Children’s Health

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.

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, Contributing Editor

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.