Children’s Health

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.

Why experts recommend newborns sleep in their parents’ room for the first year

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

Experts now recommend that new parents sleep in the same room as their new infant for the first 6-12 months of his/her life. While this might wake the parents up more, it’s much safer for the child. Sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) happens much less frequently when the parents sleep in the same room as their baby. And six months will go by faster than you think.

New expert recommendations on children and media use

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

In the past, experts have said children should spend no more than two hours a day in front of a screen. But as society changes – and that guideline becomes increasingly unrealistic – advice changes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released new recommendation. Rather than suggest rules, the AAP aims to help parents and families understand the effects of media and screens on developing children and to provide tools on how to handle technology correctly.

3 things you might not know about childhood asthma

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

For children with asthma and their parents, it’s important to understand what the symptoms mean and why a proper diagnosis matters, so that the right treatment can be prescribed for each child.

Where do the candidates stand on the health and well-being of children?

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

Take the time to become informed on the each candidate’s policies and plans to support and protect children. The American Academy of Pediatrics asked the presidential candidates to answer four questions on children’s health and well-being. The answers should be important to all voters.

The 2 reasons your child needs to get a flu shot this season

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

It’s especially important for children to get flu shots, both because the flu can hit the young with particular severity, and because of the potential to pass the illness to others.

Less than 1 in 10 teens gets enough exercise: What this means for them and says about us

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

Teens don’t exercise enough, and with a third of U.S. adults classified as obese, it’s important that exercise is encouraged in children and teens. Starting healthy habits when they’re young keeps kids healthy into adulthood. Studies show that obese adults rarely lose the weight, so it’s better to keep the weight off in the first place. A lot has to do with our biology but also our lifestyle, and we can change the latter. So let’s get our children and teens moving.

New study says that it’s safe to skip the spoon and let babies feed themselves

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

A study suggests that a new approach to baby-led weaning is safe and has some benefits. With parent supervision, babies can feed themselves solids without a spoon — foods that they can pick up and get into their mouths, but that are also low risk for choking. Benefits of this approach include babies starting solids when they’re ready rather than when parents are ready and babies learn early to be in charge of what and how much they eat.