Understanding Brain Development
Thu, 3/29/2012 3:48 PM
The teenage brain is very different from the adult brain. In fact, our brains are only 80 percent developed by adolescence, says Dr. James Wheless, co-director of Le Bonheur Children's Neuroscience Institute. Our brains develop at different rates from birth to adulthood, and understanding typical brain development helps us comprehend why kids do and say the things they do. In connection with Brain Awareness Month, Wheless helped explain brain development.
First Few Years of Life
Most importantly, as teens’ brains develop, they can be easily influenced. Getting adequate sleep and not overloading the brain allow it to make better connections during this critical time period in adolescence. Also, because final connections are being made, the brain is more susceptible to toxins (e.g., alcohol) than the adult brain. Teenage brains can take days to weeks to recover from the effects of alcohol, so drinking on the weekend can affect their test performance the next Thursday -- something that would not occur in an adult.
Low Muscle Tone
Tue, 3/27/2012 4:36 PM
If your child is having trouble reaching certain developmental milestones, hypotonia may be to blame. A child is said to have low muscle tone — hypotonia — if muscles are on the loose, floppy side, says Danielle Keeton, MACCC-SLP, director of Le Bonheur Early Intervention and Development. Children with low muscle tone often have delayed motor skills, muscle weakness and coordination problems.
Hypotonia is often associated with diagnoses like Down syndrome, Hypothyroidism and other genetic or neurological impairments. This type of hypotonia is more easily identified. However, mild hypotonia, often noticeable to parents, may not be noticed by others.
The research is also mixed about the effectiveness of intervention for children with only mild hypotonia. Some pediatricians may prefer the “wait and see” strategy, while others may seek evaluations by professionals, like physical therapists.
As a parent, it’s always important to trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone else and can have a “sixth sense” when something just doesn’t seem right.
Early motor milestones to watch for include:
By 3 months
By 6 months
By 12 months
By 18 months
By 24 months
If your child’s floppy muscles are creating delays in early motor milestones, it may be beneficial to obtain an evaluation from a professional. An evaluation can provide you with a piece of mind; even if you discover during the process that there was nothing to worry about. You can discuss your preference for an evaluation with your pediatrician and can also contact the local early intervention system. Each state has an early intervention system for infants and toddlers that can assist you in finding a professional to evaluate your child’s condition.
Recall: Push N' Snap Cabinet Locks
Mon, 3/26/2012 3:54 PM
More than 900,000 Safety 1st Push N’ Snap cabinet locks have been voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The recall was made following 200 reports of locks that failed to secure the cabinet. In three cases, children handled or swallowed household cleaning products after being able to open the locks.
Model numbers 48391 and 48442, manufactured between January 2004 and November 2010, are included in the recall.
How to Respond to Wasp or Bee Stings
Thu, 3/22/2012 2:49 PM
Not only is spring in the air, but so are wasps and bees. With the weather just right for outside play, it's a great time to know what to watch for and what to do if your child is stung. We asked Dr. Christie Michael, an allergist/immunologist with Le Bonheur and The University of Tennessee about insect stings and possible allergic reactions. We’ve provided the answers below.
How do I know if my child is allergic to insects like wasps or bees?
What’s the first sign I should look for?
Should I administer Benadryl before I call 9-1-1 if my child presents the warning symptoms?
If my child is stung and doesn’t experience any problems, what is the best path of treatment?
Mon, 3/19/2012 3:05 PM
We mentioned recently that Daylight Savings Time is a good time to check your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Having a working smoke alarm reduces a person’s risk of dying in a fire by half.
Safe Kids Mid-South provides more information about smoke alarms below.
Where should I place smoke alarms?
There are a few places where a smoke alarm should not be placed. These include kitchens and garages (cooking fumes and car exhaust are likely to set them off) and unheated attics and crawl spaces (where it can get too cold or hot for the electronics to work properly).
What kind of smoke alarm should I get?
Smoke alarms installed in a house may operate from the household electrical power and not need battery replacement. This type of alarm has a "power on" light to tell you that the alarm has power. Smoke alarms that run on house power but also have backup battery protection are available. Both types of alarms need to be tested monthly, and batteries should be replaced yearly just as with the battery-operated type.
Kids and Spring Allergies
Thu, 3/15/2012 3:10 PM
Spring has sprung a little early this year, and along with spring comes seasonal allergies. Le Bonheur allergist Dr. Christie Michael offers our readers some helpful tips for dealing with allergies. Many children suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms especially in the spring when pollen counts can be exceptionally high. Here, Dr. Michael has addressed some commonly asked questions regarding allergies.
How do you know symptoms are from allergies?
How can you get relief?
If your child has a lot of congestion, your pediatrican can prescribe a nose spray. Over-the-counter nose sprays should be used for only a few days at a time as they can be addicting and cause worse “rebound” congestion. Ask your pediatrician which ones are safe to use and for how long. For eye symptoms, your child's doctor can prescribe eye drops to be used once or twice daily. If there are only a few days out of the year that your child suffers from eye symptoms, the over-the-counter allergy eye drops are fine (usually have a capital A at the end of the name). Artificial tears can provide relief from irritation, especially if refrigerated, and are a great alternative to rubbing. Again, if you are not sure, ask your pediatrician or pharmacist.
