Hidden Heart Problems Parents Should Know

February is National Heart Month, and a time to focus on one of our most precious, vital organs – our heart!

For those of you who have an active young person at home, did you know there are certain symptoms that can suggest that your child or teen has a heart problem that needs a doctor’s attention? This is especially true if symptoms occur during sports or other activities.

Click below for warning signs parents should know, the most common cause of sudden death in athletes, and much more! http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=512

February is National Heart Month

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it! What better way to celebrate and show you care than to send a photo valentine to CHOC patients, during the month of February – National Heart Month!

Just print and decorate our “Be Mine” heart (or make one of your own), then take your photo holding the valentine and send it in. Click here for easy-to-follow instructions: http://www.choc.org/bemine/index.cfm

In recognition of National Heart Month, click here: http://www.choc.org/healthlibrary/topic.cfm?PageID=P01800 to learn more about the CHOC Heart Institute, which brings hope to children with heart disease and their families, by providing state of the art diagnosis and treatment for an entire spectrum of cardiac conditions in newborns to adolescents.

Fruit Juice is “Liquid Candy”

It sounds healthier than soda, but “100% fruit juice” may actually contain far more sugar than you bargained for. A study released last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children are getting too many calories though “liquid candy” such as sodas — and fruit juice.
Pediatric experts are recommending no more than eight to 12 ounces of juice per day for children ages 7 to 18. Younger children should consume no more than four to six ounces a day.
“Excess sugar is not healthy for children,” says CHOC Certified Diabetes Educator Jill Nowak, R.D. “Sweetened beverages are one of the contributing factors to the obesity epidemic in children. Obesity puts them at risk for multiple health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, sleep apnea and orthopaedic problems.”
Nowak says that artificially sweetened sodas and beverages are okay in moderation. Still, she advocates healthier choices, such as milk.

Here are some additional tips:

Make Every Calorie Count
Read Nutrition Labels
• Does your child’s juice contain added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup?
• How many ounces are in a recommended serving?
• Does one serving fulfill your child’s daily requirement of vitamin C? Not every fruit drink does.
Serve Whole Fruits Instead
• Whole fruit contains the fiber and healthful benefits that juice leaves behind.
• Eating a whole piece of fruit will leave your child feeling less hungry.
Get Milk
• Milk contains calcium for your child’s growing bones.
• Soy milk is an acceptable substitute for cow’s milk.
Can The Soda
• Soda contains phosphoric acid, which leaches calcium from bones and puts your child at risk for osteoporosis.
• Just one 12-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories, far exceeding your child’s recommended daily limit.

Read Talan’s Story

Born at 25 weeks, weighing only 1 pound, 14 ounces, baby Talan was admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHOC Children’s.  A few weeks later his mother, Mari, learned that he had necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a gastrointestinal disease common in some premature babies. Mari soon learned that faith and trust in CHOC’s NICU team would make all the difference in their journey home…

Read their story and the many other remarkable stories that happen at CHOC every day: http://www.choc.org/stories/story_detail.cfm?sid=145

For more information about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHOC, please click  here: http://www.choc.org/nicu/index.cfm?id=P00532

Rainy Day Activities for Kids

When the rain outside keeps the kids inside, parents’ patience can certainly be tested by bored children!  Try these activities to keep your kids entertained while “waiting out” cold, stormy weather.

• Play music and encourage your kids to exert their energy by dancing.  Let children take turns picking out the songs and leading the dance moves.
• Guide little adventurers on a treasure hunt around the house!  Hide a few items, draw a map and/or provide some clues, and see who wins.
• Engage in story telling.  Let your kids be the voices of the characters or act out the scenes, so they are active participants.
• Get crafty.  A paper bag and some crayons are all you need for a puppet – one that your child can use during story telling.
• Play “Simon Says” – but get Simon and the rest of his followers moving!
• Lights, Camera, Action.  Your kids could have a great time putting on a talent show or skit for you.  Make sure you bring out the video camera for this one!

A rainy day doesn’t have to lead to bored couch potatoes!  Hopefully these ideas will help bring a little “sunshine” to your day!

Set The Table For Better Eating Habits

With healthier choices as a new year’s resolution for many families, CHOC Children’s pediatrician Mark Colon, M.D., explains one of the best ways to help your children develop healthy eating habits is to simply eat dinner together as a family. Studies have shown that children whose families regularly eat dinner together are less likely to suffer from eating disorders.

The studies showed benefits even when families sat down for dinner just a few nights a week. 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.”

As the father of two young children, he offers these tried-and-true tips: 

 “I’m Hungry!” — Serve an appetizer if your child cannot wait until dinnertime. Try a small serving of a fruit or vegetable.

“Ewww, Yuck” — Speaking of fruits and vegetables, Dr. Colon says it may take multiple tries before a child cultivates a taste for certain foods. So keep trying! Dr. Colon advises teaching your child to say, “I do not care for this food,” instead of the word “dislike.” He says “dislike” implies permanence.

“What’s For Dessert?” — The purpose of the meal is to sit together and enjoy all of the food. Some children plow through the main course to get to the dessert. Dr. Colon advises taking a break between dinner and dessert. Wash the dishes or play with your children a little. Serve dessert later. Dessert should not be used as a reward at the end of the meal. Make it a treat, not a habit!

Dawdle Over Dinner

Turn off the television and let phone calls go to the answering machine. Break out the tablecloth, dim the lights and play some soft music. This is your family’s special time to catch up with each other. Get the conversation going by asking open-ended questions about your children’s day. Keep the table talk light and fun.

“The dinner table is not the place to lecture or discipline,” Dr. Colon says. “Instead, focus on the positives. Compliment children for exhibiting good behaviors.”

