Infant Injuries, Toddler Poisenings, and Childhood Phobias – PediaCast 013

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  • Infant Injuries
  • Toddler Poisonings
  • Childhood Phobias
  • Teenage Deaths



Announcer 1: This is PediaCast, episode 13 for the week of October…


Announcer 2: Hello moms, dads, grandmoms, grandpas, aunts, uncles and anyone else who looks after kids. Welcome to this week's episode of PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from BirdHouse Studios, here is your host, Dr. Mike Patrick Jr.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Hello everybody! Welcome to our 13th episode of PediaCast. [Knocking] Is someone at the door? It's our 13th episode of PediaCast. Oh boy! This is Dr. Mike Patrick Jr. coming to you from BirdHouse Studio and I'm trying to welcome everyone to the program. Now I know a few episodes back I threatened to skip number 13 all together. I mean hotels do it when they're numbering floors, right? Then I thought it's not a hotel, it's a podcast and it's not just any podcast, it's a scientific podcast that prides itself on looking at valid research that leads to practical conclusions. And since being superstitious about the number 13 has no scientific basis, in fact if you ask me it's just plain silly, right? Am I right?

Oh boy! Of course it's also Friday the 13th today. Episode 13 on Friday, October 13th. Are we tempting the fates here or what? All right. Our topics for this episode, topics that have nothing whatsoever to do with the number 13, Infant Injuries, Toddler Poisonings, Childhood Phobias and Teenage Deaths. Wait a minute, those aren't the topics I picked out.



Oh boy! OK. I guess we're going to have to stick to them.



All right, well if you have an idea for a future topic of PediaCast, please don't be shy about asking for them. You see what happens here when I'm left on my own devices. Simply go to and you just want to click on the Contact link and then we'll be able to get you set up with whatever topics that you'd like us to address here on the program. You can also email us at, oh, yes, podcast@pediascribe. com. Boy, I thought I'd lost it there for a minute. It's all this thunder. Or you can leave us a voice message by calling our voice line at 347-404-KIDS, 347-404-K-I-D-S.

All right, before we get started with infant injuries, let me remind you that the purpose of PediaCast is to present topics of interest to parents and families. We do not address specific problems in specific children, specific illnesses and conditions of specific children or specific families who have specific children with specific illnesses or conditions. Man! Who hired the lawyer this week?

The point here is that there is no substitution at all for a face-to-face history and hands-on physical examination when it comes to making an accurate diagnosis and formulating an appropriate treatment plan. So if you're concerned about your specific family's specific child and his/her specific illness or injury, be sure to contact your family's specific doctor and make a specific time for an appointment.

Also keep in mind I've made every effort to provide up-to-date and accurate information on this podcast but because medicine is a constantly changing field and because specific situations may call for variations in medical care the information on PediaCast should not be taken as the standard of medical care for your specific community.

Furthermore, any opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the position of any specific government agency or a professional organization. Oh boy! Fire that lawyer. We need a disclaimer people can actually understand. You know what I'm saying? I'm not even sure I understood that.


OK. Let's get on to the first topic, infant injuries. Infant injuries don't happen very often because thankfully new parents tend to keep a close eye on their babies. I see babies with illnesses far, far, far, far more often than ones with injury. Now I'm talking about young babies here, ones who aren't getting around on their own or getting into things. So we're talking basically less than nine months old or so.


Injuries to young infants are almost always the parent's faults. It's usually from carelessness every now and then it's out of your control, you know, a car accident or a house fire, tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes… OK, I know I'm going overboard. See, it's episode 13, that's what's doing it to me. I knew I should've skipped 13. You and I both know those kind of things don't happen very often.

So what we are talking about here are injuries that we see that usually can be prevented. And the first of these is probably the one we've seen most often is going to be falls. Pediatricians see lots of babies who fall and for the most part we're talking about infants who are briefly left unattended on a changing platform or a couch or an examination table.

It's usually an infant who hasn't started rolling yet and really isn't expected to start rolling for several more weeks. So the parents feel safe leaving them because it's just a few seconds. Well of course as Murphy Law will have it the infant picks the moment, that moment, when they walk away to really give the feet a big kick to one side and they manage to roll off the surface and fall down to the floor.

