Category Archives: Child & Youth Health

Snohomish parents get a B+ for kids’ back-to-school shots

Share

child wincing while be given a shot injectionFrom Snohomish Health District 

More 5 and 6 year olds in Snohomish County had all the vaccines they needed to enter school last year, according to recent data released by the state Department of Health.

For the 2012-2013 school year, 86.3 percent of local kindergarteners were up to date on their shots, better than past years and higher than the state average of 85.6 percent

Vaccines are required for school children because they prevent disease in a community setting. The rate of vaccination has continued to climb since an all-time low in 2008-2009.

School districts report vaccination rates to the state. The highest immunization rates for all grades (K-12) in Snohomish County last school year were in Lakewood (94.8%) and Everett (94.7%) school districts.

A small percentage of families seek exemption from the vaccination requirement, an average of 5.3 percent in Snohomish County schools compared to 4.5 percent statewide for children entering kindergarten.

In 2011 the process for parents or guardians to exempt their child from school or child care immunization requirements was changed.

Parents need to see a medical provider to get a signature on the Certificate of Exemption form for their child’s school. 

More information about the form and the law is available online at www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize.

Although exemptions are allowed for medical, religious, or personal reasons, the best disease protection is to make sure children have all their recommended immunizations.

Children may be sent home from school, preschool, or child care during outbreaks of diseases if they have not been immunized.

Summer is a good time to make sure your children are up to date on required shots. The cost of childhood vaccines is subsidized by federal and state government so that every parent can choose to have their child protected without regard to cost.

Required childhood vaccines are available for the school year 2013-2014.

 Two doses of chickenpox (varicella) vaccine or doctor-verified history of disease is required for age kindergarten through grade 5. Students in grade 6 are required to have one dose of varicella or parental history of disease.

 The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, Tdap, is required for students in grades 6-12 who are 11 years and older.

Recommended vaccines also are available.

 Varicella vaccine for children in grades 7-12 who have never had chickenpox.

 Meningococcavaccine for adolescents age 11-12. A second (booster) dose at age 16-18 if first dose was given at ages 11-15.

 A three-shot series of human papillomavirus (HPV) for both adolescent boys and girls age 11 and older.

 Children 12 months and older should receive hepatitis A vaccine, a two-shot series.

 Flu vaccine for all people age 6 months and older.

Snohomish Health District promotes routine vaccination of children and adults.

Snohomish Health District’s Immunization Clinic will serve you if your family does not have a health care provider. A visit to a Health District clinic includes a check of your child’s record in the Washington Immunization Information System, the state’s immunization registry.

Parents should beat the rush by making appointments now with their child’s health care provider. At the Health District, parents can make an appointment during normal clinic hours at either the Lynnwood or Everett office.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany a child to the clinic, and must bring a complete record of the child’s immunizations. 

You need to fill out a Snohomish Health District authorization form to have another person bring your child to the clinic. Ask the clinic staff to mail or fax a form to you.

Health District clinics request payment on the day of service in cash, check, debit, or credit card. Medical coupons are accepted, but private insurance is not.

The cost can include an office visit fee, plus an administration fee per vaccine. Reduced fees are available by filling out a request based on household size and income.

Teens also occasionally require travel vaccines for out-of-country mission work or community service. The Health District offers those immunizations and health advice for traveling in foreign countries.

Please call if you have questions, concerns or to schedule an appointment: SHD Immunization Clinic 425.339.5220.

Back-to-school shots hours:

SHD Everett Immunization Clinic, 3020 Rucker Ave, Suite 108, Everett, WA 98201

425.339.5220

By appointment: 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday-Friday

SHD Lynnwood Immunization Clinic, 6101 200th Ave SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036

425.775.3522

By appointment: 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday

NOTE: Both clinics will be closed on weekends and on Labor Day, Sept. 2.

 

Share

Number of children in US drops

Share

kids children playgroundFrom the National Institutes of Health

The number of children living in the United States declined slightly, as did the percentage of the U.S. population who are children, according to the federal government’s annual statistical report on the well-being of the nation’s children and youth.

The percentage of children living in the United States who are Asian, non-Hispanic increased, as did the percentage of children who are of two or more races, and the percentage of children who are Hispanic.

The percentages of children who are white, non-Hispanic, and black, non-Hispanic declined.

By 2050, about half of the American population ages under 17 is projected to be composed of children who are Hispanic, Asian, or of two or more races, the report stated.

The report projected that, among children under age 17, 36 percent will be Hispanic (up from 24 percent in 2012); 6 percent will be Asian (up from 5 percent in 2012); and 7 percent will be of two or more races (up from 4 percent in 2012).”

These and other findings are described in America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013. The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, which includes participants from 22 federal agencies as well as partners in several private research organizations.

The forum fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of federal efforts to collect and report data on children and families.

The report, the 16th in an ongoing series, presents key indicators of children’s wellbeing in seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.

Among the findings in this year’s report:

  • A drop for the fifth straight year in the percentage of infants born preterm, from 12.8 percent in 2006 to 11.7 in 2011.
  • A drop in the percentage of children ages 4–11 with any detectable blood cotinine level, a measure for recent exposure to secondhand smoke, from 53 percent in the years 2007 and 2008 to 42 percent in 2009 and 2010).
  • A drop in births to adolescents, from 17 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 in 2009 to 15 per 1,000 in 2011 (preliminary data).
  • A drop in the percentage of births to unmarried women ages 15 to 44, from 40.8 percent in 2010 to 40.7 percent in 2011.
  • A rise in the percentage of male and female 12th graders who reported binge drinking — consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past two weeks — from 22 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2012.
  • A drop in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living with two married parents, from 65 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2011.
  • A drop in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years with no usual source of health care, from 5 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2011.
  • A rise in the percentage of households with children from birth to 17 years that reported housing that costs more than 30 percent of household income, crowding, and/or physically inadequate housing, from 45 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2011.
  • A rise in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living with at least one parent employed year round full time, from 71 percent in 2010 to 73 percent in 2011.
  • A drop in the percentage of children ages 5–17 with untreated dental caries (cavities or tooth decay) over the past decade, from 23 percent in 1999 – 2004 to 14 percent in 2009 – 2010.
  • A rise in the percentage of children ages 5–17 with a dental visit in the past year from 85 percent in 2010 to 87 percent in 2011.

