Tag Archives: NYU Langone Medical Center

Depression in Children: Signs and How to Help

Depression in Kids

Is My Child Depressed? What Parents Should Look For, and How to Help

Approximately 5-10% of children struggle with depressive symptoms. Indeed, children as young as 3 can demonstrate signs of clinical depression, and rates of depression increase sharply during adolescence, particularly for girls. Feelings of intense sadness, emptiness, and/or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities are the cardinal features of depression in adults; however, depression sometimes presents differently in youth. Indeed, irritable mood can be the first sign of child depression, and persistent irritability that causes significant problems in your child’s life at school, with friends, or with family indicates concerns beyond typical adolescent behavior.

Signs your child may be struggling with Depression:

  • Withdrawing from extracurricular activities, or continuing to participate in them without enjoyment.
  • Spending more time alone, and isolating from family or friends.
  • Constantly feeling bored, like nothing is interesting or worthwhile.
  • A significant drop in school grades, homework completion, and/or overall motivation for school.
  • Urges to avoid school.
  • Significant change in behavior: being more oppositional or argumentative, using drugs or alcohol, or caring less about consequences that used to matter.
  • A change in appetite: eating much more or much less.
  • A change in sleep: difficulty sleeping, or sleeping much more than is typical.
  • Feeling tired, without energy.
  • Increased difficulty concentrating in school or in conversations.
  • Thoughts of death or dying.
  • Engaging in self-injurious behaviors (cutting).

How can I support my child?

  • Talk to your child. Ask how they are feeling and what might be bothering them. Actively listen, without judgment, and reflect back what your child says to show that you understand.
  • Tell your child’s pediatrician. Schedule an appointment with a mental healthcare provider to discuss your concerns and to learn more about treatment options. There are evidence-based therapies and medication that can help.

Therapy:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps children to identify the connection between depressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, to observe patterns in their mood, and to learn coping skills to improve mood. Behavioral activation is often a key component of CBT for depression, and focuses on helping youth boost mood by changing behavior.
  • Dialectic behavior therapy is a more intensive treatment for youth who struggle with chronic emotion dysregulation and problem behaviors, such as chronic suicidal thoughts or actions, self-injurious behavior, and other risky behaviors.
  • Other evidence-based therapies include interpersonal therapy and attachment-based family therapy.
  • Medication:  Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered the first line medication for depression. For more information about antidepressant medication, consult with your child’s pediatrician or psychiatrist.
  • Promote safety. Encourage your child to share their feelings, including thoughts about death or dying. Normalize that this is a common symptom of depression, and develop a plan that includes people to reach out to for help and mood-boosting activities to engage in when they have those thoughts. Ensure that your home is safe by locking up guns, knives, medicines, and alcohol.
  • Stick to the treatment plan. If your child is in treatment, ensure that they attend therapy consistently and/or take medication as prescribed. Your child may feel frustrated or defeated if they do not feel better quickly. Treatment works, but it takes time. Model hope, and communicate concerns with your treatment provider.
  • Provide praise and acknowledgement for small steps. Depression can feel like a weighted jacket, and activities (schoolwork, chores) that used to be easy to carry can feel impossible to lift. Rather than focus on what your child might not be doing, model attending to the positive by acknowledging and praising what your child is doing well.
  • Educate others and externalize the depression. People in your child’s life may misperceive depression as your child being lazy or purposefully grouchy, which can make it difficult for your child to receive the care and support they need. Remind yourself and others that depression is driving these symptoms, not your child.
  • Enhance social supports. Help your child to connect with peers and family. Look for opportunities to bolster the relationship you already have with your child by taking a brief “vacation” from daily chores and responsibilities to engage in enjoyable activities together. Facilitate social engagement by helping your child to schedule after-school hangouts with friends, providing transportation, and offering other means of support.
  • Monitor for risk factors for suicide, which includes your child having more intense or frequent thoughts about death or dying, talking about suicide online or in person, and using substances. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1 800-273-8255 or online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Anna J. Swan, PhD is a licensed psychologist and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. She sees patients for evaluations, individual cognitive-behavioral therapy, and group therapy as part of the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Service at the Child Study Center’s Manhattan and Hackensack locations, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Back to School with Diabetes Management

diabetes managementAdapting Your Child’s Diabetes Management for a New School Year

