By Dr. Culhane, Chief Medical Officer of Molina Healthcare
Today’s parents hold different philosophies on topics from discipline to education, but all parents can agree that they want to do everything possible to keep their children healthy, happy and safe. Though these are broad goals, there are very specific things that parents can do to attain them and give their kids the best start possible in life.
1. Vaccinate. Though some question the importance of routine childhood vaccinations, a review of medical evidence demonstrates that vaccines are responsible for preventing diseases that traditionally sicken and kill children. The single best way to protect your children from potentially life-threatening disease is to follow the routine vaccination schedule recommended by your health care provider. Most public schools require immunization as a prerequisite to enrollment, so it is important to stay abreast of your state or district’s requirements.
2. Eat meals as a family and play. Estimates indicate that childhood obesity has more than tripled since 1980. Children who are overweight are at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, and a wide range of psychological issues. Plan and eat meals together as a family, get children involved in choosing foods and making meals, and educate yourselves about the benefits and downfalls of different foods. Another way to help kids maintain a healthy lifestyle is to get them moving physically – play with them! Limit television and computer time to no more than two hours daily, and get outside with your kids.
3. Dental care. Our children’s teeth often take the backseat in their health care. It is important to keep their smiles in mind and begin brushing their gums at 6 months. As they grow out teeth, teach them how to properly brush and start taking them to the dentist at 2 years old.
4. Practice safety. According to the CDC, airway obstruction is the leading cause of death among infants under age one. For kids one to 14, the most common cause of death is drowning, and falls are the leading cause of injury for children in this age group. Almost 45 percent of unintentional injury deaths occur in or around the home. Practice common sense and safety by using car seats and high chairs for babies, and by keeping small objects and cords away from babies and toddlers. With older kids, discuss fire safety, poison, guns and kitchen safety.
Being a parent is a big responsibility, and it isn’t a job to be taken lightly. Molina Healthcare offers a variety of resources for parents to help keep kids fit and safe.
Check out www.Molina-HeartsHealth.com for more information.