Daily Dose

Middle Ear Issues

1:30 to read

I just read a really intriguing study on children who have persistent middle ear fluid (otitis media with effusion) in The Canadian Medical Association Journal. Persistent middle ear fluid is fairly common and is often a reason that children will undergo a day surgical procedure to insert tympanostomy tubes (ear tubes).  In fact, my 11 month old granddaughter just had tubes placed.

The treatment for middle ear fluid is often to just “watch and wait” and in many cases the fluid will resorb on its own and the problem is solved. But for persistent fluid surgery was often recommended. For older children I often would see if they could learn the “valsalva maneuver” which would increase the pressure in the nasopharynx and help open the eustachian tube. This is the same maneuver you use to “pop” your ears after an airplane flight.  The only problem is that some children don’t seem to be able to understand how to do this as there is not a way to really let them know how it feels when performed correctly.

In this study, 300 children aged 4 -11 years who had had recent ear symptoms and persistent fluid in one of both ears were randomized to “usual care” or were taught to use a nasal balloon.  The nasal balloon with auto inflation is a device which is inserted into one nostril while occluding the opposite nostril and the child blows up the balloon through their nose. By doing this they increase the pressure in their nasopharynx and open up the eustachian tubes and clear the fluid.  Genius…. the child can see that they are doing the maneuver properly as the balloon blows up….and it is both painless and fun!!

In the study the children, used the nasal balloon 3 times a day for up to 3 months and they were more likely to “achieve normal middle ear pressure” than the children who did not use the auto inflation balloon.  

This is certainly low cost and can be taught in the pediatrician’s office with minimal time and effort for both parent and child. Who wouldn’t want to try this rather than have a surgical procedure?

I am now going to look into where to purchase this product (wish I had thought this up) and try this on some of my own patients. I am sure there are plenty of kids that would love to blow up a balloon with their nose…perfect for a show and tell demonstration as well!

Daily Dose

Water Safety

1:15 to read

I was reminded of the importance of pool safety after watching the news and hearing that 3 children were found in a nearby apartment pool, under water and unresponsive.  

There are about 3,500 fatal unintentional drownings per year, which is about 10 deaths per day.  Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14 years.  For every child who dies from drowning, there are 4 non-fatal drowning victims who suffer severe and life changing injuries.

Drowning is preventable!!  Although many people think of drowning victims screaming and yelling, drowning is actually quick and silent.  It only takes seconds (the time to grab a towel, or answer the phone) and a child may become submerged. Most drownings also occur in family pools.  Because I have always had a fear of drowning we did not build a pool until our boys were all older than 10 years and were excellent swimmers ( was I a bit over zealous with swim lessons and swim team, maybe...)?  Children as young as 2-3 years can safely begin swim lessons and begin the process of mastering how to tread water, floating and basic swim strokes. 

Another rule for safe swimming is “never swim alone!”.  Teach your children the importance of the buddy system when they are swimming, even in a backyard pool. Adults need to be designated “water watchers” and know that they are responsible for watching the children in the pool and will never leave them unattended. The “water watcher” should regularly scan the bottom of the pool, and will need to have a phone at the pool for emergency use only.  Adult water watchers have only 1 job...to watch the pool, no poolside chatting or distractions. It is a big job!

Anyone with a pool or who is a caregiver of children who are swimming needs to become CPR certified.  CPR skills can save lives and prevent brain damage.   

Lastly, if you have a pool you need layers of protection - which  means a barrier around your pool. I have heard many a family tell me that their child “could never get out the door to the pool, it has several locks and an alarm”.  Despite the best of intentions, no parent can watch their child 24 hours/day.  Toddlers have been known to push a stool over to unlock a door, or a door is inadvertently left unlocked or ajar. Remember, it only takes seconds for a child to become submerged. 

By the way, I am following my own advice and a pool fence is going up to protect our granddaughter...the bigger the better.

Daily Dose

Calming Parent's Fears About Night Terrors

1;30 to read

I received an e-mail from a viewer today about night terrors. Her concern was “my son is having what I think are nightmares, but he talks and makes no sense and seems to be afraid and I am not sure what is going on.”

