpack, you should consider changing backpacks, lightening the backpack as much as possible, reviewing good techniques for carrying a backpack, and visiting your child’s doctor if you are concerned about his or her health.

Talk with your child’s doctor for more information about the signs your child’s backpack is too heavy and causing them health problems.

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What can parents do to set the tone for healthy study habits at the beginning of a school year?

With the kickoff of a new school year comes a new opportunity to help kids learn good habits right from the start.

Parents can help students be prepared for this year and years to come by setting the right tone for healthy study and homework habits.

Both the University of Illinois Extension OfficeOff Site Icon (UIEO) and Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians recommend the following steps to start off good study and homework habits:

  • Have a routine – Whether it’s before dinner or after dinner, right after school or following a sports practice, sticking to the same time of day for homework and studying is key. Having a regular time for after-school work and maintaining the schedule, will quickly build this habit into your student’s daily routine.
  • Make space – Having a regular place for students to do homework and study is important. The place doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be free from distractions, such as loud conversations and TV noise. A dining room or kitchen table is an example of someplace that works well for many families.
  • Be available and supportive – While it is good for students – especially as they get older – to be able to take the lead on school work, it’s helpful for them to know parents are there if needed. Check in to make sure your child doesn’t need any help understanding directions and tell them you are available if they have questions.

Talk with your doctor for more information about setting the tone for healthy study habits.

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What factors in an environment can make focusing on homework difficult?

With all the distractions within arm’s reach in today’s society, it’s important to remove environmental factors that can cause students to lose focus on homework.

Help your student be at their best when working on homework by creating an environment that helps them focus.

According to Oregon State UniversityOff Site Icon and Premier Physician Network (PPN), the following environmental and internal factors can make focusing on homework difficult:

  • Devices and other technology
  • Distracting thoughts
  • Excess darkness
  • Family conversations
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Illness
  • Music or TV noise
  • Phone alerts
  • Sibling play or other sibling noise
  • Stress
  • Worry

Trying to tackle these factors can set your student up with a successful homework environment.

For more information about factors that get in the way of a student focusing on homework, talk with your doctor.

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How can proper posture help studying?

Having good posture can help with more than just avoiding a pain in your neck and back. Keeping good posture while working at a computer, studying a text book, or writing a paper can help with a variety of issues from emotional fatigues to attention span, according to Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.

Additionally, having the proper posture can help avoid eye strain and headaches, PPN physicians say.

Having good posture keeps a person comfortable for a longer period of time, which helps maintain their attention and helps retain focus on the topic at hand, according to PPN physicians.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how proper posture can help with studying.

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How do schools ensure that safety equipment is properly working?

Dr. Barrow discusses how schools ensure safety equipment is working correctly. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Safety equipment – specifically items used for athletes – often becomes the responsibility of coaches to check, according to Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.

Sports safety equipment, such as helmets and safety padding, are typically checked by coaches as part of an inventory process. If there are questions or concerns, an athletic trainer, athletic director or equipment representative can look at the equipment to determine good working condition, according to PPN physicians.

Athletic trainers will also help to make sure safety equipment not only works right but also fits right to keep athletes safe while playing different sports, according to PPN physicians.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how schools can ensure safety equipment is working properly.

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Should all schools have an AED on site? Why is its presence important?

Dr. Barrow discusses why schools should have an AED on site. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

An AED – automated external defibrillator – is a portable device that checks heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal heart rhythm, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH). AED’s are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops beating unexpectedly and suddenly.

All schools should have AED’s on site, according to the American Heart AssociationOff Site Icon (AHA) and Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.

However, it is not only important to have an AED accessible somewhere on school grounds, but specifically in the most needed places on school grounds, PPN physicians say. Though the school building is a good place to have an AED, if in a locked school building the device may not be able to help if needed in an emergency involving an athlete during a sporting event or practice, according to PPN physicians.

The AHA states that an AED should be placed where it can be used within 3 minutes of someone having a cardiac emergency. Deciding where on school grounds the devices should be located is an important consideration for schools when creating their emergency action plans.

