- Drivers should be at least 16 years old
- No passengers should ever ride on an ATV
- Always wear a helmet, eye protection and reflective clothing when riding an ATV
- Never drive an ATV on roadways
With school just around the corner, it is important to make sure your child is ready. You have purchased the supplies, met the teacher and walked through their new schedule. What else should you do? Check your child’s immunization chart.
“Make sure your child’s shots are up-to-date and they don’t need any vaccinations.” said Dr. Peily Soong with Pediatrics East. “During this time of year, pediatric offices get very busy with people needing immunizations and regular check-ups. Please do not wait until school starts or right after it starts.”
National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
Vaccines are essential to the health of your child. Being at school, where there are large concentrations of people, your child is at higher risk at contracting an illnesses.
“Schools will not let you in without completing necessary vaccinations,” said Dr. Soong. “So, make sure your child is ready.”
Check out Dr. Soong’s interview with Fox 6 News for more tips on getting ready to go back to school.
Why is it important to stay current with your child’s immunizations?
It is important to not only get initial immunizations, but also any other rounds or boosters that are recommended. In some cases, a single shot is not enough to protect your child from that disease.
Good news is if your child has missed shots in a series, there is no need to start over, simply pick up where they left off. Without the full course of a vaccine, your child is still at risk. These vaccinations will not only protect during adolescent years, but also throughout life.
Which vaccines does your child need?
Doctors are now recommending the following immunizations for teens against the following diseases:
According to Dr. Soong, rising kindergarteners and sixth graders are the most likely to need new vaccinations. It is important to check regardless of your child’s age to know if your child is ready for school.
Of course, if your child has a pre-existing disease that affects their immune system, they may need other vaccinations. There are also some cases in which children should not be vaccinated for certain diseases. Check with your pediatrician regarding your specific child’s needs.
You may be thinking, “My child hates shots and pitches a fit even at the word.” There are techniques to make shots easier, such as encouraging your child to take calming breaths or even coughing as the needle goes in. Regardless of the fear, remind them that the shot itself lasts only for a second, but the protection lasts a long, long time after that.
To find a practice near you, visit childrensal.org/practices.
It is summer in Alabama; school is out and the sun is shining. Kids are spending more time outside, which can also increase the number of bug bites they get while playing. It is important to teach children about different types of insect bites.
Most bug bites and stings are harmless and will get better on their own without seeing a doctor. Other bug bites can be more painful and serious. Let’s take a look at the different signs and symptoms of insect bites, and when you should see a doctor.
Common Mild Reactions:
Treat at home with over the counter lotion, antihistamines, pain medicine and ice pack if needed (see package insert for dosing instructions)
Example: ant bite, mosquito bite, bee sting without allergic reaction
Common Moderate Reactions:
Your child may need to see his/her primary doctor. If you feel that it is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.
Example: spider bite, bee or wasp sting without allergic reaction
Call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department
Example: Bee or ant sting with an allergy, spider bites
Special Treatment for Ticks:
Ticks are very common in our area and require different treatment. If you find a tick on your child:
Below are quick tips to keep bugs away
Kids should enjoy playing outdoors while they are out of school in the summertime. Knowing what to do for bug bites and stings is very important. Go outside and have some fun with your kids, but be aware of the bugs!
The blog was written using content from KidsHealth.org
Kids love to play on the playground and there are a lot of benefits to outdoor play. Playgrounds are an opportunity for kids to get fresh air, sunshine, exercise and make new friends. Marie Crew agrees. She’s the director of Alabama Safe Kids at Children’s of Alabama. “Alabama has a high obesity rate, so we want the children to be active. We want kids playing at least 60 minutes a day,” she said.
It’s important that parents do their part to ensure their child’s time on the playground is fun and injury-free. Each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for playground- related injuries. Many of these accidents are preventable with the proper supervision.
“That’s the big thing. We want parents to be with their children,” Crew said. “Parents should check the playground to be sure it’s in good repair. We want parents to put their phones down and interact with their children.”
Children should never play on a playground unsupervised. Young children can’t always judge distances properly and can’t foresee dangerous situations while older children like to test their limits. It’s important for an adult to be there to help keep them safe.
In addition to supervision, before children play on a playground, an adult should always check it for safety. Make sure the playground equipment is in good shape. If it has instructions on it, be sure to read them. Many playgrounds indicate the recommended age range for children. Toddlers should be on a separate playground with special equipment that is lower to the ground.
Crew said a proper playground surface is important as well. “It’s best to have a soft, spongy surface that can cushion falls. Shredded tires, pea gravel and and mulch are options as well,” she said. Concrete, asphalt, grass and packed earth surfaces are not safe.
Modern playgrounds are often made of plastic instead of metal, which can get too hot. Even still, Crew recommends parents think about the heat of the day and check the equipment before their child plays on it to make sure it isn’t too hot.
Children love for their parents to engage with them when they’re playing on the playground. A good recommendation is for the adult to be close by, encouraging and watching their child while they play. Play is an important part of kids physical, social, intellectual and emotional development. By taking a few extra precautions, they can learn and grow through play while being more likely to stay safe and injury-free.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common rheumatic disease of childhood and affects about one in 1,000 children. It is a chronic autoimmune disease which does not go away because it is a result of the person’s own immune system.
An autoimmune disease is one in which white blood cells cannot tell the difference between the body’s own healthy cells and germs like bacteria and viruses. The immune system, which is supposed to protect the body from these harmful invaders, instead releases chemicals that can damage healthy tissues and cause inflammation and pain.
“Each year more than 1,000 patients are treated in our rheumatology clinic,” said Dr. Melissa Mannion, pediatric rheumatologist at Children’s of Alabama. “It is our goal to provide patients with resources and treatments to develop growth and development.”
Signs and Symptoms
The first signs of arthritis can be subtle or obvious, so an early and accurate diagnosis is key to effectively managing JIA. According to Dr. Mannion, the criteria for diagnosis includes age less than 16 at the onset of symptoms, symptoms present for at least six weeks, symptoms including the presence of arthritis on exam, and no other explanation for the arthritis-like cancer or infection.
Understanding the symptoms and characteristics of each type of JIA is crucial. Some of the common symptoms include:
“If someone’s disease stays inactive for a long time, usually at least six months, they are said to be in remission,” she said. “Remission means that the disease is quiet, but the disease itself is not gone since there is no cure. Sometimes remission can last for months, years or a person’s lifetime.”
If a parent is worried that their child has arthritis they should talk to their pediatrician. The pediatrician will evaluate the duration of the symptoms, what hurts, when it hurts, where the swelling occurs, how long it lasts, what makes the pain or swelling better or worse, and if there are any other symptoms like fever or rashes. They will also help determine if your child needs to see a rheumatologist.
To diagnose JIA, the rheumatologist will ask questions about the child’s symptoms, find out whether other family members have had similar problems, and do a thorough physical examination.
It is important that the doctor identifies any additional signs or symptoms to classify or describe the type of JIA, as there are multiple. In some cases, the doctor will use imaging, like musculoskeletal ultrasound or MRI, to look for inflammation inside the joints. The doctor may also order X-rays or blood tests to rule out other conditions or infections, such as Lyme disease, that may cause similar symptoms or occur along with the arthritis.
The health care providers, including the primary care physician, rheumatologist, and physical therapist, will work together to develop the best method of treatment for each child.
“Medications are used to control the immune system to stop the symptoms and prevent damage from the disease,” she said. “Some patients can be treated with a steroid injection into the joint, but because the immune system is not only located in one joint most patients will need systemic medications to control their disease.”
The goals of treatment are to relieve pain and inflammation, slow down or prevent the destruction of joints, and restore use and function of the joints to promote optimal growth, physical activity, and social and emotional development.
Children’s division consists of five board-certified pediatric rheumatologists, one pediatric rheumatology fellow (in-training), and three nurse practitioners who see patients with the faculty members. Patients can be seen at the Children’s of Alabama main campus, Children’s South on Acton Road, and in satellite clinics in Huntsville, Montgomery, and Mobile.
