Tag Archives: Raising Arizona Kids magazine

Urinary tract infections: Can you tell by the smell?

This article has moved to: http://www.raisingarizonakids.com/2012/04/urinary-tract-infections-can-you-tell-by-the-smell/

Reacting to an autism diagnosis: what’s next?

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Understanding pediatric sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)

Would you recognize the warning signs of pediatric sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)? If not treated in minutes, SCA can result in death.

In a new policy statement to be published online on Monday, March 26, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides guidance for pediatricians on underlying cardiac conditions that may predispose children to SCA.

Although the risk for SCA increases when children with underlying cardiac disorders participate in athletics, SCA can occur at very young ages and also when a child is at rest.

Research supports the need for a SCA registry, says the AAP. A registry would help experts gain a better understanding of the nuances of the condition.

Plus, many cardiac disorders are known to be genetic, so the evaluation of family members, even if asymptomatic, could be a critical step in the overall diagnosis of disorders predisposing to pediatric and young adult SCA.

We asked Arizona Pediatric Cardiology Consultants (APCC), members of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, to weigh in on what parents need to know about SCA.

How common is SCA?  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year 2,000 individuals less than 25 years of age will die suddenly with the majority of these having a cardiac etiology.

What causes SCA?

Pediatric sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death can occur with various types of cardiac causes, including conditions in the heart muscle (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), unusual positioning of a coronary artery, or an electrical disturbance within the heart. (Long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia).

More on genetic cardiac conditions from the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome Foundation (SADS)

How are family members evaluated, and what symptoms may be indicators that a child is pre-disposed to this? 

Signs that may suggest an increased risk for SCD include fainting or seizure with exercise, excitement, or startle, significant dizziness with exertion, unusual and consistent shortness of breath or chest pain with exercise.

If a family member has died suddenly or unexpectedly at a young age, has unexplained seizure disorder, died at a young age from a heart problem, or has a history of fainting, then screening is appropriate.

How do doctors determine if a child is at risk? What tests are performed?

Evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist will include a thorough individual and family history, ECG, physical exam and perhaps an echocardiogram, an exercise stress test, and genetic testing if necessary.

Would automatic external defibrillators (AED) on playing fields and in schools help?

A great majority of these deaths relate to a life-threatening arrhythmia, ventricular fibrillation. CPR and use of an AED may be life saving.  AEDs are often found in airports, casinos, and government buildings.

However, there is no law in Arizona currently requiring AED within schools, recreational sports fields, or other private facilities.

Are efforts being made to increase the availability of AEDs?

The decision about whether to have an AED on location is left up to the individual organization.  APCC’s electrophysiologists are making an effort to educate schools, sports organizations, and families regarding the importance preparation to prevent SCD.

The role of an ECG in all sports physicals remains a debated topic within the United States.  It is, however, very important to ask specific questions (use the attached screening tool) for risk factors and then refer to a pediatric cardiologist for further assessment.

What should parents or caregivers do if they believe a child might be at risk?

Once an individual is identified as having any of the conditions listed above, it is very important for first degree relatives to also be evaluated by a pediatric cardiologist even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

Sudden Cardiac Death is devastating to not only the families of those affected but to the communities in which they live.  Educating  families, schools, sports leagues, and primary care providers about quick and effective screening for children at risk for SCD is a first step in prevention.

Increased community awareness and the availability of AEDs in schools and sporting venues will help avert a tragedy.

Karen S. Eynon, RN, MSN, CPNP, MATS,  compiled these answers with support from Mitchell Cohen, MD, Andrew Papez, MD, and Jennifer Shaffer, RN, MS, CPNP, all of Arizona Pediatric Cardiology Consultants along with information from SADS.org.  

Check with your child’s physician if you are concerned about risks for SCA.

More from Parent Heart Watch, a network of parents and partners dedicated to reducing the effects of SCA.

