Meet Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion, a pediatric neurologist and sleep specialist.

Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion
Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion

Q: What is your education and training?
A: I attended the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- New Jersey Medical School, and completed my residency in pediatrics at University of San Francisco, Fresno.  During my academic year, I worked for Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to help identify a vaccine for malaria. My second day was September 11, 2011, and it was an amazing, humbling, and scary experience to be a part of the military for this day. My first fellowship was in pediatric neurology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and my second fellowship was in sleep medicine at the University of California Los Angeles- Cedars Sinai Sleep Medicine Fellowship.

Q: What are your administrative appointments?
A: Assistant clinical professor at UCI, assistant program director for the UCI child neurology residency program, chair of the junior faculty leadership council, and co-chair of the sleep workgroup for the National Autism Treatment Network.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Sleep disorders in children with neurologic diseases such as epilepsy and autism, as well as sleep and cognition.

Q: Are you involved in any current research?

A: Evaluation of efficacy of specific sedative hypnotics in children with Autism spectrum disorder, and Identification of sleep architecture and pathology in children with epilepsy.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?
A: Four years.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: CHOC is one of the few, if only, hospitals in the country doing combined long-term video EEG as well as polysomnography (sleep study).  This allows us a very unique opportunity to look at the brain activity and pathology in sleep. Multidisciplinary sleep clinics involving psychology and pulmonology are also unique. Also, identification and treatment of a variety of pediatric sleep disorders including all types of insomnia, narcolepsy and parasomnias, such as sleepwalking, sleep talking and night terrors.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Insomnia, narcolepsy, sleepwalking (or somnambulism).

Q: What would you most like patients and families to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: We treat all types of sleep-related disorders and are providing state-of-the-art care for children with sleep disorders. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of children have sleep-related disorders, and improvement in sleep is essential for learning and cognition. Research suggests improved sleep supports optimal athletic performance as well. If there is any concern for a sleep-related disorder we are happy to help evaluate these children.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: We treat every child with the highest level of care and the physicians genuinely care for the patients and our community.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I had been interested in neuroscience since I was a Howard Hughes fellow at the University of Maryland, having done work in spinal cord regeneration. I heard a talk in my first year of medical school about pediatric neurology and haven’t looked back since.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: If I was not a physician I would mostly likely be a PhD working in the field of neurobiology and sleep medicine. Both my parents were PhDs and I grew up hearing about fascinating advances in the world of science, so I have been drawn to science and research from a young age. For quite a few years I was strongly considering becoming a professional flute player. I was fortunate enough to travel through Italy with my youth symphony and performed around the country in orchestras, but science drew me in by the time I was in college.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I enjoy hosting parties and events for family and friends. Our family enjoys traveling and spending time together.

Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: The best part about working with pediatric patients is that you are constantly reminded to enjoy life and be grateful for every day. The smallest things can make a child happy, like playing with a light-up toy or seeing bubbles, and it is a great reminder to take pleasure in all the simple things around us every day.

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Living with Scoliosis: Ellie’s Story

Ellie was a typical seventh grade student who enjoyed playing volleyball when, during a routine physical, her pediatrician noticed that one shoulder appeared to be a little higher than the other. Her mom was told to keep an eye on it, but since it was minor, not to worry. A few months later, minor back pain after a growth spurt lead her mom to discover a curve in Ellie’s back.  Another trip to the pediatrician soon followed.

Initially Ellie and her mom Gail thought the back pain might be due to carrying a heavy backpack around school every day. But Ellie’s pediatrician diagnosed her with scoliosis, and referred her to Dr. Afshin Aminian, director of the Orthopaedic Institute at CHOC Children’s.

scoliosis
Dr. Afshin Aminian, director of the Orthopaedic Institute at CHOC Children’s

“I wasn’t exactly happy about my diagnosis at the time,” says Ellie. “I was upset because I thought it would affect my daily life and I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I was used to doing, like playing volleyball, but Dr. Aminian helped me along the way and I grew into wearing my brace.”

The curve in Ellie’s spine was less than fifty degrees, and non-operative treatment was recommended. She received a custom-fit brace that would apply pressure to the areas where the spine was exhibiting deformity, in order to reverse the curvature and prevent it from getting worse.

