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“Help, Mommy, Daddy, I wet the bed!”

As you wash yet another set of bed sheets and wet pajama bottoms, you may be wondering WHEN your child will stay dry at night and WHY your child still wets the bed when his friends, or worse yet, his younger siblings, are dry. This article will address primary bedwetting (doctors call this “primary nocturnal enuresis”), or kids who have NEVER been dry at night. Children who have had months or years of dry nights and then start bedwetting consistently need to be evaluated by their health care providers to rule out medical causes of new bedwetting.

Here are a few things parents of bed-wetters should know.

Most children master staying dry during the day BEFORE staying dry during the night. Only a small number of children actually wake up dry in the morning before they start potty training.  Daytime dryness is under your child’s cognitive control. Night time dryness is not learned or controlled by your child’s rational brain, but rather is a function of your child’s bladder being mature enough to send a WAKE UP!!  signal to your child. Quick hint here:  nightmares can result from a full bladder. As you comfort your child from a bad dream, don’t forget to take him to the bathroom.

About 80 percent of children are dry overnight by age four. They sleep through the night and wake up dry or they wake up once to urinate in the bathroom and go back to bed. What about the other 20%? Each year after age four years, about 10% of kids who are wet at night become dry without any intervention. Genetics play a big role in this. If one parent was a bedwetter until age 7, for example, then the child has a 35% chance of bedwetting until this age. If both parents wet the bed until school age, then their child has at least an 80% chance of being just like Mom and Dad.

However, some kids just wet the bed even though their parents were dry at an early age. Regardless, parents can help.

·         Do NOT punish your child for wetting the bed. It truly isn’t his fault.

·         It is reasonable to limit fluid intake in the few hours before bed but do allow your child to drink water if thirsty or with teeth brushing.

·         By all means let your child wear training pants at night or at least put some form of water repellant mattress protector on your child’s bed. These are not “crutches” or “enablers” but rather save you from having to wash sheets and mattresses.

·         Not all kids are actually upset about bedwetting, but they can become very upset if parents let them feel that way. Reassure your child that someday “the pee pee will wake you up to go potty in the night” just like it tells your child to go to the bathroom during the day.

If your child is old enough to become self-conscious or to have his self-esteem impacted by his bedwetting (somewhere between the ages of 8 to 10 years, usually, because sleep-overs and camp gain popularity at these ages), there are a few ways to help your child approach potentially awkward situations.

1)      Have the sleep-over at your house and have your child’s absorbent training pants already in the bed hidden under the covers. Your child can put them on after “lights out.”

2)       Tell your child he does not have to share the reason for not wanting to sleep away from home.

3)       Alternatively, he can tell his friends that YOU, the meanie parent, will not allow him to attend sleepovers yet.

 If your child is motivated to try to become dry overnight, you can try a bed-wetting alarm system. These systems work well over a period of several months.  With alarms, both parents and child have to be active participants. Alternatively, you can talk to your child’s health care provider about medicine called DDAVP that can give a “quick fix.” The medication can keep your child dry on the night he takes the medicine. The medicine comes in pill form and can either be used for sleepovers only or can be taken for a few months at a time to help your child feel better if self-esteem is becoming compromised by bed-wetting. Note that even after months of dry nights on medicine, your child will likely bed wet if the medicine is stopped. However, there is also a chance that nature will have taken over and by the time the medication is stopped, your child will have reached the age that his body was programmed to stay dry at night.

Of course, your child’s health care provider can help ensure that your child merely has an immature bladder-to-brain messaging system and not any other cause of his bed-wetting. Your doctor can also help evaluate if your child’s self esteem is affected by his bedwetting.

While not the most glamorous part of the parenting game, washing up after a bedwetting child and keeping a positive attitude for him are very important. The next time you will play this supportive role is when you become grandparents and your former bedwetter calls you for advice about his own bedwetting child.

Julie Kardos, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod

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It’s that itchy, scratchy time of year. Today our guest blogger, dermatologist Mary Toporcer MD, gives us hints on how to combat dry skin. For the past 21 years, Dr. Toporcer has practiced general medical dermatology in Doylestown, PA.  She did her dermatology training at Hahnemann University and at St Christopher’s Hospital, both in Philadelphia, PA.

Many patients suffer from severe dry skin (xerosis) in the winter when the air is cold and the humidity low.  Those who are atopic (have a personal or family history of eczema, allergies, asthma, hayfever or sinus problems) are much more affected by their environment.  A few MUST DO’s include:
1.  Moisture every day especially after bathing with Cerave Cream or Lotion. It contains ceramides which “waterproofs”the skin and keeps moisture in, but without that greasy feel.
 
2.  Use gentle soaps such as Dove in the shower and keep the shower water luke warm, not hot. Hot water just irritates and ultimately dries the skin even more. It also increases itch.
 
3.  Avoid irritants such as anti-static sheets in the dryer. Even if they say “free”, they still put a coating on your clothing in an effort to prevent it from sticking together. This substance is very irritating to dry, sensitive skin. Liquid, fragrance-free fabric softener is much gentler on skin.
 
4.  Lastly, for those terribly dry, scaly, fissured hands and feet, try vaseline or Aquaphor under the soft stretchy gloves and socks that you can buy at Bath and Body Works…they’re often impregnated with aloe for extra moisture.

Mary Toporcer, MD
© Two Peds in a Pod
 
 

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A common question that many parents ask us in the office is “Howcan I help my overweight child?”


Our newest podcast provides six simple rules for healthyeating. Listen in to find out the “5-4-3-2-1-0” rules of what to feed yourchildren, how to portion their foods, and how to change their behavior to helpthem lose excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight.


(If the podcast is not embedded in your RSS reader page,visit the www.TwoPedsInAPod.com home page directly.)




Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD


©2010 Two Peds in a Pod

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Your nine-year-old sweetie pie still has baby fat on her cheeks and the changes of puberty have barely started, yet you find yourself in the aisles of a pharmacy scratching your head over the best starter deodorant. Yes, the dreaded body odor has started. Much to the consternation of parents in my office, adult-like body odor appears before periods and voice changes.


What to do about stinky armpits in tweens? Antiperspirants can be very irritating to skin. For a first deodorant, chose something like Tom’s of Maine- natural care, which does not contain antiperspirants. For some kids, a cornstarch powder works well. 


For stinky feet, make sure the kids wash with soap daily-this can be tough for a kid who is just learning how to balance in the shower.


The bacteria which causes athlete’s feet can lead to an unpleasant odor. Add a half-cup of vinegar to a basin of water and soak the feet once a day to kill the bacteria.


Keep their feet well moisturized with lotion. Contrary to popular belief, the more dry and flaky the feet, the more pungent they are.


Yes, those UGGs are fashionable, and the UGG care kit comes with an anti-stink spray; however, sheepskin and warm feet in an enclosed boot leads to stinky feet.  I know it’s counter UGG culture, but remind your kids to wear socks with their shoes.  In general change socks often. Kids tend to go from school to a sporting event and into bed with the same socks.


Even with these hints, if your child’s body odor remains strong, reassure your child that nobody, especially the kid he has a crush on, really notices. Besides, if you have a stinky kid, at least you’ll never lose him in the dark.




Naline Lai, MD
© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod

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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.

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A friend of mine who has no children commented to me that many people tell him, “You just can’t know happiness until you have children of your own.” However, I know several adults who are very happy people and who have made a conscious decision to not have children. So I would actually amend the above adage to: “You just can’t know WORRY until you have children of your own.”


Especially in winter, many illnesses circulate. All these sick kids make for many worried parents. Some questions that I answer many times a day in the office are: “Okay, Doc, you just told me that my child is handling her illness right now, but how will I know if she is getting worse? When do I need to worry?”


Here is what I tell my patients’ parents:


First and foremost, trust your parent instincts that something is wrong.


