Children’s Health

AFM: The scary polio-like illness

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an illness with symptoms that are somewhat similar to polio — weakness and loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs — but with an unknown cause. AFM is more common in children and emerges suddenly, but there is no known treatment or cure.

Helping a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder

If a child has obsessive-compulsive disorder, the condition affects everyone else in the family. Understanding OCD and learning helpful strategies to support the child can ease distress all around.

How to have a safe Halloween

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As Halloween approaches, safety concerns should be on all parents’ minds. These tips and suggestions will help your kids and your trick-or-treating visitors have a safe and fun Halloween.

Concussion care for children and adolescents: New recommendations

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The ongoing concern about the effects of concussions has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate research and issue concussion recommendations intended to guide parents, coaches, and doctors in concussion care.

Could household disinfectants be making our children fat?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Not all bacteria are harmful; our digestive tracts contain bacteria that help keep us healthy. Researchers from Canada found that in homes where disinfectant household products were used, children were more likely to be overweight or obese at age 3.

Parents: Don’t use a baby walker

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

While it may be tempting to put a baby in a moving walker, the devices have led to thousands of injuries over the past three decades, plus they do not help babies learn to walk but in fact hinder that process.

School refusal: When a child won’t go to school

The adjustment from summer vacation back to the structure and demands of the school year affects many students, but some experience so much anxiety that they avoid going to school. Understanding the reasons for school refusal can help parents identify problems and act quickly.

Naps: Make the most of them and know when to stop them

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As babies become toddlers, when they need to nap and for how long evolves, so parents and caregivers need to know how to handle the changes, as well as how to know when naps are no longer needed.

Why pregnant and nursing mothers shouldn’t smoke marijuana

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The number of pregnant women who use marijuana has risen in recent years, but the effects of THC on a child’s developing brain make it much safer for women to avoid marijuana use entirely during pregnancy and while nursing.

Back to school anxiety

For some children, the start of the school year triggers back to school anxiety. This can be especially challenging for kids who already have issues with anxiety. Parents can do several things to address these issues and help their children cope better.