Rockford Pediatrics on WOOD Radio

Check out the Rockford Pediatrics team on WOOD Radio 1300 for a recent Small Business Spotlight.  

The DTE “Small Business Spotlight” podcast showcases our Outstanding Small Business Spotlight nominees and is hosted by WOOD Radio's Steve Kelly. 

DTE Energy and WOOD Radio are giving a small business a chance to win $25,000 in 2018.

Two small businesses from Michigan will be chosen as finalists each month by DTE Energy and WOOD Radio. Each finalist will be featured on WOOD Radio and on this small business podcast.

Out of all nominees chosen this year, one business will be randomly chosen to win $25,000 from DTE Energy by DTE Energy and WOOD Radio!

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Stransky and Dr. Alt! 

 

Summer - AKA Tick Season

Ticks

Summertime means tick season and this year is predicted to be a bad one!  It’s important to remember that most tick bites are harmless and rarely spread disease.  Nonetheless, it can still be anxiety provoking to see a tick on your child’s skin.  To help keep your children healthy this summer, your pediatricians at Rockford Pediatrics have answered some common tick questions.

 How do I prevent tick bites?

If your children are going to be playing or hiking in a tick-infested area (usually shaded, moist areas) have them try to stay on cleared trails when possible and avoid brushing against overhanging branches and tall grass.  Make sure your children wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and have them tuck their pants into their socks to avoid exposing skin.  They should wear enclosed shoes or boots, not sandals and they should also wear hats and pull back long hair to avoid getting tick bites on their scalp.  Insect repellents can also be applied to their skin or clothing, especially their socks and shoes.  After coming back indoors, check your children for ticks, especially the scalp, behind the ears, around the neck and under their arms. 

What type of insect repellant should I use?

If you are applying the insect repellant to clothing or other outdoor items like sleeping bags or tents, then a permethrin containing repellant works best.  Permethrin should not be applied directly to skin.  If you will be applying the repellant to skin, then use one with 10%-30% DEET for children and adolescents.  You should not use this on infants and you should wash it off with soap and water after your children are back indoors.

My child has a tick on their body. How do I remove it?

If your child has a tick on him follow these steps for removal.

  1. Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth next to the skin.  Grab as much of the tick as possible.
  2. Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin.  Do not twist or rock it from side to side.  If part of the tick remains in the skin, leave it there.  It will eventually come out on its own.
  3. Don’t have tweezers?  Try soaking a cotton ball in liquid soap and cover the tick with it for 30 seconds.  The tick will usually be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it off.
  4. Release the tick into a zip locked bag in case you need to have it identified.
  5. Wash your hands and the bite with soap and water.
  6. Swab the site with rubbing alcohol and then apply a topical antibiotic to the bite site.

* Never use petroleum jelly, rubbing alcohol or a hot match to kill and remove a tick, because these methods don't get the tick off the skin, and can cause it to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which can increase the possibility of disease transmission).

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is a bacterial illness transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (deer tick).  The deer tick is tiny, no larger than a pencil point.  Other ticks are larger and easier to find on the skin.  Deer ticks live in forests or grassy areas typically near a body of water.  For disease transmission to occur, the tick typically needs to be feeding for more than 48 hours.  Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic bull’s-eye rash, which usually occurs within 4 weeks of the tick bite.  If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, the heart, and the nervous system.  Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks, in conjunction with positive laboratory testing.  Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics, even those in the later stages of disease.  

Below is a map that shows the reported cases of Lyme Disease, which is most commonly seen in the northeast United States, Wisconsin and Minnesota and less commonly seen in Michigan.

 

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When should I call my pediatrician?

  1. If the tick may have been on the skin more than 24 hours.
  2. Part of the tick remains in the skin after the attempted removal.
  3. If the bite site starts to look infected.
  4. Any rash develops either around the tick bite or on other parts of the body (especially a red-ringed bull's-eye rash or red dots on wrists and ankles).
  5. Symptoms like fever, headache, stiff neck, tiredness or muscle/joint pains develop over the next 2-4 weeks.

