Stories about: Carolyn Sax

Spring health cheat sheet

Health & Safety Series As the spring weather approaches, many common winter infections recede. However, warmer temperatures can introduce a new set of health challenges.

As trees and flowers bloom and grass grows, susceptible children will start to display symptoms of seasonal allergies, triggering flares of asthma and eczema. And, As children spend more time outdoors, parents also need to watch for exposure to ticks, poison ivy and excess sun.

Here are a few tips to keeping your child healthy this spring.

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Quiz: How much do you know about ear infections?

ear infectionCan an ear infection clear without antibiotics? Did my child get an ear infection because she didn’t wear her hat? Why does my toddler keep getting ear infections?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions or others about ear infections, you aren’t alone.

Concern for ear infection (the medical term is otitis media) is among the most common reasons for a visit to the pediatrician. About half of all children between 6 months and 3 years of age will get at least one ear infection over the course of a year, and many children will experience several ear infections a year.

Most ear infections are treated with antibiotics. In fact, otitis media is the most common diagnosis for which children are prescribed antibiotics. Since most parents will deal with concern for an ear infection at some point, it’s important to separate the facts from the myths about their cause and treatment.

Take the quiz. Which common beliefs about ear infections are true? Which are false?

  1. Allowing water to drip into an infant’s ear during a bath can cause an ear infection.
  2. Spending time outside without a hat on a cold day can cause an ear infection.
  3. Almost all ear infections occur during or soon after a cold.
  4. Without antibiotics, an ear infection cannot resolve.
  5. Ear infections are always caused by bacteria.
  6. Most children outgrow the tendency to get ear infections.

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Parents, leave the multivitamins in the bottle

By Carolyn Sax, MD, a primary care physician with the Pediatric Physicians’ Organization at Boston Children’s and practices at Hyde Park Pediatrics in Hyde Park and Milton, Mass.

Sax_CarolynParents often ask me whether I recommend multivitamins for their children, and in most situations I say no. This takes a lot of people by surprise. Vitamins sound like such a good thing, right?

The answer is actually somewhat complicated.  Foods that are naturally rich in vitamins are definitely a good thing, and many scientific studies have shown the benefits of eating a diet rich in nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and milk. But the vitamins themselves, when taken in pill form, can actually be harmful. Our body is most effective at using nutrients when they enter us directly from their natural food source. The healthful advantages of these nutrients depend on their food “packaging” to give their full healthful benefits, like iron found in spinach or all the vitamin E packed into an avocado. But researchers have yet to find any benefit from most vitamins taken in pill form. None of the major medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, The American Institute of Nutrition, The American Society for Nutrition, or The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend routine use of multivitamins.

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