Tips for Winter 2013
January 14, 2013
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Recap on Influenza Season
      Influenza viruses are constantly changing.  Each year experts pick the virus strains to be included in the vaccine that they anticipate will predominate during the given flu season (CDC, 2012). Receiving the flu vaccine does not guarantee you will not get the flu.  Rather, it will decrease your chance of getting the most common flu strains; if you are infected, you may experience a milder case.
      Children have the highest incidence of the illness occurring from infants up until children 14 years of age (Burns, Dunn, Brady, Starr, & Blosser, 2009).  Almost everyone who is at least 6 months of age should receive a flu vaccine.   There are a few groups who should not receive the flu vaccine: those who suffer from severe egg allergy, people with a history of Guillan-Barre syndrome, and people who experienced a previous severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine (CDC, 2012). 
      Symptoms of the flu include a sudden onset of high fever, headache, chills, cold-like symptoms, dizziness, sore throat, pain in the back and extremities, and a dry cough.  In young children, vomiting, diarrhea, and croup may occur.  In severe infection, there may be complications involving the lungs and the heart (Burn et al., 2009).  Children with chronic conditions, such as asthma, may be at greater risk for these complications from the flu (CDC, 2012).
      Treatment includes supportive therapy such as bed rest, fluids, and fever-reducers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen (Burns et al., 2009).  Antiviral medications may be used as treatment, but in general are used only for children with moderate to severe infection.
      It’s not too late, hurry in and get your flu vaccine today!  It takes about 2 weeks after the vaccine for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza.

Feeling Sluggish Post-Holiday?
For most of us, winter is a time of celebration when we gather with family and friends.  Unfortunately, we spend a lot of this time indoors, and perhaps indulge in a few holiday treats!   Children may become less active during the colder months and spend more time on the new electronics they received for the holidays.  Here are a few helpful hints and reminders about overweight/obesity in children.

Reminders (Flass & Brayden, 2012)

  1. Remove the TV, computers, and electronics from your child’s bedroom. TV in a child’s bedroom is associated with risk of being overweight.
  2. The number of hours per day a child spends watching TV or playing video games is directly associated with overweight.
  3. More time spent in front of the TV is also associated with children having more snacks, soda, or juices.
  4. Drinking sodas, juices, and eating extra snacks (particularly the cookies, chips, and crackers) directly leads to a higher calorie intake.

What can you do to help? (Flass & Brayden, 2012)

  1. Save desserts and treats (cookies, ice cream, cakes, and chips) for special occasions; you should eliminate them from your daily routine.
  2. Limit TV/Computer time to NO MORE than 2 hours per day.  TV is not recommended for children under 2 years of age.
  3. Get Active! Bundle up and head outdoor for a game of tag, playing in the snow, ice skating, rollerblading, or bike riding.  You and your child should be getting an hour of heart-pumping activity every day!
  4. Watch the portion sizes and the types of food you give your child.
  5. Involve your child in preparing meals; s/he may be more willing to try new healthy foods if s/he helped in the preparation.
  6. Eat meals together as a family.
  7. Limit fast food, take out, and eating out.  Rather, make some homemade and heart-healthy soups, like chicken noodle soup, to keep warm this winter!
  8. Get involved in your community and join activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Winter Safety Tips (AAP, 2012)
1. Even though it’s not summer, remember sunscreen!  The sun reflects off the snow and ice, so you can still get sunburn.  Use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 that is made for children, and apply it to your children’s skin 15-30 minutes prior to heading outdoors.
2. Think layers and moisture-wicking fabric, when bundling up for trips outside.  Younger children do not regulate their body temperature as well as adults do.  Therefore, they are at greater risk for hypothermia or frost bite.  In addition, a good rule of thumb is to dress your infant in one more layer of clothing than you wear.
3. Please be careful with long scarves, strings, and cords from jackets.  Strangulation is a real possibility, as the loose ends may get caught in sled blades or around slides in the playground.  Hoods on a sweatshirt can also block peripheral view for young children who are not paying attention to their surroundings.
4. Avoid reckless play when outside.  Always wear your helmet when snowboarding, skiing, sledding, or playing ice hockey.  Make sure that the hills you sled down don’t end with a pond that is not frozen solid or onto a street with motor vehicles.   Children should never ski, snowboard, sled ride, or ice skate alone. 
5. If your child gets winter nosebleeds, consider using a cool air humidifier in his/her bedroom.   Also, saline drops and petroleum jelly may be helpful to keep the nasal tissue moist.
6. Remember, loose blankets, quilts, and pillows should be kept out of the infant’s crib, as this can lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  One-piece sleepers are a good alternative option.  If a blanket must be used, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress and reach no higher than the baby’s chest, so the face is less likely to become covered.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (2012, January 8). Winter safety tips. Retrieved from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Winter-Safety.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

Burns, C.E., Dunn, A.M., Brady, M.A., Starr, N.B., 7 Blosser, C.G. (2009). Pediatric primary care (4th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012, June 14). What you should know for the 2012-2013 influenza season. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm

Flass, T., & Brayden ,R.  (2011, December 5). Obesity in children. Retrieved from http://www.cpnonline.org/CRS/CRS/pa_obesekid_pep.htm 

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