Back to school basics to keep your kids safe
Transitioning from summer months to the school year can be challenging for both children and parents. However, taking a few simple steps can ensure a healthy and productive start to your child’s school year, says Dr. Benjamin Elder with McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence.
Annual Checkup Schedule your child’s annual checkup with the pediatrician before school starts to make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date. It’s also a good idea to ask the pediatrician to check your child’s vision before they return to the classroom. If your child plans to participate in sports, remember to schedule a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE.
Vaccines It’s easy to keep up with vaccines when our children are little because they generally visit their doctor more frequently for scheduled check-ups. However, as children age, their visits tend to become spaced out. If we are not careful as parents, we could miss some of the recommended immunizations that ensure our children’s safety.
Preteens and Teens Teen and pre-teen years are opportune times to protect children against the many types of diseases they may encounter now or when they venture off after graduation. There are four additional vaccines each teen/pre-teen should consider before graduation. They are Tdap, Meningococcal, HPV, and the Flu vaccines.
• Tdap: Protection for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough) are present in this vaccine. Tetanus is an infection that causes lockjaw and tetany. Diphtheria causes an infection that can make breathing and swallowing difficult. Pertussis is a respiratory illness that causes continual coughing that can lead to breathing difficulties and is often fatal in infants. Vaccination is recommended between the ages of 11 and 12.
• Meningococcal: Meningococcal is swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord or blood infections. This condition can be fatal in children. Recommendations are a first shot at age 11 or 12 and a booster is recommended at age 16.
• HPV (Human Papillomavirus): HPV is a virus that causes genital warts and is a contributor to several types of cancers, such as anal or cervical. A shot is recommended at 11 years of age. This is a three shot series over a 6-month period and is designed to protect our children before they become sexually active.
• Flu: Annual flu shots can help prevent the spread of illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is an illness that affects the lungs and respiratory track. It causes symptoms such as a high fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, headache, fatigue and body aches. It is best to get vaccinated before flu season as it takes about two weeks after vaccination to be protected from the flu.
Nutrition The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following tips to help your child eat healthy during the school day:
• Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy.
• Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school’s website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
• Look into what is offered in school vending machines. Vending machines should stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice. Learn about your child's school wellness policy and get involved in school groups to put it into effect.
• Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options to send in your child's lunch.
Pedestrian Safety Safe Kids Worldwide reports that more than 19,200 children seek medical attention for injuries sustained while walking, and almost 500 children die every year in pedestrian accidents. According to a 2012 report by the organization, pedestrian injuries among 16- to 19-year-olds increased 25 percent over the previous five years. Teens now account for half of all pedestrian deaths among children 19 and under.
McLeod Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal recommends the following tips to keep your children safe from pedestrian injuries:
• Put devices down while crossing the street. One in five high school students cross the street while distracted by technology. Teach your kids to put devices down, look up, listen, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
• Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Tell kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
• Make sure your carpool is safe. Carpooling is a great way to save time for busy families. Make sure each child in the carpool has a car seat, booster seat or safety belt, based on individual age, weight and height. If there isn’t, find an alternative way for your child to get to and from school. A board certified Pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Elder cares for children at McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence. To make an appointment call (843) 777-5065.