Children’s Health

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.

2 simple ways to ensure you give your kids the right dose of medicine (lots of parents don’t)

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

It’s surprisingly easy to give a child an incorrect dosage of liquid medication, and many parents do. When giving medication to a child, be sure you understand the instructions and use a medication syringe rather than a dosing cup. Take the extra time to read and think, and ask questions. These simple steps can make all the difference.

Why we need to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccines

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

Choosing to vaccinate a child — or not — doesn’t just affect that child, but also undermines the concept of herd immunity that protects others in the community from the spread of certain diseases.

Another study shows parents of newborns don’t always follow safe sleep recommendations

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

A study found that parents of newborns frequently do not follow safe sleep guidelines for their babies even though it’s likely they are familiar with them. The most common mistake is putting blankets or other items in a baby’s crib, but cribs should be empty. While it’s hard to imagine sleeping on a bare mattress, babies really don’t need bedding. And it’s not worth risking your baby’s life for the sake of a blanket.

Why are our girls killing themselves?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a significant increase in suicides in the United States since 1999. The increase was particularly high in girls ages 10 to 14, especially in the past decade, and this is likely attributable in part to risky use of social media and the prevalence of cyberbullying.

4 back to school tips to get your child off to a great start

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

As summer begins winding down, it’s time to begin preparing your children for life back at school. Although going from a relaxed summer to a regimented schedule can be difficult at first, parents can follow simple steps to set up their kids for health and academic success as they get back into the swing of school.

Can exercise help relieve teen depression?

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Depression isn’t confined to adulthood. One recent survey showed that nearly 11% of adolescents ages 12-17 were depressed. But one treatment commonly used to combat depression in adults may also be beneficial for adolescents who suffer from depression. According to a recent meta-analysis collected from rigorously evaluated studies, adolescents may experience improvement in their depression symptoms if they incorporate exercise into their treatment.

The 5 things parents need to know about drowning

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

About 10 people die from drowning every day. Of these 10 people, two are children. For every child that dies from drowning, five other children are treated in hospitals for injuries sustained from drowning. Although swimming can be a dangerous activity for even the most experienced swimmer, there are ways that parents can help protect their children from the dangers of drowning. Fencing off your pool, teaching your child how to swim and simply being observant of your child in any sort of water are all easy steps to help keep your child safe.

Protecting children from the dangers of “virtual violence”

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

After recent mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and other reports of danger, it is almost impossible to avoid depictions of violence on our nightly news screens. Between the use of mainstream media and social media, violence is reaching far past the places and people it directly affects. Unfortunately, this means that the violence of the world is also affecting our children. The American Academy of Pediatrics wants people to understand exactly how exposure to violence can affect children, and how we can work to decrease the impact it has on today’s youths.