With a new school year just around the corner, many parents are strategizing for their children to receive the medical care they need in their new classroom environments. The goal for families of children with diabetes is for their kids to have access to appropriate diabetes management while having the same school experience as children without diabetes. Here are some aspects of care at school that parents of children with diabetes should consider in order to meet that goal:

  • Is there a nurse at school? If not, who can take responsibility for helping to assist with the day-to-day management of diabetes? There should be a medical plan in place and parents should discuss that with the school administration.
  • If your child is involved with after-school activities or field trips, will there be care available at those places?
  • What supplies does your child need at school? Think about the amount of supplies they will need, whether they will be centrally located for the child, or whether they will be carrying their own testing equipment to treat hypoglycemia.
  • If your child is involved with after school sports, make sure the school administration is aware of their condition. Parents should also talk to the child’s coaches so they can assist if needed.
  • Make sure your child always has something on them to fix a low—and coaches, teachers, and other staff should be aware so they can help if necessary.
  • Some school systems, like New York City public schools, have carb count menus for school meals up online. If your child is buying their lunch at school, check the menu ahead of time and review it with your child. Kids dose insulin according to carb counts, so it’s very important to plan for that. If your school doesn’t have a menu with a carb count, work with the school cafeteria and school administration to come up with carb counts for the menu.
  • Your child’s schedule will change when they go back to school, sometimes going from a schedule where they are more active during the day to being more sedentary during the day and active in the evening. If you notice your child’s blood sugar levels are out of range, be in touch with your diabetes care team so they can adjust insulin doses to the new school schedule.

You should go to your child’s diabetes care team with any questions. Other great resources for Safe at School information can be found at the American Diabetes Association, JDRF, and Children with Diabetes websites.

 

Christine Lally, RN, CDE, is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at the Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone. She provides education and support to patients, families, and caregivers, and helps them fit diabetes management into their lives in a healthful way.

15 Fun Kids Weekend Classes

Kids Weekend Classes

Arts Weekend Classes

Fashion Design & Illustration for Kids for kids ages 6-12 at The Fashion Class.  Students will learn to draw the elongated fashion figure. Then, they’ll sketch poses, color and render fabric (lace, denim, sequins) and design a full collection of clothing.

Young Artists: Mixed Media for ages Ages 7-12 at 92nd Street Y.  This class allows each child to express themselves through the fundamentals and in the execution of fine arts; such as drawing, painting, collage, printing, and sculpture.

 

Sports Weekend Classes

Beginner 1: Water Exploration for ages 3-5 at Physique Swimming.  Skills Acquired include: Submerge and exhale in water, Float prone and supine without floats, Push and glide from the wall, Front crawl and Back crawl.

Soc Roc has Fall Soccer Classes for 18 months to age 14 in Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn.  Soc Roc was created by former pro soccer player James Christie. The goal is to encourage kids to be physically active, gain confidence, and social skills while learning the sport of soccer.

Ice Skating- Youth Learn to Skate for kids ages 5+ at Aviator Sports in Brooklyn whether the goal is to achieve Olympic fame or simply enjoy the recreational benefits of skating.

Youth Flag Football League for ages 5-14 at 14th Street Y is in collaboration with the NFL Youth Flag Football League. Players are taught proper technique in catching, throwing, running, and defending.

Outdoor Classes for ages 1-4  with Upper Manhattan Forest Kids organizes parent-child outdoor classes in Central Park and Inwood Hill Park.

Family Yoga for ages 4 – 7 at Karma Kids Yoga. Partner poses are emphasized ensuring great bonding time. Play yoga games and practice partner acrobatics and flying partner yoga,

 

Dance Weekend Classes

Fairies & Fantasy Dance Class for Girls & Boys ages 3-6 at In Grandma’s Attic. Students training in pre-ballet, creative movement, and improvisation. Each week a favorite fairy tale or classical ballet story is read, and then reenacted through dance with costumes and props.

Ballet/Tap Combo for ages 6-8 at Midtown Movement and Dance Company.  This class combines the basic movement of both dance styles.

Classic Ballroom for ages 6-12 at The DanceSource in Queens. Cover the basics of Fox Trot, Salsa, Swing, Tango and Waltz.

Demi Soloists for kids ages 4+ at Joffrey Ballet School. Your child will dance with an emphasis on the foundations of ballet. The dancers are encouraged to expand their movement vocabulary through games and creative exploration of dance movements.