For more information, visit childrensal.org/rheumatology.
More than 3,000 children across the country are diagnosed each year with central nervous system tumors. When brain cells grow abnormally or out of control, a tumor can form. If the tumor puts pressure on certain areas of the brain, it can affect how the body functions.
Although there are many different types of brain tumors, doctors don’t know what causes them. Researchers believe that genetics and the environment may play a role. Doctors categorize a tumor based on its location, the type of cells involved and how quickly it grows. Some are cancerous while others are not.
The Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program at Children’s of Alabama is the only program of its kind in the state and treats more than 300 children diagnosed with brain tumors. It is one of the largest programs in the Southeast.
When discovered early enough, brain tumors are usually treatable. Dr. Elizabeth Alva, assistant professor of pediatrics, said that there are different types of options depending on the kind of tumor.
Treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach and the appropriate treatment varies by the type of brain tumor,” she said. “Through our multidisciplinary team, we are able to provide the best care available to patients with brain tumors.”
Many slow-growing tumors are cured with surgery alone. Faster-growing tumors might need additional treatment with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or both.
One of the most exciting treatments currently happening at Children’s is the oncolytic virotherapy trial using herpes simplex virus. This approach is only available at Children’s and is evidence of Children’s commitment to providing more treatment opportunities for patients with difficult to treat recurrent or progressive brain tumors.
Signs and Symptoms
A brain tumor can cause symptoms by directly pressing on the surrounding parts of the brain that control certain body functions or by causing a buildup of spinal fluid and pressure throughout the brain. Signs or symptoms vary depending on a child’s age and the location of the tumor. They include:
Because symptoms might develop gradually and can be like those of other common childhood illnesses, brain tumors can be difficult to diagnose. If there are ever concerns about symptoms a child is having, a physician should be contacted right away.
For more information, visit childrensal.org/neuro-oncology.
Children’s of Alabama is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) that provides patients the opportunity to participate in the latest clinical trials and advanced care for pediatric brain tumors. In addition, they are one of only 21 COG sites designated as a Phase 1 institution, which offers patients with brain tumors and other cancers with the newest therapies not available at other institutions and help further advance the knowledge of new treatments. Children’s clinical trials are open through the National Experimental Therapeutics (NEXT) Consortium, including the newest Head Start 4 protocol, which aims to improve the cure rates and quality of survival with young patients diagnosed with medulloblastoma and primitive neuro-ectodermal tumors.
Scoliosis is an abnormal side to side curvature of the spine. Instead of a straight line, it may form more of an “S” shape or “C” shape. Scoliosis usually occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty.
Angela Doctor is a registered nurse and the Scoliosis Screening Coordinator for Children’s of Alabama. In 1984, the state of Alabama mandated that all public school students between the ages of 11 and 14 be screened for scoliosis. “The importance of scoliosis screening is early detection,” Doctor says. “Children are doing a lot of growing during the adolescent period, so our goal is to halt the progression of scoliosis.”
Types of Scoliosis
Doctor says there are three types of scoliosis. The most common is adolescent idiopathic, in which case the cause is unknown. But scoliosis can congenital, caused by a defect at birth, or due to a neuromuscular disease like cerebral palsy.
For most children, scoliosis is not a problem. Some may require ongoing monitoring. But a curve that gets worse can be bad for a child’s health. If an orthopedic specialist determines treatment is necessary, the options include a back brace to halt the deformity, or spinal surgery.
Parents may wonder if their child has scoliosis. Doctor says signs to look for include:
-Uneven waist and hips
-One side of the back higher than the other when bending forward
If a parent suspects their child may have scoliosis, they should see their pediatrician. He or she may refer the child to an orthopedic specialist to confirm a diagnosis and decide whether treatment is necessary.
It’s crucial to identify scoliosis early while the spine is still growing. When treatment is over, people with scoliosis are able to live full and active lives.
Many parents have a tough time judging how much dental care their children need. They know they want to prevent cavities, but they don’t always know the best way to do so. Here are some tips and guidelines.
When Should Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?