I've seen one month old babies roll like this, the ones who won't roll again for a couple of months but they just happened to get themselves over that one time and down they go. So the take home message here is never leave your baby unattended even for a few seconds unless they're in a secure environment, such as the floor or crib or infant carrier. And speaking of carriers, don't leave those unattended on an elevated surface. I have seen young babies get their feet kicking so hard the carrier scoots across the surface and I've seen several unattended babies who have fallen from tall surfaces, face first, while strapped in their carrier.
The worst consequence of these falls are usually head injuries. Babies can have a skull fracture and bleeding into the brain even if they look pretty good on the outside. So any baby who falls really should see a doctor right away for a complete examination. And if you know the fall is on to the head or if it was completely unwitnessed and your baby has vomiting or irritability, he/she will likely need a CAT scan. They may need plain X-ray films as well depending on the extent of the injury and their findings on the physical examination.


OK. Another infant injury that we see are burns. Now burns are less common than falls in my experience but they still happen. I've seen accidental cigarette burns, hot coffee spills, curling iron accidents from moms holding infants while curling their hair.

Once babies are mobile burns are going to be more common at that point from things like kerosene and electric heaters, fireplace enclosures, other hot surfaces, pulling hot food down on themselves, that sort of thing. A hot water scalds during bathing is another source of infant burns, so it's a good idea to check water temperature carefully before immersing an infant. And there are many devices out on the market that'll test water temperature and let you know if the water is safe for babies with a color changing indicator.

So if water temperature for babies is generally around 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 to 38 degrees Celsius. It's also a good idea to turn down the temperature of your hot water tank to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 48 degrees Celsius to avoid scalds from running water.

Now like falls, I think all burns, even seemingly minor ones should be checked out by your doctor because if you don't see your doctor and then an infection sets in, even if the burn is small, there's going to be questions asked as to why you didn't see someone in the first place. And you doctor is more likely to invite children's services to the party. You know what I mean.


So serious, extensive burns obviously require emergency treatment and prompt referral to a pediatric burn center. But I think even with the smaller ones you ought to at least have your regular doctor take a look. Your regular doctor should be able to handle that pretty well.

We generally leave blisters intact when possible that helps to prevent infection and also increases comfort. If the blister is really tense and elevated and seems to be causing discomfort itself, sometimes we'll puncture it for comfort and drain the fluid off, but that does increase the risk slightly for infection so you have to keep the skin really clean and covered. Then once the blister does open up and has been that way for a few days then your doctor may need to trim away some of the dead skin.

Daily dressing changes with a burn cream, such as Silvadene, or an antibiotic ointment and gauze pads and wrap will promote healing and make infection less likely. Most minor burns even the ones that blister they heal well and rarely have any serious long-term consequences, but again, because of the possibility of children's services becoming involved you really ought to just be up and honest right from the get-go and just take your baby and let someone take a look at the burn even if it's a small one.


Now I said that falls are probably the most common but this is another pretty common one and it's obviously more minor than the other ones, but it is an infant injury that I see fairly frequently and that is a cut finger or toe from clipping nails. I know it's a common fear when clipping baby nails that you'll get too close and clip the skin and I'm here to tell you it does happen.

Obviously, it's not a major injury but lots of parents do get upset about it. I mean, you feel so guilty but don't feel too bad about it, because if you don't keep nails trimmed many babies are going to scratch themselves and of course that's no good. So you do have to try to keep the nails trimmed to some degree.

I think it's best to do this toward the end of a nap that way your baby is quiet and still, but it's OK if he/she wakes up. You might only get one nail in per nap, but look at this way you'll get all of them done in a week and then you can start all over again from the beginning.

If you do clip the skin you want to apply pressure to control any bleeding and then apply an over-the-counter triple antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin, to keep infection out. If bleeding persists or signs of infection, such as redness and swelling set in, be sure to let your baby's doctor take a look.


All right, moving on to another infant injury, this one is much more serious. You've heard never shake a baby and I'm here to tell you that it is serious and an important advice. Now you may be thinking you would never shake your baby, but if you are the sleep-deprived mother of a young infant who is crying and crying and crying and you have a bit of postpartum depression or anxiety thrown in, you know it's easy for any of us to lose our better senses.

So if you feel close to the edge, put your baby in the crib, close the door and walk away. Let him cry. I'ts OK. Now obviously you want to make sure nothing's wrong when they're crying and they won't stop, so you want to make sure that they don't have a fever, that they're not hungry, they're not too hot or too cold, that they don't have a hair twisted tightly around the toe, sometimes that happens, a little hair tourniquet and you want to see your doctor for that right away; or if they have a blister or a sore spot somewhere.

