CHOC Recommends Flu Preventive Guidelines

Have you seen the movie Contagion? What did you think? It’s certainly causing moviegoers to think twice about the possibility of a virus of that magnitude! Well, while the events portrayed in this movie are fiction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infectious disease outbreak with that kind of impact could indeed happen. Luckily, the CDC and other dedicated U.S. and international agencies are working hard every day at preventing an outbreak like that, and keeping the community safe through research, education and prevention efforts.

On a smaller scale, the flu is a common, yet serious contagious disease that we need to stay informed on, especially with the flu season just around the corner in the fall. In the United States, influenza (flu) season usually begins in October and can last until May. The key to protecting your family is prevention.

The most recent flu vaccine recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stress the importance of getting a new flu shot this season. CHOC Children’s Hospital couldn’t agree more. The 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against the same three influenza strains as last year’s vaccine, including the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused the first global pandemic in more than 40 years and resulted in substantial illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

It’s recommended that everyone 6 months or older receive an influenza vaccine. Special efforts should be made to immunize all family members, household contacts, and out-of-home care providers of children who are younger than 5 years; children with high-risk conditions (asthma, diabetes, or neurologic disorders); health care personnel; and all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or breastfeeding during the flu season.

In addition, the AAP recommends the following guidelines for administering the influenza vaccine to children depending on the child’s vaccine history and age at the time of the first administered dose:

• Infants younger than 6 months are too young to be immunized.
• Children 9 years of age and older need only one dose of influenza vaccine.
• Children 6 months through 8 years of age need only one dose of the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine if they received at least 1 dose last season.
• Children 6 months through 8 years of age should receive two doses if they did not receive any vaccine last season. The second dose should be administered at least four weeks after the first.
• An intradermal vaccine has been recommended for people 18 through 64 years of age.

For more tips and guidelines on the seasonal flu, please click here:

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Local Student Spreads Giving Spirit

Guest blogger, Jordyn Berk, shares how she became involved with CHOC Children’s through her organization, Chop for Charity. This amazing young woman has raised thousands of dollars for CHOC, creating lasting memories and learning about her true potential along the way.

I was twelve years old when I decided that I wanted to make a difference. At the time, I was a black belt in karate and wanted to show that having achieved that rank meant more than training in the art. Board breaking had always been one of my favorite aspects of karate. The pure excitement and self-assurance I feel every time my hand slices through a piece of wood is indescribable, and I wanted to share that feeling with others.

My grandfather has Type 1 diabetes and although I am not diabetic, the disease has always had a presence in my family. CHOC had always stood out in my mind, and when I decided to hold a fundraiser for a charity, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) was the other obvious beneficiary.

My original idea behind Chop for Charity was to combine my interest in karate with helping sick kids in my community. At Chop for Charity, individuals paid an entrance fee to break a board with the help of an experienced instructor and watch board-breaking demonstrations. The event also included a raffle and silent auction with prizes donated by local businesses. The website,, was an important asset to fundraising.

Chop for Charity impacted who I am in more ways than I could have ever dreamed possible. Planning the event taught me to be responsible, organized, and efficient. Five years ago, I did not know what to expect with the first annual Chop for Charity. I will never forget the moment my brother ran up to me near the end of the event to tell me we had raised over two thousand dollars. At the time, that seemed like a huge number and I could not contain my excitement.

The next year, I hesitated before setting a goal because I was afraid of failure, but one of my mentors convinced me that I could never reach higher if I let my fear of falling short stop me. Each year, my goals have grown and I have exceeded them. To date, Chop for Charity has raised over $50,000 for CHOC and JDRF, but more than that, it taught me to be unafraid to let myself feel vulnerable in order to succeed.

Taking the initiative and founding Chop for Charity taught me leadership and has led to amazing opportunities. I toured CHOC in the summer of 2009 and was fascinated by the doctors I met and conversations we shared. In addition to Chop for Charity, I have since volunteered at various JDRF events.

Whenever I am asked about Chop for Charity, I give the same response. Chop for Charity was the best, most fulfilling experience of my life. I absolutely loved putting in all the hours each year planning the event, and I loved when people were excited to participate and spread the giving spirit.

To find out how you can help support CHOC, please click here: 

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Treating Head Lice

September is National Head Lice Prevention Month. Lice is a common, uncomfortable problem that can be a nuisance to both your children – and you! To help fight these unwelcome critters, check out the tips below:

Head lice are tiny parasites that live on a person’s scalp, neck and behind the ears. They cause itching and scratching, because the lice live off blood and their bites itch. Lice are hard to find, but their eggs or nits, can be seen attached to hairs.

