Tips to Manage Spring Allergies…Ah-choo!

Spring is officially here! And, although it may not seem like it with rain in the forecast, the signs of springtime are starting to peek through. Tree and grass pollen are starting to make the rounds. So if your child seems sniffly and sneezy lately, springtime allergies might be to blame. Check out the symptoms and tips below to help your child cope with allergies this season.

Symptoms
• sneezing
• nasal congestion
• itchy nose and/or throat
• coughing
• clear, runny nose
• itchy, watery and/or red eyes

What to Do
Although there is no real cure for seasonal allergies, it is possible to relieve symptoms. You can:

• Eliminate or reduce exposure to allergens – mold; tree, grass and weed pollen.
• Stay indoors on dry, windy days or when pollen counts are high (check the Internet or TV for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels) .
•  Have your child wash his hands and change clothing after playing outside.
• Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
• Delegate lawn mowing and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.

If reducing exposure is ineffective, medicines (such as decongestants and antihistamines) can help ease allergy symptoms. If symptoms cannot be managed with medicines, the doctor may recommend taking your child to an allergist or immunologist who can recommend the appropriate treatment.

For more info on this timely topic, click here:
http://www.choc.org/publications/index.cfm?id=P00303&aid=545

For pediatric Allergy and Immunology services at CHOC Children’s, click here:  http://www.choc.org/specialties/index.cfm?id=P00411

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Easy, Healthy Breakfasts Kids Love To Grab And Go!

Can you serve last night’s pizza for breakfast? Sure! Breakfast is the most important meal of your child’s day, and we’ve got easy, tasty tips to tempt your pickiest eater.

Maybe your mom would never have done it, but it’s really okay to serve leftover pizza for breakfast. What’s important is that your child eats something nutritious before beginning the school day.

“There is no reason why you can’t have dinner foods for breakfast if that is what your child will eat,” says Caroline Steele, M.S., R.D., director of Clinical Nutrition and Lactaction Services at CHOC Children’s. “Eating every three to four hours keeps blood sugar steady, which helps a child’s ability to pay attention, concentrate and learn.”

If your kids aren’t hungry when first waking up, try these “grab and go” ideas for nutritious breakfasts that may be eaten in the car or at school before class begins:

  • Whole-grain granola bar and fruit
  • Peanut butter over apple slices
  • Sliced turkey rolled up with cheese
  • Yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Scrambled eggs and cheese in a tortilla
  • Oatmeal and fresh or dried fruit
  • Homemade fruit smoothie
  • Peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread
  • Cottage cheese with fresh or dried fruit

Pack along some low-fat milk and you’re good to go!

School Meals Get Higher Marks
The nutritional quality of school meals has improved since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. School meals now provide more fruits and vegetables, less sodium, leaner meats, reduced-fat dairy products and whole grains.

For more nutritious tips, please visit the Eat Right section on www.eatright.org.

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Calling All CHOC and Ducks Fans!

CHOC Night 2011

Two great teams are coming together for one great cause. Show your support for CHOC Children’s and the Anaheim Ducks at CHOC Night this Sunday, March 18, at 5:00 p.m., as the Ducks take on the Nashville Predators, at the Honda Center. This  annual event has become a beloved tradition for CHOC and Ducks fans, as well as the entire community.

Throughout this fun evening CHOC patients and physicians will take part in festivities and attendees will have the opportunity to support CHOC in several ways. Proceeds from every game ticket purchased will benefit CHOC. In addition, you can text CHOC to 90999 to make a $5 donation to CHOC.

Go Ducks! Go CHOC!

For tickets and all the details, please click here: http://www.choc.org/events/index.cfm?id=P00473&eid=684&keyword=events&section=events

Keep Your Children Safe from Poisoning

Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com
National Poison Prevention Week is March 18-24. To keep your children safe from poisonous substances lurking around your home, check out the tips below recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

• Keep the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

• Store all medicines and household products away and out of sight in a childproof cabinet where a child cannot reach them.

