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Marijuana is the most common illicit substance used by teens (and yes, even in states where use is legal, it is still illegal for minors). We spend a good chunk of my clinic counseling teens about marijuana use. Here are some direct quotes that patients bring up in clinic on a regular basis:

“Marijuana is a natural drug –it’s not dangerous!”

E. coli is natural as well, but that’s a different conversation.

Coinciding with the increasing legalization of marijuana, the perceived risk of marijuana among teens has declined sharply over the past few years. Nearly 70% of high school seniors viewed cannabis as not harmful.  Luckily, the rate of use is much lower than this.

Between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of emergency department or urgent care visits by Colorado youth ages 13 to 20 for pot-related illnesses nearly tripled.  Ahhh…Colorado…you will be the beacon of marijuana studies for the foreseeable future.

 “It doesn’t alter my brain in the long-term”

The active ingredient in the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. When this is smoked, it passes from your lungs into your bloodstream and eventually to your brain and organs. Your brain has endocannabinoids that act on receptors to carry out normal cognitive functions. But when THC enters the brain, it binds to these same receptors, stopping the endocannabinoids from doing their job. All of the different areas in your brain where these receptors are “hijacked” are what cause your “high”, including, altered senses, altered sense of time, hunger, changes in mood, impaired body movement, difficulty problem solving, and impaired memory.

When the brain’s natural functions are altered like this, we see subsequent effects on mental health and cognition. Adolescent brains are especially susceptible to consequences. Marijuana users show increased risk for developing social anxiety disorder, increased risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses, and increased ideas of suicide. Marijuana smokers also have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, although cause and effect are not established.

In terms of long-term cognition, studies have shown a decline in neuropsychological functioning (verbal comprehension, processing speed, memory, etc.) in pot-smoking teens. This study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in teens and had ongoing use lost average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. This lost mental ability did not fully return with cessation of use either.  As Forbes points out, this difference in IQ can have a significant financial impact. Individuals with an IQ of 110 have an average net worth of $71,000 and individuals with an IQ of 120 have an average net worth of $128,000.

“I smoked an hour ago, I’m not high anymore.”

The onset of action, or how long it takes to feel the effects of marijuana, is 15-30 minutes when it is smoked. It stays in your system for 4 hours. The onset of action of edibles, or ingesting marijuana is 30 minutes- 3 hours. This can stay in your system for up to 12 hours.

Interestingly enough, marijuana’s effects on cognition can last 12-24 hours, long after the feeling of being high has worn off. This includes decreased reaction time, impaired attention, impaired motor coordination, and impaired ability to complete tasks that require divided attention.

“I would never drink and drive – that’s stupid.  However, I drive high all the time, no problem”

If the above abilities are impaired for 12 to 24 hours after marijuana use, you can probably guess that our driving skills are greatly impaired when high, or even the rest of the day after being high. Studies have shown that the odds of a driver under the influence of marijuana is 2.6x more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident than a sober driver. This is a huge risk, considering motor vehicle crashes are already the leading cause of death in US adolescents ages 16-25, no matter if you are sober or not.

“Marijuana helps my nausea and stomach pain.”

People that smoke marijuana for a long time can actually develop nausea and stomach pain and begin self-treating by continuing to smoke! Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome occurs in chronic users when weed (which has natural anti-nausea properties) has a paradoxical effect on the stomach and actually can cause nausea and vomiting.  This starts as months to years of early morning nausea and abdominal discomfort. Many users “self-treat” with more smoking. The next phase of this syndrome is a cyclic nausea and vomiting phase that can last 1-2 days. Users get diffuse abdominal pain and will self-treat these symptoms by taking several hot showers a day to alleviate the pain. Users then recover and return to normal before the cycle repeats itself. Therefore, yes, marijuana may be alleviating your nausea and stomach pains, but only after it was the cause of it in the first place. The only treatment? To stop marijuana use.