The percentage of youth ages 12–17 who had a major depressive episode was unchanged in the previous year (8.2 percent in 2010 and 2011).However, this figure was lower than the 2004 high of 9 percent.

The report notes that adolescent depression can affect school and work performance, impair peer and family relationships, and exacerbate other health conditions, such as asthma and obesity.

The Healthy Eating Index score, a measure of overall dietary quality did not differ significantly from recent years. For children ages 2-17, total scores ranged between 47 and 50 percent in 2003-2004, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008, . The report noted that the diet quality of children and adolescents fell considerably short of recommendations.

“Poor eating patterns can lead to childhood obesity and contribute to chronic diseases starting in childhood, such as type 2 diabetes, and those that emerge throughout the life cycle, such as cardiovascular disease,” the report stated.

The report added that the diet quality of children and adolescents would be improved by an increase in vegetables, especially dark greens and beans, replacing refined grains with whole grains, substituting seafood for some meat and poultry, and decreasing the intake of sodium, solid fats, and added sugars.

This year’s report includes a special feature on the kindergarten year, described as a pivotal marker for children’s development..Three and a half million children entered kindergarten for the first time in the fall of 2010.

On average, girls received higher scores than boys on kindergarten entry assessments in reading and approaches to learning. There were no differences between girls and boys in mathematics and science.

The special feature was based on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010 — 2011 (ECLS-K:2011), conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The report noted that the ECLS-K:2011 will follow the children’s progress through the fifth grade, providing information on how the children’s development may be shaped by such factors as child care, home educational environment, teachers’ instructional practices, and class size.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at http://www.nichd.nih.gov.

Share
thumbnail-protect-babies-from-whooping-cough

Protect babies from whooping cough – CDC infographic

Share

protect-babies-from-whooping-cough

Protect Babies from Whooping Cough (Text Version)

If you’re pregnant get a Tdap shot!

Whooping cough is deadly for babies

[Picture of a nurse holding a baby beside a hospital]
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a respiratory infection that can cause severe coughing or trouble breathing.
About half of infants who get whooping cough are hospitalized!
[picture of arrow saying “1 out of 2” pointing to hospital]
Whooping cough cases across the U.S. have been on the rise since the 1980s.

Pregnant women need to get a Tdap shot

[Picture of a pregnant woman talking to a mother holding a baby]
Pregnant woman: I got my whooping cough vaccine and will encourage everyone caring for my baby to get a shot, too!
Mom: This vaccine helps protect you from whooping cough and passes some protection to your baby.

Create a circle of protection around your baby

4 out of 5 babies who get whooping cough catch it from someone at home*
[Picture of a baby surrounded by his parents, brother and sister, grandparents, and childcare providers]
Everyone needs whooping cough vaccine:

  • Parents
  • Brothers & sisters
  • Childcare providers
  • Grandparents

* When source was identified

Make sure your baby gets all 5 doses of whooping cough vaccine on time

Your baby needs whooping cough vaccine at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 thru 18 months
  • 4 thru 6 years

You can get whooping cough vaccines at a doctor’s office, local health department, or pharmacy

[Picture of a nurse and a doctor]
Like it? Tell a friend! It’s important! Pinit! Tweet it! Share it on Facebook!
[Picture of parents with a newborn baby and young daughter]
www.cdc.gov/whoopingcough

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Share
Blue sky and white clouds (Panorama)

Hot weather: How to stay cool and safe

Share

Blue sky and white clouds (Panorama)

Hot weather tips from Public Health – Seattle & King County

When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illnesses rises. People’s bodies are not able to cool themselves quickly enough, and they overheat.

In severe instances, people can suffer heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk for heat-related illness. But even young and healthy individuals can suffer in heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.

You can protect yourself and loved ones against very hot temperatures by following these recommendations:

Stay cool

  • Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public places.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
  • Dress in lightweight clothing.
  • Take a cool shower or bath, or place cool washcloths on your skin.
  • Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives to take these precautions too.

Drink liquids:

  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar because they can actually de-hydrate your body.
  • Have a beverage with you at all times, and sip or drink frequently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

If you go outside:

  • Limit the time you’re in direct sunlight.
  • Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.
  • Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.
  • Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.
  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

Water safety:

Some people turn to local rivers to cool off, but drowning is a real concern. Please use caution and wear a personal flotation device (PFD) on the water. Find deals on affordable lifejackets. And if you want to swim, choose a safer location – visit a local pool or lifeguarded beach instead.

Certain medications may increase sensitivity to the heat. If you are concerned about the heat and the medications you are taking, check with your doctor. Do not take salt tablets unless your doctor tells you to.

Hot Weather fact sheets in other languages by the Washington State Dept. of Health:

Recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke

When people’s bodies can’t cool themselves quickly enough it can cause heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting.

If you see someone with signs of overheating, move the person to a cooler location, have them rest for a few minutes and then slowly drink a cool beverage. Get medical attention for them immediately if they do not feel better.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability unless treated immediately. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Nausea, confusion and unconsciousness

For more information, visit these websites:

Share
Photo by Sanja Gjenero

Salmonella in eggs: An unwelcome summer visitor

Share
Photo by Sanja Gjenero

Photo by Sanja Gjenero

CDC Features

Eggs and summer go together: deviled eggs, homemade ice cream, and potato salad.

