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National Poll: Some parents may not be making the most of well child visits

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While many parents regularly take children to checkups, some may consider more proactive steps to make them as productive as possible.
Credit: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at University of Michigan Health
How parents prepare for children’s checkups
« National Poll: Some parents may not be making the most of well child visits

Newswise — While most parents and caregivers stay on top of scheduling regular checkups for their kids, they may not always be making the most of them, a national poll suggests.

Most parents report their child has had a well visit in the past two years and two thirds say they always see the same provider, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at University of Michigan Health. However, fewer parents took all recommended steps to prepare themselves and their kids ahead of time.

“Regular well visits mean guaranteed face time with your child’s doctor and an opportunity to not only discuss specific concerns and questions about your child’s health but get their advice on general health topics like nutrition, sleep and behavior,” said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H. “We were pleased to see that the majority of parents regularly make these appointments and maintain relationships with a trusted provider. But they may not always be taking a proactive approach to ensuring they address all relevant health concerns impacting their child’s physical, emotional and behavioral health at every visit.”

In advance of well visits, a fourth of parents say they often prepare a list of questions to ask the provider, while a little over half said they sometimes wrote things down and about a fifth said they never do.

Meanwhile, about a fifth of parents say they often write down information about their child’s health changes while half say they sometimes take this step and three in 10 don’t do this at all.

“Well visits are busy, and in the moment, it’s easy for parents to forget to bring up questions or concerns with a doctor,” Clark said. “Writing them down ahead of time will help prioritize topics and help you get the most out of the appointment.”

Less than 15% of parents say they often research information online to discuss with the provider, while about half sometimes do and 38% never do.

“We are constantly learning new information that may impact children’s health and some recommendations may evolve or be updated,” Clark said. “Many pediatricians and care providers will bring these topics up themselves but not always. It’s always helpful for parents to do some homework ahead of time to make sure they’re aware of any timely topics affecting their child’s age group.” 

Preparing children for the visit

Two in five parents say they often take steps to prepare their child for an upcoming well visit by addressing any fears they may have while slightly more than that sometimes do this while a little less than one in five never do this. A fourth of parents often also offer rewards for cooperating while less than half sometimes use such incentives.

For parents of children aged 6-12, a little more than one in five also regularly ask the child to think about questions for the provider.

“As kids approach puberty, their bodies begin changing. A well visit is a great opportunity to have the provider explain why these changes happen,” Clark said. “Having kids think about health topics themselves is also good practice for when they get older and parents become less involved with health visits. Preparing for this transition early will benefit them when they need to take more ownership of their health.”

Most parents also recall completing questionnaires and checklists about their child at well visits. Among these parents, the majority say they understand the purpose but just about three fourths say they receive feedback about how their child is doing.

“Children and their families are more often getting questionnaires at visits to help identify issues like sleep problems, challenges impacting emotional health and behavioral health concerns,” Clark said. “But when time is short, this may not come up during the actual visit. It’s important parents have conversations with providers about any issues that may surface from the child’s or family’s responses.”

Seeing providers familiar with your child’s history

Nearly half of parents say they schedule well visits with their child’s regular provider even if they have a long wait for an appointment. A third of parents also strongly agree their child is more likely to follow advice if it comes from a provider their child knows well.

For their child’s most recent well visit, more than half of parents also rate the provider as excellent for knowing the child’s health history, answering all their questions and giving recommendations that are realistic for the family.

A primary care physician familiar with a child and their specific health history will help them stay healthy, prevent disease and illness by identifying risk factors and taking the right steps to manage chronic disease care, Clark says.

“We know that continuity with the same provider has long term health benefits for children. Parents polled whose child always sees the same provider for well visits are also more likely to rate the provider as excellent,” Clark said. “Nurturing a relationship with a primary care provider means that the health professional who knows your child best is the one providing individualized care and helping your family navigate important decisions impacting their health.”

However, when well visits are scheduled with a different provider, either by choice or necessity, “parents may benefit from different explanations or perspectives on their child’s health,” Clark added.

The nationally representative report is based on responses from 1,331 parents with children aged 1 to 12 years who were polled in August-September 2022.

Five ways to ensure the most productive well child visit, according to Mott experts:

  1. Build a long-lasting trusted relationship with the same primary care provider who your child always sees for appointments, which may include a pediatrician, other family physician or nurse practitioner.
  2. Write down questions regarding your child’s physical, emotional and behavioral health in the same place as they come up to review again when a child is due for a well visit.
  3. Share input from teachers or daycare providers about the child’s behavior or school performance and ask the primary care provider for the need for further assessment or therapy.
  4. Prepare children for the visit. If there’s a physical exam, talk them through what to expect. For young children who need immunizations or blood draws, prepare them with books ahead of time, consider comfort positions and distractions like cartoons on screens during shots or give them something fun to look forward to after the visit like ice cream. Never promise them they won’t get a shot. More tips here.
  5. For older children, help them come up with a list of questions to ask the doctor themselves.

Source:  Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan 

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Lifestyle

4 Tips for Summer Water Safety

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(Family Features) Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the summer months, when water activities are more prevalent, drowning is more common, according to the National Safety Council.