Her description is perfect for night terrors, which typically occur in children during the pre-school and early elementary years. The peak age is between five and seven years, and night terrors usually resolve before adolescence. About three percent of children experience night terrors.

Night terrors are part of sleep disturbances known as parasomnias, and are characterized by partial arousal during non-REM sleep. Night terrors therefore typically occur during a child’s early hours of sleep, when non-REM sleep is deepest. Most children with night terrors will stay in their bed, but cry out and appear anxious and upset, but are also very confused. Some children may run down the hallway with heart racing and breathing fast as if they are being chased. Until you see a child having a night terror it is difficult to explain how anxiety provoking it is for a parent who doesn’t realize what is going on.

I speak from experience as our third child had classic night terrors, but the first time he appeared in a “semi” awake state screaming and sweating, I would have sworn he was in horrible pain. Not the case, as after about two to five minutes most children will calm down (on their own as you cannot awaken them or comfort them during the event) and return to sleep and have no recollection of the episode the following morning. It is a very helpless feeling until you realize that your child is really not awake at all.

The other big difference between night terrors and nightmares is that the child has no sense of dread or of being scared to sleep. They have no fear or anxiety about these events occurring, and while the sleep terror ends abruptly with rapid return to deep sleep there is complete amnesia to the event. The best treatment is in reassuring parents. It is also important to make sure that your child has a regular bedtime routine and that they are getting sufficient sleep. This sleep disturbance is really more disturbing to the family than the child and will resolve over time. Just remember to let babysitters know, as it may be quite unsettling for a new sitter who has just put precious children to bed!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue right now!

Daily Dose

Kids Who Snore

1.30 to read

Does your child snore?  If so, have you discussed their snoring with your pediatrician.  A recent study published in Pediatrics supported the routine screening and tracking of snoring among preschoolers.  Pediatricians should routinely be inquiring about your child’s sleep habits, as well as any snoring that occurs on a regular basis, during your child’s routine visits.  

Snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea and/or sleep disordered breathing (SDB), and habitual snoring has been associated with both learning and behavioral problems in older children. But this study was the first to look at preschool children between the ages of 2-3 years.

The study looked at 249 children from birth until 3 years of age, and parents were asked report how often their child snored on a weekly basis at both 2 and 3 years of age.  Persistent snorers were defined as those children who snored more than 2x/week at both ages 2 and 3.  Persistent loud snoring occurred in 9% of the children who were studied.

The study then looked at behavior and as had been expected persistent snorers had significantly worse overall behavioral scores.  This was noted as hyperactivity, depression and attentional difficulties.  Motor development did not seem to be impacted by snoring.

So, intermittent snoring is  common in the 2 to 3 year old set and does not seem to be associated with any long term behavioral issues. It is quite common for a young child to snore during an upper respiratory illness as well .  But persistent snoring needs to be evaluated and may need to be treated with the removal of a child’s adenoids and tonsils.

If you are worried about snoring, talk to your doctor. More studies are being done on this subject as well, so stay tuned.

Daily Dose

Treating Bee Stings

Bee stings are a right of passage during childhood, always memorable, but never fun.I was outside today and noticed that the bees are back, pollinating the flowers in my garden, but ready to sting too if they are crossed by bare feet or errant hands. Bee stings are a right of passage during childhood, always memorable, but never fun. Our office receives numerous calls about how to handle a bee sting. First thing is to get some ice or a cool compress on the sting, which relives both PAIN and swelling.

While the ice is working you can take a peek and see if the stinger is still in the skin, and if so do not go grab tweezers or your fingernails to try and remove the stinger. If you do that you will only make the sting worse. The best way to remove the stinger is by using the edge of a credit card to gently scrape the stinger out of the skin. Honey Bees leave behind their stinger while wasps and hornets do not. Unless the child is allergic to bee stings most people will only have a local reaction. If there are any symptoms associated with the sting such as swelling of face, mouth, lips, or difficulty swallowing or breathing, give an immediate dose of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) while calling 911. If the child has a known bee hypersensitivity and they have an epi pen you will need to use it and also call 911. For local reactions after the sting is cleaned you can apply calamine lotion or a topical steroid cream. For swelling and discomfort a dose of Benadryl is also recommended, as well as a pain reliever like ibuprofen which will also relieve local inflammation along with pain relief. The sting is usually not uncomfortable for more than 24 hours. Make sure to watch for signs of infection with increasing redness, streaking or pain at the site of the sting. If the area seems to be getting worse rather than better it is a good idea to let you pediatrician take a peek. That's your daily dose for today, we'll chat again tomorrow.

