Scribit Veritas

Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

To regularly receive our Blog by email, simply enter your email address in the box to the right and click Subscribe.  Thank you for your interest.

The Great Outdoors

Childhood memories of climbing trees, squelching through mud, and carrying out fantastical role-playing games with neighborhood children are memories that many adults treasure from their youth. These adults may not realize that, for a large portion of today’s children, these experiences are nearing extinction.  Many parents are aware of the national lack of active play outdoors, which some have come to call “Nature Deficit Disorder”. There exists an increasing trend of sedentary lifestyles in America. Along with this, parents today often feel unsafe in their neighborhoods and hesitate to let children play outside. In addition, availability of outdoor play areas near children’s homes is decreasing while daily hours spent watching TV, and video games are as plentiful as ever.

Some reasons why playing outside is important for children’s health include:

  • The CDC recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Playing outside naturally encourages physical activity.
  • Decades of research show that time spent outdoors increases children’s feelings of responsibility for the environment.
  • Children are naturally comfortable in nature; While outside kids are more likely to engage in complex symbolic play, and to explore science, math, and social concepts first-hand.
  • Outdoor play encourages children to engage in cooperative play and build social skills.
  • Time outdoors has many additional health benefits such as increased intake of Vitamin D, reduced stress, and decreased risk of childhood myopia through opportunities for distance vision use.
  • Children are safer outside than you may think! Studies show that while the perception of stranger-danger for children has increased, the actual rates of child-abduction from the home by a stranger remain quite low. Do take careful precautions to teach your children how to stay safe from strangers, but don’t let your children miss out on experiencing free outdoor play due to fear.  

If you want your children to learn to treasure the outdoors and gain all the benefits of nature-based play, here are a few things you can do to help! 

Strategies for helping children spend more time outside:

  • Find a suitable area for playing. Your home may include a backyard play area, or you may need to rely on a neighborhood park. Whatever your situation, become familiar with the outdoor areas available to you.
  • Start a project together–like planting flowers, making bird feeders, raising caterpillars, or building a playhouse outside.
  • Young children love to explore, and helping your child start a collection of something in nature is a great way to get them moving and exploring. They might collect flowers, rocks, or even bugs! Giving them tools such as a magnifying glass or bug collection kit enhance their exploration.
  • If real camping doesn’t fit your schedule, make a camp-out in the backyard! Children will be even more excited if a campfire and smores are included too!
  • Make art out of nature. Flowers, pinecones, and leaves can be used to make interesting and beautiful collages. Berries can be pressed to make a natural finger-paint. For a new twist, try using various types of plants in place of a paintbrush.
  • Take time to walk! When going somewhere in the neighborhood, consider walking there instead of driving when weather permits.
  • Ride bikes, rollerblade, ride a scooter–find new ways to move on wheels as a family.
  • Invite friends! Bringing friends along to play at the park increases safety and provides a great social experience. Consider trading-off with another parent on your street to bring the kids to the park.
  • Limit television and other electronic media time for your children. Instead of using time on an electronic device as a reward, consider rewarding them with a family bike ride or game outside.

Children will learn best by watching your example. Be a model for loving the outdoors by taking time to enjoy nature and take a break from the screen yourself.

Comments ( 0 )

Antibiotics 101: Fighting Bacteria the Right Way (International Infection Prevention Week)

*This week is International Infection Prevention Week*

When you’re sick and miserable, all you want to do is get better — and fast! You go to the doctor in hopes that he can give you some magical medicine to make your headache, sore throat, runny nose, or aches and pains disappear overnight.

Unfortunately, there isn’t always a magic medicine. Especially with viral infections, the doctor will likely tell you to rest and push the fluids. But that can be hard to hear, especially when your symptoms are making you feel downright wretched.

While antibiotics can be really helpful in treating bacterial infections, the overprescribing and improper use of antibiotics has actually made some strains of bacteria stronger — which makes all of us more susceptible to hard-to-treat illnesses.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance, or “the ability of microbes to resist the effects of drugs,” is becoming a real problem in the US (1). In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 2 million people “become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections” (2). Not only this, but the World Health Organization considers antibiotic resistance to be “one of the biggest threats to global health” (3). Because bacteria is quickly learning to withstand antibiotics, you and your children could be at risk.

