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Child Passenger Safety Week

seat-belt-buckleby Whitney Henrie
Child Advocacy Specialist

In my line of work I hear a lot of stories about how in the past, cars didn’t have seat belts and car seats were rarely used, if at all. The question I usually here at the end of one of these stories is something like, “Well I survived without all that stuff and so did my kids. So why is it so important?”

September 15-20 is National Child Passenger Safety Week and we want to make sure everyone knows why car seats and seat belts are important.

Did you know that car seats have saved the lives of an estimated 9,600 children age 4 and younger between 1975 and 2010? That’s just those under the age of 4. Think how many more were saved by their booster seat or seat belt. That’s 9,600 more children who went on to have full lives. That’s a lot of families that were saved the heartache and grief of losing a child. In 2012 alone, an estimated 284 lives were saved by child restraints and an additional 58 children could have lived if car seat use was 100 percent.

It is estimated that every 34 seconds a child under 13 is involved in a crash and motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for kids 1-13. Unfortunately car seats and seat belts, now a prevalent part of our society, are not being used to their full advantage. In 2012, over one third of children killed in car crashes were not in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.

The good news is there is a lot that can be done. The following is a list of steps you can take to keep your kids safer today:

  • Keep your child in the right car seat for their size, not just their age. Often kids are moved from rear-facing to forward-facing, a harnessed seat to a booster seat, or prematurely to a seat belt before they are ready. Just because your child is 2-years old doesn’t automatically mean they are ready to be turned forward-facing. Check the height and weight limits on the labels and use the seat until your child reaches these limits.
  • Read your instruction manual. Reading both the instruction manual for your car seat and your vehicle can help ensure that you are installing and using the seat correctly. If you are having any trouble, or would just like to make sure you’ve installed the seat correctly, don’t hesitate to call the Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians here at Primary Children’s (801-662-6583).
  • Keep kids under age 13 in the back seat. From 2008 to 2012 there were 1,874 kids in the 8-14 age group killed in crashes. 1/3 of those were killed while riding in the front seat. The backseat is the safest place for kids to be until they are at least 13-years old.
  • Buckle up on every ride, every time! You never know when a crash will happen, so it’s important to always have everyone in the car restrained properly, even if you are just going around the block. Making buckling up a habit on short trips will make it easier to enforce on longer ones.

Spend a little time thinking about the way your family travels this National Child Passenger Safety Week. Double check that all your kids are in the right seat and that they are installed and used correctly. Make sure you are buckling up yourself! Your kids will notice and follow your example. Let’s make sure even more lives are saved by properly buckling up.

Whitney-HenrieWhitney has a degree in Health Promotion from Weber State University. She has been working in the Child Advocacy Department at Primary Children’s for almost 2 years. She is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, and loves the opportunity she has to help educate others about injury prevention. Whitney loves to read, travel, and spend time with her family.
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Youth Suicide Prevention: Information that Can Help Save a Life

suicidepreventionby Sara Jackson, LCSW
Center for Safe & Healthy Families

Youth suicide has unfortunately become a pressing matter in the past few years. With the increased stresses that youth face, some consider suicide because they simply do not know how to ease their pain. In fact, according to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, “Every year, over 800,000 people die from suicide; this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds.”

Although the numbers are heart-wrenching, you can make a difference. Just talking to someone, lending a shoulder to cry on or showing your support can save a life.

Below are some signs that someone may be at risk:

  • Withdrawing from friends, family or community
  • Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means to harm oneself
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Acting angry or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use
  • Seeing no reason for living or feeling no sense of purpose in life
  • Feeling anxious or agitated
  • Changes in sleep habits – with the inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Talking about wanting to hurt or kill one’s self
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Taking little interest or pleasure in doing things more than half the time

If you notice these symptoms in someone or are concerned that someone you know may be at risk of attempting suicide, don’t delay or ignore your concerns. Seek help right away.

Here are some ways to get help:

  • Call 911
  • Call or go to your nearest emergency room
  • Call your family doctor and ask for help
  • Call a crisis hotline:
    • Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
    • National Suicide Hope Line: 1-800-784-2433
    • NAMI Utah: 1-801-323-9900 or 1-877-230-6264
    • Para la Prevención de Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454

Remember, even just checking with someone to see how they are doing can save a life. Be proactive and voice your concerns to keep your loved ones safe and healthy.

Additional Resources:

About Teen Suicide (info for parents)

My Friend is Talking About Suicide (article for teens)

Sara graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from Portland State University and moved to Salt Lake City in 2012. Since then, she has been working with Safe & Healthy Families and has been enjoying all that the Southwest has to offer. In her free time, she loves hiking, biking, running, taking her dogs to the park, speaking Spanish, learning about other cultures, cooking, and baking.

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) and Utah: What You Need to Know

evd682The Centers for Disease Control have reported increased numbers of children being seen for respiratory illnesses that are requiring hospitalizations and some stays in the intensive care unit in ten states. They have identified Enterovirus D68 (or EV-D68) as the likely source of many of these illnesses.

In the past two weeks, Primary Children’s has seen increased numbers of children admitted to the hospital with serious respiratory disease symptoms, including pneumonia and asthma. Many are testing positive for the family of viruses that includes EV-D68, but we do not have a test that identifies the specific strain. We are waiting on confirmation from the CDC, but we suspect EV-D68 may be here in Utah.

The hospital has increased its surveillance of respiratory illness and is planning for increased numbers of children hospitalized for respiratory illness much earlier than the usual winter season. Parents should know that most children with cold symptoms are not going to get severely ill. However, if a child has difficulty breathing or is wheezing, they should see their primary care provider or seek medical attention. Children with asthma may be more at risk, and they should follow their asthma care plan. If a child with asthma has worsening symptoms, they should see their physician.

“People can help protect themselves and their children,” says Dr. Andrew Pavia, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Primary Children’s Hospital epidemiologist. “Wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with people who are sick, disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, and stay home if you are ill.

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Extra Life: How to Play Games and Be a Hero for Kids

familyby Randy Bradford
Father and Extra Life Enthusiast

You probably think that playing games and helping sick children have nothing to do with each other. But that’s only because you haven’t heard about Extra Life.

Extra Life is a 24-hour gaming marathon that allows kids and adults to raise funds for a children’s hospital of their choice. Participants create a fundraising page online and then invite their friends and family to sponsor their participation in the marathon. Extra Lifers can commit to playing any type of game for 24 hours–videogames, computer games, tabletop games, or card games to basketball, soccer, croquet, and more.

Everyone who participates in Extra Life does so for their own personal reason. Here’s my story of why I Extra Life:

On April 24, 2014 my beautiful baby girl, Eleanor, was born. She was perfect. Eleanor was born more than three weeks early, but at five pounds, she weighed enough that she didn’t have to go to the NICU.quote

The day after we brought her home from the hospital, my wife felt that something was not right. We called our doctor and she suggested we go to Primary Children’s Hospital. When we got there, Eleanor’s vitals were lower than they should have been. We were most concerned about her temperature. Eleanor couldn’t keep her core temperature up and the doctors weren’t sure why.

XTRALIFEFluids (i.e., blood, urine, and spinal) were drawn to see if cultures would grow over the next 36 hours. If cultures did grow, the doctors would know what she was sick with and how to treat it. Remarkably, as we waited to see, our daughter’s health began to improve. The cultures all came back negative, meaning she didn’t have any kind of infection, and we soon returned home. It’s been four months since our daughter’s scare and she is perfectly happy and healthy.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Primary Children’s Hospital and how grateful I am for them. The staff was, in a word, “amazing.” They were able to take a scary situation and make my wife and I feel at peace. The nurses we had are heroes in my eyes.

You never want to have to take your child to the hospital, but if the need arises, Primary Children’s is where you want to be. My family was lucky. We were only there for 48 hours. When we left the hospital, there were families whose children had much more challenging health problems to overcome. My heart goes out to these families and I want to help in any way I can. It’s for this reason that I know I have to give back. I’ve chosen to give back to Primary Children’s Hospital by participating in Extra Life.

Extra Life is all about being a hero for the kids. Do you have a Primary Children’s hero? Perhaps it’s a really brave family member or friend who has been a patient there. Or maybe it’s the hospital staff that cared for your loved one during his/her hospital stay. Extra Life is your chance to honor those heroes by helping to raise funds for hospital programs that support Primary Children’s patients and their families.

The National Game Day will begin at 8 a.m. central time on Saturday, October 25th, and ends at 8 a.m. on Sunday, October 26th. However you can participate whenever it’s convenient for you. Some folks break the 24 hours into multiple segments. Be a hero! Register to participate at Extra-Life.org.

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Kids and Concussions: Q & A

concussionThe term concussion might make you think of someone knocked unconscious while playing sports. But concussions, or temporary disruptions of brain function, can happen with any head injury, often without a loss of consciousness. And while we frequently hear about head injuries in athletes, most concussions occur off the playing field—in car and bicycle accidents, fights, and even minor falls.

How serious is a concussion?

Concussions are common and are often treated lightly. Healthcare providers call concussions mild traumatic brain injury. It is misleading to refer to these injuries as mild. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can have serious long-lasting side effects.

How does a concussion happen?

A concussion can happen from a bump, blow or jolt to the head. The brain floats inside the skull and moves quickly back and forth inside the skull. The brain tissue can be bruised or start bleeding.

What are the common signs?

Sometimes your child may pass out or “black out” for a short time. Right after the concussion happens, your child might feel confused or dazed, dizzy, sick to the stomach, or have a headache. These symptoms usually go away in a few days or weeks. Sometimes the symptoms don’t get better. Following up with a doctor is important.

Should your child see a doctor?

Your child should see a doctor if they have had a concussion. Read more about concussions to learn when you should take your child to the emergency room right away. A doctor can help make sure your child is safe to go back to their regular activities and can watch them for long-lasting side effects.

If your child has had a concussion and they are experiencing difficulty with school, getting along with others or having personality changes, talk to your doctor and the school about getting help.

Additional Reading

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

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Immunizations: Fact and Fiction


by Janet Craig, RN, MS, PNP
Clinical Nurse Specialist

Immunizations help prevent many common diseases. These include, but are not limited to: polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

Many people think it’s better to get the disease naturally rather than be immunized. However, preventing a disease is better than trying to treat it. Why is this? First of all, getting sick is no fun, so why get sick if you can avoid it? How one responds to an illness is quite variable from person to person and cannot be predicted. Prior to the development of immunizations, children died from these “common” illnesses. Even now, many infants who contract pertussis can end up in an intensive care unit on a mechanical ventilator due to breathing problems. Some of these illnesses can leave residual defects that last a lifetime; for example polio can result in varying degrees of muscle weakness or paralysis.

Three Types of Benefits

There are three kinds of benefits to immunizations: personal, community, and future prevention.

  1. Personal benefits include protection from potentially serious diseases, thus avoiding suffering from the actual disease. If you choose not to immunize your child, you are gambling that your child will not be exposed to disease and/or your child will not get seriously ill. Also, the impact can be costly with doctor’s visits, potential hospitalization, and lost days from work carrying for an ill child (or children).
  2. Community benefits include “herd immunity.” This means that immunized children cannot get a disease thus preventing the spread of disease to others. And, if a sick child comes into contact with an immunized child, the disease will not spread. Infants are too young for certain immunizations and some children or members of the community cannot get immunizations for various reasons. (These reasons include–but are not limited to–select medications, organ transplantation, HIV, and certain cancers.) There are also people who have an abnormal immune system and they cannot fight off disease. If they contracted one of these diseases, they would become severely ill or possibly die. Therefore immunized children are helping to protect not only themselves, but their whole community. Unfortunately those who do not get their children immunized present an increased risk to the community.
  3. Future Prevention benefits include decreasing the incidence of disease and preventing diseases from coming back. One thing we know for sure is that once immunizations are stopped, the diseases they prevent return. Even a few cases can trigger a major outbreak.

