Tag Archives: Pediatrician

Consider A Medication Vacation For Your Child

Summer’s here and the time is right for taking a vacation.

Whether it be a (and I can’t believe I’m about to use this word) stay cation at home or a vacation somewhere less-than exotic, most of us look forward to a few days off work so we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

But what about your ADHD child? Most school-age ADHD children take some form of medication to help them alleviate the symptoms of distraction or hyperactivity. These medications allow those taking them to sit still and think straight for long enough that they can actually learn something  in the classroom and during homework.

ADHD medication, whether it be stimulant-based or otherwise, is designed to do one thing: alter behavior. The medication is supposed to allow the child to behave in a more situationally correct manner and it achieves this by suppressing natural behaviors.

Taken out of context, that probably sounds like a horrible idea. It’s only when we begin considering that the natural behaviors are counter productive and disruptive both socially and academically that we understand changing the natural order is, in this case, a good thing.

However, change does not come without a cost. Consider the child who doesn’t take her medication one morning. More often than not, she will come home from school in a foul mood, cross and angry with the world. This is because her brain no longer has its expected pharmaceutical buffer supporting her cognitive processes.

It’s jagged and jarring and can make life difficult for both the ADHD child and anyone around him.

And yet, here I am suggesting that you might want to consider taking your child off her medications during the summer. While I might still be considered an idiot by some, I’m on the right track with this idea.

I will say, as a sort of fair warning, the pediatrician our young dudes still see does not believe in medication vacation for summer as a matter of course. However, there are certain circumstances under which she will give her go ahead.

You might consider a medication vacation as a way of assessing whether your child can do without medication for good. Because children are growing, the effect medication has on them will change over time. It could be that your child would do better on a different medication or no medication at all.

The only way to figure that out is to stop the current medication. ADHD isn’t something you age out of. However, some folks with the disorder can find ways to circumvent the disorder so they won’t need the medication.

A lot of that has to do with maturity. When younger, most kids don’t have the mental discipline necessary to do what needs to be done to help them overcome the hardships imposed by ADHD.

You might also want to consider a medication vacation if your child has been suffering from side effects, such as a loss of appetite. Within days, you’ll discover that most kids will begin eating more once they no longer are taking their medication. This could help them catch up on their necessary weight gain.

If you do give your little dudette a medication vacation, understand that it’s not on a whim. It’s a good idea to assess the success or failure of the vacation as summer winds to a close.

It could be that impulse-control issues without medication made it a difficult time. Or you might notice that your child is exhibiting more defiance when off the medications. Regardless, it’s a good idea to sit down with your child, your partner and the child’s doctor to discuss what you learned during the vacation.

This information can be invaluable as you begin to plan for the school year ahead.

The main thing I want you dudes to take away from this is that you should never stand pat when it comes to your child’s health and welfare. They’re growing and changing all the time, which means your approach must be constantly evaluated to see if it can be changed or should stay the same.

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Possible SIDS Breakthrough

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is just about the scariest thing I can imagine.

Your little dude goes to sleep, perfectly healthy, and then just doesn’t wake up. The doctors have no reason for what happened. There is no explanation. He just. . . died.

Horrifying.

SIDS is just what it says in the name. An infant, usually under the age of 1, will go to sleep (which is why another name for SIDS is crib death) and then die during the night of no perceptible cause. In fact, doctors can’t definitively diagnose a death by SIDS. It’s a diagnosis by exclusion. That is, once all other alternatives have been crossed off the list, only then will doctors consider SIDS as a cause of death.

Despite not knowing what causes SIDS, a correlation has been found between SIDS and babies sleeping on their stomachs, which led the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend that babies under the age of 1 should sleep on their backs. No one is sure why sleeping on a stomach could increase the likelihood of SIDS.

So. Unknown horror and no real idea what causes it.

Until now. Maybe.

Dr. Daniel Rubens, a physician and researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital recently published a study that calls into question one formerly popular suspicion that SIDS children have a brain malformation that could lead to their deaths.

Instead, Dr. Daniel Rubens’ research has indicated that problems with hearing and the inner ear may be linked to SIDS.

His newest study, published in a journal called Neuroscience, shows that inner ear dysfunction in mice results in an inability to wake up and move away from a suffocating environment.

The theory is that babies can move into positions that restrict their breathing while asleep, and those with hearing impairment in at least one ear don’t have the automatic survival mechanism to rouse and reposition themselves.

