Fun in the Sun – Sun Safety

By Kala R. Rorabaugh PharmD Pediatric Pharmacy Resident

Winter is finally over and it is time to go out to enjoy the sunshine!  But before you reach for those flip flops and beach ball you should make sure you and your children are protected against the harmful rays of the sun


UV or ultraviolet rays are the harmful rays of light that cause skin irritations like sunburn and skin cancer.  Fortunately, it is easy to protect yourself from these rays.  Sunscreen is the easiest way to protect your skin.  It is important to buy sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, but don’t be fooled!  An SPF greater than 50 does not mean better protection, stick to sunscreens with an SPF of 30-50.  Also make sure your sunscreen says “broad spectrum”, this means it protects against both UVA and UVB light.  It is also useful to get water resistant sunscreen so skin is still protected in the pool, lake, or ocean.  This information is usually available right on the front label of the sunscreen.  Most adults need about one ounce of sunscreen to cover their exposed skin, make sure you are applying enough sunscreen on your kids.  And don’t forget their face, neck, and ears!  There is lip balm with SPF protection as well.

  Sunscreen should be applied heavily approximately 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and repeated every 2 hours.  Apply more often if the skin becomes wet such as in swimming, vigorous activity or excessive sweating.

Keep infants under 6 months out of direct sunlight.  If shade is not an option, consult your doctor about using sunscreen.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using small amounts of zinc or titanium based sunscreen as a last resort for infants.

Sunglasses and hats are not just great fashion accessories!  They’re also great ways to protect yourself from the sun.  Sunglasses protect the UVA and UVB rays from damaging eyes.  Hats help to protect any area shaded by the outline of the hat, for example a big sombrero will protect more than a baseball cap, but both are important for shielding your face from the sun!

When playing outside it is important to drink lot of water.  Children can easily become dehydrated while playing in the hot sun, even while swimming!  It is also important to avoid being out in the sun during the peak hours of sunlight, usually 10AM to 3PM, when the harmful rays are the most exposed.  If you must be outside, try to stay in a shaded area.

Even on a cloudy day the dangerous rays can cause skin damage, so even if it doesn’t look sunny you should still use sunscreen, wear sunglasses and hats, drink plenty of water, and keep out of the sun.  Practicing these sun safety tips can help you enjoy summer safely!


Helpful Websites:

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Let’s Not Meet By Accident during 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers

By Kim Nasby, Upstate Trauma Center’s injury prevention coordinator and Let’s Not Meet By Accident instructor And Arielle Spears Marketing intern

 The Let’s Not Meet By Accident program of Upstate Medical University’s Trauma Center is offering easy tips for teen drivers during what the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety deemed the “100 Deadliest Days for Teens.”

Upstate’s tips include how teen passengers can also help teen drivers stay focused on the road as well as tips for parents.

Despite progress in car safety regulations and new technology, motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death for drivers ages 15 to 19. We at Upstate want to ensure that teens, their parents and the other drivers are properly prepared for the coming months, as well as encourage everyone to start practicing safe habits every day.

Tips for teen drivers and their teen passengers :

The most common distractions for teen drivers include cell phone use and texting, driving under influence of alcohol/drugs, talking with passengers, and the car radio.

Avoid distractions by:

Turning your cell phone off while driving. If not possible, put the phone on safe mode or download one of the many apps that prevents phone use while driving. Some apps offer settings that automatically reply to text messages. Passengers can hold the teen driver’s phone and respond to calls or texts for them. If the cell phone must be used by the driver, pull off the road at a safe distance before using the phone.

Have a back-up plan to avoid driving, or riding with someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Underage drinking and/or drug use while driving is illegal, dangerous and is proven to be deadly. Teen passengers should refuse to ride in a car with a teen driver who is under the influence. Remember, parents or other caregivers would much prefer a phone call for a pick up than a teen driving under the influence of drugs.

Limiting your vehicle to one passenger. Also, there is plenty of time to socialize after the ride, so teen passengers should reduce conversation and movement while on the road with teen drivers. Also, respect the teen driver and do not encourage negative behavior, such as speeding.

