10 Essential Questions to Ask at Your Child's Pediatrician Visit
Taking a few minutes to prepare for your child's pediatrician visit helps ensure that all your child's medical needs are met. Knowing the right questions to ask your provider can help you get the most out of your visit and ensure you and your child feel comfortable and informed. It is essential to base your questions on your child's specific health needs, but the ten options below are a great place to start. How is my child's overall health and development progressing? Is my child meeting their developmental milestones, and are there any areas where they may need extra support? What vaccinations does my child need, and are they up to date on all required immunizations? Are there any nutritional recommendations or concerns for my child's age and stage of development? What are some strategies for promoting healthy habits and physical activity for my child? Are there any warning signs I should look out for regarding my child's health or behavior? What can I do to help prevent common childhood illnesses like colds, flu strains or ear infections? What should I do if my child gets sick, and when should I seek medical attention? Are there any changes to my child's medication or dosage that I should be aware of? Is there anything else I should know or be aware of regarding my child's health or development?
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Jakob’s Journey at Renown Children’s Hospital
In August 2016, six-year-old Jakob was admitted to Renown Children's Hospital with what seemed like a common ear infection. Jakob's condition quickly progressed, and he started experiencing neurological symptoms such as difficulty speaking and a full-body shutdown. Doctors, neurologists and specialists from Renown worked with doctors from Stanford, where he was ultimately diagnosed with Bickerstaff brainstem encephalitis (BBE). BBE is a rare, autoimmune response that attacks the nerves in the body due to an acute illness such as a cold, flu or, in Jakob's case, an ear infection. Jakob could not breathe or eat and experienced paralysis on the side of his face, throat, stomach, bowels, lungs and legs. In addition, he started to rapidly lose weight as well as body function. Jakob lost half his body weight which resulted in the need for a Gastrostomy tube. This device is placed surgically and gives direct access to the stomach to give the child the nutrition needed. He also needed occupational therapy, and after three and a half months of ICU respiratory therapy, surgeries and treatments, he was released home to regain his strength. Forever Grateful Anica, Jakob's mom, said, "If it were not for the quick response and unconditional support and compassion from the team at Renown, Jakob would not be here today." Jakob's family is forever grateful to the staff, community and expertise at Renown for their unwavering commitment to their son and family during their most trying time in life. "When I met Jakob on the first day of his illness, so much was unknown. My team and I were worried, as his symptoms were very unusual. His rapid deterioration, after being a perfectly healthy child, was clearly terrifying for his parents. Handing over a child's care to a team of strangers is one of the scariest things that can happen to parents,” said Dr. Kris Deeter, Physician in Chief at Renown Children’s Hospital. “However, Anica and Jeremiah were also very clear that they did not want Jakob transferred somewhere else. So, we used all our resources to care for him, arrive at a diagnosis, and start aggressive therapies. They listened to every word we said, educated themselves, and became partners in Jakob's care. We all became part of Team Jakob, and soon, he proved to us just how strong he was." Today, Jakob is 13 years old and thriving in every aspect of his life. He is currently on the honor roll in school and finds joy in his newfound passion for the violin. He loves spending his free time learning about mixing music, making new friends and traveling to different parts of the country. This summer, he will travel to Europe to explore his passion for culture. The family says, "We owe it all to the family and staff at Renown."
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How to Talk to Your Children About Vaping
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), e-cigarette use isn’t just up among adults, but it has also tripled in usage for teens. Dr. Jose Cucalon Calderon, a Pediatrics Physician at Renown Health and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, provides helpful insight into e-cigarettes and the dangers it poses to kids and teens. What Are E-Cigarettes? E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery devices. e-cigarettes use liquid nicotine as an alternative to traditional smoked cigarettes. e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is an addictive substance with known toxic side effects that, when released in very high doses, that can have health consequences and causes addiction. Nicotine is described as “toxic,” but the most "toxic" part of e-cigarettes' is everything else within the E-juice. Nicotine mainly keeps people coming back for more. According to the CDC, e-cigarettes are also advertised using the same themes and tactics that have been shown to increase youth use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. In 2021, approximately 76% of students reported exposure to tobacco product marketing through traditional sources, and approximately 74% of students who used social media had seen e-cigarette–related content. What Does This Mean for the Health My Teen? We know that nicotine can affect brain development in kids and teens, so it is important to educate your teen on the risks of exposure. If you have young children in the home, it is important to be vigilant as well. One teaspoonful of liquid nicotine can be fatal for a young child. How Do I Monitor My Teen for E-Cigarette Use? Monitoring your children can be tricky for parents. E-cigarettes can be harder to detect, unlike traditional cigarettes that were easy to detect by smell and residual odor. E-cigarette use, or “vaping,” is often associated with a dry cough or chronic throat/mouth irritation. Overall, increasing research shows strong links between mental health conditions and posterior combustible tobacco use along with increased risk of marijuana use. Nicotine is addictive, but it does not cause altered mental status like the other drugs of abuse can. All parents are strongly encouraged to talk to their children about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes. What are the health risks of vaping? Vaping devices have been on the market for a relatively short period of time, with evidence-based health effects and complications still being discovered. Vaping effects poses many harmful risks to children and teens. The risks of vaping include: Chest pain Difficulty breathing Dizziness Headaches Impaired response to infection in the airway Inflammatory problems of the airway Nausea Nicotine addiction Seizures Vomiting For more information for both parents and teens about quitting smoking or vaping, you can click here. Parents can also use this tip sheet from the U.S. Surgeon General to talk to their child about vaping. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration free national helpline number is 1-800-662-4357 (HELP). It is available 24/7, 365 days a year offering confidential treatment referral and information (in English and Spanish). If you or someone you know is facing a substance (or mental health) problem, please reach out to them.
Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe on ATVs
In the state of Nevada, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are one of the pediatric population's top three mechanisms of injury. Kids under 16 are the leading victims of ATV incidents and fatalities because they cannot reach controls, cannot activate controls and they have a restricted field of vision. Tips to Safely Utilize ATVs ATVs are off-road vehicles used for activities such as off-roading and farm work. In the state of Nevada, it is legal for teens to ride them, even without a driver's license. However, even though it is legal for teens to ride these vehicles, it is not always safe. Here are a couple of tips and tricks to stay safe while using ATVs: Be at least 16 years old. Health and safety experts strongly discourage ATV use by anyone younger than 16. Operating an ATV demands that drivers be skilled at making quick adjustments, such as speeding up, slowing down and shifting their weight to help turn the vehicle. People under 16 are less likely to have the physical strength and decision-making experience necessary to drive an ATV safely. Get safety certified. Before you ride an ATV on a trail, learn how to do it safely in a controlled setting. Visit the ATV Safety Institute's website for course information. Ride an ATV that's right for your size and age. Full-size ATVs can weigh more than 600 pounds and be very difficult to handle. Select an ATV designed for you or your child's age group. This sizing can be found on the manufacturer's warning label right on the vehicle. Always wear an approved helmet and eye protection. The best helmets for ATV use have a full-face shield and meet Department of Transportation safety standards. Many helmets have flip-down visors for eye protection. If yours doesn't, be sure to wear shatterproof goggles and not just sunglasses. Wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and over-the-ankle boots. ATVs have a high center of gravity and no safety cages, roll bars or seatbelts. If they tip, you can fall off. Protective clothing will help prevent scrapes and cuts if you get thrown from an ATV. Always ride at a safe speed on a trail meant for ATV use. When ATVs get going fast, they become less stable and more likely to tip. ATV tires are not meant for pavement or high speeds. Both factors can make turning an ATV difficult and dangerous.
Motivating Kids to Eat Healthy Foods
For most parents, convincing kids to eat fruits and veggies can be challenging, but they need good nutrition. We've provided six helpful tips to encourage healthy eating. 1. Make a Schedule Create a meal schedule and stick to it as much as possible. If you’re on the go, take a cooler stocked with healthy options to avoid stopping for fast food. However, many fast food restaurants offer healthy options like grilled chicken, chili, baked potatoes and protein-packed salads. 2. Kids + Kitchen = Fun! Children may be more inclined to eat what they’ve helped prepare. Bonus: it’s quality family time you can enjoy together while being productive. Find some healthy and fun recipes you can tackle as a team. 3. Dip It Introduce veggies by offering ranch dressing or hummus with fresh carrots, snap peas or broccoli. Experiment with various vegetables and dips to see what piques your child’s interests. Make it fun by cutting up veggies to resemble animals or exciting shapes. 4. Limit Unhealthy Food Buy smaller packages instead of economy bulk-sized options. Offer sweet treats but provide some nutrition — apple slices in light caramel sauce, bananas with peanut butter or strawberries in dark chocolate. 5. Provide Smaller Portions Scale portions appropriately for the child’s age and needs. For example, a preschooler generally would not require the same intake as their teen sibling. Ask your pediatrician about your child’s individual nutritional requirements. When they can handle utensils safely, allow them to serve themselves. This will help them feel like a “grown-up” and help them understand portion sizes. Encourage children to take one serving at a time and return for seconds only if they are still hungry. 6. Allow Treats Some say denying occasional treats will only make kids want them more. However, it’s OK to allow for an occasional treat as part of the big picture. You can also model good eating habits for your children. And remember: Just because you don’t like a particular food doesn’t mean they won’t. So expose your children to healthy foods — even if they’re not your favorites. Check out the recipe section of our blog for delicious recipes your family will love!