So what can we do to prevent this problem? In honor of International Infection Prevention Week, we want to share the ABC’s of Antibiotics (4) to help you and your kids be healthy and safe from bacterial infections.

A: Ask

When a doctor prescribes you or your child antibiotics, make sure you understand what the purpose is. You can ask questions like, “Do I really need an antibiotic?” This can act as a sort of check on healthcare providers, making sure that they only prescribe antibiotics when it’s really necessary.

B: Bacteria

While it can be tempting to pressure a doctor for antibiotics, most coughs, colds, and flus can’t be treated with antibiotics anyway (5). Antibiotics won’t actually help if your illness is caused by a virus. And according to the CDC, taking antibiotics for something other than a bacterial infection can just make it more likely for you to get an antibiotic-resistant infection later on (6).

C: Complete the Course

In order to use antibiotics properly, make sure you complete the full course of antibiotics as directed by your doctor. Even if you start to feel better, the antibiotics may not have killed all the bacteria yet. The WHO also says that an important part of prevention is never using leftover antibiotics or sharing them with others (7).

An Ounce of Prevention

Of course, using antibiotics properly is an important part of keeping you and your kids safe. But as Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (8). Healthy habits like washing your hands, getting vaccinated, and safely handling your food can go a long way toward protecting your family from infections in the first place (9).

As we work together to keep ourselves healthy, use antibiotics properly, and only get antibiotics when we really need them, we can protect our families and ultimately the world from antibiotic-resistant infections. So, start practicing the ABC’s of Antibiotics today!

» Click to show references

References

*Pictures retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E._coli_Bacteria_(16578744517).jpg and http://professionals.site.apic.org/files/2013/10/AntibioticInfographic14-FINAL.pdf.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, April 6). About antimicrobial resistance. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, August 18). Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html

3. World Health Organization. (2016, October). Antibiotic resistance. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/

4-5.  Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. (n.d.). The ABC’s of antibiotics. Retrieved from http://professionals.site.apic.org/files/2013/10/AntibioticInfographic14-FINAL.pdf

6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, February 24). Protecting yourself and your family. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/protecting_yourself_family.html

7. World Health Organization. (2016, October). Antibiotic resistance. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/

8. Franklin, B. (n.d.). Quotable quote. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/247269-an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-pound-of-cure

9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, February 24). Protecting yourself and your family. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/protecting_yourself_family.html

» Click to hide references

Comments ( 0 )

Is Your Family Prepared for an Emergency?

When a category 4 tornado hit St. Louis in 2011, ripping the roof off our airport, I was home alone with three children and 7 months pregnant with my 4th.  Yet I knew we were safe in our fully stocked tornado shelter.  No, we don’t have a bunker in our backyard; we have a family emergency kit in our basement.

Being prepared for an emergency is neither difficult nor expensive, but it does require some advanced planning, especially for families with children. Have you put together a family emergency kit?  We’ll get you started.

If you search online for pre-made emergency or disaster preparedness kits, you’ll find overpriced kits full of things you are unlikely to need, and things that expire and require replacement. This market profits off fear-mongering, and if you search too long your may find yourself wondering if you need to equip your family to survive volcanic eruption.  Before purchasing a solar-powered chainsaw and building your off-the-grid cabin, start with this simple list from FEMA, with my added comments:

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

3 Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Bullying

 

In the original Disney film Beauty and the Beast (1) Belle and her father Maurice are pretty much social outcasts. People think Belle is beautiful but strange, and they just laugh at Maurice, the crazy inventor. After returning home from the Beast’s castle, Maurice rushes into the village pub, frantically trying to convince someone to help him. See how the villagers respond in this clip (2):

After promising to help, a few of the men throw Maurice out in the snow, commenting, “Crazy old Maurice! He’s always good for a laugh.”

While the snow in the face probably wasn’t fun, the mocking may have hurt just as much. Poor Maurice had to put up with all sorts of bullying!

Hopefully your kids don’t get thrown in the snow or locked up for being “crazy” like Maurice was, but bullying certainly is a problem today. And unfortunately, this isn’t something that affects just a few kids. According to the 2014-2015 School Crime Supplement, just over 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 has experienced bullying (3).

