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Monday
Jul062015

5 Reasons Summertime Is a Great Time for Your Child to Get a Check-Up

Written by Debra Beaulieu Volk

Summer vacation—for the kids, anyway—is finally here. With the water park calling, scheduling your child’s back-to-school or annual checkup may be the last thing on your mind, but early summer is actually the best time of year to do so.

1. Checkups catch signs of trouble early

Medically, we might not think of preventive care as being as important for children as it is for adults, but most pediatricians can share countless stories of catching problems during regular checkups that could have been far more serious if addressed much later.

Remember, pediatricians are trained to catch signs of trouble before symptoms really flare.

Even if you don’t need proof of a physical exam for your child this year and don’t have any scheduled vaccinations for a while, the American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends an annual well-child visit. Note that well visits are different from sick visits, during which just a particular problem, such as an ear infection or allergic reaction, is the focus.

Well visits are more head-to-toe in nature, covering not just a physical exam, but also a developmental, behavioral, and learning assessment. We’ll discuss in more detail all that goes into well visits in an upcoming post.

2. Pediatricians help back you up

One reason I look forward to my children’s checkups is the opportunity to have our pediatrician reinforce behaviors I want my kids to take seriously. I don’t know about you, but my children, ages 7 and 8, are more eager to impress a role model such as their doctor than they are boring old me.

So when our pediatrician engages them in a quick discussion about the importance of eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables, wearing their bike helmets, reading for fun, and more, it makes those things an easier sell for me at home.

The start of summer is an excellent time for kids to hear these reminders. 

3. You can beat the rush

Additionally, our office isn’t nearly as busy in July as it will be right before school resumes, when a lot of parents are rushing to squeeze well visits in at the last minute.

Avoid the crunch by calling our office today. Save even more time (and money) by requesting to have any forms, such as for sports participation, filled out during your child’s visit. 

4. A pleasant experience is doable

We understand that some kids are not big fans of going to the doctor, which makes for a disincentive to schedule any visit that isn’t absolutely necessary. But again, once problems develop it’s too late for preventive care.

An earlier post from one of our medical assistants offers some great tips for helping children feel more at ease with the experience—and therefore less likely to put you through the wringer for bringing them.

Honestly, an annual checkup is a nice opportunity for kids to feel special and get to show off a little. My children really enjoy the attention they get from their doctor and the staff and finding out how much they’ve grown.

Shots are not their favorite, of course, but a little praise for putting up with the pinch goes a long way. 

5. It’s cost-effective

Keep in mind, however, that most insurance companies will pay for one well-visit per 12-month period. So if your child’s last checkup was in September, for example, you can’t move it earlier this year, only ratchet forward (but check with your carrier to be sure).

The good news is that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health plans have improved their coverage for preventive care. This means more cash leftover for all of the other summer activities on your list!

 

Wednesday
Jun242015

The Illinois Department of Public Health will require that students entering 12th grade must be immunized against bacterial meningitis

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the Illinois Department of Public Health will require that students entering 12th grade must be immunized against bacterial meningitis.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.  It typically affects young people under 20 year old, and those living in community settings (i.e. college dormitories.)

This disease can have several serious complications, such as : hearing loss, memory difficulties, learning disabilities, brain damage, gait problems, seizures, kidney failure, shock and even death.

Due to the serious nature of this disease,  All 12th graders will need to show proof of receiving two doses unless the first dose was administered after 16 years of age. 

Documentation of these vaccines will be required, before you can register your child in August, 2015.

Call our office, and we would be happy to schedule your child for their yearly well visit so they can receive the necessary vaccines.

For more information, visit healthychildren.org

Wednesday
Jun102015

4 sun-safety saboteurs and how to prevent them

Written by Debra Beaulieu-Volk

As parents, we sure know a lot more about sun safety than we did as kids or young adults ourselves. SPF 2 dark tanning oil, anyone?

But even though we now understand the importance of protecting our children from excessive sun exposure and have resources such as this blog and healthychildren.org at our fingertips, following this advice is sometimes easier said than done.

Here are a few sun-protection snafus I’ve experienced personally, and how your family can help prevent them:

1. Over-reliance on sunscreen. Parents don’t always think about it this way, but pediatricians will tell you that sunscreen is actually a third-line defense. Among the most effective ways to protect children from sun exposure is with clothing. While you can purchase swim shirts and other protective garments labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), any tightly woven materials generally block out more rays than lighter fabrics. In addition, remember to be most sun-cautious during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If participating in outdoor activities between these hours, try to find a shady spot to work in some “sun breaks” throughout the day.

2. Overlooked exposure. Easily missed or forgotten spots to cover include tops of feet; scalps (especially hair parts); and areas covered by dry swimsuits, but notsomuch once material gets waterlogged and/or full of sand. Just being aware of these vulnerabilities is half the battle, but I find the best way to handle the shifting-swimsuit scenario is to apply one good layer of sunscreen onto kids before they get dressed, going in a couple inches more than it looks to be necessary. Eyeballs themselves are also vulnerable to sun damage, so wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are not just fashionable, but essential.

3. Being in a rush. It may feel as though slathering squirmy children in sunscreen takes forever, but it’s really just a few moments that can contribute to kids’ lifelong health. To make sure your efforts are not in vain, use a sunscreen that says "broad-spectrum," with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to 50). Sunscreen sticks can make facial application faster, but remember to blend and be more thorough than you’d think. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outside—and reapplied every 80 minutes or sooner after swimming. Please don’t make the mistake of skipping your own sun-protection ritual to save time! It’s not just an ill-advised sacrifice, but also a poor example.

