The ABCs of Raising Healthy Kids: Steps to Staying Safe and Healthy
Click on a
letter below to find out steps you can take to keep your kids safe and
D E F
I J K
N O P
S T U
X Y Z
Alcohol consumed during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
There is no safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant.
Therefore, it is recommended that women abstain from drinking alcohol at
any time during pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Back to Sleep
Always place your baby on his or her Back to Sleep, even for naps. This is
the safest sleep position for a healthy baby to reduce the risk of Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies placed on their stomachs to sleep are
much more likely to die of SIDS than babies placed on their backs to sleep.
SIDS: "Back to Sleep"
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/sids.cfm (Non-CDC site)
Unfortunately, only about one-quarter of children ages 5 to 14 wear helmets
when riding bicycles. The percentage of teen cyclists who wear helmets is
close to zero. If every bicycle rider wore a helmet, that action alone
would prevent an estimated 150 deaths and another 100,000 nonfatal head
injuries each year. Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury
by as much as 85% and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88%. Helmets
have also been shown to reduce the risk of injury to the upper and mid-face
Breastfeeding is the ideal method of feeding and nurturing infants. Breast
milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Breastfeeding
protects an infant from a wide array of infectious and noninfectious
diseases. Breastfeeding improves maternal health by reducing postpartum
bleeding and may lower the risk of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian
Breastfeeding – Best for
Baby. Best for Mom
http://www.4women.gov/breastfeeding (Non-CDC site)
Compliment Your Kids
Compliment your kids when they do something good. This may encourage good
behavior and keep the communication lines open.
Got a Minute? Give It to Your Kid
Cover 'em Up
Covering/protecting the skin in the spring and summer can reduce the risk
for sunburn which may lead to skin cancer. It can also help prevent
mosquito bites. Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting West
Nile virus (WNV). Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected
mosquito. Mosquitoes are WNV carriers that become infected when they feed
on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and
other animals when they bite.
To protect your kids from too much sun exposure, be sure to wear a hat,
shades, and sunscreen; seek shade, and cover up. A few serious sunburns can
increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Kids don't have to
be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs
protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're
Avoid Mosquito Bites to Avoid Infection (West Nile)
Play it Safe in the
Sun: A Guide for Parents
Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Becoming Infected With West Nile Virus?
Cover up unused electrical outlets to prevent kids from getting a shock (or
worse) if they stick their finger or object in the outlet. Safety plugs
should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make
sure all outlets in the home have face plates.
Electrical Safety in the Home
Dental decay is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases among
U.S. children. This preventable health problem begins early: 17% of
children aged 2-4 years have already had decay. By the age of 8,
approximately 52% of children have experienced decay, and by the age of 17,
dental decay affects 78% of children. Children and adults who are at low
risk of dental decay can stay cavity-free through frequent exposure to
small amounts of fluoride. This is best gained by drinking fluoridated
water and using a fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Children and adults at
high risk of dental decay may benefit from using additional fluoride
products, including dietary supplements (for children who do not have
adequate levels of fluoride in their drinking water), mouth rinses, and
professionally applied gels and varnishes.
Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States
Exercise (physical activity) helps build and maintain healthy bones,
muscles, and joints; control weight; build lean muscle; reduce fat; prevent
or delay the development of high blood pressure; and reduce blood pressure
in some adolescents with hypertension.
school-aged children should accumulate at least 30 to 60 minutes of
age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate physical activity from a
variety of activities on all, or most, days of the week. An accumulation of
more than 60 minutes, and up to several hours per day, of age-appropriate
and developmentally appropriate activity is encouraged. Adolescents should
engage in three or more sessions per week of activities that last 20
minutes or more at a time and that require moderate to vigorous levels of
Fact Sheet: Adolescents
and Young Adults - Physical Activity and Health
Are There Special [Physical Activity] Recommendations for Young People?
National Bone Health Campaign: Bone Health
Insufficient folic acid (a B vitamin) in pregnant women can lead to spina
bifida (spine defects) and anencephaly (brain defects) in infants. All
women who could possibly become pregnant should take a vitamin with folic
acid every day. Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily both before
pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy to reduce the risk
of birth defects of the brain and spine.
