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Making the Skies Kid-Friendly: How to stay grounded while flying with your kids

July 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized


by Michele Fisher

Let’s face it: With TSA regulations, delays, and cramped conditions, air travel these days can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. But when you add children—and especially babies—to the mix, it can be downright daunting. If your family’s summer vacation plans include travel by plane, read on to make the skies a little more kid-friendly.

  • Book your flight for as early in the day as possible. That’s your best chance to avoid delays at takeoff and landing.
  • The temperature in airports and on planes can vary significantly, so dress yourself and your kids in layers. Also, if you have more than one child, consider dressing them in the same clothes, or at least the same color. This makes it so much easier to keep track of them.
  • Have your kids wear shoes with Velcro, not laces.
  • Make your diaper bag your carry-on. In addition to diapers, pack it with baby wipes, tissues, pacifiers, sippy cups, a change of clothes (for baby and you!), plastic bags (for diapers and dirty clothes), headphones, small toys and surprises (more on these later!), extra batteries or power packs, and a tablet/DVD player. If there’s still room, squeeze in a small pillow.
  • Seat your kids in the window seat or middle—away from the aisle. This means there’s less of a chance that their little hands and feet will get pinched by aisle traffic and beverage carts—and less chance that they’ll escape should you actually get a chance to nap.
  • For older kids, bring a lollipop or some gum. They help kids’ ears adjust to the pressure change during takeoff and landing.
  • At regular intervals during the flight (or when your kids start to show signs of an impending meltdown), pass out small toys and surprises you’ve hidden in your carry-on. These don’t need to be expensive or elaborate; it’s the novelty that’s appealing to kids. Options include fidget spinners and other small toys, crayons and coloring books, activity and word search books, stickers, and small Lego sets.
  • Food can keep kids occupied for an amazingly long time, so pack plenty of snacks in individual resealable plastic bags. To avoid spills, ask the flight attendant to pour whatever beverage your children will be having directly into their empty sippy cups.
  • When the plane finally lands, take your time disembarking. No doubt most passengers will jump up, grab their bags, and start crowding the aisle. Why join the chaos? Sit back, let everyone rush around you, and when the aisle finally starts to clear, slowly and calmly gather up your bags and your children and head for the exit ready to start your vacation with your sanity intact!

 

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Family Fun and the City

July 4, 2018 by  
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Michele Fisher

Planning a family vacation this summer? Just because you’re traveling with kids doesn’t mean that your destination has to be a theme park. For a vacation that everyone in the family can enjoy (and that just might be educational, too!), consider a trip to one of our country’s amazing cities.

Cities offer a huge variety of activities for every member of the family, so chances are your biggest problem won’t be finding something to do, but figuring out how to fit in everything you want to do in the time you have. Here are some things to consider:

History. If you’re traveling to Philadelphia, for example, you’ll want to explore the city’s colonial history and role in the American Revolution. Check out Independence Hall, where America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. And don’t forget a visit to see the Liberty Bell or a stop at Betsy Ross’s home. Each American city has a unique history and story to tell, and most museums these days offer interactive, kid-friendly exhibits that will keep your children engaged and excited.

Hands-on fun. Just because you’re surrounded by sidewalks doesn’t mean your family can’t get outside for some fun combined with fitness. Many cities offer guided bike tours that will introduce you to sites you might have otherwise missed. Or, if you’re in Chicago, for example, you can rent Segways for your family and take a unique spin around the city. And speaking of Chicago, you can combine exercise and sightseeing by rollerblading—or walking or jogging—on the Lakefront Trail, which offers amazing views of Lake Michigan. Most cities have similar trail and park systems.

Food! If you really want to discover the “flavor” of a city, try its most famous cuisine. In Philly? You gotta have a soft pretzel and a cheesesteak. Chicago? It’s deep dish pizza time! Visiting Cincinnati? Try their own style of chili (served over spaghetti). Dallas? Hit the BBQ and queso. Boston? Try some of their iconic clam chowder and lobster. Okay, you get the picture. And I’m getting hungry.…

Tourist destinations. Sure, they’ll be crowded. And yes, they might be expensive. But they’re called destinations for a reason: Some city attractions offer such a unique experience that the memories your kids will take away from them are worth the hassle and expense. If you’re in Chicago, your trip won’t be complete without a spin on the Centennial Wheel and a visit to the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower. Going to NYC? Of course you need to see the Statue of Liberty and maybe take in a show on Broadway (depending on your kids’ ages). In LA? Get your pictures taken on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive, or stroll along Santa Monica Pier. In Seattle? Time to visit the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

Sports. If your family loves sports, take some time to support the local team. Some stadiums, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago, offer behind-the-scenes daily tours. Then relax and unwind spending an evening taking in a baseball game or soccer match as the sun sets.

