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Sportsmanship with Drew Pearson

Daily Dose

Kids & Cellphones

1:30 to read

There is a new study out from the National Toxicology Program in which rats were exposed to radio frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years beginning in utero.  They compared these rats to those that were not exposed and interestingly some of the male rats developed tumors in their hearts and brains and the controls did not.

I am writing about this as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age and for not having a home phone. While it is too early to say if this study has any bearing on humans and obviously the exposure was heavier than normal, this may serve as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age. It may also help to bring “land lines” back into the home. 

Call me old school, but I continue to believe and counsel patients, having a home phone is still important.  Without a home phone how can you call your child when you are away and they may be home with a babysitter….and not depend on the caregivers cell phone?  I also think that some children may be ready to stay at home for 30 min to an hour at a time while their parents go to the store, or pick up a sibling from school etc. before they are ready for a cell phone. By having a home phone the child has a means of contacting their parents, neighbors or emergency personnel and don’t risk losing a cell phone or any of the other numerous issues associated with owning a cell phone.

A home phone also gives children an opportunity to learn how to answer a phone and begin “screening” phone calls for the family and to learn phone etiquette….which is not always taught when parents are answering the cell and handing it off to their child.  What about the days when we were taught to say “Hello, Hubbard residence” when answering the phone?  Or having your mother sit by your side while you called a friend’s house and started off the conversation with, “may I please speak to…Sally?”. Phone etiquette was such an important part of every child’s life.

Once your child does have a cell phone it also seems that they may spend more time isolated from the family when on the phone….and may spend longer amounts of time on the phone than when the phone was in the family kitchen. Even my grown children often go outside to take their cell phone call….wonder what they are talking about, me?  I digress….

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that parents should limit the use of cell phones by children and teens. A cell phone is not a toy and emits radiation.  Keeping this source of radiation away from our children for as long as possible seems prudent while more research continues…and this study just gives parents a bit more ammunition when their 6 year old starts off with, “everyone else has a cell phone…when can I have one?”.  


Daily Dose

Your Kids Need Protein!

1:30 to read

Nutrition and healthy eating habits are always a topic of discussion during my patient’s check-ups.  Interestingly, I hear many tweens and teens tell me, “I am now a vegetarian”.  While I am thrilled that my patients are developing an awareness about their nutrition, I am equally amazed by what they think a vegetarian diet is.

Many a parent has cornered me before their child’s check up concerned about their child’s recent announcement that they are vegetarians and it has actually caused some heated family discussions surrounding nutrition and dietary requirements. The parents say that their child just decided that they no longer wanted to “eat meat” and that they were vegetarians. 

So…many of these new “vegetarians” don’t even like vegetables, and a few are confused by the difference between a vegetable and a fruit. When I ask them if they eat broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, eggplant and potatoes, I find that more than a few turn their noses up at most of those suggestions and simply eat potatoes as their vegetable of preference. They also eat avocados, and are surprised to find out that it is a fruit, but it is a good source of healthy mono unsaturated fats.  A few are a bit more adventuresome and actually eat a wide variety of vegetables including lentils and black beans as a source of protein.  

The same thing goes for fruits although for the most part they do admit to having a broader palate when it comes to fruits that they will eat.  Apples, bananas, berries, grapes are all favorites and many of these kids will eat fruit all day long.  Fruit is healthy for sure, but also contains sugars (far preferable to the sugar in the M & M’s I am eating while writing). 

The biggest problem with their “vegetarian diet”?   They just eat carbs! So I have coined the term “carbohydratarian” to describe them. Most of these patients are female and they eat carbs all day long.  They have cereal, toast, bagels for breakfast, followed by grilled cheese, french fries or a quesadilla for lunch and then dinner is pizza or pasta, and maybe a salad (lettuce only).  They like crackers, bread and almost all pasta (rarely whole wheat ). Rice is another favorite.

I too could probably eat a lot of these carbs every day….I think many people enjoy their carbs. But these kids are not meeting many of their nutritional requirements. They are getting very little protein! They are also growing…some at their most rapid rate during puberty. When I talk about adding protein to their diet they are often reticent to add eggs, fish or beans to their food choices. 

If your child decides that they want to change their lifestyle and might consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan, I would encourage you to have them meet with a certified nutritionist to explore their likes and dislikes as well as to educate them as to their nutritional needs.