 

Breastfeeding: debunking that “not enough milk” myth

Human babies have survived on their mother’s milk for millions of years, just like all other mammals, says Laurie Jones, MD, IBCLC. And a woman’s ability to make milk and nourish her baby is not based on a fragile system.

The majority of mothers are quite capable of feeding their young.  In fact, Jones says that 95 to 99 percent of mothers make enough milk for their baby.

Well check: Dr. Laurie Jones and one-month-old Sophia Gulbis and her mom, Stephanie Gulbis

When it comes to feeding a new baby, there were no other options but breastfeeding  until the relatively recent past. “We all forget that, says Jones, an AzAAP chapter member who practices at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

But today, says Jones, many mothers believe that when they have a baby, they won’t be able to make enough milk. “So many of their friends or family have planted the seeds of doubt.”

Modern hospital practices tend to inhibit built-in mechanisms for bountiful milk production, says Jones. “New mothers are bombarded with advertising for formula ‘supplements,’ and their doctor or hospital may give them free formula samples ‘just in case.’”

More on how Arizona hospitals are helping new moms to meet breastfeeding goals

And that perpetuates the myth that they won’t make enough.  “Our modern culture, beliefs, medical practices, and artificial substitutes have given rise to a false epidemic of not enough milk.”

Baby Sophia has been exclusively breast-fed since birth and now weighs 10 lbs.

It’s a combination of factors that lead a mother to begin feeding both breast and formula in the first days and weeks after her baby is born, says Jones, and that’s what leads to a reduced milk supply.

“That’s the number one reason mothers stop breastfeeding and do not reach the recommended 12 months,” says Jones. “It’s because of perceived — or real –low milk supply.”

What works

In the first few weeks when the mother’s body is figuring out how much milk to make, it is critical that she is given unrestricted access to her baby with no rules or limits on feeding.

“Many parents mistake a newborn’s constant need to suck as a sign of being underfed,” she says. “But babies are programmed to suckle frequently to bring in a mother’s full milk production.”

Dr. Jones examines Sophia's mouth and palate.

Babies have long been wired that way — because it ensures a safe, close proximity to their mothers. The amount of suckling in the first 5 days is a predictor of the supply for the following six months.  Anything that stands in the way of this natural regulation will prevent a mother from exclusively breastfeeding.

Jones, a pediatrician who is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, helps educate medical professionals on how critical the first few days after birth can be for a new mother to get off on to a good start in establishing her milk supply.

From the moment the baby is born, says Jones, the only thing a new mom needs to do is be close to the baby to allow the mother-baby dance to unfold. Milk production will increase dramatically around the third day post partum.

More on skin-to-skin contact

It sounds simple, and natural, keeping a new mother and her baby close, those first few days right after birth.

But that’s not always what happens for women who deliver in the hospital. Jones points to research showing that on the very first day after birth — post-partum day one –there are an average of 54 interruptions to a mother’s hospital room, with each interruption averaging 17 minutes in length.

Jones sees women start giving formula in the hospital after their baby is born because they think they don’t have enough milk right after delivery. That’s not true, says Jones.

Facts on milk supply from Dr. Jones:  

  •  A woman only needs ONE breast to feed ONE baby. Expectant women begin making milk around 16 weeks in to a pregnancy.
  •  The baby’s stomach can hold about 7 to 15 milliliters comfortably in the first day of life.
  • The average volume of a feeding is 7 to 10 milliliters – about a teaspoon and a half.

    A spoonful of milk is about 7 milliliters

    “It’s amazing how nature delivers the perfect amount to the baby,”  says Jones.

When mother and baby are kept in direct contact with minimal interruptions, the baby will nurse frequently.  A minimum number of feedings is about 8 to 12 per 24 hours.  

  •  How do you know the baby is getting enough? Count wet (W) and stool (S) diapers:  Day 1 (1W, 1S), day 2 (2W, 2S), day 3 (3W, 3S), day 4 (4W, 4S), and day 5 to one month — about 6 to 8 of each.
  •  Pacifiers can steal time at the breast and lower milk supply when used in the first two weeks, too.
  •  Topping off with formula after breastfeeding will decrease a mother’s milk supply, and no formula should be given to a breastfeeding infant without a true medical indication and for a short therapeutic intervention.
  • If the baby won’t latch onto the breast for some reason in the first days after birth, the simplest fastest option is to hand express the milk in the mother’s breast and feed it to the baby on a spoon.
  • Pumps cannot get the colostrum milk out as easily as a mother can by hand, and there is a lot of set up and cleaning and time distraction involved in pumping.
  • Bottles of pumped milk should be avoided in the first 3 to 4 weeks when the fast flow of the bottle can create breast refusal.

More breastfeeding facts from Dr. Jones: Size doesn’t matter

  1. Women with small and large breasts make the same volume of milk per day.
  2. The rare 1 to 5% of mothers with true insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) who cannot make an exclusive milk supply should have a full medical evaluation before they are given that diagnosis.
  3.  The condition would not become apparent until a few weeks after the baby is born, and the infant is exclusively breastfed with inadequate growth.
  4.  Low milk supply is a medical condition that should be evaluated by a team,

Baby Sophia was treated for tongue-tie in the first few days after birth, which helped Stephanie to meet her breastfeeding goals.

including the mother’s obstetrician, baby’s physician, and an IBCLC.   There are maternal hormonal causes of a reduced supply, and some infant conditions, like tongue-tie, that can reduce supply.

Many of these issues can be reversed with the right information and support, and even those rare women with IGT can provide 100% at breast feeds with a combination of their own milk and supplementer tubing-fed donor milk or formula.

You can’t see it…but it’s there!

There’s a misperception that a mother should produce more milk over time, says Jones. But studies show that the milk supply is pretty much the same from month one to month twelve. Jones says that is “shocking to most people who are used to seeing bottle-fed babies take higher and higher volumes over time.”

But the same volume of milk grows a human baby beautifully from month one to month twelve for two reasons: (1) the fat and calorie content of human milk changes from day to day and month to month and (2) breastmilk-fed infants burn fewer calories per day than formula-fed infants.

What to ask a prospective pediatrician about breastfeeding

Drinking cow’s milk formula is an inefficient process that makes an infant require more volume over time, and the caloric content of formula is the same every day of the infant’s life.

Breastfeeding is an elegant, mother-baby biological connection, says Jones, yet several barriers today stand to put a wrench in a system that has nurtured humans throughout history.

“Mothers doubt their own bodies, doctors unnecessarily supplement, hospitals separate mother from baby for convenience, pacifiers are given to quiet the baby, culture dictates a baby be on a schedule, insurance won’t pay for lactation support after hospital discharge.”

There are many forces that attempt to undermine an essential biological process, says Jones, “but a mother with the commitment to breastfeed can overcome all these barriers with the right information and support.”

New findings on what may lead kids to binge drinking

A recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that that the more exposure teens had to alcohol use in movies, the more likely they were to binge drink.

The age, affluence and rebelliousness of the teens did not seem to matter. And this pattern was observed across cultures in countries with different norms regarding teen and adult alcohol use and drinking culture.

What can parents do to make sure kids don’t pick up the cues from the many movies out these days that show alcohol use? And what are some ways that parents can prevent a child from binge drinking?

Dr. Dale Guthrie, a pediatrician in practice at Gilbert Pediatrics, says communication is the key.

Guthrie, who serves as vice president of the Arizona Chapter of the AAP, encourages parents to stay involved — and to make sure to meet and know their children’s friends, from the early days of pre-school right on through high school.

More tips from Dr. Guthrie on how to help prevent your child from using alcohol and other drugs:

  • Know where your teen is at all times.  Teens may act as if they don’t like it but teens are actually more secure knowing their parents care enough to know where they are and what they’re doing.
  • Consciously and genuinely praise your teen for something good he does every day.
  •  Make sure she knows she can talk to you about anything, at any time, if it is important to her and that she won’t be interrupted judgmentally with a lecture.
  •  Remember you are his parent, (not his best friend, afraid to step on his toes) and offer advice when requested and at opportune teaching moments in short phrases, not long lectures which are tuned out anyway.
  •  Better yet, ask inspired questions of your teen—the kind which help her arrive at the correct solution.
  •  Attend movies with your teen and then ask open-ended questions about what he thought about it.
  •  At a nonthreatening time, (not right as your teen is headed out to a movie), sit down as a family and discuss what are your family goals and standards.  As part of that, set family standards for what types of movies you will view and which are beneath your family standards.
  •  When your teen returns from being out with friends, it is helpful to have a “check-in” with parents.  If the tradition has been set that he will give parents a hug (or even a kiss) no matter what time he returns, parents will know more about what he’s been doing  just by being close to him, listening and observation.

Parents of younger children might not be thinking about the teenage years, but is there anything they can do to lower the risk that their child will abuse alcohol down the road?

Will your six-year-old become a teen drinker?

One very simple way is for parents to make sure they truly listen to their child right from the start.

Guthrie says that children need to feel that what they say is of prime importance to their parents. “Then when she has something really serious to discuss, he adds, “she will feel comfortable coming to you.”

Modeling healthy behaviors themselves, and engaging kids in conversation at opportune moments (short snippets in lieu of lengthy lectures) are other ways parents can make a difference, says Guthrie.

RAK Archives: Talking to teens about alcohol poisoning

More on talking to kids about drugs and alcohol, and upcoming Parent Workshops from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

Where you choose to deliver your baby may have a tremendous impact on reaching breastfeeding goals, says pediatrician and lactation consultant Laurie Jones, MD, IBCLC.

Laurie Jones, MD, and Tanya Belcheff, CNM, examine day-old Judel Alia

That’s because a key predictor of long-term success for breastfeeding rests on what happens between a mother and her newborn in those precious hours after birth.

Doctors, nurses, hospital policies, and family member interaction- even well-meaning visitors—can “make or break” the early breastfeeding relationship. “Babies and mothers are programmed with instincts to breastfeed, says Jones, who practices at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, “but modern hospitals and health care providers mostly get in the way or interrupt those instincts.”

Jones, a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians says the Arizona Baby Steps program, launched by the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), has worked wonders at hospitals across the state to train nurses, doctors, and administrators in the best ways to support breastfeeding mothers after delivery.

More on how Arizona is helping moms to meet breastfeeding goals

The program promotes the implementation of five evidence-based maternity care practices that help a new mom to meet her breastfeeding goals.

Funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the voluntary program was offered to hospitals in Arizona by the AZDHS, and implemented beginning in early summer, 2010.

The most important thing a mother can do to get breastfeeding off to a good start, says Jones, is to have unrestricted and uninterrupted time “skin-to-skin” in the first days following birth.

That first hour immediately after birth, says certified nurse-midwife Tanya Belcheff, MSN, CNM, should be considered the “golden hour.”  Belcheff, who also practices at St. Joseph’s, says it’s a time to cuddle, to bond- and can even predict the duration of the breastfeeding relationship.

“Studies show that the number of minutes you can have your baby skin-to-skin immediately after delivery, says Belcheff, “directly correlates with the number of months that you are successful at breastfeeding.”

It’s a new-old concept, she adds,  which helps regulate a newborn’s temperature, glucose levels, and breathing rate.

Also known as “metabolic stabilization,” Jones says that a baby will warm faster on a mother’s chest –or a father’s chest, or a partner’s chest, for that matter — rather than the traditional warmer used in hospitals. No matter what the feeding method is — breast or formula – this early contact is best for a new baby.

If moms come in asking for skin-to-skin contact during labor, and the nurses understand the importance, they are more likely to get it, says Belcheff, so it is important for labor/delivery professionals to educate their patients during pre-natal care.

