National Back Pack Safety Month

September is National School Backpack Safety Month and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is sharing information on how you can help your child avoid the pain and injury that is associated with carrying heavy backpacks.  These simple tips can help protect your child from having chronic back pain throughout their lives.

Backpacks are essential back-to- school items for kids.  They come in different colors, sizes and shapes and most importantly they help children to carry their belongings.  Backpacks are preferred by many in comparison to shoulder bags because when worn correctly, they evenly distribute weight across the body.  However, if worn incorrectly they can cause back pain or injuries and eventually lead to poor posture.

To prevent problems associated with improper backpack use, parents should first purchase a backpack that has the following features:

  • Lightweight
  • Wide and padded straps
  • Multiple compartments
  • Padded back
  • Waist belt
  • Correct size (A backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso).

Practicing these safety tips will further reduce the chance of back pain or injuries caused by backpacks:

  • When packing, heavier items should be placed to the back and center of the backpack. Lighter items should be in front. Sharp objects such as scissors or pencils should be kept away from your child’s back.  Utilizing different compartments can help in distributing weight.
  • Do not over pack. Doctors recommend that children should not carry backpacks that weigh more than 10-15% of their body weight.
  • Ensure that children use both straps. Using a single strap can cause muscle strain.
  • Adjust the straps so that the backpack fits closely to your child’s back and sits two inches above the waist. This ensures comfort and proper weight distribution.
  • Encourage children to use their lockers or desks throughout the day to drop off heavy books.

The Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America recommends that parents should always look for warning signs that indicate backpacks may be too heavy. If your child struggles to put on and take off the backpack, they are complaining of numbness or tingling or if there are red strap marks on their shoulders -It may be time for you to lighten their load.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Jamaica Hospital Offers Information to Parents About Sports-Related Concussions

This fall, millions of children and teens across America will be returning to school and many of them will be trying out and playing for their school’s various sports teams.

While the health benefits, exercise and comradery associated with youth sports is undeniable, parents must also educate themselves and their children about the potential dangers of sports-related concussions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a concussion is “a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells.”

Largely associated with football, concussions are actually prevalent in many major sports including soccer, gymnastics, hockey and lacrosse and they can occur while participating in any physical activity.

To minimize the chances of sustaining a concussion, it is important for coaches and parents to create a culture of safety in youth athletics. This includes teaching proper safety techniques on the field of play and making sure that children follow those rules.  Another key to reduce the chances of a child or teen suffering complications from a concussion is to educate them on their signs and symptoms. If children are aware of not only the symptoms, but the dangers of not reporting a concussion, they are more likely to inform a coach or parent when they experience one.

Symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

It is important to understand that not all concussions are created equal. Those who suffer one many experience some, but not all symptoms and the severity of those symptoms may vary from person to person.

If you believe that your child has suffered a concussion, you should remove them from play immediately and have them seen by their healthcare provider who can assess the severity of his or her injury via an examination and conduct additional tests if necessary. Typically, treatment for a concussion involves rest and restricting the patient from activity.

If your child does not have a healthcare provider, or they are unavailable when they sustain a concussion, you should take your child to a nearby hospital emergency department, such as the one at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Back To School – Time To Reestablish Your Child’s Sleep Schedule

Summer vacation is an opportunity for children to extend their bedtimes at night and sleep a little later in the morning. While most parents tend to be a bit more flexible with their kid’s sleeping habits during this time of the year, it’s important to remember that back to school is just around the corner and now is the time to reestablish a proper sleeping routine for your children.

After a relaxing summer, children might need some time to adjust to a regular schedule. Here are some tips to help your child ease into his or her school-time sleep pattern and to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the year:

  • Every night, beginning 1-2 weeks before school begins, set an incrementally earlier bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Once your child’s sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don’t use the weekend to “catch up on sleep.”
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to allow your child to unwind including a bath and a bed-time story (for young children) or a reading time (for older children).
  • Limit television, video games, and other electronic distractions before and during bedtime.
  • Avoid big meals and caffeinated beverages close to bedtime as they may prevent your child from falling asleep.
  • Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment which includes a comfy bed, appropriate room temperature and lights turned off, or with a night light if your child needs one.
  • Be a role model by setting a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep schedule and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep.