• When you are taking or giving medicines:

–  If you have to do something else while taking medicine, such as answer the phone, take any young children with you.
–  Secure the child safety cap completely every time you use a medicine.
–  Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home. Ask guests to store drugs where children cannot find them.  Children can easily get into pillboxes, purses, backpacks, or coat pockets.
–  Do not call medicine “candy.”

• Identify poisonous plants in your house and yard and place them out of reach of children or remove them.

• Other common poisons for children include:
–  Cosmetics such as perfume or nail polish, and personal care products such as deodorant and soap.
–  Cleaning products (for example, laundry detergent and floor cleaners).
–  Foreign bodies and toys including silica gel packages to remove moisture in packaging and glow products.
–  Topical preparations such as diaper rash products, hydrogen peroxide, acne preparations, or calamine lotion.

If A Poisoning Occurs:
• Remain calm.

• Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
–  Victim’s age and weight
–   Container or bottle of the poison if available
–   Time of the poison exposure
–   Address where the poisoning occurred

• Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

 

For more information, please visit the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Poisoning/preventiontips.htm
Or, the American Association of Poison Control Centers:
http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/PoisoningPrevention/FAQ/tabid/117/Default.aspx .

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10 Facts About The Brain You Didn’t Know

 

The brain is an important organ that controls every process that regulates our body! In recognition of Brain Awareness Week coming up, March 12-18, check out these fascinating facts about the brain you didn’t know.  Share them with your kids and family!

Courtesy of office.microsoft.com
1. The biggest part of the brain is the cerebrum, which makes up 85% of the brain’s weight. The cerebrum is the thinking part of the brain and it controls your voluntary muscles.

2. Your brain has two hemispheres – left for analytical thoughts and right for creative thoughts.

3. 70,000 is the number of thoughts estimated that the human brain produces on an average day.

4. Your brain has 100,000 miles worth of blood vessels – enough to circle Earth approximately four times.

5. Your brain has 100 billion neurons – cells known as the gray matter which process information.

6. The human brain is about 75% water.

7. Foods that keep  your brain healthy include: fish, blueberries, nuts & seeds, green vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts.

8. Your brain consumes about 25 watts of power while you’re awake – enough energy to illuminate a lightbulb!

9. An adult human brain weighs around 3 pounds.

10. More electrical impulses are generated in one day by a single human brain than by all the telephones in the world.

To learn more about the brain, check out CHOC’s health library:
http://www.choc.org/healthlibrary/topic.cfm?PageID=P02588

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Easy Tips for Picky Eaters

As we continue to celebrate nutrition month, be sure to check out these easy tips below recommended by the American Heart Association, to help your picky eaters at home.

1. Start by introducing healthier elements into foods that your child already likes. Offer blueberry pancakes, carrot muffins, fruit slices over a favorite cereal, chunks of bell pepper in a potato salad, or shredded veggies over rice.

2. Include your kids in the prep work. By being involved in grocery shopping and food preparation, your kids will have more ‘buy-in.’ If they feel some ownership over the meal, they may be more likely to eat it.

3. Out of sight, out of mind. If the chips and cookies aren’t around, your kids can’t eat them. They may resist at first, but when they get hungry, they’ll start munching the carrot sticks. Keep healthy foods on hand — 100 percent juice instead of colas or sugary drinks, and a bag of apples instead of a bag of chips.

4. Have healthy finger foods available. Kids like to pick up foods, so give them foods they can handle. Fruit and veggie chunks (raw or cooked) are great finger-food options.

5. Don’t cut out treats altogether. Think moderation. A scoop of ice cream or a serving of Oreos is all right occasionally. If you cut out all the goodies, your kids will be more likely to overeat when they do get them. Make sure to moderate the treat consumption.

6. Veg out at the dinner table, not the TV. Eating in front of the TV is distracting, and kids may not notice that they’re full because they’re wrapped up in the show. Eating as a family is a great time to catch up.

Check out more great tips.

