Children need physical activity on a regular basis to keep them healthy and strong. It’s unfortunate that many kids today are considered overweight. In fact, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. And in 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
The effects of obesity on a child’s health can be severe. Overweight children are more prone to chronic illnesses as well as a poor self-image during childhood. It's critical that kids are getting the right amount of exercise in order to regulate obesity, promote heart and lung fitness, and prevent other serious illnesses. Adopting healthy habits at a young age can keep kids fit and healthy into adulthood.
So as a parent, how do you find the time to stay active and healthy? And how can you make physical activity fun and enjoyable for your child? To help kids stay fit while having fun, follow these helpful tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Set a good example and embrace a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Children who see a parent making health and fitness a priority will be more inclined to do the same.
- Limit TV time to two hours a day to encourage physical activity elsewhere.
- Keep physical activity fun and enjoyable so that your child wants to participate again and again.
- In combination with an active lifestyle, provide well-balanced meals and promote healthy food choices.
- Talk to grandparents, teachers, and other caretakers about your expectations for fitness so that you can work together to encourage healthy activity when your child is away from home.
- Turn mundane tasks, such as raking leaves, into a fun family activity that involves exercise.
- Learn your child’s interests and suggest team sports, such as soccer as a great way to keep kids active and fit on a regular basis.
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle for your entire family. Parents can turn exercise into a lifelong habit by making fitness a part of their daily schedule. When your child is interested in physical activity at a young age, exercise and fitness are more likely to become a routine that lasts for years in years.
Questions about fitness or nutrition? Talk to your pediatrician for advice and suggestions for promoting a healthier lifestyle for your family.
Acne is by far the most common skin complaint among teenagers, affecting nearly all of those between the ages of 12 and 17 at least occasionally, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In most cases, hormones released during puberty are responsible for the appearance of blemishes during the teen years. These hormones stimulate the skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands, producing oily skin that is more prone to breakouts. Because teens are extremely conscious of their image and appearance, an acne outbreak can be emotionally devastating.
While hormonal changes during puberty cause many types of acne to be unavoidable, with a diligent skincare regimen, many teens can help control breakouts from becoming severe, minimize the appearance of blemishes and prevent scarring. The good news is that acne goes away almost completely for most people by the time they are out of their teens.
- Keep skin clean. Teens produce more oil, so it’s important to wash the face every day with warm water and a mild cleanser to remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells. Always remove makeup before going to bed to avoid clogging pores.
- Avoid over washing. Harsh scrubbing can lead to dry, irritated skin which can actually increase inflammation and trigger glands to produce more oil.
- Don’t pick. Squeezing and picking at acne can make breakouts worse. Picking at blemishes can also lead to greater inflammation and infection, increasing the risk for scarring.
- Keep hands off. Avoid touching the face throughout the day as the oils on hands can drive bacteria into the pores.
- Use oil-free products. Avoid oil-based makeup. Instead look for products that are noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic.
- Shower after sports or physical activities. Sweat and oil can settle on the skin’s surface trapping dirt and bacteria in the pores.
- Visit your pediatrician or dermatologist. Most cases of mild acne can be controlled and improved with a good skincare routine at home. If your skin problems persist, visit your pediatrician for professional treatment.
Being a teenager is tough enough without having to worry about breakouts. The good news is that effective treatments are available for acne — and the earlier treatment is started, the lower a teen’s risk of lasting physical and emotional damage. Take your teen to a dermatologist or pediatrician who can provide feedback on the cause, type and severity of acne. Your pediatrician can make recommendations for medications and regimens based on your teen's unique skin type.
Two words parents dread hearing--head lice. Head lice are parasites that can be found on the heads of people, most common among preschool and elementary children. Each year millions of school-aged children in the U.S. get head lice. Though it may be a nuisance, the good news is that lice will not cause medical harm and in most cases can be effectively treated at home.
Lice are highly contagious and can spread quickly from person to person, especially in group settings, such as schools, sporting events and slumber parties. Head lice spread mainly by direct head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice, but it can also be transferred indirectly when kids share combs, brushes, pillows or hats. Because children play closely together and often in large groups, all children can potentially be affected, and poor personal hygiene is not a significant risk factor for getting head lice. In other words, if your child is exposed to someone with head lice, they have a pretty good chance of bringing it home as well.
Does your child have lice?
The most obvious sign of head lice is an itchy scalp. If you notice your child scratching behind their ears or at the back of his neck, examine the child’s head for signs of lice. Lice are very small, but it is possible to detect them with the naked eye. Combing through the child’s hair with a fine-toothed comb can help reveal any eggs. If you are unsure, visit your pediatrician. An itchy scalp may also be caused by an allergy, eczema or dandruff.
