Michael RichMichael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. (Visit their newly redesigned website here.) Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: My 6 year-old daughter’s class is opening a Facebook account. They are spinning it as an “exciting new way to expose 1st graders to social media” and to help them learn to use it responsibly at a young age. The class will post photos, news, and videos of the children, and parents and relatives can read and send messages back. Some of this will be followed in the classroom on a big TV screen. Is there any scientific information on how exposure to social media affects very young children? I worry that many children already get too much screen time, and I see no reason to promote or teach social media until they are much older. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for kids this age to learn how to play with and respect each other—in person? Or how about having parents come in and read a story or share a personal interest instead? Isn’t there value in keeping young children young?

-Face-off with Facebook, in San Francisco, CA Full story »

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How can I ease my child’s back-to-school jitters?

by Guest Blogger on August 26, 2014

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1Back-to-school season is rolling in. Many things, like the smell of erasers, the feel of a new notebook, the packing of that first lunch, spark excitement. A fresh school year is the promise of new beginnings.

But your child may be experiencing more than excitement. A different classroom, new teacher and unknown expectations can cause the annual return of back-to-school jitters.

Kids show worry in a variety of ways. Your child may verbally express that she’s feeling nervous or afraid, but for some, anxiety might show up in the form of bellyaches or headaches. Still, with others, you may just notice a slight change in behavior, like becoming more emotional, more withdrawn or more defiant. Even if your child gives no hint that she is experiencing a case of nerves, it never hurts to be prepared in the event that she does. You can even bring it up on your own, focusing on statements like, “A lot of times, kids and even grownups can feel nervous before starting something new. Have you ever felt that way?”

Whether you know or just suspect that your child is experiencing a case of back-to-school nerves, here are a few tips to help ease her into a new school year. Full story »

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Our patients’ stories: From patient to advocate

by Tripp Underwood on August 25, 2014

Rachael today post transplantRachael Adler is not the kind of person who stands around waiting for life to happen. At 13, she’s a good student who participates in many school and community service events. And despite her young age, she’s been a key speaker at events held by both The New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD) and the Northeast Kidney Foundation.

But Rachael didn’t get to be the strong, active young person she is today without overcoming adversity first—and overcoming that adversity is playing a big role in helping shape the person she wants to become. Full story »

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10370420_799767777399_4866938761443528178_nThis story is written by Kerri Vatour and was originally published on the Children’s Hospital Association’s blog.

The first time Boston Children’s Hospital saved my son’s life, he was 21 hours old.

It wasn’t a surprise—Joey had been diagnosed in utero with both a ventricular septal defect (VSD), a hole between the right and left sides of his heart, and a duodenal stenosis, where a portion of the intestine is so constricted that very little can pass through, by doctors in the Advanced Fetal Care Center.

Upon birth, it was obvious that the latter issue would take precedence, and Dr. Smithers worked his magic in almost six hours. The second time came less than a month later, when his VSD and another heart defect—an atrial septal defect (ASD), or a hole in the upper part of his heart—were repaired by the amazing Frank Pigula, MD. Full story »

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Michael RichMichael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. (Visit their newly redesigned website here.) Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: I have two daughters, 8 and 6, who will be returning to school this September. I tend to be fairly liberal with the rules around media use during the summer, but this year both girls will be receiving iPads from their schools to use for classwork and homework. I’m concerned about getting the girls back into a balanced routine where they can focus on their schoolwork and assignments without being distracted by media, but with the addition of iPads and my eight-year-old needing to use the internet for homework, I’m not sure how to set boundaries. Any advice you can offer will be truly appreciated. Thanks!

~ Feeling the Back-to-School Blues, Dedham, MA

A: Dear Blues,

The introduction of tablets and smartphones into education has blurred the concept of screen time and screen time limits as a strategy for helping kids thrive in a digital environment. Using these tech tools both in the classroom and at home can help strengthen your child’s learning, but your guidance can help them use these tools optimally while balancing a rich and diverse menu of experiences. Full story »

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Our patients’ stories: Yousef’s Vein of Galen surgery

by Kipaya Kapiga on August 14, 2014

Yousef-1Yousef Alrkhayes was just two days old when a doctor burst into his mother’s, Khadjad’s, hospital room with unsettling news. “[He] came into my room and said that Yousef has high pressure in his heart and they didn’t know why,” she recalls. After you are discharged, the doctor continued, don’t even go home—go straight to the main hospital.

In the four days it took Khadjah to recover enough to move with her son, Yousef made little progress. His heart was still under stress and no one could say why. As their doctor sent them on their way, he begged them to ask for an echocardiogram at the hospital.

Khadjah could tell from the sound of his voice that he was worried. Full story »

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A patient and doctor team come full circle

by Guest Blogger on August 13, 2014

By Irene Sege

Kate-1Kate Franklin was just three and a half years old in August 2000 when her mother Emily brought her to the Boston Children’s Hospital emergency room, because she was bruising easily and couldn’t seem to shake a strep throat. Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, had just started his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology the month before, and that night Kate Franklin became one of the first patients he diagnosed with cancer. When Walensky told Emily Franklin that her daughter had leukemia, the mother placed her hands on the doctor’s shoulders, and, in a moment that Walensky says he will never forget, she said, “I will see you at her wedding.” Full story »

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Helping Liberia

by Tripp Underwood on August 12, 2014

LiberiaThe West African nation of Liberia is currently dealing with deadliest outbreak of the Ebloa virus that the world has ever seen. With hundreds dead and thousands more impacted, Liberia and its neighboring countries are at the center of a serious health crisis that is proving extremely difficult to control.

The images coming out of the area are troubling for everyone to see, but especially so for Michelle Niescierenko, MD. As director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Global Health Program and the Academic Collaborative to Support Medical Education in Liberia, Niescierenko has spent years working with Liberian health care workers to strengthen the country’s medical education programs. Knowing her friends and colleagues in the area are now working frantically to contain the deadly disease, often without proper equipment and training, Niesciernko finds herself asking what many of us are thinking: “How can I help?” Full story »

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