Michelle Karten, MD, Author at Nemours Blog

Michelle Karten, MD

A Lifetime of Better Health Begins with Good Oral Health, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

A Lifetime of Better Health Begins with Good Oral Health

When your child has good oral health, it sets them up for good health overall, and helps them with their wellness as they grow into adults. Gum disease is linked to many illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Our mouths are an entryway for infection, and inflammation can let bacteria enter the bloodstream. Oral health affects your child’s speech, how they eat, and their ability to smile and show emotions. It also influences a kid’s self-esteem, academics and school attendance. Starting them off with healthy habits to care for their mouths is essential in preventing oral and other chronic illnesses in the future.  Protect Tiny Teeth As Soon As Possible Your baby’s teeth are hiding just beneath their gums as soon as they are born. Every baby is different, but usually the first teeth to appear are in the top and bottom front of their […]

Teens and Healthy Weight, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Teens and Healthy Weight

It can be a challenge to talk to your teen about reaching a healthy weight. It’s all too easy to imagine the ways in which the subject can backfire. But it’s more important than ever to get this discussion started. Because even as more American teens are carrying extra pounds, fewer are trying to lose weight. A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics found the percentage of teens aged 16-19 who are overweight or obese sharply increased in recent decades, to 34 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of overweight teens trying to lose weight fell to 23 percent for boys and 54 percent for girls. As teens see more people who are overweight, their ideas about what’s a healthy weight might be changing. Emotionally, it’s a positive when teens accept their body — but there are health risks to having extra weight. Overweight teens are at higher risk for: diabetes high blood […]

6 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season, Powered by Nermours Children's Health System

6 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for fun and family, but they can also be hectic and even unhealthy. Check out the following tips to help your kids (and yourself!) make good choices for a safe and healthy holiday season. 1. Get Up and Get Active Kids get most of their physical activity during school and at after-school activities. While they’re off on the holidays, they run the risk of being tied to digital devices, video games or the television. And although they deserve some off time and to celebrate like anyone else, there are lots of ways they can get physical activity during their time off from school. Consider the following: Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (one hour) or more of physical activity each day. That includes aerobic activity (like brisk walking or running), muscle strengthening (like gymnastics or push-ups), and bone strengthening (like jumping rope or running). […]

Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know - From the experts at Nemours

Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know

Bullying no longer just happens in school hallways or on the playground. Since kids are now online and mobile, cyberbullying is a huge concern. It occurs digitally, on your children’s computers, phones, tablets, and even on video games, where players talk and text chat. Bullies now follow their victims anywhere in the world, even into the safety of their own homes. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 95 percent of U.S. teens ages 12-17 use a smartphone, 81 percent of them use social networks, and 45% say they are online almost constantly. 59% of U.S. teens report that they have been bullied or harassed online, and a close number say it’s a major problem for people their age 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying 1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone Girls are just as likely, if not more, than boys to […]

Boy sleeping in class needs back-to-school sleep schedule

Wake Up to a Back-to-School Sleep Schedule

It may be hard for kids everywhere to think about, but there aren’t many lazy days of summer vacation left — and some students are already back in the classroom. No doubt, with all the summer activities and getaways, your kids’ sleep schedules may have gone a bit haywire. But there’s still time to help get them on a back-to-school sleep schedule and practice some healthy sleep habits if you start, well, now. How to Make the Dreaded Transition to a Back-to-School Sleep Schedule The best way to prepare your children for a back-to-school sleep schedule is by beginning early — 10 days to two weeks early, to be exact. If you don’t have that much time left between now and your kids’ first day, don’t fret — just start as soon as you can. Progressively wake your kids 15 minutes earlier each morning and put them to bed 15 […]

Why newborns need a vitamin K shot , Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Why newborns need a vitamin K shot

With ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, a newborn infant seems perfectly made. But the one thing a baby is not born with is enough vitamin K. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 1961 has strongly recommended that all newborns receive a dose of vitamin K at birth. This has been the standard of care for infants since that time. However in the last few years, there has been a small, but alarming trend of parents who are opting to defer the injection at birth. Why Vitamin K? Vitamin K is a crucial vitamin that helps the body activate clotting factors, which can prevent bleeding. It does not pass in sufficient quantity to an infant during pregnancy, so every baby is born deficient. Most of the vitamin K we make in our bodies comes from the food we eat and from healthy bacteria in our […]

Food Recalls: What Parents Should Know, Powered by Nemours Chiildren's Health System

Food Recalls: What Parents Should Know

Do the recent food recalls of romaine lettuce due to E. coli concerns and eggs because of possible Salmonella contamination have you worried? You’re not alone! These events made the news because the products were widely distributed and the lettuce has been linked to nearly 100 illnesses in 22 states. But it’s easy to miss other recalls or alerts. That’s why it’s important to know about foodborne illnesses and food safety. Everyday precautions can help protect your family from “food poisoning” and the diarrhea and vomiting it can cause. What Are Foodborne Illnesses? Foodborne illnesses happen when people ingest food or drinks contaminated by bacteria. Common culprits include E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria. Bacteria can spread through food via: undercooked poultry, eggs, and beef fruit and veggies contaminated through soil or washed in contaminated water unpasteurized (raw) milk, dairy, or juice products deli meats and cold cuts soft-ripened cheese […]

New FDA Warnings against Codeine and Tramadol for Kids | Michelle Karten, MD | Promise: Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

FDA Issues New Warnings against Codeine and Tramadol for Kids

The FDA has updated its guidelines for the use of two ingredients found in cough and pain medicines. These new warnings and contraindications target codeine and tramadol in children and teenagers. What are the ingredients? Codeine and tramadol are a type of narcotic medicine called an opioid. Providers may prescribe codeine to treat mild to moderate pain and to reduce coughing. Tramadol is a prescription medicine approved only for use in adults to treat pain. However, data show it is being used in children and adolescents, even though it is not approved for use in these patients. While these medications are effective, they carry serious health risks children younger than 12 years old. Risks include slowed or difficult breathing, and even death. What’s changing? The FDA will require warning labels on prescription drugs that contain codeine and tramadol, advising that children under 12 not take the drugs. The warning extends to women who […]

Vaccines Are Safe and Effective: One Pediatrician's Plea, by Michelle Karten, MD, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Vaccines Are Safe and Effective: One Pediatrician’s Plea

We live in a time of information overload. It’s impossible to open your computer or reach for your phone and not be surrounded by mountains of information. And with so much at our fingertips, it can be hard to know what is true and what is false. I understand the confusion that so many conflicting accounts can cause because I see it every day. But as a mother of two children I cherish, and as a pediatrician and champion of wellness, there is one thing that does not confuse me — the fact that vaccines are safe and save lives. When my first child was born, I cradled her in my arms and vowed to keep her safe. Since that time, I have worked hard to sustain her mind, body, and spirit with healthy habits. I’m fortunate to be a pediatrician who reads avidly, and is able to make sense […]

Kids Stressed?: 16 Tips (for You and Them) That May Help, by Michelle Karten, MD, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Kids Stressed?: 16 Tips (for You and Them)

As adults, we’ve all had to handle some amount of stress in our lives. Stress is our body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. But we often believe kids are happy and carefree – that their lives are simpler than ours. We find ourselves telling them how much harder it will be when they grow up and face the “real world.” The reality is, though, kids are facing their own “real world” every day. Stressors for kids can include issues with family or friends, ongoing challenges with school, or crammed schedules that don’t allow any downtime. And while they may not initiate a conversation about what’s bothering them, kids do want their parents to reach out and help them cope with their troubles. Signs and Symptoms For kids with chronic conditions like migraines or sickle cell […]

New Screen Time Guidelines and Tips to Unplug, by Michelle Kartan, MD, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

New Screen Time Guidelines and Tips to Unplug

There’s no getting around it: Screens are everywhere. Take a look around next time you’re at a restaurant, coffee shop, on the bus, at the park, or even in your own home. How many people — adults and kids — have their eyes on a screen instead of on the world around them? Of course there is a time and place for screen time. But as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announces new recommendations for children’s media use, it’s a good reminder for all of us to get our own media use in check. New AAP Recommendations for Screen Time For children younger than 18 months Avoid use of screen media altogether, except for “video chatting” (e.g., letting Grandma and Grandpa see or talk to your little one). For children 18 to 24 months of age If you want to introduce digital media during this age, choose high-quality programming and watch […]

10 Asthma Questions Answered - Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Asthma: 10 Common Questions Answered

For most parents and kids, spring means sunny warm weather, outdoor sports and more outside playtime. For many others, spring also means more asthma flare-ups – more time outside means more exposure to asthma triggers, and more sports means more exercise-induced asthma. Although childhood asthma is common, many people really don’t know much about it. So we thought we’d answer some common questions about what asthma is and how it’s treated. 1. What is asthma, exactly? Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways in the lungs, called “breathing tubes” (or “bronchial tubes”). It’s actually the most common long-term childhood disease – the No. 1 reason kids chronically miss school. And flare-ups are the most common cause of pediatric emergency department visits due to a chronic illness. Those affected by asthma typically have swollen airways (which means that they swell and produce lots of thick mucus) most of the […]

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