Safety

Disposing of your expired or unused medications gets a whole lot easier (and safer) this weekend

Celia Smoak Spell
Celia Smoak Spell, Assistant Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Leftover or expired medications can be harmful or dangerous, so disposing of them properly is important. National Drug Take Back Day this Saturday provides a safe and convenient way to do so.

Parents: How to manage injuries at home—and when you need to go to the doctor

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

Children are usually active and, as they explore the world, don’t have the common sense and good judgment of most adults. So, it is very common for kids to experience minor injuries throughout childhood. Parents need to know when and how to handle injuries at home and when medical advice or attention is needed.

Understanding head injuries

Jonathan Nadler, MD
Jonathan Nadler, MD, Contributor

Treatment for a head injury depends on the nature of the injury, whether or not there is bleeding in the brain, whether the bleeding is coming from an artery or a vein, and several other factors. Imaging may or may not be needed and doctors rely on well-established guidelines to determine when a CT or other scan is necessary. Most important, do everything you can to avoid head injuries, including proper use of helmets.

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, Contributing Editor

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.