It’s terrific that the UVM Medical Center has now created some blog space for me to share what’s going on at the Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center.  What makes a blog work is if others chime in and share their thoughts—and I hope readers of my blog will do that.  I always consider Vermont Children’s Hospital as not my hospital or your hospital, but OUR Children’s Hospital, which means that everyone who cares about the health of children in our region should feel that they can be a part of what makes our hospital so special for children and families.

I hope to show you through this blog what we are doing to improve care to children and families through the many programs and services we offer—all of which you have requested us to provide over the years. Yet I know we can do even more, and hope you will share your ideas and suggestions with me through this blog.  I also hope you will offer questions or suggestions as to what topics you would like me to address when I write the blog (although I hope you will save specific questions about your own child for your child’s doctor, since he or she will know your child best).  As some of you may know, I also share my thoughts on children’s health entitled “First with Kids” through my weekly television (WCAX) and radio (WOKO) spots as well as in various community newspapers, and I welcome your suggestions for those pieces as well.

With this monthly blog, I also hope to share with you thoughts regarding children’s health at a national level.  For example, I am concerned about the outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) that is currently taking the lives of children in California whose families opted not to have their children immunized.  We are fortunate that in this region, almost all families understand the importance and the safety of vaccines –and it is rare that a child is admitted to our hospital for a life-threatening infection that has occurred because of vaccine refusal—but unfortunately it can and still does happen.  Hopefully we can all learn a lesson from the tragedy occurring in California and before school starts back up in the fall make sure all our children’s immunizations are up to date!

Finally if I had but one piece of advice to offer as we move into summer, it would be the “5-2-1-0” prescription to reduce the number of overweight children in this country, being recommended as part of the national “Let’s Move” campaign promoted by the White House and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other organizations.  It calls for your children enjoying at least “5” fruits or vegetables daily, limiting their screen time to no more than “2” hours a day, making sure they engage in at least “1” hour of daily physical activity, and drinking “0” sugar-sweetened drinks (consider low-fat milk or water instead).  The 5-2-1-0 prescription is a healthy choice for parents to think about as well, if you want to model the behavior that will ensure your children follow this prescription.

I look forward to sharing more of what’s happening in the world of children’s health both locally and nationally so everyone can truly be “First with Kids”.  Please comment on what’s on your mind.  I look forward to blogging with you in the months ahead!

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WCAX-TV Channel 3. Visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.uvmhealth.org/firstwithkids

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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