image_pdfimage_print

When the Tin Man was a child in Oz, I’m sure his pediatrician never told his parents, “Has anyone ever said your child has a heart murmur? I hear one today.”

I know that when I tell parents about a heart murmur in their child, their hearts skip and jump. But not all heart murmurs are bad.

A heart murmur is an extra sound that we pediatricians hear when we listen to a child’s heart with a stethoscope. A normal heart beat sounds like this:  “lub, dub.  lub, dub.  lub, dub.”  A heart murmur adds a whooshing sound.  So what we hear instead is “lub, whoosh, dub” or “lub, dub, whoosh.”

The “whoosh” is usually caused by blood flowing through a relatively narrow opening somewhere in or around the heart. Think of your blood vessels and heart like a garden hose.  If you run the water (blood) very hard, or put a kink or cut a hole in the hose, the whoosh of the water grows louder in those locations.

Heart murmurs signal different issues at different ages. In a newborn, some types of heart murmurs are expected. Normal newborn hearts contain extra holes that close up after the first hours or days of birth. One type of murmur occurs as the infant draws in his first breath and holes in the heart, present inside the womb, begin to seal. As the holes get narrower, we sometimes hear the “whoosh” of blood as it flows through the narrowing opening. Then these holes close completely and the murmur goes away.

However, some murmurs in infancy signal “extra holes” in the heart. As pediatricians we experience our own heart palpitations when moms want to leave the hospital early with their infants who are less than 48 hours old. We worry because many infants who have abnormal hearts may not develop their abnormal heart murmurs and other signs of heart failure until the day after birth.

Preschool and early school age children often develop “innocent” heart murmurs. “Innocent” implies that extra blood flows through their hearts, but the hearts are structurally normal. These murmurs are fairly common and can run in families. However, there are heart problems which do not surface until this age. For this reason, remember to schedule those yearly well child checkups.

For teens, during the pre participation sports physical, pediatricians listen carefully for a murmur that may indicate that an over grown heart muscle has developed.

Again, holes are not the only culprit behind a murmur. The whoosh sound can also arise when a person is anemic and blood flows faster than normal. In anemic kids, the blood flows faster because it lacks enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells and the heart needs to move blood faster in order to supply oxygen to the body. The most common cause for anemia is a lack of sufficient iron intake. Subsequently, we hear these flow murmurs in children whose diets lack iron, in teenagers who are growing rapidly and quickly use up their iron stores, and in girls who bleed too much at each period. Replenishing the iron level makes a heart murmur from anemia go away.

Even a simple fever (see our earlier blog posts to learn more about fevers) can cause a heart murmur on physical exam. The murmur goes away when the fever goes away.

Pediatric health care providers can often distinguish between “innocent” heart murmurs and not-so- innocent heart murmurs by the sound of the murmur itself (not all “whooshes” sound alike). If any question exists, your child will be referred for more testing, which could include a chest x-ray, an EKG (electrocardiogram), and ECHO (echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart) or evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist.

If your child’s pediatrician tells you that your child has a heart murmur, “take heart”. Many times a murmur comes and goes or just becomes part of your child’s baseline physical exam. Even if your child has a serious heart problem, most cases respond well to medication, surgery, or both. While not all heart problems cause heart murmurs, and while not all murmurs signal heart problems, the presence of a heart murmur in a child can signal that your child needs further testing.

Unless, of course, your child is the Tin Man. In this case, extra sounds indicate that your child needs more oil!

Julie Kardos, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod

Share

As I pack for an upcoming family vacation, I am reminded of the numerous questions over the years that parents have asked me about traveling with children. Often they ask, what is the best way to travel that will allow everyone to enjoy the vacation?

Ha,ha, I think to myself.  The real answer is to hire a sitter or enlist grandparents to babysit and leave the kids at home. My husband and I always refer to family vacations as “family displacements.”

No, really, family vacations are wonderful experiences as long as you hold realistic expectations. First you have to get there.

Easier said than done.