Think about these THREE MAIN SYSTEMS: breathing, thinking, and drinking/peeing.


Breathing:


Normally, breathing is easy to do. It is so easy, in fact, that if you take off your child’s shirt and watch her breathe, it can be hard to see that she is breathing. You should try this while your child is healthy. Normal breathing does not involve effort. It does not involve the chest muscles.


If your child has pneumonia, bad asthma, bronchitis, or any other condition that causes respiratory distress, breathing becomes hard. It becomes faster than baseline. It involves chest muscles moving so it looks like ribs are sticking out with every breath. The chest itself moves a lot. Kids’ bellies may also move in and out. Nostrils flare in attempt to get more oxygen. Sometimes kids make a grunting sound at the end of each breath because they are having difficulty pushing the air out of their lungs before taking another breath in. Also, instead of a normal pink color, your child’s lips can have a blue or pale color. Pink is good, blue or pale is bad. Children old enough to talk may actually have difficulty talking because they are short of breath. Any of the above signs tell you that your child needs medical attention.


Thinking:


This refers to mental or emotional state. Normally, children recognize their parents and are comforted by their presence. They are easy to console by being held, rocked, massaged, etc. They know where they are, and they make sense when they talk.


Change in mental state, whether it comes from lack of oxygen/shortness of breath, pain, or severe infection, results in a child who is inconsolable. She may not recognize her parents or know where she is. Instead of calming, she may scream louder when rocked. She may seem disoriented or just too lethargic/difficult to arouse. Being very combative can also be a sign of not getting enough oxygen. In a baby, extreme pain can cause all these signs as well.


Drinking/peeing:


While this varies somewhat depending on the age of the child, most kids urinate every 3-6 hours or so. Young babies may urinate more frequently than this and some older kids urinate perhaps 2-3 times daily. You should know your child’s baseline. Normal urine reflects a normal state of hydration. If you don’t drink enough, you will urinate less.


If your child has fever, coughing, vomiting, or diarrhea, she will use up fluid in her body faster than her baseline. In order to compensate, she needs to drink more than her baseline amount of liquid to urinate normally. A child will refuse to drink because of severe pain, shortness of breath, or change in mental state, and may go for hours without urinating. This is a problem that needs medical attention. Occasionally a child will urinate much more than usual and this can also be a problem (this can be a sign of new diabetes as well as other problems). Basically any change from baseline urine output is a problem.


A note about fever: any infant 8 weeks of age or younger with fever of 100.4 F or higher, measured rectally, requires immediate medical attention, even if all other systems are good. Babies this young can have fever before any other signs of serious illness such as meningitis, pneumonia, blood infections, etc. and they can fool us by initially appearing well.


In older babies and children, fever is defined as 101 F or higher. Some kids can look quite well even at 104 and others can look quite ill at 101. Fever is a sign that your body’s immune system is working to fight off illness. In addition to fever, it is important to look at breathing, thinking, and hydration state because this will help you determine how quickly your child needs medical attention. A child with a mild runny nose and fever of 103 who can play still play a game with you while drinking her apple juice is less ill than a child with a 101 fever who doesn’t recognize her parents.


To summarize, any deviation from normal breathing, thinking, or drinking/urinating (peeing) is a problem that needs medical attention, even if no fever is present. In addition, any change in the wrong direction (getting worse instead of getting better) is a problem that needs medical attention.


Finally, all parents have PARENT INSTINCT. Trust yourself. Ultimately, if you are wondering if you should seek medical advice, just do it. If parents could just worry every problem away, no one would ever be sick.


Julie Kardos, MD with Naline Lai, MD
© 2009 Two Peds in a Pod

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I wash my hands about sixty times a day, maybe more.  This in combination with cold Pennsylvania fall air leads to chapped hands.  It’s a sure sign winter is approaching when patients start to show me their raw hands.  Here are the hands of a girl I saw a couple days ago.


