Blog

Will It Hurt The Baby To Have Sex During Pregnancy?

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 08:56

“Can sex during pregnancy harm the baby?” At Westchester Health, this is one of the most frequent questions we get asked by expecting couples. Our answer (unless there’s a problem) is almost always no. To learn why, we urge you to read this informative blog on the subject by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below). There is also a good deal of helpful information and advice for expecting parents on the WHP website which you can access here.   

For most women with low-risk pregnancies with no complications, sex during pregnancy is very safe and will not harm the developing fetus.

The amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus protect the unborn baby, and the thick mucus plug that seals the cervix helps guard against infection. During intercourse, the penis does not go beyond the vagina, so it won’t reach the baby.

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

“Pregnant sex” trimester by trimester  

1st trimester: 
Sex in the first weeks of pregnancy is usually not on the minds of most moms-to-be due to morning sickness (which is usually at its worse during this time).

2nd trimester: 
By this stage, morning sickness for most women has passed (or at least decreased) and they’re feeling much better. In addition, for most women, their stomach has not become overly huge yet.

3rd trimester:
At this point, sex becomes more physically difficult, especially during the final weeks of pregnancy.  A woman’s belly is now really large, she is usually tired all the time, and being done with pregnancy is often the only thing on her mind.

Can having sex trigger labor?

Contrary to popular belief, no (if you are low-risk). Sexual stimulation or orgasm cannot start labor or cause a miscarriage. While orgasm may cause mild uterine contractions (as can nipple stimulation), those contractions are generally temporary and harmless.

You should NOT have sex while pregnant if you have:
  1. A history of repeated miscarriages, preterm labor or premature birth.
  2. Placenta previa (the placenta is covering the cervix) which puts you at risk of hemorrhaging if you have sex during pregnancy.
  3. Premature rupture of membranes which occurs when the sac containing the developing baby and the amniotic fluid bursts or develops a hole before labor. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away.
  4. Vaginal bleeding or foul-smelling discharge after sex. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away. Discharge may be a sign of an infection that can travel upward to the uterus, and bleeding may be a sign of any number of problems.
  5. A partner with an STD. In this circumstance, you must use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, to protect yourself and your unborn baby.
  6. Leaking amniotic fluid. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away.
  7. Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence).
Some helpful articles on the subject: Concerned about sex while pregnant? Come see us.

If you’d like more information on whether it’s okay for you and your partner to have sex during pregnancy, or if you’re worried about the safety of the baby, please make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians or a Westchester Health OB/GYN. Our #1 goal is for you to have a safe pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Morning Sickness? 14 Best Ways To Ease The Misery

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 09:50

As we tell our patients at Westchester Health who are pregnant, expecting a baby is a wonderful thing but morning sickness can sure take the fun out of it. To help ease their symptoms so they can feel better throughout their pregnancy, we offer this informative blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below). There is also helpful information and advice for expecting parents on the WHP website which you can access here.  

Here’s how to prevent, or at least minimize, the symptoms of morning sickness
  1. Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day so your stomach is never empty.
  2. Eat slowly.
  3. Keep simple snacks, such as crackers, by your bed.
  4. Avoid lying down after eating (especially on your left side).
  5. Stay hydrated.
  6. Eat more protein and cut out fatty foods.
  7. Avoid smells and foods that make you feel nauseated.
  8. Get lots of rest.
  9. Get fresh air regularly.
  10. Try aromatherapy.
  11. Raise your upper body in bed by putting a pillow under the mattress.
  12. Avoid late night meals.
  13. Give up alcohol and smoking.
  14. Consider anti-nausea medication.
What exactly causes morning sickness?

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

Up to 85% of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness at some point in their pregnancy, usually kicking in around the 4th week and continuing until around the 12th week. It often strikes first thing in the morning but it’s not unusual to experience it at any time of the day or night.

We don’t really know what causes morning sickness but researchers think that it’s most likely a combination of causes, including:

  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that rises rapidly during the early stages of pregnancy
  • Estrogen, a female hormone which also rises rapidly in early pregnancy
  • An enhanced sense of smell and sensitivity to odors (possibly resulting from higher levels of estrogen)
  • A sensitive stomach
  • Stress, worry
Important warning

NOTE: If you have severe, persistent nausea and vomiting and are unable to take in fluids (which puts you at risk of dehydration), see your doctor right away, as this may be a condition called “hyperemesis gravidarum” (H.G.). H.G. is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and an imbalance of electrolytes. Mild cases are treated with dietary changes, rest and antacids, but more severe cases often require an inpatient stay in the hospital so that you can receive intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition.

Some articles that you might find of interest: Having a hard time with morning sickness? Come see us.

If you’re experiencing morning sickness and want some relief, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians or a Westchester Health OB/GYN. The sooner we can evaluate and start treating your symptoms, the sooner you can start feeling better and enjoying your pregnancy. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Newborn Hospital Visits: 8 Things You Can Expect

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 01/02/2019 - 09:19

For our patients who have just had a baby, we at Westchester Health want you to know that we will do everything we can to ensure that your precious little one is healthy, getting enough to eat and developing properly. Even before you leave the hospital, we’re here for you every step of the way. 

In addition to checking your baby’s vital signs, weight and progress, we will give you guidance and some preliminary education on how best to take care of your newborn. So you know what to expect from this first hospital visit, we offer this blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below). There is also of helpful information and advice for new parents on the WHP website which you can access here.

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

8 tests and evaluations we perform while your newborn is in the hospital

At Westchester Health, it’s very important to us to make sure your baby’s first few days are healthy ones. That’s why we check your baby’s progress every day you’re in the hospital—typically 2 days for a vaginal birth, 3 days for a Caesarean section.To ensure that your newborn is healthy and progressing well, we perform the following actions while you and your baby are in the hospital before discharge:

  1. We visit you and your baby every day you’re in the hospital

We want to make sure your baby’s first few days are healthy ones so we check his/her progress every day you’re in the hospital—typically 2 days for a vaginal birth, 3 days for a Caesarean section.

