Marijuana & Parenting

December 4, 2017

Is marijuana safe for use? The American sentiment seems to be shifting that way, especially out in the wild west. When it comes to drugs that affect the brain, we have to be very careful to conclude this on a population level.

College students have to leave school every year secondary to psychological breaks that are induced by drug use including marijuana. I witnessed this first hand as I went to a very small school and things of this nature were hard to hide.

For me, the biggest concern with recreational drug use has always been the long term effects on the

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Shopping

November 27, 2017

Whenever we shop, we are battling the advertisers desire to get us to buy their product whether it is good for us or not. Think soda or lunch packaged meat/cheese/bread combos here for poor choices. We rarely see advertisers pushing us to buy vegetables or fruit or anything healthy for that matter. When researchers looked at the checkout line where a parent is waiting in cue, they found that the majority of foods located there were not healthy. This is the classic captive audience exposure hot spot that pushes purchasing behavior.

What would be great for us all would be for grocery stores to load this area with healthy choices. A 2014 Norwegian study found that by doing exactly that, last minute sales of healthy items spiked.

Ideally, we need to be aware of the marketing gimmicks that we fall prey to, because we do! They are better at this than we are.

Simple grocery store rules that can alter your health:

1) Avoid purchasing any food that has a cartoon character on it. Never a good choice.

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Children and Outdoors

November 27, 2017

Nature Deprivation Disorder is thought to be a serious problem for humans. Nature deficit disorder is a phrase coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Wood. He thought that human beings, especially children, were spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems (1).

What is the reality of this perceived condition? If you believe the contention put forth by Mr. Louv, humans are less exposed to the natural world and are also exposed to constant negative media influences that let them feel unsafe about the outside world causing them to shun imaginative and exploratory activity outside in nature. Both of these statements appear true to me. When I think back to my childhood, there was a huge difference in our outdoor unsupervised play compared to what I see now.

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Roy Halladay

November 20, 2017

 

When I talk to kids at work, I often reference Stoicism and work ethic as the single most important guide to success. With the recent passing of Roy Halladay, a blog that I receive called the Daily Stoic had a piece on Roy Halladay. And it was excellent. Here are some of the highlights to share with your child.

"He was the single most accountable, conscientious, hardworking, dedicated player I've ever been around," Amaro said. "He was the most competitive on the mound and yet the kindest and gentlest person off the mound that you could imagine. That kind of person is so rare."

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Thankful

November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving is a special time to be thankful for living in America. It is especially necessary this year as we battle the fires of a divided and partisan country that are stoked daily by modern national media outlets that are more interested in ratings than responsible positive journalism. Inflaming both sides equally like a well seasoned pharmaceutical lobbyist, they push their polarizing agenda on us even though we are mostly moderate in our beliefs and hopeful of peace and happiness.

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Autism and Epigenetic Triggers III

 November 13, 2017

Following up on the maternal microbiota and autism risk article from a few weeks ago and last weeks tylenol discussion, we have yet another piece of literature regarding maternal exposures and offspring disease risk.

This October's JAMA Internal Medicine Journal has an article that shows an association between maternal pesticide exposure and her ability to produce offspring. Their premise was that "animal experiments suggest that ingestion of pesticide mixtures at environmentally relevant concentrations decreases the number of live-born offspring. Whether the same is true in humans is unknown." So they performed a cohort study to get a glimpse of whether we may suffer a similar fate.

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Pollution

November 13, 2017

Sticking with the theme of toxins and their effects on humans, I stumbled across an article that does a nice job of bringing home the reality that we all face every day across the globe: pollution in the air, water and ground.

From the article, Susan Brink writes, "Those studies observed populations exposed to pollutants and compared them to people not exposed. The studies have shown that pollution can be an important cause of diseases - many of them potentially fatal - including asthma, cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, birth defects in children, heart disease, stroke and lung disease."