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Pack Your Bags – It’s Time for Summer Vacation! The Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

June 20, 2018 by  
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By Michele Fisher

Summer is finally here, and for many families, that means it’s time for a family vacation! If the thought of traveling with your kids is both exciting and—let’s face it—a little nerve-racking, you’re not alone. But with the following tips, you can have a safe, smooth trip that every member of your family will enjoy.

1. Include your kids in the planning. Children will be more excited about a trip if they know what to expect and get to have a eoay in what they’ll be doing. In the weeks leading up to your vacation, share books and online information about your destination. Let each person in the family choose an activity or specific attraction they’d like to visit during the trip, and then be sure to include each in your itinerary.

2. Break up travel boredom with small surprises. Let’s face it, a long car ride or cramped trip in a plane can get boring for kids (and adults). To fend off the grouchy cries of “Are we there yet?” pack some small, inexpensive surprises in your travel bag. Think small toys, fidget spinners, Thinking Putty, coloring books, word search books, stickers, and more. Then ration out each surprise as boredom hits.

3. Have a plan, but be willing to change it. It’s tempting to try to fit as much as possible into each day of your vacation. But if your kids are feeling grumpy or tired, take a cue from them and slow down. Even a 20-minute ice cream break in the middle of the day or deciding to head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap while the sun is at its hottest could make the difference between cranky kids and happy ones.

4. Let your kids be amateur photographers. Pack a sturdy, child-friendly camera and then allow your kids to snap away at anything that interests them. This encourages them to be more observant, and you just might end up with an amazing pic from a brand-new (knee-high) perspective!

5. Pack plenty of baby wipes. Kids out of diapers? Baby wipes are still a godsend for cleaning off the surface of nearly anything you and your kids are going to touch. And, of course, hand sanitizer is a must-have.

6. Snack smart. Avoid the high prices charged at tourist destinations and pack your own snacks. But choose wisely. To avoid crashes following sugary snacks, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein, but low in sugar. Think whole grain crackers, low-sugar granola bars and (dry) cereal, string cheese, and fresh fruit.

7. Play “Who Gets Home First?” You can pick up postcards at nearly any tourist destination and turn them into a fun and easy game. Have your child choose one, write a short note on the back, and mail it to your home address. Then see if you or the postcard makes it home first!

8. Consider a wearable GPS tracker. Got a kid who tends to wander? GPS trackers come in many different models, from bracelets to watches to small units that you can attach to a child’s belt or shoe.

9. Or go low-tech. You could also simply write your name and phone number on your child’s arm, in case you get separated. For older kids, start teaching them your cell phone number a few weeks before your vacation. Finally, it’s wise to choose a spot at each new attraction you visit where everyone agrees to meet if you get separated.

10. Preserve those memories! When you get back home, no doubt you’ll be busy unpacking, doing laundry, and catching up on work emails. But you don’t want to forget all the amazing things you did as a family on your trip. The solution? Let the kids take care of this task by creating their own scrapbooks filled with souvenirs, photos, ticket stubs, postcards, and more. This is also a great way to keep them busy on a rainy day!

 

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

The Rise of Spring Allergies: Fact or Fiction?

June 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Several factors determine the severity of allergy season

 By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.

 

The spring 2018 allergy season could be the worst yet, or at least that’s what you might hear. Every year is coined as being the worst for allergy sufferers, but are spring allergies really on the rise?

 

There are many events that can help predict how bothersome the spring allergy season will be.  While it’s true that allergies are on the rise and affecting more Americans than ever, each spring isn’t necessarily worse than the last.

 

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), 23.6 million Americans were diagnosed with hay fever in the last year. The prevalence of allergies is surging upward, with as many as 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children having at least one allergy.

 

Following are factors that influence the severity of allergy season, along with some explanations about why more Americans are being diagnosed with allergies.