But once you've convinced yourself that they don't need anything, just walk away and let them cry. Now if your baby is persistently inconsolable, has any other symptoms of illness, such as vomiting or fever, you want to talk to your doctor right away. Otherwise, if you're close to the edge, walk away and get help. I think it's better to have a baby who is crying alone in a room, even though that sounds terrible, but if you lose it and you shake them it's going to be much, much, much worse.

Others will understand that you can't do this alone and that a crying baby can drive you mad. What they won't understand there was a brain damage or a dead baby because you took the train over the edge without jumping off. You hear what I'm saying?


All right, one more. This one isn't an injury per se, but it's something you should never do because the risks are simply too great for a deadly injury to result. And it's something I do see from time to time and wish I never did because it's so easy to prevent.

Now I don't use the word "never" very often, but I'm going to use it now. Never sleep with your baby. I feel strongly about this one. There's just too much risk that you could roll over and suffocate your infant or that your infant could roll and scooch into a position that causes suffocation.

In 10 years of medical practice I have seen it happened a handful of times and you can bet in every single one of those cases the parents said to themselves, "There's no way I'm going to roll over on to my baby." They swear they're a light sleeper, that this sort of thing is never going to happen. But given the opportunity to turn time back you know they would not have taken that chance and you can bet large sums of money that they will never sleep with their next infant, if they'll have one.

So if you're listening to this and you're rolling your eyes and thinking I'm making too big a deal about this, that's fine. You might continue to gamble and you might win. You might sleep with your infant in a bed or on a couch and never have the first problem. But then again, you might lose the gamble and your baby could die. It's not one of those things you read about in a book but never see. I've seen it happen several times and each time it is absolutely devastating.

Finally, I do want to make the point, if your infant gets injured, I kind of alluded to this earlier, but if your infant gets injured by any mechanism don't be embarrassed to seek help. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but parents take injuries to their babies, especially the really young babies, personally. And they're often afraid, you know, children's services or some social agencies are going to come breathing down their neck if they tell or show someone what happened. But look, accidents happen. We all have momentary lapses of judgment or forget to pay attention. The important thing is to admit the mistake, seek help right away and learn from the ordeal.

Will children's services or social services become involved? Perhaps, but if you're diligent and being honest and you're seeking help and you show proper remorse, if you've not have a pattern of accidental injury and you show a willingness to correct mistakes that led to the injury, then you'll likely not have anything to worry about other than a home visit and some follow-up telephone calls.

And please, don't get upset at the healthcare professional who called children's services. Don't take it personally, even if it was sincere accident or wasn't your fault, we have to contact children's services if we have any concern even if it's very remote and it's our butts on the line if we don't.

For more information on infant injuries, visit the Guide to Infant Safety at That's and of course we'll put a link to that over in the Show Notes.



All right, moving on into our toddler segment this week, we're going to talk about toddler poisonings. Now, toddlers are naturally curious and many of them still have an oral fixation, so there are risks for poisoning by ingestion. And despite childproof caps, childproof packaging and increased educational efforts and increased awareness of commonly ingested substances, deadly poisoning ingestion still occurs.

Now stats from the annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (Boy, there's a mouthful!), that's where these statistics are going to come from that I'm going to tell you right now. On average, Poison Centers handle one poison exposure every 14 seconds in the United States. That's over two million poison exposures every year. And United States emergency rooms see a child under the age of five years every six minutes for a poison exposure.

Most poisonings involve everyday household items, such as cleaning supplies, medicines, cosmetics, personal care items. Eighty-nine percent of poison exposures in kids occur in the home. Nine-two percent involve only one substance. Eighty-seven percent are unintentional and seventy-five percent involve ingestion rather than contact with the skin or something getting in the eyes.

Seventy-seven percent are treated on the site where they occurred, usually at home with phone advice from a local Poison Control expert. Fifty-three percent of all poison exposures, so we're talking about over one million cases are for kids under the age of six. And the most common substances ingested by the under six crowd, number one are going to be personal care products, 13% of all ingestions by kids under six are personal care products. Cleaning substances are 11%; analgesic, such as Tylenol, which is one of the most deadly ones, and Motrin is 8%; and plants actually represent about 7% of ingestions by kids under the age of six.


