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Tips of the Week for May, 2014

Asthma Triggers and What to do About Them

Asthma Triggers

Certain things cause asthma “attacks” or make asthma worse. These are called triggers. Some common asthma triggers are

  • Things your child might be allergic to. These are called allergens. (Most children with asthma have allergies, and allergies are a major cause of asthma symptoms.)
    • House dust mites
    • Animal dander
    • Cockroaches
    • Mold
    • Pollens
  • Infections of the airways
    • Viral infections of the nose and throat
    • Other infections, such as pneumonia or sinus infections
  • Irritants in the environment (outside or indoor air you breathe)
    • Cigarette and other smoke
    • Air pollution
    • Cold air, dry air
    • Odors, fragrances, volatile organic compounds in sprays, and cleaning products
  • Exercise (About 80% of people with asthma develop wheezing, coughing, and a tight feeling in the chest when they exercise.)
  • Stress

Be sure to check all of your child’s “environments,” such as school, child care, and relatives’ homes, for exposure to these same things.

Help Your Child Avoid Triggers

While it is impossible to make the place you live in completely allergenor irritant-free, there are things you can do to reduce your child’s exposure to triggers. The following tips may help.

  • Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in your home or car.
  • Reduce exposure to dust mites. The most necessary and effective things to do are to cover your child’s mattress and pillows with special allergy-proof encasings, wash their bedding in hot water every 1 to 2 weeks, remove stuffed toys from the bedroom, and vacuum and dust regularly. Other avoidance measures, which are more difficult or expensive, include reducing the humidity in the house with a dehumidifier or removing carpeting in the bedroom. Bedrooms in basements should not be carpeted.
  • If allergic to furry pets, the only truly effective means of reducing exposure to pet allergens is to remove them from the home. If this is not possible, keep them out of your child’s bedroom and consider putting a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in their bedroom, removing carpeting, covering mattress and pillows with mite-proof encasings, and washing the animals regularly.
  • Reduce cockroach infestation by regularly exterminating, setting roach traps, repairing holes in walls or other entry points, and avoiding leaving exposed food or garbage.
  • Mold in homes is often due to excessive moisture indoors, which can result from water damage due to flooding, leaky roofs, leaking pipes, or excessive humidity. Repair any sources of water leakage. Control indoor humidity by using exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen, and adding a dehumidifier in areas with naturally high humidity. Clean existing mold contamination with detergent and water. Sometimes porous materials such as wallboards with mold contamination have to be replaced.
  • Pollen exposure can be reduced by using an air conditioner in your child’s bedroom, with the vent closed, and leaving doors and windows closed during high pollen times. (Times vary with allergens, ask your allergist.)
  • Reduce indoor irritants by using unscented cleaning products and avoiding mothballs, room deodorizers, or scented candles.
  • Check air quality reports in weather forecasts or on the Internet. When the air quality is poor, keep your child indoors and be sure he takes his asthma control medications.
  • Decreasing your child’s exposure to triggers will help decrease symptoms as well as the need for asthma medications.

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AAP Section on Allergy and Immunology (Copyright © 2003)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


A Lesson in Dog Safety Can Help Prevent Bites

Every year, more than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs, with more than half of all victims younger than age 14.

During National Dog Bite Prevention Week, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Veterinary Medical Association and the US Postal Service team up to educate Americans about dog safety.

Tips to Help Parents Protect Their Children from an Encounter with Canine Teeth:

  • Pick a good match. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing a dog that will fit in well with your family. 
  • Socialize your pet. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of people and other animals so it feels at ease in these situations; continue this exposure as your dog gets older.
  • Train your dog. Commands can build a bond of obedience and trust between man and beast. Avoid aggressive games like wrestling or tug-of-war with your dog.
  • Vaccinate your dog against rabies​ and other diseases.
  • Neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite.
  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Teach your child to see if the dog is with an owner and looks friendly. Then ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. Let the dog sniff your child and have your child touch the dog gently, avoiding the face, head and tail.
  • Tell your child not to bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Tell your child not to run past a dog.
  • If you're threatened by a dog, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If a dog bites your child, clean small wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention for larger wounds. Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records.

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5/19/2014 9:00 AM

Mealtime as Family Time

​Eating together as a family is a great way to:

  • Help your child learn healthy eating habits.
  • Model healthy eating for your child.
  • Spend valuable time together as a family.

Read on to find out how regular family meals can make a difference in your child’s life.

The Power of Family

Helping your child lose weight should be a family project. You can’t expect your child to change his or her eating habits alone while others in the family continue to reach for candy and ice cream.

