I Don’t Wonder “If”, I Wonder “When”…

A few days ago, someone asked me how I feel about delivering the same safety messages time after time, month after month, year after year. He had seen me on the news the previous night as I talked about water safety, which ironically aired at the same time yet another child drowned.

Without hesitation, I found myself giving him a 2-part response:

  1. After almost 4 years of doing this, I don’t wonder “if”, I wonder “when”… a child will be killed in a car crash, drown during a pool party, be left in a hot car, suffer a head injury… or think of another injury, and fill in the blank yourself.
  2. If just one person listens to me each time I do an interview or presentation, and really takes my advice to heart, then I can feel a small glimmer of hope and success.

In this line of work, we dream of a day when no children Full Entry »

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Nutritional Research In Children: A Partnership Between The USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Baylor College Of Medicine And Texas Children’s Hospital

It is challenging for parents to get good advice about what to feed their children.

One of the biggest reasons for that is the limited amount of research that has been conducted on the nutritional needs of children. It is challenging to safely conduct such research in a way that leads to a good experience for the children involved and provides information that can be translated into public policy.

Beginning in 1978, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), via the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has partnered with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and Texas Children’s Hospital to conduct nutritional research involving and relating to children. This has been done via research conducted at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC), the largest federally funded center for research into pediatric nutrition in the U.S.

I am proud to have been a faculty member at the CNRC for exactly 20 years this July. The CNRC has conducted crucial research into the growth of breastfed infants, Full Entry »

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The Busiest June…

June 11th I returned from Camp Okawehna outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Camp Okawehna is a week long summer experience for children suffering from kidney disease. Children who have had a kidney transplant as well as children on hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are welcomed at camp — and of course, me, Rena Dee. Camp “O”, as it is affectionately called, is one of the largest kidney camps in the country!

We had an amazing time: swimming, rock climbing, doing crafts, dancing, participating in color competitions, mastering the ropes course, aiming for the bull’s-eye in archery, racing in the pinewood derby, performing in the talent show, acquiring new circus arts talents with Circus Mojo and even dressing up for the prom.

This year’s prom was extra special. I had a pink beaded dress tailored just for me. There were so many dresses to choose from and a seamstress was on site to make sure they all fit perfectly.

On the 16th I left for the XVIII World Transplant Games 2011 in Göteborg, Sweden. I’m here with 3 transplant athletes, 2 living donor parents and Full Entry »

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Sun Protection 101

girl-getting-sunscreen-applied-to-faceHere in Texas, it is sunny and hot! Daily sun protection is recommended for every one, but especially important for children. Because children spend more time playing outdoors, a significant amount of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18.

There is overwhelming evidence that chronic sun exposure and sunburns (particularly in childhood) increase an individual’s lifetime risk of all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and roughly 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. In 2009, more than 8,000 Americans died from melanoma.

Proper photoprotection has several components:

  1. Avoid deliberate sun bathing and indoor tanning.
  2. Seek shade whenever possible (especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
  3. Wear protective gear, including clothing, a wind brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses.
  4. Use broad spectrum sunscreen.

When purchasing sunscreen, look for a product with SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30.

Many products marketed for children will Full Entry »

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MyPlate For Our Children

The USDA pulled the plug on the Food Guide Pyramid last week and replaced it with the family friendly MyPlate.MyPlate

But is it really new?

Well… yes and no.

The dietitians at Texas Children’s Hospital have been ahead of the curve and have been using a similar graphic to the new MyPlate for years. The plate method has considerable advantages over the phased out pyramid.

The key messages are:

  • More vegetables and fruit. Remember, the key for children is exposure. Just because a child doesn’t initially like broccoli, it doesn’t mean they will never like it. Keep offering, especially when your child is hungry. Half of the plate should be Full Entry »
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