Extreme heat may increase incidents of cardiac arrest and an average of 33 drownings occur in the U.S. each day, one-third of which are fatal. To protect your loved ones when playing in and around water this summer, keep these tips from the American Heart Association in mind:

Never swim alone. Children always need supervision, but even adults should swim with a buddy so someone can call for help if an unexpected problem arises. Swimmers can get cramps that hinder movement in the water and slips and falls can happen to anyone.

Wear protective devices. U.S. Coast-Guard-approved life jackets provide the best protection for someone who is in the water and unable to safely reach solid footing. When on a boat, all passengers should wear life jackets in case of an accident, and young and inexperienced swimmers should wear one any time they’re near water.

Choose your swimming location wisely. Avoid unknown bodies of water where hazards such as tree limbs or rocks may be hidden below the surface. Also avoid waterways with strong currents, such as rivers, that can easily carry even the strongest swimmers away. Instead, choose swimming pools and locations with trained lifeguards on duty.

Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In the event of a drowning, no matter the age, the American Heart Association recommends rescue breaths along with chest compressions to keep oxygen circulating to the brain. Only 39% of those who participated in a consumer survey said they are familiar with conventional CPR and only 23% know about Hands-Only CPR.

Consider these ways to learn CPR and join the Nation of Lifesavers as an individual, family, organization or community.

  • Watch online. Learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR by watching an instructional video online. Hands-Only CPR has just two simple steps:
    1. Call 911 if you see someone suddenly collapse.
    2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a familiar song with 100-120 beats per minute, such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
       
  • Immerse yourself. Through a virtual reality app, you can learn how to perform Hands-Only CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) then put your skills to the test in real-life scenarios.
     
  • Learn at home. Learn basic lifesaving skills in about 20 minutes from the comfort and privacy of home with CPR Anytime kits. The Infant CPR Anytime program is for new parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies and anyone who wants to learn lifesaving infant CPR and choking relief skills. The Adult & Child CPR Anytime Training kit teaches adults and teens Hands-Only CPR, child CPR with breaths, adult and child choking relief and general awareness of AEDs.
     
  • Take a course. Get a group together and find a nearby class to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, first aid and AED.
     
  • Turn employees into lifesavers. Help make your workplace and community safer one step at a time by committing to CPR training for your employees or coworkers.

Visit heart.org/nation to access more summer safety resources and find a CPR course near you.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


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American Heart Association

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Lifestyle

Nurturing the Mental Health of Young Children

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mental health

(Family Features) The earliest years of children’s lives lay the foundation for their social and emotional well-being, setting the stage for success in school and beyond. For parents, caregivers and educators, it’s crucial to prioritize and nurture the mental health of children in their care.

Dr. Lauren Loquasto, senior vice president and chief academic officer at The Goddard School, and Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, share this insight and guidance to support children’s mental well-being.

Understanding Mental Health in Young Children
Mental health influences how everyone – including young children – thinks, feels and behaves, impacting the ability to cope with stress, build relationships and navigate life.

The development of mental makeup is influenced by both nature (inherited genetic and biological factors) and nurture (environmental factors). Each person is a combination of a unique temperament combined with life experiences, including family, culture and education.

In young children, there is no distinction between mental and physical health. The brain and body are growing and developing rapidly. By 6 months, children can begin to feel overwhelmed by negative experiences. It’s vital to understand that the earliest interactions with children can have lasting social and emotional consequences.

Causes for Concern
When it comes to young children’s mental health, there’s no straight line dividing expected and worrisome behaviors. That line is wiggly and can shift. That said, it’s always concerning when children fall off their developmental tracks.

Infants are expected to partake in “serve and return” activities. They provide signals about how they feel or what they need and caregivers respond to those cues. When those signals stop and the child becomes exceedingly passive, that’s a concern.

Toddler troubles are among the most difficult to diagnose. Many are familiar with the concept of the “terrible twos;” deciphering between developmentally appropriate and worrisome behaviors can be challenging. Signs of concern – especially if they occur constantly – include excessive aggressiveness, a consistent lack of control and screaming instead of talking.

For pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners, tantrums should be over. They should be interested in making friends and mastering their vocabulary and language. If they aren’t displaying interests or are exhibiting a lack of self-regulation, such as hurting others or animals, seeking help is appropriate.

Seeking Help
If concerns are identified, parents should contact their pediatric care provider. In some cases, they may recommend seeking assistance from a mental health provider, such as a therapist. Selecting the right provider – one with training and experience with working with children – is essential. Lean on your network, including your pediatric care provider, friends and family, to identify the best option.

Supporting Early Social and Emotional Development

  1. Understand your child’s behavior – particularly if they aren’t verbal – is their way of communicating. Narrate what your child is experiencing and label emotions. For example, “I see you’re angry. Can I help you put your shoes on?”
     
  2. Model social and emotional self-control. For example, “I’m frustrated. I’m going to pause, take deep breaths then tell you what I need.” This gives children coping techniques they can practice themselves.
     
  3. Be a good example. Model, for instance, how to be a good friend, show respect and use good manners.
     
  4. Partner with your child’s teachers. There should be two-way dialogue presenting potential concerns.
     
  5. Don’t rush to diagnose issues. Remember children save their “toxic waste” – big, negative feelings – for their parents because they trust them. Your experiences with your child may be different than others’ experiences. Be cautious to avoid a quick reaction. Work to understand what your child is trying to convey. Seek information from others.
     
  6. If a child is exhibiting anxious behavior, which is normal when encountering new situations, be present, listen, observe, answer questions, label emotions and provide reassurance. Don’t overreact to fears. Young children are learning to deal with the unknown and, just like learning to ride a bike, it takes time and comfort to develop the skills to manage those emotions.

To watch a webinar featuring Loquasto and Pruett providing additional guidance, and access actionable parenting insights and resources, visit the Parent Resource Center at GoddardSchool.com.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
The Goddard School

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Child Health

Illuminating Global Landmarks: Make NF Research Visible

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Global landmarks are set to illuminate in a stunning display of support for World NF Awareness Day. The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) has organized the “Shine a Light on NF” campaign, which will see nearly 400 famous buildings, bridges, waterfalls, castles, and architectural icons light up in blue and green, the official colors of the neurofibromatosis (NF) cause.

Global landmark illuminated in blue and green for neurofibromatosis and schwannomatosis awareness, highlighting the importance of NF research visibility.
Young man living with neurofibromatosis type 1 surrounded by NF researchers and clinicians

NF is a group of genetic conditions that affects approximately 4 million people worldwide. It is known as either neurofibromatosis or schwannomatosis, and it causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. The impact of NF can be severe, leading to disabilities such as blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, and cancer. Despite the significant challenges it poses, there is currently no cure for NF. However, the “Shine a Light on NF” campaign aims to raise awareness and highlight the crucial need for scientific research funding.

The “Shine a Light on NF” campaign, launched by the Children’s Tumor Foundation, has grown substantially over the years. The foundation works in partnership with NF organizations, medical and research institutions, and corporate and media partners around the world to expand global awareness of this rare set of genetic conditions. The involvement of internationally recognized landmarks is a testament to the campaign’s reach.

Landmarks such as Niagara Falls, the National Theatre in London, The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, and The David in Florence are among the many iconic sites that will light up in blue and green this year. This show of unity and support not only raises awareness but also sends a powerful message of solidarity to those affected by NF.

In conjunction with World NF Awareness Day, the Children’s Tumor Foundation is also launching its “Make NF Research Visible” campaign. This initiative focuses on the transformative potential of scientific research in the fight against NF. By highlighting advancements in NF scientific research and clinical care, the campaign showcases the crucial role these efforts play in improving patient outcomes.

As part of the “Make NF Research Visible” campaign, a collection of portraits and stories featuring clinicians, researchers, and patients is being shared. These compelling narratives demonstrate how increased visibility can drive further progress in NF research and provide support to those affected by the condition.

Simon Vukelj, Chief Marketing Officer of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, emphasizes the importance of the “Make NF Research Visible” campaign, stating that it aims to inspire greater support and drive further advancements. By shining a light on the incredible work being done by researchers and clinicians, the foundation aims to brighten the path forward for everyone affected by NF.

Carson McNall, a 16-year-old living with neurofibromatosis type 1, shares his experiences and hopes for a future where NF can be cured. Carson describes the chaos of living with NF at such a young age and dreams of a life free from constant appointments and worries about the future. The “Make NF Research Visible” campaign aims to turn these dreams into reality by amplifying the voices of patients and showcasing how research can transform lives within the NF community.

Neurofibromatosis encompasses a group of genetic conditions that lead to the growth of tumors on nerves throughout the body. The Children’s Tumor Foundation has initiated campaigns like “Shine a Light on NF” and “Make NF Research Visible” to raise awareness and underscore the importance of advancements in scientific research. These efforts highlight the impact of NF on public awareness, diagnosis, clinical care, and ongoing research endeavors towards finding a cure.

As the world witnesses the illumination of global landmarks and engages with the “Make NF Research Visible” campaign, it is a reminder of the power of unity and the potential for scientific advancements to bring hope and transformation to those affected by neurofibromatosis.

For the full, global list of locations Shining a Light on NF, visit ctf.org/shinealight.

For more information about NF Awareness Month and Make NF Visible, visit makenfvisible.org.

For more information about the Children’s Tumor Foundation, visit ctf.org.

About the Children’s Tumor Foundation
The Children’s Tumor Foundation is the world’s leading organization dedicated to funding and driving innovative research that will result in effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with NF, a group of genetic conditions that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. Through collaboration with the scientific community, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and other key partners, we work diligently to accelerate research and development efforts, ensuring that promising treatments reach those who need them. One in every 2,000 people is born with some type of neurofibromatosis or schwannomatosis, which may lead to blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, or cancer. NF affects all populations equally, and while there is no cure yet, the Children’s Tumor Foundation mission of driving research, expanding knowledge, and advancing care for the NF community fosters our vision of one day ending NF. For more information, please visit: ctf.org.

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SOURCE Children’s Tumor Foundation

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