What You Can Do

  • Get your entire family on board and support the weight loss efforts of your child.
  • Be sure everyone in the family models healthy eating behaviors.
  • Avoid making your child feel singled out and isolated. It will make your child resentful and increase the chances of failure.
  • Explain that the entire family, whether the person has a weight problem or not, is going to work at getting healthier.
  • Turn mealtime into family time whenever possible.

Structured Eating

When you have a child trying to lose weight, you need to pay particular attention to mealtimes. They should be firmly structured, not only for your child, but for the entire family.

What You Can Do

  • Have set times for meals. If your child knows that dinner is going to be served at 6:00 pm, he or she will be less likely to start searching for a snack at 5:30 pm. If dinner is served at a different time every night, your child might grab a snack rather than risk having to wait 2 or 3 hours to eat.
  • Offer your family 3 well-balanced meals each day. Avoid skipping meals. If your child skips a meal, he or she will become overly hungry, setting the stage for overeating.
  • Offer your child 1 to 2 healthy snacks per day. Discourage grazing (when your child has access to and grabs food all day long).
  • Prepare meals that are balanced and have portion sizes that are right for your child’s age.
  • Provide at least 1 fruit or vegetable with every meal.
  • Let your child help choose what will be on the menu. Encourage and praise your child for making healthy food choices.

Eating as a Family

In too many homes, families rarely sit down for a meal together. Having regular meals together as a family is an important way for families to grow closer. Family meals give everyone the chance to talk about their day. They are also an opportunity for you to keep an eye on what your child is eating.

What You Can Do

  • Try to have as many meals together as a family as possible.
  • Set a no-TV rule during family meals. The TV is a disruption that you should avoid while you’re eating.
  • Keep meals pleasant and focus on the positives. Celebrate your child’s successes and offer praise for his or her efforts.


Children learn more about good food choices and healthy nutrition when family members join one another for meals. Research also shows that kids eat more vegetables and fruits and less fried foods and sugary drinks when they eat with the entire family.


Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP

Information provided by  For more information, please view this article at the following web address -

Last Updated



Pediatric Obesity: Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Strategies for Primary Care (Copyright © 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

​ If you are the parent of an older child or teen, you may not think about his or her day-to-day medical needs as often as you did during early chil​dhood. But older kids also are dependent on you, especially when it comes to emotional health and wellness.

“Life transitions, romantic situations, stress and exposure to drugs and alcohol​​ are just a few of the challenges facing teens and young adults,” says James Perrin, MD, FAAP, 2014 President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “As a parent, you can help ease these transitions and encourage positive choices.”

May, which is Mental Health Month, is a good time to take stock of your child’s emotional well-being. The AAP offers these tips for parents to foster good mental health. 

Mental Health Tips for Parents of Teens and Young Adults

  • At each new stage in your child`s life, be extra vigilant for signals that he needs extra support. Be ready to provide it.
  • Check in often and keep the lines of communication open. If your child is away at college or has moved out, speak regularly by phone. Children should know that they can talk to you about anything. Be committed to broaching tough topics. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent.
  • If your teen has a mental health diagnosis, he or she will need extra support. Pediatricians, school counselors and mental health professionals​ are important resources.
  • Watch for mental health red flags, such as excessive sleeping, personality shifts, excessive moodiness, noticeable weight loss or gain, excessive secrecy or signs of self-harm.
  • Don’t skip the annual physical. Not only are teens still on a vaccination schedule​​ , but check-ups are a crucial opportunity to talk to your pediatrician about any concerns, as well as diagnose any potential physical and mental health issues. It’s also a great time for teens to seek confidential advice.
  • Safeguard your home against prescription drug abuse by keeping your own medications locked. According to the AAP, prescription drug misuse by adolescents is second only to marijuana and alcohol misuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include Vicodin and Xanax. 
  • Provide logistical support for young adults like completing health forms and physicals for college; setting up accommodations at school if they have a mental health diagnosis; finding physicians to care for their adult needs; and signing up for health insurance​. Your pediatrician’s office can help. See Mental Health Tips for Teens Graduating from High School​.
  • Help limit teens’ stress. Don’t encourage them to take on excessive time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Avoid comparing your children. Every child has his own strengths.
  • Encourage habits that reduce stress and promote physical and mental health, such as a well-balanced diet​, getting at least seven hours of sleep ​​a night, and regular exercise.
  • At this age, it’s important for parents to arm their older children with coping skills that will serve them throughout life, rather than handling everything for them.
  • As your child gets older, don’t let physical and mental health take a back seat to other considerations.

​For more information on caring for your child’s mental health, visit the Substance​ Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. ​

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5/2/2014 12:00 AM


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