“It made me more self-conscious and it made the little everyday things people take for granted more challenging, such as tying my shoes. But I learned to adapt, and even more than adapt, prosper. Time gave me the gift of wisdom to deal with my scoliosis; scoliosis gave me the gift of knowing challenges are inevitable but my defeat is optional,” she says.

An example of a Boston Brace, like the one Ellie wore.
An example of a Boston Brace, like the one Ellie wore.

Wearing the brace practically around the clock took a few weeks to get used to. The first few nights she slept in a sleeping bag on her bedroom floor because it was more comfortable for her back.

At the time, Ellie and her mom wondered if she’d be teased for wearing a brace every day.

“I didn’t know what scoliosis was before my diagnosis. We visited with a family friend who has scoliosis and she gave me great ideas about what clothing to wear with my brace, and now you can’t even tell when I’m wearing it,” she says. “I saw that she was doing well after wearing her brace every day, so I always knew that I would be as dedicated as she was, and wear mine every day, too.”

Long tank tops that were soft and comfortable, loose-fitting shirts, and skirts became wardrobe staples as Ellie tried to camouflage her brace. Because of how far her brace comes down her back, shirts that are a bit longer in the back also helped, she says.

scoliosis
Long tank tops are one way Ellie camouflaged her brace.

Hearing stories of other scoliosis patients who weren’t as regimented about wearing their braces reinforced for Ellie the importance of sticking to her brace regimen. She made special arrangements with her physical education teacher at school and her volleyball coach to change in private before class and practice because of her brace.

“Having scoliosis wasn’t Ellie’s first choice, but thanks to good support from her school, teammates and friends, she is thriving. Scoliosis just added a little complexity to things, and Ellie has mastered that very well,” says Gail, who helps Ellie tighten her brace after every time she puts it on and takes it off.

Thanks to Ellie’s dedication to wearing her brace every day, the curve in her spine drastically decreased, and she is now slowly able to decrease how often she needs to wear it, and in a few months, she will be brace-free.

“Scoliosis is 70 percent mental and 30 percent physical, so attitude is key,” Ellie says. “If you have a good attitude and are relentless in your bracing, you realize you sacrifice little for your future health.”

Ellie’s commitment to her care team’s plan was evident.

“Part of the reason Ellie’s bracing was so successful was due to her commitment to wearing her brace religiously, up to twenty two hours per day. She was disciplined and it paid off,” says Aminian.

Ellie’s hope for recently diagnosed scoliosis patients is that they would also prioritize their doctor’s orders over what other kids at school might tease them about.

“When I first got diagnosed and got my brace I was really scared and didn’t know what it would mean for me, but eventually you just get used to it, like braces. It’s uncomfortable at first, but every day it gets more normal,” she says. “It really works if you do it right, but you only get one shot at it. People shouldn’t worry too much about being teased but if they do, dealing with it makes you stronger in life.”

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Healthy Eating Tips for the School Year

It’s time to head back to school, and with that comes a fresh opportunity to establish new habits with children and teens. As your family falls into a routine around the school day, be sure to incorporate healthy eating into the mix to ensure everyone has a strong year.

Tips for School-Age Children (Ages 6-12)

School-age children need healthy foods and nutritious snacks to fuel their busy bodies. They have a consistent but slow rate of growth, requiring them to eat four to five times a day (including snacks). Eating healthy after-school snacks is important, as these snacks may contribute up to one-third of the total calorie intake for the day. Remember that school-age children may also be eating more foods outside of the home.

Many food habits, likes and dislikes are established during this time. This makes it a perfect time to experiment with new foods, as school-age children are often willing to eat a wider variety of foods than their younger siblings.

Follow these seven tips to ensure good nutrition habits for school-age children:

  1. Always serve breakfast, even if it has to be “on the run.” Some ideas for a quick, healthy breakfast include fruit, milk, bagel, cheese toast, cereal, peanut butter sandwich and fruit smoothies.
  2. Take advantage of big appetites after school by serving healthy snacks, such as fruit, vegetables and dip, yogurt, turkey or chicken sandwich, cheese and crackers, or milk and cereal.
  3. Make healthy foods easily accessible.
  4. Allow children to help with meal planning and preparation.
  5. Serve meals at the table, instead of in front of the television, to avoid distractions.
  6. Fill half of the plate with colorful fruits and vegetables.
  7. Provide calorie-free beverages (water) throughout the day, to avoid filling up on non-nutritive calories.

healthy eating tips

 Tips for Adolescents and Teens (Age 13 and Up)

During adolescence, children become more independent and make many food decisions on their own. Many adolescents experience a growth spurt and an increase in appetite, and they need healthy foods to meet their growth needs. Adolescents tend to eat more meals away from home than younger children. They are also heavily influenced by their peers.