For more “healthful” tips from the experts at CHOC Children’s, check out the latest edition of Kids Health magazine at www.choc.org or click here:  http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?pub=KH

Give Eating Right a Green Light

Having trouble getting your kids to eat right?  If kids see their parents eating healthy foods, then they are more likely to indulge in fruits and vegetables too. The key is to focus on nutrient-rich foods and avoid empty calories. 

Many dietitians favor splitting foods into green light, yellow light and red light groups. Try putting green light foods within kids’ easy reach.

Green light foods: High-nutrition, low-fat, low- or moderate-calorie foods kids can eat often: celery, carrots, broccoli, apples, low-fat yogurt, multigrain pretzels.

Yellow light foods: Nutritious but higher-fat or calorie foods that must be eaten in moderation: meats, enriched breads and pasta, full-fat cheese.

Red light foods: Foods with no nutritional value, like cookies and candy, that you should save for special treats.

Other tips:

  • Trust that when kids are hungry enough, they’ll eat the healthy options you serve.
  • Don’t use sweets to reward or punish kids.
  • Set a good example for kids by eating well.
  • Encourage kids to eat at normal meal times.
  • Develop a “try it” rule for new foods.

For more “healthful” tips from the experts at CHOC Children’s, check out the latest edition of Kids Health magazine at www.choc.org or click here:  http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?pub=KH

Tips for a Happy, Healthy Child in the New Year

After the fun of the holiday season, its hard to get back into the routine, especially for kids when it means going back to school. However, this can be an opportunity to help your child be the best student he or she can be. With these few simple tips, you can make sure your child starts off on the right foot in the new year:

Get back on track
After two or three weeks off from school, it may take your child some time to get back into the swing of things. They key is to make the transition smooth and gradual. A few days before your children go back to school, decide on a bedtime that is earlier than they have been going to bed and gradually transition to their normal bedtime on a school night. Make sure your children return to their normal meal times and activities.

A Mental Jumpstart
Breakfast isn’t a meal you want to skip. Having a healthy meal to start your day seems to improve concentration and problem-solving skills. Eating a balanced breakfast can sharpen a child’s memory and improve test scores.

Be a Positive Example
Remember that setting a good example by eating healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise is key to getting your kids to adopt healthy lifestyles. Don’t underestimate the importance of staying involved in your child’s education and attending school functions. Children who have parents who are more involved with their education perform better in school, are better adjusted and are less likely to drop out.

If You Want to See Better Grades, then you may want to reorganize your child’s room. Specifically, consider moving his or her TV to another location. Too much time spent watching TV and playing video and computer games can harm a child’s academic performance. School-age kids shouldn’t get more than one to two hours of screen time a day. Here are some ideas to help your child develop good study habits:

  • Provide a work space that is specifically for their homework. It can be in their bedroom or another part of the home, the key is that the space offers privacy.
  • Give your child the necessary tools to get the job done. Provide good lighting, pencils, paper and any other supplies he or she may need.
  • Make sure your child has enough time to get his or her homework done at a reasonable hour.
  • Check-in on their computer to ensure it’s being used for their homework and not acting as a distraction.
  • Make yourself available to help them with questions. But never do your child’s homework. If your child is having a hard time with homework, consider a tutor. Talk it over with your child’s teacher.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye, neck and brain fatigue while studying. Have your child close the books for a few minutes, stretch and take a break periodically.

Go Green in 2010 for Your Family’s Health

Getting your kids involved in helping the environment is not only good for the planet—it’s also good for your family’s health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when it comes to air pollution, the greater the level of pollutants in the air, the greater the chance for your child to experience asthma flare-ups and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

Each member of your family can do his/her part to protect the environment with a few simple ideas.

When you go shopping, buy local. Take your child to the farmer’s market to pick out a healthy, locally grown treat. Buying local products reduces energy burned to transport goods.

Avoid waste by letting your child pick out a favorite lunch box and thermos to reuse every day at school.

Turn off the tap! According to the EPA, turning off the water while you brush your teeth can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month.

Invest in rechargeable batteries for your child’s electronics.

Save energy (and money!) by replacing incandescent bulbs in your child’s room with an Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). One CFL bulb uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb.

Walk more. If possible, walk your child to school or to after school activities.
Set up a recycling center in your home. Have your child decorate labels for separate bins for glass, plastics and paper.

Grow a green thumb. Planting a garden with your child is a simple way to help the environment. Whether inside or outside, plants clean the air.
When planning your garden, opt for native plants, which don’t need as much water as introduced species.

Pack a waste-free lunch by including sandwiches in reusable containers; whole fruits without packaging; drinks in containers that can be reused; and snacks purchased in bulk and brought in reusable containers Don’t include: individually wrapped snacks; plastic baggies that are not reusable; disposable forks and spoons; and straws. 

Find new ways to reduce waste quantity and toxicity By thinking creatively, many new uses for common items and new possibilities for source reduction and recycling can be discovered. Here are just a few ideas: turn a giant cardboard box into a child’s playhouse; transform a plastic ice cream tub into a flower pot; give pet hamsters or gerbils paper towel and toilet paper cardboard tubes with which to play; use an egg carton to plant seedlings; turn used tires (not steel-belted) into children’s swings or other playground equipment; select nontoxic inks and art supplies; and choose beverages such as water or milk in reusable containers, where appropriate.

CHOC Docs Named “Physicians of Excellence”

More than 50 CHOC Children’s doctors were named “Physicians of Excellence” by the Orange County Medical Association (OCMA).  Each year, OCMA conducts a thorough survey of local physicians, and rates them on leadership, teaching and mentoring, research, and humanitarian service.  This prestigious list of doctors is published exclusively by Orange Coast magazine.  Be sure to check out the magazine’s January 2010 issue out on stands now!