Resources:

HealthyChildren.org

CDC.org

New Year’s Resolution: Healthier Families

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Everybody knows the pattern of making a New Year’s resolution in January and by February it’s forgotten.  At Rockford Pediatrics, we would like to help our families to avoid this trend by striving to be healthier in general.  In children and adults alike, being healthy involves caring for both physical and mental well-being.  Parents can have a big impact on several components of their children’s health.  

This month our blog will focus on helping parents maximize their child’s health through things they can control, such as good eating habits, exercising and staying active, getting adequate sleep, and limiting screen time.

Eating Habits
At Rockford Pediatrics, we recognize that there are a lot of barriers to eating healthy, such as busy family schedules and picky toddlers, to name a few.  However, whether you have a toddler or a teen, there are ways that you, as a parent, can improve your child’s eating habits. 

Family Meals
We understand that with busy schedules it is not always possible to sit down as a whole family, but try to make it a priority to eat family meals as often as you can.  Family meals are important for both parents and kids, so try to pick a time when the whole family is available, even if it means eating a little later to accommodate sports practices or grabbing take out and eating it together between activities.  Children do well with the ritual of family meals and parents get a chance to sit down and catch up with their kids.  They are a great time to talk to your kids about their day and discuss things that are important to your family.  Mealtimes are also an opportunity to explore a variety of new, healthy foods and to demonstrate appropriate portion size and pace of eating.  Research has shown that kids/teens who take part in regular family meals are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, less likely to snack on unhealthy foods and, amazingly, less likely to smoke, use marijuana or drink alcohol.  So, try to make an effort to sit down as a family as often as possible!

Always Eat Breakfast
Getting everyone out the door in time for school can be a challenge, but make sure that your children are getting a good start to their day by eating a healthy breakfast.  Breakfast provides your child with the energy they need to make it through a busy day of school and after-school activities.  If possible, get your child to eat some protein in the morning.  Some good examples of quick breakfast proteins include eggs, whole grain cereal with milk, oatmeal, yogurt and toast with peanut butter.  Model this behavior by eating a healthy breakfast with your children.  Studies have shown that skipping meals, especially breakfast, makes it harder for adults and teens to maintain a healthy weight.  So, this can be an important first step in achieving a healthier family.

Select Healthy Foods
As parents, you control what food is brought into the home and therefore you, for the most part, control the food your children eat.  So, keep the junk food out!  Make it simple for kids to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand, in plain view and ready to eat. Other good snacks include low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese sticks, and peanut butter and crackers. 

Here are some other tips for healthier eating:

  • Attempt to serve fruits or vegetables at every meal.  
  • Serve lean meats, like poultry and fish, more often than red meat and when preparing meats, choose healthier cooking methods such as baking, broiling, grilling or steaming.  
  • Increase the variety of foods by mixing in other sources of protein, such as eggs, beans, nuts and peanut butter.  
  • When selecting grains, choose whole-grain breads and pasta, brown rice over white and cereal with high fiber.
  •  In children over 2 years old, choose low-fat and nonfat dairy products.

In addition to increasing healthy food options, it is also important to limit fast food, unhealthy snacks, chips and candy, to name a few.  You do not have to ban these items, just have them in moderation.  Finally, limit sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and juice.  Have your children drink water or low-fat milk instead.

At Rockford Pediatrics, we have a dietitian available who can help if you are struggling with meal planning, picky eaters, food allergies, portion sizes or a variety of other dietary concerns.  Please call us at 616-259-6100 if you would like to set up an appointment.

Exercise
Children and adolescents five years and older should get at least an hour a day of physical activity.  Most of the hour should be an activity that will get their heart rate up.  In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.  Kids can get this exercise by visiting the playground, participating in organized sports or just playing outside.  Try to tailor activities towards your child’s interests.  The best activity for your child is whatever exercise your child will actually do!