 

  • Climate Change: Recent studies have shown that pollen levels have been gradually increasing every year. Part of the reason for this is due to the changing climate. The warmer temperatures and mild winters cause plants to begin producing and releasing pollen earlier, making the spring allergy season longer. Rain can promote plant and pollen growth, while wind accompanying rainfall can stir pollen and mold into the air, heightening symptoms. The climate is not only responsible for making the allergy season longer and symptoms more bothersome, but it may also be partially to blame for the rise in allergy sufferers.

 

  • Priming Effect: A mild winter can trigger an early release of pollen from trees. Once allergy sufferers are exposed to this early pollen, their immune systems are primed to react to the allergens, meaning there will be little relief even if temperatures cool down before spring is in full bloom. This “priming effect” can mean heightened symptoms and a longer sneezing season for sufferers.

 

  • Hygiene Hypothesis: This theory suggests that exposure to bacterial by-products from farm animals, and even dogs, in the first few months of life reduces or delays the onset of allergies and asthma. Scientists theorize that because of the modern emphasis on cleanliness, children’s environments may be “too clean,” which might not allow their immune systems to be challenged and to develop properly. This may, in part, explain the increasing incidence of allergies worldwide in developed countries.

 

  • Allergy: The New Kleenex: Ever hear someone ask for a Kleenex instead of a tissue? Much like some people relate all tissues to Kleenex, many also blame runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes on allergies, even if they haven’t been accurately diagnosed. Increased awareness and public education about allergies can make it seem like nearly everyone has an allergy or is getting diagnosed with allergies, but it could be more of a public perception issue than you think.

 

While many allergy sufferers reach for over-the-counter medications to find relief, it’s best to visit a board-certified allergist if you believe you might have an allergy. An allergist can perform proper testing to accurately diagnose and treat your condition so the spring sneezing season doesn’t have to be bothersome.

 

Over-the-counter medications may work for those with mild symptoms, but they can cause a variety of unwanted side effects. For sufferers with persistent symptoms, treatment may include allergy shots, which not only provide symptom relief, but also modify and prevent disease progression.

 

If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergy and asthma, you can track your symptoms with the free online tool MyNasalAllergyJournal.org.

 

About the Author

Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.

 

 

 

 

Double-Duty Spring Cleaning: Keep Healthy and Tidy

May 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

 

Seasonal ritual can also help ward off allergy and asthma symptoms

 

By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.

Spring cleaning can be more than a daunting chore for those with allergies and asthma. Dust, pet hair, and cleaning supplies can leave you reaching for the tissues instead of the broom. But according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), spring cleaning can also help you avoid allergy symptoms.

When pollen counts are high outdoors, you may be inclined to stay indoors to try to avoid allergy symptoms. But seasonal allergy symptoms can last all year round for those allergic to indoor allergens.

Relief can sometimes be as simple as knowing how to remove allergens from your home. Here are some useful tips for banishing allergens in your home, and ways to avoid accidentally letting more in.

Remember that a fresh breeze won’t please. At the first sign of balmy temperatures, you might get the urge to open up your windows to bring in fresh scents. But this can also lead to unwanted pollen particles entering your home and making you sneeze long after your spring cleaning is complete. Before you reach for the air fresheners and candles, be aware that chemicals found in these items can spur asthma attacks. Your best choice is to opt for natural aromas from the oven or to try an organic air freshener.

Rub a dub, scrub. Bathrooms, basements, and areas that are tiled can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can also help ward off mold by keeping your home’s humidity level below 60 percent and cleaning the gutters regularly.

Love your pets, not their dander. After your family pets have spent many days indoors over the winter, chances are the levels of fur, saliva, and dander might be elevated throughout your home. Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Also be sure to keep your pets out of the bedroom at all times to ensure you can sleep symptom-free.

Do a whole-house deep cleaning—in stages, if necessary. Cleaning the entire house from top to bottom may take days. But you can get a head start by changing your air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Also be sure to vacuum regularly to get rid of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.

Don’t neglect the great outdoors. As the grass turns green and flowers bud, it’s hard to stay indoors and focus on your spring cleaning routine. Still, it’s best to avoid being outdoors when pollen counts are highest (midday and afternoon hours). When mowing and gardening, be sure to wear gloves and an N95 particulate pollen mask (as rated by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH), and take your medication before you go outside. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair, and clothing when you go back indoors.

Even when you reduce the number of allergens in your home, allergy symptoms can still be bothersome. Those with seasonal and perennial allergies should be under the care of a board-certified allergist, who can identify the source of the suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms.

For more information about seasonal allergies and to locate an allergist, visit Dr. Patel’s Allergy Busters or AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

 

About the Author
Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.