To prevent dry hands:
•    Don’t stop washing your hands, but do use a moisturizer afterwards.  

•    Whenever possible, use water and soap rather than hand sanitizers.  Hand sanitizers are at minimum 60% alcohol- very drying.  

•    Wear gloves as much as possible even if the temperature is above freezing.  Remember chemistry class, cold air holds less moisture than warm air and therefore is unkind to skin.  Gloves will prevent some moisture loss.   

•    Before  exposure to any possible irritants such as the chlorine in a swimming  pool,  protect the hands by layering heavy lotion (Eucerin cream) or petroleum based product (i.e. Vaseline or Aquaphor) over the skin.  

To rescue dry hands:
•    Prior to bed smother hands in 1% hydrocortisone ointment.  Avoid the cream formulation.  Creams tend to sting if there are any open cracks.  Take old socks, cut out thumb holes  and have your child sleep at night with the sock on his hands.  Repeat nightly for a week or so.  Alternatively, for mildly chapped hands, use a petroleum oil based product such as Vaseline or Aquaphor in place of the hydrocortisone.    

•    If your child has underlying eczema, prevent your child from scratching his hands.  An antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) will take the edge off the itch.  

•    For extremely raw hands, your child’s doctor may prescribe a stronger cream and if there are signs of a bacterial skin infection, your child’s doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

Happy  moisturizing. Remember how much fun it was to smear glue on your hands and then peel off the dried glue? It’s not so fun when your skin really is peeling.  

Naline Lai, MD

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Even after over a decade in pediatrics, teens always surprise me.

Last week a junior high student came into a checkup with the scabbed hand pictured in the photo above.  Apparently there is a game new to me called “Erasing”. My patient told me the game can be played with any type of eraser, but the pink one at the end of a number two pencil works best.  The object of the game is rub with an eraser hard enough to “erase” as much of your skin on the back your hand as possible.  The players each choose a ligament (one of the cords which run from your knuckles to your wrist) to “erase.” The first person to stop erasing loses the game.

If you find your teen erasing, tell them about the dangers of infection and scarring. Since a teen often does not understand long term ramifications, it is often a more a more effective deterrent to tell him/her to stop because it “looks ugly”. Even if your teen is not erasing, use a discussion about erasing as a starting point to talk about other self injurious behaviors (i.e. “choking games” where the object is to cut off someone’s breathing).

Since I thought erasing was a brand new trend, I took the photograph to show the other doctors in my office. When I flashed the photo in front of one of my colleagues,  he glanced briefly at it and said,” Oh, that’s erasing- I did that when I was a kid.”

Amazing we all got through.

Pass this info on to other parents.

Naline Lai, MD

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I’ve heard some interesting things about milk over the years. I am going to share with you three myths about milk that  I heard when I was a kid and I still hear from my patients’ parents.


Myth #1: Don’t give milk to a child with a fever, the milk will curdle (or some other variation).


Truth: As long as your child is not vomiting, milk is a perfectly acceptable fluid to give your febrile child. In fact it is superior to plain water if your child is refusing to eat, which is very typical of a child with a fever. Fevers take away appetites. So if your child is not eating while he is sick, at least he can drink some nutrition. Milk has energy and nutrition, which help fight infection (germs). Take milk, add a banana and a little honey (if your child is older than one year), and maybe some peanut butter for protein, pour it into a blender, and make a nourishing milk shake for your febrile child. Children with fevers need extra hydration. Even febrile infants need formula or breast milk, NOT plain water. The milk will not curdle or upset them in any way. If, on the other hand, your child is vomiting, I advise sticking to clear fluids until his stomach settles.


Myth #2: Don’t give children milk when they have a cold because the milk will give them more mucus.


Truth: There is NOTHING mucus-inducing about milk. Milk will not make your child’s nose run thicker or make his chest more congested. Let your runny-nosed child have his milk! Yet my own mother cringes when I give any of my children milk when they have colds. Never mind my medical degree; my mom is simply passing on the wisdom (?) of her mother which is that you should not give your child milk with a cold. Then again, my grandmother also believed that your body only digests vitamin C in the morning which is why you have to drink your orange juice at breakfast time. But that’s a myth I’ll tackle in the future.