4. Not making kids accountable. Although you shouldn’t rely on young children to pack protective items or apply sunscreen themselves (despite the hilarious photo-op potential!), it’s never too early to instill sun safety into their consciousness. Just talking about all of these topics with your children and as a family can help encourage good habits. Once understanding a rule, what kid doesn’t love to correct his or her parents when it’s not followed? In this situation, hearing, “Mommy, you missed a spot!” may be a valuable reminder.

In the event your child does get sunburned, we have a tool on our website explaining when to call the office, along with how to care for minor sunburn symptoms at home.

Thursday
May282015

What not to do if your child is bitten by a tick: A step-by-step guide

Written by Debra Beaulieu-Volk

Before we begin, a confession. There are two things that make me mildly irrational: actual or potential harm coming to one of my children and bugs.

So as you can imagine, the sight of a tick burrowing its head into my seven-year-old’s flesh—the threat of Lyme disease or babesiosis aside—did not inspire some of my best moments.As a parent, I get caught in the same mental tug-of-war as anyone else, with medically validated advice grasping one end of the rope, and self-doubt, worst-case scenarios, and various forms of peer pressure yanking wildly at the other.

As for the tick scenario, we recently posted on Salud’s Facebook page the correct steps to follow, with a link to further information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is sound advice. And technically, with the exception of rule No. 1—don’t panic—I did okay.

In the end everything was fine, but the experience illustrates a clear example of how straightforward medical issues can be emotionally complex when it comes to our kids.

Here’s how the incident played out, and what we can learn from it:

1. Freak out. I’d been idly playing with my daughter’s hair when I noticed a bug on the back of her neck that wouldn’t brush off. She’d spent the night at her father’s and they’d gone hiking the prior afternoon.

Never having dealt with a tick situation before, the realization it’d been on her overnight made me nervous, and I didn’t hide it very well. Picking up on my anxiety, the kids got worked up, too, making the whole process more difficult.

2. Extract tick. This was the easy part. I got the whole thing out intact, sealed it into a Ziploc, and then cleaned the tiny wound with soap and water, as per CDC instructions.

3. Debate whether to call the pediatrician’s office. I’d reviewed several lists delineating “when to call your doctor,” and determined that the possibility it had been on her for over 24 hours was justification enough. Plus, I reasoned I’d just “let them know,” for public health reasons.

4. Breathe. My call may have been superfluous, but the nurse who called back provided not just medical advice, but also the emotional reassurance my daughter and I needed (thanks to step 1). As the nurse advised, I marked my calendar with the date to reference if my daughter later developed a fever, rash, or other symptoms.

5. Instagram it (or it didn’t happen). I had taken three photos—of the tick embedded, removed, and bagged—which I fashioned into a digital collage and posted on Instagram in close to our first calm moment.

While my real motivation was to reap a little cyber-pat on the back for a job (not so) well done, I spun it as a public service announcement to remind fellow parents to check their kids after playing outside.

6. Welcome the trolls. “Yay, comments!” I thought. But it quickly turned to, “Ooh, some really smart people and great parents are suggesting I should get my daughter on antibiotics.” In response, I summarized the instructions I was given and went about my day.

When posting about parenting decisions (in my case, not requesting antibiotics), we open ourselves up to others’ opinions, which can be tough to ignore. But I’d already solicited and followed excellent advice from the most credible source: My pediatrician’s office.

7. Reflect. As I said, all turned out fine, though it could have been far smoother. We’re all human, of course.

But when it comes to the health and well-being of our children—which we all agree is a top priority—we need to be disciplined enough to regulate our emotions, trust advice given by our pediatricians or vetted sources such as healthychildren.org, and think twice about the ramifications of what we share online.

Wednesday
Feb042015

Western Suburbs of Chicago: What You Need to Know About The Measles 

Many parents have contacted the office with concerns regarding the current measles outbreak.

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of measles in our area other than the isolated case identified in Palatine nearly 2 weeks ago.

If you or your family members were present at any of the following locations during the dates listed below, and are showing signs of illness, please contact the cook county health department (847-818-4020).


• Supermercado Guzman, 1611 N. Baldwin Road in Palatine, between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Jan. 12 & 13
• Northwest Community Hospital emergency room, 800 W. Central Road in Arlington Heights, from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 14 and from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 17
• Vista Clinic, 1585 N. Rand Road in Palatine between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 16

Overall, there have been 102 cases identified nationally in 14 states, with the vast majority localized to California.

The CDC provides an up-to-date surveillance website with number of current cases and location and it is updated frequently.

Be mindful that social media sites may not be accurate sources of information. Please see this information at
http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

Please also review the following comprehensive information available on the cdc.gov website for details about measles itself, transmission, signs and symptoms, complications, and vaccine recommendations. http://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/

To date, there are no changes to the CDC recommendations for the measles vaccination schedule.

At Salud Pediatrics, we continue to recommend timely vaccinations for all our patients as they are the best and safest way to prevent the spread of vaccine preventable illness.

Vaccinations are not only important for individual health, but also our health as a community.

By providing timely immunizations to each individual, we also protect those who cannot receive the vaccine – for example, those that are too young, battling cancer, or immune disorders.

The current vaccine recommendations are as follows:

Children:
CDC recommends routine childhood immunization for MMR vaccine starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age or at least 28 days following the first dose.

Students at post-high school educational institutions:
Students at post-high school educational institutions without evidence of measles immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

Adults:
People who are born during or after 1957 who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

International travelers:
People 6 months of age or older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. Before travelling internationally,


• Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine
• Children 12 months of age or older should have documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine (the first dose of MMR vaccine should be administered at age 12 months or older; the second dose no earlier than 28 days after the first dose)
• Teenagers and adults born during or after 1957 without evidence of immunity against measles should have documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

 

Written by Dr. Sandra Graba