Sitting is the New Smoking

By Dr. Melissa S. Schafer,  Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

As parents, I think we all are aware that it is a good idea for our children to be as physically active as possible, as much as possible, and that this will lead to good things in our children’s lives: longer lives, healthier lives. We do many things to keep our kids active, we sign them up for t-ball, send them outside, get them a bike. Nationwide, our policy makers are spreading the word, trying to keep gym programs in schools and healthy choices on the lunch menu. All this is well and good, but what about us, the parents? Do our habits translate to our children’s lifestyle later on? Of course.

In England, the BBC recently reported on the British Cohort Study, where they followed thousands of people born in the UK in 1970 and checked on their habits and health at different points in their lives. What they found was “children who watched a lot of TV aged 10 were 42% more likely to spend more than three hours a day in front of the screen as adults than those who watched relatively little television in childhood” At age 42, those same 10 year old who watched a lot of TV were more likely to be overweight or obese and in fair or poor health.

As parents can we model the health habits we hope to see in our children in 30 years? Of course, but it takes work. We have to get up and active ourselves, enjoy it and involve our children in it. We have to go for walks. We need grown up bikes and helmets. We need grown up softball league, bowling league, and soccer club. We have so many other demands on our time and attention, but this is something that may truly save our children’s lives. Nothing is more important.

For more tips:

To see Syracuse Pediatricians getting active with kids:




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Why is Syracuse glowing Blue in April? It is World Autism Awareness Day!

By Dr. Carroll Grant,  Margaret L.William’s Developmental Evaluation Center Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), celebrated each year on April 2, was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis.

Autism is one of only three health issues to be recognized with its own day by the United Nations. Currently, one out of 68 children is being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder often affecting their ability to learn, communicate and interact with others.  There is no known cause or cure.

April is autism awareness month. Thousands of iconic landmarks, communities, businesses and homes across the globe unite by shining bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families around the world affected by autism. These awareness activities increase world knowledge of autism and impart information about the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Upstate’s own Margaret L.William’s Developmental Evaluation Center (MLW/DEC)  is coordinating the local Blue Lights for Autism campaign.  Several of Syracuse’s downtown and surrounding buildings will be lit in blue to join this international awareness effort.

Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism around the world.

Some of the individual’s affected by autism were recently featured in an exhibit, Unique Thinkers Change the World,  at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital Gallery created by the MLW/DEC and Upstate Marketing and Communications.

Dan Aykroyd:   Actor and Comedian, star and writer of Ghostbusters and The Blues Brothers.

 Susan Boyle:  Top-selling Singer, 2008-2009 finalist on Britain’s Got Talent.

James Durbin:  Singer, 2011 finalist on American Idol.

Thomas Edison:  Holder of 1093 patents and inventor of the light bulb

Albert Einstein: Nobel Prize winner, father of modern Physics, lover of fairy tales

Temple Grandin:  Professor and Doctor of Animal Science

Thomas Jefferson:  US President, author of the Declaration of Independence.

 Clay Marzo:  National champion and professional surfer

 Vernon L. Smith:  Harvard PhD, Nobel Prize winner and social economist

Satochi Tajiri: Creator of Pokémon and one of the world’s top game designers.

Alexis Wineman: Miss Montana 2012, college student and first Miss America contestant with autism.

All these individuals have/had a unique way of looking at life and learning.  All living individuals included on this list have self disclosed having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. In knowing about the lives of some historical figures we can speculate that perhaps they share this autistic way of experiencing the world. The individuals selected have made a difference because of their unique approach to life.

How can you support Autism Awareness?

Wear blue on April 2

Walk for autism on Saturday, April 25


For more information on autism related events and information

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Share the Upstate Experience with Your Teen This Summer

Teen Volunteers helping in the Golisano Children's Hospital Art Gallery

by Arielle Spears

Searching for a rewarding and educational experience for your teen this summer?

Immerse your teen in the hospital environment through Upstate Medical University’s Summer Teen Volunteer Program. For more than 13 years, Upstate’s Downtown and Community Campuses has been successfully offering this unique hands-on opportunity to Central New York schools. The program will allow teens to enhance the lives of members of their community, while exploring career possibilities, and learning about adult healthcare.

Upstate’s Summer Teen Volunteer Program application acceptance has begun. The Downtown Campus program will feature two, three-week sessions. Orientation for the first session will be held July 7. First session teens will volunteer from July 9 to July 29. Orientation for the second session will be held August 4. Teens participating in the second session will volunteer from August 6 to August 26. Upstate’s Community Campus Summer Teen Volunteer Program will be from July 6 to August 21.

“During summer, the teen volunteer play a large role in providing a positive hospital experience for patients and their families,” said Rhonda Butler, manager of Upstate’s Volunteer Initiatives. “Through our program teen volunteers gain a better understanding of not only responsibility, but the importance of supporting and caring for others.”

Teens selected for volunteer roles will assist more than 20 inpatient and outpatient Upstate departments by performing essential l tasks, such as providing comfort care at bedside and escorting discharged patients. Teens will function in the Monday to Friday hospital setting, where they will learn the layout of the hospitals and daily operations.

Upstate’s Volunteer Services members will teach teens about wheelchair guidelines, patient confidentiality policies, improving patient satisfaction, customer service skills and more.