But, just a few hours outside of the refrigerator and your eggs can create lasting memories that you’d rather forget.

This summer, make sure that eggs carrying Salmonella don’t come to your next outing.

Summer is the perfect season for Salmonella, a germ that commonly causes foodborne illness–sometimes called food poisoning.

Warm weather and unrefrigerated eggs or food made from raw or undercooked eggs create ideal conditions for Salmonella to grow.

Many germs grow to high numbers in just a few hours at room temperature.

Although anyone can get Salmonella food poisoning, older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for serious illness.

A person infected with Salmonella usually has a fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without antibiotic treatment. But, in rare cases, people become seriously ill.

In the United States, Salmonella infection causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other germ found in food, resulting in $365 million in direct medical costs annually.

Wondering if you haveSalmonella food poisoning?

salmonella on cultured human cells

Salmonella / CDC

See your doctor or healthcare provider if you have:

  • Diarrhea along with a temperature over 101.5°F
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  • Bloody stools
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration, such as
    • Making very little urine
    • Dry mouth and throat, and
    • Dizziness when standing up

Salmonella can be sneaky

You can get Salmonella from perfectly normal-looking eggs. Salmonella can live on both the outside and inside of eggs that appear to be normal. Chicken feces on the outside of egg shells used to be a common cause of Salmonella contamination. To counter that, regulators in the 1970s put strict procedures into place for cleaning and inspecting eggs. Now, Salmonella is sometimes found on the inside of eggs; it gets there as the egg is forming.

Good news for egg lovers

Professionals from public health, government, and the food industry are continually working to reduce the risks of Salmonella in eggs. Here are just a few contributions made thus far:

Be proactive. Reduce your risk.

Did You Know?

Eating raw or undercooked eggs can be especially dangerous for young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems.

Salmonella can contaminate more than poultry and eggs. It sneaks its way into many foods—ground beef, pork, tomatoes, sprouts—even peanut butter. Here are six tips to make eggs and other foods safer to eat.

  1. Like other perishable foods, keep eggs refrigerated at or below 40° F (4° C) at all times. Buy eggs only from stores or other suppliers that keep them refrigerated.
  2. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  3. Do not keep eggs or other foods warm or at room temperature for more than two hours.
  4. Refrigerate unused or leftover foods promptly.
  5. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or lightly cooked unpasteurized eggs. Although restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe containing raw or lightly cooked eggs –such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing—ask to be sure.
  6. Consider buying and using shell eggs and egg products that are pasteurized. These are available for purchase from certain stores and suppliers.

 Photo of eggs courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

More Information

For more information about Salmonella, foodborne illness, and food safety, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, e-mail cdcinfo@cdc.gov, or visit these web sites:

Share

Doctor offers 8 tips to keep kids safe while biking

Share

Bike ThumbBy Kathryn Bluher
From Seattle Children’s On the Pulse blog

The long, sunny days of summer are the perfect time to get the bikes out of the garage, but parents should hit the brakes and talk to children about bike safety first.

Bike accidents are the second-leading cause of serious injury in school-age children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care.Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says most biking injuries occur because a child either isn’t wearing a helmet or is putting themself in a potentially dangerous situation. “Children may see themselves as invincible when they are on a bike, which is not the truth,” says Woodward.

Biking is a great summer time activity for children and families, incorporating both physical fitness and family time, but proper safety measures are important to keeping kids injury-free. Accidents can and will happen while biking, even on the quietest roads and safest sidewalks, but these tips can help reduce the risk of serious injuries.

Top tips for keeping kids safe while biking

Wear a helmet every time. Children should wear a helmet every time they ride a bike. “Most of the serious and life-threatening injuries we see are head injuries,” says Woodward, but that risk can be reduced by wearing a properly fitted helmet. By simply wearing a helmet that fits correctly, children can reduce their risk of serious injury up to 85 percent. It doesn’t matter if a child is biking across town or across the driveway, children should wear a helmet every time they ride their bike, says Woodward. “Children shouldn’t be allowed on their bike unless their helmet is on their head first.”

Make sure you have the right helmet and the right fit. Not all helmets are made for biking. For instance, football helmets or hard hats are not acceptable for biking. Bike helmets are made specifically for head-first falls and should be properly fitted on a child. Helmets should meet safety standards and should have a CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) or Snell sticker inside. Proper fitting is also important. “Helmets only work if they are the right size,” says Woodward. If you can move the helmet from side to side, the helmet should be adjusted. Helmets should fit solidly on a child’s head and feel level. Due to the type of built-in protection, helmets are also only good for one crash. Remember, after a crash consider it trash!

Wear proper clothing. Kids should wear bright clothes while biking to be more visible to other bikers, pedestrians and cars. Reflectors or lights on the front and back of a bike and helmet are also a great way to increase visibility and ensure safety. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that could catch in the bike’s chain and mechanics, and wear proper shoes. “Wearing closed toed shoes while biking can reduce the risk of losing a toe and long sleeves can help guard against road rash if a child falls off their bike,” says Woodward. Flip-flops or shoes with heels are also hazardous.

Ride a bike that is right for you. Bikes come in all shapes, colors and styles. Choose a bike that fits your child’s skill level and style, but most importantly, find a bike that is the right size. Don’t purchase a bike that a child will grow into. A properly sized bike is a safer bike. Your child should be able to sit on the seat with their feet flat on the ground and the handlebars should be no higher than their shoulders.

Perform a safety check before every ride. Before every ride check to make sure a bike’s seat, handlebars and wheels are all adjusted correctly and in good shape. Nothing should be loose or falling apart. Check the chain of the bike and the brakes, and make sure the tires have enough air.