  1. We check your baby’s color, weight, length, temperature, breathing (lungs), heart rate and activity

An average full-term baby should weigh 6-9 pounds and measure 18-21 inches long. If we feel your baby is losing too much weight, we’ll monitor how much and how often you’re feeding your newborn to ensure he/she regains the weight properly.

  1. We check your baby’s hearing

There are two different tests we use to evaluate your baby’s hearing: otoacoustic emission (OAE) and auditory brainstem response (ABR). The OAE test involves placing a mini earphone and microphone in your baby’s ear to measure sound reflection in the ear canal. For the ABR test, electrodes are placed on your baby’s head to measure how the hearing nerve responds to sound. The purpose of both tests is to detect hearing abnormalities.

  1. We measure the shape and circumference of your baby’s head

Because of pressure during a vaginal birth, your baby’s head may be temporarily misshapen but don’t worry: normal head shape usually returns by the end of the first week. (Babies delivered by Caesarean section usually don’t have as much head flattening.) We also check the circumference and soft spots on your baby’s head (fontanels), which typically disappear within 12-18 months when the skull bones fuse together.

  1. We evaluate your baby’s food intake, whether breastfeeding or formula feeding

Whether feeding by breast or bottle, monitoring the number of wet and poopy diapers that your baby is producing (optimal: 4-5 per day) is also a good way to tell if he/she is getting enough nutrition. For many moms, breastfeeding is a real challenge and very emotional. To help, we have two certified lactation specialists who work with you and your baby so that breastfeeding becomes a positive, successful experience for both of you. For more information about our support of breastfeeding, click here.

  1. We make an appointment for your first office visit

To continue to make sure your baby is progressing well and thriving, we make an appointment for your newborn’s first well-baby visit in our office, which should take place within 48 hours of your being discharged from the hospital.

  1. We teach you how to recognize signs that your baby may be sick

Generally, if your newborn is active, feeding well and can be comforted when crying, small differences in activity level or crying are normal. But if your baby seems fussy, is crying more than usual, has low energy, is noticeably irritable and/or seems hot and feverish, call or come in to see us right away. It might be nothing, but then again, it might be the beginning of something serious. For more tips and guidelines, click here for a blog on the subject.

  1. We answer all your questions and address your concerns

As well as monitoring your baby’s vital signs and progress, the newborn hospital visit is also a great time for us to address any questions or concerns you may have. Now and throughout the years to come, we’re your committed partners in raising a healthy, thriving baby.

Important advice on best ways to take care of your baby

At Westchester Health, we’ve helped raise hundreds of babies and we can’t wait to help you with yours. For helpful tips and advice on the ins and outs of caring for your newborn, please refer to the New Parents page on our WHP website.

Some helpful articles you might like:

Want more information about caring for your newborn? Come see us.

Are you burping your baby properly? Is he/she getting enough to eat? Is that a fever or do you need to remove the sweater? If you have any questions relating to your baby’s well-being (and we really mean any questions), please come in and see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We have lots of advice and guidance to offer you, and if something is wrong, together we’ll choose the best course of action going forward. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

What You Need To Know About Dangerous Food Additives That Can Harm Your Kids

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 12/26/2018 - 09:25

At Westchester Health, we were shocked to recently learn that the United States allows the use of more than 10,000 additives in the everyday foods we eat. Approximately 1,000 of these additives are legally permitted under a “Generally Recognized as Safe” designation process that doesn’t require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. A very timely blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below) explains the details. There is also helpful information and advice for parents on a wide range of topics on the WHP website which you can access here.

Inadequate FDA regulation of food additives

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

A policy statement about the negative effects of food additives on children’s health was recently released by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), reviewing the harmful effects of chemicals that are deliberately added to our food (such as colorings, flavoring and chemicals), as well as substances used for processing and packaging (such as plastics, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard and different types of coatings).

As physicians and parents, we are most dismayed by the following passage from the press release about the AAP’s policy statement:

“An increasing number of studies suggest some food additives can interfere with a child’s hormones, growth, and development, according to the policy statement and accompanying technical report. Some may also increase the risk of childhood obesity, rates of which have tripled since the 1970s.”

Due to several problems with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the regulation of food additives is often inadequate, states the report. According to Dr. Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, FAAP, an AAP Council on Environmental Health member and lead author of the policy statement, “There are critical weaknesses in the current food additives regulatory process, which doesn’t do enough to ensure all chemicals added to foods are safe enough to be part of a family’s diet.” He adds, “As pediatricians, we’re especially concerned about significant gaps in data about the health effects of many of these chemicals on infants and children.”

Added chemicals in food can harm a child’s growth and development and possibly cause obesity

According to the AAP, children are more sensitive to exposure to these chemicals because they eat and drink more than adults relative to body weight. Most importantly, though, the damaging effects of food addictive are greater for children because they are still growing and developing.

Here are the most harmful additives based on research evidence cited in the AAP report:

  • Bisphenols (such as BPA), used to harden plastic containers and line metal cans, can mimic estrogen in the body and potentially change the timing of puberty, decrease fertility, increase body fat and affect the nervous and immune systems. BPA is now banned in baby bottles and sippy cups.
  • Phthalates, which makes plastic and vinyl tubes used in industrial food production flexible, may affect male genital development, increase childhood obesity and contribute to cardiovascular disease. In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of some phthalates in child-care products such as teething rings.
  • Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), used in grease-proof paper and cardboard food packaging, may reduce immunity, birth weight and fertility. Research also shows PFCs may affect the thyroid system which is integral to metabolism, digestion, muscle control, brain development and bone strength.
  • Perchlorate, added to some dry food packaging to control static electricity, is known to disrupt thyroid function, early life brain development and growth.
  • Artificial food colors, common in children’s food products, may be associated with elevated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Studies cited in the report found that a significant number of children who eliminated synthetic food colorings from their diets showed decreased ADHD symptoms.
  • Nitrates/nitrites, used to preserve food and enhance color (especially in cured and processed meats) can interfere with thyroid hormone production and the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. Nitrates and nitrites also have been linked with gastrointestinal and nervous system cancers.
We at Westchester Health join the AAP in recommending 9 simple steps you can take to limit your child’s exposure to chemical food additives:
  1. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish whenever possible. If you cannot obtain fresh items, frozen versions are the next best choice.
  2. Avoid canned foods since bisphenols are used in the lining of metal cans in order to prevent corrosion.
  3. Avoid processed meats which contain nitrites. This is especially important during pregnancy.
  4. Avoid microwaving food in plastic. This includes infant formula and expressed breast milk. Heating the plastic can cause chemicals to leech into the food or liquid. Also, microwaving your baby’s milk can cause burns in his/her mouth due to “hot spots” in the milk. Instead, invest in glass or ceramic microwaveable containers.
  5. Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher, including baby bottles.
  6. When possible, store food in glass or stainless steel containers rather than plastic. This is not only good for your health but good for the environment too.
  7. Check the bottom of your plastic containers for the recycling code. Avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene) and 7 (bisphenols) unless they are labeled “biobased” or “greenware.”
  8. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, especially those that cannot be peeled.
  9. Wash hands thoroughly before and after touching food and before eating. This will decrease exposure to chemicals on your hands as well as decrease your risk of infection from germs on your hands.
To learn more, read these important articles: Worried about chemical additives in your food? Come see us.

