“Media, Media Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink!”

Everywhere you look, there they are.  iPhones,  iPads, video games, e-readers. The list keeps getting bigger and bigger. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a child staring down at their parents’ phone while walking down our office hallway to their exam room. Teenagers are looking at their phone while I’m trying to have a conversation with them during their checkup. Phones are pinging with text messages and voicemails. What are we to do?

Parents may feel that they are fighting a losing battle against media and their kids. Help is on the way! The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great article about helping children develop a healthy relationship with media. Find out how here.




Spring Break, Sakura and Hanami

This year I had the opportunity to travel to Japan with my college age daughter for her spring break.  Her break fell the last week of March and when she was planning her trip she said “wouldn’t it be great if the cherry blossoms were blooming while we were there!”  Well, we were unaware that it would be the peak week for the blooms in Tokyo and Kyoto.  We were also unaware of what a big deal this time of year is for the Japanese people. 

The cherry blossoms are small delicate pale pink flowers that are known as “sakura”.  The springtime bloom is a lavish spectacle that only lasts one to two weeks after which the blooms fall like snow to the ground and wither.  There are so many cherry trees of various colors and varieties throughout Japan that every city has streets and canals lined with flowering trees.  It really is so beautiful that words and photos don’t do them justice! The tradition of enjoying the blooms with outdoor parties and picnics under the trees is called “hanami”.  It is a tradition as old as the trees and was established as a ritual as early as 710.  Today it is a national pastime with deep cultural and religious roots. Everyone stops and gathers to picnic, drink sake and eat sakura flavored desserts, candies and drinks under the trees. The celebrations go on all day and into the night with paper lanterns lighting the trees.  Women in beautiful kimonos and gowns pose for photos and families gather for family portraits. 


The sakura signals the beginning of spring, a time of renewal and optimism.  The blooming coincides the beginning of the Japanese calendar year and brings new hope and dreams.  When the cherry blossoms are in bloom the future is bursting with possibilities. The sakura is also a metaphor for life, the brief brilliant blooming is followed by the inevitable fall.  They are tied to Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present. The sakura is a visual reminder of the transience of life and impermanence.  So, if you are in Japan during this time you don’t walk past a blooming tree today without taking in it’s beauty because tomorrow it might be gone. The intensity of this experience was surprising to my daughter and I.  Now that we have been home a few weeks, we are still trying to take it all in! 

As I write this blog, the dogwoods, red bud trees, azaleas and flowers are all exploding into blooms here in Knoxville.  I hope that you will take time with your children to get out and enjoy this special time of year and cherish this time with your family and friends!!  

Watch Out for Spring Fever!

Springtime is here, and with longer warmer days many of us have begun to suffer from what is referred to as “Spring Fever”. We all know what it feels like. We’ve all surely experienced it at one time or another, and many of us have done so on a yearly basis for decades.  Webster’s Dictionary defines Spring fever as “a lazy or restless feeling often associated with the onset of Spring”.  For many of us a “lazy or restless feeling” does not adequately describe the pain and torture of being cooped up inside an office with only windows to look out and see the beauty that Mother Nature has bestowed on us with brightly colored flowers and trees, and birds, and warm sunshine beaming down.  Oh, the pain! I want to be outside.  Nope! Sorry, seven more hours to go. 

