The joy of cooking (and eating) after tracheomalacia

Charlotte was diagnosed with EA/TEF and tracheomalacia as a baby

For most little kids, a trip to the supermarket is an annoying chore, made tolerable only by the opportunity to request sugary snacks as a reward. But when Charlotte McQueen accompanies her mother, Erin, to the store, it’s a journey marked by imagination and delight. “Mom, can we get that?” she asks, pointing to a can of pureed pumpkin. “Oh, and we’ll need marshmallows and we can make chocolate frosting. It will be a great cake!”

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The five emotions of raising a child with infantile scoliosis

Avery, who has infantile scoliosis, with his brace

One night, while doing our son’s usual bath routine, I saw what looked like a hump on his back. Avery was 6 months old at the time. At first, I thought that it was just something I was imagining, but the hump never went away. In fact, it seemed to get worse. When Avery was 13 months old, he was officially diagnosed with infantile scoliosis, a rare form of scoliosis that occurs in children under 2 years of age.

The first hospital we were referred to would not even consider treating Avery until he was at least 18 months, and that was not a guarantee, so after doing some research, we came to Boston Children’s Hospital for a second opinion. We were referred to Dr. Michael Glotzbecker, one of the surgeons in the Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center that specializes in early onset scoliosis.

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Celebration = intoxication is a dangerous message for kids

For kids, celebrating should not go hand-in-hand with substance use

On New Year’s Eve, CNN fielded reporters all over the country to cover and arguably, to define how Americans celebrate. A report from a “puff, pass and paint” party in Denver, in which revelers flaunted their marijuana use, caught the attention of millions of viewers and became a subject of discussion nationally.

The arrival of marijuana in the realm of legal and now socially-accepted substances, strengthens the message that substance use is required for having a good time.Showcasing marijuana use on national television is relatively new following the recent liberalization of marijuana policy in several states and the novelty incited significant coverage. But the underlying message that strives to define substance use as a necessary (and perhaps sufficient) component of celebration is anything but new.

In fact, incessant references to drinking and being drunk have been part of popular film and television culture for decades and now usually goes largely unnoticed. We seem to have accepted that being drunk is synonymous to having a good time, though this message which has its roots in the alcohol industry is more the work of years of successful advertising campaigns than a biologically based truth.

The arrival of marijuana in the realm of legal and now socially-accepted substances, further strengthens the message that substance use is required for having a good time which is already implicitly accepted. This notion risks causing significant harms to our kids and deserves closer scrutiny.

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Helping kids get fit — one step at a time

Parents in the community learn how to cook healthy food for their families
Families participating in Fitness in the City (FIC), a partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, get referrals to resources and educational offerings like this cooking class.

“How many tortillas do you eat at dinner?” Francisca Guevara asks the boy and his parents. “Okay,” she says when they tell her three. “Do you think you could eat two instead? Or even just one?” They nod in agreement: That seems possible.

As the associate director of community health and outreach for Charles River Community Health, Guevara recognizes the need to meet families where they are, tailoring her suggestions to fit their traditions. “We can’t tell people that they can no longer eat the foods that are important to their culture,” she explains. “That just puts families on the defensive. But we can explain why certain foods aren’t healthy and suggest that they eat smaller or less-frequent portions.”

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