Thursday, September 22, 2016

Congratulations Dr. Flais!

Shelly Flais, MD
We are pleased to share the exciting news that Dr. Shelly Flais was chosen as the 2016 recipient of the 
Distinguished Pediatric Academic Contributed Service Award!

In addition to serving our patients at Pediatric Health Associates, Dr. Flais is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics with the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. She works with 2nd and 3rd year medical students and Lurie Children's residents in small groups, lectures, as well as serving as a preceptor for clinical experiences. 

Each year the Division of Community Pediatrics at Lurie Children's honors an individual with this prestigious award in appreciation for volunteer service as an exemplary role model, teacher, and clinical academician.

Dr. Flais is grateful for the opportunity to incorporate the education of physicians in training with serving the needs of the patients and families of Pediatric Health Associates.


                     From the desk of Katien Faragher, CPNP

Katie Faragher, CPNP

Fall is a favorite season for many people.  Colorful fall leaves, orange pumpkins, and hayrides are vivid images our minds create as the month of October approaches. 
Along with the seasonal pleasures of fall, it is important to be reminded that this also means that we are on the brink of….INFLUENZA!

Common and unpredictable, the influenza virus can cause serious complications including death in even the healthiest children.  In the United States, about 5% to 20% of the population will be diagnosed with influenza every year, causing over 200,000 hospitalizations.  Last year, there were at least 77 children that died from influenza, and this does not include deaths that were caused by secondary complications such as pneumonia and respiratory failure.  The 2010/2011 flu season data reported 49% of deaths in children from influenza were in healthy children without underlying medical conditions.

The first and most important thing a parent can do to protect their child from influenza is getting themselves and their child vaccinated.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends the annual flu vaccine for all people 6 months of age and older, including children and adolescents.

The time to get vaccinated is now!

There are some minor changes to the influenza recommendations for the 2016/2017 flu season.  We want our parents to be educated regarding these changes and address common myths so they can best protect their children, family members, and our community.

-The only flu vaccine available this year is the shot.  The flumist is not recommended by the AAP for use this flu season.  The nasal spray vaccine did not offer protection against the predominant strain of influenza virus during the last three flu seasons.

-The flu vaccine does not cause the flu virus!  Contrary to popular belief, flu vaccines are made by killed viruses.  Vaccine side effects can cause mild symptoms including pain and tenderness at the injection site, fever within 24 hours, sleepiness, headaches, and chills.  It is important to stress that these symptoms are mild compared to actually having the flu.

Flu vaccines are about 60% effective.   Good news! Vaccinated individuals who get the flu usually have a milder form of the disease (both severity and duration of symptoms).  People who are not vaccinated often experience symptoms for 1-2 weeks!

Please take the time to get your child and yourself vaccinated to prevent influenza and secondary complications this virus can cause!

Hope everyone has a happy and healthy Fall!

Additional resources are listed below:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Get inspired!

From the desk of PHA staff member Lauren Pesola:

The Summer Olympics are underway and the United States has taken the lead so far!  Swim phenomenon Michael Phelps has captured his 22nd gold medal (and counting!) since he started competing in the Olympics back in 2004. 

Whether watching the Olympics in the stands in Rio or just from the television, we all feel a sense of pride for how amazing the athletes representing the United States are.  But every single athlete participating is an inspiration to kids everywhere.  Whether you child participates in volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, tennis or another sport, watching the best of the best from all over the world can give them the encouragement to do their very best and reach their goals.

If your child expresses their lack of skill, talk to them about how even the very best athletes such as Serena and Venus Williams can be beaten. This is great dinner discussion when our kids express they can’t be as good as someone else.  It’s a great moment for parents to encourage their kids that everyone has a shot at winning.   Even the top athletes can have a bad day.

With the end of summer soon upon us and milder temps in the not too distant future,  families might want to start doing a family sport together.  There’s lots of running tracks around but if that’s not your thing, biking may be more to your liking.   Doing it together as a family not only helps build the family bond, it creates memories and allows our kids to see us working hard too.  