“Marijuana smoke is better than cigarettes”

Less is known about marijuana smoke than cigarette smoke. However, we do know that marijuana contains some of the same carcinogens as cigarettes. The inhalation of smoke itself also causes several respiratory problems. A recent study suggests that an increase in parents smoking pot around their children could undo decades of effort to protect our kids from second-hand smoke. Among parents who smoke cigarettes, pot use increased from 11% in 2002 to more than 17% in 2015 (although number of parents smoking around their children has decreased overall). Patients with asthma who are exposed to marijuana smoke have poor control of their symptoms and frequent attacks. A Colorado study found that 1 in 6 children (under 2 years of age!) admitted to hospital for bronchiolitis (lung inflammation) tested positive for marijuana exposure. And lastly, studies have shown a higher risk of lung cancer in marijuana users.

“Synthetic marijuana is safe and legal.”

This is the most dangerous misconception of all (see recent blog post to show how false this is!). Synthetic cannabinoids, also called Spice or K2, are newer drugs that are similar enough to marijuana to bind the same receptors in the brain, but their chemical structure is altered.  This change in structure is just enough that “technically” the drug is not an illegal substance like marijuana. However, the chemical alterations that have occurred can make synthetic marijuana up to 100 times stronger. As legislation bans one substance, a small alteration is made in structure to stay one step ahead. With each alteration, the substance becomes more unpredictable and potent. Health risks include fast heart rate, agitation, nausea, seizures, and death! Synthetic marijuana actually causes a 30 times higher rate of ED visits compared to marijuana.

Looking at high school data from a recent national survey, about 3% of high school students report use of synthetic marijuana in the past year. Unfortunately, these students reported less concern of the health risks associated with these drugs and more concern for marijuana itself. It seems that the appealing packaging, easy accessibility, and “legality” of the drug falsely portray it as a safer alternative to users.

So, there you have it.  Marijuana may be natural and legal in some places, but it’s not risk free.  It’s important to talk about marijuana and make sure the misconceptions get cleared up.

The post Marijuana Misconceptions appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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With the snow finally melted away, and the weather officially beginning to feel like spring, we know that the day is nearing when we be starting the lawn mower for our first official mow of the season! Although this is something many of us look forward to after a very long winter, there are also many dangers that we need to be aware of regarding lawn mowers to keep our kids safe.

Lawn mowers are the #1 cause of traumatic amputations in children. In Wisconsin alone, it is predicted that 1-2 children will be injured by lawnmowers everyday this summer. In looking at all lawn mower related injuries, 90% of these injuries happen in the child’s own yard. Additionally, 50% of lawn mower related injuries occur while the lawn mower is in reverse. Power mowers can be especially dangerous to children. The good news though is that many of these lawn mower related injuries can be prevented.

Lawn mower safety tips

Below are some safety tips to follow to ensure your children are safe during this year’s mowing season:

  1. Before starting the lawn mower, know where all children are. Talk to them and be sure they stay out of the yard when someone is mowing. Keeping kids in the house is the ideal safety practice.
  2. If children are playing outside, designate a supervisor (not the person mowing) of the kids while the lawn mower is in use.
  3. Never allow a child to ride as a passenger on a riding mower.
  4. Teach children that lawn mowers are not toys.
  5. Children should be at least age 12 to operate a walk-behind mower.
  6. Children should be at least age 16 to operate a riding lawn mower.

The post Know Before You Mow: What You Need to Know About Lawn Mower Safety appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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Kevin Love, a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team (yes, there are more players than just Lebron James, although some of these finals games may appear otherwise) reports following the symptoms in the middle of a basketball game: shortness of breath, heart racing, feeling like he was about to die. He abruptly left the game and was checked out at a hospital; all the tests came back normal. He had just experienced his first panic attack. He penned a wonderful piece for The Players Tribune going into detail about his panic attack, his misconceptions about mental health, and why it’s important to him to decrease the stigma of mental health.  Bravo, Kevin!  This fits right in with this year’s Mental Health Health theme – “#CureStigma.” One of the best ways to cure stigma is to educate –so here we go!