Getting your child back on track at bedtime will allow for a smooth transition for the first day of school and will help your children reach their full learning potential.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

When is it Time to Address Your Child’s Lisp?

Most of us find it adorable when our children mispronounce different words and sounds when they are young and first learning to speak. While in most cases, these miscommunications are something they outgrow as they develop, certain distortions, such as lisps, may eventually require intervention.

A lisp is a term used to describe the mispronunciation of words.  The most common form of lisp occurs when a child makes a “th” sound when trying to make an “s” sound. This typically takes place when the child pushes their tongue out when making these sounds instead of keeping it behind their top teeth.

There are four types of lips:

  • A palatal lisp means that when your child tries to make an “s” or a “z” sound, his tongue contacts the soft palate.
  • A lateral lisp means that air travels out of either side of the tongue. Children with a lateral lisp produce “s” and “z” sounds that sound “slushy.”
  • A dentalized lisp means that your child’s tongue makes contact with his teeth while producing the “s” and “z” sounds.
  • An interdental lisp, sometimes called a frontal lisp, means that the tongue pushes forward through the teeth, creating a “th” sound instead of an “s” or “z” sound.

Lisps are very common in children and there are many reasons why they develop. While they are normal in early childhood development, if a child continues to have a lisp by the age of seven, you should seek professional assistance as the longer you wait to treat one, the harder they are to correct.  Your pediatrician, dentist, or school speech therapist can refer you to a speech language pathologist who can assess and treat your child for their lisp. These professionals offer a variety of techniques to correct a lisp and treatment can last anywhere from a couple of months to years of therapy.

In addition to having a speech language pathologist treat your child, parents can do a few things at home to help correct a lisp, such as:

  • Treating any existing allergy or sinus problems so your child can breathe through their nose as open-mouth breathing can cause the tongue to lie flat and protrude.
  • Keeping your child’s fingers out of their mouth as much as possible since thumb-sucking can contribute to a lisp.
  • Having your child use a straw in their drinks. This kind of sucking motion promotes good oral-motor strength, which is so important in language development.
  • Encouraging fun activities that can improve oral-motor strength such as having your child blow bubbles or playing with a toy horn.
  • Having your child look in a mirror and practice putting his teeth together while he makes an “s” This exercise can help him remember to keep his tongue behind his teeth

Most importantly, make sure that while you are supportive of correcting your child’s lisp, you do not point it out to them repeatedly or publicly as this can affect their self-esteem and result in them speaking less.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion

With the mercury rising, you have to think about what you can do to keep cool.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common maladies during the summer months. The main symptoms of both heat stroke and heat exhaustion are an altered mental state or behavior, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate.  The main difference is, when you are experiencing heat exhaustion you will experience profuse sweating.  Conversely, when you are experiencing heat stroke, there will be a lack of sweat.

The best way to combat heat stroke and heat exhaustion is by hydrating with cool water when it is hot and humid; this will help you stay clear of dehydration. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16 – 20 ounces of water before moderate intensity summer exercise (8 – 12 ounces of water 10 – 15 minutes before going out into the heat and 3 – 8 ounces every 15 – 20 minutes during activity when active for less than one hour).

Some the most common signs of dehydration are:

  • General  fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Increased body temperature
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps

Other means of keeping cool during the summer months is to wear lighter, breathable fabrics, slow down your pace, exercise indoors, and by using common sense when planning your day outdoors.

Please speak with your physician to determine your specific needs to avoid dehydration since it can vary from person to person.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips to Successfully Transition Your Child Into Daycare

Placing your child in a daycare center is a reality for more and more working parents today.

The idea of leaving your child in the care of others for an extended period of time can be a frightening one to both you and your child. Many parents feel apprehensive about exposing their babies to a new environment, and the situation is only intensified as some children can experience separation anxiety at the thought of being away from their parents for the first time.

Below are a few tips to help both parents and children as they transition to this new daily routine.

