It is the time of year when people of all ages are returning to classrooms. They will be exposed to new experiences and ideas but also higher risk of exposure to viruses/illness and stress. Here are some tips for students of all ages to ensure a healthy and successful time in school:

  • Vaccinations are the best course for preventing illness. In addition to the vaccines recommended by your doctor, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.
  • Sleep is essential to keep children (and adults) focused throughout the day. Adults need about eight hours of sleep, while young children often need more. It’s important to set a bedtime that ensures everyone gets enough sleep and to keep a consistent schedule.
  • To avoid getting sick and to prevent children from bringing germs home, it’s important to teach children to wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating.
  • A healthy diet can help children grow and learn more effectively, as well as keep everyone’s immune systems primed to fight off illness. Avoid junk food and soft drinks, and consider packing children’s lunches with healthy snacks.
  • Going back to school is stressful for both parents and students of all ages; for some children, it may be a new sensation. Help manage stress by talking to children (or encouraging adult students to talk to someone) about anything bothering them and take care not to overload anyone’s schedule. Schoolwork is important, but it is essential for mental health to relax, play, and spend time with family.
    • A significant new stress for students and teachers returning to school is the atmosphere of fear that has emerged in the wake of mass shootings at schools and other venues throughout the United States. Simulated active shooter drills have been shown to contribute to trauma rather than relieve fears, and policies of harsher discipline and armed school staff increase the likelihood that people are exposed to violence
    • It is imperative that children feel they can trust the adults in their lives and be connected as a community. An authoritative approach of structure, oversight, consequences, and support can help children learn responsibility for their behavior and how to reconnect with others; as opposed to an authoritarian environment of punishment, control, and containment which hardens a school instead of making it a better place with less violence and fewer problems.
    Student backpacks should never weigh more than 10-20% of a student’s body weight, and should be adjusted properly to the bottom of the pack so it sits at their waist.  Encourage students to use both shoulder straps; slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles and hurt their back. If your student has a

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by Richard Sagall, M.D.

With colder weather fast approaching everyone is concerned over coming down with colds, the flu, or other winter-time illnesses. It makes sense to take steps to stay healthy. The idea of “boosting your immune system” sounds inviting. But what does this really mean, and can it be done?

What is the Immune System?

The immune system consists of the parts of the body that fight infections. There are three body parts generally considered part of the immune system.

·   The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes that filter the lymph fluid and lymph vessels that carry away waste materials. Lymphocytes also enter the lymph fluid and destroy bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances.

·   The bone marrow produces various types of white blood cells that fight infection. Red blood cells are also made in the bone marrow, but they have no role in immunity.

·   The spleen filters the blood, removing old and damaged red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and other foreign substances.

What Does the Immune System Do?

Simply put, the immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off invaders

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April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common but complex developmental disability, with 1 in 68 American children born somewhere on the autism spectrum. The signs of autism are usually apparent when a child is between 2 and 3 years old, although they may be seen in younger children. Symptoms are different for everyone, though some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning (relating to reasoning and planning); narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills, and sensory sensitivities. A diagnosis of ASD is based on an analysis of all behaviors and their severity. The cause of autism is still being researched and debated, although doctors generally agree that the cause for autism spectrum disorder is unknown, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.

Autism awareness remains an important goal as early intervention has shown positive results for those on the spectrum, but also to relieve the stigma of those with special

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Congress has allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures 9 million children in the United States, to expire. The program provided coverage for children in families making under 200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) as well as to pregnant women. CHIP played a huge part in decreasing the rate of uninsured children from 14% in 1997 to 4.5% in 2015. By taking no action to renew the program before September 30, 2017 the U.S. Congress allowed the program to lose future funding, putting millions of American children at risk of major health complications from ordinarily treatable conditions.

CHIP covers comprehensive coverage for children, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and x-ray services, and emergency services. The out-of-pocket costs are different depending on which state a family is living in, but they will not exceed 5% of a family’s annual income. For the

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by Richard Sagall, MD

This essay first appeared in Pediatrics for Parents (www.pedsforparents.com) Volume 30, issue 7-8

The doctor saw you or your child and ordered some tests. It may have been a blood panel, a check on urine, or perhaps an X-ray. As you leave the office the doctor says, “I’m sure all will be normal, but I want to be sure. I will call you if there are any problems. Remember, no news is good news!”

You leave optimistic everything will turn out fine. Then, a few days later you begin to wonder if all the tests came out normal. You haven’t heard from the doctor, but then remember she said she would call if there were a problem.

The real issue is that the “no news is good news” approach is all wrong. It leaves the patient dangling and is open to all sorts of errors and opportunities for miscommunication. Let’s look at what no news could really mean.

1. The specimen never made it to the lab. You know the blood was drawn or the urine was collected, but you don’t know if the specimen was actually sent to the lab. Maybe the specimen was mislabeled or lost. And you never hear about

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