Pediatric growth charts have been used by pediatricians, nurses, and
parents to track the growth of infants, children, and adolescents in the
United States since 1977. The 1977 growth charts were developed as a tool
for health professionals to determine if the growth of a child is adequate.
Measurements include height, weight, and head size (2 years of age and
younger usually). Growth charts are tools that contribute to forming an
overall clinical impression for the child being measured.
Individual Growth Charts
The most important thing that you and your kids can do to keep from getting
sick is to wash hands, especially after coughing and sneezing, before
preparing foods or eating, and after using the restroom. By frequently
washing your hands you wash away germs that you have picked up from other
people, from contaminated surfaces, or from animals and animal waste.
Everyone should wash their hands for 10-15 seconds (or about the length of
a little tune) to remove germs. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing
action that helps dislodge and remove germs. Rinse well and dry your hands.
It is estimated that one out of three people do not wash their hands after
using the restroom.
An Ounce of
Prevention: Keeps the Germs Away – Wash Your Hands Often
and Maintain Smoke Alarms
smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including the basement. Be sure
to place smoke alarms near rooms where people sleep. Test all of your smoke
alarms every month to ensure that they work properly.
Fire Deaths and
young workers are trained properly to perform tasks, and supervise them
appropriately. Injuries, sometimes fatal, can result at home, on the job,
on the farm, and elsewhere.
Young Worker Safety and
Child’s Risks and Family History
Know if you
or your child is at risk for certain conditions or diseases because of
family history, medical history, environmental concerns, or other issues.
Collect and record your family history and talk to your health care
provider if there are conditions or diseases that may place you or your
child at risk. In consultation with your health care provider, take steps
to reduce risk where appropriate.
http://www.ashg.org/genetics/ashg/educ/007.shtml (Non-CDC site)
Remove triggers that may cause asthma or other health problems. Triggers
include smoke, dust mites, cockroaches, pets, and mold.
More About Your Child’s Life
Get to know their friends, interests, and hobbies. Learn if any of them are
placing your child at increased risk for injury, disability, or bad habits.
Get involved with your kid’s life and talk to them about making positive,
healthy choices. Spend time together having fun and doing healthy things.
Healthy Kids. Healthy Families.
of children under 5 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were riding
unrestrained. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death by about 70% for
infants and by about 55% for toddlers ages 1 to 4. If restraint use among
motor vehicle occupants ages five years and older increased to 100%, an
additional 9,000 lives would be saved and 160,000 nonfatal injuries would
be prevented each year.
Motor Vehicle Injury Facts
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other
chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and
minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.
Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are
filling. Leave the high-fat, high-sugar snack foods at the store. Serve
Children, Healthy Choices: Parents Are In Charge
others caring for your child (including family, friends, neighbors, day
care, and schools) have your contact information, know what to do in case
of an emergency, and in the case of schools and day care, have appropriate
policies in place to handle problems. Determine if caregivers are screened
and provided training.
Adolescent and School Health
Set limits on when and where your children walk and cross streets. Take the
time to teach your kids about street safety, including crossing at corners,
what traffic light colors mean, obeying traffic signals, and watching for
cars. Adult supervision is important.
Walk-to-School Encourages Pedestrian Safety
Pedestrian: Protecting Your Family
Pets provide many benefits to humans. They comfort us and they give us
companionship. However, some animals can also pass diseases to people.
Infants and children less than 5 years old are more likely than most people
to get diseases from animals. This is because young children often touch
surfaces that may be contaminated with animal feces (stool), and young
children like to put their hands in their mouths. Young children are less
likely than others to wash their hands well. Children should wash their
hands thoroughly with running water and soap after contact with animals.
Adults should supervise children while they are washing their hands.
Animal Safety Tips
Plan Ahead for Emergencies
Post the poison control number 1-800-222-1222 on or near every home
telephone. Keep poisons and other hazardous substances away from children
Poisoning Prevention: Safety Tips for You and Your Family
Have a plan when weather emergencies strike. Knowing what to do can help
protect you and your family.
Through prenatal care, health problems can be prevented, identified early
and treated, or closely monitored. Persons with certain conditions or
diseases can receive specialized care, which may
reduce the risk in the fetus or newborn of developing similar or other
Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Although eye protectors cannot eliminate the risk of injury, appropriate
eye protectors have been found to reduce the risk of significant eye injury
by at least 90% when fitted properly.