When traveling by air, parents wonder if they should bring a car seat for the plane. Young children who sit in a car seat in the car should sit in a car seat in an airplane. Unfortunately, not all car seats fit into the airplane seat properly. The best advice I can give is to bring your car seat and make an attempt to fit it properly. If it doesn’t fit properly, you will still need it for the car ride from the airport after you arrive at your destination. Not all car rental facilities provide car seats.

Another question I am frequently asked about long plane rides is “Should I give my child Benadryl (diphenhydramine) so he/she will sleep through the flight?” Unfortunately, Benadryl’s reliability as a sleep aid is spotty at best. Most kids get sleepy, but the excitement of an airplane ride mixed in with a “drugged” feeling can result in an ornery, irritable child who is difficult to console. I advise against this practice. On the other hand, Benadryl can help motion sickness and is shorter acting than other motion sickness medications.

Ear pain during an airplane’s descent is also a common worry. Yes, it is true that ears tend to “pop” during the landing as the air pressure changes with altitude. Some young children (and their parents) find this sensation very unpleasant. However, most babies are lulled to sleep by the noise and vibration of an airplane and are unaffected. If your child is safely in a car seat, I do not advise taking him out of it to breastfeed during landing. Offer a pacifier if you feel he needs to suck/swallow during the landing, and offer an older child a snack so she can swallow and equalize ear pressure if she seems uncomfortable during the landing.

Speaking of food, try to carry healthy snacks rather than junk food when traveling. Staying away from excessively salty or sweet food will cut down on thirst. Also, keep feeding times similar to home schedules in order to prevent toddler meltdowns.

Remember that young children hate to wait for ANYTHING and that includes getting to your destination. Bring along distractions that are simple and can be used in multiple ways. For example, paper and crayons or pencils can be used for: coloring, drawing, word games, origami, tic-tac-toe, math games, etc.

When traveling internationally, check the Center for Disease Control website www.cdc.gov for the latest health advisories for your travel destination. Do your research several weeks in advance because some recommended vaccines are available only through travel clinics. Also, some forms of malaria prevention medicine need to be started a week prior to travel.

Please refer to our “Happy, Healthy Holiday” blog post from 12/10/2009 for further information about keeping kids on more even keel during vacations. In general, attempt to keep eating and sleeping routines as similar to home as possible. Also remember to wash hands often to prevent illness during travel. Finally, locate a pediatrician or child friendly hospital ahead of time in case illness does strike. Unfortunately, most illnesses cannot be diagnosed by your child’s health care provider over the phone.

While traveling with young children can seem daunting, the memories you create for them are well worth the effort. And it DOES get easier as the kids get older. Now I can laugh at the image of my husband with two car seats slung over his back lugging a large diaper bag and a carry-on, leading my preschooler struggling with his own backpack filled with snacks and air plane distractions, while I am balancing two non-walking twin babies, one in each arm, as we all take our shoes off for the airplane security checkpoint.

We’ve come a long way, and so can you. Happy Travels!

Julie Kardos, MD with Naline Lai, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod

Share

Do vaccines cause autism?


Concerned parents ask me this question, and I am relieved to be able to tell them “NO.”


Amazingly, most of the autism/vaccine hoopla can be traced to one very small report.


In 1998 a doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a paper in a well respected British medical journal called The Lancet. He said that in his study of twelve children who were patients in a GI (Gastroenterology) clinic, eight of them had evidence of abnormal intestines and abnormal behavior that began after they received the MMR vaccine.  He wondered if the combined MMR vaccine may have triggered abnormalities in the gut, allowing unspecified toxins to leak out from the gut, causing brain damage.


Unfortunately, this one small paper involving 12 children caused huge controversy about the safety of vaccines. Many parents lost confidence in the very vaccines that were so successful at protecting the lives of their children.  They stopped vaccinating and caused the measles rate to increase. For evidence of this please see:


http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5733al.htm


http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsg-02581.pdf.


On February 6, 2010, The Lancet published a retraction of this paper because the study design was flawed and thus any conclusions cannot be reliable. Specifically, the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel, after investigations, concluded that the children in the study were not “consecutively referred,” meaning that they were not “random samples” as stated in the paper.