It’s great to watch the kids running during the summer in preparation for track, for marathons or just for their own pleasure.  Exercise provides health benefits for all of us and strengthens our endurance, builds our resolve, gives us a sense of accomplishment and releases endorphins in our brain to give us those feel good moments.

We congratulate all of our Olympians are Paralympians who are in Rio!  Whether they win a medal or not, they certainly are the best of the best to have qualified to be part of the Olympic experience!

PHA and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that children and adolescents strive to obtain at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. But what type of physical activity? For children, important components of physical activity include aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening exercise. Both of which are important to your child’s overall health and development.

Aerobic exercise, also referred to as cardiovascular or cardiorespiratory exercise, focuses on activities that raise heart rate and use large muscle groups. Children and adolescents should participate in aerobic exercise on a daily basis. Aerobic exercise can include running, jogging biking and swimming.

Muscle strengthening exercise, also referred to as weigh training or resistance training, focuses on activities that develop the muscular system. Children and adolescents should participate in muscle strengthening exercise at least 3 days per week.

Children under 12 years old should utilize their own body weight to develop their musculature. Young children should not use weights to develop musculature, as their bones are still growing. Excess weight can actually damage the growth plates within their bones, potentially stunting growth. Appropriate muscle strengthening exercise for children under 12 can include playing on monkey bars and climbing other playground equipment, performing push-ups and sit-ups, and performing exercises with resistance band, rather than weights.

Teenagers can utilize weights, in addition to their own body weight to develop their musculature. However, teens should still focus on increasing their endurance rather than strength. This is accomplished by increasing the number of repetitions of an exercise performed. Teens should begin by trying to perform a given exercise eight to fifteen times. Once the teen has successfully completed an exercise fifteen times, WITHOUT feeling fatigued they can attempt to complete another set of the given exercise. This approach will allow your teen to develop both endurance and strength, without undue strain or injury.

Remember, when participating in any type of exercise, it’s important to wear proper athletic clothing and tennis shoes to optimize safety. When utilizing weight-strengthening equipment, remove jewelry to prevent it from getting caught on equipment and causing an accident. The most important reminder though, is to always use proper form when exercising such as using your legs to lift, not your back and when necessary a spotter to prevent accidents and injury. For additional resources, instructional books and DVDs visit your local library!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Zika in the news

Mosquitoes and Zika are much in the news-- until now it was an issue of 'should I travel to the Carribean'…however now the mosquito carrying the Zika virus is in a large neighborhood of Miami.               

The illness can be a prolonged one in both kids & adults, however 80% of those infected do not experience any symptoms.  Usually it's a flu-like illness that resolves in a few days.

Pregnant women are at the greatest risk.   Those infected have a fair chance of passing the virus to their unborn child.   Babies are born with microcephaly causing unusually small heads and poor brain development.  They can suffer a variety of health problems such as mental retardation, speech, growth and motor delays,  deafness, blindness and seizures.   The earliest that microcephaly has been detected in a fetus is mid to late into the second trimester of pregnancy but is more likely to be discovered in the third trimester.
The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control recommend that women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant delay travel to the areas that have the Zika carrying mosquito.   The travel alert now extends to Miami.

One fact often not discussed--men who are infected can carry the virus for an undetermined length of time--and can still infect their partner when the man isn't symptomatic. Therefore, we don't recommend travel to these areas for either spouse before a time when they may be planning a pregnancy.

Officials in Florida have found that the pesticides being used does not seem to have much impact.   If you are concerned whether you have Zika it can be detected thru blood testing if samples are taken during the first week of symptoms.  You can also detect past infection through a urine test. 

Until a vaccine is approved people are advised to use mosquito repellent containing at least 20% DEET (eg. Deep Woods Off) and avoid being outside at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are their most active.   Wearing long sleeves and pants are also advisable.

Although there was a request for Congress to approve funding to find a vaccine, this was not passed.   Please consider contacting your senator and representative and request passage of this funding.    You may find your legislators’ phone numbers and/or email addresses at

For further information on the Zika virus, please visit the links posted below.