 

Music Weekend Classes

Music Together (Babies) at Eastside Westside Music Together.  The music activities and materials are specially designed for parents and caregivers who want to learn as much as possible about music development in infants. Meet other parents of newborns and learn activities you can recreate at home with your baby.

High Note NYC Piano and Vocal Instruction for ages 3+ teaches both piano and vocals to build confidence, fluent music reading, and solo performance competency.  Nora has years of experience and training with young children.

 

Language Weekend Classes

Spanish For Children for ages 3-5 at Language Workshop for Children. Original music, vocabulary-building songs, language immersion, festive visual aids, action games and native-fluent language teachers.

April is Autism Awareness Month

autismimageApril is Autism Awareness month as many organizations such as Autism Speaks and Autism Society promote awareness and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is the fastest growing developmental disorder and now affects about 1 in 68 children (according to Autism Science Foundation). Considering this prevalence, ASD likely affects a family you know or your child knows. This is why Kidz Central Station is committed to helping educate our parents and community about both the challenges and the joys of children with Autism.

The Quad Manhattan is a top NYC school for children with learning differences. Teachers and clinicians work with students both one-on-one and in small groups to allow kids to move at their own pace of learning. Quad Manhattan offers a six-week summer camp for children ages 5+. Enroll in a free open house to learn more.

Music for Autism hosts FREE concerts for kids with autism and their friends, family, and loved ones. The Kidz Central team attended the March event and came away with a new appreciation for music in a loving and interactive setting. Our kids especially enjoyed dancing and playing instruments along with the music, as well as the tasty snacks. Two April events are upcoming in Park Slope and Manhattan.

Our partner NYU Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, offers many well-researched and FREE webinars for our parents on a range of helpful topics, including strategies for helping kids with social anxiety, safety awareness for kids with ASD, medication management for ADHD, or dating with ASD.

Please join Kidz Central Station this month and throughout the year by promoting understanding and acceptance of all of our children! Take a class, participate in a walk, donate, educate yourself with a webinar, or just spend time with someone with Autism.

Understanding Our Kids: The Power of Validation


We’ve all experienced frustration when someone minimizes our concerns or tunes us out. And most of us are guilty as well, perhaps more often than we realize. But when we do it to our kids—when we fail to hear them and validate their feelings—we are in danger of damaging one of the most important relationships of all.

What validation is . . .
Put simply, validation is the acknowledgement and acceptance of another’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It can be particularly effective with adolescents who are navigating the complicated road to adulthood. As parents, we want to know what our teenage children are thinking and doing, while their inclination, as they test new boundaries, may be to withhold their emotional struggles from us.

Validation techniques can help bridge that chasm by showing our children that we are listening to them without judgment, and that their feelings make sense. In turn, parental validation helps children manage their emotions, decreases conflict, and improves the parent-child relationship. It can also help build self-confidence and teach coping techniques they will rely on throughout their lives.

. . . And what it is not.
In order to understand what validation is, we must also clarify what it is not. The “no judgment” aspect alarms some parents and gives rise to the misconception that validation involves permissiveness and leniency. It does not. Validation is neither agreement with nor approval of what your child is saying. Nor is it encouragement, reassurance, or praise—other parenting tools that are helpful but distinct. And validation is most emphatically not excessive permissiveness or reinforcement of bad behavior.

Instead, it’s a parenting tool that helps show your child that you hear what he is really saying, and gives him the confidence to engage with you on an emotional level. For example, if your child is upset by his curfew, you can let him know that you understand how hard that restriction feels, especially when your rules are different from other parents’, and yet also hold to your limits. He may still be angry, but he may also be more likely to discuss his feelings in the future, lessening the likelihood of a larger argument. While he knows you understand and accept his feelings, he also realizes that the curfew stands.

The Six Levels of Validation
Validation takes practice. It will probably not feel natural at first, especially during a tense time when you and your child are under stress. Keep at it!

Here is a summary of the six levels of validation developed by Marsha Linehan (1993), the creator of Dialectical Behavior Theory. It is generally recommended that parents use the highest level of validation they can within the situation.

1. Be present. Stop what you’re doing, put down your iPhone, and give your child your undivided attention.

2. Reflect accurately. Repeat what you believe your child has said and is feeling.

3. Read minds. Guess how your child is feeling, and ask him if you are right.

4. Put it in context. Understand your child’s reactions in the context of his past experiences.

5. Convey your understanding. Let your child know that his reactions and feelings are normal, and that anyone would feel the same way in the situation.