If you’re concerned about the possible harmful effects of additives in your food, whether your family is being exposed to them, and how to reduce or eliminate this danger to your health, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We will listen to your concerns and answer all your questions, or refer you to someone who can so you can have peace of mind. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Does Your Teen Vape? What You Should Know About The Serious Dangers of JUUL and PHIX

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 12/19/2018 - 09:24

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve maybe seen or heard about two new nicotine products that are exploding in popularity with the preteen and teenage age groups that greatly concern us at Westchester Health: JUUL and PHIX. These products are very dangerous for your teen’s health and well-being. To learn more, we recommend a very informative blog (excerpted here) by Mason Gomberg, MD, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group. There is also helpful information and advice specifically for teens on the WHP website which you can access here.

Popular with teens, highly damaging to their health

Mason Gomberg, MD

Both JUUL and PHIX contain nicotine liquid which is vaporized and inhaled. The nicotine is replenished through nicotine “pods” and the devices can be recharged through a USB port. These products are easy to obtain and can be purchased through various stores or online.

Why are they dangerous? Nicotine is delivered via these devices into the lungs, which is very damaging to developing brains. They also contain other inert ingredients that are being inhaled that may include cancer-causing agents, respiratory irritants and heavy metals which are harmful to the body.

Nicotine exposure in developing brains can lead to inattention, reduction of impulse control, mood disorders and cognitive deficits. At Westchester Health, we believe that we all need to take a proactive approach and discuss the dangers of these products with our children. Hopefully, we can persuade them not to start vaping, or if they already do, help them stop.

What exactly is in an e-cigarette?
  1. Nicotine. No matter what tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers might report, nicotine is a very harmful, very dangerous drug. It affects the brain, nervous system and heart. The larger the dose of nicotine, the more a person’s blood pressure and heart rate go up, which can cause an abnormal heart rate (arrhythmia). In rare cases, especially when large doses of nicotine are involved, arrhythmias can cause heart failure and death.
  2. Propylene glycol, the chemical that allows the nicotine to be vaped or inhaled, can cause lung and eye irritation. It is not clear what long-term effects propylene glycol has on the lungs.
  3. Aluminum can cause pneumonia. 
  4. Cadmium, which is also in batteries, causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 
  5. Silver causes breathing problems, lung and throat irritation, and stomach pain. 
  6. Lead when inhaled can result in nerve damage and digestive issues.
  7. Diacetyl, also found in butter-flavored microwave popcorn, when inhaled can cause scarring of the lungs. “Popcorn lung” is the scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs and will result in wheezing, coughing and/or shortness of breath.
  8. Benzoic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in the tobacco plant. When inhaled, it can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs, which like diacetyl, may cause coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath.
To learn more

For more information on the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes, you might find these articles helpful:

Important information and resources: Concerned that your teen is smoking or vaping or might start soon? Come see us.

If you’re worried that your child is smoking or vaping, either tobacco cigarettes or e-cigarettes, or might start, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. Together, we’ll talk it out with you and your child, and together figure out the best way forward. If needed, we’ll also help your child find the right support network to stop smoking. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Now That We’re Part of Northwell Health, You Have Access To Cohen Children’s Medical Center And Our Shared Commitment To Child Safety

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:12

Now that Westchester Health is part of Northwell Health and its physician organization, Northwell Health Physician Partners, we have greatly expanded our services to bring you and your family the best possible care. Best of all, this new relationship means that you now have access to the outstanding resources of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the New York metropolitan area’s only hospital exclusively for children.

Here’s an article from Northell Health about creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby 6 tips to make bedtime safe for your baby

New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) help protect against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other causes of sleep-related infant mortality:

1. Use a separate crib or bassinet.

2. Keep the crib in your bedroom during the first year. (Avoiding co-sleeping with a baby can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent, according to the AAP.)

3. Baby should sleep face-up.

4. Use a firm crib mattress.

5. Do not leave any soft or loose sheets, crib bumpers, blankets, pillows or toys in the crib.

6. The AAP recommends that tired parents feed their baby in bed, which is usually safer than a couch or chair. If you doze off, move your baby to the crib or bassinet as soon as you wake up.

To read the full story on safe sleeping tips for newborns, click here. When you need us, we are here for you, now more than ever

At Westchester Health, even though some things have changed recently, the most important thing about us has not: our commitment to delivering the highest-quality standard of compassionate, patient-centered care for you and your child. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Categories: Blog

Am I Feeding My Baby Often Enough And The Right Amount?

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 09:44

At Westchester Health, we get a lot of first-time parents who get really anxious wondering if they’re feeding their newborn often enough and giving them enough at each feeding. We understand…we’re parents too. To help calm their fears and give some helpful guidelines, we offer this blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below). There is also a lot of helpful information and advice for new parents on the WHP website which you can access here.

