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Health briefs

Dr. James H. Bray offers the following tips to help make going back to school a less stressful experience for children and parents. Ease your child back into school

Establishing a normal school routine can be hard for children of any age after the long lazy days of summer. Dr. James H. Bray, a family psychologist and associate professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, offers the following tips to help make going back to school a less stressful experience for children and parents.

Get kids into the school mode early. Many children have a summer schedule that includes staying up late and sleeping in. Kids need at least a week before school starts to get back into the school schedule.

Develop a plan. Doing things such as buying supplies and clothes, and finding out about schedules and teachers in advance, rather than waiting to the last minute, helps reduce stress for parents and kids.

Talk with children about their fears and concerns and do some advance problem solving and planning.

Get involved with your child’s school by getting to know the teacher and discussing their expectations.

Talk to your children about what they want to accomplish and get out of their school year. Discuss their academic and social goals, but emphasize balance.

Student athletes’ health starts off the field

Even though it is students who will be taking the field as extracurricular school activities begin, doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say parents play an important role in keeping their kids safe.

Family health history, especially heart illnesses, is important information for doctors to know during an exam, said Dr. John Rogers, professor of family and community medicine at BCM.

A certain type of heart murmur and rapid heart beats can be detected during a physical, but the exam can’t determine if past family members have heart problems or if anyone has died suddenly due to a cardiac problem. Being armed with that information helps doctors know whether the student-athlete should undergo an echocardiogram or ultrasound for a more in-depth examination.

Parents’ knowledge of their child’s previous injuries can also be helpful. Teens may downplay an injury, because they don’t want it to prevent them from taking part in their favorite sport. However, a parent might remember lasting effects that will help doctors determine the severity of the injury.

Rogers said other issues that cannot be detected during a physical are light-headedness or shortness of breath that is not proportionate to the exertion level of the activity. Parents should keep an eye out for these issues and let their doctor know at the time of the physical exam.

Breakfast figures into teens’ academic success

Teens who start their day without breakfast are twice as likely to have diets low in iron – a shortfall that could be hurting their grades.

“Breakfast supplies more than just the energy kids need to get through the morning,” said Dr. Theresa Nicklas, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Teens who eat breakfast are also two to five times more likely to consume at least two-thirds the recommended amounts of most vitamins and minerals, including iron.”

Iron-deficiency anemia has long been known to have a negative affect on behavior and learning.

Eating breakfast has been linked to improved memory, grades, school attendance and punctuality in children. In addition, intakes of other vitamins and minerals, including zinc, calcium, and folic acid, are higher among breakfast-eaters, while fat consumption is lower.

“It’s important for parents to realize that the nutrients teens miss when they’re allowed to skip breakfast are rarely recouped during other meals,” said Nicklas, also a researcher at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center.

Source: Baylor College of Medicine

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