Yes, Spring fever is a painful affliction, that is, modern-day Spring fever.  But, it is not a disabling or fatal disease as it was two or three centuries ago.  Spring fever, also known as “Spring Disease” in the 1700’s and 1800’s, was an illness that usually occurred in the Springtime and involved fatigue,  malaise, easy bruising, bone pain, hemorrhaging of the scalp and gums, and poor wound healing.  If left untreated, (which most cases were, until a miraculous cure was discovered) it lead to jaundice, seizures, neuropathy, and death.  Many thousands of people died from old fashioned Spring fever (Spring Disease) prior to the discovery of adequate treatment.  In the mid 1700’s a Scottish physician named Dr. James Lind discovered that the terrible illness formerly known as Spring Disease (but at that time was referred to as scurvy), could be successfully treated by the ingestion of oranges, lemons, and limes.  Ascorbic (citric) acid, or vitamin C, was yet to be discovered, and no one knew why these fruits worked to cure scurvy, only that the treatment was undeniably curative.  The illness “land scurvy” usually occurred in the Spring of the year, and more commonly in urban areas, which were largely void of fruits and vegetables (and especially citrus fruits) during the winter. The more agricultural areas of the world had better access to fruits and vegetables that were stockpiled during warm months to be consumed during the winter. Since transportation of food and food storage were more of a problem for urban dwellers in the 1700’s and 1800’s, these people were at much higher risk for developing land scurvy as their vitamin C levels became depleted during the winter months with no available fruits and vegetable for consumption.  By Springtime, they became ill with the disease.  “Sea scurvy” on the other hand, occurred throughout the year, and was thought to be a different illness than land scurvy.  Sailors made long voyages encompassing months of time at sea during this era.  Their diets on board ship rarely included fruits and vegetables, and thus, after many months at sea with vitamin C deficient diets, they developed sea scurvy.  Many thousands of sailors died from this disease before Dr. Lind’s discovery.  Dr. Lind himself had served in the Royal British Navy and had witnessed the suffering and deaths of countless sailors.  His discovery led to British ships being stocked with limes for ingestion by the sailors to prevent scurvy.  As a result, British sailors were eventually referred to as “Limeys”.  Land scurvy and sea scurvy were ultimately found to be the same disease, although the exact cause of the disease would remain a mystery until 1932 when ascorbic acid (vitamin C) was discovered by scientists in the U. S. and Hungary simultaneously. However, by the time the disease scurvy was adequately described and the exact cause was elucidated, Dr. Lind’s discovery of a cure nearly 200 years prior was a well accepted and practiced medical miracle. 


Top 10 Things I Miss Since Becoming a Mother (almost 7 years ago)

  1. Privacy in the bathroom
  2. Sleep
  3. Finishing a thought
  4. Finishing a sentence (finishing anything for that matter)
  5. Being early for ANYTHING
  6. Being on time for ANYTHING
  7. My left arm (typically occupied by my son)
  8. Making dinner with two arms (since my son insists on being in my arms while I make dinner)
  9. Having a clean, uncluttered car (we could live out of our car for a week!)
  10. Having a clean, uncluttered house

I am often reminded by wise mamas that these exhausting early years are “just a season” and “will be over before (I) know it.”  My favorite is “the days are long but the years are short.”  This quote from Gretchen Rubin gives a nod to the daily struggles of motherhood but implores us to savor each and every day with our children as these years are fleeting. I admit it, I often have a hard time reveling in sleepless nights, aching arms, and mommy brain. I wish I could. I know those wise mamas are right but it doesn’t make this season any easier. I found this all-too-true blog post on this very subject and I want to share it with you.  Grab a tissue before reading! Here’s hoping, whatever stage of motherhood we are in, we will remember. Remember the daily struggles as a young mama caring for young children and the bittersweet heartache when we realize our once needy babies don’t need us anymore.

Read blog here…


Limitations of Convenience

Today’s times are busy. Likely, your family has 1-2 working parents, multiple children going different directions, homework, sports, music classes, etc. As a full-time working mom of three children, I understand.  Convenience is important to make this busy machine of life run smoothly. I take advantage of convenience services for grocery and food delivery, walk- in haircuts, drive through food and medicine pickup, and oil changes for my car.  Convenience in healthcare, however, can come at a price.

I am concerned about children being evaluated by providers at walk-in clinics, urgent care centers and via telemedicine services.  Many of these providers have a very little pediatric experience. These providers are not well trained to recognize pediatric illnesses nor use and dose medications appropriately.  Commonly, I find my patients have been prescribed medications not routinely used in children and at the wrong dosage. Not to mention, failure to recognize life threatening conditions such as asthma exacerbations and croup.  

As a mom and a pediatrician, I would encourage our families to avoid these clinics whenever possible.  If you are out of town, many areas have pediatric focused clinics that are available. Plan ahead and have those numbers on hand in case of emergencies.  Our KPA locations are open early and late most days of the week to accommodate seeing our patients the same day. Our physicians are board certified with years of experience in the care and health of children.  Please choose superior healthcare for your family and allow us to do what is best for your kiddos! I don’t choose anything less for my own family.