Be aware of surroundings while biking. Set clear guidelines with your child about where it is safe to ride their bike – on the street or on the sidewalk – and how far is too far away from home. Woodward recommends kids younger than 10 not ride without an adult in the street. Bike paths are a great option for children, free from motor vehicles. However, bike paths are not free from potential hazards, like sticks, rocks, protruding objects and other potential obstacles such as dogs, people and faster bikers. Also, bike paths are meant to be shared. Teach children to be respectful of walkers and other bikers and to always pay attention to their surroundings.

Proper supervision is key. Supervision is key, but it isn’t just when kids are on their bike, says Woodward. Supervision starts by preparing kids for their bike, with proper equipment and modeled behavior.

Follow road rules. Most pediatricians recommend not allowing children under 10 to bike on the roads, but if a child is deemed old enough and mature enough to ride on roads, make sure they understand the rules of the road:

  • Ride with traffic, never against traffic
  • Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when exiting a driveway
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights
  • When riding on the road, act as a car
  • Use bike lanes and bike routes
  • Avoid riding too close to parked cars to avoid car doors opening suddenly
  • Use proper hand signals, when safe to do so

Accidents can happen anywhere – on the sidewalk, in the driveway, even on a quiet bike path – that’s why being prepared, supervised and aware of surroundings are so important. Biking is fun, but safety comes first!

Resources:

Upcoming events:

Seattle Children's Whale Logo

Share

Tips to keep kids and teens safe this Fourth of July

Share

From Seattle Children’s On The Pulse blog

Photo by Johnny BergThe Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration; however, families should follow precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable occasion.

Not only do parents need to worry about firework safety, but families should also keep in mind alcohol and sun safety, too.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s, says that inadequate preparations for what might happen is the standard issue on Fourth of July.

To keep your kids out of the emergency department this year, Woodward recommends some basic safety tips.

Photo: Courtesy of JohnNyberg

Stay safe around fireworks

First and foremost: The main event on July Fourth is fireworks. Even though they are fun and exciting, they can be dangerous ifprecautions aren’t taken around kids.

The best way to avoid injury is to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and attend public fireworks displays. But if you plan to use fireworks at home, Woodward has some suggestions to keep your kids safe.

Children should never be allowed to use fireworks, including the popular sparklers. Woodward says the majority of firework-related injuries to children under the age of 5 are caused by sparklers.

“We often see kids with preventable burns and injuries from sparklers,” he says. Sparklers burn at a very high temperature (up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit).

Another important tip is to only light fireworks on level ground. “At least 50 percent of kids that we see are not the people who are setting off the fireworks, but the bystanders,” Woodward says.

Anticipate the consequences and provide adequate supervision to minimize any chance of injury. Never re-light or touch a firework that has not exploded.

If a child is injured by fireworks, Woodward says, “Remove them from the area and stop the burning. If it is serious, you are unsure or it involves face, eyes or hands, the child should be seen by a medical professional.”

Avoid heat illness

Don’t forget that July can have particularly hot weather, says Woodward. During a long day in the sun, he recommends that parents be on the lookout for symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Kids can become very ill if proper safety measures are not taken.

Woodward recommends that parents make sure kids drink plenty of fluids and wear lightweight, loose clothing. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, usually the afternoon.

If your child is experiencing heat cramps, be aware that they can be painful, says Woodward. Stop activity, take a break, and encourage your child to drink small amounts of water. In serious cases, heat cramps can lead to heat exhaustion, with symptoms such as pale skin, headache, dizziness, exhaustion, and nausea.

The third and most dangerous stage of heat illness is heat stroke. Parents should be alert to symptoms such as vomiting, decreased alertness or loss of consciousness, extremely high body temperature, rapid or weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Heat stroke can be life threatening, so be prepared to call 9-1-1 if symptoms worsen.

Talk to your teen about drunk driving dangers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fourth of July is the deadliest holiday of the year – even deadlier than New Year’s Day. Many teens find themselves in dangerous driving situations during July Fourth celebrations, especially when alcohol is involved.

Research has shown that nearly 80 percent of high school kids have tried alcohol. In a recent Teenology 101 blog postYolanda Evans, MD, MPH, with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine division, offers tips for parents of teens to help keep them safe during summer celebrations.

Evans recommends parents keep an open line of communication with their teens, as well as the parents of their teens’ friends. She also encourages a “free phone call” policy, so teens know they can call any time of night if they need a ride home. Visit Teenology 101 for more tips on talking to teens about alcohol and drugs.

Photo: Courtesy of JohnNyberg

More safety tips from On the Pulse:

Seattle Children's Whale Logo

Share

Upcoming free child car seat check-up events in King County

Share

Child safety seat car seatChild safety seats can be lifesavers for our most precious cargo when used properly. To support parents and caregivers so that their children fit securely in car seats, Public Health – Seattle & King County is hosting four free child car seat check-up events over the late spring and summer, starting in Newcastle on May 31.

Events details

  • Newcastle: May 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Coal Creek Family YMCA, 13750 Newcastle Golf Club Rd
  • Renton: June 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Renton Public Health Center, 3001 NE 4th St.
  • Bellevue/Factoria: July 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastgate Public Health Center, 14350 SE Eastgate Way
  • Federal Way: August 7, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Steel Lake Park, 2410 S. 312th St.

For all events, bring your car, car seat and child and learn how to properly install your car seat. 

Parents and caregivers will have their child safety seat checked by a certified child safety seat technician for safe installation; soon-to-be parents/caregivers welcome as well. Educational materials will also be on hand.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children up to two years old in rear facing seats or until they have reached the maximum height and weight limits of the car seat, as allowed by the manufacturer.