How to know if your baby is hungry

Most babies are very good at letting you know they’re hungry and need to be fed. They cry! However, it’s worth noting that crying doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hungry. A lot of times they just need to be cuddled, changed or put to bed. Or they might be overstimulated, bored, scared, startled, or too hot or too cold. The more you get to know your baby and learn the cues of what he or she is trying to communicate, the more you’ll be able to figure out if hunger is the cause of the crying or if it’s something else.

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

The most common hungry signs are:

  • crying
  • putting their hands, fingers and fists in their mouths
  • puckering their lips as if to suck
  • nuzzling again their mother’s breasts
  • demonstrating the rooting reflex (moving their mouth in the direction of something that’s stroking or touching their cheek)
  • opening their mouth
  • sticking their tongue out
  • moving their head from side to side
When should you feed your baby? Whenever he/she seems hungry

At Westchester Health, we strongly recommend that babies be fed whenever they’re hungry. Some newborns may need to be awakened every few hours to make sure they’re getting enough to eat (more frequently if your pediatrician is concerned about weight gain). Optimally, you want to feed your baby before he/she gets so hungry and upset that it’s hard to calm him/her down. A frantic, overly hungry baby is tough on everyone.

Here’s a helpful feeding guide from TheBump.com Amounts if you’re breastfeeding

With breastfeeding, it’s hard to measure exactly how much your baby is eating. If he/she seems satisfied after feeding, produces 4-5 wet and/or poopy diapers a day, sleeps well and is gaining weight regularly, you can be confident that he/she is eating enough. Another way to tell if your baby is getting enough is if your breasts feel full before nursing and noticeably less full afterward.

A breastfed baby should eat:

  • Most newborns eat every 2-3 hours, or 8-12 times every 24 hours. For the first 1-2 days of life might, they typically only eat ½ ounce per feeding. After that, they’ll eat 1-2 ounces per feeding, increasing to 2-3 ounces by 2 weeks of age.
  • At 2 months, babies usually eat 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours.
  • At 4 months,they should be eating 4-6 ounces per feeding.
  • At 6 months,they should be eating 8 ounces every 4-5 hours.
How often if you’re breastfeeding

A newborn should typically breastfeed every 2-3 hours (or more) or 8-12 times a day. As your baby’s stomach gets bigger and can hold more milk, he/she will be able to go longer between feedings, usually about 3-4 hours. He/she will also get more efficient, usually taking in 90% of the milk he/she needs within the first 10 minutes of nursing.

For formula-fed babies

Since babies tend to digest formula more slowly, they can go longer between feedings. Your baby will likely get hungry every 3-4 hours, eating about 2 ounces per feeding as a newborn and progressing to 4 ounces by the end of the first month. Expect to add about an ounce per month until he/she is eating 6-7 ounces of formula at a time, which usually happens at 6 months of age. In general, 32 ounces of formula a day is the most your baby will ever need. (When babies are hungry for more than that, it often means they’re ready to start eating solids, which typically happens around the 6-month mark.)

If you’re breastfeeding and formula feeding

For mothers who combine breastfeeding and formula, aim for at least 6-8 feedings per day of one or the other (this will decrease as your baby gets older), but since breast milk and formula are nutritionally equivalent, it’s simply a matter of finding the mix that works best for you and your baby.

NOTE: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. To learn more about the important health benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby, read this WHP blog on the subject.

Want to know more about how much and how often to feed your baby? Come see us.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Please please make an appointment with Westchester Health to come in and talk to one of our pediatricians. We have years of experience helping parents raise healthy, happy babies and we’re ready to help you with yours in any way we can. We look forward to meeting you and your baby soon. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

WE HAVE THE FLU VACCINE! COME IN AND GET YOUR SHOT!

Westchester Health Blog - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 09:05
Our flu vaccine is in! Book your appointment now to get your and your child vaccinated.

Even though winter is still a few months away, now is the time to get your child (and yourself) vaccinated. Don’t delay — protect yourself and your family by getting the flu vaccine at any of our convenient 34 Westchester Health locations in Westchester and Putnam Counties. Call (914) 228-0330 and we’ll help you find the Westchester Health office closest to you or click here.

Whether or not to get the flu shot

Some people do not get the flu shot because they say it gives them the flu. This is a misconception; whenever you get any vaccine, your body mounts an immune response to produce antibodies to defend itself in case it contracts that illness in the future. REMEMBER: A mild reaction to the flu shot is always better than what the actual flu virus would be like.

Learn more about the flu
  • Maryann Buetti-Sgouros, MD, one of our WHP pediatricians, has written a very informative blog about the flu, the difference between the flu and a cold, and why everyone should get vaccinated. To read Dr. Buetti-Sgouros’ blog, click here.
  • Rodd Stein, MD, FAAP, another of our WHP pediatricians, has written a detailed, in-depth white paper and produced a highly educational webinar on immunization, its history, its importance, and what would happen if we all stopped vaccinating ourselves and our children. To download the free white paper and webinar, click here.
Yes the flu shot works and we strongly recommend it!
Categories: Blog

10 Important Ways You Can Help Your Kids Make Healthy Food Choices

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 09:02

At Westchester Health, we feel strongly that one of the best things you can do to ensure your children’s ongoing well-being is to help them make smart, nutritious food choices, now and throughout their lives. But in today’s fast food/takeout world, how can you get kids to choose healthy food? Start by reading this great blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group.

10 things you can do to help your kids build wise food habits

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

Here are 10 tips from Hudson Valley Magazine (February 2018) that we found especially helpful.

1. Introduce healthy foods that your kids already like (or might learn to like), such as:
  • add blueberries or strawberries to pancakes
  • make or buy carrot muffins
  • put apples or raisins on top of cereal
  • add grapes, apples and nuts (if no allergy) to chicken salad
  • mix peas and carrots into rice
  • make a salad with cucumbers, green/red peppers and tomatoes
2. Include your kids in the cooking process.

If your kids are involved in all stages of preparing a meal, from grocery shopping to cooking to serving the final product, they’ll have a stake in the meal and hopefully will be more likely to eat it.

