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     

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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! 

Back to school sports physicals at Rockford Pediatrics

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At Rockford Pediatrics, we feel that sports are a great way for kids/teens to stay active, fit and involved.  Schools now require a pre-participation physical (a.k.a. sports physical) to be completed prior to being allowed to play.

Why is a sports physical important?

This is a key opportunity to identify risk factors for life-threatening heart conditions and arrhythmias.  It is also a chance the ensure that your child is fit enough for the physical activity that their sport will require.

What are the benefits of going to your pediatrician for your sports physical vs. an urgent care/sports physical clinic?

At Rockford Pediatrics, you have continuity of care and access to your prior medical records and past medical history.  We have the ability to address other medical issues such as asthma, allergies, mental health concerns, female health issues, etc.  Immunizations, which are sometimes required for school, can be reviewed and given if necessary.  If further testing is needed, this can also be ordered and possibly scheduled or performed right in the office.  Also, with the Affordable Care Act, annual physicals should be covered by your insurance company without any cost to you.

What is done at a sports physical?

Your child will have their vitals taken – including height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, heart rate, a hearing screen and a vision screen.  Their growth curves will be reviewed.  A medical history, both personal and family, will be taken.  A complete physical exam will be performed, focusing specifically on the heart, lungs and joints.  Finally, we will provide anticipatory guidance that will benefit their health, both on and off the field.  This can include information on preventing over-use injuries and concussions.

Are there any further tests that are needed?

If there are any red flags in the personal or family history, or any abnormalities found on exam, there could be other tests that are needed.  These tests could include an EKG or an echocardiogram to look at your child’s heart, CBC to look for anemia or spirometry for asthma. 

What needs to be done before a sports physical is performed?

For new patients, having records transferred over (especially if your child has any chronic medical issues) and having a copy of your child’s immunization record is important.  Also, having the MHSAA physical form questionnaire filled out before your visit is essential. We want to make sure that your child does not have a history of heart or lung disease and that there is no family history of heart disease or sudden death before the age of 50.

If your child is in need of a sports physical, call our office today at 616-259-6100.  We can get them in before the start of school!

Sources: Healthychildren.org and pedsinreview.org - the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics

FOX-17 Visits Rockford pediatrics

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Erica Francis, health reporter with FOX-17, stopped by our office to talk with Dr. Alt about what new parents should know before their first visit to the pediatrician

We discussed Rockford Pediatric's philosophy and met with a new family who was in for a visit with Dr. Alt.

Check out the interview on FOX-17!

If you are looking for a pediatrician in the Rockford, MI area, give our office a call at 616-259-6100 to make an appointment for your little one!   

Dr. Kim Alt and Dr. Trew Stransky Open Rockford Pediatrics in the heart of Rockford

Doctors Kim Alt, M.D. and Trew Stransky, D.O. are pleased to announce the opening of their new office on 120 Marcell Dr. NE, Suite C in Rockford. The practice is scheduled to open July 5, 2017 and is appropriately titled Rockford Pediatrics.
 
Dr. Alt and Dr. Stransky are excited about their new building remodel that is nearing completion. They have created a facility that is warm and inviting to children and their families. The goal of Rockford Pediatrics was to create high-quality, local pediatric medical care in a small town, patient centered atmosphere.
 
“We are very excited to become part of the Rockford community,” said Dr. Alt. “Rockford Pediatrics is committed to offer efficient care and immediate availability to our patients.”
 
Dr. Alt earned her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Michigan State University and then attended medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Alt completed her residency at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. She has been in practice for four years in West Michigan.
 
Dr. Stransky attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate obtaining a degree in biology and then attended the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school. Dr. Stransky obtained his residency training at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. He has been in practice for 13 years and back in West Michigan for the last 4 years.
 
“We have really enjoyed building Rockford Pediatrics from the ground up,” said Dr. Stransky. “We believe families are going to love our personalized care, our morning walk-in clinic and our efficient use of technology, just to name a few things.”
 
Dr. Alt and Dr. Stransky are planning on being a part of the upcoming Start of Summer Parade on June 10th.  Rockford Pediatrics has also scheduled a community open house for July 13th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, so please stop by to welcome the new doctors to Rockford. 
 
Rockford Pediatrics, located at 120 Marcell Dr. NE, Suite C, is now accepting new patients. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rockford Pediatrics offers same day appointments and a walk-in clinic from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, contact Rockford Pediatrics at 616-259-6100 or visit www.RockfordPediatrics.com