In addition, the panel discovered that Dr. Wakefield did not have permission from any institutional review board (panels that review the ethics of research done on people) to perform the lumbar punctures, MRIs, EEGs, endoscopies, and intestinal biopsies that he conducted on the children whom he studied.


Despite the original study being flawed, a question about a connection between MMR and autism had been raised. In the years since 1998, scientists performed subsequent studies to see if the MMR vaccine might have a link to autism. No association was found. These studies involved thousands of children and showed that the rate of autism in vaccinated children is THE SAME as the rate of autism in unvaccinated children. To read these articles as well as the original article that caused the controversy, you can go to www.TheLancet.com and register to view the articles for free.


I urge all parents reading this blog post to speak with your child’s health care provider if you have ANY doubts about vaccinating your children. In addition, if you are going to conduct your own research on this subject on the Internet, I urge you to consult the following credible sites:


www.aap.org, www.cdc.gov, www.vaccine.chop.edu, www.webmd.com,  www.mayoclinic.com


Vaccines save lives. Unfortunately, for those too young to be vaccinated, those who have immune system diseases, and those who do not receive immunizations, vaccine preventable diseases still can potentially cause severe  illness and death.


Julie Kardos, MD with Naline Lai, MD
© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod

January 10, 2011: The above links to the CDC and UK parliament are down. For more information on trends in measles rate, please see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7872541.stm.

Share

My sister-in-law was startled when brown spots began to appear on her preschooler’s teeth. A trip to the dentist revealed that my nephew had eleven cavities, the result of constantly drinking juice as an infant and toddler. Unfortunately, time in the operating room was required to fill all the rotten spots. Today our guest blogger, Dr. Paria Hassouri, answers frequently asked questions on infant dental care. Starting care as an infant can prevent your child from ending up like my nephew with a mouthful of cavities. Dr. Hassouri is a board certified pediatrician who completed her training at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.  She has been in practice for seven years and is with Cedars Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California. She is currently writing abook about the experience of pediatrician moms across the United States. – Dr. Lai

When do I need to start brushing my baby’s teeth?

You should start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they come out.  You can either use a clean moist washcloth or a soft baby toothbrush to do this. Before this point, many pediatricians advocate wiping your infant’s gums with a washcloth a couple times a day.

While plain water is enough to clean the teeth and gums, you can also use a small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste. Flossing should begin anytime there is tight contact between the teeth, particularly when the molars come in.

When will my baby get his/her first tooth?

While most babies will get their first tooth between 6 to 10 months, your baby may not get his/her first tooth until 15 to 18 months.

What is “baby bottle tooth decay” and how do I prevent it?

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by frequent and long exposure of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar.  The sugar penetrates the gums and affects the teeth even while they are below the surface. Sugar-containing drinks  include milk and formula (even breastmilk), fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks.  Putting a baby to bed for naps or at night with a bottle increases the risk.  And again, remember that your baby does not need any juice.

When does my baby need to first see a dentist?

While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends dental visits starting at age one, you can ask your pediatrician when he/she thinks that your baby should first see the dentist.  If you are already following a good dental care regimen which includes brushing your baby’s teeth regularly and not letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle, your pediatrician may say that you can wait longer for the first dental visit.

What to I do if my baby dislikes or refuses to let me brush his/her teeth?

Even if your child resists brushing, it is still very important to brush the teeth twice a day. You can try brushing in front of a mirror or taking turns with your child.  You can also try having your child hold a larger, thicker handled toothbrush while you use a thinner handled toothbrush to brush the teeth. In this way, the thicker toothbrush acts as a “door stop” that your child can bite on to keep his mouth open while you follow through with the thinner toothbrush.  Finally, you can try blowing bubbles or singing a special song while you are brushing your child’s teeth.  That way your child associates this special activity with tooth brushing; but keep in mind that this only works if you reserve the blowing bubbles or other special song for tooth brushing.

What should we do if we don’t have fluoride in our water ?

If your water does not contain fluoride, ask your pediatrician or dentist about fluoride supplements starting at six months old.

Paria Hassouri, MD

© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod

 

Share

Autism is a disorder of communication. Autistic children have difficulty relating to other people. Many parents are concerned about autism and ask me questions about how to know that their child does NOT have autism.

