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Health Information Blog : Double Duty
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I'm a pediatrician by training with an undergrad degree in journalism. I spend my days teaching and mentoring future pediatricians. My wife and I spend our evenings and weekends keeping up with very active twins. This blog will chronicle my thoughts on current children's health care issues and trends, trials and tribulations as a parent and husband mixed in with a lot of life experience.


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photo William Stratbucker, MD
Monday, November 23, 2009
Shot or Mist?
by William Stratbucker, MD at 08:32 AM

Mist or shot?

This time of year we all think about ways to stay healthy. For those families, like mine, who have decided to get a flu shot, we've been faced with the choice of a shot in the arm or the newer version of a spray in the nose.

Last year I asked my twin four-year-olds what they wanted.

"No shot!" was their simultaneous response. Once they had time to think about it, they became less decisive.


'Hmm, a spray in my nose, I'm not sure I like that idea either," they seemed to think.


When it came time to decide, they couldn't. They went back and forth.  Like any parent, my wife and I try to walk that fine line between providing too many choices and being overly controlling. But this time, I needed to step in. They got the shot last year.

This year was a bit different. They were able now, at age 5, to decide that mist in the nose sounded better. They both opted for that. Again, things went well.

Now, with H1N1 vaccine options coming available, here we are again. Shot or mist?

Some are not eligible for either and some patients can get the shot and not the mist. The availability of all versions of the flu vaccines has been an issue for physician offices to say the least.


Your child's doctor's office will tell you what vaccines they have available and help you determine your child's eligibility for each.


I have asthma so I got the shots. My wife, well, she keeps saying she has that on her to-do list.


Whatever you decide about the flu vaccines, remember to wash hands, sneeze into tissue or sleeves, reduce your exposure to sick people, stay home from school and work for 24 hours after the fever has resolved, and stay hydrated with fluids.


If your kids do get sick, remember children four and younger should not receive over-the-counter cough and cold medicines as they are ineffective and potentially harmful if the dose is miscalculated. The younger the child who gets influenza, the more likely serious problems are to occur, such as ear infections, pneumonia, dehydration and hospitalization.


Next fall we hope to offer just one seasonal flu vaccine which, if necessary, will incorporate the H1N1 strain.


It is my hope that if you encounter an influenza virus in your house, that everyone has been properly vaccinated, if eligible, and that all recover as quickly as possible.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Introducing Double Duty
by William Stratbucker, MD at 08:55 AM

Welcome to my blog. I am excited about the opportunity to connect with readers in our community and beyond. As a pediatrician, health journalist, medical researcher and a dad, I find a great deal of satisfaction in translating child health concepts to others.


The blog is called Double Duty as I often wear two hats. I'm convinced that multitasking is a myth. So "double duty" does not refer to sending text messages while driving or other dangerous attempts to get two things done at once.


The reality is, for most families, that you feel like there isn't enough time in the day to do all of the things necessary. That if we could do two things (or more) at once then you could accomplish more. While I have several "double duties," I think it is important to remember many of us need to slow down and concentrate on the task at hand and do that task well.


One of my dual jobs is that of being both a pediatrician and a dad. That role presents some obvious benefits but some not so obvious drawbacks. Another duty is my job as both a clinical general pediatrician seeing patients in the hospital, clinic or newborn nursery and my role as a medical scientist. Researchers try to expand the medical science knowledge base and clinicians are forced to interpret this science and deliver care to the patient. As I wear both hats, I see the complexities of both sides and understand the communication challenges we have in medicine. I will blog about new pediatric medical research and try to decipher the results for you in an understandable way. It is my hope that this blog will keep you informed on issues in child health and pediatric research.


Some posts will be very short. Some will be lengthy. They all will be written by me or by an announced guest blogger. The content of these posts will be as accurate as I can make them. I do research for a living and plan to learn from you as this blog progresses.

I hope that if something doesn't sound quite right, you will let me know. We will cover controversial territory. There may not be one right answer on a particular issue. When that occurs, I may give you my opinion, and I hope to make it clear when it is as opposed to something well studied by expert medical researchers.


Medical research is tricky. One word I was counseled never to say during my research training was "proof." We have a very hard time proving anything with medical research. In human research, we are always using less test subjects than the entire population of even a state, let alone a whole country or the world.


Every medical study has limitations. We will discuss those as well. Many poorly done studies end up making big news. I expect a good deal of discussion and debate on some of the issues brought forth. I also expect respect. I expect that those who choose to post comments are respectful of other's opinions and choices as I hope you are respectful of mine. Much of the medical advice will be evidence-based as long as we have some evidence. A lot of the time we don't. Many of the recommendations made will be in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics, of which I am a proud member.


I want to write this blog to communicate effectively with parents on child health issues. Your suggestions and input as we go along will be requested and appreciated. I am an advocate for children. My goal is to provide blog posts with information that helps you be an informed parent.


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