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort and may include some of the following symptoms: heart racing or pounding, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, feeling dizzy, sensation of choking, numbness/tingling, fear of dying, etc. These symptoms can mimic a severe health condition, like a heart attack, so it’s common for people to go to an emergency department for an evaluation.

Contrary to popular belief, panic attacks can occur during either a calm state (“out of nowhere” is the expression my patients tend to use, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders calls it “unexpected”) or during period of increased stress or specific cause (“expected”).  Sometimes, you cannot pinpoint what triggered a panic attack. And not everyone who experiences a panic attack has an underlying mental health disorder, like panic disorder or another anxiety disorder.

If you experience panic attacks or symptoms that could be related to panic, please contact your health care provider. Mental health treatment, including therapy and/or medications, can help to prevent panic attacks or give you options to deal with a panic attack if one comes. You do not need to suffer in silence!

Due to the candor of Kevin Love (and that the Milwaukee Bucks are no longer in the playoffs), I will now be cheering for Cleveland in the NBA playoffs. Go Cavs!

The post Panic at the Disco (and the NBA sidelines… and school… and home…) appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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Summer nights are perfect for having a campfire with your family. You can sing songs, tell stories and roast marshmallows to make s’mores. Keep your campfire experience fun and safe with these tips from the UW Health Burn Center:

  • Always have an adult around. Children should never build a fire alone
  • Be sure your fire pit has a sturdy border around it
  • Keep fires at least 10 feet away from the house and other structures
  • Keep the campfire small so that you can manage it
  • Choose one person to be in charge of adding wood to the fire
  • Do not throw or use flammable liquids on a fire
  • Never throw trash on a fire, especially bottles and cans
  • Keep a safety zone of at least 3 feet when standing or sitting around the fire. You can use long sticks or extendable forks  to roast marshmallows.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to stop, drop and roll. Explain to your kids that if their clothes accidentally start on fire they should stop, cover their face, drop to the ground and roll around to put out the flame.
  • Have plenty of water and a shovel nearby in case the fire starts burning outside of the fire area. If you don’t have water, you can use dirt!
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.

When you are ready to leave, pour water on the fire until the hissing sound stops, stir and pour water again until everything is wet and cold to the touch. Never to assume a campfire is out just because they don’t see flames. Coals can stay hot for more than 24 hours after the flames go out. Teach kids NEVER to play or run through ash/coal, even if they are sure it’s not hot.

Remember what Smokey the Bear says: “If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!”

The post Be Safe Around Campfires and Hot Coals appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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A scary news alert from April 20th (or 420, wink, wink):  Synthetic marijuana (“K2”, “Spice”) laced with rat poison has sickened at least two people in Milwaukee (now it’s actually up to 4 confirmed cases in Wisconsin). From when the index case was identified on 3/8/18 in Illinois through 4/29/18, at least 4 people have died and at least 160 people presented to healthcare facilities in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin with serious unexplained bleeding. Lab testing found the warfarin-like blood thinner (a rat poison!!) in at least 60 patients and in at least 7 synthetic cannabinoids specimens.  Just goes to show you that you can’t always trust the drug dealers – your health may not be their top priority (this is seriously a sentence I say to a patient in clinic at least once a day). 

So here is a repeat of a blog I wrote in 2016, because there’s no need to recreate the wheel.  As a side note, if you bought any of these products recently, please, please, please do not use them. 

Last week, there was an epidemic of overdosing on a designer drug.  Thirty-three people in New York went to the hospital with complications of synthetic cannabinoid (called “K2” or “spice”) use all within several hours (that number actually rose to 130 overdoses over the course of the week).  This is the most press designer drugs have received since Miley Cyrus was caught with Salvia.