Tags: 
Daily Dose

Throwing the Bottle Away

1:30 to read

When a child reaches their first birthday, they have already reached many milestones. But when a child turns one, mom and dad need help their child do one more thing says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. “They need to throw the bottle away, she says.” “Developmentally, a your baby does not need to suck for nutrition at age one.”

After that first birthday, children should be drinking whole milk out of a sippy cup. The fat in whole milk is essential for the child’s developing brain. Dr. Hubbard says to do the transition from bottle to sippy cup cold turkey. “At 9 months, buy a sippy cup, one without a nipple, and give it to your child to play with. This will help teach him how to hold it. Then start with whole milk, never juice or water.” 

Dr. Hubbard says that studies have shown that prolonged bottle feeding leads to increased dental cavities, iron deficiency, anemia and obesity. “I’ve heard parents say ‘My child won’t drink out of a sippy cup.’ I say yes they will if they are thirsty. They won’t starve or get dehydrated.” If you wait until a child is 15 to 18 months old to remove the bottle, it becomes more of an issue she warns. Once your child has transitioned to a sippy cup, Dr. Hubbard reminds parents to only offer the sippy cup to the child at meal and snack times. “A child should never carry a sippy cup around the house,” she says.

Daily Dose

The Difference Between Cradle Cap And Dandruff

1.15 to read

I recently received a question from a Twitter follower related to cradle cap and dandruff. She wanted to know if there was a difference in the two.

You know there really isn’t as they are both due to seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory condition of the skin in which the skin overproduces skin cells and sebum (the skins natural oil). Cradle cap is the term used for the scaly dermatitis seen on the scalp in infants. It is also seen on the eyelids, eyebrows, and behind the ears. It is typically seen after about three months of age and will often resolve on its own by the time a baby is eight to 12 months old. It is usually simply a “cosmetic” problem for a baby as it looks like a yellowish plaque on a baby’s scalp and is often not even noticed by anyone other than the parents. Unlike seborrheic dermatitis in adults, cradle cap typically doesn’t itch. It is thought that cradle cap may occur in infancy due to hormonal influences from the mother that were passed across the placenta to the baby. These hormones cause the sebaceous glands to become over active. In some severe cases an infant’s scalp becomes really scaly and inflamed and causes even more parental concern, as it appears that the infant is uncomfortable and may be trying to scratch their head by rubbing it on surfaces. The treatment for cradle cap is to wash the baby’s scalp daily with a mild shampoo and then to use a soft comb or brush to help remove the scales once they have been loosened with washing. When washing the head make sure to get the shampoo behind the ears and in the brows (keeping the soap out of baby’s eyes). This is usually sufficient treatment for most cradle cap. In situations where the greasy scales seem to be worsening it may help to put a small amount of mineral oil or olive oil on the baby’s head and let it sit (I left a small amount on my children’s heads overnight) and then to shampoo the following day. The oil will help the scales to loosen up and come off more easily. For babies that have very inflamed irritated cradle cap a visit to your pediatrician may be warranted to confirm the diagnosis. In persistent cases I often recommend shampooing several times a week with a dandruff shampoo that has either selenium (Selsun) or zinc pyrithione (Head and Shoulders) making sure not to get any in the infant’s eyes. I may then also use a hydrocortisone cream or foam on the scalp that will lessen the inflammation and itching. In these cases it may take several weeks to totally clear up the problem. As children get older, especially during puberty, you may see a return of seborrhea as dandruff. Again you can use dandruff shampoos. It also seems that with the overproduction of sebum there is an overgrowth of a fungus called “malessizia” so using a shampoo for dandruff as well as a antifungal shampoo (Nizoral) often works. I have teens alternate different shampoos, as sometimes it seems to work better than always using the same shampoo for months on end. Teens don’t like white flakes falling from their scalp and unlike a baby, a teen is worried about the cosmetic issues of seborrhea! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Alcohol During Lunch with Your Baby?