Child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants younger than one year old and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars, according to national research.

By one estimate (2009), 309 lives were saved nationally by child safety seat use.

For more information about the Public Health sponsored events, please contact Alan Abe, King County Emergency Medical Services Division, at 206-263-8544.

For ongoing child safety seat check-up locations in the Puget Sound area, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm.

 

Share

Teens have unsupervised access to prescription drugs

Share

By Stephanie Stephens, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: Journal of Adolescent Health

A new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that 83.4 percent of teens had unsupervised access to their prescription medications at home including 73.7 percent taking pain relief, anti-anxiety, stimulant and sedative medications that have the potential for abuse.

pills-spill-out-of-bottle

“It was surprising to me that parents were not storing medications securely because I expected them to be locked up and for parents to administer the medications,” said Paula Ross-Derow, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

She and her colleagues explored the supervision of prescribed medications among 230 adolescents in 8th and 9th grade, using an online survey and in-person interview.

Emergency room visits for non-medical use of prescription narcotic pain relievers are increasing in people under age 21, and death by poisoning due to prescription overdoses is up 91 percent in less than a decade among adolescents ages 15 to 19, note the researchers.

They acknowledge that it is possible that parents and guardians may not believe that their children would engage in non-medical use or give away their prescription medications and therefore do not take steps to secure them.

“Dr. Ross-Durow’s paper shows that the majority of adolescents who are prescribed controlled medications have easy, unsupervised access to them,” said Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. “This is of great concern, since it not only can lead to the possibility of overdose of medications with potential abuse liability, but also can contribute to diversion of these medications and nonmedical use by their peers.”

“Parents don’t recognize that other kids come into their homes and can open a cabinet or see meds on the kitchen counter and take them,” Ross-Durow explained. “Teenagers may give them away—thinking they’re helping a friend—and they don’t see this as a risky behavior, or some may sell the medications. Visitors in the home may simply steal them.”

The researchers admit they don’t know whether providers are adequately educating parents and encourage more studies around this topic. “Plus, what we did not ask, but realized when examining our findings, is about other medications prescribed to parents and how those are stored. What we want to know is when medications are readily available in the home; does that lead to nonmedical use? We believe unsupervised access lays the groundwork for that,” said Ross-Durow.

Journal of Adolescent Health:www.jahonline.org

Paula Lynn Ross-Durow, Ph.D., Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D., and Carol J. Boyd, Ph.D. (2013). Adolescents’ Access to Their Own Prescription Medications in the Home, Journal of Adolescent Health.

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

Share
kids mental illness cdc thumbnail

CDC takes a closer look at kids’ mental health

Share

By Jenny Gold

Somewhere between 13 and 20 percent of kids in the United States experience some sort of mental illness, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That adds up to millions of children suffering from disorders like ADHD, depression, autism and illicit drug use.

The total annual cost of the illnesses?

About $247 billion a year.

Kids Mental Illness CDC

The CDC put together this handy infographic to chart the prevalence of various illnesses. ADHD is the most common diagnosis, followed by behavioral and conduct problems.

The study, published as part of the CDC’s weekly journal MMWR, is the first time that federal researchers have sought to compile estimates of how many children have specific mental disorders and describe federal efforts for monitoring the issue.

The prevalence of mental disorders in kids seems to have increased over the past 15 years as well (though the growth could reflect better monitoring and awareness, rather than more kids actually being sick).

And they seem to be sicker: inpatient hospital admissions for mental health and substance abuse issues increased by nearly a quarter from 2007-2010.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for kids aged 12-17.

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Share

Learn about summer safety at “Safe Kids Day” events – May 18

Share

life-jacket-float Summer fun can land kids in the emergency room

Injury prevention for kids the focus of Safe Kids Day, May 18 and all year long

Kids wait all year for spring and summer to bring the longer days and warmer weather that’s now here, but that fun can lead to a trip to the doctor or even the emergency room.

A few common safety precautions can keep the action fun and avoid possible serious injuries, and this week the precautions are the focus of  Safe Kids Day, May 18.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says bicycle accidents crash-land more kids into emergency rooms than any other sporting activity. Children between the age five and 14 are injured more often than bikers of any other age.

Sometimes these injuries can be fixed with a simple bandage at home, but many times it’s much more serious – broken bones or concussions.

In Washington, one child dies or is hospitalized every day because of a preventable injury. This has an immeasurable, lasting effect on families and our community. Many of these tragedies can be prevented if children wear helmets while biking, rollerblading, or skateboarding; wear life jackets while out in or near the water; and ride in a properly installed car seat.

Accidents happen when least expected. Wearing an approved and properly fitted bicycle helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by 88 percent. As kids get older helmet use goes down.

The 2012 Healthy Youth Survey reports 59 percent of eighth graders in our state who rode a bicycle in the past month rarely or never wore a helmet.

Safe Kids Washington works to promote safe biking, water sports, and car seat use, among other safety tips that help prevent injuries. It supports 18 county-based Safe Kids coalitions that serve 95 percent of children up to 14 years old in Washington.

Proper helmet use, water safety advice that includes using personal floatation devices, and proper installation of child car seats are common prevention tools promoted by Safe Kids Washington and the Department of Health.

In 2012, local Safe Kid coalitions in our state distributed more than 900 car seats and 6,000 bike helmets to local families in need.

Other lesser-known tips are available through Safer in 7, and information on Safe Kids Coalitions in our state can be found on the Department of Health website. An example of a less common safety tip: jiggle a child car seat; if it moves more than an inch, it must be tightened.

The Washington State Safe Kids Coalition invites parents to take part in Safe Kids Day on Saturday, May 18. Local coalitions are holding several events across the state to help parents learn ways to keep kids.

