What You Can (and Can’t) Eat During Pregnancy

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Two years ago, I was working overnights in the ER, drinking grande lattes, and enjoying a multicourse sushi dinner for a friend’s bachelorette…two nights before I found out I was pregnant. I immediately researched how these foods might affect my pregnancy and panicked—everything I had eaten was on someone’s “forbidden list.”

If you’re pregnant (like I am again now!), you’ve found these lists and know that none of them agree on food safety during pregnancy. Here are six foods that get a ton of attention—and just as many misconceptions. Read more  »

How to Reduce Your Baby’s Risk of SIDS

Mother looking at her baby boy in a crib

“This is the paramedic, we’re driving in with a 4-month old. Mother found it in the crib, not breathing. CPR underway.”
As an ER doctor, there are few calls that you dread more, few that make you feel as sick to your stomach, that just make you stop.

As a mom, few thoughts are scarier than SIDS. While SIDS rates had declined in the 1990s, the rates have plateaued in the last decade, causing about 3,500 infant deaths a year. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released new guidelines on SIDS prevention.

Are you putting your baby at risk? Here are the risk factors: Read more  »

Protect Your Kids from Hidden Hazards at Home

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As an ER doctor, I’m often scared (and surprised!) by how many well-meaning parents overlook blatant safety risks in their home–often when they thought they were taking extra precautions. Parenting is tough, especially when items ostensibly marketed as “safety” ends up being…well…not. The latest example is IKEA’s recall of baby gates and gate extensions, which comes shortly after two separate recalls for falling dressers from IKEA and Bernhardt.

You’re probably starting to question the safety of your home for your children – and you’re not being paranoid by doing so. In the U.S., six children die from an injury at home, and an additional 10,000 enter the ER every day. The risk is especially high for toddlers and young children.

As an ER doctor, I’ve taken care of many children, but as a mom, that statistic gives me a giant knot in my stomach.

When it comes to kids 12 and under, the most common causes of non-fatal injuries are falls, being struck by or against an object, cuts, burns, and poisoning. Of those, the most deadly include suffocation, drowning, and being struck by or against an object (like a bookshelf).

Of course, you can baby-wear your little cupcake until he’s 12–that would keep him safe. Or, you can save your shoulders (and side-glances from strangers), and take these steps to protect your little ones at home. Sure, children always invent new ways to injure themselves, but if you take the right measures, you can reduce the risk of many injuries.

This blog will be the first in a series that’ll walk through your house, room-by-room, and help eliminate its biggest hazards. So, you’ll be able to sleep better at night–you know, the deep, pleasant sleep any parent of toddlers can enjoy…. oh wait…nevermind. Well, at least home hazards won’t be keeping you up. In the first installment, we’re taking a look at the bedroom: Read more  »

3 Clothing Items That Can Hurt Your Health

Hard choice.

“Kill me, but make me beautiful,” I remember my great-aunt telling me, as she recalled her days of wearing a corset. I laughed at these stories, as I sat in my Umbros and T-shirt; how crazy were women to deal with such discomfort for fashion?! Fast-forward a [cough] few years we’re all wearing the modern day version: sky-high heels and Spanx.

As an ER doctor, I’ve treated women for countless “fashion emergencies.” The reality is; women still wear items that aren’t only uncomfortable, but can actually harm our bodies, too.

So, what can women do to stay safe without ditching their favorite fashions? Luckily, it is possible to look just as beautiful, without the “kill me” part. Read more  »

What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease

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Think you know Lyme disease? You’ve probably heard of Lyme disease, but if you’re like most people, you don’t really know what it is. You know that you don’t want to contract it and that the infection can be long-term—but do you know the symptoms?

Lyme disease is a condition fraught with misconceptions because it can have so many symptoms, which might not show up for months or even years. Read on to learn more about Lyme disease and how you can avoid it.   Read more  »

How to Help Your Kid Cope With Back to School Anxiety

Cute pupils running down the hall at the elementary school

Remember setting out your outfit for the first day back to school? You probably felt a mix of excitement, wonder for the year, and a little anxiety. That wasn’t unusual then, and it especially isn’t unusual for kids today, who many experts say experience greater levels of anxiety and pressures than kids even just 10 years ago. Longer school hours, less free play, more pressure (can anyone say, “kindergarten applications?”), and other factors in their daily lives today likely all contribute.

My daughter just entered preschool, but I worry about this, too. How can we, as parents, help our children feel more confident at school? Having mommy sit next to them in every class isn’t exactly an option. And how do you know when their anxiety is beyond the usual back-to-school jitters? Read more  »

Where You’re Not Applying Sunscreen (But Should Be)

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Think you’re covered when it comes to sunscreen? Surprise: most of us aren’t using it appropriately. One study showed that most people apply only 25-50 percent of the amount of sunscreen they actually need. Plus, we often miss many of the most sun-sensitive spots. Extra important? Men are even less likely to apply sunscreen appropriately, putting them at increased risk for many skin cancers.

Remember, when you’re out in the sun, most people need to apply just under a shot glass’s worth of sunscreen to their whole body. To avoid feeling like a 1970s lifeguard, apply half as a first layer, wait a few minutes and then apply the second coat.  Read more  »

The Shocking Way Sugar Affects Your Brain

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If I offered you one million dollars to do it, could you hold your breath underwater for 15 minutes?

Unless you’re an amphibian, the answer is no; the brain’s drive for oxygen would override any willpower to win the money.

And guess what? If you’re living on a steady diet of sugar, your brain is similarly re-wired, demanding that next “hit” — and your willpower has as much chance of resisting it as it does of keeping you underwater.

We all know sugar is bad for us, but this stunning example by Mark Hyman, MD, about its impact on our brain — and our difficulty to resist the drive for more sugar — really drove the message home. You see, I’m a reformed sugar addict. During residency, a long ER shift called for a couple bags of Skittles. Or a studying session meant Swedish Fish. But instead of being satisfying, these sugar hits always led to a crash — and a craving for even more.

Read more  »

How Much Wine Is Too Much?

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Reaching for a glass of wine at the end of the day? You’re not alone. According to the Wine Institute, Americans drank 895 million gallons of wine in 2014. You’ve no doubt also seen headlines about the health benefits of wine. So, if a little is good, more is better, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As a physician, I can tell you that when it comes to wine, there’s definitely a sweet spot — a little bit is healthy, but too much can have disastrous health consequences. Read more  »

3 Food Ingredients to Avoid No Matter What

mom and daughter

My toddler likes “Blue Cookies” (so called because they’re fluorescent blue and likely have nothing remotely natural in them). And, she prefers them over my homemade peanut butter cookies (Seriously. Does she realize I used the blender for the first time, like, ever?).

Sometimes getting your kids to eat healthy food seems like an epic battle. Many times, it’s just not worth the fight —  but sometimes, it is. While letting your child eat Blue Cookies (or their equivalent) every once in a while won’t cause her to grow an extra ear or make you #World’sWorstMom, some ingredients are worse than others. Here are three worth the effort to minimize in your children’s diet — and your own.  Read more  »