  • Do your research – Before choosing a daycare environment, it is important for parents to do some investigation. Ask plenty of questions from other parents as well as from the daycare staff. It is also appropriate to ask to “sit-in” to observe the staff in action. By doing some due diligence, parents will feel less anxiety and more confident with their choice in a daycare provider.
  • Explain the situation to your child in advance – Sometimes it’s the unexpected that is most frightening to children. You can help the situation by preparing your child for what they will encounter at daycare. Explain to them everything that they will do during their day and everyone that they will meet. Picture books designed to outline the daycare experience to your child can also be a helpful tool
  • Try a gradual start – If your schedule will allow it, try easing your child into a daycare setting by enrolling them on a part-time basis. This can either be shorter sessions or for only a couple of days per week. After they get comfortable with their new surroundings, you can incrementally extend the experience. This gradual transition can reduce stress and anxiety for both parent and child.
  • Be organized – The pressure of transitioning into daycare can only be intensified when parents are running around at the last second as they look to get out the door. A chaotic environment takes a parents attention away from their child, who might need it. Prepare everything the night before so your trip to daycare can be a calm and relaxed one. Creating a check-list is always a good idea.
  • Have your child bring something familiar – A reminder of home will make those first few trips to daycare a little easier and provide comfort on difficult days for an anxious child. Ask your child if they would like to bring their favorite stuffed animal or a cozy blanket with them. These comfort items can reduce the stress associated with going to daycare.
  • Invent a goodbye ritual – Families should create a consistent way of saying goodbye to each other to help establish a fuss-free drop off experience. This could be a loving phrase, a secret handshake or special kiss that is shared just between a parent and a child. This ritual will make your child feel special and it will limit prolonged goodbyes.
  • Expect some tears – It can take anywhere from one day to a month for a child to adjust to daycare. During this transition it is perfectly natural for your child to cry when you drop them off. While this can be heartbreaking to parents in the moment, understand that children are resilient and a daycare experience can actually help them develop social and adaptation skills.

Following these tips can take what can be a tension-filled time in both your life and the life of your child, and make it into a positive and stress-free experience.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Obesity Having an Impact on Your Child’s Self-Esteem?

Obesity among teenagers is a growing problem in the United Sates. It is estimated that 31% of teenagers are overweight and another 16% are obese.

Feet on a scaleMany parents and doctors focus on the physical effects of obesity, but what about the psychological and emotional ramifications? Obesity can lead to heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, but its depression, low self esteem, anxiety and poor body image that should be the greater concern for most.

Recent studies have concluded that obese teens have considerably lower self esteem than their non-obese peers. The difference in the two groups is most evident among 14 year olds, which also happens to be a critical time for teens because it is when they develop their sense of self worth. It is also an age where peers can be most cruel. Teasing, taunting, and poor treatment from other kids can also contribute to depression and other psychological issues.

Teens with low self-esteem often feel lonely, nervous, or are generally sad. They are also more inclined to experiment with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. They often become depressed, which causes them to withdraw from social activities with friends and family and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.

There are a variety of factors that have contributed to a rise in obesity among teens. While genetics play a role for some, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle are often the cause for most. Teens today consume too much junk food and sugary drinks and don’t exercise as much as in previous generations. Temptations from television, video games, and computers are often cited as the reasons for a decrease in physical activity.

Professionals suggest that parents of obese teens engage their children in an open dialogue about the issue. Together, parents and teens can work on a plan that is attainable. Efforts to fix the problem should focus on lifestyle issues rather than a calorie count because attempting to impose a strict diet could contribute to the teen’s poor self esteem. Incorporate the assistance of a medical professional, but allow the teen to take charge during visits in an effort to build confidence.  Parents should encourage and participate in improving diet and increasing activity as well.

Jamaica Hospital has a variety of services to help teens facing this issue, including nutritional counseling and adolescent mental health services. Speak to your child’s pediatrician or make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 to find the best treatment options for your teen.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Parenting – Should Children be Paid to do Household Chores?

Many parents wrestle with the question of whether or not their children should be required to do chores around the house, and if so, should they be paid for it? There’s really no simple answer.

There are pros and cons to every method of administering an allowance to children. Some think kids should earn money in exchange for doing chores, others believe kids should not be paid for regular contributions that are expected of every family member.  No matter which side you agree with, the point of an allowance is to teach your kids money management skills.

Age appropriate, weekly chores, whether it’s taking out the garbage, emptying the dishwasher, folding clean laundry, cleaning the cat litter box, or light yard work like raking leaves, can help a child develop character. Paying them for their contributions also helps them to develop a respect for earning money.

You might decide on a definite set of weekly chores that your child must complete before being paid, or choose to make a list with a set price per chore and leave it up to them. Bigger tasks like shoveling snow, earn more money, and things like making their bed, earn less.