Tools for autism screens exist for older toddlers. For example, the M-CHAT is a standard autism screening tool used as young as 16 months and can be downloaded for free: http://www.firstsigns.org/downloads/m-chat.PDF.One hallmark of autism is delayed speech. This sign makes autism difficult to diagnose before the age of one year because language development really takes off after a child’s first birthday.

Here are some communication milestones that occur during the first year of life. Problems attaining these milestones can be indicative of autism or other communication disorders such as hearing loss, vision loss, isolated language delay, or other developmental delays:

By six weeks of age, your baby should smile IN RESPONSE TO YOUR SMILE. This is not the phantom smile that you see as your baby is falling asleep or that gets attributed to gas. I mean, your baby should see you smile and smile back at your smile.  Be aware that babies at this age will also smile at inanimate objects such as ceiling fans, and this is normal for young babies to do.

By 2 months of age, babies not only smile but also coo, meaning they produce vowel sounds such as “oooh” or “aaah” or “OH.” If your baby does not smile at you by their two month well baby check up visit or does not coo, discuss this delay with your child’s health care provider.

By four months of age, your baby should not only smile in response to you but also should be laughing or giggling OUT LOUD. Cooing also sounds more expressive (voice rises and falls or changes in pitch) as if your child is asking a question or exclaiming something.

Six-month-old babies make more noise, adding consonant sounds to say things like “Da” and “ma” or “ba.” They are even more expressive and seek out interactions with their parents. Parents should feel as if they are having “conversations” with their babies at this age: baby makes noise, parents mimic back the sound that their child just made, then baby mimics back the sound, like a back and forth conversation.

All nine month olds should know their name. Meaning, parents should be convinced that their baby looks over at them in response to their name being called. Baby-babble at this age, while it may not include actual words yet, should sound very much like the language that they are exposed to primarily, with intonation (varying voice pitch) as well. Babies at this age should also do things to see “what happens.” For example, they drop food off their high chairs and watch it fall, they bang toys together, shake toys, taste them, etc.

Babies at this age look toward their parents in new situations to see if things are ok. When I examine a nine month old in my office, I watch as the baby seeks out his parent as if to say, “Is it okay that this woman I don’t remember is touching me?” They follow as parents walk away from them, and they are delighted to be reunited. Peek-a-boo elicits loud laughter at this age. Be aware that at this age babies do flap their arms when excited or bang their heads with their hands or against the side of the crib when tired or upset; these “autistic-like” behaviors are in fact normal at this age.

By one year of age, children should be pointing at things that interest them. This very important social milestone shows that a child understands an abstract concept (I look beyond my finger to the object farther away) and also that the child is seeking social interaction (“Look at what I see/want, Mom!”).  Many children will have at least one word that they use reliably at this age or will be able to answer questions such as “what does the dog say?” (child makes a dog sound). Even if they have no clear words, by their first birthday children should be vocalizing that they want something. Picture a child pointing to his cup that is on the kitchen counter and saying “AAH AAH!” and the parent correctly interpreting that her child wants his cup. Kids at this age also will find something, hold it up to show a parent or even give it to the parent, then take it back. Again, this demonstrates that a child is seeking out social interactions, a desire that autistic children do not demonstrate. It is also normal that at this age children have temper tantrums in response to seemingly small triggers such as being told “no.” Unlike in school-age children, difficulties with “anger management” are normal at age one year.

As an informal screen for autism, children below one year of age should be monitored for signs of delayed or abnormal development of social and communication skills. Home videos of children diagnosed with autism reveal that even before their first birthdays, many autistic children demonstrate abnormal social development that went unrecognized.

Following the above guides and discussing your child’s development at all well child care check-ups will help you to pick out “red flags” that can prompt closer attention and further work up if indicated.

 Julie Kardos, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod

 

 

Share

Remember Elmer Fudd from the Bug Bunny cartoons? He was the hunter who would say “Where’s the wascally wabbit?” instead of “Where’s the rascally rabbit?” Think how frustrated Elmer was as a kid when his parents and teachers didn’t understand him.   

