Children's Health

Facts About the H1N1 Swine Flu and Vaccine

October 26, 2009

Here'a a brief Q&A about the "swine flu," otherwise known as the H1N1 influenza, from regular Marin Mommies guest contributor and Marin pediatrician Steven Martel, MD, FAAP. Dr. Martel is a pediatrician with Child’s Light Pediatrics, Inc., an unique house-call pediatric practice in Marin County and San Francisco. For more information, visit,

"Swine flu" refers to a specific type A influenza virus, H1N1.

  • What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu in people? The symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to that of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Uncommonly, some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
  • How do you test for H1N1 flu? The nasal passage is rubbed using a special cotton tipped swab and sent to the lab.
  • Who should be tested for H1N1 flu? Those who exhibit the symptoms of flu and have fever should discuss the appropriateness of testing with their health care provider.  Optimally, testing should occur within a few days of onset of symptoms since treatment should commence within 4-5 days of symptom onset.
  • How do I avoid H1N1 flu? Avoid people with respiratory symptoms or illnesses. Wash your hands with soap or alcohol based sanitizers. Non-alcohol based sanitizers may not be effective. Previous seasonal flu vaccination does not confer immunity.
  • How long is someone with H1N1 flu contagious? The disease can be transmitted beginning one day prior to onset of symptoms up to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Is there a treatment for H1N1 flu? Nearly all cases in the U.S. have been mild to moderate in severity.  H1N1 flu can be treated with one of two different antiviral medications that are used to treat typical seasonal flu. There is no need to maintain an individual supply since those requesting treatment of confirmed H1N1 can receive the medicine from the local Department of Public Health or hospital pharmacies.

Currently the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus causes serious health outcomes for:

  • Healthy young people from birth through age 24
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults 25 to 64 who have underlying medical conditions

Uh-Oh: SIGG Bottles Contained BPA After All!

September 7, 2009

SIGG bottle with ironic claim printed on itBy know you've probably heard that SIGG, the Swiss manufacturer of expensive and stylish aluminum water bottles, hasn't exactly been honest with consumers. After years of claiming that their bottles were BPA-free (which is why so many of us bought them in the first place), SIGG last week revealed that the liners in all their bottles manufactured before August 2008 in fact contain—you guessed it—BPA. SIGG insists that tests show their liners to be non-leaching, but the damage is done. I'm not going to go over the whole sordid story here; there are plenty of places online that do that already, like Huffington Post blogger Simran Sethi.

If you're like many of us, you probably own one or more pre-August-2008 SIGG bottles (which you, ironically, bought to avoid having to use BPA-filled plastic ones). So what do you do with them? Fortunately, SIGG is attempting to make good in light of this PR disaster, and will exchange your old bottles for new versions with their BPA-free "EcoCare" liners.

Visit SIGG's website for instructions on how to return your bottles, and to download a shipping lable and return form. You'll have to pay to return the old bottles, and the program is good through October 31, 2009. Of course they remind us that the old bottles have been "proven not to leach," but at this point it's probably a good idea just to get the new ones.

If you don't feel like going through all that, then you may be in luck: apparently Whole Foods and REI stores will take exchange the old SIGG bottles for either a new model or store credit. That sounds a lot easier than packing the bottles up and shipping them back at your expense. In Marin and the North Bay Whole Foods stores can be found in Mill Valley (415-381-1200), San Rafael (415-451-6333), Petaluma (tel (707-762-9352), and Sonoma (707-938-8500), and REI has outlets in Corte Madera (415-927-1938) and Santa Rosa (tel (707-540-9025). Phone numbers are included because it's always best to call and confirm first, isn't it?

Your Child Needs Stitches: Optimizing the Cosmetic Outcome

July 14, 2009

skin careMarin Mommies presents another guest post by Cheryl Huang, MD FACS, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon and Marin mom.

Few of us have made it to adulthood without scars on our skin from childhood bobbles and falls. Though we all watch our children carefully, it’s likely that, at some point, your child will need stitches. Here are the answers to some important questions you should ask if your child requires stitches.

Q: What are some of the immediate things I should do at the scene of the injury?

