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100 Deadliest Days of Summer: Teen Driving

Summer is a liberating time for children and teens alike. Classes are finished, the sun is out and it’s their time to relax and have fun. But did you know that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the 100 deadliest days for teens?

An average of 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, a 26% increase compared to other months in the year*. However, there are safety precautions teens can take to stay safe and vigilant behind the wheel.

7 Ways to Stay Safe Behind the Wheel

1. Buckle up: every person, every time

More than half of teens involved in fatal car crashes were not wearing a seat belt. Make sure your teen is buckled up every time they get into the car: every time, every distance, no exceptions.

2. Don’t text and drive

Texting and driving takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at a time, on average. If your teen is driving at 55 mph, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Set strict guidelines against texting and driving, and set a good example by not using your phone while driving.

3. Speak up when any person is driving unsafely

Half of teen passengers report feeling unsafe while riding with a driver who isn’t alert, but most of them don’t speak up. Why? Because they are afraid of what their friends might say. Encourage your child to speak up if they feel they are riding with an unsafe driver, and provide them with an alternative way home.

4. Limit the number of passengers in the car

When two or more teens ride together in the car, the risk of a fatal crash can double or even triple. Alabama follows the Graduated Driver’s License Law, which restricts teen drivers from having more than one non-family member in the car with them for the first six months after getting their license. Enforcing this law at home will ensure than your teen isn’t distracted by friends behind the wheel. 

5. Don’t drink and drive

15 percent of drivers aged 15-19 who were killed in fatal crashed had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Remind your teen that drinking and driving is never okay, and poses serious legal and potentially lethal consequences.

6. Driving when it’s dark

The risk of a fatal crash at night can be three times higher for teens than for adults. Make sure your teen gets plenty of practice driving at night when they still have their permit and a trusted adult like you in the car.

7. Follow the speed limit

More than 33% of teens killed in fatal crashes were speeding. Make sure your teen is following posted speed limit signs at all times.

Remember that children and teens learn by example. Modeling good behavior behind the wheel will teach your child what is and what isn’t acceptable. Additionally, creating a contract or pledge for you and your teen to sign will set clear guidelines for your expectations. Use this contract to address consequences for speeding, texting, drinking or having too many passengers in the car.

*statistic courtesy of wesavelives.org

Children's, Health and Safety

Safe Sleep

SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the number one cause of death in babies under 12 months. SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby and often occurs during sleep.

SIDS is very frightening for new parents, but there are things you can do to keep your baby safe and help prevent SIDS. Dr. Candice Dye is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s of Alabama and UAB. She says parents and caregivers of babies should remember the ABCs of Sleep. “Alone, on their back, in a crib. It’s that simple,” she says.

ABCs of Sleep
•Alone
•On their Back
•In a Crib

Dr. Dye explains each point:

ALONE- “Items in the crib pose a huge suffocation risk,” she says. “No bumper pads, no stuffed animals, no loose blankets. Nothing else in the crib. A boring crib equals a healthy baby.”

On their BACK- “This is different from when our grandparents or parents were doing this, but babies should be laid down on their back,” Dr. Dye says. “This ensures that the baby can breathe and they are not getting trapped face down unable to breathe.”
In their CRIB- “It’s really easy for parents to be tired and want to keep the baby in their bed with them, but an adult mattress is not the same as an infant crib mattress and there is the risk of the adult rolling onto the baby while sleeping,” she says.
Who is at risk?

All babies are at risk for SIDS. There is no single cause. However, SIDS is more common in black and Native American infants than in Caucasian infants. More boys than girls fall victim to SIDS.
Other risk factors include:
•Smoking, drinking or drug use during pregnancy and after birth
•Poor prenatal care
•Prematurity or low birth weight
•Family history of SIDS
•Mothers younger than 20
•Exposure to secondhand smoke
•Overheating

Dr. Dye strongly recommends that parents make grandparents and caregivers aware about the risk of SIDS and that they follow the ABCs of sleep when caring for the baby. She also cautions parents not to rely on store-bought devices or gadgets that may claim to help prevent SIDS.
Once babies consistently roll over from back to front on their own, they are less at risk of developing SIDS and can sleep in the position they choose. Until then, a parent can greatly reduce the risk of their child dying by SIDS by following the ABCs of sleep.

