Back-to-School Health Guide: 5 Tips for Getting Kids Back on Track

For most families, preparing for the school year means getting supplies and buying new clothes. But besides physical preparation, it also means a change in routine. Kids that were used to sleeping in and snacking all day have to get used to having scheduled meals and activities. Plus, the change in environment inevitably exposes kids (and parents) to an onslaught of germs.

With all the changes happening, how do you keep your kids on the right track? We’ve compiled the following suggestions for keeping your kids happy and healthy throughout the year:

  1. Establish bedtimes. Adequate sleep is vital for concentration and consistent academic performance. School-aged children 13 and under require 9–11 hours of sleep each night. Two weeks before school starts, experts recommend gradually putting kids to bed earlier each night to get them used to the modified routine.
  2. Plan healthy meals and snacks. Packing your child’s lunch every day puts you in control of the nutritional content. If you rely on the cafeteria for lunch support, get a copy of the menu in advance to see when your child’s preferred items are being served. When you get ready to clean out the fridge and make room for the week’s ingredients, let your child help you determine what’s safe to keep. Get them involved in meal planning and preparation. When you go grocery shopping, give your children multiple healthy snack options to encourage good eating habits in the future. Oh, and don’t skip breakfast; it’s proven to keep your child alert and engaged all day.
  3. Sign up for sports or other activities. Your child’s summer routine may have included sedentary activities such as video games and television. The start of the school year is a good opportunity to get them involved in an after-school sport or activity that will keep them fit and active. Schedule a sports physical to make sure that your child is healthy enough to participate. If organized sports aren’t appealing, try getting a group of kids together to play softball or kickball at the park. Health experts recommend 60 minutes of activity a day for kids to maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Promote good hygiene. It’s no surprise that the classroom is a dirty environment. To keep germs at bay, encourage your children to wash their hands before touching food and after using the bathroom. Also, teach them to avoid sharing food or drinks with other kids.
  5. Prevent problems with bullies. Bullying can lead to depression and suicide in kids. Before school starts, openly discuss the dangers of bullying and reassure your child of your concern for his or her safety. Encourage your child to report any problems to you immediately. Notify school officials if bullying becomes a problem and follow up on their efforts to achieve a resolution. If your child is on social media, monitor his or her communication and status updates to detect potential issues. If your child turns out to be a bully, set firm limits on his or her aggressive behavior and practice consistent discipline. At home, always set the example in managing negative emotions.

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To learn more about health and wellness support, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Zika Update – 5 Recommendations for Pregnancy Screening and Safety

Unfortunately, Zika virus is showing no signs of slowing down. According to recent reports, the virus has infected residents in over 50 countries around the world, causing serious birth defects. In late July, officials in Florida confirmed four Zika cases in Miami, Florida, marking the first locally transmitted cases in the continental U.S.

The good news is that the longer the virus is active, the more health officials and physicians can learn about diagnosing and treating the condition. To help you continue protecting your family’s health, consider the following recommendations for travel, screening and safety:

1. Keep following travel restrictions. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recent travel advisory, you should avoid Wynwood and the surrounding areas in Miami. Pregnant women who must travel to a high-risk area should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

2. Continue using barrier method with a high-risk partner. If you are pregnant and have a sex partner who has traveled to or lives in an area with active Zika virus transmission, use condoms or other barrier methods to prevent infection or abstain from sex for the remainder of the pregnancy.

3. Get tested. The CDC advises that all pregnant women in the U.S. should be assessed for possible Zika exposure during every prenatal visit. Your healthcare provider should ask you about recent travel as well as travel by your sexual partner. Testing is recommended for pregnant women based on travel/sex exposure risk and manifested symptoms including fever and rash. In Florida, the Department of Health is now offering free Zika testing for all pregnant women.

4. Follow CDC’s new clinical guidelines for improved diagnoses. When you visit your doctor, make sure he or she is following the latest clinical management recommendations, which include:

  • Extending the rRT-PCR testing window from <1 week to <2 weeks from symptom onset in symptomatic pregnant women.
  • Adding a new recommendation to implement Zika-specific rRT-PCR testing of serum and urine among asymptomatic pregnant women with possible exposure.
  • Adding a new recommendation for immediate rRT-PCR testing after a pregnant woman has a positive or equivocal -Zika IgM antibody test.
  • Updating the guidelines to emphasize testing of infant blood rather than “infant blood or cord blood.”

5. Monitor progress of new clinical trials. The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda is organizing a clinical trial of a Zika vaccine that will involve at least 80 healthy volunteers at three locations around the U.S. The study will be used to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and gauge its effectiveness in generating an immune-system response in patients. By early 2017, researchers are planning to start a larger-scale trial in countries affected by Zika.

While Zika currently has no cure or effective treatment, scientists and healthcare providers around the globe are working hard to provide up-to-date diagnostic and disease prevention guidelines. If you’re pregnant, take the precautions needed to protect your unborn child from Zika-related birth defects.

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To learn more about Zika and women’s health screenings, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.