I must say…..very few of these patients have maintained their vegetarian lifestyle, but if they choose to, they need to know the difference between a fruit and a veggie!


Daily Dose

Breaking Bad Habits

1:15 to read

Do any of your children bite their nails or suck their thumbs? If so, are you always saying, “take your fingers out of your mouth, they are dirty”, or “if you keep biting your nails you will get sick due to all of those germs on your fingers”!  I was guilty of saying those very things to my own children, and I also remember being a nail biter and my mother saying the same thing to me.

Well, who would have thought that a study just released today in the journal Pediatrics might make us parents eat our own words (it wouldn’t be the first time).  The study, “Thumb-Sucking, Nail-Biting and Atopic Sensitization, Asthma and Hay Fever” suggests that “childhood exposure to microbial organisms reduces the risk of developing allergies”.  Who knew that there might be something so positive coming from a “bad habit”.  

This study was done in New Zealand and followed over 1,000 children born between 1972-1973 (dark ages) whose parents reported that they either bit their nails or sucked their thumbs at 5,7,9 and 11 years old. The participants were then checked at ages 13 and again at 32 years old to look for an allergic reaction ( by skin prick testing) against at least one common allergen.  And guess what…at 13 years of age the prevalence of an allergic reaction was lower among those children who HAD sucked their thumbs or bitten their nails.  Incredibly the the findings persisted almost 20 years later!  This study even looked at cofounding factors including sex, parental history of allergies, pet ownership, breast feeding and parental smoking… none of which played a role. 

So, while not advocating for children to suck their thumbs or bite their nails (which unfortunately I did until high school when I decided to have nails to polish) there may be a silver lining….a protective effect against allergies that persists into adulthood. 

Lemonade out of lemons!!!

Daily Dose

Over The Top Birthday parties

1.15 to read

Birthday parties are getting to be quite a big deal...even for a one year old. I have had several parents in with their children for their 1 year old check up and they often bring along birthday party pictures. WOW!

Some of these bashes look like they could be a swee” sixteen or a wedding.  No kidding. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I started printing birthday invitations on my color printer....but these days some of the invitations are printed and delivered to other “1 year olds” who I assume cannot read yet. Thankfully their parents are also included as +2. 

These parents are very clever and most of the parties had themes....with the invitation, cake and party favors all coordinating. Looked like a ton of work for the parents to put this all together. If anything, this is not a “last minute” event...lots of planning and executing. I wonder if second or third children have such elaborate “bashes”.

I know I seemed to be able to throw together a birthday party at the last minute when necessary, but I am sure that was for child number 2 or 3. My husband did remind me of our first child’s 1st birthday when we had many friends and their toddlers over. He also reminded me that it was about 110 degrees in June, and that we had a plastic baby pool that we put a bunch of hot sweaty kids in, with parents who wished that they could have fit as well.  Not sure where those pictures are.

But it seems that petting zoos, bounce houses (maybe for the adults), magicians, and even super heroes arrive to celebrate this latest group of 1 year olds.  There are themed cakes with a miniature one for the birthday child too so that they may fully indulge in their “first sweet” A few of my moms had gluten free cakes made, just because. There are often tons of gifts as well, but many parents are opting to then donate them to one of our local children’s hospitals....a wonderful idea.

Lastly, with all of the fancy new apps and iPhone photos, many of the parties look like they have been professionally photographed (some of course had been).  Some of the precious 1 year old birthday children even had several wardrobe changes to celebrate the big day (yes, those were mostly little girls), I guess to get an early start on future occasions like the wedding.

What do you think about first birthday parties... I just think it might be worth waiting till your child can appreciate it as well?

Daily Dose

Sex On The Internet

1:30 to read

I have always felt comfortable discussing the human body and sexuality with my patients. In fact, when talking to parents about language development and how a child learns language, I often discuss playing the game “where is your eye, where is your nose?”. Over time a child learns not only to point to the body part, but will soon say the word. Quickly thereafter children ask about their other body parts and I encourage parents to call them by their correct name…penis, testicle, vagina, etc. This is easy for some parents, but some find it awkward and anxiety provoking…and need a bit of prodding as they feel uncomfortable even saying the words out loud.