Role Model Exercise
If your kids see that exercise is important to you, they will be more likely to stay active.  Choose activities that can be done as a family, even if it is as simple as playing basketball in the driveway, taking a family bike ride or going sledding in the winter.

Sleep
Adequate sleep is vital for children’s growth and their overall health.  It is difficult for children to focus in school or fight off infections when their bodies are not well rested.

The required amount of sleep varies by child and age, but it is important for all children to get an adequate amount of sleep. 

Here are the recommended hours of sleep kids should get:

  • Toddlers 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers 10-13 hour
  • School aged children 9-12 hours
  • Teenagers 8-10 hours

Limit Screen Time
Technology is a big part of our lives.  It is difficult to escape the attraction, and sometimes the addiction, of social media, video games or television.  Like healthy eating and exercising, it is important that parents role model good control of screen time for their children and teens.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 2 to 5 years of age have screen time limited to one hour per day.  For kids 6 years and older, parents should set limits on screen time and monitor the types of digital media that their children use.  The more time a child spends in front of a screen means less time for doing other things such as exercise, sleep or homework.

At Rockford Pediatrics, we are committed to helping families keep their children healthy.  We hope that this has been useful, and please call our office at 616-259-6100 if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment!

 

What you need to know: Rockford well water contamination

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At Rockford Pediatrics, we have been receiving a lot of questions regarding the contamination of local well water.  As a result, Dr. Alt and Dr. Stransky thought it would be helpful to make this the feature of our latest blog post.

Background
A local footwear company, Wolverine World Wide, historically used chemicals to “scotchguard” their products.  They stopped using these chemicals when they were discontinued in 2002.  Recently, unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals have been found in private residential drinking wells.  The water has been testing positive for high levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (called PFAS), which is a class of unregulated toxicants.  It has been reported that certain contamination sources have come from a decades-old dump site near Belmont and an old dump at in Plainfield Township, which has contaminated the groundwater of multiple properties near Chandler Drive NE.

Locations of concern
Read the following MLive article that includes a map of all affected areas. 

Where are PFAS substances used?
PFAS are often used to prevent food from sticking to cookware; making furniture and carpets resistant to stains; waterproofing clothes and shoes; making food packaging resistant to grease absorption and in some firefighting materials.  Exposure to PFAS is widespread and global. 

What are the health concerns associated with PFAS?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS are considered an “emerging contaminant” which is a chemical that is characterized by a perceived, potential, or real threat to human health or the environment or lacks published health standards.  PFAS persist in the human body and are eliminated slowly.  PFAS can be found in blood and, at much lower levels, in urine, breast milk and in umbilical cord blood.  The potential for adverse effects to occur depends upon several factors such as the amount and concentration of PFAS ingested, as well as the length of exposure.

What are the potential PFAS risks to infants and children?
In addition to well water, newborns can be exposed to PFAS through breast milk.  The baby’s level of exposure depends upon the duration of breastfeeding.  Older children may be exposed to PFAS through food and water.  Younger children, who spend more time lying and crawling on floors, have a higher risk of exposure to PFAS from carpet cleaners and similar products.

How long do PFAS remain in the body?  What are the limits for PFAS exposure?
PFAS can remain in the body for 2-9 years.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended that the concentration of PFAS in drinking water should not be greater than 70 parts per trillion.  These concentrations do not represent definitive cut-offs between safe or unsafe conditions, but rather provide a margin of protection for people throughout their life from possible adverse health effects.

What are the health risks associated with PFAS?
Studies in humans and animals are inconsistent and inconclusive, but they do suggest that certain PFAS may cause harm to the human body with high exposure.  Adverse health effects have been demonstrated in animal studies, but these occurred at exposure levels higher than those found in most people.  

The health effects included enlargement of the liver, changes in hormone levels and adverse developmental and reproductive effects.  Research has found probable links between elevated PFAS blood levels and high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid function, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, preeclampsia, as well as elevated blood pressure during pregnancy.

What should you do if you are concerned about possible exposure to PFAS in your well water?
Contact the Kent County Public Health Department at (616) 632-7100.  If your home’s well water is above the threshold, a whole home water filtration system may be necessary.

Please call Rockford Pediatrics at (616) 259-6100 if you have any questions or concerns. 

References:
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfc/docs/pfas_clinician_fact_sheet_508.pdf

Flu Vaccines: why your child needs one     

Flu shot Rockford Pediatrics

At Rockford Pediatrics, we encourage all families to get the flu vaccine every year.  It helps keep kids and parents from getting the flu, which is much worse than having a regular cold and can make a person sick with high fevers for a week or more!

Babies younger than 6 months old can't get the vaccine.  So, the best way to protect them is for their parents, other caregivers and older kids in the household to get immunized.  This is important because infants are more at risk for needing to be hospitalized with serious complications from the flu.

What is Influenza?

Influenza is a respiratory virus that often causes illness for over a week.  Flu symptoms include a sudden high fever – generally over 101°, chills, severe muscle aches, headaches, sore throat, cough, congestion and fatigue.  Generally, people with the flu feel much more sick, tired and achy than someone with a common cold.  It is important to remember that influenza is different than the “stomach flu” which is caused by different stomach viruses.  Although some, especially children, can have some vomiting or loose stools with influenza.  

People with influenza are most contagious during the first few days of illness.  It can spread rapidly from person to person through inhaling respiratory droplets (ie. someone who sneezes near you) and touching contaminated surfaces.  In kids this is especially true – think of a kid with a runny nose or who sneezes, who then touches a toy, then another kid plays with that toy and afterwards puts their fingers in their mouth! 

How to Prevent Getting the Flu

The best way to prevent your children from getting the flu is to get the flu shot.  It is also important to teach your children good hand washing skills from an early age.  Call Rockford Pediatrics at 616-259-6100 to make your appointment!  

Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.

It is very important to protect individuals that are considered high-risk. Here are some examples:

  • All kids 6 months through 2 years old (babies younger than 6 months are also considered high risk, but they cannot receive the flu vaccine)
  • All women who are pregnant, are considering pregnancy, have recently given birth, or who are breastfeeding during flu season
  • Anyone (adults, teens and kids) with a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes
  • Anyone 65 years and older
  • Anyone whose immune system is weakened from medications or illnesses (like HIV infection or cancer treatment)
  • Caregivers or household contacts of anyone in a high-risk group (children younger than 2 years old, especially those younger than 6 months, and those with high-risk conditions like heart disease or diabetes)

Who Shouldn’t Get the Flu Vaccine?

Certain things might prevent a person from getting the flu vaccine. Talk to your pediatrician if your child:

What are the Different Types of Flu Vaccine?

At Rockford Pediatrics, we use quadrivalent (protects against four strains of flu), preservative-free flu shots.

The nasal spray version of the flu vaccine is not recommended this season by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for kids or adults.  Studies showed that the nasal vaccine did not prevent people from getting the flu between 2013 and 2016.  Researchers aren't sure why recent versions of the nasal vaccine no longer work well, but currently pediatricians can no longer recommend the nasal spray option.

When Should Children and Parents get the Flu Vaccine?

Flu season typically runs from December to May.  It is best to get a flu shot as early in the season as possible, as it will give the body a chance to build up immunity to the flu.  However, getting the shot later in the season is still better than not getting the vaccine at all.

What are the Side Effects of the Flu Shot? Can I Get the Flu from Getting a Flu Vaccine?

The side effects of the flu shot are minimal.  The most common side effects are pain, swelling or redness at the injection site or low-grade fevers (<5% of children).  The flu vaccine is not a live vaccine and cannot cause the flu, despite this commonly held belief.  Keep in mind that the flu vaccine is typically administered in the fall/winter season when people are exposed to common colds and illnesses.  It is very common for a person to be exposed to a cold around the same time they receive the flu shot.  This scenario is safe, but explains why the flu shot gets a reputation for causing illness.

