Need to Know: Pediatric Healthsource

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Experts from Nationwide Children's Hospital answer common questions about health and safety

It seems that when my child gets vaccinations, he always gets a little feverish afterwards. Is this normal? He has some shots coming up before school starts again.

Vaccines, also known as immunizations, contain either a dead or weakened germ that causes a certain illness. When this is injected into the body, the body makes antibodies to fight it. Because the body has created these antibodies, it will know how to combat the disease if ever exposed.

Many children experience side effects after they've received routine vaccinations. Some of the most common reactions include redness, swelling and/or soreness at the site, and cold-like symptoms such as fever, runny nose and overall fatigue.

As long as your child's symptoms are mild and subside within a few days, there is generally no cause for alarm. In some rare cases, however, vaccinations can trigger allergic reactions or even seizures. Be sure your primary-care physician knows of any allergies to food or medication your child has, or if your child has had a bad reaction to a vaccine in the past.

Consult your doctor if your child is running a fever of 104 degrees or higher, is crying inconsolably more than three hours after receiving an injection, or experiences seizures within three days of the immunization.

You and your primary-care physician should keep a record of all the vaccinations your child has received, and pay attention to when your child will need a booster.

Dr. Nicole Caldwell is a member of the Section of Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

My son is severely overweight and has been trying to lose weight for more than a year now. We've changed his diet and he exercises every day, but nothing seems to work. His doctor mentioned that weight-loss surgery might be an option. What is this and what does it involve?

Weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is not for all overweight people. It offers an option forindividuals who are more than 100 pounds above their ideal body weight, have not been able to achieve significant weight lossthrough dieting aloneandsuffer from significant obesity-related illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea and liver disease.

Several surgical options areoffered at Nationwide Children's Hospital, including gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and adjustable gastric band. You and your son should research these procedures to learn which may be an option.

Leading up tobariatric surgery, a completemedical evaluationis required.This includes a physical exam and nutritionalevaluation. Patients must have regular visits following surgery in order to monitor nutritional status and avoid complications.

Bariatric surgery is only one part of the equation for success. In order toachieve optimalweight lossfollowing surgery, it is very important that patients maintaina healthy lifestyle. This includes regular physical activity andappropriate food choices.

Nationwide Children's Hospital offers free monthly sessions that provide an overview of the three types of weight-loss surgery available for teens, as well as the benefits, risks, advantages and disadvantages of each. The next sessions are Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.

Dr. Marc Michalsky is Surgical Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

All of the pool swimming this summer leaves the kids' hair bleached and prone to breaking, and their skin itching. What's the best way to treat this or prevent it? And is this truly harmful?

Bleached hair and itchy skin are common for children and adults who spend a lot of time in pools.

After a while, the chlorine in the pool will break down the skin's natural moisture barriers. This results in dry, itchy or irritated skin. Chlorine dries out hair, leading to breakage. It can also cause discoloration of hair from the metals found in pool water.

Try to have your child take a shower or bath with non-chlorinated water as soon as possible after leaving the pool. Avoid the use of harsh or heavily scented soaps, as these will irritate the skin. After showering, apply a bland, fragrance-free moisturizer.

A moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will help remove chlorine and coat the cuticle of the hair to make it shinier and less brittle. Specially formulated shampoos and conditioners for swimmers are available, which provide a protective coating to the hair shaft. Some can also remove the green color that sometimes follows chlorine exposure. Applying conditioner to the hair as well as wearing a swimmer's cap before entering the pool is a preventive measure that can be helpful as well.

If you suspect more serious damage, consult your primary-care physician, who will be able to provide more tips for safe, comfortable swimming.

Dr. Patricia Witman is the Chief of the Section of Dermatology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Clinical Dermatology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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While summer may be wrapping up, summer temperatures still linger. Follow these tips to keep active children and teens hydrated:

Drink lots of water: It seems common sense, but make sure your kids hydrate before, regularly during, and after sports.

Avoid carbonated drinks: They contain a lot of sugar and empty calories, which lead to weight gain.

Avoid energy drinks: These are loaded with sugar and caffeine and pose a real health risk to children. The sugar leads to weight gain and the high amount of caffeine will negatively affect concentration. More serious side effects may include fast or irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and/or seizures.