Children’s Health

How to prevent poisonings in children — and what to do if they happen

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Safety precautions can prevent a child from accidentally ingesting or being exposed to poisonous or harmful items in your home, but knowing what to do if something happens can save a life.

Something else to avoid in pregnancy: Phthalates

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Chemicals called phthalates are in all kinds of products we use every day, making them nearly inescapable. But research has found that children whose mothers were exposed to phthalates during pregnancy were more likely to have problems with motor skills or language development, so pregnant women should try to avoid them.

What to do if your child is constipated

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It’s not unusual for a child to be constipated once in a while, and when it happens there are several things parents can do to relieve the situation.

Parents don’t always realize that their teen is suicidal

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The life of a teenager can be filled with drama, real or imagined. But while parents may think their teen overreacts too much, parents themselves might under-react to indications that a teen could be contemplating suicide.

4 things everyone needs to know about measles

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The number of measles cases in the US in 2018 more than tripled over those in 2017, and early numbers for this year suggest a continued surge. It’s important for everyone, but especially parents, to know about the virus, its potential complications, and the facts about the vaccine.

What to do if you think your child has the flu

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

We are in the midst of an active flu season, so if you think your child may have the flu, following this advice will help you and your family get through it a little more easily.

Couch potatoes start early: How to get kids moving

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A European study found that children became less active starting as early as 6, and activity declined sharply after age 8. More scheduled lives and more time spent using phones and devices are key reasons for this decline, but there are ways parents can encourage activity.

Younger kindergarteners more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study found that kindergarteners born in August are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and treated for it, than children born in September—but only if the school has a September 1 cutoff for enrollment. This raises the concern that teachers and doctors are misjudging normal behavior for a child’s age as ADHD.

Acne: What you need to know

Acne is common during adolescence but for many people the condition lingers well into adulthood. The question of whether there is a connection between diet and acne has not been adequately answered–however, there are a variety of treatments available including over-the-counter and prescription products.

The better way to discipline children

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against the use of aversive discipline techniques, such as spanking or repeatedly yelling at a child, as they can lead to problems later in the child’s life. A more positive and proactive approach to discipline that sets clear limits and has consistent, predictable consequences can work.