Monthly Archives: January 2009

Tip for Masking Medication Taste


Does your child refuse to take medicine?  Have you been sent home with a completely unpalatable concoction?  In a previous post I wrote about a patient who refuses her medicine.  I gave her mother this photocopied and pencil-annotated list, which is rumored to have been created by someone on the pediatric hematology-oncology service at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). I added some personal commentary, just for fun. Many thanks to its authors for the original ideas. Continue reading

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Are you serious? No way I’m taking that medicine, dude!




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A Spoonful of Sugar, Peanut Butter, or Grape Juice: How to Get Kids to Take Their Medicine

What is it about some kids?

Some kids take their medicine (ok, expect the really disgusting ones) without a peep.  Some even love the taste of medicines and ask for them when they’re not ill at all.  I was one of these strange kids.  Grape-flavored dimetapp was definitely incentive to develop a little sniffle. Most kids seem to struggle a bit but eventually remit.  But some will not ever-ever-ever-under-any-circumstance-even-if-they-feel-horrible-terrible-no-good-very-bad-and-are-old-enough-to-understand-that-the-medicine-will-make-them-feel-better let that icky stuff get anywhere near their mouths.

I have recently been struggling to find a formulation of medicine that will be tolerable to a 5-year-old patient of mine with acid reflux.  Her stomach makes more acid than is necessary to digest her food, and the stomach contents manage to sneak back up into her esophagus, a common problem in adults and also in some children.  However, this is not your garden variety acid reflux.  This stuff is so toxic that the stomach acid sneaks out of the esophagus, scoots over into the trachea and dives down into her lungs where it creates general havoc: inflammation and infection.  She had now had pneumonia six times, each episode requiring several nights in the hospital on oxygen.  A medication that reduces the acid in her stomach can prevent the pneumonia.  Without this medicine, the inflammation can create permanent lung damage.  She needs her medicine. Continue reading


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Here, Try Some Yummy Dog Food! (Kidding. Just Goldfish.)


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Dog Food May be Yummy, But Beware: On The Pet Food Salmonella Outbreak

My general philosophy about childhood is that kids should get down and dirty as much as possible. I think that dirt is good for kids (as are stubbed toes and scraped elbows). Builds character!

So when parents tell me that their kid ate some sand at the beach or the playground, I tell them not to panic. It’s good for them!

A mother of one of my patients called me to report that her child had recently dined on some gourmet goose poop at the local park. Delish! And, luckily, ingestion of goose poop is unlikely to transmit any severe infections.

When I was growing up the family that lived next to us had a great brood of kids. Andrew, the 3rd child of 4, was always getting into their pantry and eating the dog food. Gross! But I never imagined that it was harmful for the little tike.

Well, Andrew, I hope that you have grown out of that habit. The CDC has reported an outbreak of salmonella in humans, which was transmitted from dry pet food. Apparently most of the cases are transmitted when young children touch or eat the contaminated pet food.

Despite this news, I am still going to advocate for kids to jump in puddles, to make mud pies, and occasionally to eat a little dirt. But, at least for the time being, please stick to human food. Continue reading

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Woohoo! Let’s get this party started!


Woo Hoo!  Let's get this party started!

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“I’m going to break my child!” 

Every day in my pediatrics practice in San Francisco, California, parents come into my office in a bit of a tizzy.  Or a really big tizzy.  It is my job, one in which I take great pleasure, to help to calm their worries.

Who can blame parents for freaking out?  As a parent, you face weighty decisions about how to keep your child safe and healthy every day.  Parents have doubts about whether they should vaccinate their child, how they can prevent the so-called “super bug,” and which sunscreen to use.  Parents worry about lead exposure and toxins in fish and cancer-causing chemicals in plastic.

We are inundated with interesting, frightening and often conflicting advice about our children’s health from family, friends, and the media.  Even strangers in the coffee joint can make us question our parenting and the things we do to keep our kids healthy.

It sometimes seems there are untold threats to your child’s health and safety, and to your sanity. What are you to do as a parent but *panic*?!?

My message to parents is to take a deep breath.  There is no need to panic.

In my office and in this blog, I would like to help parents and families process the information that they read and hear about their family’s health.  Armed with sensible information from the middle ground parents can make sound, rational, evidence-based choices that promote growth, health and development.

I would like to take some of the anxiety out of parenting.  I hope to create a little lightness and laughter about the latest health controversy.  And perhaps I can bring some joy to the often hefty task of healthy living.

In the meantime I will shamelessly exploit the hilarious stories of the kids I take care of and equally shamelessly flaunt pictures of some of the cutest kids and families that I know.

As my very wise friend Shay (father of 2) said to me:  “We do shop around for the worst news–just so that we have something to worry about.”

And so, shopping around for the worst news and finding its lighter side, let us begin…

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