Holidays, Kids, and Medicine: Safety tips

Medication Safety Tips From the Minnesota Poison Control System

Poison HelpAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, over 60,000 children are seen in emergency departments annually due to accessing and ingesting medication.

Continue reading “Holidays, Kids, and Medicine: Safety tips”

Setting limits for kids on TV, video games, phone use

Dr. Marjorie Hogan
Dr. Marjorie Hogan

Dr. Marjorie Hogan, pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), is one of the thousands of members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who is concerned about the amount of time kids are spending on the phone, watching TV, and playing video games.

Excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues. A recent study shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media.  About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.

“This new technology is very interesting and exciting, but it shouldn’t replace healthy activities,” explains Dr. Hogan. “Sleep, for example, is so important to growing children.  But many kids are keeping their cell phones next to them while they are in bed so that they don’t miss a text or a Facebook post. These things can wait until morning — after they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.”

Dr. Hogan was one of the co-authors of the AAP policy entitled “Children, Adolescents and the Media,” which explains the importance of having a healthy “media diet.”

“A healthy approach to children’s media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media use—in other words, it should promote a healthy ‘media diet’,” said Dr. Hogan. “Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption.”

While media by itself is not the leading cause of any health problem in the U.S., it can contribute to numerous health risks. At the same time, kids can learn many positive things from pro-social media.

The AAP policy statement offers recommendations for parents:

  • Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.
  • Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.
  • Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage screen media exposure.

Dr. Hogan also recommends that parents monitor what their children are communicating on their social media sites.  “And if you have a concern, talk to your child about it and explain what your family’s boundaries — and values — are when it comes to sharing information,” said Dr. Hogan.

More information for parents on creating a family media use plan​ is available on

To see Dr. Hogan’s statements on creating a media use plan, go to

Coin lithium batteries in holiday decorations and toys are harmful when swallowed

Candles 2Parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for an often overlooked danger that is hidden inside many of the toys, remote controls and other small items in their home. If swallowed the lithium batteries that provide the power can become lodged in the throats of children. The saliva immediately triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. In some cases, children have died from their injuries. So far this year, the Minnesota Poison Center has recorded 41 exposures to coin batteries. Continue reading “Coin lithium batteries in holiday decorations and toys are harmful when swallowed”

Family, friends donate Legos to Burn Center

Family donates Legos to HCMC Burn Center; blocks proved therapeutic to child with burns

Thanks to the Pearson-Cater family for donating Legos for kids in our Burn Center on Friday, November 9! Check out the cool label that’s on each Lego kit:

Housing insecurity associated with poor health

Study finds housing insecurity is associated with poor health, lower weight, and development risk among young children

Dr. Diana Cutts, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota was the lead author of a recent study that examined the association between housing insecurity and the health of very young children. Between 1998 and 2007, Dr. Cutts and her colleagues interviewed 22,069 low-income caregivers with children younger than 36 months who were seen in seven U.S. urban medical centers.  They evaluated food insecurity, child health status, developmental risk weight and housing insecurity for each child’s household. Crowding, defined as more than two people in a bedroom or more than one family in a residence, and multiple moves, defined as more than two moves within the previous year, were the two indicators used for housing insecurity. The researchers also found crowding and multiple moves to be associated with child food insecurity. In addition, multiple moves were associated with fair or poor child health, developmental risk, and lower weight-for-age scores.

“This research proves what we’re already seeing in our clinics,” explains Dr. Cutts. “We now have the data to back up our impression of the negative impact of housing stress on even the youngest children in terms of their poorer health, growth, and development. We simply do not have enough resources to help these families stabilize their households in adequate, affordable, and safe housing. Without the security of a home base upon which to build their lives, children show consequences that are potentially life-long.”

The study is published in the  American Journal of Public Health.

Hennepin County Medical Center is a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and public teaching hospital repeatedly recognized as one of America’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.  The centerpiece of Hennepin County’s clinical health services, Hennepin County Medical Center offers a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient pediatric care.