From the desk of Doc Smo: The End of an Era (Article)

This was a big  milestone week for Doc Smo.  For administrative reasons, the medical group of which I am a member decided to stop making rounds at one of the hospitals that I have worked at for almost 30 years.  I knew I didn’t like the idea of not being involved with this hospital, but I really didn’t understand how much I would resist the change until I was faced with my final day, the day I would no longer be a part of the hospital that I helped staff for 30 years.  A large portion of my professional career took place in it’s various departments.  I have served on innumerable committees, have been to and directed countless meetings both administrative and educational, spent many hours in delivery rooms, the emergency department, the intensive care units, the newborn nursery, and most of all the pediatric ward talking care of sick and injured children.

As I approached the hospital for my last day rounding after all those years, I was suddenly flooded with memories of specific children and their illnesses.  I had no idea that those experiences had such a “memorable“ and “emotional” impact on me.  I can now see see how the elderly become consumed by the past.  All that emotional energy that doctors expend taking care of sick children leaves an indelible mark on us.  I guess that makes sense; we expend a tremendous amount of  energy to ensure that our patients recover from whatever illness they have.   That’s what pediatricians do. We sweat it out with the families during each child’s crisis.  As I like to say to parents, we are professional worriers.  Did I miss something?  Is my assessment correct?  Am I using the correct medicines in the correct doses?  Could something else be going on?  Should I have done some other test or treatment?

Now the day has come and gone.  All the hospital staff that I have worked with for so many years and watched age and mature are now just a memory.  Yes, I think I left a mark on the hospital and the thousands of children I cared for during all those years.  By the same token, I now realize how much impact the children and their families have had on me.  This week was truly the end of an era for DocSmo.

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What is the “Fever” in Hay Fever? Q and A with “Simon” (Laura Nelle Parnell) (Pedcast)

It’s finally spring time and the earth is exploding with life. With all of the flowers, lush vegetation, and beautiful weather, however, comes something unpleasant — hay fever. In this pedcast, Doc Smo tries to improve your understanding of the concept of hay fever and allergies. Joined by his guest Simon (aka Laura-Nelle Parnell), Doc Smo answers questions about allergies and how your children’s bodies interact with their environment.

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Changing Diapers; Hazardous to Your Health? (Pedcast)

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Introduction

Just imagine this Norman Rockwell scene– a baby’s room, a changing table, and powder everywhere with a giggling baby kicking and enjoying being liberally powdered. The baby has a nice dry bottom and is enjoying the nice aroma of the powder not to mention the wonderful feel of powder on their skin. What could be more American and traditional?  Grandma’s of yesteryear loved baby powders because they were super absorbent and feel great. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to powders that you should know about! There are things all parents need to know about baby powder, which we are going to discuss today. Before you start sprinkling powder around your baby and yourself, take a listen to this pedcast and learn why the use of baby powders are controversial and potentially harmful to you and your baby! Welcome to another edition of Portable Practical Pediatrics. I’m your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician with a lot of experience and a whole lot to say.

What are powders?

Powders are created when solid substances have been crushed, ground, or pulverized into very small particles.  When these dry small particles are collected they are called powders. I guess it is possible to make a powder out of any solid substance and they can have many varied uses; from makeups to lubricants like graphite all the way to cocaine and gunpowder. Powders are amazing things! Today, we are going to limit our discussion to baby powders, the kind that are used on a baby’s bum. Chemically, baby powders are usually made of either talc, a mineral mined in many locations in the U.S. or from cornstarch. When it comes to powders the smaller the particles, the higher the quality of the powder. That’s why talc was so valued as a powder–talc can be pulverized into very small particles. It makes the best powder!  The small size of the particles creates a super-large surface area to absorb lots and lots of moisture. The ultra small particles also give this powder a silky smooth feel that both moms and babies really enjoy.  The powder keeps junior’s bum dry, silky smooth, reduces the friction of the diapers, and absorbs chemical irritants in their urine and poop.  What’s not to love?

If powders work well, what’s the problem?

You know by the title of this pedcast, that there must be a dark side to powders. Well, you are right. Here are some observations that make pediatricians and other health experts worry about people using powders, especially talcum powders around babies.

Workers in talc factories often have lung problems.

Some babies who have inhaled large amounts of powders have had lung problems.

Some naturally occurring Talc has asbestos fibers in it thus creating the long-term concern about lung cancer.

In fact, a jury in 2017 awarded a cancer victim  $100,000,000, finding liability against the Johnson and Johnson Company.

The irony with powders, especially those that contain talc, is that what makes them so useful also makes them more hazardous to use– their small particle size. These very small particles, microns in size, can drift down deep into your and your baby’s lungs and sit there for long periods of time. These particles can provoke allergic reactions, scarring of your baby’s lungs, or possibly even cancers.

 

How do I Keep My Baby’s Bum in Shape?

 

Our friends across the pond, the Brits, call diapers Nappies. So how do you keep your baby’s nappies happy? How can you keep the delicate skin on their bottom from breaking down if you can’t use powders? Here are a few tips that can help keep your baby’s bum in good shape:

 

-Frequent changing of diapers

-Careful cleaning and drying before new diapers put on.

-Avoid chemical wipes

-Remember, babies skin thinner that older people. Be very gentle when cleaning their skin and only use a soft wipe with lots of water.  A soft cotton diaper cut up into squares makes a good cleaning clothe.

-Barrier creams are very helpful keeping irritating poop or pee away from the skin. I love these.

-And of course, avoid using powders. They can be dangerous to your family’s health.

Outro

Well, that wraps up today’s pedcast. If you enjoy learning about child health with pedcasts, please take a minute to write a review on iTunes or subscribe to my blog at www.docsmo.com. You can also spread the DocSmo word by hitting the like and share buttons on my Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram accounts.

This is Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, NC, hoping you are now more aware, of the dangers of powdery air

Until next time

 

 

 

SmoNotes:

 

  1. “How Can I Make Sure My Baby’s Bedroom Is Safe?” American Academy of Pediatrics : Healthy Children 10 June 2010: 1. Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/pages/Make-Babys-Room-Safe.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:%20No%20local%20token&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000 000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:%20No%20local%20token>.

 

2. American Cancer Society. 04 Nov. 2010. 02 Apr. 2011 .

<http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/talcum-powder-and-cancer>.

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Let’s not forget to care for the Mamas and the Papas! (Pedcast)

As parents, it’s easy to become absorbed in your children’s well-being and forget to take care of yourself.  Don’t forget,  one of your most important assets is YOU. Taking care of yourself now can make a world of difference economically, physically, and mentally down the road.  In this “Pedcast”, Doc Smo reminds parents to be mindful of their well-being and illustrates some simple ways that you can improve your health for the betterment of you and your family.

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