Global estimated death models note that pollution counts form 9.2 million deaths annually
versus 7.2 million for tobacco use and 5.4 million for AIDS, tuberculosis, alcohol and malaria combined. Those are sobering statistics.

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Autism and Epigenetic Triggers II

November 6, 2017

Following up on the maternal microbiota and autism risk article from a few weeks ago, we have another piece of literature regarding maternal exposures and offspring disease risk. Over the past few decades there has been a fair amount of published literature regarding the risks of consuming medicines during pregnancy.

This month's Pediarics Journal has an article that shows an association between maternal acetaminophen use and her offspring's risk of developing ADHD. They noted a dose dependent pattern to the risk in the 110,000 children studied. While this study makes clear that this is not definitive causation just association, it is also clear that there is a problem.

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Skin Care

November 6, 2017

Skin care is an oft forgotten simple way to help your immune system repel invaders. Since the nasty bacterium Staphylococcus aureus left the hospital in an antibiotic resistant state and entered the general population, we have seen a major uptick in abscesses and poorly controlled eczema. The reason for this occurrence is partly due to poor skin hygiene.

Your skin is a very large organ that provides many services to your health including a barrier to invaders, synthesis of vitamin D, sweat production to cool down, hair for heat trapping and sensation through touch. Taking care of your skin is of paramount importance to maintain these functions at an optimal level for health.

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Patience, Love & Support

October 30, 2017

Focusing on strengths while challenging the weaknesses.

I often wonder what is the best way to help a child rise above an impediment in learning or any aspect of their being or just to succeed in general. What is the best path? Is it to focus on the weakness and induce stress or focus on the strengths? The answers are not so simple.

The prevailing wisdom in most articles on this topic is to focus all the efforts on the strengths and leave the weaknesses alone as strengths bring happiness and success. Is this really true? Clearly, a highly gifted musically inclined child is more likely to achieve great things by pursuing this line of activity. Does this bring happiness? I am not so sure. There are many variables involved in happiness. For example, was there an overbearing parent who pushed the child to destruction pursuing this strength goal. I think of Andre Agassi's memoirs here.

If a strength aligns with the child's desires, then there is a match to happiness and the odds are great that a parent does not need to push. They can just support consistently.

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Village

October 23, 2017

It takes a village.

When the world turns in a sharp alternate direction from your intended path, you often have some serious choices to make. You have to dig deep to handle the stress, the frustration and loss if they are present. Handling all of this is infinitely easier when you have a village.

I recently tore my retina after a rough hit in my eye during a soccer game. That event ushered in a weekend of uncertainty and subsequent surgery. The reality of the procedures and pain was surprisingly minimally irritating to me while the future of a world without soccer was depressing.

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Winter & Wheezing

October 23, 2017

Winter is coming! This is the time of year when we see lots of wheezing children present to clinic with a disease called bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis is a viral associated illness that causes significant lung inflammation in children under the age of two years old. It is a leading cause of hospitalization in this group. This illness is usually benign, but it can be scary as some children will present with cough, fever, wheezing and further respiratory compromise over time. Some high risk individuals need to be aware of this disease, including: premature or low birth weight newborns, children with immune system defects/cardiac disease/chronic lung disease/severe neurological disease.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, parainfluenza, influenza, adenovirus and metapneumovirus are the major pathogens that cause this disease. RSV is the most common and serious player in this group.

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Choking

October 16, 2017

Choking is a common and scary event that plays out in the homes of some parents of infants and toddlers. Counseling young parents on effective parenting around eating and play time can really help reduce the risk of such events.

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Autism and Epigenetic Triggers

October 16, 2017

Hot off of the research bench!

In the Journal Nature last week, Dr. Sangdoo Kim and colleagues presented some basic science research that brings us a little closer to understanding the epigenetic triggers that give us children with autism spectrum disorders.

It has been well known in primates and rodents that when a mother's immune system is over activated, her offspring will have autism like behavioral features including, repetitive activity, delayed and abnormal communication and reduced sociability. What has been unknown to date is what are the factors involved in allowing this to occur.