Unclear speech or lack of speech development can be a sign of hearing loss or an inability to communicate (autism, retardation or developmental delay).  Amy King, MA, CCC-SLP with over 12 years as a speech therapist outlines important speech and language milestones to watch for: 
 

Receptive Language Milestones- what your child understands (children should be doing these things by the time they reach the year marker)

By the time they are

1 year:  shakes head to respond to simple questions such as “Want milk?” and identifies some body parts

2 years:  Follows 1 step directions- “Go get the ball.”

3 years:  Follows 2 step directions- “Go get the ball and give it to daddy.” 

4 years:  Understands if/then- “If you pick up your toys, then you can help Mommy make a cake.”

5 years:  Follows 3 step directions- “After you wash your hands, get the napkins and put them on the table.” 

Expressive Language Milestones- what your child is able to say

1 year: 1 word

2 years: 2 word sentences- two words with one meaning such as “thank you” does not count. Expect phrases such as “mommy up” for “mommy, pick me up.”

3 years: 3 to 5 words—Dr. Kardos tells parents think Cookie Monster from Sesame Street: “me want cookie”

4 years: 4 to 7 word sentences with consistent correct use of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, etc.): “I want to go to the park.” 

Speech Milestones- phonetics (sounds should be produced accurately and consistently in words and phrases)

By the time they are:   

3 Years:  sounds of the letters:  m, b, p, h, w, n, f,

 4 Years:  t, k, g, ng, s, r, sh

5 Years:  z, l, v, y, th, wh, ch

6 Years:  j, st, br, cl, r (by now if not before) 

Speech Intelligibility -how well strangers understand your child

         2 Years:     at least 25%-50% of what your two year old is saying

         2 ½ Years:  at least 60%-75% of what your two and a half year old is saying

         3 Years:      at least 75%-90% of what your three year old is saying

         4 Years:      at least 95% of what your four year old is saying 

Fluency- stuttering

         Stuttering is normal in the preschool years.  Be sure to give the child time to say what she is trying to say. Dr. Lai likes to think of a preschool stutterer as a child whose mind is thinking faster than he can move his mouth. If stuttering lasts more than 6 months and is accompanied by facial contortions, grimaces, or repetitive body movements, speak to a medical professional. 
 

Red flags that always need further workup:

o  Does not coo by 4 months of age

o  Does not babble by 9 months of age

o  Child does not respond to his/her name by 9 months of age

o  Child does not look at you, others or objects upon request by 9 months of age

o  Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp, etc.) by 12 months of age

o  Child does not respond to your simple verbal requests (e.g., “Look!”, “Wave bye-bye”, “Come here”, “Give a kiss,” etc.) by 12 months of age

o  Does not say single words by 16 months of age

o  Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own (rather than just repeating what someone says to him or her) by 24 months of age

o  Loss of any language or social skill at any age

 
 Amy King, MA, CCC-SLP

©2010 Two Peds In a Pod

Share

Here is how to tell if your child is VERY ill with fever vs not very ill:

 

Any temperature in an infant younger than 8 week old that is 100.4 (rectal temp) degrees or higher is a fever that needs immediate attention by a health care provider, even if the infant appears relatively well.

 

Any fever that is accompanied by moderate or severe pain, change in mental state (thinking), dehydration (not drinking enough, not urinating because of not drinking enough),  increased work of breathing/shortness of breath, or new rash is a fever that NEEDS TO BE EVALUATED by your child’s health care provider. In addition, a fever that lasts more than three to five days in a row, even if your child appears well, should prompt you to call your child’s health care provider, who most likely will want to examine your child. Recurring fevers should also be evaluated.

 

Should you treat fever? Given the information from above and from Part 1 of this fever blog post, you can see that fever is an important part of fighting germs. Therefore, we do NOT advocate treating fever UNLESS the side effects of the fever are causing harm. Reduce fever if it prevents your child from drinking or sleeping, or if body aches or headaches from fever are causing discomfort. If your child is drinking well, resting comfortably or playing, or sleeping soundly, then he is handling his fever just fine and does not need a fever reducing agent just for the sake of lowering the fever.

