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Bear Essentials Online - February 2011

American Heart Month at Children's National

Heart month at Children's NationalDid you know that congenital heart disease is among the most common birth defects in the United States? Did you also know that Children's National Heart Institute is an international leader in pediatric cardiac care, with one of the highest success rates for cardiac surgery in the nation? Specialized pediatric cardiologists take care of heart issues beginning from the fetus to the adult with congenital heart disease.

Children's National performs more than two thirds of all cardiovascular surgeries on patients less than one year old. And half of these are on newborns, less than one month old. In addition to world-class surgery, advancement in catheter-based cardiac interventions is creating non-surgical options to repair congenital malformations.

Children's National pediatric cardiologists are going out to many area communities, so that children and families may be evaluated more conveniently in their own neighborhoods throughout DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.

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Children's National Specialists are Recognized as 'Top Doctors' in Northern Virginia Magazine

Top Docs 2011Fifty doctors from Children's National Medical Center and its affiliated private practice were named as the region's "Top Doctors" in the February 2011 issue of Northern Virginia Magazine. This year, Children's National expanded services in Northern Virginia through its affiliation with Children's National Specialists of Virginia, LLC. Children's National Specialists of Virginia is a private, physician office-based practice in Fairfax.

According to Northern Virginia Magazine, to determine the "Top Docs 2011" the editors conducted peer nominations and augmented the selection process by working with a panel of head doctors from nine local hospitals including Children's National. The panel nominated physicians based on internal evaluation, patient reviews, and overall quality of care to determine the final list.

"We are very proud of the continued success of our physicians in Northern Virginia and throughout the metropolitan area. Children's National is the largest pediatric specialty presence in the region and our doctors' ranking in this survey is evidence that our specialists are highly regarded by their peers," said Edwin K. Zechman, President and CEO, Children's National Medical Center. "I am pleased to congratulate our Northern Virginia 'Top Docs.'"

View the news release for a listing of "Top Doctors".

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Q & A Fevers

ThermometerWhat types of infections cause fevers?

The most common infections causing fever in children are viruses. A viral infection generally goes away on its own as the body's immune system kills the virus. Antibiotics do not help with viruses. One reason to see a physician is to be sure that your child doesn't have a bacterial infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. Common bacterial infections include ear infections, strep throat, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.

When is a fever harmful?

Fevers do not cause harm because the body's temperature regulation system keeps the temperature from climbing too high. Elevated body temperature may be harmful in heat stroke or in a reaction to some medications used for general anesthesia.

Should you treat a fever?

Fever is a sign that your child's immune system is reacting appropriately to kill an infection. In other words, fever is a normal part of the immune system. We treat fever in children only because it makes them more comfortable.

How do you treat a fever?

Treating a child with a cold bath is not helpful; in fact, it makes the child more uncomfortable. If your child is feeling sore or achy with a fever, using either acetaminophen or ibuprofen may "reset the thermostat". Aspirin should never be given to children and teenagers with a fever because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a life-threatening disease of the brain.

What is the best method for taking a child's temperature?

There are many different ways to measure body temperature. Most pediatricians recommend an electronic thermometer. The most accurate method is using a glass-mercury thermometer but concerns have arisen about exposure to any level of mercury. The type of mercury that is in a glass thermometer is not toxic unless heated in very large quantities.

When should you call your pediatrician?

An infant less than 2 months old with a fever (100.6 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) should prompt a call to a pediatrician immediately. Infants this age do not yet have adequate immune systems. Similarly, a child 2 months to 3 years old with a fever of 103 degrees or higher should also prompt a call. At any age, symptoms of more serious infections that require medical care include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inability to swallow
  • Pain that is unresponsive to acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • A stiff neck, severe headache, or photophobia (pain when light is shown in the eyes)
  • Dehydration (no urination in 8 hours)
  • A rapidly spreading rash or a rash with bruises
  • Becoming more irritable or more lethargic
  • Fever in a child who does not have a normal immune system (e.g. sickle cell, cancer, immune disorders, or chronic steroid use)
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Get Into the Habit of Reading to Your Child

Get in the habit of readingIt is never too early to start reading to your child. Reading provides a perfect opportunity for fun and parent/child bonding. Make reading a part of your child's everyday routine and keep in mind that it is okay if you only squeeze in a few minutes each day. Young children have short attention spans. They will want to sit and read with you longer as they grow older.