 
Share

Children, teens should not use tanning lamps – FDA

Share

Sun TanningA Consumer Update from the FDA

Using ultraviolet (UV) tanning lamps, like those used in indoor tanning beds, increases the risk of skin damage, skin cancer and eye injury, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and numerous other health organizations.

According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—accounted for 75,000 cases of skin cancer in 2012.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanners are 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors, and the risk increases with use.

To help protect consumers from the risks of indoor tanning, FDA is proposing changes in its regulation of sunlamps. The proposals are to enhance oversight of these devices, and to require labeling to include a recommendation designed to warn young people under the age of 18 not to use these devices.

This is due to concerns about long-term effects of exposure to dangerous UV rays. Because the effects add up over a lifetime, UV exposure in children and teenagers puts them at greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life.

Proposed Changes

FDA regulates sunlamp products (including tanning beds and booths) both as medical devices and radiation-emitting products. Manufacturers of sunlamps must comply with FDA regulations regarding these devices.

Based on new risk information and recommendations from experts at an earlier FDA Medical Device Advisory Committee meeting, the agency is proposing to reclassify these devices from Class I to Class II. FDA can exert more regulatory control over Class II devices, notes FDA medical device expert Neil Ogden.

For example, sunlamps would have to undergo premarket review and comply with requirements relating to performance testing, software validation and biocompatibility. “We believe the reclassification will not only strengthen oversight of sunlamp products, but also will ensure that consumers are better informed about and protected from this sort of exposure,” he explains.

In addition, FDA is proposing that manufacturers add a label to the sunlamp warning young people not to use these devices. The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Medical Association and other organizations have previously supported what the FDA is now proposing: a recommendation that minors refrain from indoor tanning.

The proposed order will be published in the Federal Register at www.regulations.gov and FDA will take public comments for 90 days.

FDA also is proposing that sunlamp product labeling include a warning that people who are repeatedly exposed to sunlamp products see their health care professional on a regular basis to check for possible skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Risk

“There is increasing evidence that tanning in childhood to early adult life increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma,” says FDA dermatologist Markham Luke, M.D.

In fact, according to an overview of studies recently published in the journal Pediatrics, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women in their 20s and the third most common cancer in men in their 20s in the U.S. Luke adds that many experts believe that at least one cause is the increased use of sunlamp products by U.S. teenagers and young adults.

The overview in Pediatrics suggests that doses of UV-A ultraviolet radiation emitted by high pressure tanning units may be up to 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun, an intense exposure not found in nature.

UV-A rays penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin and are often associated with allergic reactions, such as a rash. This is not to say that tanning outdoors is a safe activity. WHO has classified all UV radiation as carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Practices to Avoid

FDA’s proposal seeks to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and to make prospective users of sunlamps aware of the risks they face. Certain practices involving sunlamps are especially dangerous. These include:

  • failing to wear goggles—this can lead to short- and long-term eye injury.
  • starting with long exposures (close to the maximum time for the particular sunlamp), which can lead to burning. Because sunburn takes 6 to 48 hours to develop, you may not realize your skin is burned until it’s too late.
  • failing to follow manufacturer-recommended exposure times on the label for your skin type (some skin types should not tan with UV radiation at all, for example those with skin that burns easily and doesn’t readily tan).
  • tanning while using certain medications or cosmetics that may make you more sensitive to UV rays. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Update page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

May 7, 2013

Related Consumer Updates

Share
Subway Thumbnail

Teens overeat at Subway, too

Share

subwayBy Katherine Kahn, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: Journal of Adolescent Health

Adolescents are just as likely to consume too many calories at Subway as at McDonald’s, a new study inJournal of Adolescent Health finds, despite the fact that they think Subway offers healthier food.

Adolescents purchase about 1,000 calories worth of food for an afternoon meal at both fast food restaurants—150 calories more per meal than the Institute of Medicine recommends for this age group.

“We were interested in looking at how the restaurant marketing environment affects what adolescents purchase,” said Lenard Lesser, M.D., the study’s lead author and a family physician and researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute.

Lesser and his colleagues asked adolescents where they would go for an unhealthy meal and for a healthy meal.

“When we asked them where they would go for a healthy meal, most of them said Subway,” Lesser said. “Our study was really designed to look at what adolescents actually ordered at the restaurants, not simply what was offered on the menu.”

The study enrolled 97 adolescents ages 12 to 21 to purchase meals at both restaurants on different days in the South Los Angeles area. They purchased an average of 1,038 calories from McDonald’s and 955 calories from Subway, which researchers found to not be a significant difference.

Nutritionally, the meals purchased from McDonald’s differed somewhat from Subway meals. The adolescents purchased more calories from sugary drinks and French fries and fewer cups of vegetables from McDonald’s.

The McDonald’s meals contained more grams of carbohydrates and sugars than the Subway meals. However, overall sodium amounts were greater in the Subway meals, probably due to more processed meats and breads, Lesser said.

There was no significant difference in fat content between meals from the two restaurants. The study authors stated that while Subway “may be ‘healthier’, it still may not be healthy.”

Brian Saelens, Ph.D., of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development commented, “At Subway, there are a few opportunities to make more healthful choices, but there’s lots of opportunities to make unhealthful ones. If the general mantra at these restaurants and other restaurants is to eat a lot and eat unhealthily, just sticking healthful things [on the menu] is not going to change a lot of people’s behavior.”

“Restaurants will announce initiatives to make kids’ menus more healthy, government and legislators will announce policies to make food healthier, but until we have policies from government or initiatives from industry that really improve the outcome of what people are eating and how healthfully they’re eating, we’re not going to succeed in solving the crisis of poor eating,” Lesser said.