The method you end up using may not be what you started with, every child is different and the family dynamic and responsibility varies. However you structure it, be flexible. Even if you offer your child an allowance with no strings attached, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask them to do something periodically.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Regulating Your Child’s Screen Time

More and more parents are reporting not seeing their child’s face enough as they are constantly hidden behind various electronic devices.  This is a concern that previous generations of parents did not have to deal with, leaving today’s mothers and fathers wondering how to regulate their child’s screen time activity.

First off, it’s important to note that not all forms of electronic media are created equal. There are many educational games, apps and videos that children can play and watch that support and benefit their development. Many experts actually suggest that it is not the quantity, but the quality of a child’s screen time that should be taken into consideration.

That being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics has offered guidelines for childhood screen usage. They discourage children younger than 18-24 months of age from participating in electronic media use, except for video chatting.  If parents wish to introduce digital media games or apps at these ages, they should make sure that it is done in a supervised setting and that the content is educational and interactive.  Parents of children from two to five years of age should limit their child’s screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming.  As children grow, the content and amount of media they are exposed to is harder to determine and is not a “one size fits all” model. Parents should customize parameters based on the maturity level and social skills of their children.

It is also recommended that parents understand that they need to remain involved in their child’s online habits and enforce certain rules to ensure that screen time doesn’t affect other aspects of their lives. Parents are encouraged to carve out time for unplugged and unstructured play and create tech-free zone and times.  In addition digital media should be off limits at dinner time and while children are doing their homework. Another tip is for parents to limit their own screen time to set a good example for their children.

When making decisions about screen time, parents should be aware of the following issues that can result from too much screen time, including:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Behavioral problems
  • Lack of social skills
  • Violent behavior

It is also recommended that parents understand that they need remain involved in their child’s online habits and enforce certain rules to ensure that screen time doesn’t affect other aspects of their lives. Parents are encouraged to carve out time for unplugged and unstructured play and create tech-free zone and times.  In addition digital media should be off limits at dinner time and while children are doing their homework. Another tip is for parents to limit their own screen time to set a good example for their children.

Managing a child’s use of electronic devices will be an ongoing challenge for today’s parents. By staying active and engaged in their screen habits, you can avoid them falling into the traps associated with digital media and ensure they develop a well-rounded childhood experience.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Teaching Your Children to Embrace Diversity

Our children are being introduced to so many more people than any other generation before them. Whether through school, outside activities, or on some form of electronic media, they have the opportunity to learn a great deal about people who come from diverse backgrounds, including those from different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and family dynamics. So, how can we, as parents make sure they are accepting of the differences in others?

Here are some tips parents can follow when trying to teach their children about diversity:

  • Set a good example – It might sound obvious but our children learn just as much from watching what we do as listening to what we say. As parents, we must recognize and address our own short-comings when it comes to accepting diversity if we want to teach our children correctly. Our actions cannot contradict the lessons we are trying to teach and we must lead by example if we do not want our children judge others based on stereotypes.
  • Get out of your comfort zone – While we all agree technology can make the world a much smaller place, the fact is most of us still spend our daily lives living in communities where the majority of our neighbors look like us and share the same values and traditions. Unfortunately, raising our children in a homogeneous environment is not conducive to truly teaching them about accepting diversity because they don’t get the opportunity to experience those who are “different.” Parents must make a deliberate effort to leave our familiar surroundings and experience and appreciate diversity.
  • Listen to what your child is saying – As much we would like to think we are the only influences in our children’s lives, we are not. They see and hear things from other adults, other children and other sources. Other influences can lead to the formation of inaccurate perceptions and beliefs. Take notice if your child is using hurtful or stereotypical language and take time to explain why something is inappropriate. Also encourage your children to ask questions. You can help provide explanations to things that might otherwise be confusing to them.
  • Don’t ignore differences – Many parents mistakenly want their children to be “difference blind.” This can only make the situation worse. There are many differences among us that should be embraced including how someone speaks, what they wear or eat, how their name is pronounced, or if they have two moms. These differences are bound to ignite curiosity and could lead to questions. Instead of ignoring diversity, teach your child to accept what makes us all unique and that our differences are only part of who we are, but they do not define us.

By following these tips, you can raise your children to be more accepting of others, which will go a long way in their development into adulthood.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.