Doctors' Corner


 

Safe Sleep - by Ashley Godwin, MD,  Pediatrician at Pediatric Associates-Powdersville

The safest place for an infant to sleep is on their back on a firm surface, which meets current safety standards. Since making this recommendation in 1992, the rate of crib death has dropped dramatically. Now we see more deaths from entrapment or suffocation. So, it is also important to keep soft objects like pillows, blankets, sleep positioners and bumper pads out of cribs and bassinets. Also, we suggest sleeping in the room with the parents, but NOT in the bed with the parents.  Finally, breast feeding, pacifier use and immunizations have all been shown to decrease rates of SIDS.

 

Summer Sun Safety for Kids - by Mary T. Martin, MD, Pediatrician at Pediatric Associates-Easley            

Summer is finally here! Families are ready to spend their days outside swimming, playing on the beach, picnicking at the lake or just hanging out together in the yard. With so many fun activities, don’t forget to take care of your child’s skin.

Most of us worry only about sunburn, but too much sun exposure can also set up your child for skin cancer and premature aging. Too much sun exposure is not a good thing! Be proactive and protect your child’s skin. Here are a few sun safety tips to remember :

• Protect your child’s skin from the sun using a physical barrier including a hat with a wide brim made of tightly woven fabric. When swimming, have them wear a “rash guard,” a shirt made of special fabric that can protect skin from the sun’s rays.

• Avoid prolonged sun exposure during the hottest part of the day. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is a good excuse for a mid-day nap indoors! Seek shade. For example, choose to rest under a leafy tree in your yard or under an umbrella at the beach or pool.

• Choose sunscreen with at least 15-30 SPF and be sure that it says “broad spectrum,” which means it protects against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) sun rays. Especially for children, look for a product containing physical blocker, such as zinc oxide. It is best to purchase a cream or stick product as sprays are more difficult to get good coverage and your child could inhale harmful chemicals during application.

• Be sure to apply your sunscreen BEFORE going outside and reapply every couple of hours or after heavy toweling. There is no such thing as a “waterproof” product.

• Apply sunscreen to all exposed surfaces, including the back of the neck, ears and feet! Especially if you have thin or light hair, be sure to apply on the part of your hair as well.

• For infants, it is best to limit sun exposure in general, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend using small amounts of sunscreen on exposed skin. Babies have smaller amounts of melanin and burn more quickly than older children and adults, so be sure to watch them carefully.

• Talk to your teenagers about protecting their skin and remind them about premature aging from tanning. Don’t give permission for your teenager to use a tanning bed, ever. Sunless tanning creams are a safe alternative.

• Parents who use sunscreen appropriately tend to have children who use sunscreen appropriately. Be an example for your child and protect your skin!            

  

Why are well child visits important for your child? - by Mary T. Martin, MD, Pediatrician at Pediatric Associates-Easley                                                              

This is a question that I often hear in my office. Many parents seem to think that a checkup is just to get caught up on shots. Some parents feel like the pediatrician’s office is just for when their child is sick. These are popular misconceptions.

Well child visits help pediatricians (and family doctors, who care for children) to care for your whole child. This visit is really to focus on getting to know your child. Part of being a medical home for a child is establishing a true relationship with a family. In my experience, people tend to feel more comfortable asking questions of someone they know and trust. Seeing a familiar face in the exam room gives some comfort during those times when you are exhausted after being up all night with a crying child who has ear pain, for example.

Well visits give us a chance to see your child the way you see them every day. Checkups give us a chance to see your child at their “baseline” – not what they look like with a fever, vomiting or with an ear infection. One question I ask regularly in day-to-day practice, upon seeing a child with a sore throat and fever, is “are their tonsils always this big?” Sometimes parents tell me, “Yes, they said that they had big tonsils at their last checkup.” This is a reassuring thing for both of us in the acute care setting. One benefit of routine well visits is that we can know and document normal physical exam findings for that child. Then, when your child is sick, we can compare to the previous exams, not just what we see in other children their age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends frequent well checks in the first few years. Your child’s regular physician can go over the specific schedule for their office, but in general, your child will be seen at least at 2 weeks of age, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15-18 months, 24 months and then once yearly.

At a well check, your child will have their height and weight measured. Depending on age, we may measure their head circumference and their blood pressure. Your child may also have a blood test to check their hemoglobin or a urinalysis to check for protein, glucose and infection. They will be examined head to toe to check for normal and unusual findings. Parents are encouraged to point out any physical concerns, so we can take a close look at things like skin rashes, birthmarks or worrisome bumps or lumps.

Your child’s doctor will ask questions about what new things your child is doing. They may ask about behavior, diet and any general well-being concerns. This is your time to ask about the things you have been wondering about. It is a good idea to make a list prior to the visit, so that you don’t forget anything. No question is too silly- we have probably heard it before! We will talk about how school or other activities are going and upcoming development to look for. The physician will also talk about dental health and age-appropriate safety concerns. For adolescent patients, they may want speak to the doctor alone to ask any questions in private. Finally, we will discuss any needed immunizations or other tests recommended for your child. Look for me to talk about age-recommended vaccines in another blog in the future.

Having regular well child visits with your child’s doctor and raising the concerns that matter most to you are key ingredients to helping the doctor know you and your child and in forming a reliable and trustworthy relationship. Parents and pediatricians share the goal of healthy children – let us help you meet the needs of your child and family!

 

Safe Kids          

Safe Kids Upstate is one of more than 450 coalitions affiliated with Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under.  There are 15 Safe Kids coalitions in South Carolina.

Safe Kids Upstate Coalition, led by Greenville Health System Children's Hospital Children's Advocacy, consists of more than 70 community partners, who join together to fight unintentional injuries.  To learn more about Safe Kids, click here.

 

New Impact: A Healthy Lifestyles Program

New Impact is an exciting program developed at the GHS Children's Hospital, in response to the nationwide problem of pediatric obesity.  If your child is struggling with his or her weight, let us help.  New Impact is a comprehensive weight management program for children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 21.  We use the most current treatment techniques to offer pediatric patients effective ways to manage weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle. To learn more about the New Impact: A Healthier Lifestyles Program, click here.