Now here's a bit of good news, while children under six represent 53% of all poison exposures, they represent just over 2% of poison fatalities. If over one million parents are dealing with the poisoning each year that's too many. I imagine the number's so high compared to the death rate because parents of young children are more likely to call Poison Control over something minor that basically it turns out to be nothing. But still 2% of ingestion deaths occur in young kids and that's just too many.

These deaths are preventable and you know that each child who died from poisoning had a mom or dad who got out of bed on the day their child died just like you got out of bed this morning. My point is you don't expect this to happen. Nobody expects it. But kids do die from poisonous ingestion. It could happen today and it could happen to you and your child.

So how can you prevent your toddler from becoming one of the one million toddler poisoning victims? Well, you should keep all household products and medicines locked up, keep them out of sight and out of reach; use child-resistant packaging properly by closing containers securely after each use; or if it's available you could choose a child-resistant single dose packaging, which does not need to be resecured but rather just discarded.

Now that's a recommendation from the American Association of Poison Control Centers and as a pediatrician I guess I should support the recommendation, although I'm not sure the environmentalists would agree with it, you know? But that's a debate for a different day.

When products are in use, keep them out of sight of your children. If you… Oh boy! See? It's the 13th thing. Normally, I would just go back and maybe pause it, do a little bit editing, but it's Friday the 13th and this is my 13th episode so I'm living it in, folks.

If you have a product in use and the telephone rings or the doorbell rings and you have to run or answer the phone or answer the door, you want to take the product with you. Never leave it out of your sight with your children. And just a quick story on that because pediatricians aren't perfect, I was doing a hot tub chemicals once when my son was about 15, no, he's a little older than that, yeah, maybe 18-24 months olds, something like that; he was toddling around. And I was outside by the hot tub and I put some liquid chemicals that goes in the hot tub in a measuring cup. And my wife, I won't blame her, it was my fault, I know, she called me and I put the cup down, turn around to look to see what she wanted and within like 10 seconds I turned back around and my son's got the cup in both hands with the cup up to his lip, getting ready to take a big old swallow of whatever I had which escapes me now because he's nine years old at this point. But we all do it, there are always lapses in judgment. You go back and think what could I have done differently? So I'm certainly not standing on a soapbox telling you about these things. We all need to think about it.


Now if your child accidentally ingests something, don't induce vomiting. A syrup of ipecac is no longer routinely recommended. There's risk of aspiration, which is when vomited material enters the lungs and that can cause all sorts of problems. And then there are some caustic poisons that are damaging when they come back up and they're actually safer to let them pass through the intestine. So you don't want to take matters into your own hand and make your child throw up and it's not even recommended that you have syrup of ipecac in the house anymore.

What you should do is call this phone number, it's 1-800-222-1222. It's pretty easy to remember, right? 1-800-222-1222. This is the National Poison Control number and it will automatically connect you with the poison center that serves your area. So make sure you have that number by your phone or on the fridge or in your PDA or wherever else you're going to see it often and find it pretty easily.

And now, just to help you remember that number and in fact, this is probably going to keep this phone number in your head for the rest of the day, maybe even for the rest of the week or the month or the year. Maybe even for the rest of your life. So here's a little jingle for you.

[Poison Control Center Jingle]


See what I mean? You're going to be humming that for the rest of the day. I think that guy singing it, is he the conjunction junction guy from Schoolhouse Rock or what? All right. Can everybody say ooohhh? Everybody say aahhh. Now this is going to be really exciting. We're going to have a special treat for you at the very end of the program, so you're definitely going to want to hang out till the end. Or if you're not interested in the child and teenage segment just click the little fast forward button, I won't mind. But you got to listen to the end because we're going to have an exciting wrap up.

All right, before we move on I want to let you know you can find more information about the American Association of Poison Control Centers including poison prevention and educational materials at and we'll have a link to that in the Show Notes for you.

OK. Moving on to childhood segment of the program this week, childhood phobias. Now, we all have fears of one kind or another. The difference is in the severity of the fear and the degree to which it interrupts our lives. And when the fear begins to affect the way we live, then we call it a phobia. And in adults, phobias can really become a serious disability. They're difficult to treat and often require medication and psychotherapy when you get to the point where fear is really interfering with your life as an adult.

Fortunately in children, phobias tend to be short-lived and fairly easy to deal with compared to in adults. So we're going to take a look here really quick at four common phobias in kids and how parents can deal with these.