With bullying affecting so many of our children, what exactly is the problem with bullying today? And what can we do as parents to prevent it?

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

How to Talk to Children about a Natural Disaster

Whether someone lives in the path of a natural disaster or is not personally impacted by it’s destruction, it is safe to say that a nation as a whole is affected by natural disasters. This broad awareness extends to children who are also impacted in some way by a natural disaster, even if not directly impacted by loss. Children could be exposed to the events of a natural disaster through the media, their peers, or through overhearing conversations between adults. This could cause children to have feelings of fear or anxiety. Children are unique in that their language is largely through play so children, especially under the age of 12, often do not have the verbal ability to communicate feelings to others. Since it might not always be apparent if a child is facing emotional adversity after a stressful event, it is a good idea to reassure them of their safety and security regardless of their response to a natural disaster. Because children communicate their feelings and thoughts differently than adults, talking to them about a natural disaster could be intimidating. Here are some ideas to consider when it comes to having this conversation.

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

Global Obesity, Malnutrition Epidemic: Tips for Reversing the Trend

According to the findings of a recent study, the prevalence of obesity worldwide has risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in the last 40 years and researchers predict that by 2025, 44% of Americans could be obese. Another study reports that 7 states have obesity rates among adults at or above 35 percent and yet another study reports that even child obesity rates are alarmingly high.

What could be contributing to this obesity epidemic?

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

How Important Is Family Dinner?

For those who do not already have the habit in place, eating dinner together as a family might be a battle between parents and children or even just one more task to take on. Although it may be difficult to begin this habit or truly ensure that it occurs, recent studies have shed more light on why this particular part of the day is so critical to the development and success of children.

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

Reconsidering Divorce

All marriages journey through highs and lows, and many couples who are at a difficult low point may decide that divorce is the best path to take. There is evidence, however, that persevering and giving the relationship time can indeed revive many struggling marriages.

In 2003, Brent A. Barlow, Ph.D., published an article in the Journal of Marriage and Families, entitled Marriage Crossroads: Why Divorce is not Always the Best Option: Rationale, Resources, and References. This research of over a decade ago, certainly still applies today.  

The article explains how many marriages eventually reach a point called “the crossroads,” during which a couple is considering whether or not they should divorce. While these couples may feel concerned about living with the difficulties in their marriages, Barlow points to study findings which indicate that the consequences of divorce may outweigh the benefits of avoiding  most marital difficulties. There are important factors a couple should seriously consider to evaluate if divorce is worth the cost, before making the move to split up. Here are some from Barlow’s article:

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

Soothing Crying Infants

For parents, the amount of crying a newborn baby does on a daily, if not hourly, basis can be a source of great stress and anxiety. Both mothers and fathers instinctively respond to the crying of a baby with a strong impulse to help the baby and make the crying stop. Not being able to calm a baby’s tears can cause concerned and exhausted parents to feel very inadequate, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Of great concern to medical professionals is the association between excessive crying and the occurrence of Shaken Baby Syndrome or other forms of infant abuse.

It is important to realize that it is okay and important for babies to cry. The amount of crying usually reaches its peak when the baby is around 6 weeks old. After 3 months old, it is normal for a baby to cry about an hour a day (Lerner & Parlakian, 2016).

“All infants cry as a means of communicating their needs, as self-expression, and as a way to manage and organize stress or “let off steam.” Parents can expect most babies under three months old to cry up to three hours per day” (Bruening, 2002).

A baby who cries at least three hours a day on three or more days a week, and lasting three weeks, has colic. There are no apparent reasons for why the baby with colic begins crying or stops. Colic will eventually go away, usually around 4 months old, but can still be difficult to deal with.

There are some strategies for calming a fussy or colicky baby that many parents have found to be effective. Each baby responds differently to different strategies, and may vary in how they respond from time to time. Here are a few:

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )

Cyberbullying: Is it Happening to Your Child?

As a parent, you generally have a good idea of when your child is being themselves or being distant or upset. There are usually pretty clear indicators that tell you when something is off or something is right. However, there are the occasions when parents cannot tell if something is wrong, they miss the signs or they are simply doubting the thoughts that something could truly be wrong.

(more…)

Comments ( 0 )
%d bloggers like this: