BOO to the Flu!

Well, it’s here, no doubt about it. The dreaded FLU! All around Knoxville and surrounding counties, schools are closing due to illness in both the students and the teachers. Here is a little information on the facts of the flu…

  • Influenza (“the flu”) is a VIRAL illness.
  • Symptoms may include: fever, cough, headache and or body aches, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, redness and watering of the eyes, and occasional vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Influenza IS NOT “ the stomach bug” … although many kids’ first sign is vomiting.
  • The flu can be contagious for up to 1 – 2 DAYS BEFORE SYMPTOMS START and for several days after the onset of symptoms.
  • Prevention from the flu includes receiving a yearly flu vaccine, hand washing and avoiding contact when possible with those infected with the flu.
  • The flu is spread from person to person thru contact with respiratory secretions. It can also be spread by coming in contact with those secretions on objects.
  • There is a test to determine if you have the flu. This test is done thru a nasal swab and usually can be done in the outpatient office within 10 minutes. A flu test is not always required as a doctor may determine the diagnosis by physical exam.
  • Most people with the flu have a mild self-limited, uncomplicated disease. Treatment would include rest, lots of fluids and tylenol or ibuprofen for fever or aches.
  • Certain groups of people may be at risk for more serious complications. This group includes those that have a weakened immune system, have chronic lung disease, those that have diabetes, possibly those with a neurological problems, and the very young.
  • Some children with the flu may be prescribed an antiviral called tamiflu. It does NOT treat the flu and is not required . It may shorten the duration of symptoms. It should be started within 48 hours of the onset of the illness.
  • We typically do not give “prevention” from the flu thru tamiflu unless the child is in at “at risk” population.
  • If your child has the flu and has: worsening fever or pain, lethargy, unable to keep fluids down or if you have any concern, please call your pediatrician for further evaluation.


Music and Mood

Winter can be a hard time of year for many people.  The days are shorter and the weather may keep us indoors more often.  One helpful thing to remember when trying to make it through a dreary cold and flu season is the fact that music can be beneficial to our mental health.  Take a look at this short article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Music’s beneficial effects on mental health have been known for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers from Plato to Confucius and the kings of Israel sang the praises of music and used it to help soothe stress. Military bands use music to build confidence and courage. Sporting events provide music to rouse enthusiasm. Schoolchildren use music to memorize their ABCs. Shopping malls play music to entice consumers and keep them in the store. Dentists play music to help calm nervous patients. Modern research supports conventional wisdom that music benefits mood and confidence.

Because of our unique experiences, we develop different musical tastes and preferences. Despite these differences, there are some common responses to music. Babies love lullabies. Maternal singing is particularly soothing, regardless of a mom’s formal musical talents or training. Certain kinds of music make almost everyone feel worse, even when someone says she enjoys it; in a study of 144 adults and teenagers who listened to 4 different kinds of music, grunge music led to significant increases in hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue across the entire group, even in the teenagers who said they liked it. In another study, college students reported that pop, rock, oldies, and classical music helped them feel happier and more optimistic, friendly, relaxed, and calm.

Continue reading…

Sleep Recommendations Update for Infants, Children, and Adolescents:


1.  American Academy of Pediatrics SmartBrief;  June 13, 2016:

“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends daily sleep of 12 to 16 hours for 4 month-olds to 1 year-olds, 11 to 14 hours for 1 to 2 year-olds, 10 to 13 hours for 3 to 5 year olds, 9 to 12 hours  for 6 to 12 year-olds and 8 to 10 hours for 12 to 18 year-olds.  The guidelines in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, indicate lack of sleep may heighten the risk of injuries, depression, hypertension, and obesity among children and suicidal thoughts or self-harm among adolescents, while regular excess sleep may raise risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and mental health problems.”

2. The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS);  November 2016:

Recommendations for infants up to 1 year of age:

  • Infants should be placed on their backs for sleep.
  • Infants should sleep on a firm surface.
  • Breast-feeding is recommended, as it is associated with reduced risk for SIDS.
  • Infants should sleep in the same room with parents – but not in the same bed – until at least 6 months of age.
  • Avoid bed sharing for infants less than 4 months of age, premature infants, and infants born small for gestational age.
  • Avoid bed sharing with current smokers, mothers who smoked during pregnancy, and anyone whose alertness is impaired.
  • Do not have soft objects or loose bedding in the sleep area.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap or bedtime.
  • Avoid overheating and head covering during sleep.
  • Avoid exposure to smoke, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy.
  • Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors or other medical devices marketed to avoid SIDS.

If you have any questions concerning these recommendations, please discuss them with your child’s pediatrician.


Media and Violence

On average, children 8 years of age and older watch greater than 2 hours of TV a day and at least 6 hours per day when all types of media are included (e.g., movies, videos, gaming, social media, etc.) (1) Even children’s programming is quite violent with cartoons showing 25 – 50 violent acts per hour (2,3). There is a positive correlation between the viewing of violence in media and the behavior of the viewers (4 – 9).  

What can we do as parents to stem the tide? 

1.  Limit children’s total media time to less than 1 to 2 hours a day.  I would suggest even less especially on school nights!

2. Remove TV sets and computers from children’s bedrooms and do not allow them to sleep with other devices such as phones.

3. Discourage  television and screen media use (except for video chatting) for children younger than 18 months.

4. Monitor the shows viewed and games played by children and adolescents.

5. View media with your children and discuss the content.

6. Play digital games with your children to better understand them.

7. Encourage alternative entertainment (Reading, athletics, hobbies, etc.)

8. Use parental controls to block unauthorized viewing.

These are simple steps to help your child get along better with others and resolve conflicts without violence.  The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides tips and resources to develop a “Family Media Plan,” which you can find online. 

1, 2.  Rideout VJ. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens (Accessed on November 01, 2016). 

3. Dietz WH, Strasburger VC. Children, adolescents, and television. Curr Probl Pediatr 1991; 21:8. 

4. Yokota F, Thompson KM. Violence in G-rated animated films. JAMA 2000; 283:2716.

5. Sege R, Dietz W. Television viewing and violence in children: the pediatrician as agent for change. Pediatrics 1994; 94:600.

6. Council on Communications and Media. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2016.

7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Public Education. American Academy of Pediatrics: Children, adolescents, and television. Pediatrics 2001; 107:423.

8. Caring for your baby and young child: Birth to age 5, Shelov SP, Hannemann RE (Eds), Bantam, New York 1991.

9. Council on Communications and Media. From the American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy statement–Media violence. Pediatrics 2009; 124:1495.

 This information was obtained from a website which provides current information for physicians.


A Few Words…and Tips on Fire Prevention and Safety

We remain stunned by the loss and devastation wrought by wild fires so recently in East Tennessee. Whether directly or indirectly, these fires have affected us all.  I still can’t fathom the horror encountered by those attempting to escape the sudden, onrushing flames, and the sadness felt for those unfortunate enough not to escape. These fires have been a tragic event. As always, though, such tragedies also highlight the strength and resilience of so many in our communities: the bravery of the firefighters and emergency personnel and the outpouring of donations and volunteers continue to inspire.   It is both sad and wonderful that such a terrible event brings out the best in us.

As these fires pass, I suspect you – and even your children – have talked more about fire prevention and fire safety. In addition, as we enter the winter months, the risk of home fires increases.  Consequently, I thought it might be timely to pass along some tips and reminders about home fire safety for parents.

Prevention and monitoring are the first steps. Educating our children on fire risks is crucial. Monitoring with smoke and carbon dioxide detectors can save lives. (Remember to change batteries every 6 to 12 months on smoke detectors.) Developing a fire evacuation plan in your home with a central meeting place can help avert the confusion and panic that occurs when fire strikes our home.

Here are several websites information on fire safety. The first two are intended for parents, and the final three are more interactive for children.

1) This is a helpful website with numerous safety tip sheets on a wid variety of issues on fires safety.

2) This website also has safety tip sheets.

3) This is a YouTube video with animation and music to help educate on fire safety.

4) This website has fire education with coloring sheets and games.

