Thursday, January 06, 2011

Child Safety and Injury our house

Hello and Happy New Year!  One of my resolutions this year is to be a better blogger. (oooh! say that five times fast!)  I think that mostly includes more timely posts.  I often have great (well, at least somewhat interesting) ideas in my head, driving around in the minivan or laying in bed, but when I get to the computer. Poof! Gone.

Anyway, let's move to the topic on hand.

As a pediatrician, I feel that I am quite child safety and injury prevention conscious.  Besides helping kids with illness, part of my job is to help PREVENT injuries, illness, etc.   So even when parents come in for a "meet and greet" prenatal visit prior to the birth of their child, there are things that can be discussed.  Are there smoke detectors in the home? Is the water heater set at 120 degrees or less? Have you installed your car seat, and have you considered having it inspected by someone (usually through your local law enforcement or fire fighting agency)?  You may do all the Consumer Reports research to pick the safest car seat, but if it is not installed or used correctly (this is VERY common), then how does that protect your child?

Once the baby is born, there is much more to discuss.  Sleep position is very important.  Back to Sleep has decreased SIDS deaths by more than 50%, yet we still don't understands SIDS completely.  How many mothers have woken at night and creeped into their babies rooms to ensure that they are still alive and breathing? I'm totally guilty, although it really sucks when you accidentally wake them up. The next two months are fraught with concerns of falls from bouncy seats on tables or counters, then worrying about reaching for sharp objects and rolling at 4 months.  Many babies are crawling at 9 months and have the ability to pick up small objects easily.  The home is then a myriad of choking and strangulation hazards.  Pulling to stand presents the concern for falling out of the crib if the mattress is not completely lowered. 12-18 months leads to increased danger of stairs, climbing, and finger foods. High risk foods, such as hot dogs, should be cut into slices, not coins.  Grapes should be quartered.  Did you know that marshmallows are choking hazards? Read the back of the Kraft Jet Puffed Marshmallow package:

"Choking Warning. Eat one at a time. For children under 6, cut marshmallows into bite-sized pieces. Children should always be seated and supervised while eating. "

At this point, we've only made it through one year of life!  What about fire, burns, sharp objects, bike safety, stranger safety, bullying, sexting, drinking, drugs and sexual activity???!!!  Pregnancy brings so many fears and worries, but it doesn't get much easier once you make it to term.

So, yeah, I may get a little crazy here and there.  I have had some choice foul language while installing car seats, trying to get the seatbelt tight enough so that there is not more than one inch movement in any direction. We live in an older home, and my son has had multiple blood tests for lead poisoning. All normal.  I still frequently cut up their food at ages 4 and 6. If they eat a hot dog on a bun, I slice it down the center.  I love grapes, and so do my kids, but I rarely buy them because they make me nervous. My son would be the only 1st grader with cut-up grapes in his lunch.  Yeah, it's to the point where my 4 year old has said to me, as I lean over to cut her food, "Moooom! I won't choke!"

One of our good friends is a medical examiner. A pathologist. He does autopsies for a living. He once did a case where a foam Nerf bullet was lodged in a child's windpipe. This was a cause of death.  Totally freaks me out.  On one hand, I think to myself, "This cannot be happening on a widespread basis. The Consumer Protection Agency would have put out warnings and these Nerf guns would be recalled!  There is just as much chance that some other unspeakable or freak event could occur at any other time."  But the other part of my brain says, "Heck no! No Nerf guns with little foam bullets in our house!" And that is our current situation.

But....what did the little guy ask Santa for this year and last year? What does he want for his birthday next week? What toy do all the other first grade boys have?  A Nerf gun.  He doesn't want much else.  Santa broke down and got him one video game for the Wii.  He got too many Legos for Christmas. He doesn't want action figures, Bakugans, Hot Wheels, or Transformers.  His birthday is less than a week away.

I've got some major thinking to do. But I think I may do it.

However, the next time we go sledding, those kids are wearing helmets.

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