Protective Eyewear for Young Athletes
Half of all adult smokers have quit, and you can too. There are millions of
people alive today who have learned to face life without a cigarette. For
staying healthy, quitting smoking is the best step you can take.
Recreation and Sports Safety (i.e. sports, sun, swimming, fireworks,
travel, pets, water)
are exciting, but leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.
Swimming can be fun. But certain precautions should be taken to protect
your child and other swimmers from getting sick through swallowing
contaminated water. Don’t let your kids swim if they have diarrhea. Don’t
swallow the pool water. Wash your hands.
Answers for Swimmers
your children on playgrounds. Check safety of playground equipment.
play sports have higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of depression,
more positive body image, and higher states of psychological well being
than girls and women who do not play sports.
Parents Can Encourage Girls to Play Sports
medicines, household products, personal care products, and other dangerous
substances in locked cabinets that are out of reach of small children.
Poisoning Prevention: Safety Tips for You and Your Family
a home safety check and remove things that pose a tripping hazard. Secure
banisters and handrails at all stairwells. Use safety gates at the bottom
and top of stairs when young children are around.
Injury Prevention Tips: Safety Tips for You and Your Family
Take a break
from a situation if you feel yourself losing control. Ask a friend or
relative to watch your children for a little while. Offer to help other
parents so they can take a break.
Maltreatment: Prevention Strategies
Talk to your kids about being healthy and staying safe. This includes
discussions on tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, and other subjects.
Today’s young people are bombarded with persuasive messages about tobacco
and alcohol – messages that make smoking look normal, and drinking look
cool. Learning to understand and analyze these messages from every kind of
media outlet is more important than ever.
The 3R’s: Reading,
Writing and Real Life – MediaSharp
Parents: The Anti-Drug
http://www.theantidrug.com/ (Non-CDC site)
When traveling with kids outside the United States, know vaccination
recommendations, breastfeeding recommendations, and food and water
Use Antibiotics Wisely
Use antibiotics only when your health care provider has determined that
they are likely to be effective. Children are of particular concern because
they have the highest rates of antibiotic use. They also have the highest
rate of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces or
eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics. These resistant bacteria
survive and multiply - causing more harm, such as a longer illness, more
doctor visits, and a need for more expensive antibiotics. Resistant
bacteria may even cause death.
Parent pressure makes a difference. For pediatric care, a recent study
showed that doctors prescribe antibiotics 65% of the time if they perceive
parents expect them; and 12% of the time if they feel parents do not expect
them. Parents should not demand antibiotics when a health care provider has
determined they are not needed. Parents should talk with their health care
provider about antibiotic resistance.
Information About Antibiotic Resistance
20 Tips to Help Prevent
Medical Errors in Children
http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/20tipkid.htm (Non-CDC site)
In the U.S., vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases
that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults.
However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease
and death still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected
by vaccines. Vaccine-preventable diseases have many social and economic
costs: sick children miss school and can cause parents to lose time from
work. These diseases also result in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and
even premature deaths.
Childhood & Adolescent Immunization Schedule
Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations?
It doesn’t take but a second for small kids to get into something they
shouldn’t be into. To prevent injury or exposure to hazardous substances,
be aware of common causes of injury in the home, at school, and while on
Children and Adolescents
eXplain the Facts of Life
Knowing about the birds and bees is important. Also tell your kids about
some of the issues we don’t often want to talk about, such as violence,
abuse, what’s inappropriate, and what to do if something happens.
Maltreatment: Fact Sheet
Stop It Now! The Campaign to
Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
http://www.stopitnow.com/index.html (Non-CDC site)
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse
and Neglect Information
http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/ (Non-CDC site)
Yearly Exams and Screenings
When they are less than a year old, babies should usually be seen by a
health care professional every few months for routine exams, vaccinations,
and screenings. Around one year of age, children may be seen every six
months to yearly. Some children may need to be seen more often and others
less often. Ask your health care provider how often your child should be
Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule
The Pocket Guide to Good
Health for Children
http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/childguide/ (Non-CDC site)
get your rest. If you are rested, then you are in better shape to deal with
the joys and challenges of raising healthy kids!
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page last reviewed October 8, 2004
United States Department of Health and Human
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office of the Director
Office of Women's Health