Discuss these nine healthy eating tips with your adolescent to ensure he or she is following a healthy eating plan:

  1. Have several nutritious snack foods readily available. Oftentimes, teenagers will eat whatever is convenient.
  2. If there are foods that you do not want your teens to eat, avoid bringing them into the home.
  3. Drink water. Try to avoid drinks that are high in sugar. Fruit juice can have a lot of calories, so limit your adolescent’s intake. Whole fruit is always a better choice.
  4. When cooking for your adolescent, try to bake or broil instead of fry.
  5. Make sure your adolescent watches (and decreases, if necessary) his or her sugar intake.
  6. Eat more chicken and fish. Limit red meat intake, and choose lean cuts when possible.
  7. Arrange for teens to find out about nutrition for themselves by providing teen-oriented magazines or books with food articles and by encouraging them and supporting their interest in health, cooking or nutrition.
  8. Take their suggestions, when possible, regarding foods to prepare at home.
  9. Experiment with foods outside your own culture.

Get more tips for establishing healthy eating habits with kids.

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Tips to Encourage Resiliency in Children

Children often surprise us by how resilient they are in many situations. Resiliency – the ability to recover quickly from adversity or disruptive change – is often thought as something that is innate, but in reality it is something that should be taught, says Dr. Mery Taylor, a pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s. Resiliency can help children regulate their emotions and lead to an emotionally healthier life into adulthood. It’s a skill that can be encouraged on a daily basis. Parents and caregivers can guide their children on managing common issues that come up at home, school or with peers.

Dr. Mery Taylor, pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s
Dr. Mery Taylor, pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s

Dr. Taylor offers the following tips to help teach your kids to be resilient:

  • Acknowledge your children’s feelings. Listen carefully to your children’s concerns before you offer your opinion or solution. Keep in mind your child’s personality; some kids may be more anxious to begin with, for example, and may need more support. Let your children know that they are loved. Remind them that they are bigger and stronger than the disappointment they are facing.
  • Allow your children to problem solve. It’s ok to allow your children to try something and fail from time to time. Support your children’s decision or thought process, rather than solving the problem for them. If they fail, let them know that it’s ok to fail or feel disappointed. Talk about lessons learned and what can be done differently next time. This can help your children develop self-confidence.
  • Model resilient behavior. A child’s reaction to his chronic illness, for instance, often depends on the reaction of his parents, Dr. Taylor explains. If you remain optimistic and hopeful, it’s likely your kids will too. Reassure your children that while certain situations may be out of everyone’s control, they are in control of how they react to these situations. This helps your children’s ability to cope and helps reduce their anxiety.
  • Don’t dwell on negative emotions. It’s ok to demonstrate your feelings in front of your children, including sadness, anger or frustration. It’s natural to feel that way in certain situations, especially when it involves your children. It’s important not to dwell on those emotions, however. Follow those emotions with positive messages, such as:
    • I love you and I’m always going to be here for you.
    • We are going to get through this together.
  • Reflect on past challenges. Even when your children are facing painful events, you can remind them of another time in their lives when they overcame adversity. Have them reflect on how much they grew from that experience and how they are stronger and more competent.
  • Teach your child self-care. Start with the basics. Discuss the importance of healthy eating, exercise and rest. Be an example for them. Also, after a tough day, think together about ways they can turn their day around, for example, a good joke, a hug or a visit to the park. In times of prolonged stress, remember to build in time to relax, disconnect from electronics and TV. Find a ritual that works for your family to let go of the worries and challenges, if only for a few minutes. For some, it might be through prayer or meditation, while others may benefit from breathing techniques.

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Saving Lives By Donating Cord Blood

Expectant mothers have much to consider and many decisions to make when preparing for the birth of their baby. Some are unaware that the life-changing event they’re anxiously awaiting could actually save the life of another person.

