What’s a strawberry hemangioma?

hemangioma-in-childStrawberry hemangiomas are a collection of tiny capillaries that are typically located on the skin. Some are present at birth and others develop in the first few months of life. Hemangiomas have a tendency to get bigger over time, but most resolve without treatment by the time a child is 5 to 10 years.

If the hemangioma is very large or in a vulnerable location like the mouth or eye, it can be treated with a medication (propranolol) that hastens its resolution.

What are the incubation periods of some common childhood illnesses?

child-rash-on-faceThere is a lag time between being exposed to an infection and coming down with the disease. This time frame is called the incubation period. 

The value of knowing
the incubation periods for common infections is that you can better gauge if you have “dodged a bullet” regarding something you or your child has come in contact with. Here are the incubation periods for some well-known childhood infections.

  • common cold: 1 – 3 days
  • conjunctivitis (“pink eye”): 1 – 3 days
  • croup: 2 – 7 days
  • fifth disease: 4 – 14 days
  • hand/foot/mouth disease: 3 – 6 days
  • herpes (“cold sores”): 2 – 12 days
  • impetigo: 1 – 7 days
  • Influenza: 1 – 4 days
  • molluscum contagiosum: 1 week – 6 months
  • mononucleosis: 4 – 6 weeks
  • pertussis (“whooping cough”): 1 – 2 weeks
  • pinworms: 2 – 6 weeks
  • roseola: 5 – 12 days
  • RSV: 2 – 8 days
  • strep throat: 1 – 3 days
  • viral gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”): 1 – 3 days

What’s in a teaspoon?

medication-teaspoonWhen I was growing up, no one used syringes or measuring cups to dole out medication. As a result, a child could easily be over or under dosed. Why? Because the spoons used for ice cream and yogurt can vary a lot in terms of what they hold. Nowadays, doctors and parents need to be more precise in the way they give medicine to kids.

If a doctor tells you to give your child a teaspoon of Motrin for fever, he means you should administer 5 ml, not what fits in the spoons you use at mealtime.

Modern parents know this, but I thought it was worth blogging about. A measured teaspoon is 5ml. It can be given with a syringe, a measuring cup like in the picture above or in measuring teaspoon.

Are febrile seizures dangerous?

child-with-feverWatching a child have a febrile seizure is one of the scariest things a parent can experience. One minute, the child is acting normal or mildly sick and the next, his eyes roll up, he gets stiff all over, his lips turn blue and his body starts to shake. In most cases, a febrile seizure lasts a minute or less, but it seems much longer to the parent who’s watching it.

Febrile seizures occur in 3 percent of children between 6 months and 5 years. The seizure is triggered by the rapid rise in temperature that accompanies an illness. In some cases, parents don’t even know their child had a fever at the time of the seizure.

After the seizure has stopped, children are typically a bit floppy and “out of it” for a while. They usually start to act like themselves within 5 minutes or so.

About 30 percent of children who have a febrile seizure will have another one. Recurrences usually occur within a year of the first seizure. The younger a child is at the time of his first seizure, the more likely he will have another one.

Febrile seizures are rarely dangerous and children with simple febrile seizures don’t need to be treated with anti-seizure medication because the drugs are more dangerous than the seizures themselves. Children with complicated febrile seizures sometimes needed to be treated with medication. A complicated febrile seizure lasts more than 15 minutes, involves one side of the body or recurs within a 24-hour period.

It’s understandable that parents want to aggressively treat fever after their child has had a febrile seizure. However, research has shown that aggressive fever management does not prevent febrile seizures. The reason parents need to know this fact is because they might otherwise blame themselves, each other or baby sitters because a child had a seizure during an illness.

For more information about febrile seizures, check out the following link:


It’s common for fathers to bond with their babies after mothers

dad-and-newbornMany years ago, I read an article by a first time mother and father. The mom described bonding to her baby immediately. The dad, on the other hand, did not feel the same attachment as his wife. He didn’t tell anyone about this for months because he was embarrassed about not immediately “falling in love” with his baby. He did everything he was supposed to in terms of supporting mom and baby, but he felt a bit like an outsider at the beginning of his son’s life.

Ever since I read that article, I have made a point of telling new fathers that it’s “normal” for moms to bond to babies before they do. My rationale for this is as follows:

  • The baby was biologically connected to the mom for the entire pregnancy.
  • Men typically grow up playing with action figures and balls instead of dolls.
  • Adult men are less likely than women to interact with other people’s babies before they become parents themselves.

I find that most new fathers are relieved to hear this information. I often joke that this observation does not get them out of chores. I also reassure them that they will become deeply attached to their babies in time.

Kids eating too many Halloween treats? Try this trick

holoween-costumesI love Halloween and even though my kids are now young adults, I still eagerly buy bags of bite size treats for the little ghouls and goblins that come to my house on October 31st. Perhaps this is sacrilege coming from a pediatrician, but it’s hard to let go of childhood dreams.

Despite my confession, it used to drive me crazy to watch my kids gobble up pounds of candy every fall. My wife came up with a perfect solution to our dilemma. She offered to buy back their candy.

While it’s true that my kids would never sell us a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, they did get rid their less favorite candy. At a typical post-Halloween transaction, we would buy about 30 percent of their bounty.

We did include one rule with the deal, however. They were not allowed to use the money to buy more candy!

Limit visitors the first week you are home with your baby

Having newborn-visitorspeople visit during the first week at home is a mixed blessing. Doctors routinely encourage new mothers to breastfeed their baby 8 to 10 times a day. Immediately after giving this advice, they tell you to get lots of rest. If you do the math, you will quickly see that it’s impossible to feed babies that much and get much rest.

While it helps to have friends or relatives assist you in taking care of the baby, what begins as a 5-minute visit can easily stretch to an hour or more. As a result, loved ones can unintentionally prevent you from taking a catnap or just closing your eyes to rest.

I advise new parents to restrict or discourage visitors during their first week or two that a baby is at home. It’s terrific for people to bring food or do some shopping for you, but they shouldn’t stay for more than 30 minutes. In addition, it’s a good idea for fathers to tell friends and family about limited visiting hours so moms can concentrate on nursing.