Past Issues

Fall 2013

Immunizations Are Important for Everyone

immunizationImmunizations are the safest and most effective way to keep from getting potentially serious diseases.

Today in the U.S., vaccines are recommended to prevent 14 different diseases that commonly infected babies, children and adults just two generations ago. In the past 50 years, vaccines have helped to almost wipe out polio, diphtheria, rubella and measles in the U.S.

The best way to protect your kids and your community is to be certain that your child's immunizations are up to date. This is especially important for children from birth to age 2.

Vaccines supplement our natural immune systems by helping our bodies recognize and fight off infection by viruses and bacteria that cause disease. Modern sanitation, safe drinking water, nutritious foods and good hygiene also help keep away disease. However, without the help of vaccines, even healthy people living in clean places and eating balanced diets can still catch potentially deadly diseases.

Vaccines not only protect the people who receive them, they also help protect people in the same community who do not have immunity. When most people have immunity to a vaccine-preventable disease, this helps slow its spread. This "community immunity" helps protect those who have weakened immune systems or who are not fully immunized. For highly contagious diseases such as measles, at least nine out of 10 of us must have immunity to keep the disease from spreading.

Serious side effects from recommended childhood vaccines are very rare. National vaccine databases are constantly monitored to detect and analyze potential adverse reactions. Today, a person's risk of having a health problem from an immunization is much less than the risks that come with getting the disease the vaccine can prevent.

There is a lot of information about childhood immunizations. Some of it is misleading, and some is simply false. Although some news media report a "controversy" about vaccines, there is no controversy within the medical community.

Dr. Ed Marcuse, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's for more than 40 years, says, "Today's vaccines can eliminate the threats to children's survival that terrified my parents and grandparents, and that filled our hospital beds just 25 years ago. Timely immunizations protect children against 14 diseases. Make no mistake - these diseases still exist. Some are within our community, and others are only a plane ride away."

Visit the National Network for Immunization Information to get up-to-date, scientifically valid information on immunizations, or talk with your child's doctor.

Prevent Kitchen Fires

kitchen firesMore fires start in the kitchen than in any other part of the home. Kitchen fires usually happen when someone is not paying attention. An adult should always stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop, or when grilling or broiling. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (such as dish towels, paper and curtains) at least three feet from the stove. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, under the sink or in a drawer. Your home should have at least one working smoke alarm on each floor. Test alarms often, and change the batteries at least once a year. Make a fire-escape plan for your family, and be sure to practice it.

Learn more about preventing fires and other home safety topics in our Safety Resources section.

Make a Healthy Difference in Your Child's School

healthy schoolYou can help ensure that your child's health is a top priority at their daycare or school. Choose a daycare whose caregivers are healthy and active. Be sure they offer healthy foods and drinks, lots of time outside every day and little or no TV and other screen time. For school-age kids, you are probably familiar with your child's teachers, classes, homework and tests. But do you know what's served in the cafeteria and vending machines? Many schools are cutting costs while adding more instruction time in order to meet new learning standards. This means some schools are cutting back on recess and P.E. classes. Is yours one of them? Get informed. Take part in discussion forums, advisory panels and parent groups. Get to know your school principal, nurse and special-programs manager. Good things happen when solution-oriented parents get involved. For example, many schools have a wellness committee or offer afterschool fitness programs and healthy-eating clubs, run with help from parent volunteers. When you become a positive advocate for kids, everyone benefits!

Through a Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control, Seattle Children's is working in partnership with Public Health - Seattle and King County, the Healthy King County Coalition, child care and schools in Seattle and south King County to help students increase their access to physical activity and choices for healthy foods and drinks. Learn more about the Community Transformation Grant Small Communities Program.

Tips for Toy Safety

toy safetyThe holiday season is near, and that means toy shopping. There are a lot of choices out there, and it can be hard to know what a child might like and what will be safe. Most toys have an age-grade on the package to help you. Age-grades are guidelines that reflect the toy's safety based on the physical skills a child needs to play with the toy, how well a child can understand how to properly use the toy and any choking or safety risks. These guidelines, along with your own judgment, are helpful when choosing the right toy.

Some common toy dangers include sharp edges and points, small parts that are a choking hazard, loud noises that can damage hearing and cords or strings that can strangle. Toys with magnets and button batteries are not safe for babies and toddlers. If a child swallows two or more magnets, they can stick together inside the body and cause injury or death, so remind older kids never to put magnets in their mouth or nose. Button batteries cause serious internal damage if swallowed, so don't give little kids electronic greeting cards or toys with button batteries that might come out. For older kids, if you're buying an electric toy, be sure it has the "UL Approved" (Underwriters Laboratories) label.

Remember that just about any toy can be dangerous if misused. Supervision is always key.

If someone gives your child a toy that is too advanced, store it away until they are old enough to safely enjoy it. If you have toys that are broken or dangerous, discard them.

Visit Toy Safety to learn more about toy safety and to get tips on what activities and toys most children in each age group usually enjoy.

Tips for Recognizing ADHD

kid holding a stop signEver see a kid who can't seem to listen or pay attention as much as their peers, and wonder if they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD?

About 11% of school-age children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD (most of them boys).

It's not a slam-dunk diagnosis. The classic symptoms of ADHD - trouble focusing or staying on task, daydreaming, forgetfulness, blurting - are common in children with ADHD or with other health issues. Consider having a healthcare provider evaluate your child if their behavior interferes with their school or social success. ADHD can be reliably diagnosed and treatment can make a big difference.

Create and Share a Care Plan

care planA care plan is a way to share your child's health information with other caregivers. It's a smart idea, especially for kids with special health needs. Your plan might include the medicines your child takes and when, which foods and/or activities to avoid and what to do in case of an emergency. Your child's doctor can help you create your plan. Think about sharing it with doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, school nurses, childcare providers, grandparents, friends and neighbors. Consider keeping copies in your purse or wallet, at home, in your car, at work and at your child's school.

Urinary Tract Infections

UTIIt's common for children to get a urinary tract infection, or UTI. Kids with UTIs must see a doctor and be treated with medicine. Parents need to know the symptoms, and how to prevent UTIs. Some common signs include the urge to pee very often, peeing one's pants, pain when peeing, a fever, pain in the lower stomach and urine that smells bad. UTIs are often caused when kids ignore the urge to pee and hold in their urine too long, or when they don't fully empty their bladder. Kids may even develop UTIs because they don't like to use the bathroom at school, or they don't want to stop playing. They may need to be retrained to go pee more often, and not let their bladders get too full.

Learn more about urinary tract infections in children (PDF).