Mothers who deliver their child at St. Joseph Hospital have the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood to the Cord Blood Bank at CHOC Children’s, the only hospital in Orange County to accept and store public cord blood donations. This donation is made at no cost to the family.

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and the umbilical cord following birth. It contains cells that can repair and restore a person’s immune system that has been damaged by treatments required for cancer, anemia, and dozens of other life-threatening diseases. Historically, these patients have depended on bone marrow transplants, but cord blood is more readily available and more likely to be accepted by the recipient.

The cord blood is collected immediately following birth. After the cord is cut (by a person of the mother’s choosing) and clamped, and when the placenta is delivered, the umbilical cord and placenta are given to a member of the CHOC Cord Blood Bank’s team, who collects the cord blood. Birthing plans are not affected in any way. A small sample of blood, equal to three tablespoons, will be collected from the mother within 48 hours of giving birth so the blood may be tested for communicable diseases, to ensure the donated blood is safe for its eventual recipient.

Cord blood not donated to public banks or stored privately (for a fee) is discarded.  Public cord blood banking is different from private cord blood banking. Private banking is a paid service that allows families to store their baby’s cord blood in case their own baby or another family member needs it in the future.

Donations made to public banks like CHOC are listed confidentially in the registry database of Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program®, so that physicians can search for a cord blood unit that is a match for a patient who needs it. When a match is made, the donated cord blood is transferred to the hospital where the transplant will take place. A public bank, such as CHOC’s, provides cord blood to anyone who needs it— which means you could be saving the life of another person as far away as Costa Rica or Germany. Cord blood units donated to CHOC have to date been transferred to more than a dozen countries across four continents.

Patients in need are more likely to find a compatible match amongst someone who shares their racial or ethnic heritage. For this reason, a diverse pool of donors is needed.

A pregnant mother may sign up to donate cord blood prior to delivery or once she has checked into the hospital to deliver.

Learn more about how your donation of umbilical cord blood could save lives, or call 714-509-4335 for more information.

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Meet Dr. Kenneth Kwon

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Kenneth Kwon, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist. Dr. Kwon attended medical school at Columbia University. He completed an internship at UCLA, a pediatric residency at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, and an emergency medicine residency at UC Irvine. He has been on staff at CHOC for eleven years and currently serves as director of pediatric emergency services and Chief of Staff elect at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

Dr. Kenneth Kwon

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Pediatric trauma and injury prevention.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Fractures, head injuries, lacerations, febrile illnesses, and abdominal pain.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you/your division at CHOC?
A: We are a comprehensive general emergency department and trauma center with an emphasis on pediatric and family-centered care. We have pediatric-friendly facilities including a pediatric waiting area and Child Life services, and we have the resources of a children’s hospital in our building and at our fingertips.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: CHOC is on the forefront regionally and nationally when it comes to patient safety and quality care, and that is not more evident than in the emergency department. I have worked in over ten emergency departments in my career, and I can safely say that the ED at CHOC at Mission is top-notch when it comes to timeliness and scope of care, facilities and staff.

Q: Why did you decide to become an emergency medicine physician?

A: During pediatric residency, I was particularly interested in high acuity care. I was deciding between neonatal/pediatric intensive care and pediatric emergency medicine. But I missed treating adults and the elderly, so I decided to pursue a second residency in emergency medicine. Now I get the best of both worlds, which is treating high acuity patients of all ages, with a particular emphasis on children.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: I would have become a music producer. I’ve always loved music and even dabbled as a disc jockey in college. I was never good at singing or dancing.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: Golf, family time, listening to obscure 80’s one-hit wonders, and sampling local microbrews.

Q: What was the funniest thing a patient told you?
A: An adage in pediatric emergency care is when a child comes in with a nosebleed, you don’t ask if he picks his nose, you ask him which finger he uses. When I asked this question to one of my pint-sized patients, he answered that he used all of them, and then proceeded to demonstrate by sticking each of his 10 fingers in his nose individually. It was priceless.

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Olympic Medalist Turned Physical Therapist

When athletes of any caliber come to physical therapy appointments, they often struggle with emotional hurdles as big as their physical challenges. Working with an expert who understands their struggles can make it easier to cope, especially when that expert is a former Olympian.

