2017's best of kids health coverage from the Inquirer Health Advisory Panel

When following the latest in pediatrics, some advice remains consistent, but more often than not – it’s an ongoing conversation as research expands, new technology comes our way, or trends come and go.

I asked members of the Inquirer’s Health Advisory Panel who write about kids health to pick their favorite article of 2017. The result is a collection of articles chock-full of helpful advice and information.

Should kids play contact sports?

I think that the issue of long term consequences is rarely discussed in children and adolescents activities. It took 50 years to condemn smoking cigarettes. It took 30 years to realize that eating like lumberjacks while not walking or bicycling to school was going to make many kids dangerously overweight. It will not make our children “wusses” to play tag football rather than full contact ball now that we know that most people cannot tolerate too many hits to the head.  – Gary A. Emmett, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University

#MeToo: Talking to kids about bullying and sexual harassment

No question, I consider this article on parents talking to kids about #MeToo the most important  for me  parents have an opportunity to help ensure that they raise kids who become neither the exploiters or the exploited, and I’d like to help  in  any way I can. – Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA, Executive Director of The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children

Getting a child who doesn’t enjoy exercise to be active

This is a subject I’m very passionate about. I believe that with a little creativity, any child can develop a love for moving their body. It may not look like  typical “exercise” or sports, but that’s ok. Every child is unique so the kind of activity they chose should be too! I have done a lot in my six years as a pediatric exercise physiologist to learn how to help children find the right kind of activity that suits them best. This article highlights some of what I have found to be helpful in finding unique ways of movement for the child who may be more prone to sedentary activities. Rachel DeHaven, Physical Activity Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

American parents are miserable: How can we help them?

The best predictor of child mental health and happiness is the mental health and happiness of their parents. The study on which I reported used two very high quality international data sets to answer the question: why does parental happiness vary across countries, even among Western countries that are largely similar in terms of economic development? And why have American parents fallen to the bottom of the misery pile? The answer didn’t surprise me, and was a total bummer. ­–Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D., Lead Psychologist of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The health risks of young athletes controlling their weight for sports

I received feedback from high school athletes, specifically wrestlers, who continue to struggle with managing their weight for their sport.  I learned that unhealthy practices still remain to control weight and it is important that we educate not only athletes, but coaches and parents to prevent this from occurring. –Megan Robinson, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Registered Dietitian, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Do fidget spinners and cubes help kids pay attention?

Whenever we’re looking at trends, it’s always best to put them in context. I like the idea of reminding parents that their kids are driven by the same behavior principles they are! If something is fun, kids will want to do it more. If it’s really fun, they’ll want to do it over and over. Adults operate under that principle as well, and acknowledging this helps parents decide how to approach a trend like the fidget spinner. Hopefully, this will be helpful when evaluating 2018 trends! Sarah Levin Allen, Ph.D., CBIS, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

College hazing and binge drink: What parents need to know

Drinking on college campuses, as part of hazing rituals and in general, is rampant yet accepted as a “rite of passage.”  It affects everyone on campus – those students who drink and even those who do not.  I hope that parents of high school students getting ready to go off to college, and parents of college students, will take this issue very seriously and discuss with their children. –Rima Himelstein, M.D., Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Crozer-Keystone Health System

High powered magnet toys available, but still dangerous

This is a rising concern among medical professionals and I wanted to shed light on this topic, especially to readers unaware of the damage these magnets can cause. –Evan Weiner, M.D., FAAP, Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

What does the Secretary of Education do and why we should care

Lately people seem more engaged and aware of the politics of our country and have been brushing up on their civics. Regardless of political affiliation or beliefs, knowledge of civics and the education of our children is the foundation on which our country is built, and is important this year and every year. Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D, Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Putting the brakes on kids’ screen time

In October, I wrote about the importance of supervising and limiting the amount of time kids are connected to digital media. In the few months since, I’ve become even more alarmed about the impact of social media and 24/7 news access. In my practice, I’ve noticed changes in kids’ behaviors. They seem to be acting out more aggressively and treating others with less kindness and respect. In conversations with other professionals, it seems many agree that a prime culprit is media access. This New Year’s, I’m hoping those of us who love kids make the resolution to spend more “us-time” with them while restricting screen-time. That goes for the grown-ups in our lives too!  – Anita Kulick, President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting