Children’s Health

What parents need to know about pain in newborns

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

We used to think newborns are too young to truly experience pain, but they do — and it can affect their later development. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to lessen a newborn’s discomfort during many medical procedures. If your baby needs a procedure done, let your medical team know you want to do whatever you can to prevent or lessen his or her pain.

Anti-depressants for teens: A second look

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Many parents of teens with depression worry that antidepressants could cause an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Previous research had suggested antidepressants are safe for teens. But recently, researchers have re-examined the original data and found antidepressants may not be as safe for teens as once thought. As always, whether to start an antidepressant depends heavily on your teen’s personal situation.

Teens and medicines that cause birth defects: Do doctors drop the ball?

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

Doctors may prescribe medicines for teenage girls — for example for acne, depression, or migraines — that are known to cause birth defects. While most parents and doctors hope that these young women avoid pregnancy for many reasons, adults need to help adolescent girls understand the risks of the medications they take and have frank conversations about sex and birth control.

Why your wheezing baby may need TLC, not medication

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

If your baby is sick with fever, cough, and wheezing, it’s natural to think he or she needs medication. But if the culprit is bronchiolitis — a bad cold that has settled into the lungs — the best treatment is usually no treatment at all. That’s because treatments like antibiotics don’t work against bronchiolitis, and can cause unwanted side effects. Of course, you should always check in with your doctor if you think your baby has bronchiolitis.

Four new recommendations for adolescent health

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

Each year, the American Academy of Pediatrics updates it recommendations for well-child visits. The latest version emphasizes screening adolescents for high cholesterol, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and HIV. Many families may feel that their children don’t need these “checks,” but when it comes to the health and well-being of children, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Holiday travels: Keeping kids safe and healthy

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

At this time of year, travel brings the opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends or perhaps splurge on a “destination holiday.” If you’re planning to travel with children, a little preparation can go a long way toward making your trip memorable for all the right reasons. We’ve included our favorite tips for planning a trip with your children.

Teens with upbeat friends may have better emotional health

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Generations of parents have worried about their kids having friends who are a “bad influence.” But what about friends who are a good influence? Recent research suggests that teens whose friends are emotionally healthy are less likely to suffer from depression, and that such friends can help improve the mood of teens who show signs of depression. This study is one of several in an emerging area of research on the relationship between our social networks and our health and well-being.

Beyond the 2-hour screen rule: 10 tips for parenting in the digital age

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

You may have heard of the “2-hour rule,” a guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that states children should get no more than 2 hours of “screen time” a day (and none at all for those under age 2). But given the sheer amount of handheld devices available today, not to mention the increasing need for children to use technology to do homework and talk with their friends, does the rule still apply? Recently, the AAP released 10 tips to help parents navigate the digital age. We’ve explained them all here.

Teaching gratitude this holiday season – and all year long

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

Whether this time of year brings gift-giving rituals in your household or not, it’s a good reminder to practice the “skill” of gratitude. Even young children can learn to focus on what they have instead of what they lack. Practicing gratitude is more than a social grace. Research suggests it can help your child build resilience and it is associated with greater happiness in life. Dr. Claire McCarthy shares her tips for helping your child cultivate the skill of gratitude.

Many babies and toddlers use mobile devices every day

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

You’ve probably seen parents handing a smartphone or tablet to their young children to entertain them when they need to be quiet or patient. A recent study confirms what you’ve probably suspected: that most children use mobile devices every day. But widespread use of these devices cuts into time that kids could spend interacting with adults, which is crucial for brain development. The next time you’re tempted to hand over the smartphone, try a quick game instead.