A: STAY CALM… As a mother, I know that’s easier said than done. But one of the earliest skills I learned in my surgical training is that it is imperative to focus on the task at hand when you are the caregiver. Nix the emotional rage (“OMG, how is this going to affect her modeling career!” etc.). Rather, focus on delivering first aid. Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding. Of note, scalp wounds in particular can bleed dramatically due to their robust blood supply.

5 Tips To Help Relieve Your Baby's Constipation.

July 6, 2009

Apple juice to help with constipationMarin Mommies presents a guest post by Bay Area mom blogger Naomi Tripi. You can read more of her tips for parents of babies and toddlers on her blog at

Within days of becoming a new parent, one of your very favorite topics will be...poop. Suddenly one of the most fascinating topics in the world is your baby's bowel movements. So naturally, when your baby has constipation, finding a way to relieve it is a top priority. Unlike adults, babies cannot simply eat more fiber to help their bowel movements be more regular and comfortable, they rely on us to provide constipation relief. Of course, it is important to be sure that your baby is indeed having constipation before you try to treat it. Babies, especially breastfed babies, can sometimes go up to 3 or 4 days between bowel movements, simply because they are metabolizing nearly all of their feedings.

Family Bed: When It’s Not Working & What to Do

May 26, 2009

Marin Mommies presents another great guest article by Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette. She works throughout the Bay Area and across the country supporting families and helping them meet life's challenges. You can learn more about her and her services at

As I started writing this article, I received five phone calls, all from co-sleeping mothers who were beside themselves with fatigue and exhaustion. They were tearful as they told me how utterly and totally exhausted they were, and yet, each told me she felt conflicted about moving her child out of the family bed. This reminded me that a good article about transitioning one’s baby or toddler out of the family bed, must speak to the myriad emotions that both parents and children might feel as they make this change.

My Toddler's Constipation Dilemma

February 24, 2009

A friend asked me about my experience with this the other day, so I thought I'd pass it along here. This something is constipation. My son never really had a problem with it when he was little, since we made sure to feed him a good diet, until one fateful day. Of course we were on vacation, visiting friends down in Pacific Grove, when it happened. Doesn't it usually happen like that?

So one morning Trevor wakes up and instead of his usual happy two-year-old (at the time) self, he's cranky and crying and eventually seems to be in some physical distress. And because he's only two, he can't really tell us what the problem is. All he knows is that he's miserable. On our friends' recommendation we head down to the nearby urgent care clinic on Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey and fill out the paperwork with a crying toddler in the background. Of course this particular clinic doesn't take our otherwise pretty universally accepted health insurance. Of course not!

The Cough-and-Sniffle Question: When to Keep a Child Home?

February 11, 2009

Sick kidEvery parent eventually faces the dilemma where they have to ask themselves, "Is my child too sick to go to school today?" How sick is too sick to go to school? That's the question addressed in a recent New York Times article by parent and physician Perri Klass, MD. The upshot of the article seems to be that kids with mild colds (no fevers, of course) are more or less OK to go to school, especially in light of all the germs already present in such settings. You'll have to read the article to get the whole story, of course.

New York Times: "The Cough-and-Sniffle Question: When to Keep a Child Home?"

Does Daycare Strengthen Children's Immune Systems?

January 29, 2009

That's the idea tossed out in a recent post on the Mommy Files blog on Recent studies suggest that children in daycare build stronger immune systems by virtue of being around lots of other children, many of course with illnesses. Of course, medical research being what it is, some physicians disagree with that theory. Read the full post here, as well as the associated discussion (it's always lively on SFGate).

What Was Old is New Again: Psychotherapists Making House Calls

January 21, 2009

Marin Mommies is pleased to present another great guest article, this time by Mill Valley psychotherapist Lisa Nave, MA, MFT. Lisa specializes in working with parents, children, and families, and works from a holistic, integral psychotherapy model, which combines the best of western psychology with the best of the eastern wisdom traditions.

Today, we live in a technological society where much of our communication is virtual. Our society is more socially fragmented than it has ever been, with high divorce rates, disconnected suburban communities, and a lack of common values or even cultural rituals that keep us closely tied. In my private psychotherapy practice many of my clients have spoken of these issues over the years, and it is due to their distress that I decided to offer house calls as an optional service, if appropriate.

For issues such as parenting and child development, house calls may be the preferred method. There are several reasons for this:

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