Author Archives: ChildrensMN

Minnesota woman born with cleft lip and palate learns to love smile

Cori Nesmith, a senior at the University of Minnesota, writes about her experience being born with a cleft lip and palate. (Photos courtesy of Cori Nesmith)

Cori Nesmith, a senior at the University of Minnesota, writes about her experience being born with a cleft lip and palate. (Photos courtesy of Cori Nesmith)

Cori Nesmith, a patient and volunteer at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and senior at the University of Minnesota, shares her experience as a woman born with a cleft lip and palate.

Cori Nesmith

Did you know July is Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month? In honor of this special month, I’ll share the journey I’ve taken thus far as an individual born with a cleft lip and palate.

“Check out this picture; this baby has got a mustache,” a high school classmate said to me while browsing the Internet. The image on his computer screen was all too familiar. The infectious and wide smile of the baby in the advertisement made me realize just how far I had come. I was completely shocked that my classmate of 12 years at my small northern Minnesota school hadn’t made the connection that I was born with the same condition as the baby on the screen.

Here I am as a baby (in rather oversized clothing). I was born with a complete cleft lip and palate. The entire roof of my mouth (my soft and hard palate), as well as my upper lip, did not fuse together while developing.

Here I am as a baby (in rather oversized clothing). I was born with a complete cleft lip and palate. The entire roof of my mouth (my soft and hard palate), as well as my upper lip, did not fuse together while developing.

My parents had a difficult time feeding me, as I did not have the lip strength to suck on a bottle. My mom said that it would take hours just to get a couple ounces down.

Throughout my childhood I had many more operations. These childhood surgeries mostly were to improve my speech, which was subpar as the structure of my mouth was completely different than a typically developing child. I participated in about 12 years of speech therapy.

I was quiet as a child because I didn’t like the sound of my voice. I was embarrassed to talk, not because other kids picked on me, but because I picked on myself. Humans are their own worst critics. As my teenage years approached, I had a difficult time accepting myself and seeing my own personal beauty.

 

As a teenager I had many reconstructive surgeries. Reconstructive surgeries were hard for me because although I knew I would benefit from getting them done, I thought there was something wrong with my appearance that needed fixing. I thought that the world didn’t accept my crooked nose and scar. Although I was struggling with appearance issues, I tried to find humor in my situation. I forever have bragging rights for being the first person in my grade to get plastic surgery! #toocooltohandle

Here I am after my first surgery, a lip repair at Children’s – Minneapolis. During this stage of my life, “no-nos” were all the rage and kept me from touching my face. (For those of you who don’t know, a “no-no” is a brace that is worn on the elbow to keep babies from bending their arms.

Here I am after my first surgery, a lip repair at Children’s – Minneapolis. During this stage of my life, “no-nos” were all the rage and kept me from touching my face. (For those of you who don’t know, a “no-no” is a brace that is worn on the elbow to keep babies from bending their arms.

The summer before my junior year of high school, I had a major surgery to move my upper jaw forward because of palatal scar tissue that stunted its growth. Surgery was difficult and painful, but I learned two valuable lessons:

  1. Don’t ever try to liquefy pizza. Ever. It can be done, but it tastes awful and is a total letdown.
  2. Family and friends are extremely important. Without my family, friends and boyfriend, I would not have gotten through the recovery. They shared the burden with me and made it 100 times more bearable.

I always have had an affinity towards music. In high school, I participated in band and choir. Despite my abnormal mouth anatomy, I was able to grow as a promising young singer and saxophone player. When you have the passion for something, anything is possible.

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CHILDREN’S SERVICES: Cleft and Craniofacial Program

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This is me, post-jaw surgery, eating my first real meal in more than a month. (It was spaghetti and it was awesome!)

This is me, post-jaw surgery, eating my first real meal in more than a month. (It was spaghetti and it was awesome!)

Now I’m a senior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in music therapy and minoring in psychology. My primary instrument is voice, and, although I can’t do some of the typical singer warm-ups due to my anatomy, I’m fully functional in every other way, thanks to my doctors, nurses and therapists who have had an incredible impact on my life. I hope I can have that positive of an impact on my future clients as a music therapist.