Finding your preferred radio station or playlist before you start the car and sticking with it until you reach your destination. Keep music at a low level and save the dancing for home.

Review maps and directions before leaving for an unfamiliar destination. GPSs should be placed in appropriate places that do not obstruct the driver’s view. If a GPS or map needs to be consulted, pull over at a safe distance. Teen drivers and teen passengers should also prepare for travel by checking the weather each day.

Keeping sunglasses in the car. The sun may also be an outside distraction for teen drivers. When buying sunglasses teens should opt for sunglasses labeled ‘UV 40′ or polarized lenses, to reduce glare from reflective surfaces like glass or polished metal.

Remember, all drivers, not only teens, should signal when changing lanes, wear a seatbelt, turn on headlights at night and during bad weather and always obey the speed limit. It takes only seconds to lose control of the car so don’t feel pressured by the flow of traffic to speed. Maintain a larger buffer zone with faster speeds.

Teen passengers should politely remind teen drivers to adhere to traffic rules if violated. Also, be on the lookout for pedestrians who may be difficult to see, especially at night and during bad weather.

Parents can also be of vital importance when protecting teen drivers and passenger.

Parents can:

Lead by example. Don’t text and drive, make sure all occupants in the car have their seat belt on and follow traffic laws.

Look into apps that monitor a teen’s texting and phone calls while they are driving.

Explain the dangers of driving under the influence and assure teen drivers, as well as teen passengers, that driving impaired is intolerable.

Consider a no passenger policy for their teen drivers until the teens have had more experience driving.

Stay informed on tips for safe driving for teens and review the information with their teen driver or teen passenger.

Let’s Not Meet By Accident is a free interactive injury prevention program designed by Trauma Services at Upstate Medical University to enlighten young drivers about the harsh realities of bad decision making behind the wheel. The program is offered once a month for up to 150 students from various schools throughout Central New York. The program services more than forty area high schools.

For more information, contact Let’s Not Meet By Accident at 315-464-4779


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LEON Day features Upstate specialists aimed at keeping kids safe

By Elle Spears

Upstate is inviting kids and families to a free giant holiday party June 25 at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool.  It’s called LEON Day (that’s NOEL spelled backwards) and celebrates the half-way mark to the December holidays, the end of school and a kickoff to summer fun. The event takes place from 5 to 10 p.m.

“We at Upstate are taking this opportunity to educate families about summer injury prevention,” said Tamer Ahmed, M.D., medical director of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Trauma Program. “In the summer, parents and children are more active, which increases the risk of injuries. We want to ensure that everyone is safe and well prepared for the coming months, as well as highlight the outstanding child-focused groups at Upstate and in our community.”

Upstate will distribute 1,000 free children’s helmets that will be fitted by the Upstate’s Pediatric Trauma team, and provide summer tips to parents on ways to keep their children safe. Other health information on topics ranging from proper sleep hygiene to the warning signs of diabetes will be available. Upstate will also oversee a special “hometown hero” section where medical helicopters, fire trucks, police cars and more will be on display.

Other highlights include: a balloon walk, where children can explore the inside of an inflated hot air balloon, bounce houses, human foosball, a dunk tank, face painting, photo booths, magicians and more.

The event will conclude with the dropping of an Orange ball signifying the halfway point to Dec. 25, followed by fireworks. Various displays from Lights on the Lake will be set up and Lights on the Lake holiday characters will interact with children at the festival.

A special feature of the event is a concert by the Kidz Bop, the national singing sensation that has kids and parents alike dancing and singing along to today’s hit music.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read!

Part One : Why You Should Be a Skeptical Reader?

By Amy E. Caruso Brown, MD, MSc, MSCS

This is the first entry in a new occasional series, Don’t Believe Everything You Read!, that will help families read reports about child health and wellness more critically and better understand the science and research methods behind claims that appear in the popular news media.

 If you’ve glanced at a newspaper or turned on the evening news in the last few months, you’ve probably heard statements like these:

“No correlation between time spent with mom and overall success, study says”

“Toddler sleep problems tied to behavior issues later”

“Breastfeeding May Cut Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk”

“Bleach could be making your kids sick with respiratory infections”   In fact, Lee Livermore,Public Education Coordinator, Upstate New York Poison Center, wrote about that last one on this blog a few weeks ago.)