Protect Yourself and Others with the Flu Shot
Flu shots don’t just protect those who get vaccinated; they protect everyone, including your family and the community. As we continue navigating the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Renown Health infection prevention expert Whitney Robinson explains how getting your flu shot is vital for staying healthy. 5 Ways to Schedule Your Flu Shot Call Us! 775-982-5000 Urgent Care Appointments Renown Pharmacy Vaccinations Make an Appointment via MyChart Need a Doctor? Find One Now Reasons to get the flu shot Chills, body aches, fever, congestion; getting the flu isn’t fun. But in addition to protecting yourself with a flu shot, you’re helping reduce flu cases and hospitalizations, Whitney said. Flu shots are currently available at pharmacies throughout the Reno area. Whitney says the ideal time to get your flu shot is September through October, but remain relevant throughout the winter months as it only takes two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body. This timing allows the vaccine to provide the strongest protection during the length of flu season. Who needs a flu shot? Almost everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the yearly flu shot for everyone six months of age and older. Equally, they consider it the first and most crucial step in protecting against the flu virus.
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A Guide to Summer Weekend Fun During the School Year
Although students are heading back to school, that doesn’t mean the summer fun has to be over. Weekends and after-school hours still call for engaging activities for the kids, even if the extreme heat and thunderstorms don’t beckon you and your kids outside. There are several creative ways you can keep your children active indoors during those coveted out-of-school hours. Below are 10 activities sure to spark fun for the kids from the comfort of your own home. 1. Dance It Out Children are bundles of energy. Turn on your child's favorite music station, roll up the carpet and dance it out. 2. Paint Pictures Above all, kids love to use their imagination. Why not gather up some paintbrushes and some colorful paints to let your child create a masterpiece? 3. Scavenger Hunt Whenever children go on a scavenger hunt, it's a mini adventure. Collect some of your child's favorite items, and hide them around the house, giving them clues to help them find them. 4. Balloon Toss Many kids love balloons. Tossing balloons into the air and having your child keep them up in the air without having them touch the floor is an active energy burner. 5. Science Experiments In case you have a budding scientist at home, choose a science experiment to spark their imaginative spirit. Making water bottle lava lamps or frozen slime are terrific indoor STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities. 6. Arts and Crafts From scrapbooks with their favorite photos to crafts from household items, arts and crafts are a great way for your kids to work their innovation muscles. 7. Indoor Bowling Bowling in your own home – unexpected? Sure. Loads of fun? Absolutely! You can purchase an indoor bowling set for less than twenty dollars or create your own with household items. 8. Board Games Because of the limitless options, board games are another favorite indoor activity for the whole family. Your child can learn vital social skills like learning to wait their turn, as well as memory formation and problem-solving skills. 9. Stage a Puppet Show Making sock puppets (or even just using “hand puppets”) can really spark a day of spectacular imagination. Draft a script and perform a puppet play for the whole family! 10. Karaoke Concert Singing certainly gets you in the groove of having a great time with your family and building memories – and you don’t even need a karaoke machine to do it! There are many digital karaoke options available for your family’s delight. It’s no surprise that after-school hours and weekend days are premium play time for kids, especially during the summer months. As shown above, indoor summer activities when the weather isn’t conducive to spending time outdoors can still be fun and engaging for everyone.