The first of these is going to be darkness. At some point, even with the best efforts to avoid exposure to these things, kids learn about monsters and boogeyman and intruders, you name it. This fear is perpetuated when parents force kids to sleep in a completely darkened room or when kids wake up in the middle of the night and the room is dark and they're all by themselves.


So what can you do to help with this phobia? Well, you could let your child use a nightlight, although you do want to watch the placement of the nightlight because you want to avoid frightening shadows, you know? So you might want to look around in the room once you have the lights out and the nightlight on, stay in the room with your child for a few minutes and look around and all the sights and sounds that your child might find frightening you want to identify them. You know, like, "Hey, listen. Do you hear that? That's the sound of branches scraping across the siding outside," or you know, "See the curtains blowing in the breeze? That's not a ghost or anything," or whatever. I wouldn't put that idea in your kid's mind if they weren't calling that a ghost to begin with.

But if that's something that's been an issue in the past, right there when they're going to bed you say, "Look, that's what this is." Identify shadows and outlines of otherwise familiar shapes in the room. So just lay it on the line and say, "Look, that's what this." You want to leave your child's door open slightly with the hall light on and let him know where or which part of the house that you'll be.

Now if your child wakes up in the middle of the night, don't invite them into your bed, unless you want them there until they're 22. No, I'm just kidding. Actually, it does become very difficult to break that habit if you let them sleep in your bed. This what we used to do, when our kids would get up in the middle of the night and they were afraid, they just wanted to be with us, rather than making it a big ordeal making him go back to the room and then crying, what we would do is say, "OK. You can sleep in our room, but get you know what, get your pillow, you're sleeping on the floor."

And what we would find is that there would be times when for several nights in a row they'd come in and sleep on the floor and then they'd stop doing it for a while. And then they'd do it again for a while, then they'd stop doing it for a while. But I wouldn't make a habit letting them into your bed because it's very difficult to break that habit.

You do want to be consistent in your approach with any of these things and that's always good advice when you're trying to change behaviors. Now so far on PediaCast, we have not talked about behavioral stuff and behavioral modification very much. But here soon we will start talking about some of those things. I wanted to get through some of the major medical stuff first that parents ask questions about frequently. But we will get to the point where we're talking about some behavioral things.

And of course if you have some topics that you'd like us to address, again, let us know.


OK. The next childhood phobia is going to be fear of animals. This is another common one that usually gets better as children mature and have good experience with animals. Don't let your child in on your own animal fears. If mom or dad is scared of dogs or spiders or stinging insects, you can bet those things are going to terrify your child.

Teach your kids proper respect for animals and model for them the proper ways to approach or respond to animals. For example, you're going to approach dogs from the front, let them sniff your hand first, that kind of thing. Don't swat at bees, rather stay still or move her carefully away.

The ways that you want your child to react you need to model those ways and act that way in front of them. Again, I'm not a perfect person. Do I swat at bees occasionally? Yeah. Do I see a spider and kind of head the other way? Yeah, sometimes. It's not a phobia, folks, just a fear. We should all make a better effort of teaching our children the proper way to respond.

If you're going to get a pet, you might want to choose one that's smaller than your child and then get your child involved with its routine chores and care. Of course, never mistreat your pet or any animal and never tolerate any mistreatment by your child, even if it's not physically harmful.

Remember that even seemingly docile dogs can just snap and become vicious if they're mistreated. Plus, you want your child growing up with a healthy respect for all God's creatures, right? I hope you do. Also, this is important, too, don't force your child to approach or pet an animal that they don't want to approach or pet. Let him approach on their own time and on their own terms and just be patient and give it time.


OK. Our next fear or phobia is going to be fear of school. In a previous episode we talked about bullies and how a surprisingly high number of kids skip school to avoid a bully. But there are many other reasons kids might want to avoid school. And the key to figuring out why a child is afraid of school is to identify the exact reason that they're afraid and address that concern head-on.

For young kids, it could be just a fear of leaving home, especially in the first couple of years of school. It could be fear of leaving a parent, fear of riding the bus or of failing or of being teased or physically harmed. For the younger kids, if you're anxious about them starting school, try not to show it because if mom or dad seemed worried about you heading off to school you can bet your kindergartener is going to be even more worried about it.