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Better Eating Habits Start With Eating Together

Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com.
In recognition of National Nutrition Month, we want to make sure your family is off to a good start in developing healthy eating habits. Did you know that this can be as easy as eating dinner together as a family? And it doesn’t have to be every night, either, says CHOC Children’s pediatrician Mark Colon, M.D. Studies have shown benefits even when families sat down for dinner just a few nights a week.

Moreover, studies have shown that children whose families regularly eat dinner together are less likely to suffer from eating disorders.

Dr. Colon recommends that parents take advantage of the nightly opportunity to model healthy nutritional habits. “Dinnertime gives parents the opportunity to start teaching healthy eating habits from day one. Also, family meals allow more face-to-face time, which can lead to improved communication and family relationships,” he says. “Including a young child at the dinner table is an excellent way to introduce fruit, vegetables, salads and meats,” says Dr. Colon.

So, before you start planning dinner, remember that setting the table for the entire family may just be what your family needs to get a healthy boost.

For more tips, please click here to read the full story: http://www.choc.org/publications/index.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=396

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Shape Up Your Plate for National Nutrition Month & Beyond

March is just around the corner — a perfect time to recognize National Nutrition Month! Check out the helpful nutrition facts and guidelines below, by Sarah Kavlich, RD, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s.

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthy eating by consuming the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy through a month- long campaign called “National Nutrition Month.”

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, founded in 1917, is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is dedicated to improving the nation’s health, and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

National Nutrition Month began in 1973 as a week-long event known as “National Nutrition Week.” In 1980, the event expanded into a month-long observance as a response to growing public awareness in the area of nutrition. To recognize the dedication of registered dietitians as the leading advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world, the second Wednesday of each March is celebrated as “Registered Dietitian Day.” This year – 2012 – marks the fifth annual Registered Dietitian Day.

The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Shape Up Your Plate,” based on the 2011 “MyPlate” campaign launched by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to replace “MyPyramid”. The initiative of “MyPlate” (as seen below) is to divide your plate into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, as well as a glass of a dairy product. Go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/ to find examples of foods for each section of your plate, portion sizes, benefits and helpful tips.

Shaping up your plate is about balancing your calories. You should enjoy your food, but avoid oversized portions. Increase some foods, while reducing others. By ensuring that half of your plate is made up of fruits and vegetables, you will feel full without going overboard on calories. Make at least half of your grains whole by choosing brown rice, whole wheat bread and quinoa.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk and dairy products. You can reduce your sodium intake by reading food labels on various foods such as soups, bread and frozen meals, and choosing foods that are lower in sodium. Lastly, make sure to drink water or sugar-free beverages in place of sugary ones.

What better time to re-vamp what’s on your plate than spring. March marks the beginning of spring when various fruits and vegetables like broccoli, beets, blood oranges, chard, kale, lemons, mushrooms and strawberries are beginning to wake up from their long winter’s nap and make their grand entrance onto your plate. Planning your meals around fruits and vegetables that are in season will make shopping easier, and lead to better-tasting meals made with fresh ingredients.

Visit http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pasta-with-white-beans-kale-10000000223294/  to find a recipe using kale. (*Substitute whole wheat pasta to increase the fiber content.) Serve this pasta with a side of roasted asparagus topped with orange segments to shape up your plate!

Make March your start for simple changes that will last a lifetime.

Resources: www.choosemyplate.gov , www.myplate.gov , www.eatright.org and www.cookinglight.com .

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Heart Murmurs in Children

 

Nita Doshi, M.D., pediatric cardiologist at CHOC Children’s

As Heart Month comes to a close, check out these helpful facts about heart murmurs in children from Dr. Nita Doshi, pediatric cardiologist at CHOC Children’s.

My pediatrician heard a “heart murmur” in my child.  What is a heart murmur?

A “heart murmur” is an extra noise or sound which can be heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope.  When blood travels through the veins, arteries, and valves of the heart, the flow of blood can create a sound.  This sound has often been described as having a “swishing” or “whooshing” quality. This sound is frequently referred to as a “heart murmur.”