6. Be radically genuine. Treat your child like an equal, perhaps by sharing a similar experience you have had.

Like any other parenting strategy, validation will become easier and more natural over time—and the rewards for your child and your family are lasting, and well worth the effort.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Randi Pochtar, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The Real Facts About Celiac


May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month! If you suspect that you or your child has this disorder, your first step should be to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who can accurately diagnose your symptoms. To get you started, here are some important facts about celiac disease.

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder affecting the gastrointestinal system. Children and adults with celiac disease cannot digest gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

How is it treated?
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.

How do you know if you have it?
Symptoms associated with celiac disease vary widely from person to person. Everything from fatigue and headaches, to bloating, diarrhea, and constipation can be signs of the disease. Celiac disease may also be present without any symptoms at all. Blood work for elevated celiac markers, as well as genetic testing, can help rule out or establish suspicion for celiac disease. If it is suspected, an endoscopy with biopsies is recommended for definitive diagnosis.

What foods must you avoid?
The gluten-free diet eliminates all food items containing, or that have come in contact with, wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives. This includes spelt, farro, and malt. One of the biggest challenges of living with celiac disease is learning to identify all hidden sources of gluten in recipes and prepared foods. For example, soy sauce, salad dressings, and mustard often contain gluten.

What if you don’t avoid these foods?
In a person with celiac disease, failure to comply with a gluten-free diet leads to increased risk for certain cancers, poor growth and development in children, persistent abdominal pain, and nutrient deficiencies.

What sort of things need to be monitored after receiving the diagnosis?
The first step after diagnosis is initiating a gluten-free diet—a multidisciplinary approach is key to a successful transition into a gluten-free lifestyle. A dietitian helps to establish meal planning and maximize dietary intake. A nurse practitioner follows with blood work. A social worker and certified child life specialist team up to provide emotional and educational support as needed. Depending on the person and disease process, blood markers are checked every three months to yearly to ensure adequate control of the disease.

Support for children with celiac disease
Beginning and maintaining a completely gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging for children and adolescents with celiac disease. NYU Langone’s Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten-Related Disorders Program offers families the tools they need to make this transition as easy as possible. In this program, pediatric gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, and other nursing professionals, nutritionists, and social workers focus on improving the health and quality of life of children with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

How to Help Kids with Chronic Hoarseness


“My five-year-old son constantly loses his voice, and has sounded hoarse for a long time. His teacher has a hard time hearing him and I’m concerned something is physically wrong. What should I do?”

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Chronic hoarseness is the most common voice problem in children. Unlike short-lived hoarseness typically caused by upper respiratory viral infections, chronic hoarseness can persist for months or even years if not treated. This can lead to communication difficulties in the classroom, on the playground, or in other noisy environments.

Why Some Kids Get Chronically Hoarse

Some children are hoarse from birth because of how their vocal cords developed. But most chronic hoarseness is caused by overuse or misuse of the voice.

Kids who are naturally loud or scream and yell a lot may incur injury of the vocal cords, the bands of tissue that vibrate to make sound. Speaking with injured vocal cords takes extra effort, and rather than resting their voices, kids typically get even louder. This sets off a repetitive cycle of increasing injury and pushing the voice, eventually causing bumps—also called nodules—to develop on the vocal cords, producing chronic hoarseness.

If your youngster experiences long-term hoarseness or has been hoarse longer than two or three weeks after getting over a respiratory infection, it’s time for an evaluation. Your pediatrician can refer you to a specialist to find the underlying cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

How It Is Diagnosed

Diagnosis involves laryngoscopy, a simple, 30-second procedure that allows inspection of the vocal cords. Older kids and those young enough to be held by a parent usually undergo laryngoscopy at the specialist’s office. After applying a topical anesthetic inside the nose, the doctor will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera through the child’s nose, down into the throat. Children between the ages of about four and seven may struggle and need to have it done in the operating room under anesthesia.

The most common finding is nodules, related to injury and chronic non-healing wounds of the vocal cords. Sometimes cysts or polyps are found, which are more advanced types of growths caused by overuse of the voice. Occasionally, examination will reveal papillomas, or warts, which generally occur in younger children and are usually related to a viral infection acquired in the birth canal.