Rubens has previously published work, based on research he did with Rhode Island newborns. Babies that went through SIDS often had been found to have a hearing impairment during their birth screenings, his report said.

Of course, this study, while intriguing especially when paired with Rubens’ other work, still is in the very early stages. The next step is a large-scale study and Rubens still is looking for funding for such a research project.

If these results pan out, it could be a major step forward in the prevention of SIDS. That said, however, it’s not time to panic if your little dudette was marked as having some sort of hearing issue in her newborn assessment.

Don’t panic, but definitely don’t leave this alone. I really believe you need to contact your pediatrician, reference this study and ask about any concerns regarding what to do about SIDS and your child.

Once again, the AAP recommends your child sleep in his or her back in a plain crib. That is, don’t lightly cover your child with a blanket or have a lot of stuff in the crib with the child. Empty out the crib come nap or sleep time and, if a cover is needed, swaddle the little dude tightly and lay him on his back.

Once again, don’t panic. But do take deliberate action to inform yourself and your pediatrician. Heck, it might turn out that Rubens ‘ work won’t come up as causative or even correlative in a large-scale study of humans. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be on the lookout.

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It Stands To Reason

When little dudes learn to crawl it’s a very mixed blessing.

On the plus side of the ledger, it means your little girl is growing up and moving out to experience the world and is on time for her developmental milestones. She gets to explore and see the new things over her very tiny horizon.

On the minus side of the ledger, she gets to explore and see the new things over her very tiny horizon. When you go away and then come back, he won’t be where he was when you left him.

In fact, he’ll probably be over near some very delicate electronics. Drooling on it. Or seeing how good it tastes. You know, as babies are wont to do.

Take, for instance, Brina, a teller at my local bank. She’s the proud mother of a very young little dude who, just last week learned to crawl and is making the most of it.

“The first thing he went,” she said. “The very first thing. It was the DVD player. He kept trying to open the tray and smashing all the buttons and, I swear, trying to eat one of the knobs.”

And she is most definitely not alone.

The best news about crawling, though, is as an early-warning sign that walking is not all that far behind. Although, sometimes that walking thing can sneak up behind you with amazing stealth.

In this case, I speak from experience. My middle little dude, Zippy the Baby Boy, never actually crawled. Instead, what he’d do is the low-crawl. Imagine any movie where there’s a scene in an army boot camp. You remember the bit where they have to crawl under barbed wire, with live rounds shooting overhead? In the mud?

Yeah, that’s the low crawl.

And, for Zippy the Baby Boy, that was all that was necessary. His mom and I were worried that something was wrong so we took him to see our pediatrician. Nope, we were told, it’s all good. Some little dudes just don’t like to crawl.

Now, our oldest, Sarcasmo, was the cruiser type. He’d crawl to a couch, then use it to stand up and — leaning on the couch for balance — would begin walking back and forth for fun and exercise. And also for the LOLs, since he knew his mom and dad would come running to snatch away the stuff they’d unthinkingly left on the couch and was now within reach.

We figured that Zippy the Baby Boy would follow a similar trajectory. Nope. Not even close.

One day, sitting up in the middle of the floor, he got a strange look on his face. He watched Sarcasmo, who was 14 months older and at this point had been walking for a while, toddle past. He stared at the walking brother. Then he looked at the couch. And — I could swear — Zippy the Baby Boy shook his head.

Zippy the Walking Boy stood up, right there in the middle of the floor. Needing nothing for balance, having never crawled a day in his life, he simply stood up. Sure, he wobbled more than a little and eventually fell down before taking a step, but he was on his way.

I was not ready for two walkers in the house. Broadly, yes, I was ready because I’d already made the home as safe as I could for a walking, exploring little dude. Emotionally and planning-wise? Not nearly so ready.

There’s a certain mindset you need when you’re being left alone with two extremely mobile and varyingly hostile young organisms that just want to explore everything new.

I like to think of it in a basketball metaphor: This is the fast-break defense. You’re outnumbered and you know you can only do so much, so you have to triage your actions, make each one do the most good for the most little dudes. You’re probably going to get scored on, but your best hope is to delay them as long as possible.

That, however, is a post for another day.

Remember, expect the unexpected. Plan in advance for what you’re going to do with the next behavior. Because I guarantee you, if you wait until it’s manifesting, you’re too late.

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