Shampoos containing a class of pesticides called pyrethrins are used to kill lice. Creams are available that loosen nits, the lice eggs that are firmly attached to the base of the hair. According to the National Pediculosis Association, however, no over-the-counter or prescription treatment is totally safe or totally effective. The best way to remove nits is with a fine-tooth comb. If you have difficulty removing them, you may want to try using a nit-removal cream. Also, be sure to:

• Teach your children to never share hats, combs, brushes, hair pieces or pillows.
• Watch for scratching.
• Don’t confuse nits with dandruff or dirt.
• Consult your pharmacist or health care provider before using lice treatments.
• Use any product correctly and with caution.
• Remove nits with a half-vinegar, half-alcohol mixture and a fine-tooth comb or fingernails. Commercial nit-removal creams are available.
• Wash bedding and recently worn clothing in hot water and dry it in a dryer for at least 20 minutes on the hot setting. Seal items that cannot be washed in plastic bags for two weeks.
• Avoid lice sprays. Keep your home vacuumed.
• Notify your child’s school, camp, care provider and friends that your child has lice.

Have you heard of other effective tips? Please share!

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Kids and Concussions

Concussions are a common occurrence in children – especially when engaging in play or sports. If you are a parent, teacher, or coach, it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms indicative of a concussion. Dr. Chris Koutures, Pediatric and Sports Medicine Specialist at CHOC Children’s, describes the symptoms you should look for with kids and concussions. Click here:

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Bibliotheraphy for Biters – By Nancy Brashear, Ph.D.

As an educator and literacy expert, I’ve often used books to help address events that life unexpectedly throws our way. Last week, I bought Teeth Are Not for Biting (by Elizabeth Verdick) for my grand-daughter, Ellie (age 2) who had pretty much been an angel until she suddenly bit her sister, twice!

Of course, Ellie’s mother talked to her in between bites, but we now have reinforcements with the rescue book for the no-biting regime. Written for toddlers, it’s informative with its brightly colored illustrations, clever descriptions of the functions of teeth, and clear instructions about chewing food slowly and using words instead of teeth! The publisher also carries other books that deal with socio-emotional issues (with some books for parents and professionals). For more on the series, visit Free Spirit Publishing at

I know there are many of you who have also reached for books along with band-aids. Which ones would you recommend for life’s little troubles?

A special contributor to the blog, Nancy Brashear, Ph.D., is a CHOC grandma and an expert specializing in literature for children and adolescents. You can read more at

Building a Bond with Grandchildren

Grandparents can play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. In some families, they are the caregivers; in others, they help make lasting memories through special visits. Grandparents pass on family traditions and give children the fundamental sense that they are loved and valued. Research has shown that when grandparents are involved with their grandchildren, even from a distance, all the generations are often much happier.

Ideas for building bonds

Grandchildren will value the memories of shared times for their entire lives. Visiting with them as often as you can is important, as is making the most of that time together. Here are other ways to build bonds and stay connected between visits:

  • Create photo books. Even young children like to look at photographs of themselves and the people in their families. Today, you have more options than ever before for creating personalized scrapbooks, photo books, and photo products, such as T-shirts or even quilt squares. If you are not sure how to start, talk with your local photo processing center for ideas.
  • Go online. Children and teens today spend a lot of time on the Internet. Although you might have mixed feelings about that, the computer is a tool for you to build bonds that last. Here are some ways to stay connected using the Internet:
    • Social media. Ask your grandchildren about joining their online groups. Some social networking sites offer family pages where you can post news and photos.
    • Video chats. Computers with video cameras, microphones, and Internet access make video “calls” easy. Talk with your children about setting up a system so that you can see and speak to one another through the computer, no matter where you are. Webcams also make it possible for family members to “attend” important events when they can’t be there physically.
    • E-mail. The most basic form of online communication is e-mailing. Find out your grandchildren’s e-mail addresses (if they have them) and send them short notes or fun photos.
  • Master the cell phone. In addition to talking, cell phones allow you to send photos and text messages to your grandchildren that they can access at any time — good ways to communicate when you are in different time zones and talking isn’t always possible. This is the way that they are staying in touch with their friends. You, too, can use this method to share your day with them or show them what you are up to.
  • Read books together. Find out what books your grandchildren are reading for pleasure or as part of their schoolwork and then read (or re-read) them at the same time. Even if you live far away, you can use Internet tools or just regular phone time to discuss the books.
  • Share hobbies. If your grandchildren have particular interests, find a way to share those interests with them, and don’t be shy about sharing your own activities. Even if they don’t fall in love with your hobby immediately, you are enriching their lives by letting them know that adults have their own passions, too. Sharing recipes in a family that loves to cook or keeping track of the birds or plants you both have seen are among the ways to include hobbies in your relationship.
  • Follow sports. Whether you create a fantasy sports league or simply share texts and tweets while watching a big game, following sports together is a lasting bond. If your grandchildren participate in sports, find ways to watch their games, in person whenever possible or through videos that your children take for you.
  • Create a memory book. Children and teens are often interested in their family history. Looking through family photo albums and keepsakes is fascinating to them. Make a shorter, take-home version for them with relevant facts from your family’s history, copies of important photos and papers, and pictures of the special items and places that are part of your family saga.

