Children’s Health

The latest dangerous “addiction” parents need to worry about: Mobile devices

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

If you’ve looked up from your phone recently — or even if you haven’t! — you may have noticed that many children and teens are glued to their devices. While experts aren’t quite ready to call this an “addiction,” a new survey of parents and teens confirms that many of them suspect they’re too dependent on their devices. We’ve discussed the potential implications of this, plus suggested some “ground rules” for when to ignore those devices.

Preventing playground injuries: The fine line between safe and overprotective

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

You may have noticed that many playgrounds are now “safer” than they used to be. It’s great to think about safety, especially since there are hundreds of thousands of playground-related injuries every year, and a significant chunk of those are brain injuries like concussions. But it’s also important not to get overprotective — some life lessons about risk and self-confidence are best learned in a fun, stimulating, well-supervised environment like a playground.

Why the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes North Carolina’s transgender “bathroom law”

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A new law in North Carolina prevents transgender people — people who feel very strongly that their biological sex does not match their true gender — from using the public restroom of the gender they identify with. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has denounced this law for discriminating against transgender children and children with certain genetic disorders. As they say, what all children need the most is unconditional acceptance and support.

How much should teens weigh to prevent heart disease as adults?

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

We know that overweight teens have a higher risk of heart disease throughout their life, which is why pediatricians make sure to discuss healthy lifestyle choices with their patients. However, a recent study reveals that the weight ranges currently considered acceptable for teens might be too high, and therefore still putting them at risk. We’ve summarized the results and given you some ideas to help your teen lead an active, healthy lifestyle.

Which kids are most likely to have prolonged concussion symptoms?

Mark Proctor, MD
Mark Proctor, MD, Contributing Editor

Awareness of the effects of concussions in children and adolescents has risen, along with the frequency of diagnosis. Researchers and other medical professionals are attempting to develop tools such as a risk grading scale, that might be used to better manage the injury and provide the most effective treatment.

4 “must dos” for kids with seasonal allergies

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Many children look forward to the warm, mild spring weather — but kids with seasonal allergies (also known as hay fever) might not. Hay fever can interfere with a child’s ability to play outdoors and enjoy the change of seasons, and it can just plain make them feel miserable, too. We’ve listed four tips to help your child cope with allergy season — and they work just as well for adults, too.

FDA warns parents about arsenic in rice cereal

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Rice has an unusually high arsenic content — and high amounts of arsenic in the body can increase the risk of cancer and learning difficulties. The FDA has recently proposed an upper limit on the amount of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but it hasn’t yet been adopted. In the meantime, we’ve listed steps you can take to reduce your — and your child’s — consumption of arsenic.

News flash: Teens need adequate sleep!

Dennis Rosen, M.D.
Dennis Rosen, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

The amount of sleep that’s “enough” to let you wake up feeling rested and refreshed varies dramatically from person to person. But the effects of chronically not getting enough sleep are incredibly detrimental—and especially so in children and teens. Here, we’ve explored some of the effects of sleep deprivation in teens, as well as shared our favorite tips for helping your child get a great night’s sleep.

We should be ashamed if we don’t pass Tobacco 21 laws

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Ninety percent of smokers had their first cigarette before turning 18. A movement to raise the legal age to buy tobacco in the United States to 21 hopes that making it more difficult for young people to start smoking may lead to a healthier population overall.

Would you know if your teen was depressed?

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Recently, the USPSTF updated their guidelines for screening teenagers for depression. This update gives pediatricians — and all family care doctors — a framework for addressing this disorder. There are plenty of good reasons to screen teens for depression: it’s common among teenagers, it can look very different from depression in adults, and it can be dangerous to a teenager’s current — and future — health and happiness. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments available.