Focus on the fun aspects of school. Hold a debriefing after school so your child can tell you all about their day. Remind him in the morning, "Hey, pay attention during the day so you can tell me all about it when you get home," like he's a junior spy or something. Kids often like making these kinds of things into a game and often times that helps quite a bit.

Make sure your child has buddy on the bus or at school. If your child seems to be bonding with a particular kid, try to nurture that friendship if you can. Invite the friend over on a weekend day or for a sleepover. School is going to be less scary if they have a friend there with them.

And if it's teasing or a bully that's the problem, address that head-on and make sure your school has a system in place to deal with bullying. I won't go into that here, but refer back to episode 11 of PediaCast for a complete discussion of bullies.


OK. And then our final childhood fear or phobia is going to be the fear of death. Children begin to fear death when they experience the loss of a loved one or a pet or when they see dead animals out and about. Now the reason I laughed at this is because and really with all of these things we've dealt with this stuff in my own home. I think God has blessed me in having two kids that have had just about everything I come across in the office because I can not only relate to parents as a pediatrician but as a dad as well. And we'll get to what I'm talking about here in just a minute.

But once kids experience the loss of someone that they know or a pet or see some animals that have died, then the questions come. And they're usually aimed at what happens when I die? Where do I go? What am I going to do? You won't be there to take care of me when I die. What's it like? What happens? And usually it's just question after question about it and they almost seem just focused on it because multiple times during the day when they go in to these periods they're talking about it often.

The parents typically get very concerned about this. But I have to tell you, it's normal. Sometimes, serious anxiety accompanies those questions as well and that can normal, too. Now personally, you're going to get a lot of different answers on how to deal with this. My personal opinion is I think you should address the questions head-on.

It's a good time to discuss your own beliefs about what happens after you die, heaven, if you believe in heaven; what you believe about the afterlife; just lay it on the line and tell them what you think and answer their questions as honestly as you can. But I will say this you should try to be reassuring in your discussion. It's another one of those instances where if you're anxious about it and you don't know what's going to happen when you die and you're worried about it, you might want to pan it off to the other parent or to a grandparent or your pastor or someone else; because if you're anxious about it, your child is going to be even more anxious about it.

But at the same time, again, you do want to be honest with these questions because by the time kids are old enough to start asking these questions, they're generally at an age when they're also old enough to remember how you answered for a long time to come. And really your credibility is on a line here. So you want to be honest, yet reassuring, but don't dodge at the tough questions.


I do have to tell you a couple of stories for my own kids with this. My daughter, she went through this and it was right after my stepfather had passed away. And it was just "when I'm going to die", "what is it going to be like when I die" and "you won't be there", all these questions. And at one time we were in the car and she's in the backseat and she's just asking these questions over and over again. And finally, you get a little tired of it after awhile. And I said, "Look, Katy, you're going to be really, really old when you die, so just stop." I figured if I'm wrong, well you know… You have to say something, you know what I mean? You finally get fed up. It's not the best thing to say but I say when you get really old that's when you're going to die.

And Katy says, "But mommy's really old and she's not dead yet." Oh boy! And then one other when that comes to mind, we had a hamster that died and it was actually our first pet that died. And my son was pretty attached to it and we thought he's just going to be devastated. Or maybe it was daughter who said this. Boy, if it was, she's going to give me a hard time for saying it was my son. It was one of my kids. It was too long ago to remember which one it was.

But in any case, my wife had the hamster in like a Kleenex, she had a little box and she'd put a Kleenex inside the box just like a little sheet and she put the dead hamster on top of this sheet. So it looked like a coffin. And we're thinking we're going to have to take it outside and bury it and have a little funeral service or something, I guess. We were new with this. It was the first time we had a pet that died and we were new parents.

So we had this all set up and we let the kids know that the hamster died and that we're going to have a little service for it. And one of my kids, I'm sorry I don't remember which one, said, "Why are we going to do that? He's not going to heaven, he doesn't believe in Jesus. Just throw him in the trashcan." So we did.

Aahhh… OK, let's move on to our teenage segment. Oh, I'm supposed to play bumper music here. See what I mean? It's number 13, I'm telling you. OK, let's do it anyway.


Oh boy! You got to cut me some slack.


OK. We're going to wrap up our Friday the 13th episode number 13 with a discussion on teenage deaths. Now most of the information presented in this segment comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Since 1948 the Annie E. Casey Foundation has work to build better futures for disadvantaged children and their families in the United States. The primary mission of the foundation was to foster public policies, human service reforms and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today's vulnerable children and families. And you can find their home on the web at We'll put a link to that in the Show Notes.