5) This is a website with videos and music to help educate children of various ages – video-modal



Cold Weather Safety


With winter approaching, here are some cold weather safety tips.  Dressing children and infants in several thin layers is best. Dress them in one more layer than an adult would wear in the same conditions, and make sure to provide a hat, gloves. and warm boots. When playing outside, have children come back inside periodically to warm up. Blankets, quilts, and pillows should be kept away from an infant’s sleeping environment due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers are preferable. For more tips and information...



Don’t Keep The Secret!

Domestic violence is a common problem which has a major impact on families and children. If you or anyone you know might be a victim, ask the following questions.


  • Keep track of all your time?
  • Accuse you of being unfaithful?
  • Try to keep you from family and friends?
  • Prevent you from working or going to school?
  • Criticize, belittle, or humiliate you?
  • Anger easily when drinking?
  • Hit, slap or punch you, your children or your pets?
  • Act jealous or possessive?
  • Yell and call you names?
  • Blame others for problems and mistakes?
  • Threaten you with a weapon or gun?
  • Force you to have sex against your will?
  • Accuse you of being equally abusive?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you are in an abusive relationship.

DON’T KEEP THE SECRET. Talk about it! No one deserve to be hurt. Not you, not your children. Tell your doctor if your child has been hurt.

Call the Knoxville Family Justice Center HELPLINE (865) 521-6336. Their services are FREE.

I Love Where I Live

I’m not sure I could live anywhere that does not have four seasons. I love each and every one of them. Fall is breathtaking. Just look out your window-every day another tree starts putting on its show. In the winter, after the trees have lost their leaves, their silhouettes against the gray sky are stark and beautiful. Spring does not require words. Simply go to the woods, the mountains or your yard and you will understand. Lastly, there is summer…..long days with tons of time to play outside! I really do look forward to them all but I have to admit I love spring and fall the most, they are such amazing transitions.

There are people that want (and have) summer all year, and people who live where there are three seasons: “Winter is coming, winter is here, and winter is almost over.”  They each love where they live as much as I do. Vive la difference! It would get terribly crowded around here if everyone felt like I do.

Geographically, this is one of the best places I can imagine living. Just thirty minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains and two hours or less from a multitude of national and state parks. If cities are a draw, Atlanta, Nashville, Asheville and Chattanooga are a close drive. I love travel but so far, I keep coming back. It’s pretty hard to beat the experiences we enjoy just by living where we do. People travel thousands of miles to visit the places I go for an afternoon drive or a sunset. We really are pretty lucky. Get out there and love it!

Little Ghosts and Ghouls – Beware!

All the kids are so excited
little ghosts and little ghouls
almost time for Halloween so
let’s review these safety rules:

1) Jack-o-lanterns, eyes so bright,
be sure to bring a new flashlight.

2) Reflective clothing kids should wear
or their parents they will scare.

3) No pants too long and masks should fit;
the candy corn is quite the hit.

4) Cinderella, Mickey Mouse
map your route while at your house.

5) On the sidewalk you should stay
and watch for cars that come your way.

6) Cross at the corner of the street;
wear comfy shoes to pad your feet.

7) Stop at the door, accept your treat;
inspect it first before you eat.

8) Hold daddy’s hand, avoid the strangers.
Princesses and Power Rangers.

9) Porch lights off then do not go!
Another thing that you should know.

10) Eat one piece and take a break.
You don’t want a tummy ache.

Ghosts and ghouls are getting tired
and the night is soon complete.
They settle down in sleep’s deep slumber
as they dream of “trick or treat”.

How Much Sugar is Appropriate for Your Child?

Have you ever wondered how much sugar is appropriate for your child? A recent study by the American Heart Association entitled Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children,  published in the journal Circulation attempts to give guidance on this very issue.  The guidelines make a distinction between “Added Sugars,” which are sugars added to a food to increase palatability, and “Naturally Occurring Sugars,” which are an innate part of a food such as fruit.  The authors’ recommendations are as follows:

  1. Children should not drink more than 8oz of sugar sweetened beverages/week.
  2. Children/Adolescents should consume < 25grams (approximately 6 teaspoons) of  added sugars/day.
  3. Added sugars should be avoided in children < 2 years old.

“Added sugars” is one of the new categories to be included on the Updated Nutrition Facts Label promised by the FDA. Most manufacturers must comply to the new label by July 2018.