1:30 to read

I know I often give advice, but I also have lots of opinions, so this may be a bit controversial but what do you think about drinking wine at lunch with your babies in tow?  I was meeting a friend for a “casual” lunch at a “healthy food” restaurant (I won't name it)  and while I was waiting I noticed a group of young mothers at the next table with their precious babies.  All of these little ones were under the age of one year.: one in a high chair while the other two were in the car seats. 

So, I also noticed that they were drinking a glass of wine while they were visiting with one another. I guess that a glass of wine is not a big deal…but I wish they had been paying a bit more attention to their babies.  I continued to watch them and when they finished the first glass of wine they ordered another while they started eating their lunch.  Again, no one was really interacting with their child.

While I am not against drinking wine at lunch, I must admit I have been guilty of this when on vacation.  But, sitting at lunch on a weekday with your tiny babies in tow and now on a second glass of wine?   By that time my friend had arrived and we started eating our lunch….but I just could not stop watching the table next to me.

The young women finished their lunches, one having another glass of wine and got up to leave.  As they were leaving the mother closest to me was buckling up her baby and we leaned over to admire him. He really had been the best baby and had sat quietly in his seat and watched all of the people around him…an easy baby. When we commented to his mother about his sweet demeanor, her comment was, “do you want him”?

I was disturbed by the entire event. How can you take your babies to lunch, for what was a seemingly normal Thursday afternoon, drink 2-3 glasses of wine and then drive your children home?

Unfortunately, when I was discussing this event with several of the young mothers in my practice they said that this was becoming more and more common. Take the kids to lunch or the park and drink while the children occupy themselves is becoming more and more “normal”.  

If you want to drink…then do it responsibly. That would not be at lunch with three young children, and then hop in the car to drive home.   Get a babysitter and take an Uber. I told you I have lots of opinions!

Daily Dose

Treating Swimmer's Ear

1:15 to read

Swimming is one of the best ways to beat the summer heat, but that may also mean that your child will develop a painful swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa. Swimmer’s ear is a common summer infection of the external auditory canal, in other words the part of the ear that connects the outer ear (where the Q–tip goes, but really shouldn’t) to the inner ear.

Swimmer’s ear often develops in school age children that spend much of their summer in the water, whether in a pool, lake or even the ocean. The ear canal just never gets a chance to dry out, and the constant moisture disrupts the skin’s natural barrier to infection. The skin may then develop micro abrasions, which allow bacteria to penetrate, and a painful infection develops.  The most common bacterial infection is due to the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

A child with a swimmer’s ear usually complains when you touch their ear or tug on their ear lobe. They will often complain when they are lying down and roll over on that ear. Swimmer’s ear may be extremely painful and awaken your child from sleep. When you have an inner ear infection (otitis media) the ear itself is not painful to the touch. In severe cases the ear canal may be so swollen that it appears smaller than usual, and appears red and tender. At some times you may see discharge from the ear canal due to the infection and subsequent inflammatory response.

The treatment of swimmer’s ear is to use an antibiotic drop instilled into the ear canal. I often use an antibiotic drop in combination with a steroid to provide anti-inflammatory effects too which will help to reduce the local swelling and irritation. In severe cases it may be difficult to get the dropper into the ear due to the swelling so the doctor may place a “wick” into the ear that will open the ear canal and allow the drops to enter. A child may also need pain control with either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. At the same time you are using topical drops the child needs to keep water out of the ear!! This is the hard part as they are such water creatures at this age. This also means not to get the ear wet when bathing or showering. I usually say for four to five days before returning to the water.

To help prevent swimmer’s ear you can either buy a premixed solution called Swim Ear, at the pharmacy or mix up your own thrifty bottle made with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 alcohol. It is handy to keep this by the back door if you have a pool or in the beach bag. At the end of swimming apply a few drops to each ear and wiggle the ear around. This will help dry out the ear. Once your child is a “fish” and their heads are under water a good deal of the time, this a good time to start using this product. It is unusual to see a your-baby, toddler etc with swimmer’s ear, as they are just not under water all day. But prevention is the key, a painful ear is not fun and staying out of the pool just adds insult to injury! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.