How Immunizations Work

The immune system helps protect the body from disease or anything else that enters the body that should not be there (other than food). When something foreign enters the body, the immune system recognizes the foreign substance (antigen) as “non-self” (viruses and bacteria). The body develops antibodies against these antigens, thus fighting disease. Afterward, the body will “remember” the foreign antigen; so if your child is exposed to it again their immune system will rapidly produce more antibodies and your child will not get ill. What a great system! 

There’s only one problem … if your child is not immunized, the first time he or she is exposed to a new antigen, your child will get sick. That’s because your child’s body needs time to produce antibodies. But, this can be avoided with immunizations! That’s because they contain the same antigens that cause disease. Immunizations are weakened to the point that they don’t cause disease, but they are strong enough to stimulate the body to produce antibodies (just as if your child was exposed to disease). Therefore your child gets protection without getting sick! What could be better than that?

Common Misconceptions

Many parents have lots of concerns about immunizations. That is okay and you should chat with your pediatrician or primary care provider about these concerns.

Here are some common misconceptions about vaccines:

  • Better hygiene and sanitation will make diseases disappear. Well … yes and no. There is no doubt improved hygiene and sanitation has done a lot to improve health. Nonetheless, many infectious diseases spread no matter how meticulous we are. And these diseases will and do come back when people stop getting immunized.
  • It is better to obtain immunity “naturally” through disease than immunizations. This is false. Immunizations interact with the body the same way natural disease does. And immunizations do not cause disease, thus preventing the repercussions of disease and the disease won’t be given to other people.
  • Immunizations have severe side effects or can be fatal. This is very very rare. The most common side effects are a sore arm or a low temperature. If immunizations are not given, many more people will be seriously injured from the side effects of the preventable disease. For example: polio can cause paralysis; measles can cause a brain infection (encephalopathy) and blindness; tetanus causes painful muscle spasms with inability to breathe normally; diphtheria can cause obstruction of the airway.
  • Immunizations cause autism. This has been proven to be false. There is no evidence that immunizations, more specifically Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) immunizations, cause autism. The Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics have done extensive investigations of this claim and no link has been found between MMR and autism.
  • Giving more than one immunization at a time will increase the risk of side effects. This is false. This has been studied closely and there is no evidence to support this fear. Everyday your child is exposed to hundreds of foreign substances that can trigger an immune response. Combined immunizations mean fewer shots. And getting immunizations all at once mean fewer visits to the doctor or clinic, saving time and money.

vaccine2So What Should I Do?

Plan on getting your child immunized and ensure their immunizations are up-to-date. Some immunizations require a booster (schedules are referenced below). If you have any concerns, speak with your pediatrician or primary care provider, particularly if you feel your child may have any contraindications to immunizations or may require special precautions. Your pediatrician can explore these concerns with you. Ensure you and your pediatrician keep a current record of all immunizations. Utah utilizes the Utah Statewide Immunization Information System (USIIS). This is a helpful secure, confidential, electronic immunization information system that will ensure an up-to-date record. To learn more visit USIIS.org.

Immunizations not only protect your child and family, they help protect your community and the world at large. Remember, you can pick up diseases at home and from afar. So don’t let children get sick if you don’t have to, and don’t let them pass on diseases to others.


Immunization Schedules

Recommended Immunization Schedule from the AAP

Mexico/USA Binational Resource Tool from the CDC

Further Reading:

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Vaccines and Preventable Disease

List of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Why are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

Vaccine Safety and Adverse Events

Janet graduated from nursing school in 1976 and completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing at the University of California San Francisco in 1990. She went on to complete her Pediatric Nurse Practitioner course work at UCSF in 1992. She has worked as a PICU Nurse, Educator, PICU Clinical Nurse Specialist, and as a Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Nurse Practitioner. She is currently one of the Pediatric Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialists at Primary Children’s Hospital. She enjoys hiking, skiing, gardening, camping/backpacking and traveling.

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