3. If you don’t buy unhealthy foods, your kids can’t eat them (at home anyway).

Skip the empty calories and sweets (chips, cookies, candy) and instead, stock up on apples, cucumbers, yogurt, protein bars, carrots, cheese, whole grain crackers and popcorn. When they’re thirsty, offer water instead of soda or other sugary, flavored drinks.

4. Have healthy snacks ready when they get home from school.

Most kids are hungry when they get home after a day of classes. Instead of processed foods, offer them easy-to-pick-up healthy snacks as mentioned above: apples, cucumbers, yogurt, protein bars, carrots, cheese, whole grain crackers and popcorn.

5. Do away with the “clean your plate” rule

Kids know when they’re full so try not to force them to eat more than they’re comfortable with. Childhood obesity remains a major problem—more than 12 million children are obese in America, which is 1 out of every 6 kids—and overeating is one of the prime causes.

6. Encourage your kids to eat the colors on their plate.

Food that’s all the same color, especially if it’s white, not only lacks visual appeal but nutrients, too. Eating a variety of brightly colored foods not only ensures better nutrition but introduces your child to a variety of tastes and textures.

7. Don’t cut out treats altogether.

Remember, everything in moderation. It’s not the end of the world if your child craves ice cream or cookies or French fries. Just try to limit them and treat them like once-in-a-while indulgences. Besides, if you deny your kids sweets, soda or junk food altogether, chances are they will overindulge or binge when they do get them.

8. Try to eat together a sa family around a table rather than in front of the TV.

Eating together as a family is a valuable time to learn what’s going on in everyone’s lives, such as a big test coming up, yesterday’s game, vacation plans or Mom’s new job. Also, TV is distracting, easily causing kids to overeat because they’re so absorbed with what’s on the screen.

9. Make a big deal out of healthy choices.

Give your kids lots of praise when they do choose healthy foods over less healthy ones. That’s an important step toward lifelong health!

10. Be a good role model yourself.

One of the best ways to get your kids to eat healthy is to model that behavior yourself. You can’t expect them to choose spinach over chips if you’ve constantly got your hand in the chip bag. Practice what you preach and shop, cook and eat healthy yourself. Then everybody benefits!

Download “Simple Cooking with Heart for Kids” from the American Heart Association

To help kickstart young people’s interest in healthy eating, the American Heart Association has created a demonstration guide for cooking healthy meals with and for your kids. It offers simple and nutritious kid-friendly recipes, as well as a 1-minute how-to video. Download it here.

For more tips and advice on healthy eating, please come see us

If you’d like to know more about how to help your child (and maybe yourself) choose ways to live a healthy lifestyle, please make an appointment with Westchester Health to see one of our pediatricians. We have years of experience with raising healthy kids and are here to help you with yours in any way we can. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Now That We’re Part of Northwell Health, You Can Access The Amazing Pediatric Specialists of Cohen Children’s Medical Center

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 09:24

Now that Westchester Health is part of Northwell Health and its physician organization, Northwell Health Physician Partners, we have greatly expanded our services to bring you and your family the best possible care. Best of all, this new relationship means that you now have access to the outstanding resources of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the New York metropolitan area’s only hospital exclusively for children.

Here’s an article from Northell Health about the best ways to comfort your child when he or she is sick
  • Try rocking, cuddling, talking or doing things that calm your child finds calming.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures.
  • Don’t make the room or bed too warm.
  • Use alcohol rubs or cold-water baths to bring down a fever.
  • If a fever is present, call your child’s pediatrician and describe his/her symptoms.
  • Remove excess clothing or blankets to help bring down the fever.
  • Give acetaminophen and ibuprofen as directed by your pediatrician.
  • Serve bland food and hydrate your child with water, diluted fruit juices or popsicles.
  • Provide a comfortable place to rest.
  • Follow up with your pediatrician if symptoms linger.
To read the full story on ways to comfort your sick child, click here. When you need us, we are here for you, now more than ever

At Westchester Health, even though some things have changed recently, the most important thing about us has not: our commitment to delivering the highest-quality standard of compassionate, patient-centered care for you and your child. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Categories: Blog

At Our Partners Northwell Health and Cohen Children’s Medical Center, A Lot More Is Going On Than Great Medicine

Westchester Health Blog - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 09:46

Now that Westchester Health is part of Northwell Health and its physician organization, Northwell Health Physician Partners, we have greatly expanded our services to bring you and your family the best possible care. Best of all, this new relationship means that you now have access to the outstanding resources of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the New York metropolitan area’s only hospital exclusively for children.

Here’s the inspiring story of Taylor, 16-year-old author and illustrator, whose two books lighten the spirits and brighten the lives of kids going through tough medical treatments. Cohen Children’s Medical Center is the beneficiary of her 2nd book! Writing, reading, fundraising Taylor Sinett harnesses creativity to make a difference for kids with cancer and blood disorders.

An author and illustrator of two children’s books, Taylor, 16, picked up writing at 12. Her books not only help the children who read them but also youngsters who are persevering through a serious illness.

It all began with a drawing of a weasel created at art camp, according to the Sands Point teen. “My dad hung the picture in his office,” she said. “Someone noticed it and suggested I tell the story of the weasel.”

Taylor spun a positive tale to help readers see the world differently. Inspired by a family member with ulcerative colitis, Taylor wrote A Weasel on an Easel. The main character, Fredda, persists through hardships while pursuing a modeling career. Resilience is her hidden strength.

Taylor donated the proceeds from the book to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Soon, she began receiving requests from local hospitals to visit and read her book to patients. Taylor’s trip to Cohen Children’s Medical Center motivated her to keep writing, speaking and directing her energy to promote health and healing.

“Walking from department to department and hosting readings, I noticed my story left patients smiling,” Taylor said. “I could tell the words lifted their spirits, and I wanted to do more. Soon after, I decided to write a second book to honor these patients and this hospital.”

Taylor published Jack on a Plaque, about a yak that learns self-acceptance, last year. She named Cohen Children’s Medical Center the beneficiary and in November donated $10,000 to the Northwell Health Foundation. Cohen Children’s Medical Center used her donation toward two vein viewers for its Division of Hematology/Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation.