Dr. Jones with Dr. Plimpton, who delivered Judel

Dr. Steven Plimpton, MD, an OB-GYN in private practice in Phoenix, says that that skin-to-skin contact is often offered as routine by labor and delivery nurses who understand and appreciate the benefits. “The mom will do it right away, assuming that it is the best thing for the baby.” This early contact helps bring in the breast milk, too.

A first bottle during the very early hours, says Plimpton, can interfere with the process. “The baby sucks it down like it’s the best thing in the word, and then the mom thinks she’s inadequate because the baby doesn’t suck on her like that, or cries when she tries to put her to the breast. The more you promote it right at the beginning, I think the more successful it’s likely to be.”

AAP new updated policy clearly says that all procedures should be delayed until after the first feeding, says Jones. But expanding that policy beyond the pediatric literature takes time.

Preparing for breastfeeding: what to ask your pediatrician

Getting everyone on board – obstetricians, midwives, family practice doctors, nurses –who helps participate in the birthing experience — is the best way to get baby off to a good start.

That’s why policies like Arizona Baby Steps are needed, so that nothing is left to chance. As long as the baby has a healthy Apgar score, which can be taken while the baby is on mom’s chest, says Jones, other routine procedures, like weighing and giving medicines – can wait.

Expectant moms should make a birth plan, says Belcheff, and discuss their wishes with their care provider. Jones says that a mother can reach her breastfeeding goals with a strong belief that she can do it and by making choices that support her goal. “Don’t overthink things in the first few days — human mothers have been doing this with no other option for 267 million years. And you can, too!”

 Jones offers the following tips on what expectant moms should know in order to get breastfeeding off to a good start:

  • Choose a hospital that has inpatient lactation consultants (designated as IBCLC) seven days a week and trains nurses and other providers in basic breastfeeding support.
  • There are still many hospitals that keep babies in a separate unit to get routine phototherapy or routine antibiotics which is very disruptive and always detrimental to the early establishment of a mother’s milk supply.
  •  Discuss a birth plan with your birth provider that includes immediate skin-to-skin after delivery and keeping mother and baby together at all times during the hospital stay with minimal interruptions.
  •  Let the nurses and doctors know that you do not want any formula, bottles, or pacifiers given to your baby.
  • Ask friends and family to visit during a limited window of time so that you have as much uninterrupted time with your baby as possible to be free to learn your baby’s hunger cues and needs.
  • Avoid any hormonal contraception until breastfeeding is well-established at the earliest around 6 weeks post-partum.

Arizona Baby Steps to Breastfeeding participating hospitals and medical centers

Greater Phoenix Area:

Banner Baywood Medical Center

Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center

Banner Desert Medical Center

Banner Estrella Medical Center

Banner Gateway Medical Center

Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center

Chandler Regional Medical Center

Maricopa Integrated Health System

Mercy Gilbert Medical Center

Mountain Vista Medical Center

Phoenix Indian Medical Center

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center

Other participating Baby Steps hospitals in Arizona:

Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital, Nogales

Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tucson

Casa Grande Regional Hospital

Flagstaff Medical Center

Kingman Regional Medical Center

Northwest Medical Center, Tucson

Sierra Vista Regional Health Center

Summit Healthcare Regional, Show Low

Tucson Medical Center

The University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson

Yavapai Regional Medical Center

Yuma Regional Medical Center

Source: Anne Whitmire, Breastfeeding Program Manager

Arizona Department of Health Services

Helping children with gender identity disorder (GID)

Children who are persistently uncomfortable with their gender who display strong and consistent cross-gender behaviors may be experiencing gender identity disorder, or GID.

A new study to be published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics found that children who do not receive medical treatment or counseling for GID can be at high-risk for certain behavioral and emotional problems.

Researchers found that of the 97 patients younger than 21 years who met the criteria for GID, 44 percent had a prior history of psychiatric symptoms, 37 percent were taking psychotropic medications, and 21.6 percent had a history of self-mutilation and suicide attempts.

Study authors advocate for early evaluation of children exhibiting GID, but treatment with medications should not be started until they reach puberty.