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Preventing Heatstroke in Children
The summer is here, and it is time to take action. The heat can be dangerous for kids, so make sure that you are aware of the signs of heatstroke and know how to prevent it. Did you know heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash related fatalities in children? “On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. In more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car.” (Safe Kids Worldwide,” 2022, para.1) Babies are at higher risk for heatstroke than adults, as they cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults can. They also do not have the same understanding of how hot the environment is and may not be able to communicate that they need to be taken out of the car. Here are eight simple tips to keep your baby cool in the back seat: In hot weather, it is important to keep your baby cool and hydrated by using a car seat cover or towel over them to reflect the sun's rays. It is important to dress your baby in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs. Make sure that your car is well ventilated and use a towel or blanket to create an air gap between your baby and the seat. This will help with air circulation, as well as provide insulation from hot surfaces. Keep an eye on your baby's skin color. If it starts looking too red or flushed, it may be time to get somewhere cooler. Keep the temperature at a comfortable temperature for you, not for your child. Keep windows cracked open for ventilation and make sure that there is nothing blocking the flow of air from entering or exiting the vehicle. Dress your infant appropriately for their environment with appropriate head and neck coverings, keeping them cool as well as protected from sunburns. Ensure that you have enough fluids on hand to last an hour before getting out of the car or use bottled water if possible. Never leave your child unattended in a car. If you suspect heatstroke in someone, especially a child, take the following measures: Call 911 immediately. Cool the victim – Get the person to a shady area, remove restrictive clothing and cover skin with sheets soaked in ice-water, and place ice packs in the arm pits and groin. Have the victim drink cool fluids, preferably an electrolyte-containing sports drink. Monitor body temperature with a thermometer, but stop cooling efforts after temperature has dropped to 102. Additional Resources: Baby Safe Class This class helps prepare parents for emergencies that may occur in baby’s first year. Along with car seat safety and basic baby proofing, discussion will include prevention and treatment of common injuries.
Bye-Bye Holidays, Hello Routines! Getting Kids Back into the Groove
The kids are back in school and the holidays are all but a distant memory: Now what? Karen Wagner, APRN, offers specific tips about getting kids back to their routines in the post-holiday-hustle-and-bustle. Are you finding the kids struggling with bedtime routines? Having trouble getting them to tackle homework? There’s a simple reason: The holidays messed with their mojo! Here, we talk with Nurse Practitioner Karen Wagner about what to do to get them back on the straight and narrow. Why Routines Are Important “Holidays are a fantastic time to get together with family and friends, so our routines are usually off — and this is understandable, “Wagner says. “While the holidays are exciting, they are chaotic and can put our kids out of the routines.” So how do you get kids back into those routines they crave? “Consistency/routines are crucial for our kids,” she says. “Most people — kids and adults — experience a let-down feeling after the holidays, and post-holiday adjustment takes time.” So what can we do, specifically? Wagner recommends the following: Re-establish family routines, including before- and after-school programs or child care routines. Once kids are back on the regular schedule, they’ll find that sense of familiarity as the old routine returns. But keep in mind, this won’t happen overnight. Encourage healthy eating, as the upheaval of their schedule can be offset by a balanced diet. Make sleep time a priority: Keep in mind that it might take up to three nights of strict bedtime to get them back on track. But enforcing normal bedtime will get their bodies back on a normal schedule. Return to usual chores and expectations. Nothing encourages a return to routine like reminding them of the basics. Incorporate indoor and outdoor time. They likely spent lots of time outdoors during our unseasonably warm winter break — and they even had a snow day or two! So encouraging both indoor and outdoor time will help them return to a circadian rhythm and tire them out from exposure to fresh air. “It is never too early to encourage a love for physical activity in kids by exposing them to fun fitness activities and sports,” Wagner says. “Physical activity improves bone health, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, decreases levels of body fat, reduces symptoms of depression, and improves cognitive skills and the ability to concentrate.”
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What is Dry Drowning?
Whether you're a parent, grandparent, caregiver or sibling, you should know drowning is the second leading cause of death among children. Yet, while we are vigilant about protecting children from water accidents and drowning, a condition known as dry drowning or delayed drowning can go unnoticed. In fact, most people aren't even aware it exists. Dry drowning defined Dry drowning is a side-effect of a near-drowning experience and includes spasms of the vocal cords and larynx — known as a laryngospasm. This occurs when the body attempts to shut down the passage of any liquid into the lungs. Unfortunately, it can also shut down the passage of air into the lungs and force fluid into the stomach and lungs. Often the condition is not discovered until it's too late — severe cases can cause death within one to 24 hours after a water incident occurs. Who is susceptible? Novice or first-time swimmers are at increased risk, as are children with asthma and known breathing issues. In addition, children who have had pneumonia or experienced acute respiratory distress syndrome are also at greater risk. To reduce these factors, caregivers should be exceptionally watchful of inexperienced swimmers. According to Leland Sullivan, MD, of Northern Nevada Emergency Physicians, children under the age of 5 are most susceptible to drowning and often drown in residential swimming pools. Infants less than 1-year-old most often drown in bathtubs. What are the signs of a dry drowning episode? If your child has a near-drowning incident, a few moments of coughing until they calm down is normal. However, you should know the more severe signs and symptoms to watch for during the 24 hours following the incident, including: Persistent coughing Difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath Chest pains Extreme fatigue and/or lethargy Change in typical behavior Face becomes pale What is the treatment and prognosis for dry drowning? Dr. Sullivan recommends that all victims of near-drowning incidents seek medical attention, even if they have no symptoms. If caught early, dry drowning can be treated. If you think your child is experiencing a dry drowning episode, go to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible — do not attempt treatment at home. Healthcare professionals will work to supply oxygen to your child's lungs to restore and regulate breathing.
