Safety

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.

Medical errors: Honesty is the best policy

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

Medical errors are responsible for several hundred thousand deaths per year, and the tendency has been to keep quiet about them. Doctors and institutions should embrace greater openness about errors in order to learn from them and improve healthcare for everyone.

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.

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.

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.

“Double dipping” your chip: Dangerous or just…icky?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The idea of double dipping became a mainstream public worry because of an episode of Seinfeld, bringing up the idea that double dipping might be grosser than we originally thought it was. Although it originally started as a playful debate, double dipping does raise questions about the spread of bacteria, and believe it or not, research has tried to address these questions.

The U.S. longevity gap

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

It may surprise some to realize that life expectancy in the United States is lower than in other developed countries. The reasons include higher rates of motor vehicle accidents, drug overdoses, and gun violence. They have a large effect on longevity because they predominantly affect young people. If there is good news, it’s that these contributors are preventable. Other factors that may be more difficult to tackle include inaccessible or unaffordable health care.

When hot gets too hot: keeping children safe in the heat

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

As temperatures around the U.S. continue to rise, it’s important for parents to recognize the risks that sunny summer days can pose to children. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are some of the most common issues overheated children may face, but simple measures, like taking rest breaks in the shade, watching the weather forecast for excessive heat, and drinking cold water can help keep children safe during the sunny summer days.

The right reasons to choose a sunscreen—and the right way to use it

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

There are a wide variety of sunscreen products on the market today that can help to prevent sunburns and skin cancer, but in a recent study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, researchers found that 40% of the top 65 most popular sunscreens didn’t meet American Academy of Dermatology guidelines. When buying sunscreen, it is important to choose a product that is broad-spectrum, has an SPF over 30, and is water resistant. In addition to choosing the right sunscreen, it’s important to use it correctly in order to truly protect your skin from the sun.

Avoid this common hazard of being in the hospital

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A hospital stay can be confusing and disorienting for anyone — but especially for older people, who are prone to episodes of delirium when in the hospital. Several hospital-based programs exist to help identify people at risk for delirium and prevent episodes before they happen. We’ve discussed one such successful program, plus listed tips to help you or your loved one avoid delirium during a hospital stay.