Why would a child be uncomfortable with his or her gender?

Pediatric surgeon Kathy Graziano, M.D., of Pediatric Surgeons of Phoenix, treats patients who are born with reproductive anomalies.  She says that one reason is that some girls are exposed to excess hormones at birth, and are born with male-looking parts. And some girls are born without some parts, like a vagina or a uterus.

Those are relatively rare conditions, says Graziano, who is a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians (AzAAP). “But there is a condition, also rare, in which a child is born with all the “right” reproductive organs but identifies with the other gender.”

This is known as gender identity disorder, gender dysphoria or gender incongruence. “This is a problem for the child and the parents from early on.”

Graziano recalls meeting — and being inspired by — a patient who always knew that she was a boy.

“She dressed as a boy, insisting on wearing a boy’s bathing suit for example, as early as anyone could remember,” says Graziano.  “She only once wore a dress…at her sister’s wedding.”

Then, in middle school, she became deeply depressed — and even suicidal.

The patient and her family attended counseling. That’s where she was able to admit that she wanted to be a boy, says Graziano. “The family took an accommodative approach.  They allowed her to change her name to a male name and act in society as a boy.  They sought surgical solutions for her to start transforming her anatomy.”

This was slow-going, says Graziano, since in this country there have been few surgical interventions for children under the age of 18.

Graziano says that the patient ultimately started a support group for other adolescents with gender identity issues. She entered college as a male, although not anatomically.  “Her story is a success in that her family’s intervention saved her life.”

There is also a therapeutic approach to treat, and try to reverse, gender identity disorder when it is recognized early, adds Graziano, but research on the success of these two approaches is lacking.

Pediatricians dealing with these issues should screen for depression and intervene as soon as possible. Parents who suspect that a child is dealing with GID should talk to their child’s physician.

“The most important thing,” says Graziano, “is to focus on the mental health of the child and the family.”

Pediatricians and parents should consult with experienced mental health professionals for children and adolescents experiencing gender-related issues. When patients are sufficiently physically mature to receive medical treatment, they should be referred to a medical specialist or program that treats patients with GID.

Resources for parents

Central Arizona Gender Alliance

TransYouth Family Allies

Kids who are bullied less likely to be physically active

Children who are bullied by their peers endure great emotional pain and suffering.

Staying active has emotional benefits, too. Courtesy YMCA of the East Bay, Oakland, CA

But a new study, to be published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics, found that children who are ostracized, even for brief periods, are significantly more likely to choose sedentary over physical activities.

Researchers asked children between the ages of 8 and 12 to play a virtual ball-toss game. They were told that they were playing the game online with other kids. In some of the sessions, the game was pre-programmed to exclude the child from receiving the ball for most of the game.

In the other sessions, the child received the ball one-third of the time. After the game, the kids were given a choice of any activity they liked. They were then monitored by a device that measured physical activity.

The researchers found the kids who were excluded were far more likely to choose an activity that did not require physical effort.  They concluded that being ostracized may reinforce behaviors that lead to obesity in children.

Even though this study seems small, it is important, says Dr. Farah Lokey, a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children who are prone to being bullied and then ostracized in school every day tend to spend more time at home and less time participating in activities with other children.

And that can damage self-esteem. “The key to getting these children active, and feeling good about themselves, says Lokey, who practices at Southwestern Pediatrics Gilbert, “is putting them into activities where they can shine on their own and meet like-minded individuals.”

Individual sports such as golf, swimming, and tennis can provide these opportunities, Lokey adds. “These sports not only allow them to become experts in the sports by learning these skills but definitely help their self- esteem and pride.”

Sports like Karate and other self-defense activities encourage treating others with respect. That keeps the concept top-of-mind for children.

When to worry

Younger school-age children typically begin their school years with a sense of excitant about learning and making new friends. But if a child seems suddenly less enthused and more fearful around school, or develops separation anxiety, that could be a red flag that bullying is going on, says Lokey.