Myth #3: You can’t over-dose a child on milk.


Truth: Actually, while milk is healthy and provides necessary calcium and vitamin D, too much milk can be a bad thing. To get enough calcium from milk, your child’s body needs somewhere between 16 to 24 ounces of milk per day. Of course, if your child eats cheese, yogurt, and other calcium-containing foods, she does not need this much milk. The recommended daily intake of  Vitamin D was increased recently to 400 IU (International Units).  This amount translates into 32 ounces of milk daily.  But, we pediatricians know that over 24 ounces of milk daily leads to iron deficiency anemia because calcium competes with iron absorption from foods. You’re better off giving an over-the-counter vitamin such as Tri-Vi-Sol or letting older children chew a multivitamin that contains 400 IU of vitamin D. In addition to iron deficiency anemia, drinking excessive amounts of milk is bad for teeth (all milk contains sugar).  Extra milk can also lead to obesity from increased calories. Ironically, too much can also lead to poor weight gain in children who are picky eaters.  The milk will fill them up, leaving them without an appetite for food.


In summary, you can safely continue serving your children milk in sickness and in health, in moderation, every day. Now, all this talk about milk really puts me in the mood to bake cookies…


Julie Kardos, MD

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Well it finally happened.  The day all mothers with daughters regard with mixed feelings.  No, I’m not talking about my daughter’s first period.  Today I discovered that my oldest daughter’s foot size is the same as mine.

I took it as a sign.  Time to blog a little about shoes and feet.

First shoes:  Shoes are to prevent injury to feet. While indoors, let your infant stand and walk without shoes.  Bare feet are best.  Your baby will learn to balance better when he or she can feel the floor directly under her feet.  However, for protection, shoes are needed.  Start with a sturdy sneaker.  No need for the clunky white leather shoes of the past.  Also, avoid sandals, toddlers are more liable to trip and there is not much protection against stinging insects.

For school: The average length of recess per day is about 30 minutes(
www.centerforpubliceducation.org)  Therefore, pick comfy shoes which allow your children to utilize this time for physical activity.

Athlete’s foot: Caused by a fungus, athlete’s foot appears as wet, moist, itchy areas usually between the toes.  The fungus loves moist areas and can be treated with over the counter antifungal creams or powders such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), and tolnaftate (Tinactin). While common in teens, athlete’s foot is much less common in general than foot eczema. Vinegar soaks are helpful- put half a cup of vinegar into a small basin of warm water and have your child soak for 10 minutes daily. 

If your child has eczema on other areas of his or her body, be more suspicious of eczema than athlete’s foot. Both can look alike, but be careful, the steroid creams used for eczema may worsen athlete’s foot.

Flat feet: Most children with flat feet have flexible flat feet which do not require any intervention. Nearly all toddlers have flexible flat feet. A child with flexible flat feet will not have an arch upon standing.  However, the arch should reappear when the child’s feet are relaxed in a sitting position off the floor. Any pain in the arch or suspicion of an inflexible flat foot should be brought to a physician’s attention.

Ingrown toe nails: Ingrown toe nails occur when the sides of the nails grown into the skin.  After enough irritation, bacteria can settle in and pus pockets form.  To prevent ingrown toe nails from becoming infected, at the first sign of redness, soak feet in warm water with Epsom salts.  Gently pull the skin back from the area of the nail which is in grown.  Attempt to cut off any area of the nail which is pushing into the skin.

Clipping newborn toe (and finger) nails: A newborn’s nails have not separated enough from the nail bed to easily get a nail clipper under a nail. For the first few weeks, stick to filing the nails down.  Parental guilt warning: at some point almost every parent mistakenly cuts their child’s skin instead of their nail.

Naline Lai, MD

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