Treatments for Chronic Hoarseness

Voice therapy. Most kids, particularly those with nodules, can be treated with voice therapy, where a voice therapist trains them how to speak and use their voices more efficiently. This might include teaching how air pressure affects the vocal cords, how to control the energy they put into their voices, and exercises to practice less abusive vocal behaviors.

Medication. In addition to voice therapy, some kids need steroid medication to calm down the bumps.

Voice rest. Your doctor might also recommend the child not talk for a period, but that may be difficult for younger children.

Surgery. Therapy alone may not be enough to treat cysts and polyps, which often must be removed surgically in an outpatient procedure. Papillomas typically require surgery as well. Pain is minimal and kids are generally up and active later in the day. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the voice to recover, so if surgery is performed during the academic year, children will have to miss some school to allow their voices to rest. It may be more practical for them to undergo surgery during summer break to minimize overusing their voices during recovery.

Temporary hoarseness is nothing to worry about, but don’t ignore longstanding hoarseness. Evaluation and treatment are essential for healing your child’s voice and improving his or her ability to communicate with the world.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Milan R. Amin, MD, is Director of NYU Langone’s Voice Center, specializing in the treatment of vocal cord problems, voice disorders, and swallowing and airway concerns. He is chief of the Division of Laryngology at NYU Langone, as well as president of the New York Laryngological Society.

Supporting Young Adults with Autism through Life Transitions


The transition between high school and college or high school and other postsecondary opportunities brings a lot of changes to the lives of young adults and their families. In most cases, young adults suddenly experience much more flexibility in terms of daily activities and schedule—and unfortunately have fewer opportunities for structured social activities. For adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such transitions can be extremely difficult due to their specific social challenges. Such challenges may interfere with the ability to successfully form friendships and romantic relationships, navigate college, and later on, seek and maintain employment.

Parents play an important role as social coaches and facilitators of vocational and social opportunities. Below are some suggestions for parents for supporting their adolescent or young adult through the transition to adulthood and toward independence.

Make a Plan

Identify goals
Adolescents and young adults tend to show interest in employment opportunities, greater independence, and social relationships, including romantic relationships and dating. If having close friends or dating is a priority to your child with ASD, it’s important to think about how to intentionally build in more support and social experiences to help him or her to be successful and included in his or her community.

Start small
Parents and young adults don’t need to do everything all at once! Once goals are identified, think about priorities. If the goal is to make new friends and build one’s social group, work with your young adult to identify his or her interests and find social activities or groups based on those interests. For example, if your child has an interest in chess, he or she can visit gaming stores, attend tournaments, join a chess Meet Up group, or join a chess club on his/her college campus. It can be helpful to talk about how to identify individuals who may have similar interests. If the primary goal is employment, starting small may include one of the following: visiting a parent’s place of work for a day, participating in extracurricular school activities related to career interests, learning about internship or service learning opportunities, or occupational mentoring to learn and practice work behaviors and gain awareness of a potential professional niche.

Practice together
In addition to the two planning steps above, a helpful tool for young adults is practicing the different skills or scenarios that might come up in vocational or social situations. Try role-playing interview skills or having a back-and-forth conversation, and give your child feedback or coaching. Common difficulties for individuals with ASD that may need coaching include inconsistent eye contact, dominating the conversation, perseverating on topics of personal interest, talking about inappropriate topics, and body boundaries.

Praise/recognize efforts
Individuals with ASD may feel misunderstood or disrespected, and become exhausted by social demands, or think of small talk as phony. It is important to praise their efforts and motivation, while continuing to coach around areas of difficulties.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Learn more online at the Autism Society.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Katherine Sullivan, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Your Guide to a Gluten Free Passover

Every holiday has its sweets and treats. Hanukkah has greasy latkes, Purim with its gooey hamantaschen, even Rosh Hashanah boasts apples dipped in honey. And then there’s the most challenging of all holiday treats for a gluten free diet . . . matzah! What gives the crackle and crunch in this otherwise boring Passover delicacy? Let’s break it down.

Traditionally, matzah is made with two ingredients: flour and water. Water is added to flour made from one of the following grains: oat, wheat, rye, barley, or spelt. The mixture is then cooked for 18 minutes at most, just long enough for it to be cooked and before it is able to rise. Because of the grains used, traditional matzah is not acceptable for those on a gluten free diet, specifically those with celiac disease.