Children's, Nutrition

Nutrition for Picky Eaters

By: Rainie Robinson, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Looking for a simple way to make sure your child’s plate is balanced? Try filling half of their plate with non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, broccoli and green beans. Use your child’s fist to help measure a starch like mashed potatoes or pasta. Their fist is also a good measure for protein portion size. Protein can be a tricky addition, especially for younger kids who tend to be a little pickier. Some outside of the box protein ideas are  frozen Greek yogurt, trail mix with almonds or peanuts, string cheese or cubed cheese, or even use hummus for dip. Consider plating your child’s meal on a colorful plate with dividers, or cutting vegetables into interesting shapes to make meal time more fun.

MyPlateA great way to encourage children to make healthier choices is to incorporate a family dinner time. Studies have shown that kids who eat with their parents tend to make better grades, have a lower risk for becoming overweight, usually make healthier food choices, and typically engage in fewer risky behaviors as they grow older. If you’re feeling crunched for time, try starting with one family meal per week.

Children’s of Alabama has 24 registered dietitians ready to help your child thrive. March is National Nutrition Month and a great time to learn more about how dietitians can help your family. We are here to help guide your child as they continue to grow and develop. From the NICU through adulthood, each specialty service has its own dietitian that has become an expert in what your child needs. Our goal is to provide you with the nutrition education and tools you need to help your family live well.

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For more information on National Nutrition Month, healthy eating tips, and resources, visit https://www.childrensal.org/clinical-nutrition.

Children's, Health and Safety

Antibiotic Resistance

Your child has a cold and feels miserable. You take him or her to the pediatrician expecting an antibiotic as treatment. Unfortunately, this mindset has lead to more and more children becoming dangerously resistant to antibiotics.

 

Dr. Shannon Ross is with Infectious Diseases at Children’s of Alabama. She says antibiotic overuse is leading to children becoming very sick and harder to treat. “We see children every day who five to 10 years ago, we could have treated with an oral antibiotic. But because there are not many options, we are having to admit them and give them an IV antibiotic,” she says.

Most illnesses are caused by a virus. However, antibiotics don’t treat viruses. They treat bacterial infections. “A bacterial infection would be something like pneumonia or an ear infection,” Dr. Ross says. “And antibiotics are necessary to treat those infections.” Antibiotics can even be life-saving when used to treat a bacterial infection. But if a child receives antibiotics when it’s not needed, this overuse can lead to the child being resistant over time. “We are seeing, over the past decade or so, increasing resistance,” Dr. Ross says. “Common infections, pneumonias, bladder infections we used to treat easily are now resistant to common antibiotics.”

Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Dr. Ross says parents can play an essential role in preventing antibiotic resistance. “When taking your child to the pediatrician, talk to your pediatrician about the diagnosis.If he or she prescribes an antibiotic, it’s OK to ask what the antibiotic is for and if it’s necessary.” She also advises that parents don’t pressure pediatricians to prescribe medicine their child doesn’t need.

If the pediatrician does prescribe an antibiotic. Remember these safety tips:

  • Take antibiotic exactly as prescribed
  • Don’t skip a dose
  • Finish the course of treatment
  • Never share antibiotics with anyone else

Parents can also help fight antibiotic resistance by encouraging their children to take simple steps to prevent the spread of infections. Encourage hand-washing and make sure your child is up to date on their immunizations. Also, remember if your child has a cold the best thing to do is “ride it out.” Help keep them hydrated and make sure they get plenty of rest. This will help their immune system to fight off the virus on its own.

Children's

Common Calls to the Regional Poison Control Center

The Regional Poison Control Center (RPCC) at Children’s of Alabama gets a variety of calls every day. The RPCC takes a variety of steps to ensure you and your child’s safety and keep you out of the emergency room, best of all its free and entirely confidential.

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The majority of calls the RPCC receives are about pediatric exposures. The most common 

exposure for children is household cleaning supplies. Many of your household cleaning supplies can look similar to edible substances for children. When making a call to the RPCC for this circumstance, they recommend you bring the product that your child was exposed to with you to the phone so ingredients can be verified off the label.

The following are other questions that a poison control specialist will ask you:

  1. Age, weight, allergies, current medication and prior diagnosis?
  2. How long ago did the exposure happen?
  3. What are the current symptoms?
  4. How much was ingested, inhaled or got on the skin or in the eye?
  5. Any first aid measures that you have already administered.

In this type of circumstance, the RPCC recommends that you do not try to induce vomiting after an ingestion because this could worsen the symptoms.