Does the finding of a heart murmur mean that something is wrong with my child’s heart?

It is very important to remember that a “heart murmur” is simply a noise or a sound.  It is a finding detected by listening through a stethoscope during an examination.  Most of the time, heart murmurs are normal and do not indicate anything is wrong with the heart.

How commonly are heart murmurs diagnosed in children?

Studies have estimated that up to 90% of infants and children will have a heart murmur at some point during infancy or childhood.  But of all heart murmurs, only about 1-3% of children will be found to have a congenital heart problem.

What is an “innocent” murmur?

Innocent heart murmurs have also been called:  “benign,” “physiologic,” “functional,” or “flow-related,” meaning that normal blood flow creates a sound which can be heard during examination.  In younger children, it is often easier to hear a murmur because the distance between the heart and the chest wall is typically closer.  Because innocent heart murmurs are related to blood flow as well as changing chest configuration and heart rate, heart murmurs may disappear and reappear at various times.  As an example, periods of increased activity and fever are common times when a heart murmur may be heard.

What is a “non-innocent” murmur?

Heart murmurs can be termed “non-innocent” or “pathologic,” meaning that the sound may represent an abnormality of the heart muscle, walls, valves, or arteries.  For instance, a pathologic murmur can represent the sound of blockage of outflow from the pumping chambers, which dispenses blood to the lungs and the body.  It may also signify a hole within the wall inside the heart, narrowing or malformation of one of the heart valves, leakage of one of the heart valves, or narrowing of one of the arteries supplying blood to the lungs or body.

What may further evaluation of a heart murmur involve?

Your pediatrician may choose to refer your child with a heart murmur to a pediatric cardiologist.  A pediatric cardiologist is a specialist of heart disease in fetuses, infants, children, and young adults.  Your pediatrician or pediatric cardiologist may decide to order an “electrocardiogram,” which is a non-invasive test that measures the electrical activity or rhythm of the heart.  Your pediatrician or pediatric cardiologist may decide to order an “echocardiogram” otherwise known as an ultrasound of the heart, which is another type of non-invasive test that can further evaluate the structure and function of the components of the heart.

Find more information about programs and services at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute.

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Heart Imaging Goes 3-D

And no special 3-D glasses are required. Magnetic resonance (MR) angiography gives our CHOC pediatric cardiac specialists an unprecedented, crystal-clear view into our patients’ hearts and surrounding blood vessels.

If a single picture is worth a thousand words, consider the value of a complete 3-D reconstruction of the heart and the major blood vessels that may be viewed from any angle. These images may also be magnified, flipped, rotated, color-enhanced and even animated into a movie, showing every precise detail in motion.

In children with complex, congenital heart disease, no two hearts are alike. MR angiography has become an indispensable diagnostic tool, providing unparalled views into the deepest abnormal, anatomic structures within a child’s heart. And best of all, this procedure is noninvasive and free of radiation. It is better tolerated by patients than diagnostic cardiac catheterization and does not usually require sedation or anesthesia.

Pierangelo Renella, M.D., CHOC Pediatric Cardiologist

“When standard imaging is not enough, MR angiography offers a way to obtain critical information needed to make complex cardiac diagnoses,” says Pierangelo Renella, M.D., pediatric cardiologist and advanced cardiac imaging specialist at CHOC Children’s. This technology helps surgeons plan safer and more effective procedures, and can be used to follow patients over time as it provides details for making decisions about medication and possible future surgeries.”

“State of the Art” is Our Standard of Care

Pictured is a 3-D volume rendered MR angiogram of the major blood vessels of the chest and abdomen.

The CHOC Children’s Heart Institute is the only center in Orange County providing pediatric MR angiography. Our hospital has two magnetic resonance imaging systems, featuring 1.5 and 3 power Tesla magnets — the strongest magnets available for MR magnetic resonance imaging. Just two more reasons why when it comes to caring for infants, children and adolescents with complex, congenital heart conditions — there’s no place like CHOC.

Find more information about the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute‘s programs and services.

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