A comforting solution

“Sick, dehydrated children often have veins that lie flat, making them all but impossible to feel through the skin,” said Donna Newman-Beck, RN, assistant nurse manager at the hospital’s Pediatric Ambulatory Chemotherapy and Transfusion Center. “But vein viewers decrease kids’ pain and anxiety by reducing the need for multiple needle sticks.”

Vein viewers use infrared light to “see” up to a half-inch beneath the skin. This helps nurses locate shallow veins and verify whether they are suitable for a catheter. Young people with chronic blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia, leukemia and platelet disorders benefit from vein viewers because the devices help nurses to quickly and accurately pinpoint the best place to insert a catheter. Before these devices, nurses used their hands to find an appropriate vein and guide a catheter through it, which could be tough for patients.

The hospital uses its new vein viewers for inpatient and outpatient transfusions. The devices are small, portable and simple to use, so they require minimal training and fewer staff members to be present for each patient. The entire process is now simplified, often requiring one skin prick, which patients appreciate.

As for Taylor, she’s already thinking ahead to her next act. “My goal is for all of my books to have a positive message, so readers believe in themselves after reading them,” she said. “I just hope that I’m making people happy and the world a better place.”

To read Taylor’s full story, click here. When you need us, we are here for you, now more than ever

At Westchester Health, even though some things have changed recently, the most important thing about us has not: our commitment to delivering the highest-quality standard of compassionate, patient-centered care for you and your child. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Categories: Blog

Baby-Led Weaning: A New Approach To Helping Your Baby Transition To Solid Food

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 09:04

Have you heard of baby-led weaning? While this method of introducing babies to solid foods is just starting to become popular here in the U.S., it is much more widespread in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The thinking behind this approach is that if babies regulate their own intake of foods, they learn to read their own hunger cues and know when they’re full. This, in turn, may lead to less obesity, less pickiness/food aversion and a healthier outlook on eating in the future. Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, has written a very informative blog on the subject.

Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics re: when to start baby-led weaning

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

The AAP, along with the World Health Organization, advises that infants should be breastfed exclusively from birth until 6 months old and that complementary foods should not be introduced until after that. By 6 months of age, most healthy babies have the gross and fine motor skills to able to eat more solid, larger pieces of food by picking them up on their own. In order to be successful and safe (i.e., not choke), babies must be able to hold their head up well, sit on their own with little or no assistance, no longer have a tongue thrust reflex (where the baby reflexively pushes food out of their mouth) and be able to reach for and grab an object.

Most healthy babies have acquired these skills by around 6 months of age. If not, we at Westchester Health recommend postponing baby-led weaning until your baby does exhibit these skills. Until then, feed traditional purées.

With baby-led weaning, your baby decides what to eat and how much

Here’s how BLW works. Your baby should be sitting upright and always under adult supervision during mealtime. Place appropriate foods in front of your baby but DO NOT FEED HIM/HER. Only your baby actually puts the food in his/her mouth. Be aware that at first, babies may only play with the food without eating much. Also, many foods may need to be presented to your baby up to 10-15 times before he/she will accept this new taste and texture. We urge you to be patient!

What baby foods are appropriate for BLW?

Soft, cooked vegetables cut into sticks and soft fruits such as bananas and avocados in “graspable” pieces are perfect choices for this stage of feeding your baby. Meatballs, meats cooked well and cut into pinky-size pieces, cheeses, well-cooked eggs and fish are also great options. At this stage, we recommend giving your baby water in a straw or sippy cup during meal time.

What foods are not safe to put in front of your baby at this age?
  • Babies should not have any raw honey before they turn 1 year old because of the risk of botulism.
  • No nuts, raw vegetables or hard fruits such as apples.
  • No foods cut into a “coin” shape.
  • The AAP recommends that babies and toddlers should not be given fruit juices unless it’s to treat constipation.
These safe-eating rules apply to both baby-led weaning and spoon-feeding
  • New foods should be introduced one at a time.
  • Wait 3-4 days before introducing another new food. This does not decrease the likelihood of an allergy, but it does make it easier to discern which food a baby has reacted to.
  • Babies should not be given foods with added sugar or salt.
  • Mealtime should be relaxed and not pressured.
  • Ideally, parents should model healthy eating habits.
To learn more

For more information about when to wean your baby from breast milk or formula and start feeding solid foods, you might find this article helpful from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Have questions about when and how to introduce solid foods? Come see us

Knowing when and how to wean your baby from milk, either breast or formula, and onto solid foods can be an anxious time for some parents. We understand, we’re parents too. For information, guidance and support, please make an appointment with Westchester Health to see one of our pediatricians. We’ll share our years of experience with you and answer any questions you may have. All along the way, we’re your partners in raising a happy, healthy child. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

The Best Part About Our Partnership With Northwell Health? You’re Now Linked To An Incredible Network of Specialists To Help You Raise Your Baby.

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 09:04

Now that Westchester Health is part of Northwell Health and its physician organization, Northwell Health Physician Partners, we have greatly expanded our services to bring you and your family the best possible care. Best of all, this new relationship means that you now have access to the outstanding resources of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the New York metropolitan area’s only hospital exclusively for children.

Check out this article from Northwell Health about the benefits of breastfeeding The top 3 reasons for breastfeeding your baby Boost your natural nourishment knowledge.

When it comes to nourishing your little one, no formula can compare to breastfeeding your baby. Mother’s milk contains important elements that aren’t available anywhere else, such as antibodies and hormones that naturally assist with healthy development.

Among its many advantages, here are the top three reasons for breastfeeding your baby:

1. Stronger immunity: Compared to babies who receive formula, breastfed babies are less likely to develop common illnesses like diarrhea and ear infections. They also have a reduced risk for more serious conditions that could impact them during childhood, such as asthma, leukemia and obesity.

2. Varied palate: According to the Nemours Foundation, a mother’s breast milk changes in flavor depending on the food she eats. These different flavors help babies develop tastes for different foods as they transition to solid nutrition.

3. Enhanced brain development: Some research suggests that babies who breastfeed are more likely to have higher IQs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding babies exclusively during their first six months. After that, it should continue for six more months as you introduce age-appropriate foods.