What do you like to do with your grandchildren?

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Homework Help for Parents

It’s a given that some children will always hate doing homework no matter what parents say or do. But these suggestions should help with the battle between study and TV.

• Establish a nonnegotiable, daily homework time. A child should read or work on a personal project on days no homework is assigned.
• Establish a quiet place for study that works best for your child. Some children do as well on the living-room floor as they do at a desk in the bedroom.
• Ask about assignments and whether your child understands them. Help if necessary, but don’t do the work.
• Always show interest in your child’s education. Don’t ask, “How was school?” You’re likely to get little more than “OK.” Instead, ask about the day’s math lesson or problems on a dreaded test. Know the books being read, the papers being written, and the projects being assigned.  (Back-to-school night is a great opportunity for you to ask your child’s teacher about expectations for homework – what kind of work, how much time should be devoted a week, etc.)

For more helpful tips, visit

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Hit the Road Safely this Holiday Weekend

Taking a road trip can be a fun way for the family to spend a holiday weekend together. But it also can make for antsy passengers if they don’t have enough to keep them entertained. Here are a few tips to keep your family safe and content on the road this Labor Day weekend.

• Keep a first aid kit on hand hat contains antacids, throat lozenges, antiseptic cream, bandages, antibacterial wipes, insect repellant, sunscreen and aloe gel for sunburns. You also may want to include decongestants or antihistamines for allergies. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications family members regularly take.
• Stock up on plenty of nutritious snacks and drinks to supplement meal stops. Nonperishable items make the best and safest road food. Be sure to include water. Keeping your passengers hydrated will help them avoid fatigue and light-headedness.
• Bring a “fun bag” stuffed with favorite books, games, and other items your kids enjoy.
• Make sure your car is running well to avoid any roadside emergencies. Have your car checked for necessary repairs and, if necessary, have it serviced before leaving. Pack an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, flares and equipment for changing a tire, just in case.

Hope you and your loved ones enjoy a memorable – and safe – road trip!

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Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Tina Templeman, Clinical Research Nurse

In 2002, Tina Templeman began her career at CHOC Children’s as a bedside nurse on the oncology unit. While working with patients, Tina helped to create and implement the hospital’s online charting system. She was involved with teaching the charting system to new CHOC employees and physicians through the Clinical Education Department.

In 2008, Tina took on her current position as the clinical research nurse coordinator for the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program. Tina works directly with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) to find open protocols for new patients. Once an appropriate treatment is found for the patient based on his or her cancer, stage and other eligibility requirements, Tina maintains the patient’s treatment plan and schedules.

“When I was a bedside nurse, I was very task oriented. I did not always understand why one patient was treated according to a certain protocol and another patient with the same diagnosis was treated on another,” Tina said. “Being part of this research team, I now know why. I am now part of the ‘big picture’ of care and get to be part of the process of deciding which treatment is best for a patient.”

While Tina’s job has taken her away from working in the clinic or at the bedside every day, she still gets to work one-on-one with patients when collecting data or blood samples for COG studies.

“I love my job because I still get to work directly with patients but also have the opportunities to work hard behind the scenes and be part of treatment outcomes,” Tina said. “The children we treat have these starry innocent little eyes that just melt my heart. They deserve a team of people to work hard for them to help manage their disease. I am very proud to be part of the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program.”

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Prevent Heat Illness and Injury

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently offered new guidelines to prevent heat illness and injury in young athletes. Before your kids start training for fall sports, please be sure to check out the following recommendations for those hot, humid days. By following the proper guidelines, you can ensure you and your athlete have a great – and safe – season!

• Ensure trained staff are available on-site to monitor for and promptly treat heat illness.
• Educate your children on how to prepare for the heat to improve safety and reduce the risk for heat illness.
• Allow children to gradually adapt to physical activity in the heat.
• Offer time for, and encourage sufficient fluid intake before, during and after exercise.
• Modify activity given the heat and limitations of individual athletes.
• Provide rest periods of at least two hours between same-day contests in warm to hot weather.
• Limit participation of children who have had a recent illness or have other risk factors that would reduce exercise-heat tolerance.

For more on this topic, please visit CHOC’s pediatric health library at:

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