Parenting

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.

What parents need to know — and do — about e-cigarettes

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The rising use of e-cigarettes among adolescents is worrisome, because they still contain nicotine and because using them increases the likelihood of later tobacco use. Parents should educate themselves about these devices and the risks they pose.

Intensive CBT: How fast can I get better?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people learn how to overcome negative thought patterns and behaviors. Now an emerging variant on CBT aims to concentrate treatment into a more compressed time frame.

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.

The real link between breastfeeding and preventing obesity

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Research into the connection between breastfeeding and obesity in children found that babies who got milk directly from the mother’s breast for the first three months of life had the lowest risk of becoming obese, because they are less likely to overfeed.

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.