Don’t Panic—Head Lice is Very Treatable
If your child has head lice, take action immediately once you’ve made the diagnosis as lice can spread easily from one person to another, putting other members of your household at risk. The most common treatment is an over-the-counter or prescription cream, lotion or shampoo. You apply it to the skin or scalp to kill the lice and eggs. In many cases, two treatments are necessary. If after two treatments you believe your child may still have head lice, contact your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can recommend a different form of treatment.
You may be tempted to throw away bedding, clothing or other items in your household, but a simple wash will do the trick. Toss your child’s bed sheets, clothes, hats and other belongings in the washing machine in hot water, and dry on high heat to kill any remaining lice. Other members of your household should also be checked for lice.
To prevent kids from getting lice or becoming re-infested, tell kids not to share combs, brushes, hats or other personal items with anyone else. To prevent head lice, examine your child’s scalp regularly, especially during the school year, to detect lice early.
Remember, lice are very preventable and treatable. Be patient and follow the treatments and prevention tips as directed by your child’s pediatrician for keeping lice at bay and your household bug-free.
A hit to the head during a soccer game or a hard fall from skateboarding may result in a serious head injury and even a concussion. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes a concussion as any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis. These injuries are typically caused by a blow to the head, most often occurring while playing contact sports such as football, hockey, soccer, wrestling or skateboarding.
For some children, concussions only last for a short while. Other times, a person can have symptoms of a concussion that last for several days or weeks following the injury. Not all symptoms of concussions will be obvious, and in some cases take several hours to set in. Look for these signs of a concussion if your child suffers a head injury:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Memory loss or confusion
- Poor concentration
- Vision problems
- Irritability or changes in mood
- Sensitivity to light or noise
Seek Medical Attention
If your child injures his head or you believe he may have a concussion, it is important that the child discontinues play immediately and visits a healthcare provider for an evaluation. All concussions are serious and should be monitored right away. A pediatrician can properly diagnose the concussion and its severity, and then make appropriate treatment recommendations.
Rest from all activities is the best treatment for concussions. Your pediatrician can make appropriate recommendations for when the child should return to future play. Recovery time depends on the child and the severity of the concussion.
Preventing Head Injuries
Not all head injuries can be avoided, but you can do a few important things to prevent them.
- Buckle Up. Make sure your child is properly buckled up in a seat belt, car seat or booster seat.
- Safety Gear. If your child plays sports, make sure he wears appropriate headgear and other safety equipment.
- Awareness. Children should be taught how to play safe and understand the importance of reporting any type of head injury to their parent or coach.
All head injuries should be taken seriously. Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent serious complications. It’s never a bad idea to contact your pediatrician when you have questions or concerns about your child’s head injury.
With the arrival of flu season, many parents will be watching their children closely for symptoms of this dreaded virus. The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). The virus spreads easily in settings where many people are contained in close quarters such as schools and childcare, making children especially susceptible to the flu.
Often confused with the common cold, flu symptoms are typically more severe. The following symptoms are good indicators that your child has the flu:
- Rapid onset of fever (typically above 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Excessive tiredness, lack of energy and general weakness
- Muscle aches and chills
- Dry cough
- Stuffy, runny nose
Other symptoms that accompany the flu may include sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Remember, if your child comes down with the flu, keep them home from school or childcare for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. The flu is highly contagious and can infect other children and caregivers. It can spread by direct contact, such as drinking from the same cup or through indirect contact, such as when a classmate sneezes on his hand and then touches the door handle.
Flu Prevention Tips
Annual outbreaks of seasonal flu typically occur during the fall through the spring. Knowing how to identify flu symptoms and prevent the virus will help you protect your family from getting the flu. Here are just a few tips to keep the virus away from your household.
- Teach your children proper and consistent hand washing
- Avoid sharing cups, bottles, and other utensils
- Encourage your children to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading
- Practice the importance of coughing or sneezing into your arm or a tissue
To prevent seasonal influenza, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children receive the influenza vaccination every year starting at six months of age. Ask your pediatrician about flu vaccinations for your child.
When your child is experiencing the flu, extra rest and drinking plenty of fluids can help relieve symptoms. Typical recovery time for the flu is one or two weeks. Contact your pediatrician if your child’s fever persists, he or she develops a cough, or if he or she complains of ear pain. Flu is a serious illness that should be monitored closely.
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