Category Archives: Pediatrics

Northern Westchester Hospital Pediatric Pulmonologist on Kids and Asthma

Posted on: September 22, 2014

Managing Childhood Asthma

by Lynne Quittell, MD

The soft wheeze or whistle as a child breathes. The chin tucked and chest pinched as he coughs incessantly. These are signs of childhood asthma, a maddening, frightening condition for kids and parents — and a leading cause of ER visits for children. While in the past asthma has been difficult to treat and manage, advancements in medications and methods have allowed doctors and families to tame this potentially dangerous condition in children.

The reasons why a child develops asthma can be murky. Potential triggers can be allergies, exposure to secondhand smoke, or a family history of asthma. Premature babies who spend time on a ventilator appear to be at higher risk.

The reason a child struggles to breathe is that the airways can easily become inflamed, muscles that support the airways can constrict, and mucus production can increase. Some kids will have exercise-induced asthma while others may find allergy season to be the source of troubles. Even a sudden change  in temperature or a rise in humidity can set off an attack.

Parents and children should work with their doctor to develop a treatment and medication plan. This is the aspect of asthma treatment that has really changed over the years. The medications have improved greatly. We teach children and parents to recognize the earliest signs of an attack, and encourage them to treat symptoms promptly — before they worsen. I like to use the analogy of smoke in the kitchen… You wouldn’t just let it go — you’d address it immediately. Asthma is the same: Stop the attack before the symptoms become more difficult to control.

When setting up a plan, a doctor must take into consideration the child’s triggers and needs. During the spring or fall allergy season, some children will require a daily preventive medication to minimize airway inflammation, while others may be okay using an inhaler to treat occasional flare ups linked to exercise. The next step is managing more serious flare ups, and then knowing when to seek emergency help. No one leaves my office without a written treatment plan. “It’s one of the most important aspects of asthma care.

Children whose asthma isn’t responding to treatment can benefit from pulmonary exercise program, similar to what is offered at Northern Westchester Hospital. An effective program would involve exercise and respiratory therapists who would create a program for your child to help him or her build physical strength and exercise capacity. The plan should be specifically tailored to your child’s needs and include education and advice for caregivers. The goal? To get your child to the point where they can play and partake in activities with their peers, without limitations.

With the excellent treatment available, I expect my patients to be able to take part in all age-appropriate activities with no restrictions.

Editor’s Notes:
Lynne Quittell, MD, is a pediatric pulmonologist who specializes in pediatric asthma at Northern Westchester Hospital

Did you know…
Asthma affects 7 million children under the age of 18.*
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Northern Westchester Hospital Chief of Pediatrics Discusses New Vaccination Requirements in New York

Posted on: July 22, 2014

Back-to-School Preparations May Need to Include Vaccinations
By Dr. Pete Richel

Your child may need a new vaccination before classes start this fall. For the first time in more than a decade, New York State has updated its school immunization requirements, and now children must be vaccinated twice against varicella—chicken pox.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prior to July of this year, parents could opt out of the second chicken pox vaccine. Why the shift? After all, many adults may remember chicken pox parties from their youth: Mothers would take children to visit a sick kid so that their children would be exposed, get ill, and gain immunity. Although chicken pox can be relatively mild, it can also cause permanent scarring and in some cases turn deadly. As recently as 10 years ago—before use of the vaccine was widespread—the US had as many as 100 deaths a year from chicken pox. From a public health perspective and from mine as a doctor, one death is too many. If we can eliminate this risk, we should seize that opportunity.

There have been some other minor changes to the immunization requirements, such as stipulating a schedule of three to five polio vaccinations before starting school. This has to do with timing. If your child has received the required three polio vaccines in infancy, they must still receive one at the time of school entrance. Three are required, and four are recommended for complete immunization. In either case, one must be received between the ages of 4 and 6. The new requirements—which will be phased in over the next seven years—apply to students starting daycare, Head Start, nursery, pre-kindergarten, and grades kindergarten through 12. If you’ve already taken your children for their wellness visit and vaccinations—or you’re not sure if your child is vaccinated against chicken pox—contact your pediatrician.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Peter Richel, MD, FAAP is Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital.

Chief of Emergency Medicine on Summer Safety

Posted on: July 10, 2014

Summer Safety Tips

By Dr. Jim Dwyer

Young Family Parents and Boy Son CyclingNow that summer’s here, you and your family are hopefully spending a lot more time outdoors, enjoying a variety of activities. That’s great for your health and state of mind, but you’ll want to take a few precautions to make sure you all stay safe. Continue reading

Westchester Allergist Offers Food Allergy Primer for Parents

Posted on: July 8, 2014

A FOOD ALLERGY PRIMER FOR PARENTS

Dr. Craig Osleeb

Creamy Peanut Butter with PeanutsIf it seems like more and more children are developing food allergies, it’s because they are. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with diagnosed food allergies has jumped 18 percent in the last 20 years, and the number of kids seeking emergency treatment for allergies has tripled. Continue reading

Westchester Registered Dietitian on Helping Kids Make Healthy Food Choices

Posted on: June 25, 2014

Empower Your Child to Eat Healthy…For Life

 

By Elisa Bremner

Family All Together At Christmas DinnerYour child loves ice cream (who doesn’t?). You love your child. So how do you limit junk food or sweets to help them maintain a healthy weight? In this age of sedentary video game play and easy availability of high-calorie snacks, the challenge for busy parents is finding practical ways to help kids make good food choices. Continue reading