 

A note about febrile seizures (seizures with fever): Some unlucky children are prone to seizures with sudden temperature fluctuations. These are called febrile seizures. This tendency often runs in families and usually occurs between the ages of 6 months to 6 years.  Febrile seizures last fewer than two minutes. They usually occur with the first temperature spike of an illness (before parents even realize a fever is present) and while scary to witness, do not cause brain damage. No study has shown that giving preventative fever reducer medicine decreases the risk of having a febrile seizure. As with any first time seizure, your child should be examined by a health care provider, even if you think your child had a simple febrile seizure.

 

Please see our “How sick is sick?” blog post for further information about how to tell when to call your child’s health care provider.

 

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod                                                                                                                                                 

Share

So now that your children have been back in school, there has been plenty of opportunity for germs to circulate. In addition to washing hands, your child’s body has many ways to fight germs. I receive many worried questions about fever, so here is what every parent needs to know:


Fever is a sign of illness. Your body makes a fever in effort to heat up and kill germs without harming your body.


Here is what fever is NOT:


·         Fever is NOT an illness.


·         Fever does NOT cause brain damage.


·         Fever does NOT cause your blood to boil.


·         Unlike in the movies and popular media, fever is NOT a cause for hysteria or ice baths.


·         Fever over 100 degrees F is NOT a sign of teething.


Here is what fever IS:


·         Fever is a body temperature that is equal to or higher than 100.4 degrees F rectally in a newborn until the age of 8 weeks old.


·         Fever is a body temperature of 101 degrees F or higher in anyone older than 8 weeks old.


·         Fever is a very effective defense against disease.


 To understand fever, you need to understand how the immune system works.


Your body encounters a virus or bacteria (germ) that it perceives to be harmful. Your brain sends messages to your body to HEAT UP and kill the germs. Your body will never let the fever get high enough to harm itself or to cause brain damage. Only if your child is experiencing Heat Stroke (locked in a hot car in July, for example) can your child get hot enough to cause death. This is because the heat source is EXTERNAL (a hot car) and not generated by your child’s body.


When your body has succeeded in fighting the germ, the fever goes away.  If you “treat” the fever with a fever reducing agent (Tylenol, Motrin, etc) the fever goes away temporarily but WILL COME BACK if your body still needs to kill off more germs.


Symptoms of fever include: feeling very cold, feeling very hot, muscle aches, headache, and/or shaking/shivering.


Fever may be a sign of any illness. Your child may develop fever with cold viruses, the flu, stomach viruses, pneumonia, sinusitis, meningitis, appendicitis, measles, and countless other illnesses. The trick is knowing how to tell if your child is VERY ill or just having a simple illness with fever.


Our Fever: Part 2 post reveals how to tell.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod

Share

The American Academy of Pediatrics has increased the recommended daily requirement for Vitamin D in children and adolescents to 400 IU (international units), based on studies of decreasing bone density in kids. This is equivalent to 32 ounces of milk per day. This is TOO MUCH milk for anyone other than an older formula-fed baby who has not yet started solids foods. All breastfed babies, babies on formula AND solid foods, and all other children and teens should be given a vitamin D supplement such as Tri-Vi-Sol or a chewable children’s vitamin. Read the labels: look for “Vitamin D—400 IU.” The goal is to prevent rickets (a bone disease that results in brittle bones) and to make sure growing bones reach their maximum potential for strength. Vitamin D is also important for other body systems such as the immune system.

Interestingly, 15 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight per week is all kids need to absorb enough vitamin D through skin. However, concern for increased risk of skin cancer from cumulative sun exposure means that kids are absorbing less vitamin D from sunlight because we parents are so good at applying sunscreen. Also, especially in winter months, children spend more time playing inside than playing outside.

Calcium requirements vary somewhat by age but generally can be met with 16 to 24 ounces (2-3 cups) of milk, or less if kids consume other calcium containing foods such as cheese, yogurt, broccoli, sweet potatoes, fortified cereals, or a supplement. The milligram (mg) requirements are around 500mg for toddlers, 800mg for children and 1200-1500mg for kids 11-18 years. To give you an idea of how to visualize this amount, one cup of milk contains 300mg of calcium. When you read food labels that report calcium as a percent of daily requirement, know that the “standard” for food labels is set as 1000mg. So if a yogurt container reports “25% of daily calcium requirement” you assume that the yogurt contains 250mg of calcium (25% of 1000mg).