So what is a gluten free Passover observer to do? Luckily, along with the rest of the food industry, Passover food brands are catching on to the growing need for gluten free products—now there’s even gluten free matzah! Look for “Gluten Free Matzah style squares,” made by the brands Yehuda and Manischewitz. And, as if we weren’t already fans, Manischewitz has created a full line of gluten free, kosher for Passover products! Find everything from brownie and pancake mixes to macaroons, crackers, and soup broths that are both Passover and gluten free compliant. We also recommend looking for Passover foods made with potato starch and tapioca flour, which are both gluten free ingredients.

The great news is that you don’t need to celebrate Passover in order to reap the benefits of this holiday. The season brings endless amounts of new gluten free foods that only reach shelves around the Passover season. So take out that magnifying glass and head to the kosher for Passover aisle—who knows what holiday sweets and treats you may find!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mrs. Schieber is a great resource for all things relating to food and nutrition, from symptom management to weight maintenance to healthy snack ideas.

Leora Hauptman, MS, RN, CPNP is a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mrs. Hauptman has many years of experience working with children with gastrointestinal disorders and developmental disabilities.

X-Ray Vision and Our Medical Superheroes: What to Expect in Pediatric Radiology


You care about your children’s health, and it can be extremely anxiety-provoking to see them in pain or discomfort. When they need medical attention, knowing what to expect can help you manage an already-stressful situation.

At NYU Langone Pediatric Radiology, we typically see patients from the newborn period through adolescence. We understand that kids are not just small adults; they have their own needs, and our approach is tailored to children specifically. It matters to us that your child has a positive experience, so we’ve made every effort to ensure they do.

Here’s what you can expect the next time you bring your child in for an imaging appointment:

Fluoroscopy: This type of imaging uses low dose X-rays to look at the inside of the body in real time, usually using a contrast liquid that will appear on our monitors. Some of our most common types of fluoroscopic procedures in pediatrics include contrast enemas, small bowel series, upper GI series, voiding cystourethogram (VCUG), and video swallow studies. Here are some helpful tips:

•  Patients for these exams should be as comfortable as possible. Any soothing comfort items your child would like—toys, pacifiers, etc.—are welcome.
• Babies and toddlers in particular should not eat before their studies.
• Fluoroscopy uses low dose radiation. We subscribe to the Image Gently campaign’s Pause and Pulse philosophy of using the lowest radiation dose possible as described.

CT and MRI: When your child needs imaging done with CT or MRI, there are a few things to keep in mind.

• CT, which stands for Computed Tomography, uses radiation to generate very detailed 3D images of any part of your child’s body. A CT scan does involve a low dose of radiation, but we use the most state-of-the-art equipment to minimize exposure.
• MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, produces detailed 3D images of the body without using ionizing radiation. MRI takes longer than a CT scan. The decision to image with CT or MRI depends on several factors, including the anatomical location of the problem.
• In order for us to obtain the highest-quality images, it’s important for kids to stay as still as possible during imaging. When necessary, the department of anesthesia is available to provide sedation to make the experience easier.

X-ray: It’s common for pediatricians to refer kids to us for X-ray imaging, often for the evaluation of possible broken bones or pneumonia. Here are some helpful tips:

• Unless otherwise instructed, you can feed your child before the exam so that he or she is kept as comfortable as possible. Other soothers, such as pacifiers and blankets, are also allowed for the exam.
• X-rays do involve radiation, but a very small amount. These procedures are non-invasive and nothing needs to be put into the body. The radiation is isolated to the specific part of the body that needs imaging and nowhere else, making X-rays extremely safe.

Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a very common pediatric imaging procedure. It can be used to evaluate almost every part of the body. One of the most common reasons we see pediatric patients is to evaluate abdominal pain. This procedure is particularly easy for our patients. Here are some helpful tips:

• The entire process is non-invasive, so there’s no stressing out about radiation or discomfort.
• We like to consider the simple things to make our patients more comfortable during medical procedures, so we use warm jelly that will feel more pleasant for the kids.

Imaging is central to any good patient care. Our pediatric radiologists are part of the healthcare team, working closely with your referring physician to gather relevant information as quickly and accurately as possible. We know imaging studies play a huge role in helping doctors diagnose exactly what is happening to a patient and determine which treatment steps to consider.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Nancy Fefferman, MD is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, and the chief of Pediatric Radiology.