Parents, Your Kids Need Flu Shots. Here's Why.
Vanessa Slots, MD, of Renown Medical Group – Pediatrics, explains why getting a flu shot each season can save lives—especially true for the very young and elderly. Why Kids Need Flu Shots The flu is not a passing cold. It is a serious illness that takes lives every year. And this year, flu activity is increasing late in the season. And it happens like clockwork — the onset of an influenza epidemic as fall transitions into winter, and lasts into the spring months. This acute respiratory illness is caused by influenza A or B viruses with yearly outbreaks occurring worldwide. No one is immune, and everyone is susceptible to the flu. Flu Signs and Symptoms: Abrupt onset of fever Headache Body aches and fatigue along with respiratory-tract symptoms including cough Sore throat and an irritated nose Who’s at Risk? Once again: Everyone is susceptible, but children and the elderly are at greater risk of complication from influenza, specifically toddlers less than 2 years. At this age, immunities are underdeveloped. Seniors over 65 are also at increased risk because their immune systems have weakened with age. The severity of a child’s symptoms depend on age and prior exposure to the virus. And with young children, flu is more problematic, since they cannot verbalize certain symptoms like body aches and headaches. As a result, children often experience higher fevers, which can lead to seizures or convulsions. Coupled with gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and poor appetite, children are at risk of dehydration and other complications from the virus that can require hospitalization. In fact, an average of 20,000 children are hospitalized from flu each year. Pre-Existing Health Issues Health conditions, including but not limited to asthma, cystic fibrosis, heart conditions, cerebral palsy, epilepsy or diabetes, can intensify flu symptoms. Still, a substantial number of children with none of these risk factors experience severe complications from the flu. How to Protect Your Child from the Flu The best way to guard against influenza is with a flu shot. Children and adults should get the flu vaccine before flu season kicks in — usually by the end of October. Shots are provided as long as flu viruses are circulating and the vaccine is in supply.
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10 Winter Activities to Explore with Your Family
Winter is a season that is loved by many. It is the time of year when families get to enjoy outdoor activities such as snow and ice-skating and indoor activities such as cooking or playing board games with family. But because the temperature outside is a little more frightful, it can make us need to think a little more creatively about what activities the kids in our lives might enjoy. We have you covered, here are 10 ways to keep children entertained and enriched even when the weather is not sunny Reno, we all know and love. 1. Ice Skating Enjoy the family fun of gliding and twirling around at The Ice Rink at Grand Sierra Resort or check out Reno Ice. Both ice rinks offer public skating sessions for all ages. 2. Movies Watching movies has always been a great activity. Check your local listings to find a theater convenient to your location. 3. Snow Play The Winter is a time that many people use to take advantage of all the snow and ice our area has to offer. People enjoy snowball fights and rolling downhills. It is a great time for kids to have fun in the snow with their friends. 4. Scrap-Booking Being crafty is a great way for the whole family to have fun. Scrapbooking can be done with most of the supplies lying around the house. 5. Write Letters to Our Troops Operation Gratitude sends letters from civilians thanking troops, veterans, and first responders for their service. Recipients say these letters, notes, and drawings are the most cherished items they receive all year. Check out Operation Gratitude for a downloadable guide on how to write a letter to a service member. 6. Nevada Museum of Art Channel your inner Picasso and have fun exploring your artistic side in this monthly HandsONatHome, a family fun experience with different projects and ideas inspired by the collection. Plan your visit. 7. Homemade Activities Create homemade playdough using a handful of ingredients in your pantry. It takes about 10 minutes to make and is sure to get their creativeness flowing. Here is an easy recipe to follow. 8. Cooking Cooking can be fun, especially when you can involve the kids. Pick a recipe that is fun and easy to make and pull the kids in for some help in the kitchen. 9. Discover The Discovery Museum The museum has over 10 permanent exhibitions and a calendar full of activities that families can explore throughout the year. Let's Discover! 10. Who’s Got Talent? This is an activity with so many possibilities, and it's great for all ages, including grown-ups. If you are working, the kids might put together a show and perform for you later. Or the whole family could show off their talents to visiting guests. Click here for ideas.
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