Applied Behavior Analysis

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

 

“Point to red” is a common refrain I hear daily. My son says it out of the blue several times a day. He is probably thinking about one of his Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy sessions he gets at home six times a week. A therapist will sit with him at the dining room table and repeatedly ask him to point to red and reward him with a treat when he does. They will continue this until he masters the task at 80 percent in two consecutive sessions. Ever since he started 15 hours or more of therapy a week, he has been making huge improvements each month. I kick myself for not starting this therapy sooner. His Behavior Interventionists (BIs) work tirelessly with him every day to help improve his joint attention, speech, and social skills. ABA is a growing field where there are just not enough workers to fill the need. BIs are entry-level workers who receive several weeks of training and then usually independently work with children with autism. They get paid just above minimum wage and are subject to often rough treatment from their subjects, who often kick, bite, and scratch when frustrated.

I have no excuse for not starting ABA that first year after my son was diagnosed. I was still in shock and too depressed to read anything educational. I couldn’t even get through the Regional Center’s parent training program. Because of his declining skills, we tried speech therapy right around the time he was two years old. He made no progress after a month of weekly sessions there. And all the speech therapist could say to us was how much he was likely to have autism. A few months after that, we started ABA for three hours a week; it was not enough. We wanted to keep him at the same day care since we had such a difficult time getting him child care, but the day care declined to let an ABA therapist work with him there.

Finally, I moved and we needed different child care anyway. We tried a neurotypical preschool, but he didn’t do well there, so we finally had to get a nanny. That is when he really started to improve. We were then able to get at least 15 hours of ABA a week in a consistent and peaceful environment. He was finally potty trained when he was five and a half, and he even started answering questions with “yes” and “no,” which was something I never thought he would be able to do. He is now able to name relatives in photos. We also found an amazing speech therapist who works with him twice a week. And just two days ago, he finally greeted me excitedly at the door with, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” This was something he had never done before and hasn’t replicated since, but it gives me so much hope. He is almost six years old, and I hope with the help of ABA and speech therapy, this will be the year he will start calling me “Mommy” consistently.

Here are some tips if you suspect your child might have autism:

  1. Get a diagnosis from your pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician, or psychologist ASAP.
  2. Have your pediatrician then refer your child for ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Most health insurance carriers in California will cover this. If not, switch to one that does or move to a state that does.
  3. If you live in California, your Regional Center will cover costs for therapy not covered by your insurance carrier.
  4. During a child’s first five years, his or her brain is most “plastic,” or flexible and able to change and make neural connections based on what the child experiences. This means that the earlier an autistic child receives therapy and the more hours of therapy he or she receives, the more likely you will see progress. Studies show that if children get 40 hours or more of early therapy for two or more years, they have a much higher chance of having a normal IQ.*

About the Author: Monica Lee, MD, is a mom of one son and an ob-gyn in the LA Metro area.

*Lovaas OI, “Behavioral Treatment and Normal Educational and Intellectual Functioning in Young Autistic Children,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55, no. 1 (Feb 1987): 3–9.

Breast or Formula? Do I really have to choose?

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Life is like a giant flow chart. Every minute of every day, you’re making decisions, whether you realize it or not – surprisingly it adds up to about 35,000 decisions a day!

Bath or shower?

Turn left or right?

Chicken or fish?

There are some things in life we feel so strongly about, we make a choice once and that’s it. For example, many decades ago you probably decided if you were a Republican or a Democrat, and you probably haven’t looked back.

Fortunately, other choices in life aren’t so definite. For example, no one minds if you bag your groceries in paper one day and use plastic the next.

In parenting, some moms feel tremendous pressure to choose between breastfeeding or formula feeding. My experience is a great example of how this doesn’t have to be a defining moment. It doesn’t have to be a limiting choice. It’s perfectly fine—better even—to choose both.

I got the best of both worlds by breastfeeding and formula feeding with all three of my sons, and I would not change that experience for the world! For all three of my kids, I started nursing. But early on, I supplemented with formula. I found this to be beneficial for two main reasons.

One, my husband could also feed our babies. This was incredibly valuable for me, and it was also a very positive experience for him and for our sons. And I’m not alone, in fact, 35 percent of moms chose to feed their baby with infant formula so they could share the feeding responsibilities for baby with their partner, per a survey conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula.

