Check Out “Drug Facts Chat Day” for Teens TODAY

ndfw-sub-logoThis is National Drug Facts Week and every year the National Institute on Drug Abuse hosts an online chat with teens to answer their questions and give the real truth about drugs and drug abuse. It’s too late to register to submit questions, but anyone can follow the discussion happening TODAY – plus a transcript will be posted about 2 weeks after. Also, I recommend teens – and parents – take the 2015 National Drug IQ Challenge – especially if you think “spice” and “bath salts” are things you buy at the grocery store (like I did!).

Below is the announcement from

High school students will connect with top scientists on the subject of drug abuse this FridayDrug Facts Chat Day—and yours can tune in. From 8 am – 6pm EST, teens will be posing their most pressing questions online, to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) scientists, who will provide the facts.

Students can warm up for the discussion with the 2015 National Drug IQ Challenge (also in Spanish). And they can join a Twitter chat Thursday from 4-5 pm.

It’s all part of National Drug Facts Week, an annual observance aimed at shattering the myths about drugs and drug abuse for teens. You can follow-up anytime with these booklets from NIDA:

First Period? Tampons? Tips for Talking to Girls (And Boys)

Most girls start their periods when they’re about 12, but they can start as early as age 8, so it’s important to talk to girls from an early age to make sure they’re prepared before the big day.

Many parents feel awkward talking about periods, especially with pre-teen girls who can seem to get embarrassed so easily.

One way round this is to respond to questions or opportunities as they arise. David Kesterton, who organises the FPA’s Speakeasy courses – which teach parents how to talk to their children about puberty, sex and relationships – says clear speaking and down-to-earth, age-appropriate language is key.

Best Age to Talk about Periods

How do you talk to your kids“Parents often ask me when is the right age to talk to girls about starting periods, and I recommend that it should be an ongoing process rather than a formal sit-down talk. You can use TV ads for tampons, or buying sanitary towels at the supermarket, for example, to start the conversation with girls about periods. Or simply ask your daughter what she already knows and go from there.

“Whenever possible use clear language, like vagina, even though you may feel uncomfortable using these words.

“Emphasise that periods are completely normal and natural, they’re part of growing up and that all women have them.

“And don’t forget boys. They, too, need to learn about periods. Talk to them in the same way as girls about the practicalities, mood changes that can come with periods, and the biological reason behind periods, and it will keep them informed as well as help them to understand what girls go through each month.”

The Questions Girls Ask about Periods

Here are some of the questions you, as a parent, might get asked by girls about periods with suggestions on how to answer them:

How will I know when my periods are soon going to start?

Signs that your period is on its way are if you’ve grown underarm and pubic hair. Typically, you’ll start your periods about two years after your breasts start growing and about a year after getting a white, vaginal discharge. The average girl will get her first period around 12 years old, but it varies from person to person.

How do I get ready for my first period?

Talk to your mum or another adult you trust about what you can expect before it actually happens. It’s a good idea to start carrying sanitary pads or tampons around with you in advance so that when your period finally arrives you aren’t scrambling to find some. If you find yourself at school without a pad or tampon, talk to a female teacher or the school nurse. They’re used to being asked and they’ll want to help you out.

How long will my first period last?

When your first period arrives it might not last very long as it can take your body some months to get into a regular pattern. As a general rule, once they’re settled, you’ll have a period every 28 to 30 days and it will last between three and seven days.

How much blood will I lose?

It might seem a lot, but it’s only about 3-5 tablespoons. It’s not a sudden gush, you’ll just see a reddish-brown stain on your pants or on your sheets when you wake up in the morning.

What if period blood leaks through my clothes?

Part of becoming a woman is dealing with embarrassing mishaps. There are ways of covering up stains until you’re able to change your clothes, such as tying a sweatshirt around your waist. Keep a spare pair of pants (panties*) and tights at school or in your bag, and avoid wearing light-coloured trousers and skirts during a period, just in case.

Should I use pads or tampons?

This is really up to you. Both tampons and towels/pads are safe and suitable for girls who have just started their periods. You’ll probably want to use pads for your very first period, though, as tampons can take a bit more getting used to. It might be worth experimenting until you find the product that suits you best.

Can a tampon get lost inside me?

No, it can’t. When you insert a tampon, it stays in your vagina. All tampons come with a string at one end that stays outside your body. You can remove the tampon at any time using this string.

Read the full answer to: ‘Can a tampon get lost inside me?’

What if I forget to remove my tampon?

If you forget to remove your tampon, it can turn sideways or become compressed at the top of your vagina. This can make it difficult or impossible for you to pull it out. If you think that you’ve left a tampon in and you can’t get it out, go to your GP (family doctor*). They can remove it for you.

Read the full answer to: ‘What if I forget to remove my tampon?’.

Read more articles on the menstrual cycle.