The poison control specialist will analyze all of the data and possible outcomes then decide whether it is treatable at home or whether the patient needs to go to the emergency department.

Last year, the RPCC was able to keep 9 out of 10 children under six years of age from going to the emergency department, which can be a costly experience. It only takes 3-5 minutes for a poison specialist to make an evaluation.

Thirty- four percent of RPCC exposures pertain to adult exposures. The number one poisoning in adults are analgesics, which is very common in terms of medication errors. The poison specialists, who are nurses and pharmacists, evaluate each case individually.

These are the questions that the specialist will ask:

  1. What was the exposure? What type of exposure – ingestions, inhalation, dermally, or ocular?
  2. How much?
  3. Age, weight, allergies, current medication and prior diagnosis?
  4. What are the current symptoms?
  5. Any first aid measures that you have already administered.

From this information, the specialist looks at the amount ingested per body weight and will help the patient decide whether it is necessary to go to the emergency department.

In 2018, the RPCC handled 100,801 calls, both incoming calls and follow up calls. The majority of the RPCC come from the lay public (705), while 30% of calls came from doctors, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and other health care professionals. The RPCC is available to all ages. Within the past year, they handled patients that ranged from 1 day to 99 years old.

The Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays, for questions or emergencies regarding poisons. One national number, 1-800-222-1222, will connect you to your local poison center. Be sure to program this number into your cell phone and keep it visible in the home and workplace.

Children's, Health and Safety

When to Visit the Emergency Department

Your child doesn’t feel well, but should you take them to the emergency department? Sometimes it can be hard to tell when a child requires urgent medical treatment or if the concern can wait.

Dr. Sam Strachan is a pediatric emergency fellow.  He says the emergency department at Children’s of Alabama alone receives approximately 80,000 visits each year.  That’s an average of 219 patients each day!

Dr. Strachan says the emergency department will never turn anyone away, but a child may be better served and have a shorter wait time by seeing their pediatrician instead.  “Every child should have a pediatrician,” he says.  “If a child isn’t feeling well, even in the middle of the night, you can always call your pediatrician’s on-call number for advice.”

You should always take your child to the emergency department in a true emergency.  These signs include:

Go to Emergency Department

  • serious injury
  • trouble breathing
  • not drinking enough, not urinating enough
  • unusual sleepiness or confusion
  • a head injury and is vomiting
  • an eye injury
  • a serious burn

Call 911 if your child

  • isn’t breathing or is turning blue
  • is unconscious after a fall
  • is having a seizure
  • has a serious allergic reaction
  • has broken a bone that sticks out through the skin
  • is choking
  • has a large cut that is bleeding uncontrollably

A high fever can be scary for a parent to see, however, Dr. Strachan says it’s the body’s natural defense mechanism against infection.  “A lot of parents are concerned with a fever of 104 or 105 in their child,” he says.  “However children can deal with high fevers better than adults can.”  Babies are the exception.  “Any baby under two months old should be seen right away for any fever greater than or equal to 100.4,” he says.

Dr. Strachan offers these tips to help decide if a child needs to go to the emergency department in the event of a fever:

  • If feverish, try Motrin or Tylenol, depending on the age of the child
  • If the child feels well between fever, wait to see pediatrician until the next day

If it’s not a true emergency, it’s always best to wait to see your child’s pediatrician. “On the front end you’re taking away resources from children who really need it,” Dr. Strachan says. There’s another benefit to seeing the pediatrician.

“They know your child, they know your child’s history,” Dr. Strachan says.

Through an established relationship with a pediatrician, a child can receive better long term care.

Children's, Health and Safety

FAQs: 2018-2019 Flu Season

Q: What is influenza or flu?

A: Influenza (also known as the flu) is an infection of the respiratory tract. It is caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person.  It spreads when people cough or sneeze out droplets that are infected with the virus and other people breathe them in. The droplets also can land on things like doorknobs or shopping carts, infecting people who touch these things.

Q: Is flu contagious?

A: The flu is very contagious. People can spread it from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone. This is about one week for adults, but it can be longer for young children.

Q: How will I know if my child has flu and not just a cold?

A: The fall and winter months are cold and flu season. Both the cold and the flu can present similar symptoms, including cough, congestion and runny nose. In general, the flu hits a lot harder and quicker than a cold. When people have the flu, they usually feel worse than they do with a cold. Most people start to feel sick about two days after they come in contact with the flu virus.

