Fun and Easy Folate-Rich Snacks for Your Kids

In recognition of National Folic Acid Awareness Week (January 8-14), check out these facts about folic acid, as well as some fun and easy folate-rich foods, that your kids are sure to enjoy.

Folic acid (also known as vitamin folacin, folate, tetrahydrofolic acid, tetrahydropteroylglutamic acid, and THF) is a water soluble vitamin that plays an important part in cell division, the creation of cells in the blood-forming organs and bone marrow, and in the proper development of the fetal spinal cord and brain during pregnancy. The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume about 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.

Like many vitamins, folate is needed by children for proper growth and development. This critical nutrient is found in some green, leafy vegetables, most berries, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, and enriched grain foods such as cereal, bread, pasta and rice.

To ensure your kids are getting folate in their diet, try these easy snacks:

•  Cut up fresh vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, carrots, oranges and strawberries; serve with a yummy, low-fat dip.

•  Use kidney, pinto, or black beans in wraps or burritos. Have the kids create their own wraps!

•  Freeze orange juice and make juice pops.

•  Make a tasty salad. Include darker green lettuce or greens such as romaine, green leaf, or spinach.

•  Make a refreshing smoothie using orange and strawberries, among other fruits of your choice.

•  Make trail mix by combining a higher fiber cereal with folic acid, peanuts (if your child is not allergic to peanuts), and dried fruit such as raisins or banana chips.

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Is Your Child Too Sick for School?

Your 3-year-old is playing listlessly with her breakfast. “I don’t feel so good, Mommy,” she tells you. There’s no fever, no vomiting and no diarrhea, but she’s not her normal bundle of energy.

Now comes the tough part. Do you send her to day care, or keep her home?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association have guidelines that can help you make up your mind. Drawn up in 1992 and revised in 2002, they cover kids in group care and school.

According to the guidelines, kids should stay home if the illness:

•Poses a risk of spreading a serious or harmful disease

•Needs more care than the staff can provide without a risk to the health and safety of other children

•Would keep the child from joining in activities

These are specific examples of when to keep children home:

•Fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit orally or 102 degrees Fahrenheit rectally

•Diarrhea or blood in stools

•Persistent abdominal pain

•Vomiting twice or more in 24 hours

•Conjunctivitis (pinkeye), strep throat or chicken pox, until no longer contagious

•Sluggishness, uncontrolled coughing, constant crying or other signs of possible severe illness

Children with colds, runny noses or mild fever may be able to go to school or day care depending on other factors.

Deciding whether a mildly ill child can go to day care or school is difficult. What may have been just a tummy ache in the morning could lead to vomiting and diarrhea later in the day. Parents usually make good decisions,  but sometimes work obligations make it hard for parents to keep children home.  However, child care and school personnel have the final say on whether the child is too sick to attend day care or school.  And, whenever in doubt, call the pediatrician!

 

January is Blood Donor Awareness Month

January is Blood Donor Awareness Month. The Blood & Donor Services program at CHOC Children’s provides comprehensive blood therapy for children. This ranges from blood donor collection services to therapeutic procedures. The program offers designated donor and autologous donor programs for both blood and platelet products to support children undergoing surgery, cancer treatment, and various other conditions.

CHOC relies on volunteer blood donors like you, your friends and co-workers to meet these needs. Donating blood is a safe and easy process, and all blood types are needed.Volunteers who donate can leave knowing they will have a direct impact on the recovery of a child.

Check out these interesting facts from the American Red Cross:

  • 1 pint of blood can help save up to 3 lives.
  • Adults have around 10 pints of blood in their body. 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only come from volunteer donors.
  • 5 million patients in the U.S. need blood every year.
  • Every 2 seconds someone needs a blood transfusion.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  •  A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Typically, two or three of these are produced from a pint of donated whole blood.
  • Platelets, critical for cancer patients, have a shelf life of about 5 days.

To donate blood to CHOC patients, please call 714-509-8339. For more information, please visit http://www.choc.org/programs-services/blood-donor-services.

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CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is Expanding to Better Serve the Families of OC

CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital (CCMH), located on the fifth floor of Mission Hospital’s patient care tower, serves as the only dedicated pediatric healthcare facility for families in south Orange County, the surrounding coastal areas and north San Diego County.

Currently, the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is undergoing an expansion, which will add six new dedicated NICU beds and accompanying amenities, needed to meet increasing regional demand for this highly specialized care. Plans also include modification of the existing isolation rooms, and formula and lactation rooms. Construction is scheduled for completion in June 2012.