Two, adding formula helped me to transition back to work. Before my sons were born, I had bought a breast pump, and I worried a lot about how I was going to pump at work. Turns out I didn’t anticipate everything I could have. The first day I returned to work, I pumped—in the teeny supply closet they offered me. I put my pumped milk in a sealed container in the office refrigerator.

Imagine my surprise when the office administrator told me I had to move it to the biohazard refrigerator instead because milk was a body fluid. She wanted me to put my baby’s milk in with the throat cultures and stool samples!

I found that supplementing with formula meant that I no longer had to pump at work. That convenience factor helped simplify one aspect of my otherwise chaotic life. For many working moms, “convenience” is the number one factor for choosing to feed baby with infant formula. I nursed my sons at home before and after work, and then they drank formula during the day.

This flexibility helped me, and it also helped my babies as well. My sons thrived on the seamless combo of breastfeeding and formula feeding.

If you decide to combo feed and you receive formula samples at the hospital, rest easy knowing that you can switch from the nationally advertised brand to a less expensive, nutritionally comparable store brand formula when you return home with baby.  In fact, a clinical study by University of Virginia researchers found that switching from one brand of formula to another is safe and well tolerated in infants.

In the study, babies who switched from a big-name milk-based formula to a store brand milk-based formula didn’t experience an increase in spit up, burping, gas, crying or irritability compared to babies who stayed with the advertised brand. No matter what you decide – breastfeeding, formula feeding, or supplementing with formula – please know that all three or a combination of these options will support your baby’s healthy growth and development.

 

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.

A Promising New Drug for Autism!

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

 

When I walk through the door, I am usually greeted by my son sitting next to his therapist. She will prompt him to say, “Hi ___.” He usually ends up saying, “Hi Brenda, please” (his nanny’s name). He is five, almost six. You might find this a bit peculiar, but I am used to it. You see, having a child on the spectrum means you have to be okay with your son never calling you mommy. On the outside, I remain cool and calm since I have no other children and have never been called mommy, so you know, it’s not like I’m really missing anything. Inside, of course, is another matter. I would pay a lot of money to hear my son call me mommy on his own.

Through the years we have heard of many different alternative therapies for autism including GABA, cannabis oil, and Vayarin, but all the studies relating to them were unsubstantiated and the safety could not be proven. So when I heard about suramin, my heart did a little leap and is still pitter-pattering. The article I read was in The Economist, a well-respected journal, and it seems the drug has already been used in the past to help people with African sleeping sickness and river blindness. Researchers reported some amazing results in the autistic boys taking the drug, including one boy speaking a full sentence for the first time in 12 years! Another boy, who is five years old, started smiling and actually said to his mom, “I just don’t know why I’m so happy.” And on top of that, it has been shown to be effective in a small randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of clinical trials! After reading the article, I immediately sent it to different friends who might be interested in such developments, aka other MD parents of kids on the spectrum, and they were as excited as I was. My son’s dad was just as excited and wanted him to try it right away.

Being the doctor that I am, I delved deeper into suramin and found out that the research is being conducted at UC San Diego, which is within driving distance of Los Angeles, where we live! However, when I looked up the trial in the database at ClinicalTrials.gov, I learned that the lead researcher, Dr. Robert Naviaux, is not recruiting at this time for new subjects. Wikipedia says I can potentially get the drug from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but this gives me pause because the drug needs to be given intravenously and also I wouldn’t want to dose the medicine and monitor my son myself. This whole journey has made me wonder how far I will go to see my son act normally. How amazing is this idea of hope based on a single article I read online. Now I will be sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for larger phase 3 clinical trials of this drug to demonstrate safety and efficacy.

Here are some tips if you start getting excited about a potential treatment for your child:
1. Consult first with your pediatrician. The doctor may have first-hand knowledge and access to many more databases and sources of information than you do.
2. Make sure that the treatment is safe. Confirm that it is FDA approved and has gone through phase 3 clinical trials at least or has been used for other purposes and safety has been demonstrated.
3. Call into question the sources proclaiming efficacy of the herb, treatment, or remedy. Does the source tend to gain financially if you buy what they’re advocating? Is it government regulated? Does the source have a good reputation or is it nonprofit?
4. Check ClinicalTrials.gov to see what trials are being conducted in your area and if they are recruiting new subjects.
5. Remember that we all want to see our children get better, and we want to keep them safe too!

About the author:  Monica Lee, MD, is a mom of one son and an ob-gyn in the LA metro area.