Robin Beauregard, a physical therapist at CHOC Children’s and two-time Olympic medalist in women’s water polo, understands the physical challenges that can sometimes stand in the way of achieving athletic goals.

olympics

“Having a career in athletics helps me establish a rapport with my patients, particularly my history with sustaining and overcoming injuries,” she says. “Sincere empathy creates a stronger bond than sympathy.”

Shortly before the team was named for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the first time women’s water polo was to be recognized as an Olympic sport, Beauregard dislocated her knee and didn’t know if a recovery was possible. Distraught but determined, she committed fully to her physical therapy plan, as well as a rigorous conditioning program, and made the team. They’d win a silver medal that year, and a bronze four years later. She was later inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.

Beauregard’s experience with physical therapy in the midst of her Olympic career ultimately played a big role in her professional career.

“I was not the perfect patient, but it prepared me for being a physical therapist because it gave me an idea of asking only what is reasonable of my teen and young adult patients,” she says. “I really do understand their worry of not being able to get back to the top level in their sport, but also weighing the risks of not wanting to cause further or permanent injury.”

Growing up in Southern California, Beauregard loved to be outdoors and was always active. Having an older brother who was also athletic made her competitive, too. She started swimming competitively for a local club team on her fourth birthday simply because her brother swam, and she wanted to be as a good as he was. Water polo came into play just four years later, and by age 8 she joined a competitive club team.

But when she got to high school, there was no girls’ varsity team. Instead of giving up on her passion, she simply joined the boys’ team instead. Playing with the boys didn’t faze her, or them, since they’d been competing together for almost a decade by that point. When opponents made comments about playing with a girl, she channeled it into her game and used it as fuel to play even harder.

olympics

After high school, she attended UCLA to play water polo, and originally planned on becoming an orthopedic surgeon. She later changed her path to physical therapy, which would ultimately give her a different kind of interaction with patients and athletes.

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Breastfeeding Resources for Moms in the NICU

By Crystal Deming, RN, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s

Surgery, ventilators, central lines with IV nutrition, and medications are just some of the tools that can save and improve lives of babies in the CHOC Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Yet some parents may overlook a mother’s own breast milk as lifesaving or as a medication as well. In the NICU, our mantra to new moms is “Your Milk is Medicine.” From the moment our families are admitted to our care, we begin the process of helping moms understand the value of their breast milk for their infant, giving them helpful information, necessary equipment and continual support from our multidisciplinary team, to help them produce and express breast milk for their own infant and to support breastfeeding when it becomes appropriate.

breastfeeding

Kangaroo Care

Our goal is to lessen the strain of separation by including families in the care team, by collaborating with parents and promoting their participation in the care of their infant. We initiate skin to skin contact, or Kangaroo Care, as soon as possible and have protocols to do this safely with even the smallest infants. Families later comment that this first experience holding their infant was a time of healing and bonding. This intimate interaction provides a break from the stress that can come with not being able to take your baby home from the hospital right away. Moms, babies and family members secrete oxytocin with this skin to skin touch and that gives them a sense of relaxation, wellbeing and promotes bonding. Skin to skin care often increases a mom’s milk supply, and we consider this holding the first step toward breastfeeding.

Assistance in Obtaining Breastfeeding Supplies

We can assist moms in obtaining a breast pump for home or connect them with a free pump to borrow, or help her submit a prescription to her insurance until she can obtain one of her own to keep. From hour one, we help teach hand expression and techniques to improve milk removal. Later we help moms maintain their milk supply, while supporting hydration and nutrition with our meal program, where some meals are provided free of charge when moms are in the hospital with their baby. We can also help with breast and nipple issues that can develop with prolonged pumping, as well as assist with storage when moms have a full milk supply but are waiting for their little one to grow into full size feedings.

Team Support

With developmental specialists, lactation consultants and specialty trained nurses, our team helps moms to adapt positioning and use tools to assist latching. We help moms learn the special behaviors of a premature or healing infant and to pace their feeding accordingly. Each mother/infant relationship is unique and our goal is to help families to have a fruitful and satisfying experience together. For some this can become exclusive breastfeeding and for others, partial breastfeeding that is neither stressful nor overwhelming. And for some we support their difficulty in producing milk while continuing to support skin to skin care and parental involvement in decision making and for the care of their infant in other ways.