Editor’s Note: * clarification provided for our U.S. audience

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 01-19-2015 to 01-25-2015

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
27 new booster seats added to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of
Best Bets for 2014

I’m A Special Needs Soccer Mom …she’s come a long way, baby

Sometimes being a soccer mom is a miracle

Sometimes being a soccer mom is a miracle

My child is now on a soccer team. That seems like such a mundane statement, and the driving to and from games and the extra strain to find time to do homework and make dinner is wearing me out. But in the middle of it all I try to take a moment to remember that the fact that she is on a soccer team is not mundane at all – in fact, it is almost miraculous! Doctors told us she might never walk or talk, and yet there she is up and down the field, calling to her teammates. Yes, her legs might be a bit more stiff than the other girls and yes, sometimes her teammates don’t exactly understand what she is saying but for the most part she is just another girl on the team. She is ecstatic when they win and sullen when they lose, just like all the other girls. At one point my baby was labeled “failure to thrive” and the doctor started strongly suggesting a feeding tube. We resisted and worked on finding another answer.

This year at her annual checkup I got a lecture about how much weight she has gained the past year.

When we first got her diagnosis and grim predictions for her future I remember telling my family that I couldn’t allow myself to be upset about a future that might never happen – I had infant twins in my care, plus their toddler big brother. I was buried in diapers, feedings, laundry and medicine schedules. I was too tired to be upset. I had no choice but to take it one moment at a time. Of course I wanted to crawl under a rock, but babies have a way of demanding things, like food and attention and clean clothes.

If you have a newly diagnosed special needs child I am not saying don’t worry, everything will be fine. But I am saying to listen to your doctors, do your research, find support and take it one moment at a time – one bottle, one Sesame Street song or one load of laundry at a time.

Photo credit: Bradley Dean; CC license

Saturday, AMC Sensory Friendly Films is Showing Paddington

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

paddington-poster-US-smallDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

On Saturday January 24th, at 10am local time, Paddington will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page). The movie is getting great reviews and my son and I really enjoyed it!

Coming February 14th: Spongebob Square Pants: Sponge Out of Water


Editor’s note: Although Paddington has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for mild action and rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Managing Your Child’s Long-term Health Condition at School

Boy having respiratory illness helped by health professional with inhalerIf your child has a long-term health condition, such as asthma or diabetes, talk to their school about how their condition will be managed during the school day.

Most children will, at some time, have short-term medical needs. For example, they may need to take a course of antibiotics or other medicine.

But some have a long-term or even lifelong illness and need medicines for the foreseeable future.

Children with medical needs have the same rights of admission to schools as other children. Most attend school regularly and take part in normal activities, sometimes with support. However, staff may need to take measures to ensure that these children, and others, aren’t put at risk.

Not all long-term health conditions can be managed in mainstream schools. Some will require your child to attend a school that is specially equipped.

Common Long-term Health Conditions in Schoolchildren

Common long-term conditions that mainstream schools can manage include diabetes, asthma, epilepsy and allergy.

If your child has a long-term health condition, your school may draw up an individual healthcare plan to help staff identify any necessary safety measures. This will help to protect your child and ensure that others aren’t put at risk.

How to Talk to the School About Your Child’s Health Condition

If your child has recently been diagnosed with a long-term condition, or you have a child with a long-term condition who is about to start school, contact your child’s school to discuss how it will be managed.

Talk to your child’s GP (pediatrician*) or hospital specialist about the information you’ll need to give the school. They can also give you advice on the arrangements that the school may have to make, such as keeping medicines on site or helping to administer medicines. The information you give the school should include:

  • Details of medicines your child needs to take and when they’re needed
  • Any side effects of the medicines
  • What constitutes an emergency
  • What to do, and not to do, in an emergency
  • Special requirements, such as dietary needs, and measures that must be taken before your child is physically active
  • Whether your child will need to be absent from school regularly to meet medical appointments.

Discuss with your GP (pediatrician*) or consultant (specialist*) how your child’s condition should be managed during the school day. For example, it may be possible to prescribe medicine for your child that can be taken before and after school, instead of in the middle of the day. If your child’s condition can be managed effectively with minimal involvement from the school, this is likely to be easier for you and the school.

What to Expect from the School

Your child’s school should have policies setting out how it manages medicines and long-term medical conditions.

This policy will cover the following:

  • How medicines will be managed and administered during the school day. Any member of staff administering medicines should be fully trained.
  • How medicines will be managed and administered during school outings.
  • Who the school will contact if there’s an emergency.
  • How the school will meet special needs, such as diet.
  • How the school will help your child to participate in physical activity and school trips, if needed.
  • The school should be able to agree with you on how it will manage your child’s condition during the school day.

The school staff do not have a legal duty to administer medicines. But if staff do so, the school must ensure that they’re trained appropriately.

Editor’s Note: * clarification provided for our U.S. audience