Parenting

Giving babies and toddlers antibiotics can increase the risk of obesity

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Antibiotics are crucial tools in fighting illnesses, but over-reliance on them can have serious consequences. A new study found that babies who were given antibiotics in their first two years were significantly more likely to become obese.

Getting your baby to sleep through the night: The good (and maybe not-so-good) news

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Parents of newborns may be disappointed to learn the results of a Canadian study: even at one year, nearly half of the babies in the study did not sleep a full eight hours. However, the babies did not experience any adverse developmental effects, and parents should remember that children will eventually sleep through the night.

Is hand sanitizer better at preventing the flu than soap and water?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

In an eight-month study of toddlers in day care, researchers compared handwashing with soap and water to frequent and rigorous use of hand sanitizer. While the results were better for the hand sanitizer group, the study conditions may not reflect real-world hand hygiene.

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.

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.