Flu symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle or body aches
  • dizziness
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness or fatigue
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • weakness
  • ear pain
  • diarrhea or vomiting, ( more common in children than adults)

Q: Is it too late for my child to get this season’s flu vaccine?

A: There’s still time to get a flu vaccine this season. Flu season in the United States is from October to May. Vaccines are provided at most pediatricians’ offices. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the flu shot for everyone over 6 months old.

Q: What is the treatment for flu?

A: Most children with flu get better at home. In the event a child does get sick, you can help mitigate symptoms. Make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids. You can give appropriate doses of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches, and make sure they are getting plenty of rest.

Q: When should I seek medical treatment for my child if I suspect flu?

A: Bring your child to the doctor if you’re concerned about severe symptoms. Most of the time parents can care for their children with plenty of rest, fluids and extra comfort. Some children are more likely to have problems when they get the flu, including:

  • children up to the age of 5, especially babies
  • children and teens whose immune system is weakened from medicines or illnesses
  • children and teens with chronic (long-term) medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes

Q: In addition to the flu vaccine, how else can we stay healthy during cold and flu season?

A:  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the flu shot for everyone over 6 months old. Here are some other tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season:

  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Wash your hands
  • Clean living and working areas
  • Avoid crowds
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

Q: How can we prevent the spread of germs in our house if my child is sick?

A: The flu virus spreads when people cough or sneeze out droplets that are infected with the virus and other people breathe them in. The droplets also can land on things like doorknobs or shopping carts, infecting people who touch these things.

Teaching children the importance of hand washing is the best way to stop germs from causing sickness. It’s especially important after coughing or nose blowing, after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.

There’s a right way to wash hands, too. Use warm water and plenty of soap, then rub your hands together vigorously for at least 15 seconds (away from the water). Children can sing a short song — try “Happy Birthday” — during the process to make sure they spend enough time washing. Rinse your hands and finish by drying them well on a clean towel. Hand sanitizer can be a good way for children to kill germs on their hands when soap and water aren’t available.

Cleaning household surfaces well is also important. Wipe down frequently handled objects around the house, such as toys, doorknobs, light switches, sink fixtures, and flushing handles on the toilets.

Soap and water are perfectly fine for cleaning. If you want something stronger, you can try an antibacterial cleanser. It may not kill all the germs that can lead to sickness, but it can reduce the amount of bacteria on an object.

It’s generally safe to use any cleaning agent that’s sold in stores but try to avoid using multiple cleaning agents or chemical sprays on a single object because the mix of chemicals can irritate skin and eyes.

Q: If my child has had flu, when can he return to school, child care, etc.?

A: Children with the flu should stay home from school and childcare until they feel better. They should only go back when they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine. Some children need to stay home longer. Ask the doctor what’s best for your child.

 

Find more information and resources at https://www.childrensal.org/cold-and-flu-updates-and-resources.

Children's, Health and Safety

Seasonal Flu

According to the Jefferson County Department of Health, activity levels for this 2018-2019 flu season across the state of Alabama are at 4.20%, which is above Alabama’s baseline of 3.32%. This puts Alabama in the red zone for incidence.

Delphene Hobby-Noland, Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Children’s of Alabama, said that the answer to avoiding the flu is as simple as taking basic precautionary steps.flustockpicture

“The two biggest preventative measures you can take are to get your annual flu immunization and to wash your hands,” Hobby-Noland said. “Our hands are the primary way that we transmit germs.”

Hobby-Noland said that those most susceptible to the flu are children and the elderly because their immune systems tend to be weaker. Children under the age of 5, especially those younger than 2 years old, are particularly more likely to suffer from flu-related complications. These complications include pneumonia, dehydration, worsening of long-term medical problems like heart disease or asthma, swelling in the brain, sinus problems and ear infections. Children younger than 6 months cannot receive the flu shot, meaning that it is important for everyone who is of age to be immunized, especially caregivers and parents of young children. There is still time to get the flu shot. While the shot does not cover all strains of the flu, it can shorten or cause the case to be less severe even if someone does get the illness.

Other preventative measures involve disinfecting commonly used surfaces, as well as encouraging children to cover their mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and to avoid touching their faces.

The Jefferson County Health Department encourages people experiencing milder flu-like symptoms to stay at home or call their personal doctor instead of going to the hospital. This helps to prevent further overcrowding, risking exposure to more serious illnesses and spreading the flu.