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What training and credentials should coaches and staff working with athletes have?

Dr. Barrow discusses training and credentials coaches and staff who work with athletes should have. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

In an ideal situation, all school staff should strive to have current training in first aid, CPR, and AED use, according to the American Heart AssociationOff Site Icon (AHA).

However, there must at least be a sufficient number of staff – which would include coaches – trained as responders, according to the AHA. This means they would be able to retrieve and bring emergency equipment to any part of the school ground within 3 minutes of a cardiac emergency. These responders should be trained in knowing how to respond to an emergency – for example, knowing to call 9-1-1 first – as well as knowing how to use an AED, be proficient in CPR, and be able to begin first aid steps as needed, according to the AHA.

Schools should do drills with staff throughout the year to practice what to do in the case of these types of emergencies, according to the AHA.

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What are safety steps for easily childproofing a family home?

Dr. Weber discusses childproofing tips. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

One important part of keeping your children safe is making sure they can’t be harmed by things in your home.

The Consumer Product Safety CommissionOff Site Icon (CSPC) suggests the following childproofing ideas to keep your house safe:

  • Anti-scald devices – Install these in shower heads and sink faucets so your water doesn’t get hot enough to burn your child
  • Cordless window coverings – Some types of blind have a cord that can be pulled to lift them, and the cord can be a strangulation hazard for children. If you have blinds from before 2000 and cannot afford new ones without a cord, visit the Window Covering Safety Council at WindowCoverings.orgOff Site Icon for a free repair kit
  • Corner and edge bumpers – Attach these soft foam strips onto items such as end table and fire place ledges to help prevent children from being injured if they bump into them
  • Door knob covers and door locks – These can keep kids out of places that are dangerous for them, but can still be opened quickly and easily by adults
  • Furniture and large appliance anchors – To avoid bookshelves, TVs and other large household items from tipping over on your infant or climbing toddler, install an anchor that secures these things to the wall.
  • Outlet covers – Pop a cover in every open outlet in your home to help prevent electrocution
  • Safety gates – Keep fearless babies and toddlers from tumbling down stairs or into rooms they shouldn’t be in by installing a safety gate to block off part of your home

One other area the CSPC recommends taking extra safety measures with is a pool, if you have one at your home. Make sure to keep a door that leads out to the pool area closed and locked. Having an alarm on the door that leads to the pool could be a lifesaver. The CSPC also recommends building an at least 4-foot-tall fence with a self-latching gate completely around your pool to keep unsupervised children out.

For more information about childproofing your own home, talk with your doctor.

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What role should or shouldn’t screens play in a baby or toddler’s life?

Dr. Weber discusses the role of screens in the lives of babies and toddlers. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

The American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP) recently updated their screen time recommendation for children 2 and younger.

For children younger than 2, use of electronics should be very limited and always supervised by parents, according to the AAP.

One beneficial use, for example, is FaceTime or Skype for families who have one parent overseas or grandparents who live far away, according to Premier HealthNet (PPN) physicians.

These forms of media can be valuable tools in helping children stay connected with and recognize family members separated by distance, according to the AAP.

Screen access for this age of children should not, however, be used as a new form of pacifier, according to PPN physicians. Children who frequently play with a parent’s cell phone or tablet while in public might not learn how to control their behavior without using devices.

Talk to your doctor for more information about positive and negative screen time for babies and toddlers.

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How can exposure to screens affect a child’s development?

Dr. Weber discusses the role of screens in the lives of babies and toddlers. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

A child’s development can be affected by how they are exposed to screens. When done the right way, exposing children to electronic media can be positive for development, according to Premier HealthNet (PPN) physicians.

When parents choose software and apps that promote learning, including language and math skills, young children can benefit, according to PPN physicians. Parents being involved during game play, however, is crucial to the learning process.

For more information about how screens affect a child’s development, talk with your doctor.

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What are practical guidelines for parents who want to make smart choices about screen use for their child?

