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Is it safe to give my baby probiotics for colic?

by Tripp Underwood on January 24, 2014

Having a colicky, inconsolable baby can be one of the toughest parts of parenthood. Seeing your newborn cry and scream—without the slightest clue as to how you can help—is enough to make most moms and dads want to curl up and cry right along with the child. Making things worse, science isn’t really sure what causes colic, making a quick and simple treatment hard to find in many cases.

“There are a lot of ideas about what makes colicky babies cry like they do, but no one can say for sure what causes it,” says Elizabeth Hait, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. “For that reason it can sometimes be very hard for doctors to help these newborns, and in turn, their parents.” Full story »

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The Important Reason Doctors Contradict Each Other

by Claire McCarthy on May 2, 2013

Sometimes, listening to us doctors, you’d think that we have no idea what we are talking about.

That’s certainly what anyone would think after reading Ava Nyer’s hilarious post in which she compiles all the sleep advice she read in books she bought to help her with her twins. Here are excerpts:

“You shouldn’t sleep train at all, before a year, before 6 months, or before 4 months, but if you wait too late, your baby will never be able to sleep without you…Don’t let your baby sleep too long, except when they’ve been napping too much, then you should wake them. Never wake a sleeping baby…Give them a pacifier to reduce SIDS. Be careful about pacifiers because they can cause nursing problems.” Full story »

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Keeping Your Children Healthy and Safe on Vacation

by Claire McCarthy on July 3, 2012

Claire McCarthy, MD

When we think about planning a family vacation, we think about picking a place and deciding how to get there and packing clothes and toys. What we don’t think about, necessarily, is planning for our children’s health.

The thing is, kids can get sick or hurt any old time, even on vacation. A little extra planning and preparation can go a long way toward preventing this—and making it as painless (so to speak) as possible if it does happen.

So as you start planning, here are a few things to add to the list: Full story »

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Toilet Troubles

by Tripp Underwood on December 6, 2010

It seems like an unlikely trigger, but four years ago an automatic toilet turned Sarah Teres’s life upside down. At the time, her daughter, Molly, was maturing quickly: At 3 years old she was already walking, talking and fully potty trained. But the trip to a public restroom with a self-flushing toilet scared Molly right back into diapers.

“Something about the automatic flushing terrified her,” Sarah says. “After that she refused to go to the bathroom. Trying to get her to use the toilet was exhausting.”

Sarah and Molly’s problem was stressful, but not uncommon. Almost 25 percent of all children have some degree of difficulty learning to use a toilet after the suggested age of 36 months. And, as demonstrated by Molly, problems with pottying can occur at any point in the process, even after the child has begun using the toilet.

Struggling parents are often offered copious advice, both welcomed and unwelcomed, about the “best way” to get through the ordeal. From rigid, multi-step programs to free-spirited, diaperless trial and error, there’s no shortage of suggested methods. But what’s a parent to do when nothing seems to work?

“We went through so many pottying techniques, from pleading and bribing to outright begging,” Sarah says. “There was an unbelievable amount of mental anguish. You get so frustrated. It feels like nothing is going to work.” Full story »


Going gluten-free

by Steve Coldwell on August 12, 2010

People with celiac disease need to eat a gluten free diet, but why are other consumers joing them?

People with celiac disease need to eat a gluten-free diet, but why are other consumers joining them?

The Hannaford store in Portland Maine recently expanded its Nature Place department –which used to include but a few shelves of gluten-free products– to a 40-foot area stocked with more than 500 items ranging from cookies to pasta sauce, all of them free of the protein that can pose real problems for people with celiac disease.

Oddly enough, the celiac disease population—the people who genuinely need gluten-free food—seem to have little to do with the current boom in gluten-free products.

Full story »

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The pros and perils of online symptom checkers

by Claire McCarthy on July 20, 2010

Your child has a fever and a stomachache. You’re not sure what to do. So you reach for—your laptop?


The AAP just launched the KidsDoc Symptom Checker, which helps look up specific symptoms by body part.

More and more, that’s what many parents are doing. Over the past few years, the amount of health information available on the internet has skyrocketed, and many sites offer to help you make diagnoses, whether it’s through specific health information, quizzes, or a “symptom checker” that allows you to look specifically at what might be causing the fever or stomachache—or rash, or whatever.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently launched their own “symptom checker,” called the KidsDoc Symptom Checker, available at (there’s an iPhone app too!). It’s very straightforward: you run the cursor over the part of the body where there’s a problem, and you get a menu of possible symptoms in that area. For example, I ran the cursor over the abdomen (pretending I have a child with fever and stomachache), and it gave me Abdominal Pain and Constipation as possibilities. So I clicked on Abdominal Pain, and it gave me information on possible causes of abdominal pain, advice on when to call the doctor and some home care instructions. Full story »

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