Some children will show physical problems with no diagnosable cause, such as a tummy aches – but maybe only on the weekdays, not on weekends. Sleep problems or anxiety in social situations can also be indicators.

With older children, behavior can become more aggressive and defiant, says Lokey. Grades may suffer, and parents may notice a change in appearance as well as a tendancy to seclude themselves from others.

 What to do

If parents do see sudden changes, they should speak to school officials and enlist the help of school counselors. Lokey says that pediatricians can be a great resource when parents have questions about these behaviors.

A child’s physician can talk to their patient in confidence and offer to speak with school counselors if needed. “Bolstering confidence and self-esteem in the children we pediatricians treat,” says Lokey, “is one of our main goals.”

What are synthetic cannabinoids? Free webinar for parents

According to Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of American youth conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) , daily use of marijuana is at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors — a sharp contrast to the decline reported in the last decade.

But a new drug was added to the study’s coverage in 2011.

One in every nine high school seniors (11.4 percent) reported using synthetic cannabinoids, or synthetic marijuana, in the prior 12 months.

Also known as as “K2” or “spice,” the drug consists of herbs coated with chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

As of October, at least 40 states, including Arizona, have banned the sale of synthetic cannabinoids.

Find more facts from NIDA on synthetic marijuana here.

Use of this drug is relatively new. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported an uptick in calls related to synthetic cannabinoids during 2010.

To help educate parents, community members, law enforcement and healthcare providers, the Arizona affiliate of the Partnership for A Drug-Free America is offering a free lunchtime webinar on synthetic substances.

This free webinar takes place from noon to 1pm on Wednesday, Jan. 11 and will run for about 45 minutes with time for questions at the end.

Presenters include a medical toxicologist and representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

For more information, reach the Partnership at 602-264-5700.

Participants can register by using the following link:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/197247422

Choosing Halloween candy? A dentist weighs in…

CANDY is the real reason kids celebrate Halloween, right?

Sure, the costume part is fun. But the real excitement is running around and seeing how much loot you can gather.

For parents après Halloween there is always the question of what to do with that much candy.  You have some choices.

Back in the day...it was all about the candy.

You can…

A). Swoop in and take over all of the candy, hide it somewhere, and only dole it out on occasion.

B). Let the kids choose a few pieces to eat that evening, take the rest and put it in the freezer, and then donate it to a food bank around Thanksgiving.

C). Put it in lunchboxes. (Yes, some parents do this. Yikes!)

D). Put all of it in the pantry and let the kids eat it whenever they want it.

E.) Let the kids gorge on endless candy for the entire evening, then take what is left and pitch it.

We tried choice (E) one year when one of my sons was about 4 years old. He was mad for candy, unwrapping everything and stuffing his sweet little face.

So we let him.

The outcome? Not pretty, and just what you’d expect.

That guy grew up with an aversion to chocolate and most candies (except  gummy sour apple sharks). Sodas, too.

I’m not recommending this tactic, of course, but every kid is different and every family is different. You have to do what is best for you.

But be smart about the type of snacks and candies your younger kids eat, says Kimberly Patterson, D.D.S., M.S., assistant professor and pediatric dentist at the Midwestern University Dental Institute in Glendale.

Patterson says that parents should offer toddlers non-candy treats since their candy intake is difficult to monitor. Brushing at that age can also be a challenge. She recommends goldfish crackers and pretzels for children up to three years old.

For older kids, choosing the right kind of Halloween candy can reduce the risks of cavities and tooth damage. Patterson suggests avoiding anything sticky such as gum, taffy and caramels. She gives out KitKat bars–crunchy wafers with chocolate. Neither of which, she says, stick to tooth surfaces.

Of course, you can’t do much about what winds up in your child’s trick-or-treat bag. You can only make a decision on how — or if — you want to do candy control. The kids are going to want to try a few different kinds.

Of course, that’s the fun.

However, the best advice for kids of all ages, says Patterson, is to make sure everyone brushes their teeth before bedtime.

Especially on Halloween.