For More Information:

  • Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at (202) 387-2829 or hbns-editor@cfah.org.
  • Lesser, LI, et al. Adolescent purchasing behavior at McDonald’s and Subway. Journal of Adolescent Health. May 2013.

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health

The Health Behavior News Service disseminates news stories on the latest findings from peer-reviewed research journals. HBNS covers both new studies and systematic reviews of studies on (1) the effects of behavior on health, (2) health disparities data and (3) patient engagement research. The goal of HBNS stories is to present the facts for readers to understand and use for themselves to make informed choices about health and health care.

Share

Seattle Children’s doctor offers spring safety tips for parents and kids

Share

Advice from Seattle Children’s On the Pulse blog

Seattle Children's Whale LogoThe days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and kids are spending more time outdoors. It is spring time – a season for hiking, grilling, gardening and outdoor fun. But with spring also comes the occasional bump, bruise, bite, rash and fall. How can parents help their kids avoid injury?

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of the division of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, offers advice for keeping kids healthy and out of the emergency room.

The hazards that come with spring

Many common spring injuries can be prevented by taking just a few moments to focus on safety. Woodward reminds parents, “the first thing for everything is supervision.”

Window falls

With warmer weather comes more open windows, and with more open windows comes more danger. According to Consumer Reports, each year more than 5,200 children fall from windows, and at least one in four is injured badly enough to be hospitalized. Young children four years old and younger are at a greater risk for window falls and are more likely to sustain serious injuries or die, according to the Journal of Pediatrics. To prevent window falls, move furniture away from windows, install window guards or stops and don’t rely on window screens. Keep in mind, Woodward says, kids can fall from windows open as little as five inches.

“Families look at screens as a barrier,” says Woodward, “but screens aren’t a barrier for kids. Many times, the screens are improperly installed or loose, causing children to fall through, sometimes causing serious injury.” Screens keep bugs out, but they don’t keep children in.

Keep a close eye on small children and keep windows latched. Learn more by watching this short video.

Spring cleaning and gardening

It’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get the yard in shape, but be cautious of hidden dangers in cleaning and gardening products.

“Poisoning is a concern throughout the year, but in spring we see products that were hidden away become more easily accessible to children,” Woodward says.” Fertilizers or poisons for outdoor use that were once stored deep in the garage or house come out in spring,” says Woodward.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), approximately 2.4 million people – more than half under age 6 – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance each year.

“Children may think a poison is ingestible, especially if a parent has placed excess cleaner or poison in a bottle that resembles a drinking bottle,” says Woodward. Even a small amount of poison is enough to harm a child. “A swallow or two, the amount of a teaspoon, is enough to cause serious damage, “says Woodward.

His advice to parents is to store all cleaning and gardening products in their original containers, up and out of the reach of children. Trade in heavy-duty cleaning products for non-toxic cleaners, and make sure your child doesn’t get near the poisons you’re using while you’re in the middle of a project. Lastly, post the Poison Center phone number by each phone in your home, and program it into your cell phones: 1-800-222-1222.

Grilling

Before lighting up the grill this spring, think safety first. “The best thing for a parent to do is get down on your hands and knees and access potential dangers,” Woodward recommends.” Put yourself in the position of a small child. If you see something that looks like it may be enticing around the grill or in the backyard ask yourself, could this be a danger to my child’s safety?“

Keep kids away from grills, and establish a safety zone, making sure the zone is at least 10 feet away from the grill. By taking this safety measure, parents can reduce the risk of a child touching the grill and severely burning themselves.

Always have kids wear shoes around the grill. The charcoal from a grill, which can be very hot, can come out the bottom, increasing the likelihood of a child getting burned. Also, sharp utensils used for grilling may fall on the ground. Wearing proper footwear can reduce the risk of puncture wounds.

Lawnmowers

Each year many children are severely injured by lawnmowers, according to the AAP. However, most of these injuries can be prevented. The AAP recommends not letting children under 12 use a walk-behind mower and not allowing children under 16 to use a riding lawnmower. Never let a child use a lawnmower without proper shoes – boots or closed-toe shoes. Safety goggles or glasses with side shields will keep their eyes protected. Also, make sure lawnmowers have an automatic shut-off mechanism.

Before mowing, pick up any items in the lawn that could be potential safety hazards. Woodward says rocks and nails hidden in the grass can become fast-moving projectiles that could harm a child.

Be aware of your surroundings while mowing. “You can’t see 360 degrees around you,” says Woodward. Make sure small children are indoors when operating a lawnmower to reduce the risk of injury.

Trampolines

As fun as trampolines can be, they can also be extremely dangerous. Thousands of children are injured on trampolines each year. “Trampolines are more dangerous the more people there are on them,” says Woodward.

The AAP advises against trampolines for home use, but offers the following precautions if families do choose to have a home trampoline:

  • Insist on adult supervision at all times
  • Allow only one jumper on the trampoline at a time
  • Do not allow flips or somersaults
  • Check for adequate protective padding on the trampoline and make sure it is in good condition and appropriately placed
  • Check all equipment often and repair or replace parts immediately when needed.

Hiking

Beautiful landscapes, warm weather and sunnier days make hikes a popular spring time activity. But before hitting the trail, make sure your family is properly prepared. Remember to wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and pack extra water. Also, don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellant and a first aid kit. Plan ahead and keep in mind the dangers of the outdoors: bug bites and stings, plants that may cause rashes and allergic reactions and exposure to sun, heat, wind, water or cold.

Woodward says winter run-off and eroded rock are two of the major causes of hiking-related injuries and fatalities each spring. “A stream that you may have been able to walk across in August may be twice as deep in April, May or June,” says Woodward. “In spring, streams are higher, faster and colder. Keep children away from running water.”