What you need to know about synthetic cannabinoids

These drugs called K2/spice (or black mamba, bliss, genie, etc… there are so many names…) are plant materials or herbs that are laced with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. It is usually smoked, but can also be eaten or made into a tea. These substances are much more potent than marijuana, and different batches may have different potencies. They may lead to similar effects as marijuana, but can also lead to paranoia, panic attacks, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and (as the people who went to the hospital last week can attest) nervous system depression. There are many reports of death from K2/spice.

The use of K2/spice has been increasing in the past few years.  Luckily, it looks as if its use has decreased among adolescents.  The percent of teens saying they used any synthetic cannabinoid in the past 12 months now stand at 3% of 8th graders, 4% of 10th graders, and 5% of 12th graders.

Synthetic cannabinoids may be sold in stores legally (often marked “not for human consumption”) and found in gas stations and head shops as well as online.  The original drugs marketed as synthetic cannabinoids are illegal (and President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act into law in 2012) but this whole thing is hard to enforce.  When a drug is made illegal, its chemical compound (for example, 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl) indole) is what is made illegal.  However, the tricky drug dealers are one-step ahead and make a minor change to the chemical compound to make a “new drug” that has not been made illegal yet.  These small alterations can also change some of the medical consequences of the drug. If only these chemistry-minded dealers used their powers for good! Sigh.

Just like with any drug (and liked I blogged about with Molly), the person who uses it is putting their life in the hands of a drug dealer.  Since there is no oversight in its production, synthetic cannabinoids may be laced with chemicals other than THC as well, like Benadryl, acetaminophen, etc. You never truly know what you’re getting.

It’s worth repeating: If you have purchased any of these products in the past month, do not use it. If you have used any of these products, and start experiencing severe, unexplained bleeding or bruising, please have someone take you to the hospital immediately or call 911. Do not walk or drive yourself. Tell your health care providers about the possible link between your symptoms and synthetic cannabinoid use.

If you are concerned that someone you know has a problem with any drug, talk to your healthcare provider. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) also has a helpline that provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental health and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)
TTY: 1-800-487-4889

Website: www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

The post Synthetic Cannabinoids (Take 2) appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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Most parents would love to have an ounce of their child’s energy. Science supports the fact that children under the age of 7 years do have more energy than older children and adults. Some researchers attribute it to their deep breathing pattern, which is more effective at oxygenating cells, and others to a child’s ability to live in-the-moment, not distracted by anxiety, worry or regret. What happens when the already-energized child consumes caffeine?

In recent years, caffeine intake among children, adolescents and young adults has significantly increased and now approximately 75% consume caffeine regularly. In small amounts, this stimulant can make young individuals feel more alert and bolsters their already present energy. In large doses, caffeine can impose irritability and anxiety, increase blood pressure and heart rate and impair calcium metabolism and sleep. This drug can also be lethal. Because caffeine is found in common foods and beverages such as chocolate, ice cream, soda, tea it is important to keep tabs upon how much caffeine our children are consuming.

How Much Caffeine is Too Much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children under the age of 12 years avoid caffeine and those older than 12 years can tolerate 85 to 100 mg of caffeine daily. The Food and Drug Administration has not set guidelines for safe caffeine consumption, however the Canadian government notes that children under the age of 12 years can handle caffeine in the following amounts:

  • 4 to 6 years: < 45 mg (equivalent to 12 fl oz Cola or 8 oz of Tea)
  • 7 to 9 years: < 62 mg (equivalent to 1 oz of espresso)
  • 10 to 12 years: < 85 mg (equivalent to 8 oz of home-brewed Coffee)

The upper limit of caffeine toxicity in children remains unknown and therefore, it is essential to monitor intake, especially in a child’s early years. As adolescents are the prime target for energy drink advertisements, monitoring caffeine intake into teen years is also crucial. Additionally, high school athletes may also experiment with caffeine pills to boost performance during sports and physical activities. These concentrated doses and contain up to 1600mg of caffeine in a single teaspoon.