Learning to accept myself for who I am always has been hard, but every day I’m getting better at taking the bad with the good and rolling with it. My experience with a cleft has made me stronger, more compassionate and patient. I know that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing.

I have come so far, but my journey is just beginning. My cleft does not define me, but it has redefined my views of the world. A person’s smile says so much about them. My once-“mustached” smile means the world to me — and I wouldn’t change a thing.

“Don’t let the world change your smile. Let your smile change the world.” — Unknown

Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic Family Fun Day

The fifth annual Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic Family Fun Day takes place July 29 at the Kiwanis Boy Scout Camp at Marina on the St. Croix. The event is open to patients of the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinics and their family members of all ages and emphasizes fun, friendship, team-building and fostering resilience among patients with clef lip and palate and other craniofacial conditions. Participants can register for the event or call the clinic at (612) 813-6888 for more information.

Join Children’s for Family Fun Day at Peavey Park

The kids are on summer break. It’s warm outside. And now is the perfect time to celebrate! We invite you to join us for fun in the sun at Family Fun Day from 3-7 p.m. July 23 at Peavey Park in Minneapolis. We’re making safety fun and simple for the whole family.

Peavey Park will be filled with fun and friends. You can meet therapy dogs, police horses, learn hands-only CPR and more. The pool and park will be open as usual. When you visit our different activities, you can win a prize and free food (while it lasts) from Café Racer and Mik Mart Ice Cream.

Rain or shine, the event will go on — we hope to see you there!

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FAMILY FUN DAY: RSVP on Facebook

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Here’s where to find us:

Peavey Park, located at 730 E. 22nd St., between Park Avenue South and Chicago Avenue, is the perfect spot to gather all of the neighbors and families in the area (click the map below to get directions).

Working together for healthy kids and healthy communities 

subscribe_blogAt Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, we’ve been working with the Minneapolis Police Department Bike Cops over the past four years to share bike safety information with neighborhood residents throughout Minneapolis. Each year, they celebrate the partnership with a summer event.

This year, we’re living Children’s values by joining together with community partners to extend our reach. After teaming up with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, we wanted to create an event to support and celebrate with our local community in the Phillips neighborhood and remind families of some ways to stay safe and prevent injuries while enjoying the summer.

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Don’t leave kids in the car

Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car. Never leave your child unattended in the car. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car. Never leave your child unattended in the car. (iStock photo)

Dex Tuttle

I’ve often surprised myself by how forgetful I am as a parent. It’s possible I’m the only dad who has nearly forgotten that his daughter needs to eat and, more specifically, that he’s responsible for making sure that happens. I know for a FACT, however, that I’m not the only dad who has forgotten the diaper bag in the car and been forced to speed-run the grocery shopping to get a stinky child out of the store as fast as possible. On tired days after sleepless nights, I’ve forgotten that my keys are in the ignition of the car I’m driving and seriously debated being late for work to turn around and go get them.

I’m exposing a vulnerable part of myself a little when I admit this type of fault, but I know I’m not alone. As the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s, I feel even more responsible to be mistake-free in providing a safe environment for my child, and I feel that much more silly when I fail to do so.

subscribe_blogWhen my daughter, Quinnlyn, was learning to walk, she pulled herself up on me as I sat in my “dad chair” in the living room. (I’ll admit, realizing that the recliner was a crucial part of fatherhood was a huge part of my excitement for becoming a dad, but I digress.) She grabbed my hands and smiled at her accomplishment. After a few happy moments, she started to turn and walk away, and I forgot that she wasn’t yet able to stand on her own. I let go of her hands and down she went, flat on her back. Thankfully, she was OK. She actually laughed it off (her reaction to near-injury that would soon give me anxiety) and got herself back up.

So far, my follies have been rather benign. Still, I live in eternal fear of finding myself in that vulnerable, forgetful moment when something more serious happens.

