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Latest Posts

What To Do If Your Child Gets Into Your Medication: The Poison Center Can Help

It’s a moment of sheer panic. You find your child chewing something and holding an open bottle of medicine. You don’t know how much, if any, medicine your child swallowed, or if it will make your child sick.

Unfortunately, as a pediatrician and poison center medical director, I’ve seen this happen all too often. In 2009, in fact, America’s 57 poison centers received more than 575,000 calls involving children younger than 6 and medicines – including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, and vitamins.

When that moment of panic happens, it’s good to know that help is just a phone call away. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Safe Healthcare*

Do 2 Year Olds Engage In Mindless Eating?


I have not posted a blog in a week because we were on vacation and truly wanted to be on vacation and not be tied to doing any “work.”

We went to north Georgia for a few days then up to the mountains in western North Carolina. How gorgeous! It was so nice to escape the humidity of Florida for a week!

I had an observation on my vacation that I thought I would share. I have talked in previous blogs about mindless eating and how we multi-task while we are eating. When we are not conscious of what we are eating, we don’t fully enjoy it. In addition, we eat more than we realize.

I observed this phenomenon in my little boy who just turned 2 years old. We were in the car a lot for hours on end, so snacking and fast food were part of the trip. Also, because he is 2 and difficult to entertain in a car, we had the DVD player set up for him to watch his favorite Elmo, Clifford, and Thomas the Tank Engine videos.

It was quite amazing that whenever he was glued to the TV, he ate whatever snacks or meals in his carseat without even looking down. He just picked up a piece and put it in his mouth. And he would ask for more. Whenever he was not glued to the TV, he wasn’t asking for food or eating as much. Hmmm…..very interesting.

From now on I am going to be very careful about two things. First, how much TV he is watching. He normally doesn’t watch much but on this trip he got very spoiled with watching his DVD’s and I am afraid it will lead to more asking to watch now that we are home. Second, I am going to only let him snack when he is fully conscious of what he is doing. No food in front of the TV so that he can be very conscious about what and how much he is putting into his mouth.

As a fairly new (2 years) parent, I am still learning these lessons first hand on how to feed children. I just had to share my story because our children learn habits, both good and bad, at a very young age!

This post, Do 2 Year Olds Engage In Mindless Eating?, was originally published on Healthine.com by Brian Westphal.

How Much Vitamin D Does Your Child Need?

Tanya Altmann, MD

It’s been a little while since I had a “blonde moment” during an expert interview, but this one was pretty funny. I was in the middle of a podcast with Dr. Tanya Altmann, media personality and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, about vitamin D – when I thought I heard her say that there were now special formulas of vitamin D for incense.

I knew that Dr. Altmann practiced medicine in Southern California, so I wasn’t terribly surprised about this new method of vitamin delivery. However, I hadn’t heard about vitamin D inhalation previously, so I asked her to explain how this new incense formula worked.

She paused to gather her thoughts and then corrected me: “No, I was saying that there’s a new formula for INFANTS…”

Oh. My bad.

So here’s the rest of our delightful interview. You may want to listen to the podcast, though I did edit out the awkward “incense” section so as not to start a new cult. One doesn’t want to give others too many ideas on the Internet! I hope that Dr. Tanya won’t think less of me for that misunderstanding.

Dr. Val: What is vitamin D, and why do we need it?

Dr. Tanya: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for your entire body. Although it’s called a vitamin it actually functions as more of a hormone, playing an important role in the immune system. Vitamin D can help to protect people against illness, diabetes, and even cancer, though its role in helping to build strong bones (and protect infants from rickets) is probably its best known attribute.

Dr. Val: Tell me about the new AAP guidelines for infants, children and adolescents. Why did they change?

Dr. Tanya: Based on data collected in several recent research studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines last month which essentially doubled the recommended daily amount of vitamin D (from 200 to 400 IUs) for infants, children, and adolescents. Historically people were able to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through sun exposure (the body can create vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight), but now that we need to protect kids from sun’s harmful rays due to future skin cancer risk, vitamin D levels have dropped significantly. Sunscreen, of course, blocks the sun from stimulating the creation of vitamin D in the skin. Read more »

Latest Interviews

Caring For Winter Olympians In Sochi: An Interview With Team USA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gloria Beim

I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

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How Do Hospital Executives Feel About Locum Tenens Agencies And Traveling Physicians?

I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

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Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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