Now close to 15,000 teenagers lose their lives each year. That's about 40 teenagers each day. And again, it does not seem like it could happen to your child, but most of the 40 parents whose teenagers died today thought the same thing yesterday. And that's because three quarters of the deaths during the teenage year occur as the result of an accident. So these parents were not suspecting at all. And it's a handful of parents everyday who go through this whose lives were just normal and running along like yours and mine are right now.

Now motor vehicle accidents are far and away the leading mechanism of teenage death and that's followed by homicide and suicide. Many of these motor vehicle accidents involved substance abuse and many result in deaths of innocent occupants of another car and may result in to death of multiple teenagers in the same car.

There's also a higher likelihood of teenage death in a motor vehicle accident for kids who have untreated ADHD because of their lack of impulse control and their suspension of judgment. Also boys are two and a half times more likely to die during the teenage years than girls. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this topic because the approach to it is really relatively straightforward.

Since three quarters of teenage deaths are from accidents that means three quarters of them are also preventable. And really it's up to parents to prevent this. Our jobs as moms and dads do not end when kids become teenagers. It's easy to think that's the case, especially when teenagers are generally self-sufficient and pretty much resist your will. It's simply easier for many parents to relax and let their teenagers do what they want. But teenagers aren't adults and they're more prone to making poor decisions without thinking about the long-term consequences of their action.


So please allow me on the soapbox here for just a few moments and I won't take much of your time on this. But parents please stay involved with your teenagers with the same intensity that you did when they were younger. Pay attention to their friends, pay attention to their whereabouts. In fact, you should always know where they are and who they're with. They should be able to contact you at any moment. You should be ready to drop what you're doing at a moment's notice to pick them off if they're in trouble.

Try not to create an environment where they're too scared to call you when things get tough. You want to talk to your teens about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. OK, maybe I'm dating myself there, but at least talk to them openly and honestly about sex and drugs. How is that?

A national campaign by Children Now and the Kaiser Family Foundation called Talking With Kids About Tough Issues can be found at and again we'll put a link to that in the Show Notes. Now speaking of being able to get in touch with your teenagers at a moment's notice, I normally don't do this but I do have another project outside of PediaCast which is called Mouse Matters, which is a weekly Disney Column over at a place called The Dis, which is

And I write a weekly column there called Mouse Matters and there's also a link to that column from both the PediaScribe and PediaCast homepage over on the side bar; but on Mouse Matters this week I do a little review about Disney mobile and they have some pretty neat features with their cell phones in terms of knowing where your children are all the time and making it pretty easy to instantly contact your child or for your child to instantly contact you. It really does have some nice features and I'm not getting a kickback or anything from Disney.


In fact, when I started to research and write the article I thought I was going to come out against it, like Disney's making cell phones for kids. But then as I researched it, it actually has some pretty nice features to it, so you might want to check that out over, again, it's Mouse Matters at and we'll put a link to that in the Show Notes as well, so you might want to check that out.

OK. Well folks, that wraps up episode 13 of PediaCast. Thanks for joining us and putting up with the shenanigans this week. I'll try to be more serious next time, really, I will. Remember if you have a topic suggestion, you can let us know on the Contact page of our website. Simply go to and click on the Contact link or you can email us at And there's also our voice line at 347-404-KIDS.

The PediaScribe blog is waiting for you over at and don't miss another issue of our weekly newsletter PediAlert. You can sign up for it at the website by clicking the PediAlert link. See how easy we make it for you? PediAlert will keep you up-to-date with the happenings at PediaScribe and PediaCast and we'll bring you E-breaking news from sources you trust like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control. So sign up for PediAlert today.

Why do I feel like Paul Harvey when I do these promos like that? If you have time to take our audience survey, you'll find that PediaScribe and PediaCast. Your answers are anonymous and you'll help make our program even better. Also again, if you have time a nice plug for us at the iTunes store in a form of a review would be most helpful.

All right, thanks go out this week to my lovely wife, Karen, who allowed me to work on two, count them, two shows this week. Also thanks to Nick and Katy for providing voiceover and sound effects were courtesy of Laffy, DJ Chronos and Pingle over at the Free Sound Project.

So until next time, this is Dr. Mike Patrick Jr. saying stay smart, stay healthy and stay involved with your kids. So long everybody!


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