The expansion of the NICU is another example of CCMH’s dedication to providing newborn babies with innovative and specialized care, giving them a strong chance of growing up to lead healthy, normal lives.

Learn more about CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

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Start The New Year Right – Make Soup!

By: Jan Skaar, RD, CSP, CNSC, CLE, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s

Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com
Are you tired of overindulging in the abundance of holiday cakes, pies and cookies during the last month? Are you thinking it’s time to give your waistline and your wallet a break? There’s no better time than January, National Soup Month, to try making one of the many delicious, healthful, and economical soup recipes that abound, for your family.

Soups have been a dietary staple for centuries in many different cultures. The word soup comes from the word “sop,” meaning a broth or liquid eaten with a piece of bread to “sop” up the liquid. Soups all have similar basic ingredients; are often easy to prepare; are high in nutrients; and they won’t break your food budget! Here are four steps to making a great soup:

1. Choose a base. Whether you are a vegetarian or meat eater, you can choose a broth or stock for the liquid foundation of your soup. Homemade is great, but if you need to save time like most of us, choose a prepared broth or stock from your favorite grocer. Many are available in low sodium and non-fat versions.  Stock has a more intense flavor compared to broth.

2. Choose your vegetables, herbs, meats or protein sources. Dried peas, beans and lentils are inexpensive, in comparison to meats, chicken and fish. They are high in protein, iron, fiber, and low in fat. This makes them excellent nutritional choices, and will stretch your food dollar.

3. Develop the flavor. Sauté or brown the meat or vegetables in a small amount of oil or use cooking spray. Some soups need an acidic ingredient such as wine or vinegar. These are used to deglaze the pan after sautéing the meat and vegetables, bringing out the flavor of the browned bits in the pan. The broth or stock is added next, becoming infused with flavor as your soup simmers.

4. Choose your texture and garnish. Soups can be pureed for a smooth appearance and texture. Leave your soup chunky for a more rustic look. A light sour cream or shredded cheese can help balance a spicy soup; fresh lime juice or chopped herbs can compliment a soup’s complex flavors.

You can find a plethora of great tasting soup recipes at www.cookinglight.com or www.myrecipes.com. Check out the nutritional information listed for each recipe. Try Golden Winter Soup, made with butternut squash, russet potatoes and leeks. It tastes great with a tossed salad and a slice of French bread and Gruyere cheese!

And don’t forget, there are many soup recipes that do well in a slow-cooker, which can be a godsend for the working parent or just those of us who are too tired to cook at the end of the day. A great cookbook series for slow-cooker recipes is “Fix It and Forget It” by Phyllis Pellman. It is available in low fat, diabetic and 5 ingredient versions.  Try Chicken Tortilla Soup, a family favorite!  With a little planning, you can avoid the fast food habit and start your way to a healthier and budget-wise New Year!

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20 Resolutions for Kids to Start 2012 Right!

The new year is only a couple days away! While many adults will be busy making new year’s resolutions, how about coming up with some fun, healthy resolutions with your kids — for them!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests the following kid-friendly resolutions, that are sure to help you and your family start the new year right. http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/jankidstips.cfm

What are some of your family’s new year’s resolutions?

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Celebrating the Holidays Means Celebrating Healthy Habits!

The consumption of special holiday foods combined with festive gatherings and vacation time do not have to be temporary distractions from practicing healthy habits. Dr. Chris Koutures, a pediatric and sports medicine specialist at CHOC Children’s, offers several easy ways for families to stay active during the holiday break. Dr. Koutures’ tips are a great way to promote good tidings and cheer!

• Light up your day. There are many wonderful holiday light displays around the area. Rather than drive through them, park or leave the car at home and take a stroll on foot. Walking will give you more time to appreciate the beauty and also burn a few extra calories.

• Become a mall walker. Malls and stores are more crowded this time of year, as are their parking lots. Take advantage of this – avoid the crowds looking for a closer parking spot and find those lonely spots farther away. The extra steps will be good for you! Once inside, make a plan to take the stairs, walk around or plain “window shop” for 10-15 minutes before stopping and making purchases.

• Give the gift of movement. Strongly consider gifts that involve and encourage activity.  Even video games now have more interactive components that keep kids jumping, turning and breaking a sweat.  Outdoor play toys and games are also a big hit with our consistent good weather, local parks and fields.

• “Pre-load” before a big party. Having a small meal before a big holiday party or gathering may reduce the temptation to overeat. At the party, remember sensible portion sizes (size of your fist is a good guide)and include healthy foods., Supervise younger children so they don’t have unlimited access to all the specialty holiday foods.

