Sorry I haven’t contributed to this blog for several years. My husband and I decided to have a second child before the baby making factory closed for good. And we were thrilled when C got a baby sister! Fast forward. Now that C’s little sister is 2 years old, I’ve started to write again and provide some more helpful tips for traveling families.
It’s summertime (yay!) and parents are wondering which sunscreen to buy for their families. On May 6, 2019, a JAMA study showed that using sunscreen the correct way for just one day increased the amount of four chemical sunscreen ingredients (avobenzone, ecamsule, octocrylene, and oxybenzone) in the bloodstream to levels the FDA says triggers the need for more testing, potentially raising concerns. While the FDA didn’t come out and say that these chemical sunscreens were unsafe, there is evidence that there may be concerning health effects, such as hormone disruption or increasing the risk of cancer. Needless to say, this means that we need more studies to tell us whether these chemical sunscreens are safe or not. You can view my interview on King 5’s New Day Northwest recently where I talked about this recent study.
In the meantime, don’t stop using sunscreen! Instead, I recommend that parents use a mineral based sunscreen, that is at least SPF 30, and has the main ingredients as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Mineral based sunscreens are also less irritating for sensitive skin. Apply it at least 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming. If you’re also putting on mosquito repellent, remember to apply the sunblock first, then the mosquito repellent afterwards. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. But if sun exposure is unavoidable, it’s still better to apply sunblock and prevent your baby from getting a painful sunburn. Mineral based sunscreens do give you a white sheen which is probably why chemical sunscreens became so popular. But personally, I find the white sheen helpful so I know which spots I’ve missed.
Lastly, please remember that the best way to protect against harmful UV rays is to cover up and stay in the shade as much as possible. Have a wonderful summer! It always passes way too quickly in the Pacific Northwest!
Even when you’re fully prepared for your trip, traveling with children is more likely to bring along something unexpected. And when you’re far from the comforts of home, it is difficult to know what to do or where to go for help when you or your child is ill. Here are some tips that may help:
I’m planning a trip to Walt Disney World with my family next month and can’t wait to see how my 4 year old daughter will react. She tells me, “I can’t wait to meet Elsa in real life!” Secretly, I am also excited to relive my childhood again. As I’m planning the trip and booking the hotel rooms, I can’t help but remember what happened last year on January 5, 2015 in Disneyland.
This was the day when an 11 year old unvaccinated child along with 4 other people were diagnosed with measles after visiting Disneyland. The outbreak spread quickly and by February 11, 2015, there were 125 confirmed cases of measles connected to this outbreak and the disease spread to 6 western states, Canada, and Mexico. As of June 2015, a record number of 397 cases of measles were reported in the US. This is the highest number of measles cases reported in a given year over the last 20 years! Almost all of these measles cases were imported from travelers, most who were not vaccinated.
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can lead to serious complications and death. You can check out the CDC website on measles for more information about the disease and its possible complications. On July 2, 2015, Washington state reported a measles-related death in an undiagnosed woman. The CDC states that the virus can live for up to two hours in a room where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. This is incredibly scary for parents with children too young to be vaccinated or have other conditions that prohibit vaccination.
In 2000, the US declared that measles was eliminated. However, measles is common in most other countries in the world, including parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. The CDC reports that every year, 20 million people get measles and about 146,000 people die from it. ‘Measles has been brought back to the US by unvaccinated travelers, which then has led to secondary outbreaks in the U.S.
The best way to prevent getting measles on your trip is to make sure you get all the recommended MMR vaccines your doctor recommends. It is best to get these vaccines at least 2 weeks before your trip. For people going on international trips, the recommendations for MMR vaccine is different than the routine immunization schedule. According to the CDC:
Before any international travel—
It was unfortunate that the “happiest place on earth” became the breeding grounds for measles last year. It certainly was not Disney’s fault. This huge outbreak ignited a national debate about vaccinations. With its growing number of anti-vaxxers, many US communities are at risk for more large outbreaks. For my traveling families, I always urge them to get their MMR vaccines before their trip according to the CDC recommendations to provide maximum protection. Their children, families, friends, and community will be thankful they did.
The seasonal flu vaccine has arrived in all of our clinics. The WHO and CDC collect data from May-September and analyze the circulating influenza virus strains around the world. Since it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, other countries are able to identify the types of influenza virus strains that are causing most of the illnesses. This information gives us a clue about what to expect for our upcoming winter and flu season.
Influenza or “the flu” is highly contagious and kills healthy children and adults every year. Each year, an average of 20,000 children under age 5 are hospitalized due to influenza complications. For travelers, getting influenza is one of the most common illnesses that occur while away from home. Crowded airplanes, trains, and buses are breeding grounds for the flu. Our clinic has seen a few cases of influenza this season already.
I always highly recommend getting the flu vaccine at least 2 weeks before the trip. All children and adults over 6 months should be getting the flu vaccine every year. It is best to get the flu vaccine EARLY in the fall season, before getting exposed to the flu. People often forget that you can get the flu ANYWHERE, and even in warm, tropical locations year-round. Getting the flu vaccine will not only provide the best protection against a miserable illness but also help to protect those around you and your community!
Every parent of a child with a serious food allergy worries when eating out at a restaurant. What happens if the chef made this dish with peanut oil? Or if the pot wasn’t cleaned thoroughly before my child’s dish was made and could be contaminated? Or if someone ate shrimp at this table recently? In my case, my daughter has a fish allergy so I avoid all sushi and seafood restaurants.
Traveling abroad when you or your child has a serious food allergy is daunting but NOT impossible. When I talk about a serious food allergy, I mean the kind that involves whole-body hives, lip or throat swelling, wheezing, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or even death. When you have this kind of food allergy or anaphylaxis, you need to be very careful of what you eat and the possible hidden exposures or “contaminants” you are in contact with. Here is a list of what you need to do if you are planning a trip:
I took my daughter on a girls only trip to Vancouver recently. In order to make sure the border crossing went smoothly, I downloaded a copy of a consent letter for my husband to fill out allowing me to bring her across the border. There are numerous examples of these consent letters on the internet. We got this letter notarized. When the US Customs officer asked to see my consent letter at the border, I was glad that I took the extra time and effort to get this done before our trip.
Due to concern about international child abductions, many countries are now very strongly recommending a notarized consent letter if a child is traveling overseas without BOTH parents or even with just ONE parent present. Take time to obtain all the necessary documents for your international trip by reviewing this website: Documents for Travel. This will save you a lot of time and trouble at the border!