Five myths about flu shots

National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 2 – 8.

By Pedro Zavala, MD
Resident, Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

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

Winter is here and with it comes the beginning of flu season.  Every fall people across the U.S. hear the same thing, “It’s flu season; get your vaccine,” and despite health care providers recommendations, every year there are people who opt out.  My intent is to bust the most common myths about the flu vaccine so more people know the truth based on evidence-based research. Here we go!

Myth #1:  The flu vaccine gives you the flu.
This is probably the biggest of them all. The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. Because the flu vaccine is made of a killed or inactive flu virus, it cannot cause infection. If you get sick after the flu vaccine, it is either your body’s immune response to the vaccine or symptoms of another virus (that you probably picked up when you went to the doctor!).

Myth #2:  I’m healthy, so I do not need the flu vaccine every year.
The CDC currently recommends everyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccine every year. Even healthy people should get it.  Because your immunity decreases over the 12 months since your last flu vaccine, yearly vaccination gives you the best protection. The flu virus mutates every year so yearly flu vaccine protects you against the strains that are more likely to cause infection this season.

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Lather, rinse, repeat … and repeat … and (you get it)

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

December 3-9 is National Handwashing Awareness Week. You have heard health care professionals talk about hand washing repeatedly. Well, if they haven’t convinced you and your family/friends to lather up this holiday season, I bet these gruesome facts will!

  • Approximately four out of five contagious diseases are passed by touching someone (and you just hugged your sister).
  • Only one out of five people wash their hands before preparing food (and your mom made the turkey this year).
  • Roughly one out of six cell phones have fecal (poop) matter on them (maybe because you just let your toddler nephew borrow yours?).
  • Almost two out of five people don’t wash their hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their noses (and you just shook your boss’s hand).
  • About seven percent of women and 15 percent of men do not wash their hands at all after using the bathroom. (EWWW! OK, that’s just gross.  And I really hope you don’t know anyone who does this.)

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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.

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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Trick-or-treating with food allergies

by Lindsay Lambarth, DO
Baylor College of Medicine, PGY-2
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Did you know that almost 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced severe reactions? And that in the United States, 170 different foods and ingredients have been identified as the cause of allergic reactions?

Halloween can be a difficult time for children with food allergies due to the high risk of reaction when ingredients are not monitored closely.  To help keep trick-or-treating safe for children with food allergies, the Teal Pumpkin Project was created.  Teal pumpkins serve as a symbol of safety during Halloween for children with food allergies and indicate that non-food items are available.

How can you participate?

  1. Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home (classroom, office, or wherever treats are provided this season) to show that you have non-food items available.
  2. Provide non-food treats such as pencils or stickers for trick-or-treaters.
  3. Display a flyer or poster to inform others of what the teal pumpkin stands for. Follow the link below for free resources and flyers to print.

https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project/free-resources

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Seven facts about the flu

By Danielle Roberts, M.D.
Pediatric Resident, PGY2
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

7 Facts About the Flu

With the holidays just around the corner, many families are looking forward to fun-filled and quality family time. Whether it involves looking for the best deals, organizing elaborate feasts, or festively decorating homes, planning is key for a smooth and enjoyable time for all!

Along with these exciting times, unfortunately, also ‘tis the season for the flu virus. Being sick with this virus can affect precious family time, and you may have questions about how the virus can affect your loved ones. This blog will explain seven facts about the flu.

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3 reasons why only 2 hours of screen time is best for your 1 child

By Dr. Allison Wells
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Baylor College of Medicine – Residency Program

Have you ever found yourself at your child’s check up wondering if your child has too much screen time? Have you ever wondered why your pediatrician recommends only two hours of screen time per day for your child? And what exactly does “screen time” mean anyway?

Screen time is defined as the amount of time someone spends in front of any electronic viewing device – this means TV, smart phone, tablet, computer, laptop, and video games. Most children in our society grow up with these devices. In fact, many are tiny experts at using smart phones before they are even potty trained. But is screen time good for them? A lot of research has been done to look for the answer to this question.

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Is your child at risk for lead poisoning?

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

Affecting almost 1 million children in the United States, lead poisoning remains the most preventable environmental health problem. Any child may be at risk for lead toxicity. If you are the parent of a child six years and younger, read on to learn about the risks, prevention, screening, and treatment of lead poisoning.

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What is the difference between a sports physical and a wellness checkup?

By Dr. Sky Izaddoost
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care
Alon Town Centre

Summer camp time. Sports physical time. Every year, parents flood medical offices for a last minute sports physical so their child can participate in team sports at school or go to summer camp. Most walk-in clinics charge about $50 for a sports physical.  Parents gladly pay the money, not realizing that their insurance covers an annual well-child checkup, which would include the sports physical– without a co-pay in most cases.

What is the difference between the two?  A sports physical is an abbreviated well-child checkup.  The physician or practitioner is only looking for reasons that your child would not be able to participate in sports or go away to summer camp. They check old injuries like previously broken bones to make sure they have healed, determine if chronic medical conditions like asthma should limit play, and screen for conditions that could potentially cause death with exercise like heart conditions.  There is no further management.  The physical exam is also shortened, looking only for conditions that would affect play.

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