So continue to have your kids Drink Milk! But remember to give them a Vitamin D supplement as well.

For more interesting tidbits about milk, please refer to our blog post: “Got Milk? Dispelling Myths About Milk

Julie Kardos, MD
©2009 Two Peds in a Pod

 

Share

Acetaminophen, brand name Tylenol, has been in the news recently, and parents are asking me if it is safe.


This medication, used as a pain reliever and as a fever reducer, is safe to give to babies older than two months, but you must be very careful about the dose that you give. Medicine doses are based on the weight, not the age, of a child. So when checking the label on the bottle that tells how much acetaminophen to give, look at the weight recommendations if there is a discrepancy between your child’s weight and age. If you are not sure, then ask your child’s health care provider. I cannot stress proper dosing enough because of how dangerous an overdose can be.


 Here are some facts you need to know in order to avoid over-dosing your child with Tylenol:


1)      Always measure the medicine in the dropper or cup provided by the manufacturer of that particular medicine bottle.


 


2)      Be aware that Tylenol infant drops are more concentrated than the children’s suspension liquid. This means that if you were to pour out equal amounts of infant drops and children’s suspension, the amount of drug is actually HIGHER in the measurement of infant drops than in the same measurement of children’s suspension. For example, one full infant dropper of Infant Tylenol Drops, measured to the 0.8ml line of the dropper, is 80mg of Tylenol. The same 0.8ml of Children’s Tylenol Suspension Liquid is only 25mg.


Another way to look at this medicine math: if you intended to give 80mg = 2.5ml = 1/2 teaspoon of Children’s Tylenol Suspension Liquid   but you actually gave your child 2.5ml = ½ teaspoon of Infant Tylenol instead of Children’s Tylenol, you would be giving them over 240 mg of Tylenol, which is THREE TIMES the amount that you wanted to give. Again, use the dropper provided to give Infant Tylenol drops and use the cup provided when dosing the Children’s Tylenol Suspension Liquid.


 


3)      Note that other medications have acetaminophen (Tylenol) in them. I advise my patients’ parents to avoid combination cold and flu medicines for two reasons. First, there is little evidence that shows that they actually provide symptom relief. Second, from a safety perspective, parents can accidentally overdose their child with acetaminophen because many contain acetaminophen in them. For example, as of this writing, the following medications all contain acetaminophen as stated in the ingredient list:


Benadryl  Allergy and Cold Tablets, Sudafed PE nighttime Cold Maximum Strength Tablets, Theraflu Nighttime Severe Cold and Cough Powder, Tylenol Plus Children’s Cold and Allergy Suspension, Tylenol Sore throat Nighttime liquid, Tylenol Chest Congestion Liquid, and Nyquil.


4)      Be aware that “APAP” in the ingredient list means acetaminophen.


Tylenol overdoses can be fatal by causing liver failure. If your child has a chronic liver disease, it is likely that she should avoid Tylenol altogether.


Because of the risk of overdose, I also avoid advising my patients to “alternate Tylenol (acetaminophen) with Motrin (ibuprofen).” I discourage this practice because I am afraid of parents forgetting which medicine they gave last and possibly over-dosing by mistake. Tylenol is meant to be dosed every 4 to 6 hours unless otherwise specified on the label or by your child’s health care provider. 


If you ever have questions about possible overdose, call the national US Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.


Julie Kardos, MD
©2009 Two Peds in a Pod

Addendum 10/11/2011: The manufacturers of Tylenol (acetaminophen) responded to the hazard of parents and caregivers accidentally giving the wrong dose of infant drops ( see point #2 above) and stopped making the “concentrated infant drops.” Instead, they now manufacture the “infant drops” and “children’s liquid” using the same concentration as each other. Continue to use the measuring dropper or cup provided with the medication for proper measuring.

Share