Teen volunteers must have working papers. Downtown Campus volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 36 hours and must volunteer two full days a week or four mornings a week.

Schools, such as Fayetteville-Manlius, Christian Brothers Academy, Baldwinsville, Cicero-North Syracuse, West Genesee and 18 other area school districts are an important part of Upstate’s Teen Volunteer program. We thank them for their contribution in making our communities better and healthier.

Upstate’s Downtown Campus will be accepting a total of 80 teens. Teens who wish to join Downtown’s volunteer program need to apply at Those wishing to join the Community Campus apply at

The deadline for all applications is April 13, 2015.


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What to do about a Picky Eater

By Rosanne Jones MS RD CDN Pediactric Outpatient Dietitian, Center for Development, Behavior and Geneticis

Your baby is a good eater. When he was born, he took breast milk or formula without problems. He grew and progressed through all the baby foods and textures eating like a champ. Now, he is eating all types of table foods.

Until one day you plop a piece of lasagna (lasagna is just a fictional dislike, it could be any food) in front of him. The lasagna is a no-go; the nose squinches up, the eyebrows furrow and there is an expression of pure disbelief on his face that you have given him this food to eat. He gazes into your eyes as if to say “”help me!””

What do you do? Do you get up from the table to make him a grilled cheese sandwich or open a can of spaghettios? What happens the next time you make lasagna? Will you never make lasagna again? Do you make a second meal right from the start so that your child doesn’t have to eat that delicious nutritious lasagna? The answer is a resounding NO, NO and NO!

Babies grow very fast in the first year, tripling their birth weight, and then the rate of growth slows down from age 2 to the years before puberty. Quite naturally their appetite decreases during the periods of slower growth and increases during growth spurts. The valley between growth spurts can look like picky eating because the food they used to like, they no longer will eat, they pick at their food or they don’t want to try new foods anymore. The truth is they may just be growing more slowly and don’t need as many calories so they eat less.

The real advice is to consistently serve the meals made for the family to everyone in the family. In the wise words of Ellyn Satter, who devised the idea of The Division of Responsibility, ‘‘……trust in your child’s ability to eat what he needs and in his ability to grow in the way nature intended. Once you have done your feeding job of providing nutritious food, it is up to your child to eat what and how much he needs……’’

Other tips for health eating habits:

Pay attention to portion size Kids 5 years old and under require portion sizes about half the size of an adult portion size.

Beware of short order cooking This is food your child will usually eat but is not as nutritious as the meal you have prepared. If your child gets to eat this alternate meal each time, he may not grow as nature intended.

Avoid the idea of kid food You want them to grow up on the same diet as yours.

Be a good role model try new foods in front of your child.

Make dinner conversation about anything other than the meal itself.

So when you do serve that lasagna, put a small portion on your child’s plate along with a favorite veggie. Put something else with the meal like a piece of bread and a glass of milk. Your child will not go hungry if they have all that to choose from. Then button your lip about what he or she is eating or not eating. Relax, serve yourself some and talk about the weather.

Check out Ellyn Satter’s website for other recommended stratigies to work with feeding your child.

Books to help you with a picky eater recommended by Mary Laverty Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital

Everyone Eats! by Julia Kuo 2012. A colorful board book using familiar but hury animals to introduce young children to foods like apples, honey and carrots.



More Peas Please by Kate Di Prima and Dr. Julie Cichero 2009.A must-read guide to finding nutritious solutions for fussy eaters from first foods that won’t be spat out to lunch box fixes the envy of the playground. More Pea Please is an across-the-board guide to helping children learn to happily eat a variety of healthy foods. It examines the importance of feeding kids a balanced diet, helping them overcome negative responses to certain foods, and the significance of early feeding experiences on speech development. It also contains loads of easy, fuss-free recipes for delicious, family-friendly meals.




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Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Kids from Golisano Children’s Hospital

by Mary Laverty, Family Resource Center MLIS, CAS TESL

Kids like to make New Year’s Resolutions just like adults. Involving the children in this fun holiday tradition can be an opportunity to discover shared interests and start conversations. Here are a few healthy resolutions suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The doctors, nurses and staff of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital wish all the children and caregivers in New York State, across the United States and our patients from around the globe a Happy Healthy New Year!

Preschoolers can be successful when they make personal resolutions:

I will clean up​ my toys and put them where they belong.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and      before eating.

I will not to tease dogs or other pets – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help, or are scared.

I will be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.

Kids, 5 to 12 years old can achive these healthy resolutions:

I will drink reduced-fat milk and water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only at special times.

I will put on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.

I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike)  that I like and do it at least three times a week!

I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike.

I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.

I’ll be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by asking them to join activities such as sports or games.

I will never encourage or even watch bullying, and will join with others in telling bullies to stop.

I’ll never give out private information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without asking my parent if it is okay.

I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.

I promise to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.

Teens, 13 years old and older, can see heathly success by making resolutions like these:

I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day, and I will drink sodas only at special times.

I will take care of my body through physical activity  and eating the right types and amounts of foods.

I will choose some non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities. I promise to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.

I will help out in my community – through giving some of my time to help others, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.

When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking about my problem with a parent or friend.

When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.

When I notice my friends are struggling, being bullied or making risky choices, I will      talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.

I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without forcing them to do something or using violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.

I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco-cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.


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