Posts for category: Child and Teen Health
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant communication, communication, and behavioral challenges. The thinking, learning, and problem-solving abilities of individuals with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some individuals with autism need only a bit of help in their daily lives; others need more. While there's no cure for autism, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
ASD is the fastest growing serious, developmental disability, affecting an estimated one out of 59 kids in America. Autism begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society — at work, in school, and socially, for example. Often kids show symptoms of autism within the first year. Autism impacts how people perceive and socialize with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.
Autism can look different in different people. Kids with autism have a hard time interacting with others. Social skills difficulties are some of the most common signs. A child with ASD might want to have close relationships but not know how. Most have some problems with communication. Kids with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual. Examples of this can include repetitive behaviors like jumping, hand-flapping, constant moving, fixations on certain objects, fussy eating habits, impulsiveness, and aggressive behavior.
The exact cause of ASD is not known, but it's believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved. Research shows that ASD tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child with develop autism. Research also shows that certain environmental influences may increase autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Researchers are exploring whether certain factors such as medications, viral infections, or complications during pregnancy play a role in triggering ASD.
Treatment options may include nutritional therapy, physical therapy, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies, and medications. No medication can improve the core signs of ASD, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety.
Autism can impact your child's quality of life. If you think your child may have autism, find a pediatrician near you and schedule a consultation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of autism can help your child live a happier, more successful life. The earlier children with autism get help, the greater their chance of treatment success.
As the skin cancer rate continues to rise, many of us can’t help but wonder why people continue to expose themselves to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A tan, whether it’s acquired from the pool, in a salon or through incidental exposure, is always dangerous.
The use of tanning beds today is an especially common practice among teenagers, specifically the female population. What many young girls don’t realize, however, is that the bronzed image they so desire is only the skin’s visible reaction to damage from harmful UV rays. Melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, is now the second most common cancer seen in young adults. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 28 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens. Their findings go on to report that 70 percent of tanning salon users are Caucasian girls and women, primarily aged 16 to 29 years.
Skin cancer aside, basking in UV rays—indoor or outdoors—also leads to premature aging of the skin. That means that even just a few minutes of exposure each day over the years without protection can cause noticeable changes to the skin later in life. Freckles, age spots, leathery skin, wrinkles, saggy skin and uneven skin tone can all be traced to UV exposure.
The good news is that skin cancer and premature aging of the skin can easily be prevented. For one, stay away from tanning beds. Pediatricians also recommend that children and teens wear proper clothing, hats and sunglasses when outdoors. Always use sunscreen and avoid exposure during peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is no such thing as a safe tan. Talk to your teen about the serious, life-threatening consequences of tanning. If your teen insists on a sun-kissed glow, suggest safer sunless methods, such as spray tans and other sunless gels or creams.
As children grow into adolescents, their bodies require more nutrients to grow healthy and strong. But as many parents know, for those teens with busy school schedules, sports practices and jobs, managing a healthy, well-balanced meal plan isn’t always at the top of their priority list. In many cases, a teen’s most important meals are eaten in the car or on the bus as they shuffle from one activity to the next.
Parents can play a very important role in influencing their teen to stay active while maintaining a healthy diet. These tips can help:
- Encourage your teen to not skip meals, especially breakfast. A well-balanced breakfast is essential to keeping your son or daughter nourished throughout the day.
- Educate your teen about healthy snack choices. Stock your refrigerator and cabinets with healthy foods and snacks, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and lean meats and poultry. Avoid buying sodas and other sugary drinks and foods that are low in nutritional value.
- Involve your teen in the selection and preparation of foods to teach them to make healthy choices.
- Teach your teen how to make healthy selections when eating out at restaurants.
How many servings per day your teenager requires will depend on how many calories his or her body needs. This is based on age, sex, size and activity level. Visit the AAP’s table of recommended servings per day for teens to learn more. You can also discuss your teen’s nutritional habits and recommended daily intake with Child & Adolescent Clinic.