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is an annual health observance recognized by more than 170 countries around the world, being celebrated this year from August 1-7. One of its goals is to show the importance of, “Good Health & Wellbeing,” and how incorporating breastfeeding has been shown to improve the lives of infants and children. Breastfeeding supports a baby’s health, development and even survival, but we also recognize there are health benefits for their mothers as well.

Learn more about the benefits of breast milk.

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Recognizing the Importance of Vaccines

By Jennifer Yen, clinical pharmacist at CHOC Children’s

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance highlighting the importance of vaccinations in people of all ages. August is a great time to make sure everyone is up-to-date on their vaccines, as the summer starts to wind down and children prepare to head back to school. It is also a great time to start planning ahead to receive the flu vaccine.

The immunization schedule outlined by Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics has been shown to be the most effective and safest way to protect your child from potentially fatal diseases. Other proposed alternative schedules have not been researched to show their safety or effectiveness. However, if any of the vaccines are delayed, your child is still able to receive them and “catch-up” before adolescence. Infants who have been vaccinated according to the schedule are protected from 14 diseases by the time they turn 2.

By getting your vaccination, you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting those who are unable to receive vaccines, such as infants who are too young to start vaccinations and those with weakened immune systems who cannot receive vaccinations. Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in other parts of the world.

Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot

Flu season usually peaks between December and February, but can start as early as October and last as late as May. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, and encourages the public to receive one as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. Check with your primary care provider if you should receive a total of one or two doses per season, dependent upon vaccination history.

Talk to your doctor or other health care professional to make sure you and your loved ones are up-to-date on vaccinations. Families who need help paying for childhood vaccines should ask their healthcare professional about the Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who do not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines.

Learn more about vaccinations and how they can protect your children and community.

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Beach Safety 101

Trips to the beach can be a great source of family fun, but be mindful of these safety tips before you head for the sand, courtesy of CHOC Children’s community education team.

Know Before You Go

Always check weather reports for the beach and surrounding area before heading out for a day of fun in the sun. Never visit the beach or swim in the ocean during extreme weather, such as thunder or lightning. Be aware of posted signs and warning flags, or ask the nearest lifeguard if you’re not sure what they mean. Try to set up your home base for the day in a spot that’s close to a lifeguard station. Brightly covered umbrellas can be an easy way for swimmers to spot your group’s location from the water, as well as offering added sun protection.

What to Bring

Everyone over six months of age should wear sunscreen whenever they’re outdoors, so be sure to pack enough sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Apply every two hours, and more often if you’re in and out of the water. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses can provide extra protection.

Drink plenty of water to avoid heatstroke. CHOC recommends that children drink the number of 8 oz. cups of water equal to their age. For example, a six-year-old should drink six 8 oz. glasses of water every day. Pack healthy snacks for added fuel.

Injury Prevention

Running and playing in the sand can be fun for both children and kids at heart, but always make sure to wear shoes at the beach. Hidden dangers in the sand like broken glass can ruin a fun beach day in no time, and on especially hot days, the temperature of the sand itself is enough to burn your feet. Some beachgoers using fire pits may inadvertently leave hot coals in the sand, which can retain heat and burn feet long after they were in use.

Swim Safely

The most common beach injuries occur in the water due to strong waves. Remember that swimming skills are different for the pool and the ocean, so even though you may be an experienced pool swimmer, in the ocean you could face strong currents, rip tides, and unpredictable conditions. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you get out of it, and then you can safely change course and swim towards shore.

If your child is not a strong swimmer, be sure they are wearing a U.S. Coast Guard Approved, properly fitting life vest and are under close supervision. Always use the buddy system when swimming and never go alone. Not all beaches are suitable for swimming, so be sure to check posted signage.

You might be sharing the water with ocean life, so be aware of animal life in the area you are visiting.

Hold off on swimming in the ocean with a cut or open wound, as it could lead to infection. Any abrasions must be closed and healing before you go in the water. Although rinsing small cuts or wounds with salt water is generally encouraged, the ocean’s water is not clean enough to get the job done. Instead, wait for any wounds to close before taking a dip in the ocean.

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