How the Movie Buck Changed Me as a Parent

July 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

I get really frustrated with my son. He is five and has autism, and it has been really difficult for the last three years. He was diagnosed when he was two years old when he started to lose words. A friend noticed and sent us a long e-mail about how he needed to be tested. At first we were taken aback, but we knew she was right. It took us several months to make sure he didn’t have hearing problems. We got him ear tubes and sedated him for a complicated hearing test. Then we had him see a neurologist and a psychologist. But we still couldn’t believe our son had autism. So nine months after the first diagnosis, we finally saw a more “traditional” pediatric neurologist than the first “maverick” one and got basically the same diagnosis.

At least that helped explain why he never asked for anything with words, but would pull our hands to what he wanted. But what hurt the most was when he was stubborn and didn’t want to do something that we thought was necessary, like brush his teeth or get into his car seat when we had to go somewhere. He didn’t have the words to tell us why. When he was younger, we just kind of made him do our bidding. I remember when we would have to hold him still to brush his teeth. Or the time when, unbeknownst to us, he put a piece of foam in his ear and, weeks later, I could smell something rotting. We had to straitjacket him for the doctor to remove it.

A friend made me watch a movie one day, and it changed my perspective on getting the behaviors I wanted. The movie was Buck. It is a documentary based on the real-life horse whisperer. It is about a man who was severely abused as a child and who used that knowledge to help people train horses. He uses only gentle persuasion and never a hard hand. He gently tugs the reins to help guide the horse to his bidding. Anytime he sees a violent and fearful horse, he recognizes that the horse has been abused. The friend who showed me the movie is a golf instructor, and he uses the same principles as a guide in his life and with his clients on a daily basis. After watching this film two years ago, I have let go of my frustrations and tried to use only gentleness and reasoning when dealing with my son. I think it has brought us closer together. Now when I want him to do something, I whisper gently in his ear and am patient if he doesn’t want to do things the first, second, or third time I ask him. The trick is to make him understand that it won’t hurt, and that it is good for him and might actually be fun. He is less frustrated, and so am I.

My son now gets intensive applied behavioral analysis therapy six days a week, and he is showing improvement on his monthly evaluations. The therapists use the same positive reinforcement principles I’ve learned to guide behavior changes because science shows that they produce longer-lasting change than negative reinforcement does.

I think that this principle of positive reinforcement can be used to improve any child’s behavior, including those without learning or behavioral challenges. Some ideas of positive reinforcement include:

  1. Giving a reward for A’s on a report card.
  2. A hug and a kiss for any kind act they might perform, such as sharing toys.
  3. Taking a child to a homeless shelter to give to those in need so that they understand the intrinsic feeling of good that comes from charitable giving.
  4. A monetary reward for chores they might do around the house.

There are so many ways, can you think of others?

About the Author: Monica Lee, MD, is a mom to a 5-year-old son and ob-gyn practicing in the LA Metro area.

 

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Woman wit her eyes closed under the wind.

How’s your magnesium level? If you have no idea, you have plenty of company! Magnesium is a mineral that many of us don’t think about—even though it’s an essential mineral that your body needs to function properly.

Truth be told, even if you did know your magnesium level, there’s a good chance it would be too low. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium.

But here’s the good news: If you’re able to get enough magnesium, it can benefit your body in many ways. Magnesium can…

  • Offset the negative effects of stress: Most people suffer from the stress of trying to do too much, too perfectly, and too fast.
  • Soothe the gastrointestinal tract: Magnesium also offers laxative properties.
  • Boost brainpower: This is especially the case in people with memory problems.
  • Increase energy: If your magnesium level is low, your body has to work harder to do even basic tasks, which can make you feel tired. Studies have shown that women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks then they did after their magnesium levels were restored to normal.
  • Ease anxiety and/or insomnia: Magnesium helps to promote a sense of calm and can facilitate more restful sleep.
  • Cure a migraine pronto!

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. One way to get more magnesium is to eat a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews.

Another easy and tasty way is with a supplement called Natural Calm, which has been a best selling supplement for 9 years. It’s a flavorful powder that dissolves easily in water, tea, or other beverages. Natural Calm supports heart health, bone health, better sleep, and natural energy production. It comes in a variety of delicious, organic flavors that are naturally sweetened with organic stevia. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, and non GMO. You can buy Natural Calm online and in health food stores for around $15. Visit NaturalVitality.com/natural-calm for more information.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guide books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.