To read the full story on the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, click here. When you need us, we are here for you, now more than ever

At Westchester Health, even though some things have changed recently, the most important thing about us has not: our commitment to delivering the highest-quality standard of compassionate, patient-centered care for you and your child. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Categories: Blog

Committed To Healthy Eating? So Are We, Along With Our Partners Northwell Health And Cohen Children’s Medical Center

Westchester Health Blog - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 10:06

Now that Westchester Health Pediatrics is part of Northwell Health and its physician organization, Northwell Health Physician Partners, we have greatly expanded our services to bring you and your family the best possible care. Best of all, this new relationship means that you now have access to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the New York metropolitan area’s only hospital designed exclusively for children and one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report.

A wide range of sub-specialty pediatric services are now available to you at Cohen Children’s Medical Center

Rest assured, Westchester Health Pediatrics physicians will continue caring for your child at the state-of-the-art locations where you currently see us. But in addition, you can now take advantage of the 88 outstanding sub-specialties and programs available at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

To make sure your child receives the highest quality medical care, Cohen Children’s Medical Center offers a comprehensive array of sub-specialties, including cardiothoracic surgery, Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumor Center, Cystic Fibrosis Center, Epilepsy Center, Fetal Cardiology Program, Hearing and Speech Center, Kidney Transplant Program, Leukemia and Lymphoma Program, Oncology Rare Tumors and Sarcoma Program, POWER Kids Weight Management Program and Stem Cell Transplant Program. All of these sub-specialties and many more are now available to you as part of our new affiliation with Northwell Health.

Check out these fresh ideas for getting your kids to try healthy, nutritious foods! 4 ways to make good food fun for kids

Foster lifelong wellness with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. For the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong, children should fill at least half of their plates with colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Try these ideas to encourage your kids to expand their food choices in healthy ways:

1. Cool cut-outs: Slice open a bell pepper (green, red, yellow or orange), flatten it, then use cookie cutters to transform it into vivid stars, hand shapes, cars — you name it.

2. Flower power: Fill a silicone baking cup with fresh fruit or vegetable slices. Overlap a circle of the pieces on top so it looks like a bloom. Try clementine wedges or carrot, zucchini or radish “coins.”

3. Scrumptious skewers: Give kids a pile of fruit pieces, sliced carrots and cucumbers, and a few kabob sticks so they can create their own designs.

4. Roll-ups: Create wraps with fresh fruit and/or veggies and spread with guacamole, Greek yogurt or cream cheese.

Keep it up! Studies show that most children need multiple exposures (between 5 and 10) to try new food, so don’t give up the first time your child turns something down. And remember, to get your son or daughter to try new foods, you need to model healthy eating habits yourself.

To read the full story on how to make good food fun, click here. When you need us, we are here for you, now more than ever

At Westchester Health, even though some things have changed recently, the most important thing about us has not: our commitment to delivering the highest-quality standard of compassionate, patient-centered care for you and your family. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Categories: Blog

How You Can Reduce The Risk Of Sudden Cardiac Death In Your Young Athlete

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:44

If you have a young athlete who plays competitive sports, it’s extremely important that you and your child review this checklist before they begin any sports season. Even though it is extremely rare, sudden cardiac death is a frequent cause of sports-related death in young athletes. By conducting a thorough exam and screening, your pediatrician can help lessen the risks and hopefully prevent this potentially fatal event.

First, identify any health problems your child or teenager may have

Mason Gomberg, MD

Before your child begins any sport, it’s important to make the coaching staff aware of any health issues or conditions your child has, as well as any medications or supplements he/she is taking.

Health issues that might predispose your child or teen to sudden cardiac death include:

  • exercise-induced asthma
  • previous history of concussions
  • scoliosis (as a sign of Marfan syndrome)
  • female athletic triad (an eating disorder causing weight loss, amenorrhea/loss of menstruation and/or decreased bone density)
In hot, humid weather, dehydration is a serious concern

On very hot days, all athletes need extra water and longer rest periods between workouts. An easy way to monitor for dehydration is to have your child’s coaching staff perform daily and midday checks. A child with a sickle cell trait is much more prone to the effects of dehydration.

According to AboutKidsHealth, the common signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
  • dry, cracked lips and a dry mouth
  • moderate to severe muscle pain and cramps
  • not sweating when hot and exercising
  • vomiting
  • rapid heart rate at rest
  • a decrease in urine output/no urine for 8-12 hours/dark-colored urine
  • drowsiness
  • irritability
  • cold or dry skin
  • low energy levels, seeming very weak or limp
  • no tears when crying
  • sunken eyes or sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on a baby’s head
Protective gear can help

To prevent the sudden impact of a baseball or softball hitting an athlete’s chest, many little leagues are now requiring a chest protector type of device to be worn under a young athlete’s shirt. In extremely rare cases, the striking of the chest bone with a high-velocity ball can cause an arrhythmia that leads to collapse and death. Any sport that includes high impact balls colliding with a child’s chest wall should require some protection.

The following is a list of question from the American Heart Association that should be asked competitive athletes during a pre-participation heart screening:

Is there a personal history of:

  1. chest pain/discomfort, pressure with exertion
  2. unexplained fainting
  3. excessive or unexplained fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath associated with exercise
  4. prior heart murmur
  5. elevated blood pressure
  6. prior restriction from sports participation (including any previous cardiac testing

Is there a family history of:

  1. Premature sudden death attributed to heart disease in someone under age 50 (sometimes an unexplained accident in a car or drowning is an unexplained or unknown cardiac issue)
  2. Disability from cardiac disease in a relative under the age of 50
  3. Hypertrophic or dilated heart, cardiomyopathy, long QT syndrome or other significant arrhythmias, or specific genetic cardiac conditions including Marfan syndrome

If you answered yes to any of these questions, YOUR CHILD’S DOCTOR NEEDS TO KNOW. At the very least, he/she may refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist. At the very most, your child’s life may be saved!