When should you see a specialist?
What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?
MyPlate: Celebrate Nutrition Month
Wed, 3/14/2012 2:06 PM
March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape.”
“Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl,” said Katelyn Wolfe, MS, RD, LDN, clinical dietitian at Le Bonheur Children’s. Using the new MyPlate concept can help you to get your family’s plates in shape. Katelyn has helped explain the MyPlate concept for parents.
To start, it helps to understand the MyPlate layout. You can see that half of the plate is filled by vegetables and fruits. This helps us to fill up on foods that provide a variety of nutrients without a ton of calories. The other half of the plate is divided between grains and protein-rich foods.
Here are some smart strategies to strengthen your plate:
Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Your best bet will be to choose a variety of colors – much like a rainbow. Encourage your kids to eat bright colors, too.
Make at least half your grains the whole grain version. Look on the food label for 100 % whole grains or at least make sure that the first ingredient on the list says “whole grain.”
Switch to fat free or 1% milk. These types of milk have the same amount of calcium and vitamin D as other types of milk but are lower in fat and calories.
Vary your protein choices. Get out of the chicken and beef rut! Mix things up by serving fish, beans, eggs or nuts for protein punches.
Recall: Gerber Infant Formula
Mon, 3/12/2012 1:31 PM
The batch of formula – from a 23.2-ounce plastic package from lot GXP1684 – poses no health risks, Gerber said. Consumers have complained of an off-odor from the formula, which has an expiration date of March 5, 2013. A few consumers have also reported cases of spit-up or other gastrointestinal issues from the formula.
For more information and to find out how you can get a replacement, visit the FDA’s recall section of its website.
Spring Forward, Check Smoke Alarms
Fri, 3/09/2012 2:21 PM
This Sunday, March 11, don’t forget to “spring forward” and change your clocks.
It’s also a good time to check your smoke alarms and changes the batteries if you haven’t done so recently. According to Safe Kids USA, having a working smoke alarm reduces a person's chance of dying in a fire by half?
Safe Kids says that for the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside every sleeping area and in every bedroom. Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings and tested monthly. And a reminder: smoke alarms last a maximum of eight to 10 years. After that time, the entire unit should be replaced. If the unit does not respond properly when tested, it should be replaced immediately.
Is That a Wart?
Thu, 3/08/2012 3:27 PM
Finding a wart on your child might be an unsettling moment for any parent. But according to Dr. Kip Frizzell, Le Bonheur’s director of Coordination of Care and a local pediatrician, warts are quite normal.
“Warts are caused by viruses from the human papillomavirus (HPV) family and are most commonly found on the upper extremities of the body. They are usually diagnosed by their appearance. There are many methods of treatments parents can pursue that range from a visit to the pediatrician to over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. Salicylic acid is one of the most common ingredients in OTCs, so parents should be mindful of that,” said Frizzell.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, skin warts are dome shaped with a rough appearance. Most often they are found on the hands, toes, face and around the knees. They can also occur on the soles of the feet where they are often painful. These are known as plantar warts, and your child may describe these as feeling like walking on a pebble.
“Treatment methods vary. There is no harm in trying the over-the-counter remedies first, which I’ve found to be successful. But if you’re child complains of pain from the wart it’s best to visit your pediatrician,” said Frizzell.
Some of the methods of treatment parents might want to research include:
How To: Helping Kids Who Stutter
Tue, 3/06/2012 1:28 PM
Many children stutter, and often times stuttering will go away on its own. But when should you seek help for your child who has trouble communicating clearly? Le Bonheur Speech Therapist Cara Mohundro, SLP, has helped us answer the questions below. She and her team of specialists at Le Bonheur refer to the Stuttering Foundation of America’s guidelines and tips for parents.
What is stuttering?
What causes stuttering?
Is stuttering normal? When should I seek a therapists help?
According to the Stuttering Foundation of America, parents can first try the following to help their child:
Swim Lessons: Right Age to Start?
Thu, 3/01/2012 1:45 PM
Starting to think about enrolling your child in swim lessons for the summer? Swim lessons – whether they’re through a school, church or independent program – are valuable and help keep children safe in and around water.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) used to recommend that children begin swim lessons at the age of 4 – the age at which they’re considered to be developmentally ready to learn to swim. But now more children are starting lessons as young as 1 to 2 years old, and that’s OK says the AAP.
“While the AAP still recommends that all children who are 4 years old and older begin to take swimming lessons, pediatricians are no longer against swimming lessons for younger toddlers and preschoolers between the ages of 1 to 4 years old,” Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South, said.
Safe Kids reminds parents swim lessons don’t make kids “drown proof.” Parents should still keep a constant watch over little ones when they’re in and around water. Swim lessons do not necessarily reduce the child’s risk of drowning.
Le Bonheur and Safe Kids helped launch Make a Splash Mid-South, a community-wide, volunteer initiative created to give more children the opportunity to learn to swim. Make a Splash has partnered with area aquatic centers to offer free and low cost swim lessons to at-risk children ages 6 to 12 years old.
For information about water safety, check out our post that explains what parents can and should do to keep their kids safe near water.
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