Recommendations for Parents

Monitor your child’s caffeine intake and discourage excess. By making water and white milk your child’s number on beverages, caffeine is not a concern. However, 1 serving of Cola can expose your child to toxic levels depending upon their age.

Find alternatives to caffeine-rich foods and beverages. Assorted sparkling waters can be unique drinks to explore. While caffeine is being added to more and more foods today, there are still original forms of these foods to partake in from jelly beans to protein bars.

Discuss the dangers of caffeine with your teens and seek to understand their intentions. If it’s energy that your child is seeking, explore more healthful strategies to achieve restorative sleep such as an earlier bed time, decreasing screen time in the evening, deep breathing techniques and mindfulness.

Rule out sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person repeatedly stops and restarts breathing during sleep. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring and feeling tired after a full night’s rest.

The post Caffeine and Kids appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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Our pediatric palliative care team has a shared focus: providing the very best care and experience possible for every patient and family. We are an extra layer of support for you, I tell our patient families.

A lot of what I do as a social worker is listen, support and encourage. I try to help normalize the emotions of parents who are feeling overwhelmed by their child’s health issue. We try to help them navigate their health care experience, providing resources to hopefully make it a little easier.

Families can feel overwhelmed by all of the decisions they face, so we offer support, such as helping them set goals and making sure all of the options are presented to consider. We also provide encouragement if doubt sets in about decisions they’ve already made. I remind parents, ‘You made the best choice with the information you had at the time.’

In palliative care, we support families who have children with chronic conditions or severe circumstances, as well as with end-of-life care. We focus on quality of life – for the child and for the family unit. We want to empower families.

In difficult times, when I am in the presence of someone who is in deep grief, I remind myself that deep grief is the other side of deep love. I strive to be fully present with the person who is in pain and appreciate the deep love that also produces deep grief.

There are tremendously difficult days in this work, there’s no doubt. I have sat in the parking lot, trying to process my own emotions before I could drive home. We are human beings and we are affected by what we witness. But we have such wonderful people here and we all support each other. I trust our team completely.  We do have to take care of ourselves so that we can return the next day, renewed and ready to provide the same level of support to the next patient family. I meditate daily and practice mindfulness throughout the day. I believe in the benefits of mindfulness-based practices and encourage both our staff and our patient families to give them a try.

I find that the best days are those when I can remain grateful throughout the day. To find something to appreciate and be glad for, no matter what the situation. Even when things are tough and not the outcome we had hoped for, I will look for the gifts of the day. What were we able to accomplish for someone?  Or, what did I learn for next time?

For Patient Experience Week, we’re featuring the experiences of our patients and families in their own words, as well as the perspectives of staff who work together to deliver a remarkable health care experience.

The post Pediatric Palliative Care appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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When we think of weightlifting, our first thought may not be about kids – but in reality, it can be a good form of exercise. Alison Regal, exercise specialist with UW Health’s Sports Performance program, explains that it fulfills many dimensions of overall wellness – including the social, physical, emotional and even intellectual.

“Weightlifting can help increase bone mineral density and lean muscle mass. It helps to prevent injury and increases athletic performance. From an emotional perspective it can be a great way to relieve stress. If you’re part of a team – weightlifting can increase team cohesiveness and participating in a weightlifting program can increase an athlete’s confidence, open their mind to new experiences and help them step outside their comfort zone” she says.

It can be challenging for some kids to figure out a physical activity they enjoy doing. If they try lifting and discover they enjoy doing it, they may be motivated to continue weightlifting into adulthood. But with so many benefits, at what age is it actually appropriate to get started?

Regal explains that determining whether a kid is ready for weightlifting is less about chronological age, and more about their biological age.

“All kids develop differently. There will be some instances when you have a 12-year-old who can train like a 16-year-old, and some instances when you can’t,” she comments.

Maturity is a major consideration. For safety reasons, it is important for athletes to listen and follow directions, especially if they are doing more complex movements such as a body weight squat jump where proper form is critical.