Common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish with chills, though not all people with the flu will have a fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, which are more common in children

For more information, visit https://www.childrensal.org/.

 

Children's

Cold & Flu Season

 

It’s that time of year when the flu virus spreads. Every year from October to May, millions of people across the United States come down with the flu. So how can you protect your family, and what should you do if your child gets sick?

Delphene Noland is the manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Children’s of Alabama. She recommends now is a good time to get the flu shot. “It can start as early as September through April. It’s good for the entire season. We know the flu is most prevalent through the fall and winter,” Noland said. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Influenza, or “the flu,” is a very contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. The flu can often have some of the same symptoms as the common cold but more severe.

Identifying the Flu
Flu feels worse than a cold
Higher fever
Body aches
May have diarrhea or vomiting

Treating the Flu
Get plenty of sleep and stay home
Drink lots of liquids to prevent dehydration
Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve fever and aches

Noland says it is extremely important to stay hydrated during the flu. “Most flu deaths are related to complications of the flu, not necessarily the flu itself. For instance, things like dehydration and pneumonia,” she said. “If they’re not eating and drinking, if babies are not having wet diapers, those are hallmarks that you may need to seek medical attention.”

The flu is easily spread, but there are ways to prevent it. “Hand washing is the number one thing you can do to prevent any viruses including the flu,” Noland said. She encourages parents to teach their children to wash their hands often, including throughout the day when they are at school. “There’s no such thing as too much hand washing,” she said.

Because the flu is so contagious, it’s important to keep your child home when they are sick until they are fever free for at least 24 hours. The flu usually lasts about a week.
It’s important to get the vaccine every year to have the best protection against the flu.

Children's, Health and Safety

Holiday Hazards

The holidays are one of the most wonderful times of the year. Keep you and your family safe this season by reading the tips below on how to avoid potential holiday hazards!

Fire Hazards

The National Child Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration estimates that there are 240 house fires from Christmas trees alone and 150 fires from holiday lights each year. When deciding on a Christmas tree this year, make sure it is fresh and watered appropriately. The tree needles should be green, and the stump sticky with sap and they should be placed away from any heat sources that may cause it to catch fire. You should water the tree daily, and if you notice the tree beginning to dry out and die, you should remove the tree from your home. All artificial trees should be flame resistant.

Poisoning Risks

Many holiday plants can be poisonous if ingested. This includes mistletoe, holly, and Jerusalem cherry plants. Symptoms of potential plant poisoning are rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of the plant, please contact the Regional Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Bubble lights and snow sprays can also be poisonous to children. Bubble lights contain a hazardous chemical called methylene chloride and should not be ingested.

Medication Risks

With your holiday parties, make sure guests and relatives coming into your home keep their medications out of reach for your children. Store all medicines — prescription and nonprescription — out of sight and out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet. Even items that seem harmless, such as mouthwash, can be hazardous if ingested in large quantities by children. All packages and bottles should be child resistant. If you are visiting someone else’s home, make sure your kids are in a safe area of the house that is properly childproofed.

Alcohol and Food Poisoning

The risk of alcohol and food poisoning is all too common amongst children during the holidays. To lower the risk, make sure you dispose of all empty or partially empty containers immediately. All alcohol should be kept away and out of reach of children. Practice food safety by thoroughly washing hands, utensils, dishes, and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish, raw eggs before and after use. Store your leftovers properly, and heat them thoroughly before serving again.

Choking and Swallowing

Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel, and small toys are all potential choking hazards for small children. If it is small enough to fit in a baby or toddler’s mouth, then it is too small to play with. Button batteries are common in most children’s toys and are very dangerous if swallowed. The symptoms of button battery ingestion are coughing, choking, irritability, loss of appetite, and fever. If swallowed, visit your nearest emergency department or call 911. Small treats such as peanuts or popcorn, tree needles, angel hair (made from finely spun glass) and ornament hangers are all potentially harmful and should be kept away from children.

Gift Giving

The number one thing to remember when picking gifts for your little ones this season is that you must choose a gift that is age appropriate. For young children, toys without strings, batteries and removable parts are best and reduce the risk of choking.

If your child ingests something toxic this holiday season, call the Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama at 1-800-222-1222.  The Regional Poison Control Center can give recommendations for how to treat ingestion as well as dermal and ocular exposures.