Stories about: Claire McCarthy

The only kids who need vitamins (spoiler alert: there aren’t many)

Gummy vitamins for children.

As a pediatrician, I get a lot of questions whether their children should take a multivitamin or other vitamin supplement. Parents think they will make their children healthier — and some think they will make them eat more (they don’t, sorry). Since our bodies need different vitamins to be healthy, they ask,

Should I give my child a multivitamin?

Not necessarily, actually. It turns out that most children don’t need them, making them an expensive waste of money. They can also be dangerous if children take too many, something that is very possible given that most chewable multivitamins for children taste like candy. And giving a vitamin can give families a false sense of security that their child is getting everything they need — when they aren’t.

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Parenting in the age of fake news: 5 things you can start doing today

Fake or real news?

When I was in 7th grade, we did a unit in English class about how to read the newspaper. We learned where the most important stories were placed (to the right) and about how the stories were written so that the most important points were covered first (before the reader lost interest).

They didn’t teach us how to figure out if the stories were true, because back then it just didn’t occur to us that anyone would publish fake news. Now, it happens all the time.

It’s not that there have never been untrue stories published. But with the rise of the Internet, where anybody can post anything — and in an age when, in the race to present new content on a 24/7 news cycle, fact-checking doesn’t always happen — the number of fake stories has skyrocketed.

As if parenting weren’t hard enough these days, parents now have a new task: to teach their children to be savvy consumers of news. This is very important; if the next generation can’t tell fact from fiction when it comes to news, the future of our country and world could be in real jeopardy.

Here are five suggestions for giving children the skills they need to navigate the new reality of news:

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Health headlines: Mold in sippy cups, HPV vaccine data and the school start-time debate

 toddler sippy cup

Yes, mold can grow inside a child’s sippy cup

Healthline and New England Cable News report parents across the country are outraged after discovering mold on their child’s Tommee Tippee sippy cups despite following cleaning instructions.

Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, explains mold growing inside a sippy cup is — while startling — likely quite common and not all molds are toxic. McCarthy adds if a child is having new, unusual symptoms or an unexplained rash, it is worthwhile to call a doctor.

HPV sharply reduced in teenage girls following vaccine, study says

The New York Times reports a vaccine introduced a decade ago to combat the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer has already reduced the virus’s prevalence in teenage girls by almost two-thirds, according to federal researchers.

Should Massachusetts high schools begin classes later in the morning?

The state legislature is considering a bill to study the issue of pushing high school start-times later statewide.

Boston Children’s Dr. Judith Owens is in favor of the later start-times, telling The Boston Globe, it’s not healthy if you are asking teenagers to get up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. — their lowest point of alertness in their 24-hour cycle. The Barrington Courier Review (Chicago) also covered the subject and interviewed  Owens.

Learn more about the HPV vaccine.

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Why our teens turn us into shrews

mom of teenIt happens each time one of my children enters the teenage years (sometimes a little bit before). I go from having a lovely child and feeling like a reasonably pleasant parent to having a moody houseguest and becoming a shrew.

You’d think, having gone through this now four times, that I’d figure out how to avoid it. Or that I’d expect it. Or not let it bother me so much. Nope. It happened again, it caught me off guard, and I hate it.

To be fair, it’s only natural to be optimistic each time a child of yours moves out of the sweet years. After all, they are such sweet years: the years after diapers and being woken all night, the years when you begin to have real conversations and real fun with them, when they make you laugh and still love to snuggle with you. Sure, they can be messy and maddening, but overall they are so sweet that you think: how bad could the teenage years be?

Pretty bad, of course. Not just because of how teens act, but also because of how we parents end up acting in response. Here’s why turning into a shrew is inevitable:

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