The Perfect Book

In addition to incorporating story time into your child's routine, be sure to choose an appropriate book. Kids like books that include things they know about and reflect their experiences.

For example, 6 to 12-month-old infants like small board books with pictures of babies, while a 24 to 34-month-old toddler likes books with both board and paper pages about families, friends, food, and animals. The latter group also likes rhymes and repetitious text that they can learn by heart. Three to 5-year-old children enjoy books that tell stories about kids like them. Books about going to school, making friends, or going different places will interest them.

What Parents Can Do

According to Reach Out And Read, a clinic-based program that promotes early literacy, parents can take several steps to help their child meet the developmental milestones of early literacy, including:

6 to 12 months
  • Hold child comfortably, face-to-face gaze
  • Follow baby's cues for "more" and "stop"
  • Point and name pictures
12 to 24 months
  • Respond to child's prompting to read
  • Let the child control the book
  • Be comfortable with toddler's short attention span
  • Ask "Where is the...?" and let the child point
24 to 36 months
  • Keep using books in routines
  • Read at bedtime
  • Be willing to read the same story over and over
  • Ask "What's that?"
  • Relate books to child's experiences
  • Provide crayons and paper
3 years and older
  • Ask "What's happening?"
  • Encourage writing and drawing
  • Let the child tell the story
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Burn Awareness Week: Re-learn the Basics of Burn Injury Care

Burn Awareness WeekBurn injuries are one of the leading causes of unintentional child injury-related deaths. Keep your children safe by learning how to treat them should the need arise.

What to do if your child suffers a burn:
  • Remove the burning source.
  • Get your child to safety.
  • Call 911 if your child has suffered a scald involving the face and chest or a flame burn.
  • Apply cool water if it is an external burn to stop the burning.
  • Don't put anything, such as ointments or creams, on the burn. Simply cover it with a clean, dry towel, or cloth.
  • Take your child to his or her pediatrician or Emergency Department to have the burn evaluated and treated.
For additional burn safety resources, visit our burn safety page.

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Recipe of the Month - Recipes to Love

Healthy Hearts

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Healthy heartsIngredients
  • Watermelon slices
  • Orange slices
  • Long toothpicks or kitchen skewers
  • Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on watermelon slices.
  • Poke a long toothpick or a kitchen skewer through each heart.
  • Place orange slices on the tip and tail to resemble an arrow.
Serves: 1 (1 serving per heart)

Gluten-Free Crepes

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Healthy crepesIngredients
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • Assorted fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes)
  • In a blender, combine eggs, milk, oil, salt, and cornstarch; blend 30 seconds or until smooth.
  • Spray small nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat well over medium-high heat.
  • Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of skillet, rotating quickly to evenly coat pan.
  • Cook about 30 seconds until the edges begin to brown and pull away from pan.
  • Carefully turn crepe; cook 30 seconds longer.
  • Slide out of skillet onto a dish. Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Top each crepe with assorted fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or grapes.
Serves: 1 (1 serving crepe)

Heart to Resist

Preparation time: 1 to 2 hours (chilling required)

Heart to resistIngredients
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 (3-ounce) packages of sugar free red flavored gelatin
  • 2 (¼-ounce) envelopes of unflavored gelatin
  • Dissolve one package of flavored gelatin in ¾ cup boiling water. Add ¾cup cold water, then pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch glass pan and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Stir together ½ cup boiling water and the condensed milk. In a separate bowl, dissolve all unflavored gelatin in ½ cup cold water for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Thoroughly mix in ¾ cup boiling water, then combine this mixture with the milk and let it cool.
  • Add half the mixture to the pan of red gelatin, pouring it over a spatula to slow the stream, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Continue alternating layers - gelatin mix, the remaining milk mix, the final gelatin mix - chilling each for 20 to 30 minutes to set it. Create individual servings with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Serves: 1 serving per heart shaped gelatin


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Get Your Cholesterol Tested in February

To celebrate American Heart Month, the Blood Donor Center at Children's National will be performing non-fasting cholesterol test on donors during the month of February.

To make an appointment, call 202-476-KIDS or visit us online at

Advice From Parents Like You

"Being the parent of a child with a congenital hear defect is not always easy but you are in good company - there are so many of us out there." - Joshua's mom

Read her letter


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