Although balancing school, sports and social activities may present challenges to eating healthy, it is possible to guide your teen on a path of nutritional food choices. Educate them now and promote healthy eating at home to help your teen develop a good understanding of proper nutrition into adulthood. The whole family can benefit from improved eating habits starting at home.
At one time or another, most children will experience a headache. Like adults, children can develop different types of headaches, including migraines or tension headaches, some of which may be chronic daily headaches.
A number of factors can cause a child to develop a headache, such as stress, lack of sleep, skipped meals and certain medications. Other times a child may suffer from a headache due to a common illness or infection, such as a cold or flu. And in serious cases, head trauma or an underlying condition such as meningitis could be causing the child’s headache. That’s why it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s headache patterns.
Although it’s easy for parents to worry, most headaches in children are rarely a sign of something serious. However, parents should contact their child’s Longview and Vancouver pediatrician if the child has unexplained or recurring headaches over a short period of time or on a regular basis.
Parents should also notify their pediatrician if the child’s headache is accompanied by one or any combination of these symptoms:
- Double vision, weakness in a limb or loss of balance
- Disabling pain that does not improve with over-the-counter pain medication
- Interrupted sleep
- Decreased level of alertness
- Change in personality
To help pinpoint the causes of your child’s headaches, parents should keep a diary of their child’s symptoms. Track when headaches occur, how long they last, the severity of the headache and if anything provides relief. Over time, your notes can help you and your pediatrician understand the child’s symptoms to reach a diagnosis and proper treatment plan.
Your child’s pediatrician may also ask you a series of questions to determine the source of your child’s headaches:
- Do the headaches follow a pattern or do they change over time?
- Has your child recently suffered a serious injury?
- What seems to help or worsen headaches?
- Does your child take any medications or have any past medical issues?
- Does your child have allergies?
- Is there a history of headaches in your family?
In many cases, a child’s headache may be relieved at home with simple care. Over-the-counter pain medications, rest and avoiding those triggers that prompt headaches may be enough to ease the pain.
Remember, headaches are not always a symptom of something more serious. However, parents should be mindful of the types of headaches their child has and how frequently they occur. If you suspect something is wrong or not normal, always contact Child & Adolescent Clinic for an appointment.
Children need physical activity on a regular basis to keep them healthy and strong. It’s unfortunate that many kids today are considered overweight. In fact, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. And in 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
The effects of obesity on a child’s health can be severe. Overweight children are more prone to chronic illnesses as well as a poor self-image during childhood. Its critical that kids are getting the right amount of exercise in order to regulate obesity, promote heart and lung fitness, and prevent other serious illnesses. Adopting healthy habits at a young age can keep kids fit and healthy into adulthood.
So as a parent, how do you find the time to stay active and healthy? And how can you make physical activity fun and enjoyable for your child? To help kids stay fit while having fun, follow these helpful tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Set a good example and embrace a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Children who see a parent making health and fitness a priority will be more inclined to do the same.
- Limit TV time to two hours a day to encourage physical activity elsewhere.
- Keep physical activity fun and enjoyable so that your child wants to participate again and again.
- In combination with an active lifestyle, provide well-balanced meals and promote healthy food choices.
- Talk to grandparents, teachers and other caretakers about your expectations for fitness so that you can work together to encourage healthy activity when your child is away from home.
- Turn mundane tasks, such as raking leaves, into a fun family activity that involves exercise.
- Learn your child’s interests and suggest team sports, such as soccer as a great way to keep kids active and fit on a regular basis.
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle for your entire family. Parents can turn exercise into a lifelong habit by making fitness a part of their daily schedule. When your child is interested in physical activity at a young age, exercise and fitness are more likely to become a routine that lasts for years in years.
Questions about fitness or nutrition? Talk to Child & Adolescent Clinic for advice and suggestions for promoting a healthier lifestyle for your family.