Children’s Health

How early can you — and should you — diagnose autism?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If a parent thinks a child might have autism, it helps to get a definitive diagnosis as early as possible, since the earlier treatment can begin, the better it is for the child. But at what age can a reliable diagnosis be made?

Rising temperatures? How to avoid heat-related illnesses and deaths

Hotter summer temperatures and prolonged periods of intense heat can lead to heat-related illness — and even deaths. People who are elderly and those with existing health problems are especially vulnerable. Know what to do to protect yourself and others.

Keeping children safe around cosmetics

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Between 2002 and 2016, over 4,000 children under 5 were treated each year in US emergency departments for cosmetics-related injuries. Take precautions with your cosmetic products to keep children safe.

Are antibacterial products with triclosan fueling bacterial resistance?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The FDA has banned the antibacterial agent triclosan from soaps starting in 2020. It’s still used in mouthwash, cosmetics, toothpaste and other household products and there are still concerns that striving to rid our environment of bacteria and germs helps fuel bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Why do parents worry about vaccines?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The ongoing measles epidemic spotlights the importance of vaccinations –– and the concerns some parents have about vaccine safety. If you have such concerns, talk to your child’s doctor and learn more about vaccine safety.

HPV vaccine: A vaccine that works, and one all children should get

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes about 40,000 cases of cancer every year. A long-term study of the HPV vaccine finds it offers protection against many strains of the virus, yet many teens haven’t had this safe, effective vaccine.

Children and gun safety: What to know and do

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Regardless of individual feelings about guns and gun ownership, everyone wants their children to be safe. Simple safety steps can prevent accidents involving children and guns.

Infant car seats are for cars only (how not to use an infant car seat)

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If you use an infant car seat that detaches from the base, it may be convenient to leave your baby in it even when not in a car, but the American Academy of Pediatrics warns people that these seats should be used only for travel in a vehicle.

The 6 don’ts of caring for your child’s teeth

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Tooth decay is linked to a higher risk of many health problems in adulthood, but often families don’t put enough emphasis on proper and consistent dental care. Avoiding these mistakes can help your children get the right start on their oral health.

When making summer plans for children, leave some time unplanned

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Parents want their kids to have fun on summer vacation, but also for their time to be productive in some way. The best way to facilitate this is to allow for unscheduled time to foster self-directed creative thinking.