It’s (sports) physical time

What parents should know about sports physicalsAll high school and middle school athletes in the state of Michigan are required to have a sports physical each year. While some schools and organizations offer mass sports physical events, a sports physical is something that is easily incorporated into your child’s annual checkup with his or her healthcare provider. Seeing the same healthcare provider annually creates a sense of continuity and allows you, your child and your healthcare provider to develop a strong relationship.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health recently conducted a national survey on parents’ thoughts about sports physicals. The poll found that the vast majority, 74 percent, of children get their physical from their regular healthcare provider and 90 percent agreed that a sports physical is not a substitute for regular check-ups.

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Providing surgical expertise in Peru

Dr. Ron Hirschl and Dr. Megan Arnold operating in Yantalo, Peru.So often, we hear Michigan families comment on how fortunate they feel to have C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in their backyard.  As a parent myself, I have always felt grateful to know the level of care that U-M provides is available so close to home for Michigan families.  For me and several of my colleagues, however, the gift of proximity to advanced care becomes even more striking once or twice a year when we step off the plane and begin our work to help children in Yantaló, Peru.

The small Peruvian town of Yantaló sits in the Amazon jungle. Getting to Yantaló is a one-hour flight from Lima, Peru, followed by a two and a half hour car ride. Because of its geographic isolation and lack of resources, getting specialty and surgical care to the residents of Yantaló and the surrounding area is a challenge. Enter C. Luiz Vasquez and the Yantaló Peru Foundation.

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Insect repellants and kids: Is DEET safe?

Insect repellants and kidsSummer means sun, backyard barbecues and lots of outside time.  And all of those things generally also come along with a generous dose of bugs.  Unfortunately for us in Michigan, it’s shaping up to be a buggy summer – especially when it comes to ticks.

The best way to avoid the not-so-fun bugs of summer is to wear long sleeves and long pants, and to avoid dusk, which is often the buggiest time of day.

Bugs tend to like perfumes.  Your 8 month old is probably not wearing perfume, of course, but it is worth thinking about the scent of shampoos and lotions you use on your children, as well.

Even if you avoid dusk and wear long sleeves, there are certainly times when you can’t avoid bugs. That’s when many of us reach for bug repellants.  Continue reading

Tick Season

What parents should know about ticks and children

mott blog - ticks and kidsThe number of ticks in the Great Lakes region has been on the rise for the past few years, but many experts are reporting that this year is going to be even worse than the last.

Ticks can carry and transmit diseases such as Lyme disease. It’s important to be on alert whenever you, your children and even your pets spend time outside — especially in or near wooded areas.

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Treat the kid, not the diagnosis

My brother has taught me to truly personalize medicine.

Colleen McGavin and brother CarterI recently wrote an essay, “More than ‘A Case of Fragile X’ for the Journal of the American Medical Association. The following is an excerpt, but you can read the whole article here.

In one of my first lectures as a medical student, my instructor flashed the image of a young boy’s face on the giant projection screen. The boy’s face was long and his forehead and ears stuck out. According to our genetics professor, this was the face of fragile X syndrome. I looked at that boy and felt alienated. He didn’t look anything like my brother Carter, who has been the face of fragile X syndrome for me. An hour later, my classmates and I went on to review a hypothetical case of a healthy 25-year-old woman and her husband who sought genetic counseling after their 2-year-old son was diagnosed with global developmental delay. When my classmates heard that the mother also had a brother with intellectual disabilities, they immediately suggested fragile X. The instructor confirmed their diagnosis. Case closed.

While my classmates moved on, I was still thinking about the case and the boy on the screen. I was disappointed with the lessons we had been taught….

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What a “polio pioneer” wants you to know about vaccines

Children that participated in the 1954 field trials of the Salk vaccine were dubbed "polio pioneers." (Used with permission of University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, U-M Alumni Association, Box 137.)

Children that participated in the 1954 field trials of the Salk vaccine were dubbed “polio pioneers.” (Used with permission of University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, U-M Alumni Association, Box 137.)

My colleagues and I care for and often counsel families about the importance of vaccination.

Recently, as part of World Immunization Week, Oxford University Press published a blog post written by our own Janet Gilsdorf, MD.  In her wonderfully written post, Dr. Gilsdorf offers a unique perspective both as a doctor and as a “Polio Pioneer” during the 1950’s, a time when she and many other children participated in the massive clinical trial of the Salk vaccine.

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