This week’s unseasonably warm weather has likely whetted your appetite for more. In addition, for those of you with school-aged children, Spring Break is rapidly approaching. Some of you will travel to the beach. Some of you will enjoy a local “staycation.” Regardless,  you and your children will likely be spending more time outdoors. I want to remind all of you to stay safe. With that in mind, here are some helpful safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Newborn Screening…What’s the Meaning?

In 1968 the state of Tennessee started it’s state newborn screening program. It was designed to screen infants shortly after birth that may have a treatable condition that is not immediately recognizable. The current program consists of three parts :

*A blood sample that screens for inherited conditions that are treatable if identified early

*A hearing screen to be conducted prior to discharge to help identify congenital hearing loss

*The Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) screen that is conducted through a simple oxygen reading while in the newborn nursery

These three simple tests allow for early detection for a wide range of treatable conditions. These tests will routinely be performed in the newborn nursery and the results of these tests will be made available to you as they are completed. The genetic blood screen is sent to the state lab so those results are usually not available until after you are discharged home from the hospital. Your pediatrician will be able to access those results for you. More information can be found here.

Additionally, one of our own KPA families has worked tirelessly to see that Krabbe’s disease was listed on the newborn screen through an act known as the Mabry Kate Webb Act in 2015. To read more of the Webb family story visit Facebook.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – A Bedtime Favorite for A Healthier Generation

As our children were growing up, Eric Carle was one of our favorite authors and his book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was often one of their choices at bedtime. Currently, the AAP is teaming up with The Alliance for A Healthier Generation along with this timeless book by Eric Carle to help families in their efforts to eat a healthier diet. The following link​ to the healthychildren.org website provides the tools for this initiative.





It’s Not Too Late for Influenza (Flu) Vaccination

Per a December 28, 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) alert, “Flu activity is increasing in the United States.  There have already been 8 pediatric deaths from influenza reported.  Vaccination is the most important step anyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones against influenza and its complications.  It takes about two weeks after vaccination for immunity to develop in the body that protects against influenza infection.”

Children younger than 5 years of age, especially children younger than 2, are at an increased risk of hospitalization and complications due to influenza.  ​Therefore, the AAP and CDC recommend that all children 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year.  Pregnant women should also receive the influenza vaccine at any time during their pregnancy to protect themselves as well as their young infants during the first 6 months of life.

Since the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective,  it’s important to take precautions to decrease the risk of infection.  These measure include frequent hand washing with soap and water and avoidance of crowds.

Two other recent articles related to vaccines worth reading are “Why Vaccines Matter in the November 2017 edition of National Geographic magazine” and “Simply Put:  Vaccination Saves Lives in the Autumn 2017 edition of Emory Health Digest.

Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2018!

Cold Weather Problems

With the extreme weather we have had and will have this January, it’s important to keep in mind the dangers of very cold weather. Here are a couple:


Frostbite is the freezing of tissue.  It is caused by exposure to cold weather and is influenced by the degree of cold and length of time the tissue is exposed.  Cold water and cold surfaces can speed frostbite as well. Touching metal at 5 degrees F can cause frostbite in seconds. Crystals form in tissue and cells causing decreased blood perfusion, cell death and subsequent inflammation. The extent of the frostbite depends on how deep the freezing goes.  Initially fingers are red. They may be blistered. Tissue may progress to blue/purple and then black. What do you do if someone has frostbite? Get the person to a medical facility as quickly as possible.  Get the victim to a warm environment.  Take off wet clothes. Rewarm the affected area by placing in warm water only if you are sure it will not refreeze.  Refreezing causes more damage. Do not rub the area as this can also cause more damage. Do not use flames or stoves which can burn. There is no sensation in frostbitten tissue and burns can occur more easily.


Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees. Initially there is shivering, abnormal breathing, paleness, loss of coordination, and impaired judgment.  As their temperature drops more, there is altered mental status and then loss of consciousness.  These people need to be warmed quickly.  Get to a warm environment. Give warm liquids. Use thermal blankets. Try to warm their core with warm water bottles. Transport to a medical facility as quickly as possible. Prevention is the best thing. Wear warm clothes with lots of loose layers.  Wear a hat and gloves.  Drink lots of liquids.  No caffeine or alcohol.  Limit your time in the cold.  Never go out in the cold alone!

Winter weather can be a lot of fun, but be safe and be prepared and please call your pediatrician’s office if you have questions.