Good dental care begins before a baby’s first tooth appears. Just because you can’t see the teeth doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.
Even babies can develop tooth decay if good feeding habits aren’t practiced. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle might be convenient, but can harm the baby’s teeth. When the sugars from juice or milk remain on a baby’s teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as bottle mouth. Pocked, pitted, or discolored front teeth are signs of bottle mouth. Kids with severe cases might develop cavities and need all of their front teeth pulled (permanent teeth will grow in later).
When Should Kids See a Dentist?
The ADA recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday. At this first visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and do a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.
These visits can help find problems early and help kids get used to visiting the dentist so they’ll have less fear about going as they get older. Consider taking your child to a dentist who specializes in treating kids. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle the wide range of issues associated with kids’ dental health. They also know when to refer you to a different type of specialist, such as an orthodontist to correct an overbite or an oral surgeon for jaw realignment.
If a child seems to be at risk for cavities or other problems, the dentist may start applying topical fluoride even before all teeth come in (this also can be done in the pediatrician’s office). Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood oral disease — dental cavities (also called dental caries).
How Can We Prevent Cavities?
Cavities happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.
Here’s how to keep cavities away:
As children grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on your dentist’s recommendations. Keeping sugary foods in check, encouraging regular brushing and flossing, and working with your dentist will lead to good dental health.
As the weather warms and wool socks are traded in for flip flops, here are a few seasonal safety tips that will ensure that your family-fun outing stays just that.
Whether it’s an afternoon at the beach, out on the river or a picnic in the park, protecting your child’s skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays is always important. Severe sunburns can increase a child’s risk for future skin cancer. Follow these guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent dangerous sun exposure:
Lightening strikes occur most often during summer months. According to the National Weather Service, over 60 lightning-related deaths occur each year in the United States. This is why the organization stands by the the motto: “If thunder roars, go indoors.”
Swimming is among the most popular of summer activities, but without taking the proper safety precautions, it can also be one of the most dangerous. The American Red Cross recommends the following to keep your family safe while out on the water:
Tics and Tourette syndrome are neurobehavioral disorders that may begin in childhood or adolescence. A tic disorder affects a person’s central nervous system and causes uncontrollable, repetitive movements or sounds. It can be like an itch you don’t want to scratch, but can’t help it.
New Research for Tics and Tourette Syndrome
Previously, psychologists and psychiatrists primarily treated tics and Tourette syndrome through pharmaceuticals. However, new research has shown that through the work of occupational therapists and neurologists, behavioral modification and habit reversal therapies are highly effective in treating tics.
Jan Rowe leads the Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Treating Tics and Tourette Syndrome program at Children’s of Alabama, also known as CBIT. It’s one of 10 locations in the country designated as a Center of Excellence for treating tics and Tourette syndrome. This non-pharmaceutical, behavioral program usually consists of eight sessions.
“We basically teach the children strategies to use when they feel the tic coming on or when they’re ticking,” Rowe said. “We call it ‘competing response,’ and when they use that competing response, it makes the tic impossible to happen. That interrupts the tic’s cycle, the tic stops and then they no longer have to use that strategy.”
CBIT at Children’s of Alabama treats children from across the nation for tics and Tourette syndrome with a 90 percent success rate.
Diagnosing Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders
Rowe says Tourette syndrome is a type of tic disorder. It’s diagnosed when a child has at least one vocal tic and two motor tics that have lasted longer than a year. If a child is younger than 18 years old and has only one tic, whether it’s motor or vocal, then the diagnosis is a tic disorder.
Rowe said while tics and Tourette syndrome are neurologically based, stress is a significant contributing factor.
“Stress is a huge trigger for tics,” Rowe said. “That’s good stress or bad stress. It could be caused by a child looking forward to Christmas or spring break, or it can be seen in a child who is worrying about a math test.”
Rowe advises parents that if their child becomes aware and bothered by signs of a tic disorder or Tourette syndrome to contact CBIT at Children’s of Alabama at 205-638-6820. For more information, visit www.ChildrensAL.org/CBIT.