Is the Flu Shot Safe and Effective?

Yes, the flu shot has been proven safe and effective.  Recent studies have shown that receiving a flu shot reduces the risk of a flu-like illness by between 40% and 60% during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.  There are some years when the match is not perfect, however, it is believed that some protection is still offered.

Call Rockford Pediatrics at 616-259-6100 to schedule your flu shot today!

 

 

Back to School 101: Rockford Edition

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It’s that busy time of year – getting kids back to school!  At Rockford Pediatrics, we understand that there’s a lot on parent’s plates during the month of September.  Here are some tips from Dr. Alt and Dr. Stransky on making the transition back to school a smooth one.

Get some sleep – Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your child being successful at school.  Kids and teens with their growing bodies require more sleep than adults.  Grade school children should get 9-12 hours of sleep per night and teenagers should get at least 8-10 hours!  Getting your kids on a regular routine with a set bed time can facilitate the transition to getting up earlier in the morning as well.
 

Eat breakfast every day – We’ve all heard it before, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  Your child will need enough energy to make it through a long day of learning, potentially followed by an after-school sport or activity.  The way to ensure they have the energy to tackle that long day is to provide a good breakfast, preferably with a source of protein (dairy, eggs, meat, nuts, etc).
 

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Plan healthy lunches – Whether your child eats school lunch or packs a lunch for school – make sure they are getting a nutritious lunch.  There should be a source of protein (meat, peanut butter, beans, or dairy) and a fruit or a veggie.  Beverage should be water or low/non-fat milk.  If they are buying a school lunch, ask them what they are getting.  You can even go through the menu ahead of time with your child to give suggestions to make sure they are getting a well-rounded meal.
 

Monitor screen time – Children nowadays are surrounded by screens – phones, TVs, tablets, video games, computers, etc.   Children should have less than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day.  Children, teens and even adults can use some screen free time.  Family dinner time is great way for the whole family to spend an hour off electronic devices.  Modeling screen free time goes a long way to making a good impression on your children.
 

Start homework habits early – Help your child develop good homework habits – designate a location and a time.  Their homework spot should be well lit, quiet and away from distractions like the TV.  The best time to do homework is child dependent - they may do best to get it done right after school or they may need some time to unwind first.  Find what works best for your child.  It is ok to sit with your child when they do their homework, but make sure you aren’t doing it for them.  Remember that homework is their responsibility, not yours. 
 

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Sports and sports physicals - Sports are a great way for kids/teens to stay active, fit and involved.  To participate in a school sport, most schools require a pre-participation physical (a.k.a. sports physical) to be completed.  We can get your child into our office for their sports physical if needed.  For more information on sports physicals, see our blog from last month.
 

Update medication forms - If your child needs to take a medication at school, the school will generally require that you have a medication form filled out, by either the parent or the physician if it is a prescription medication.  Your pediatrician at Rockford Pediatrics can help you get that form filled out if necessary.
 

Stay up to speed at school - If you are concerned about your child’s performance in school, don’t wait for fall conferences to check in with their teacher.  Let them know your concerns or any issues that have been brought up by previous teachers, so they can be aware of these issues from the start of the school year.
 

Show interest in you child's day – Use the drive home from school or family dinner time to hear about your child’s school day.  This is a great way to make sure your child is not being bullied, is making friends and paying attention in school. 
 

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Keep them home when they are sick – Your child should not go to school if they have a fever, are vomiting, or you feel they are contagious to other kids at school.  If you are questioning whether to keep your child home from school, remember that Rockford Pediatrics has a walk-in hour from 8-9 am where our pediatricians can evaluate your child to see if they should stay home from school. 

Give us a call at 616-259-6100 to make your next appointment at Rockford Pediatrics -- we would love to get to know you and your family!