“If you’re uncertain whether weightlifting is appropriate for your child, it can be beneficial to speak with a professional in the field of strength training – a person who has the appropriate license and certification,” she adds.

When getting started, Regal suggests staying away from any sort of machine exercises.

“They should learn how to do basic movement patterns such as a squat, lunge, step up, single leg balance and inverted row,” she says. “Mastering these basic pushing and pulling exercises are more specific to sport, require more muscles and joints to be involved, and are similar to the movements that we do every day.”

Another consideration she suggests is adding resistance to a particular movement if a kid or teen can’t quite perform the movement the correct way. “And everyone should learn how to do a body weight squat before using dumbbells or stepping under a barbell,” she adds.

It can be easy to do too much too soon when it comes to lifting, but the body needs a certain amount of time to recover. Establishing reasonable goals is strongly recommended so that kids and teens don’t over-train and so their body has a chance to rest. And as they progress, adaptations can be made by either increasing the volume – or number of reps – or intensity – the amount to be lifted.

“A typical program includes increasing the amount of weight you are lifting and decreasing the amount of reps you are doing. You want to manipulate either one or the other on a weekly basis,” but, she stresses – not both. “You don’t want to lift more weight and do more reps as it can lead to injury.”

For someone who is more advanced with weightlifting, they can lift up to four times per week. Regal notes that if a kid or teen experiences pain or muscle soreness that does not go away after a few days, it should be checked out by a physician.

When starting a weightlifting program, teens may also be tempted to try to “bulk up” to enhance their size, but Alicia Bosscher, a UW Health clinical nutritionist, explains that they need to be careful. “Bulking up on greasy – or junk – food can be tempting. The problem is that without plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, they’re putting themselves at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which could contribute to fatigue, a weakened immune system and even poor sports performance.”

Bosscher, who works with Regal at UW Health at The American Center, adds that with the foundation of a healthy diet, occasional splurges are absolutely allowed and even encouraged. A few slices of veggie pizza on a whole grain crust, or a lean burger on a whole grain are good options.

Reading through lifting magazines or talking with friends, another temptation may be supplementation, such as with anabolic steroids (a.k.a. gym candy, roids or juice). But taking any steroids without a prescription is illegal and unsafe. Bosscher explains that side effects can include enlarged heart, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack or stroke, even severe acne.

“Some supplements – like glutamine and creatine – while legal and proven somewhat effective in adult athletes, have not been studied in teenagers or children,” Bosscher says, adding that it is important that teens and kids talk with their physician about any supplements they may be considering.

To ensure kids get a healthy start, UW Health Sports Performance does offer a variety of services including sport nutrition consultations. For more information visit uwhealth.org/sportperformance.

The post Teens and Weightlifting appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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Today, social media and the digital age inundates parents and caregivers with messaging regarding what, when, where, why and how to feed children. Eating healthy is likely a universal goal and I would venture to say that all caregivers desire to serve their children a well-balanced meal three times per day. I, however, would like to challenge what that meal looks like. A healthful meal is not determined by the time it took to prepare. In general “slow food” is healthier, but quick meals can be just as nutritious and buy caregivers more time to enjoy them with their children at a table.

A healthy meal is one that provides a variety of energy sources and thus a variety of food groups. There are five food groups: Grains, Fruit, Vegetables, Dairy and Protein. The protein group is unique because it is relatively lower in carbohydrate, the body’s primary energy source, and thus can help to balance meals by slowing digestion and promoting satiety and satisfaction. Therefore, most Registered Dietitians will encourage individuals to strive for at least three different food groups at each meal: a source of energy, protein and fiber. If this is breakfast, it may be a serving of grain, fruit and high protein dairy. However, at lunch and dinner it may be a serving of grain, lean protein and vegetables served up.