• Save some for later. Don’t be afraid to store away or freeze holiday candies or other sweets for later in the year. This will help reduce the risk of overeating and provide a special surprise months later, extending the good feeling of the holiday season.

• Don’t forget the “Big Five!” Make the commitment to include at least five fruits and/or vegetables a day. We are blessed in this area to have an ample selection of colorful, healthy foods that will complement the wonderful colors of the season.

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New Car Seat Law Beginning Jan. 1st

Have you heard? Beginning January 1, 2012, a new law in California will require all children under 8 years old to ride in a car or booster seat in the back seat of a motor vehicle.

Children 8 years or older may use a vehicle seat belt if it fits properly with the lap belt low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest. If children are not tall enough for proper belt fit, they must ride in a booster or car seat. The new law imposes fines and penalties for violations.

California joins more than 37 other states with strict booster seat laws. The law mirrors the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, among other agencies.  Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 4-12 and one of the leading causes of injury and disability. For your and your family’s safety, please remember to have everyone buckle up!

Learn more about car seat guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

For more information, please contact a certified child passenger safety technician in CHOC’s Community Education Department, by calling 714-509-8887. A free child passenger safety class and a low cost car seat program (in English and Spanish) is available.

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Surviving the Christmas Crash

Get little ones involved in the kitchen.

It’s that time between Christmas and New Year’s Day when the kids are all at home…a.k.a. the Christmas crash! The toys have been unwrapped and the kids are slowly coming down from the days-long sugar high.

Many parents work full time and many daycare facilities are closed between holidays. So for those parents that are off during the holiday break, they will get to spend all day, every day with their kids!

With so much together time, it’s easy for tempers to flare and kids to get testy. If you find yourself with a house full of antsy children, here are some tips for surviving the Christmas crash.

  • Stick to your regular schedule. Keep kids on track, even for meals and naps. It’s easy for things to go haywire without a regimented routine. And scheduled naps for kiddos means a downtime for parents.

 

  • Cook up a storm. There are plenty of kid-friendly recipes that can get the whole family involved. Let them help you stir and decorate. Studies show that kids are much more likely to eat healthy snacks if they help to prepare it.

 

  • Clean out the toy chest. With so many new toys around, it’s easy for things to become crowded. Make room for new gifts while teaching your kids about giving. Help little ones sort through old toys and clothes and select items to donate to charity. Then, let them go with you to make the donation.

 

  • Build a fort. With a sheet and some chairs, make a fun hideaway for the kiddos. Let them fill it with blankets and pillow. It’s a perfect place to watch movies and read books when the weather is dreary.

 

  • Go to the park. Better yet, pack a lunch. A picnic at the park is a fun deviation from the norm.  Don’t forget the sand toys and sweaters in case it gets chilly.

 

  • Hit the road. Pack some snacks and supplies and hop in the car. Take an impromptu trip to the beach or other favorite spot and take in the scenery.

When it comes to keeping the kids entertained, a little preparation goes a long way.

 

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Talk With Your Kids About Inappropriate Cell Phone and Internet Use

In a study released this month by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an increasing number of adolescents participate in “sexting,” which can include sending sexually explicit images of themselves or other minors by cell phone or the Internet.

Over 1,500 Internet users, ages 10 through 17, were surveyed about their experiences with appearing in, creating or receiving sexual images or videos. The study found that 2.5 percent of youth surveyed have participated in sexting in the past year. If sexting is defined as transmitting sexually suggestive images, rather than sexually explicit images, that number increases to 9.6 percent. Most kids who have participated do so as a prank or while in a relationship, and a significant number of the incidents included alcohol or drug use.

Study authors recommend that more young people are educated on the consequences of possessing or distributing sexually explicit images, which is currently treated as a criminal offense.

Experts agree that talking openly with your kids is a great way to learn how much your kids know about the topic, and an opportunity to discuss with them the potential consequences. Express how you feel in an age-appropriate, non-confrontational way. An ongoing, two-way dialog can go a long way in helping your kids understand how to minimize legal and social risks.

In many cases, kids are acting this way in response to peer pressure, in a form of cyberbullying or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes it’s impulsive behavior, blackmail, or flirting. Make sure they understand that sharing these type of images should be avoided via email and the web too – not just their cell phones. Let your kids know that in any case, this is activity they should not participate in or support.

For more information on kids and cell phones, please click here:
http://www.choc.org/publications/index.cfm?id=P00303&aid=621

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