Northampton Area Pediatrics, LLP
193 Locust Street 
Northampton, MA 01060
413-584-1714 (fax)

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Tuesday, December 25
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January 29, 2019
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Flu season is upon us –

We have seen a significant increase in the number of cases of influenza in our community. Here are a few things to remember:

What to Look For
Influenza usually comes on quickly, most commonly with fever (sometimes as high as 104 or 105), but also with cough, sore throat, headache, nausea/vomiting, and/or body aches. Some children can get extremely sick so it’s important to keep a close eye on your child and call us if you are concerned. In particular, if you think your child had the flu and appears to be getting better, but then suddenly gets sick with another high fever right away, it’s a good idea to call.

The New York Times published a good article on the flu last year which is still relevant --

How to treat it
Influenza is a virus, and in most cases, in otherwise healthy individuals, you can treat the symptoms and allow the body’s immune system to fight off the illness. This includes lots of fluids and rest, as well as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches, pains, and fever. There is a medication called Tamiflu (oseltamivir) that is often used to help treat people with the flu, most commonly people who are at high risk of complications (children under age 2 or with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, immunocompromise, or neurologic diseases such as seizure disorder or autism). Tamiflu is not like an antibiotic – it does not kill the virus – but it can stop the virus from replicating and if started in the first 48 hours of the illness, it can shorten the duration of symptoms. If 48 hours has passed since the first symptoms started, it is not likely to help, and Tamiflu can have side effects of its own including nausea, vomiting, and (rarely) neurologic side effects such as confusion. Tamiflu can sometimes be used as prophylaxis to prevent the flu should someone in the household have it, but we typically reserve this only for patients who are at very high risk.

How to prevent it
Your best bet for prevention is still the age-old recommendation of good handwashing! Try not to share food or beverages, and teach your children to cover their mouth when coughing (and don’t forget to do it yourself!)

Also, it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine! The flu vaccine does seem to be a pretty good match this year and more importantly, while the flu vaccine may not be able to completely prevent the flu, it does seem to be effective at preventing complications of the flu such as pneumonia, hospitalization, or death. Please call to set up an appointment if you would like to come in for a flu vaccine.

September 17, 2018
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The flu season is soon to be back, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has published their updated recommendations for flu vaccination for the year. Here are some of the major takeaways:

  • Everyone over the age of 6 months of age should receive an influenza vaccine, as soon as it is available (for NAP patients, that will be in the next 1-2 weeks)
  • The injectable flu shot continues to be the most effective form of vaccination. While there is limited availability of the live attenuated nasal spray (Flumist) this year, both the AAP and NAP recommend getting the injectable shot as it has proven effectiveness whereas Flumist has been ineffective in past years. In situations where the child refuses the shot, we can consider giving the nasal vaccine. Children under 2 and with certain medical conditions such as persistent asthma cannot receive the nasal flu vaccine.
  • Children under the age of 9 who have not received the flu vaccine in the past, or only have received one vaccine, will need to get two vaccines, spaced one month apart, to be protected
  • The flu vaccine has proven effectiveness against serious complications of influenza. 80-85% of the 180 pediatric deaths from influenza last year were in children who had not been vaccinated. 50% of the pediatric deaths occurred in children without underlying risk factors such as asthma or diabetes.

Please stay tuned to our Facebook page or watch your e-mail for information on when our flu vaccine clinics will be scheduled. We will have many convenient times during the day, after school, and on weekends, so that you can come in to get your children vaccinated.

September 17, 2018
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This summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations on car seat safety. In particular, they have recommended that all infants and children should sit in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they have reached the height/weight limits of the seat. (Previously, the AAP had recommended switching to forward facing at 2 years of age)|

The AAP also confirmed the following recommendations:

  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible, until they reach the height and weight limits for their seats. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more. 
  • When children exceed these limits, they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly. This is often when they have reached at least 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old. 
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
  • All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

More information can be found in the AAP's press release on their statement and more details about car seat safety in general can be found at the website.

February 19, 2018
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As most of you know, it has been a particularly bad influenza season, one full of coughs, fevers, and full waiting rooms at the pediatrician’s office.

A few things to remember:

  1. Is it the flu? Or just a cold? There is a significant difference between influenza and the common cold. Here is a great blog post about telling the difference as well as some good information about the flu.
  2. When should I bring my child in to be seen? Here is another good article about how to tell when your child’s illness might be the flu, and when you should bring him into our office to be seen. Many times you may be able to manage your child’s illness at home. Call us if you’re not sure.
  3. Do I need a flu test? Tamiflu? Given the seriousness of the flu season this year, there has been a shortage of both influenza testing kits as well as the antiviral medication Tamiflu. Not every child needs to be tested for the flu, and in many cases we can make decisions on whether or not to treat without testing. Tamiflu can sometimes be helpful in shortening the course of the illness if it is started early enough in the illness, but is not always recommended or required. Here is a good article with some information about this anti-viral medication
  4. Should I still get my child a flu shot? It’s not too late to get vaccinated! While the flu vaccine may not always prevent the flu, a recent study has shown that it can significantly decrease the risk of death from influenza. Call our office to see about getting your child’s flu vaccine, if you haven’t yet.

Thank you for bearing with us during this incredibly busy flu season. We know the waits have been longer and the waiting rooms busier but we are working hard and doing our best to help you and your children stay healthy!

September 27, 2017
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Did you know, about 75% of teens own a smartphone, and a similar number use at least one social media site regularly? Probably not a surprise to many of you. Even so, we're still just beginning to discover all of the risk and benefits associated with smartphone, and social media use, and the impact it has on our everyday health. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics identified smartphones and media use as an important issue affecting children’s health, and released a statement with media use guidelines last November. Some recommendations:

-Create a family media use plan. This is one of the more important recommendations, since it is a tool that parents can use to start the conversation about limits and expectations for media use in your family

-Don’t use your smartphone before bed, during family meals, or during homework, and don’t sleep with your phone!

-Have regular conversations about online citizenship and online safety.

Many parents and teens may have seen the article in last month’s Atlantic about teens and smartphone use. While the article’s title seems to sound an alarm, (here’s one parent’s response), it’s useful as a jumping off point for conversations with your teen. The article discusses some research about how smartphone and social media use have been associated with increasing rates of depression and feelings of loneliness.  

In addition to health concerns, take a look at this recent New York Times article about how technology has affected teenage romance.

Internet use, screen time, and social media activity all impact our children's health (and parent's health too!) - talk to us about it next time you're in for your physical (Or, put your smartphone to good use and get signed up for our patient portal!)

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