Now, let’s get real and get away from the idea that a healthy dinner needs to be roasted turkey, quinoa pilaf and steamed broccoli, as well as, the idea that a quick meal has to be acquired from your favorite fast food chain. Here are some quick, kid-approved dinners for anyone looking to save time on meal prep and spend more time making memories.

  • Pre-cooked tortellini, mozzarella, cucumber and cherry tomatoes with a pesto dipping sauce.
  • Turkey, Swiss cheese and spinach wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with skewered apple slices or grapes.
  • Ground turkey meatballs, 3 cheddar cheese cubes skewered with cherry tomato, lettuce and pickle slices.
  • Lean ham rolls with mini bell peppers and pineapple chunks.
  • Hard boiled egg with whole grain crackers, cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado.
  • Chopped chicken breast with green pepper, onion, avocado and salsa with a side of baked tortilla chips.
  • Hummus spread stuffed into a whole grain pita pocket with cucumber, grated carrot and lettuce.
  • Grilled portobello mushroom with melted provolone cheese on whole grain toast.
  • Mozzarella cheese with baby spinach, basil leaves and sliced tomato with a side of whole grain crackers.
  • Peanut or almond butter spread on whole grain bread with sliced banana and a side of celery and carrots.
  • Whole grain English muffin toasted with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and baby spinach.
  • Grilled cheese with your choice of cheese melted over sliced tomato and spinach on whole grain bread, or make it a quesadilla with a whole grain tortilla and a side of salsa.

The post Quick Kid-approved Meals for Busy Parents appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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A study recently published by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that short-term increases to high-dose of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) does not effectively prevent asthma flare-ups in children, but does that mean it’s time to rip up your child’s asthma treatment plan?

“Parents definitely should not change their child’s asthma plan without first talking to their doctor,” said Daniel Jackson, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at UW.

Jackson, an expert on childhood asthma who led the study, said parents, physicians and asthma treatment guideline committees should take note of the findings because avoiding this ineffective strategy could save families money and mitigate potential side effects—particularly a decline in growth rate seen in children who took high doses of corticosteroids during the study.

“The growth effect that we saw in the study was quite small, but what concerned us is that if the strategy was used more frequently, there would be potential for greater effect,” Jackson said.

Know your corticosteroids and how they’re used in your child’s treatment

Jackson’s study examined temporary increases to high-dose ICS among children who already regularly take low doses.

ICS, not to be confused with “rescue” medications like albuterol inhalers, are considered “controllers” and are taken daily for prevention of asthma symptoms.

Commonly prescribed inhaled corticosteroids include:

  • beclomethasone (Qvar)
  • budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler)
  • ciclesonide (Alvesco)
  • fluticasone (Flovent Diskus, Flovent HFA, Arnuity Ellipta)
  • mometasone (Asmanex)

During the study, the research team studied 254 children 5 to 11 years of age for nearly a year. All the children were treated with low-dose inhaled corticosteroids regularly (two puffs from an inhaler twice daily) for mild to moderate asthma. At the early signs of asthma flare-up, which some children had several times throughout the year, the researchers continued giving low-dose ICS to half of the children and increased to high-dose ICS (five times the standard dose) in the other half. The higher dosages were given twice daily for seven days during each episode.

Though the children in the high-dose group had 14 percent more exposure to inhaled steroids than the low-dose group, they did not have fewer severe flare-ups. The number of asthma symptoms, the length of time until the first severe flare-up, and the use of albuterol (a drug used as a rescue medication for asthma symptoms) were similar between the two groups.

Jackson says there’s one caveat to the study:

“This really focuses on increasing the dose in patients who are already taking an ICS regularly. For people with intermittent asthma, starting a high dose at the early onset of symptoms can be effective,” he said.

“Ultimately, it’s important for children who have persistent asthma to use a preventative inhaler, but temporarily increasing the dose of that medicine when asthma symptoms start to flare is not an effective strategy.”

The post Asthma Study: High-dose Inhaled Corticosteroids appeared first on Growing Up Healthy.

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