For more information on sudden cardiac death, you might find these articles helpful: If you’re concerned about your young athlete’s risk of Sudden Cardiac Death, please come see us

If you have a child or teen who participates in sports and you’re concerned about sports-related heart conditions, specifically Sudden Cardiac Death, make an appointment with Westchester Health to see one of our pediatricians. We’ll examine your child and together with you, determine if any preventative measures or treatment needs to be taken. If we feel it’s needed, we will refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist for more specialized evaluation and treatment. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Does My Child Have Celiac Disease?

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 11:50

Does your child regularly get a stomach ache after eating bread, pasta, or pizza? Does he/she often have diarrhea, joint pain or prolonged fatigue? If your child is a girl, did her period start really late? All of these are symptoms that might point to celiac disease. To get the facts, check out this blog by Natasha Mendez, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterologist with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group.

What is celiac disease?

Affecting both children and adults, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten, a protein commonly found in bread, pasta, pizza, crackers, cereal, pastries, muffins and many other foods. Exposure to gluten results in inflammation of the small intestine. As a result, people with celiac disease are unable to break down certain foods containing gluten.

Symptoms that signal your child might have celiac disease

Natasha Mendez, MD

Classic celiac disease symptoms include:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • poor appetite
  • difficulty gaining weight
  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain
  • increased gas
  • abdominal distention
  • constipation
  • short stature
  • delayed puberty
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • brown/yellow teeth with pits or grooves
  • a rash (dermatitis herpetiformis).
Are certain people high-risk for celiac disease?

If you have celiac disease, you probably inherited it from one or both parents and then developed the condition when you consumed gluten. You’re considered high risk if you:

  • Are a first-generation relative of someone with celiac disease
  • Have other autoimmune conditions such as autoimmune thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have Down syndrome, Turner syndrome or Williams syndrome
Can celiac disease be treated?

The treatment for this disease is a gluten-free diet, which should be followed all throughout life (not just in childhood). Make sure you read the labels on all prepared foods and condiments to ensure there is no gluten in the product.

Remember, “wheat-free” does not necessarily mean gluten-free. While oats are naturally gluten-free, oats can sometimes be contaminated with wheat during their processing. This is why you need to identify packaging that specifically states that the product is gluten-free and was processed in a gluten-free facility.

To learn more

 

If you think your child may have celiac disease, please come see us

If your child is showing signs of celiac disease, please make an appointment with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners to come in and see one of our pediatricians. We will meet with you and your child, review the symptoms, possibly order some tests, and together with you, decide on the best course of action which may include avoidance of gluten. Whatever the diagnosis, our #1 goal is for your child to get answers and feel better as soon as possible. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Natasha Mendez’s blog in full, click here.

Categories: Blog

Are You At Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Westchester Health Blog - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 10:58

Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including several patients whom I see regularly in my practice. Somewhat different from “regular” arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system, which normally attacks foreign agents like bacteria and viruses, mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates chronic inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints to thicken, resulting in noticeable swelling and sometimes excruciating pain in and around the joints.

Although we don’t know exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis, many experts feel that a person with RA could be genetically predisposed to react to a triggering event (such as an infection) that starts the chronic inflammation. If you’re worried that you might be susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis, this blog explains what might put you at risk, and also lists a number of treatment options you should know about.

How does rheumatoid arthritis affect your body?

If the chronic inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis goes unchecked, it can damage the body’s cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves. Over time, people with rheumatoid arthritis can actually lose cartilage. Their joints can then become loose, unstable, painful, lose their mobility and become deformed. This kind of joint damage cannot be reversed.

The joints most commonly affected by rheumatoid arthritis are in the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Unfortunately, if one knee or hand is affected, usually the other one is too. RA can also damage the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood and nerves. Because it can affect whole systems of the body, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory system, RA is called a systemic, or entire body, disease.

Who is most commonly affected by rheumatoid arthritis?
  • Nearly three times as many women have the disease as men.
  • In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60.
  • RA tends to improve with pregnancy but it may get worse after the baby is born.
  • In men, RA tends to occur later in life.
  • Having a family member with RA increases the odds of having RA. However, the majority of people with RA have no family history of the disease.
Symptoms to look out for that might indicate you’re developing RA
  • Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness for six weeks or longer
  • Morning stiffness for 30 minutes or longer
  • More than one joint is affected
  • Small joints (wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet) are affected
  • The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
  • Misshapen finger joints.
  • Along with pain, many people experience fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever
  • The knee joint becomes tender, warm and swollen. Although knee osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness, joint pain from RA of the knee is more severe.
7 signs that you may be at high risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis
  1. Three or more affected joints
  2. High baseline level of systemic inflammation. Simple blood tests for erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or “sed rate”) and/or C-reactive protein (CRP) measure body-wide inflammation.
  3. Evidence of bone erosion on X-rays.
  4. Immune system proteins in your blood, such as rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) antibodies.
  5. Difficulty climbing stairs, dressing and performing other activities of daily living.
  6. Rheumatoid nodules (lumps of tissue) under the skin on the elbows and fingers.
  7. One or more conditions related to RA. Having one or more of these arthritis-related conditions signals rheumatoid arthritis:
  • vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)
  • Felty’s syndrome (enlarged spleen and very low white blood cell count)
  • Sjögren’s syndrome (poor function of the glands that produce tears and saliva)
Recommended treatments for rheumatoid arthritis

For my patients with rheumatoid arthritis, I first evaluate the severity of their condition. Based on my findings, I then create a detailed treatment plan, including:

  • Medications (some for pain and others to slow or stop the disease)
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Splints and special arthritis aids to take pressure off of painful joints
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding foods that trigger inflammation
  • Eating foods that curb inflammation, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flax oil
  • Regular medical checkups
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery if joints are severely damaged, sometimes including joint replacement surgery
To learn more

An excellent resource for finding out more about rheumatoid arthritis, and arthritis in general, is The Arthritis Foundation.

Concerned that you’re at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis? Come see us.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis or are worried that you may be developing it, and would like advice and guidance about managing this chronic disease, please make an appointment with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners to see one of our rheumatologists. We’ll examine you, evaluate your condition and symptoms, and together, decide on the best course of treatment going forward. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

By Sharon Karp, MD, a Rheumatologist with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

Categories: Blog
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