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Individuals

October 9, 2017

 

if you remember the newsletter on individuals a few months back, I was discussing the importance of the individual when educating teenagers and young children. No one is inherently good or bad, nor does their religious preference, skin color, sex or other potentially stereotyping characteristic define them or a group that they are associated with.

 

Each person is understood on the merits of their actions. These action events also define that person's nature for a period of time until their course is changed for good or bad. I think that it is critical in this polarized world that we train our youth to avoid broad conclusions for groups of people and focus mightily on the individual.

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Influenza

October 9, 2017

Influenza season is starting in the United States. Last year's flu season was particularly rough in North Carolina. We had long lines of patients waiting to be seen. Influenza claims 10's of thousands of lives a year in this country among the elderly. There were 107 pediatric deaths last year primarily among young children and children with chronic health conditions of which the majority were not vaccinated.

Every year, I blog about this virus primarily to keep it fresh on your mind in order to prepare and secondarily because it causes so much morbidity and mortality. There is never a good time to ignore this virus and its potential to cause havoc. Influenza comes back to annoy us every year and it is hard to completely avoid by quarantining yourself.

Preventing the virus from taking root in your body is the key to avoiding a bad outcome.

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Fathers Redo

October 2, 2017

Well known: A warm relationship between a father and his child portends a good outcome for the child as he grows up. A child is less likely to have behavioral problems if their father is present and emotionally warm. Boys often want to be like their fathers if the father is close to the child emotionally.

Not well known: The old masculine male archetype was thought to induce the same attitude in a male offspring. However, research has shown that it is not likely to produce the same behavior in a child despite the masculine parenting style. Boys, it turns out are innately masculine or not.

What is a father's role in this parenting dyad?

Fathers have a strong influence on a child's risk taking and confidence development. This is primarily based on the fact that father's are more likely to let their children explore the world and take risks.

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Antibiotic Resistance

October 2, 2017

This is a continually evolving problem for all of us. Historically, significant antibiotic resistance was confined to the hospitals and intensive care units primarily. Over the past decade, these bacterial resistance issues have entered the everyday world with the likes of MRSA, methicillin resistant Staphlococcus aureus.

Every day we are seeing children with MRSA abscess/skin infections. Luckily, we still have 2 good oral antibiotics to fight this trouble maker. Hypothetically, these antibiotics could start to fail. Then what? Death is the outcome for many untreatable serious infections. Why would this problem exist?

We have abused antibiotics in the patient care world for decades by over treating viral disease as bacterial. Unfortunately, I still see too many patients coming in for follow up after being on vacation or out of town with 10 day courses of antibiotics for 2 days of viral cold symptoms. The use of these drugs indiscriminately is a danger to everyone over time.

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Work

September 25, 2017

Work is the key to happiness!

Passion in your work is the key to bliss.

Trust me, I have found it. I just reread a section of the Tim Ferriss book, the Tools for Titans, and found a passage very moving. Tim has a section devoted to an interview with Maria Popova where they discuss her life and thoughts. In a section called, "what text do you refer to again and again?" she discusses the work of Henry David Thoreau and his musings on life.

He writes, "the really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. There will be a wide margin for relaxation to his day. He is only earnest to secure the kernels of time, and does not exaggerate the value of the husk." "Those who work much, do not work hard."

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Cars and Safety

September 25, 2017



In the United States, 2016 was a deadly year for car related fatalities. This is impressive considering how much safer cars are today. Over 40,000 Americans died last year alone. This is a sobering statistic that we need to pay attention to.

When it comes to safe driving, we have a major problem now, cell phones! Distracted driving is rapidly becoming the greatest risk to us all. Never a day goes by that a person is not looking at their phone and driving away.

Unfortunately, we cannot control our neighbor, however, we can control ourselves. Being alert to your surroundings while driving increases the chances that you can avoid a distracted driver. Using any and all safety devices in your car is another important avenue to safety.

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