Dr. Weber discusses practical guidelines for parents who want to make smart choices about screen use for their child. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Parents can feel stuck between doing what’s right for their kids and bending to let their kids play on electronic media.

According to the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP), screen time can be beneficial as long as families have guidelines for screen use.

The AAP recommends the following, according to PPN physicians:

  • Children younger than 2: Screen time should be extremely limited. When used for play, it should be in very short amounts of time and with a parent. One benefit to children is occasional use of FaceTime or Skype, which can allow children to communicate with relatives separated by distance. Overall screen time should be limited to no more than one hour a day.
  • Children 2 to 5: Screen time should still have a reasonable limit set by parents. When children do use electronic media, parents should participate.
  • Children 5 and older: Though information and applications on electronic devices can be beneficial for learning, they should not be the only way a child learns. Learning from hands-on play and social experiences has still been found to be more beneficial than media use, which should remain limited. Also, adults need to be involved in monitoring content to make sure it is appropriate. Adults should make a point to teach kids about how to find appropriate, safe, and accurate information when using media as they get older.

For more information about how to regulate screen time with children, talk with your physician.

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What is ADHD?

Dr. Mark Casdorph discusses ADHD. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

ADHD – Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders to affect children. It also affects many adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC).

Having ADHD can cause difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling impulsive behavior, and a need to be overly active.

The chronic medical condition of the brain is caused when the chemical process involving dopamine is interrupted, according to Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.

Without enough dopamine, it’s hard for our brains to filter things, which can cause us to be easily distracted and unorganized in our thoughts and actions.

If your child has ADHD, he or she might:

  • Daydream often
  • Find it hard to get along with others
  • Forget or lose things a lot
  • Have trouble taking turns
  • Make careless mistakes
  • Squirm or fidget
  • Take unnecessary risks

Talk with your doctor for more information about ADHD.

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How is ADHD diagnosed?

Dr. Mark Casdorph discusses how ADHD is diagnosed. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Several steps are involved in diagnosing ADHD. 

The first step is a medical exam that includes hearing tests and vision tests to rule out other health issues with symptoms similar to ADHD, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP).

A patient history is also taken. With this, parents describe symptoms from when their child was born until the current time, according to Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.

Next, information is gathered from your child’s school about how he or she behaves, interacts with others, and learns. 

The final part of the exam to diagnose ADHD is a time when the doctor can observe and interact with your child to see any ADHD signs or symptoms firsthand.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how ADHD is diagnosed.

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How can ADHD affect a child’s life?

Dr. Mark Casdorph discusses how ADHD can affect a child’s life. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

ADHD can affect a child’s life in many ways. Unfortunately, many of those ways can be negative unless you work with your doctor to find the right care and treatment for your child.

Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians describe some of the ways ADHD can affect a child as follows:

  • Addiction and substance abuse are common among untreated ADHD patients
  • Depression and anxiety can become ongoing struggles
  • High risk of car accidents while driving, for older children 
  • Increased likelihood of teenage pregnancy
  • Teacher irritation at their lack of focus can make them think and feel they are not smart and lowering their self-esteem

The combination of these things can make day-to-day living difficult for someone with untreated ADHD. Finding the right treatment option is key.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how ADHD can affect a child’s life.

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How have treatments and the understanding of ADHD changed in recent years?

Dr. Mark Casdorph discusses how treatments and the understanding of ADHD have changed in recent years. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Years ago, people thought that children who couldn’t sit still, spoke out of turn and did poorly in school were just misbehaving. 

The thought was that children should be able to control themselves and do as they were told. But after spanking, punishing and bribing, the problems continued, according to Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.

Now, we know there are problems in the brain chemistry that make ADHD a medical issue. 

We know that children and adults who are treated for ADHD with medication, behavioral training, or in other ways are better able to manage their energy and live full, healthy lives.

For more information about how treatment and the understanding of ADHD has changed in recent years, talk with your doctor.

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Thanks to Premier Physician Network doctors for answering these common questions about pediatric health:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

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