Seven child-friendly foods to prevent constipation

By Elissa Gonzalez, MD
Medical Resident
Baylor College of Medicine

What is constipation?
Constipation is when a child does not poop more than a few times a week, has pain when pooping, or passes large or hard poop. Constipation can lead to encopresis, which is leaking of poop in the underwear which can lead to embarrassment and other psycho-social issues. Common times for constipation to occur are introduction of solids, toilet training and school entry.

How do we, as parents, prevent constipation?

  • Sit on the toilet Remind your child to use the restroom after every meal to make room for more food. Sitting up straight can also aid in pooping.
  • Fiber Introduce high fiber foods children will enjoy.
  • Hydration Give them plenty of opportunity throughout the day to drink water.

Seven high fiber child-friendly foods:

  • Popcorn An easy on-the-go snack. Avoid extra butter and sugar.
  • Almonds Another easy snack.
  • Dark Chocolate Look for cocoa content of between 70-95 percent or higher
  • Oats Oatmeal it a quick breakfast. Add fruit such as raspberries.
  • Lentils Cook them like your favorite beans.
  • Avocados Mix into any dish such as eggs, brown rice, or tuna salad.
  • Raspberries Pack these for an on-the-go snack.

 How does constipation happen?
When a child eats food it goes from the mouth to the stomach then to the intestines. The body begins pulling water from stool so it becomes solid and waits in the rectum. Signals in the body tell the child there is poop in the rectum and they can decide to relax the muscle and go or hold on to it. Many children are embarrassed by the urge to poop and will hold it.

When the child decides to hold his poop it will sit in the rectum and the body will continue to pull water. It will become dry and hard and difficult to push out. Poop will continue to collect and stretch out the colon making the child lose the urge to use the restroom. The rectum is like a balloon and will go back to its original shape the first time it is stretched out, but if it continues to stretch, then it will be flabby and weak and the poop will build up.  It may take a year for some children to return to normal after treatment.

Already constipated?
Visit with your pediatrician. They may suggest prune juice, medications or even a bowel clean out depending on the severity of the constipation.

If you need a pediatrician for your child, visit www.chofsa.org/findadoc.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

By Samiya Ahmad, MD
Pediatric Neurologist and Sleep Medicine Physician
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Diplomate of the American Boards of Sleep Medicine, Neurology and Psychiatry with Special Qualification in Child Neurology
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, which brings an opportunity to educate others about epilepsy, its symptoms, and treatment options. Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological condition in the U.S. One in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. Epilepsy remains misunderstood and research initiatives are underfunded.

What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder. It is a neurological condition that effects the nervous system and is usually diagnosed once a person has two or more seizures.

 What is a seizure?
A seizure is a sudden onset of an illness, such as a convulsion, caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. Seizures can present in numerous ways, such as staring, shaking, stiffening, or flailing. Seizures can last a few seconds to a few minutes. In serious conditions, seizures may last for hours.

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Prematurity Awareness Month

By Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Medical Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Sanjuanita Garza-Cox, MD
Neonatologist, MEDNAX
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

We do EVERYTHING for them, even before they are born.  When we find out we are pregnant, we eat the right foods, take the right supplements, read the right books, quit drinking coffee (probably the toughest), and keep all of our prenatal appointments.  As the excitement (and the baby) grows within us, we register for our baby showers, start to fill the nursery, and pack hospital bags. But even our best laid plans cannot prepare us for the sudden, premature arrival of our precious newborns.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed are considered to be premature, and prematurity is the leading cause of death under the age of 5 around the world.  There are some reasons that women have babies prematurely that cannot be changed (having a premature baby in the past or being pregnant with multiple babies), but there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk.

What can I do to prevent having a baby too early?

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November 14 is World Diabetes Day

Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH, FAAP
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Medical Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog
Baylor College of Medicine
Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by a lack of insulin.  Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, is essential to life, and lowers blood sugar levels by allowing it to be taken up by our cells so we can use it for energy.  One analogy describes insulin as the “key” to opening the door to cells for sugar to come in.  An absence or deficiency of insulin leads to high blood sugar levels; conversely, an excess of insulin results in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels.  Importantly, in diabetes, even though blood sugar levels are high, the sugar cannot enter cells and cannot be used for energy because the “key,” insulin, is missing.  This is dangerous because sugar is the most important source of energy for our body.  There are two types of diabetes–type 1 and type 2.

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Is your child at risk for pneumonia?

By Alberto Carranza, MD
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine
Walk-In Clinic Physician
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Co-Authored by
Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine
Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog

Winter (and the holidays!) are upon us, a time when families come together to eat, laugh, love, and, unfortunately, share germs. Most illnesses resolve quickly and easily on their own. Some children, however, will develop pneumonia this season. World Pneumonia Day is November 12 and below are a few tips for parents to recognize the signs of pneumonia and know when to seek medical care right away.

What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs.  The infection causes the lungs to fill with fluid or pus and results in cough with phlegm, fever, and changes in breathing.  These changes can be fast breathing, having to work harder to breathe, or shortness of breath.  Other symptoms include chest pain, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, decreased appetite or intake of fluids, and fatigue.  If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately.

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Let’s get smart about antibiotics

By Luis Castagnini, MD
Section Chief, Department of Infectious Diseases
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Co-Authored by
Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine
Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog

The discovery of antibiotics almost a century ago is considered one of the greatest medical advancements in human history. An infection considered minor today (i.e. infected wound or ear infection) was devastating or even fatal before 1928, when Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. This discovery allowed health care providers to treat and cure bacterial infections like pneumonia or skin infections in a relatively safe manner. These marvelous chemicals are now used routinely in medical practices all over the world and have changed the way we live our lives.

Unfortunately, during the last few decades, we have seen the rise of antibiotic resistance. The ability of bacteria to escape unharmed from the effects of these medications designed to kill them is now pervasive and a public health threat. Sir Alexander Fleming said it himself in 1945, shortly after he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine,

The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism.

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Playing it safe

Playgrounds are great places for children to exercise, but you want to be sure your children are safe while they’re having fun.

More than 200,000 children visit the emergency room every year after being injured on playgrounds. While the swing set can seem terrifying in the face of that statistic, rest assured that you can keep your children safe on the playground by following these guidelines from the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Anchors away — All playground equipment should be anchored in the ground and have no sharp edges.

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Superfoods build super children

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Autumn is my absolute favorite season. The cool, crisp air, warmer-colored foliage, and quickly-approaching holidays energize me to decorate my home and fill the house with scents of baked goods. What mom doesn’t love to fill their little ones’ tummies with apple crisp and pecan pie? So, how do we ensure that our children still get all the nutrients they need through the winter holidays? Recently, several well-reputed physicians in media and health-related websites have compiled a list of “superfoods” that have been known for ages to have health benefits: beans, blueberries, broccoli, oranges, oats, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea (green and black), tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, yogurt.

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