Children’s Health

New guidelines for preventing peanut allergy in babies

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

New guidelines to prevent peanut allergies in children involve careful exposure to peanut products. Experts identify three levels of “allergy risk.” The safest approach to exposure depends on which category a baby is in. It is always important to discuss this with your doctor before introducing peanut products. Some babies may need allergy testing before trying this. No matter the strategy, parents need to remember that peanuts are a choking hazard for young children and many babies have trouble managing peanut butter, so it needs to be used carefully.

3 things you can do when your child’s eczema gets bad

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

Simple steps and treatments, including the right moisturizer, can ease the discomfort of eczema for children during the winter months. As with any chronic health problem, it’s important to work with your doctor to create a plan to manage flare ups, as well as a strategy to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Bronchiolitis: What parents of infants need to know

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

While all babies get colds, bronchiolitis, a respiratory infection that works its way into the lungs. Treatment is usually “supportive,” which means steps to relieve the symptoms, and most babies start to get better after a week or so. But bronchiolitis can make some babies very sick, so parents need to be alert for signs of worsening illness.

5 (relatively) easy New Year’s resolutions for healthier, happier kids (and families)

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

As the year draws to a close, many of us take on well-intentioned, and often ambitious New Year’s resolutions. But improved health and happiness can be obtained through smaller lifestyle changes that will benefit both adults and children.

The 3 kinds of toys that really help your child

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

During the holiday season, advertisers push numerous toys on consumers that do not necessarily have the positive impact on a child’s life that are promised. There are other options during this holiday season, gifts as simple as blank paper for drawing, that can stimulate children both mentally and physically.

Understanding suicide in children and early adolescents may lead to more effective prevention

Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., Contributor

Though suicide in children and young adolescents is rare, it is still a far-too-frequent occurrence. It is also one that is increasing, particularly in black youth. There are differences in the characteristics and circumstances of children and adolescents who commit suicide. A better understanding of these could lead to more effective prevention programs.

The 3 biggest feeding mistakes you can make with your preschooler

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

Instilling good eating habits in children is not easy, especially when they are young. It’s important for parents to set rules and limits around meals and snacks, and just as important to stick to them, which is the difficult part. It can take a many tries before a child figures out that healthy foods like kale, strawberries, or brown rice taste great.

6 tips for making the most of your child’s checkup

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

Planning ahead of your child’s annual check-up can help you and the doctor get the most out of the visit. And be sure to take advantage of the resources available to you, such as email portals and the nurses and other staff in the doctor’s office. You might even consider making an appointment before the checkup. Doing so can be really helpful, especially when there is something complicated going on — like asthma acting up, school problems, worries about behavior, or a family crisis.

Parents: How smart are you about antibiotics?

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

Antibiotics are essential medications and can save lives. But they should only be used when absolutely needed. As with any drug, antibiotics have risks as well as benefits. Side effects range from diarrhea to allergic reactions. Also, using antibiotics when they are not necessary can result in bacteria that cause infections that cannot be treated easily or effectively.

Teens who use flavored e-cigarettes more likely to start smoking

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

E-cigarette smoking among teens is on the rise, and teens are more likely to transition from smoking e-cigarettes to smoking traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are marketed towards young people, emphasizing the need for dialogue between teens and the adults in their lives on the health risks surrounding this trend.