“In a wet environment, boulders and rocks may become loose,” Woodward says. ”I’ve seen instances where kids were climbing on rocks and they’ve become dislodged and pinned a child, resulting in death. Things that were stable in the past can become unstable with water erosion.”

Urgent care or emergency department?

Unfortunately, accidents do happen, sometimes at inconvenient times when primary providers aren’t available. When your child or teen needs immediate medical care for serious injuries, parents have many options available for care.

If your child gets hurt or sick this spring, Woodward recommends that you assess the severity of the injury or illness to determine whether a trip to an urgent care clinic is more appropriate for your child. For a quick guide, refer to this helpful chart.

“In general, if you’re worried about altered mental status, disfigurement, large lacerations, concussions or loss of consciousness, a child should be taken to the ED,” says Woodward. If a child becomes injured, Woodward advises parents to take a deep breath, first and foremost. “We don’t want two patients instead of one,” says Woodward. Parents should calmly asses the situation and act in the best interest of their child.

Remember, if your child’s illness or injury is life threatening, call 911.

In 2012, the Emergency Medicine team at Seattle Children’s saw over 36,000 patients. Hopefully, your child never has to visit the Emergency Department, but just in case, Seattle Children’s new Emergency department, opening April 23, will be able to meet the needs of any child, no matter the injury.

 
Share

Teens and Sexual Assault: Developmentally Delayed Teens

Share

Seattle Children's Whale LogoBy
This article first appeared on Seattle Children’s Teenology 101 blog.

Developmentally delayed teens are at a much higher risk of sexual assault than their non-delayed peers; the numbers are both depressing and well-validated.Despite the high rates of sexual assault in the teenage population, developmentally delayed teens are at even greater risk. The reason is simple: they are seen as an easy target, and there are predators out there looking to take advantage of them.

“Developmental delay” is a vague term (and is starting to become replaced by the phrase “intellectually disability”), encompassing Down Syndrome, autism, and other conditions that may be genetic or acquired. The range of developmental delay spans from teens who cannot communicate in any fashion with their caregivers, to articulate teens who plan to graduate high school and seek higher education or employment. Obviously, discussion and education for a delayed teen is not a one-size-fits-all task.

For the most delayed teens, unfortunately, there is no way to give them information to help protect themselves. It’s vital that anyone who looks after a delayed teen has had a thorough background check, either through a facility or when you hire them directly. Teens who go to public schools are cared for by employees with in-depth, although not infallible, surveys of their background. If your teen attends a private school or day care facility, sit down with the director and ask about how they ensure the safety of their clientele. Your teen should be spending most of their day in a group activity with one or more staff present. Having trust in whoever works with your teen can help relieve your mind, but it’s also important to keep a keen eye out for something that feels wrong.

If your teen can communicate, you may be able to provide helpful knowledge and skills. Of course, you have to modify this advice to fit your teen’s level of cognition and understanding. A good rule of thumb is:  if your teen asks questions, answer them. If your teen seems to be getting confused or frustrated, simplify.

Any teen who can grasp the concept should receive an education on sexuality appropriate to their level. Sit down with a book like Where Do I Come From? and discuss the basics of bodies and sexuality. They should learn about male and female organs, what sex, pregnancy, and childbirth involve, all about privacy and personal space, and that it’s normal to feel sexual feelings.

Most developmentally delayed teens will have strong sexual urges, like their non-delayed peers, and society in general is uncomfortable with this. People tend to think of delayed teens and adults as either “innocent”, with no sexuality whatsoever, or fear their sexual urges as “uncontrollable.” Like non-delayed teens, in the vast majority of cases, neither is true. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, the best way to discuss sexual matters with developmentally delayed teens is to approach their sexuality in a calm and informed manner.

Delayed teens should know that nobody is allowed to touch them sexually without their consent, and they are never allowed to touch anyone sexually without the other person’s consent. Tell them that if somebody tries, you want them to say a resounding no (delayed teens are often taught to obey those with authority, so stress that it’s okay to say no in this situation) and tell a trusted adult immediately. If no trusted adults are around, they should run and/ or call 911 if possible. Encouraged them to tell someone, even if it’s a secret, or they’re worried they’ll get into trouble. Be clear that your teen will never get in trouble for telling someone about their concerns.

Some parents are tempted to describe all sexual contact as “bad” for their teen. Understandably, they are nervous about their teen getting into a sexual situation. However, being touched in a sexual way can feel good, and if a teen doesn’t know that about this, they may not stop a situation because it doesn’t feel like the terrible thing they’ve been told about. Giving your teen a realistic view of sex can help them make healthy decisions, now and in the future.

Of course, some developmentally delayed teens will want to consent to sexual contact with someone. The question of whether a developmentally delayed teen can consent to sexual activity is very tricky, and obviously a lot depends on the level of delay. Encourage your teen to come to you with questions about sex, and tell you if they are thinking of starting a sexual relationship with someone. It won’t be an easy discussion if this happens, but it will be a valuable one.

A few resources: This book is written for parents of Down Syndrome children, but has good information for anyone. This short article is a good introduction. This longer piece is written for educators, but might be useful for parents as well, and the multiple links at the end are to great organizations that deal with this kind of issue. If you have access to Seattle Children’s Hospital, many providers in Adolescent Medicine have skill and experience working with developmentally delayed teens and their families around issues of sexuality.

What questions, success stories, or good advice do you have?

About Jen Brown, RN, BSN

Jen Brown, RN, BSN Teens never cease to amaze me with their strength, creativity, and new perspectives! Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed helping teens and their parents tackle health concerns and navigate social issues. Nursing is my second career; my first degree was in biology from Carleton College, and a few years later I went to the University of Virginia for their Second Degree Nursing Program. Recently I began a graduate program at the University of Washington.

Share