As the summer ramps into full swing, one such mistake I’m determined NOT to make is forgetting Quinn in the car. This can happen for one of two reasons: we don’t realize the danger, or we find ourselves in a moment of distraction and leave out one extremely hypimportant detail.

Let me first convince you that this is extraordinarily dangerous:

  • Children have lower water reserves, so their body temperatures rise three to four times faster than an adult.
  • The temperature inside a car can rise 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit every 15 minutes (on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees).
  • Since 1998, more than 580 children in the United States have died from being left in vehicles.
  • In car seats, children are insulated, making it more difficult for their bodies to regulate overheating.
  • Signs of hyperthermia set in when body temperature reaches just 100.9 degrees, which children will surpass in only a matter of minutes; internal organs can begin to fail at 104 degrees, and death can occur when body temp reaches 107.
  • Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car.

On most days, strapping my daughter into her car seat easily could be the final challenge on a reality game show that tests strength, patience and fortitude. Therefore, I’m admittedly hesitant to take her in and out of the car more than I need. However, you never know what will happen; on an average day, there are so many things that are out of your control and could delay a quick stop or create catastrophic failure of your car’s air conditioning. Please take control of what you can and never, ever leave your child unattended in the car.

But as I’ve already admitted, I’m forgetful. Here are some tips on making sure you don’t forget your most-precious package:

  • Place an important item in the backseat. My recommendation is to leave your phone there – thus removing a major distraction while driving – but it can be a purse, wallet, computer, jacket or any other item you know you’ll need when you arrive at your destination.
  • If you don’t carry items often and you drive a car with an automatic transmission, take the shoe off the foot you don’t use for the pedals and put it in the back seat. This can be a fun game where everyone in the family participates.
  • Leave yourself a note on the dashboard: “BABY IN BACK!”
  • Put a stuffed animal or doll in the car seat when your child isn’t in it. When you strap your kid in for a trip, put the stuffed animal in the seat next to you up front – a reminder that something is out of place.
  • If you have a GPS-enabled device, set location reminders when arriving at your favorite locations – the grocery store, work, restaurants, etc. Kars 4 Kids is developing an app that works with your car’s Bluetooth capabilities to remind you as you walk away from the vehicle.

Make arrival habits

  • Always do a walk-around of your vehicle to ensure you’re a safe distance from other hazards and make note of items that will help you remember where you parked.
  • Always use the passenger-side doors to load and unload for trips. This will force you to walk around the car to collect your items.
  • Make a game with your child where you always sing a song, say a phrase, do an activity each time you stop at a destination. Even if your child is sleeping, the habit will keep your mind thinking about the little person in the backseat.

Other resources

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Children’s celebrates family advocacy in Washington, D.C.

Children's patient Maisy Martindale (left) and her family visited Washington, D.C., in June to celebrate Family Advocacy Day.

Children’s patient Maisy Martindale (left) and her family visited Washington, D.C., in June to celebrate Family Advocacy Day.

Last month, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota participated in the Children’s Hospital Association’s Family Advocacy Day. The Martindale family joined with families from across the U.S. to advocate for funding and programming to support children’s hospitals and kids with special health care needs.

subscribe_blogBy telling their personal story to our senators and representatives, the Martindales helped put a face on the issues that are important to us. They were wonderful ambassadors for Children’s. Daughter Maisy’s energetic and charming personality won over the hearts of everyone she met.

Batman and Wonder Woman flew by to say a special hello to Maisy and the Martindale family at the Family Advocacy Day celebration dinner. Complete with a band, dancing, face painting, caricatures, games and, of course, ice cream, the event gave the kids a chance to exchange their CHA All-Star trading cards and have some fun before a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill. Maisy even had the chance to perform an original song about Taylor Swift with the band — a true star in the making!

The 2015 FAD trip was successful. Even with all the hard work advocating on Capitol Hill, fun was had by all. We look forward to another opportunity to advocate for children’s health and our children’s hospitals in 2016.

6 tips for safe fireworks use on Fourth of July

For many families, the Fourth of July celebration includes fireworks. It's important to take the proper safety measures when using fireworks (iStock photo / Getty Images)

For many families, the Fourth of July celebration includes fireworks. It’s important to take the proper safety measures when using fireworks (iStock photo)

Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef

The Fourth of July is a day filled with fun, excitement and celebration. Across the nation, families and friends gather to celebrate our nation’s independence. Follow these tips to ensure maximum fun and prevent injuries.

subscribe_blogFirework safety tips

Each year in the U.S., thousands of adults and children are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks and avoid a visit to the emergency room is to attend a public fireworks display. However, if you choose to light them yourself, here are a few ways to enjoy the fun while keeping you and your children safe:

  • Keep fireworks of any kind away from children, even after they have gone off. Parts of the firework can still be hot or even explosive after fireworks have been lit.
  • Older teens should only use fireworks under close adult supervision.
  • Keep fireworks far away from dense areas where there are a lot of buildings and/or people.
  • Do not light fireworks around flammable items such as dead leaves, gas-powered equipment or fabrics, and be sure they’re pointed away from people, animals and buildings.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher, water bucket and/or hose readily available in case of an accidental fire.
  • After you have enjoyed your fireworks, be sure to pick up any debris or pieces of the firework that may be left in the area. These small pieces may pose as a choking hazard for young children.

The Fourth of July weekend also is a great time for travel and spending time in the water. Please view these articles for tips on water safety and traveling:

Fireworks references: The National Council on Fireworks Safety, Parents: Fireworks Safety

12 tips to help keep kids safe this summer

Wear a helmet every time you ride a bike, skateboard, scooter or use inline skates.

Children’s has one of the busiest pediatric emergency programs in the country, with about 90,000 visits each year. We love kids here at Children’s, but we’d rather see them safe at home. With warm weather upon us, we compiled a list of basic tips, with help from our injury prevention experts, to keep kids safe all summer. Together, we can make safe simple.

For more safety tips, read about Making Safe Simple.

Sun and heat

1. On hot days, make sure kids drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

2. Make sure kids are covered. Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to the entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after sweating heavily.

3. When heat and humidity are high, reduce the level of intensity of activities.

Water

4. Kids should wear life jackets at all times when they’re on boats or near bodies of water.

5. Never leave kids alone in or near a pool or open water. In open water, kids should swim with a buddy.

subscribe_blogFireworks

6. Don’t allow kids younger than the age of 12 to use sparklers without close adult supervision. Don’t allow them to wave sparklers or run while holding sparklers.

Playground

7. Always watch kids on a playground. Make sure the equipment is age appropriate and surfaces underneath are soft enough to absorb falls.

Lawnmowers

8. Kids younger than 16 shouldn’t be allowed to use riding mowers, and those younger than 12 shouldn’t use walk-behind mowers.

Bike and wheel-sport safety

9. Make it a rule: Wear a helmet every time you ride a bike, skateboard, scooter or use inline skates. Skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear additional protective gear.

ATVs

10. Every rider should take a hands-on rider-safety course.

11. All kids should ride size-appropriate ATVs.

12. All riders should wear full protective gear including a helmet, chest protector, gloves and shin guards.

Food that gets kids required vitamin D

Molly Martyn, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s.

Molly Martyn, MD

Getting enough vitamin D is an important part of staying healthy. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and thus is a critical part of how our bodies make and maintain strong bones. Research shows that it also plays a role in keeping our immune systems healthy and may help to prevent certain chronic diseases.

Many of us get our vitamin D from the sun and drinking milk, but families often wonder how to help their children get enough vitamin D to meet daily requirements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D. For children older than 1 year, the recommended amount is 600 IUs per day.

Vitamin D is found in a number of foods, some naturally and some through fortification. Foods that are naturally high in vitamin D include oily fish (such as salmon, sardines and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms and cheese. Below are some estimates of vitamin D levels (per serving) of a variety of foods.

TYPE OF FOOD IUs OF VITAMIN D PER SERVING
Salmon, 3.5 ounces 360 IUs
Tuna (canned), 1.75 ounces 200 IUs
Shrimp, 4 ounces 162 IUs
Orange juice (vitamin D fortified), 1 cup 137 IUs
Milk (vitamin D fortified), 1 cup 100 IUs
Egg, 1 large 41 IUs
Cereal (vitamin D fortified), ¾ cup 40 IUs
Shiitake mushrooms, 1 cup 29 IUs

subscribe_blogAll infants who are breast fed (and even many who are formula fed) should receive a daily vitamin D supplement.

In addition, the majority of children do not eat diets high in foods containing vitamin D, so a vitamin D supplement or multivitamin may be an important part of helping them meet their daily requirements. Talk to your child’s health care provider about recommendations.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) has more information on vitamin D, including vitamin D recommendations for all age groups.

Molly Martyn, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Life changing: My time with Children’s Youth Advisory Council

Will Cohen (right) has been a member of Children's Youth Advisory Council for the past three years.

Will Cohen (front) has been a member of Children’s Youth Advisory Council for the past three years.

Will Cohen

My experience as a patient at Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota inspired me to become a member of the Youth Advisory Council, a group comprised of kids who help influence and shape the work of Children’s.

For three years I’ve been a proud member of the YAC. Although words can’t do justice to how thankful I am for the program, I’ll try to describe its wonders and the life lessons I’ve learned. It took just one meeting for me to know that I had joined a special group. The atmosphere around the council is unparalleled, nothing but positivity, and it’s my favorite part about being a member. People are happy and ready to make the hospitals and clinics better places.

Each meeting is unique and full of opportunities to learn because each kid — current or former patients — has a story. Almost all YAC members have been treated at Children’s for serious conditions. During the first meeting of the year, members explain why they are on the council and describe the medical obstacles they have overcome. Some of the stories are eye-opening and remind me how grateful I am for my health. During meetings, we also take tours, meet people, including staff, and explore growing areas of the hospitals.

subscribe_blogI owe the YAC and Children’s so much gratitude. My social and communication skills are better because I’ve been a part of the program. I’ll never forget when CEO Bob Bonar Jr. attended a meeting in January, one month after he started at Children’s, and had a conversation with each and every one of us as we introduced ourselves.

Most importantly, Children’s has made me a better person. When I make decisions for anything, I always think of the YAC. I treat people as they should be treated, with kindness and without judgment. I am more sensitive and respectful to people’s feelings, beliefs and opinions.

I have more empathy for people in need and feel the desire to extend my hand further daily to be more helpful.

I cannot forget the memories and lessons that I’ve gained throughout my years with the Youth Advisory Council. It has been an unforgettable ride, and I’ll always stay connected with Children’s. I am forever thankful for everything the YAC has given me.

Will Cohen is a recent graduate of Hopkins High School and will attend Kansas University this fall.

Life jackets greatly reduce risk of drowning

A life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones in and around water. (iStock photo)

A life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones in and around water. (iStock photo)

Dex Tuttle

According to the Minnesota Water Safety Coalition, it’s estimated that half of all drowning events among recreational boaters could have been prevented if life jackets were worn.

As a parent, it doesn’t take much to convince me that the safety of my daughter is important, and more specifically, directly my responsibility. This statistic is alarming. Especially since drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and younger.

My daughter, Quinnlyn, loves the water. It’s easy to get caught up in her excitement and joy as she splashes around and giggles that addicting toddler laugh, so much so that I often forget the dangers inherent in water for a child who is oblivious to them.

subscribe_blogStill, as an attentive parent, it’s hard for me to believe that drowning is an ever-present danger for my little one. That’s why it’s important to consider the staggering statistics around near-drowning incidents.

Since 2001, an average of 3,700 children sustained nonfatal near-drowning-related injuries. To spare you the details, check out this article.

When protecting your children around water, there’s little to nothing that can supplement uninterrupted supervision. However, a life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones and help instill a culture of safety in your family. Here’s how to know if it fits right (thanks to the United States Coast Guard):

  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved on the label on the inside of the jacket.
  • Ensure that the jacket you select for your child is appropriate for his or her weight, and be sure it’s in good condition. A ripped or worn-out jacket can drastically reduce its effectiveness.
  • Before you know it, football season will be here again (YES!), so consider the universal signal for a touchdown — after the life jacket is on and buckled, have your child raise his or her arms straight in the air. Pull up on the arm openings and make sure the jacket doesn’t ride up to the chin; it’s best to find out that it’s too loose before getting in the water.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

When it’s critical, so is your choice – Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

Dex Tuttle is Children’s injury prevention program coordinator.

How to prevent, treat bug bites, stings

Erin Dobie, CNP

Minnesota summers bring warm weather and opportunities for our kids to go outside, exploring and playing in nature. Pesky insects often irritate or interrupt summer fun. Learn how to prevent insect bites, treat bites when they do occur, remove ticks and how to know when you should seek medical attention for your child.

subscribe_blogHow to treat bites

Insect bites and bee stings react because of venom injected into the skin. The severity of reaction depends on your child’s sensitivity to the venom. Most reactions are mild, causing redness, local swelling and irritation or itching. These usually will go away in two to three days. Calamine lotion or any anti-itch gel or cream may help soothe the itching.

Bee stings cause immediate pain and a red bump, but usually the discomfort lessens within 15 minutes. More than 10 bee stings at once (extremely rare) may cause a more-severe reaction with vomiting, diarrhea and headache. Allergic reactions to bee stings can be severe and quickly get worse. These reactions include difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, or confusion. Children who have a severe reaction need immediate medical attention, and you should call 911. If the child has a known bee allergy and an Epi-pen is available, the Epi-pen should be administered in addition to calling 911. If a stinger is present, try to rub it off with something flat such as the edge of a credit card. Do not try to squeeze the stinger out or try to dig it out. If it does not come out easily, soak the area in water and leave it alone to come out on its own.

Tick bites don’t often cause much of a local reaction. They’re primarily concerning because they can transmit infectious diseases. Ticks are prevalent in Minnesota. They’re generally found on the ground in wooded or heavily bushy areas. Ticks can’t jump or fly. Generally they climb grass and climb onto someone to attach as we brush up against them. Ticks are most active during the spring and summer months.

There are a few different infectious diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, but the most common one found in the Minnesota-Wisconsin area is Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi). To infect a person, a tick typically must be attached to the skin for at least 36 hours. The incubation period, the time from infection to being symptomatic, is anytime between three and 30 days.

Lyme disease can present in many stages. Early localized stage often includes a red ring-like rash (or may resemble a “bull’s-eye” target) that slowly expands. Other symptoms include headache, fever, joint or muscle aches and overall not feeling well or excessively tired. If your child develops these symptoms within a few days to weeks after tick exposure you should seek medical attention to evaluate for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is evaluated by medical history, physical examination and sometimes a blood test. It may take the body several weeks to develop antibodies and the blood test may not show up positive early in the disease. Most cases of Lyme disease are easily and successfully treated with a few weeks of antibiotics.

How to prevent a bite

Prevention is the key to avoiding insect bites. I recommend insect repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET. The higher concentration of DEET does not indicate better repellent; it just means that the repellent will last longer. Most repellents can be used on infants and children older than 2 months. Other effective repellents contain permethrin, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535. Permethrin-treated clothing is an option if the child will be camping or on wooded hikes. Finally, showering or bathing soon after exposure to tick areas is important to check for and remove ticks. Parents should pay close attention and check children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in their hair on their scalp. Dogs should be treated for ticks, but also checked as the ticks can ride into the home on the dogs then attach to a person later.

How to remove a tick

If you find a tick attached to your child’s skin, there is no need to panic.

  1. Use a fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this often can cause the tick’s mouth to break off and remain in the skin. If the mouth breaks off, try to remove it. If it cannot be removed easily, don’t dig it out; just wash and allow it to fall out on its own.
  3. After removing the tick, clean the skin with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.