So, when it comes to a child getting older and discussing puberty and developmental changes I again have some parents who say….” REALLY, do I have to discuss this” or  “can’t they just learn this at school” or “isn’t there a book they can read”?  Some others will say, “ I think my child is too young”…but their child may be 10 or 11. By this age some children I see are already starting to have  body changes, and may have wondered “what is happening to me?”.  But what I find equally interesting is that I also routinely ask their child “do you have a cell phone, computer or iPad?” and therefore many have internet access.  Now, why are the two being discussed together….? Because it seems that many kids are learning about sex and sexuality from the internet and social media, rather than from their parents.  So, not only are parents unaware that their child already “knows” more than they think, they also do not realize that their child’s idea of sex may be totally skewed and even inappropriate, depending on what website they have “stumbled upon” for information.

It seems that more and more young kids may be getting an education in pornography rather than sex and human sexuality. In many cases these young kids are “innocent” when they type the word “SEX” into the Google search….but what pops up is not.  This in fact happened to a young partner of mine who called me, her son’s pediatrician, in “horror” to tell me what she had found on her sons I-pad. “PURE PORN” I believe were the words she used.  While she and her husband had talked to him about body changes and sex before (I remember I gave her my previously well used book “Where Did I Come From”. But, being a normally curious boy ( or girl) he had gone to his iPad (which he uses with guidelines and supervision) and typed in SEX . WHOA…you should see the places he went!   When he was “discovered”,  he admitted that he was scared when he saw the pictures, as well as confused.  After a lengthy discussion about “healthy” sex and some more appropriate pictures, his iPad was put in “time-out” for awhile.

But, is this how today’s youth are going to learn and think about sex and sexual relationships….from internet porn that they have seen either intentionally or accidentally? I  expect that there are going to be more and more problems with our teens and young adults having what I would term “inappropriate sexual relationships”  if their knowledge and expectations are learned from these sites.  I don’t know how you possibly block all of this sexual information, some of which is quite inappropriate, oppressive and seemingly not consensual, from our kids.  At the minimum you need to make sure that you are having conversations about sex as your child gets older… use the appropriate terms for body parts as well as positions and types of sex … because they might be aware of a lot more than you think, and are too confused and embarrassed to ask. 


Daily Dose

Emergency Contraception

1.30 to read

A was flipping through one of my many journals and a recent study in Pediatrics intrigued me. The article was a discussion about “adolescents access to emergency contraception”. 

Emergency contraception (EC) has been available without a prescription since 2009.  At that time the FDA licensed EC to be available over the counter to individuals age 17 years and older, but it is not really OTC but rather BTC (behind the counter) as you must ask the pharmacist for the medication and show proof of age.  The medication is not in the aisle with the condoms, foams or tampons.

While knowing that the teen pregnancy rate is declining, there are still about 750,000 teenage pregnancies in the U.S. each year, and about 85% of these are “unintended”. If emergency contraception was taught and then utilized, it is estimated that half of all “unintended” pregnancies could be prevented.

It is also known that EC is safe, and when used in the first 120 hours (better still within 72 hours) after unprotected sex it is most effective.   That means you have to know where and how to access the medication in a timely manner.  So (of course) a study was undertaken to see just how an adolescent might obtain EC. 

The study looked at almost 1,000 different pharmacies in varying areas of the country and how they responded to phone calls from both adolescents who desired EC, as well as to physicians who called to inquire for their patients. In both cases phone calls were “staged” and a script was used so that the questions asked to each pharmacy were uniform. 

Interestingly, while most pharmacies reported having EC in stock (about 80%) there were wide variations in the information about its availability. In 19% of the fictitious adolescent phone calls the pharmacies told the caller it would be impossible to obtain EC, while this only occurred in 3% of the fictitious physician calls. Pharmacies only correctly conveyed the correct age to dispense EC without a prescription to between 57 - 61 % of phone calls (both teen and doctor generated). Additionally, around 35% of the pharmacies offered no additional suggestions for obtaining the medication (again for both teen and doctor).  

I found this study quite interesting as it related to my own practice. I discuss sex with all of my teenage patients. I also discuss abstinence as well as protected pre-marital sex. I tell all of my patients that I am their doctor, not their mother and my job is to educate them as much as possible to ensure their well being. I am open to discussing anything with them. 

I am also comfortable discussing birth control methods and the use of condoms to prevent STD’s (which I cover rather graphically). I tell all of my teenage patients that unprotected sex is not only STUPID, but risky. There really is no excuse. But with that being said, I do mention that there are emergency contraceptives should it be necessary.  I do not routinely “walk” my patients through how they might obtain EC after unprotected intercourse. I guess I assumed that it was easier than it really is.