After reading these headlines, you’ve probably also contemplated whether you should be making changes in your own life.  You might have rushed home and swapped out all your plastic cups and bottles for BPA-free glass and metal containers, or maybe you just spent the drive home after work feeling guilty for not having sleep-trained your one-year-old yet.

Confession: I’m writing this as I drink my fourth cup of coffee today, a quantity I adopted as a regular habit after reading the torrent of journal articles – and, yes, newspaper headlines – about the health benefits of coffee. We are all – doctors, nurses, psychologists, scientists, and others – just as eager as anyone not working in science and medicine to discover practical ways to improve our health and well-being.

But as a physician-researcher (I specialize in taking care of children with cancer, many of whom are enrolled on clinical trials, and in bioethics), what stands out to me is how confidently journalists and reporters, at even nationally renowned publications, repeat these statements. If you haven’t read a medical journal lately, you might be surprised to learn that the researchers themselves are almost never so confident in the original scientific papers. In fact, the “Discussion” section of most research papers – the section where the authors explain what they think the study proved and why anyone would care – almost always has a paragraph or two on the limitations of the study. Simply put, these are “reasons you shouldn’t completely trust what we say.” These can be related to how the study was set up in the first place, how it was conducted, or how the data was analyzed. Very often, the researchers make a tentative conclusion or recommendation but then add that they also think another study needs to be done before they can be certain of that conclusion.

Over the course of this series, we’ll talk a lot more about the idea “limitations” in research, because those “limitations” often disappear when medical research is translated into national news. We’ll use current headlines related to hot topics in child health to help you understand the science and medicine behind the headlines.

We’ll answer questions like these:

  • Who decides what research gets done and what questions get asked?
  • What kinds of questions can research studies answer? Why can’t we answer everything we want to know?
  • How does research happen, and how long does it take to complete a research study and publish the results?
  • What’s the difference between the data or results of the study and the conclusions of the study?
  • What are some of the problems – practical, scientific, ethical – that doctors and scientists run into when designing research studies?
  • Who pays for medical research?
  • How many people are involved in a research study and what are their roles?
  • How are people or patients recruited to enroll in research?
  • Where can you find more information about participating in research studies?
  • Where can you find original research publications to read yourself?
  • How should you read an original research paper? (hint: not from beginning to end!)
  • When should you be especially skeptical of a research claim?

Author Biography: Amy Caruso Brown is an assistant professor of bioethics and humanities and pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Her research interests include the teaching of ethics and professionalism in medical education, the impact of social media on medical practice, provider-family communication, and medical decision making.


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“Cured” of Autism – What Does It Mean?

By Margaret Ninno, M.S. Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center

One in 68 children in the United States have been identified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) according to the Center for Disease Control. ASD is usually considered a lifelong condition. However, a recent study, When an Early Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Resolves, What Remains?, looked at 569 children who had been diagnosed with ASD at around 2.6 years old. They did a follow-up study 4 years later and found that 38, or 7%, the previously diagnosed children no longer met criteria for ASD when re-evaluated. All of these children were enrolled in an intervention program in the Bronx, and they came from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Does this mean they were free of any developmental problems? Not necessarily.

After reviewing the data, researchers found that 92% of these 38 “cured” children continued to experience different degrees of residual impairment and behavior issues. More than half of them had some type of language or learning disability. Almost half of them appeared to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Most of the children who lost the Autism diagnosis continued to need some type of educational support in school.

It is important for children with ASD to receive the supports and services they need as early and as intensively as possible in order for them to be the most successful at home, at school and in the community. Intense early intervention is the only consistently validated strategy to improve a child’s developmental outcome. Providing these services and supports can make a world of difference for these children. The children can develop skills and abilities that overcome many of the classic symptoms of autism, but, most continue to have some learning and behavioral challenges as this research indicates.

Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center at

Two articles discussing the study:

To view the study abstract, “When an Early Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Resolves, What Remains?” go to


Center for Disease Control at

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