 After reading this article I realized that while the debate continues on who should be able to obtain EC, the reality is that there are many barriers, even for those of legal age. I guess I will be adding another scenario to my adolescent visits in hope that they will be smarter than those who are giving out information over the pharmacy phones.  

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Strong Moms Empower

1.30 to read

I just participated in the StrongMoms Empower™ program sponsored by Similac® in New York. I had the privilege of speaking to a group of mothers (along with my new best friend Dr. Michele Borba) about the judgement that mothers feel they face every day.  This campaign urges moms to create a more supportive and less judgemental environment with the goal to empower moms to feel confident in their parenting decisions.

I know first hand that mothers are feeling stressed and anxious and this was affirmed by a study, “The National Motherhood Decision Survey”.  Whether this feeling of being judged and graded on their mothering is real or perceived, it is causing a lot of emotions. Mothers admitted to both physical and emotional effects.   Stress, anxiety, insecurity and inadequacy are common complaints of today’s mothers.

But this stress on mothers is also causing a “trickle down effect” on their children.   A study done by the American Psychological Association on Stress in America revealed that 4 in 10 children reported feeling sad when their parent is stressed or worried.  Young children pick up on their parents stress, I see this is my practice every day.  Even that cute 4-5 month old child who smiles when you smile, can be brought to tears by a sad, frowning face.

Increased family stress, and specifically maternal stress may have a negative impact on the health and well being of our children as well.   This may present as behavior problems, self esteem and confidence issues and physical complaints. Children have headaches, tummy aches and sleep problems, just like adults. 

But there seems to be a “stress disconnect” as well. Parents don’t realize the impact that their own emotions play in their children’s sense of well being.  Almost 70% of parents said that their stress had only a slight or no impact on their children, yet 91% of children reported that their parent is stressed.  STRESS is not a word that young children should even understand!

So...what can mothers do?  Moms do a better job raising their children when they feel supported.  They feel more confident, more relaxed, happier and fulfilled. in other words, “when mom is happy, everyone is happier”.

Mothers need layers of support and this should come from their most trusted inner circle of friends and family and not anonymous mothers who weigh in from social media, friends of friends etc. Trust your instincts and try not to “second” guess every decision. Don’t judge others either without knowing their circumstances. Remember, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.

Use your pediatrician as your partner in parenting and look for advice from experts and professionals when you are facing tough questions and decisions. 

Lastly, be confidant and trust your “momtuition”. Share your ideas and values in a positive manner and support one another.  

The StrongMoms Empower™ Mission is to keep doing what works best for your and your family.  All moms want to raise confident, capable and caring children.  We are all in this together!  For more information go to

Daily Dose

Over-scheduling Your Kids

2.00 to read

Today is my day in our media office and we were all talking about our weekends. I soon realized how busy everyone is and that made me think about "over scheduling." Even when talking to patients, parents and my own children, it seems that weekends are not the down time we used to think about. Where did those lazy Saturdays playing in the yard or picnic in the park go?  

The weekend starts right after school on Friday with the first game of the weekend or the pre-party for the game etc. Saturday morning the alarms are still set as even your four-year old may have a early morning soccer game (do they let you start soccer and football in diapers?) at 8 a.m., and then every other sibling has at least one activity too whether it is dance, karate, or piano.

By late afternoon both parents have been carpooling, organizing and being spectators and cheerleaders, with a probable visit through a fast food line for a quick lunch.

As evening approaches everyone is already tired, but so much to do on a Saturday night too. As a parent of teens that means chaperoning, being available and always being home if your teen is going to have friends over. The other thing with teens is that they want to stay up late.  Somehow I always thought you got more sleep once you left the "parent of infant" stage, but it comes back to hit you when you are 15 years older and staying up with the teenagers and their friends. Curfews are a good thing for everyone.

Sunday is not the "day of rest" either as not only is there church and Sunday school to get to, many school aged kids have practices and games or tournaments on Sundays. My minister even gave a sermon on this subject recently. Church attendance is down as parents must get their children to their Sunday sporting events. The "day of rest" idea may be a good discussion to have with coaches.

So that lazy weekend has turned into just two more days of stuff to do....over scheduling. Take a day off for you and your family. Just wake up and say, "what would we like to do today?" Staying home and laughing while playing a board game should be one of the choices.

What are your tricks to keep your kids from being over-scheduled?  I would love your feedback.  


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