Pediatricians have new guidelines for depression screening in teens.

Family, health tips, parenting, pediatrics, teens, Uncategorized

It has been over ten years since the initial publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsement of guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary care (GLAD-PC).  The newest endorsement was released weeks after the most recent horrific school shooting trauma in Parkland, FL.

In our current society teens are at risk for depression and other mood disturbances like anxiety when exposed to traumas such as school shootings, cyber bullying, teen dating violence and even social media influences.  Those are all in addition to just normal puberty hormonal changes that can also affect mood.  Depression can look different in teens and can often present in the doctor’s office as somatic complaints like, “He’s been really tired.” or “She can’t remember things I tell her. It’s hard for her to concentrate.” Very seldom will an adolescent report having a problem with their mood.  It is estimated that 1 in 5 adolescents will suffer from depression prior to their adult years.  Although depression is treatable more than 50% of cases of adolescent depression does not get identified.

Depression is more than an occasional sad mood or defiance to the family rules.

Here are a few ways depression may present in your teen:

  1.  Poor performances in schoolwork when previously doing well.
  2.  No longer showing an interest in former social activities or hobbies.
  3.  Decreased energy.
  4.  Sleeping more or sleeping less.
  5.  Substance use.
  6.  Low self-esteem. Poor body image. Feelings of unworthiness.
  7.  Isolating themselves. Withdrawing from friends and family.
  8.  Lack of motivation.
  9.  Irritability, aggressiveness, outbursts, agitation.
  10.  Changes in eating habits.
  11.  Poor concentration.
  12.  Suicidal thoughts.  Self-harming behaviors.

One of the major updates in the new guidelines includes universal yearly screenings for all children ages 12 years and older.  The AAP also endorses the use of a formal depression self-reporting tool.  The prior guidelines only supported systematically identifying risk factors without any universal screening.

These screenings should be implemented during:  1. well child exams,  2. for adolescents who present with chronic somatic complaints  or 3.  if there are risk factors for depression like a family history of depression, trauma, substance use or psychosocial stressors. There should also be a time during your teens visit that they will be interviewed alone by their pediatrician. This helps to establish a rapport and to allow your teen to freely discuss what is on their mind. However, it is also important to have the guardians insight and even more important to include the physician, teen and guardian(s) all together when establishing a safety plan.

The safety plan needs to restrict any means an adolescent might have to committing suicide, removing firearms from the home, designating a trusted adult they can speak to during a crisis.  According to the CDC, depression can lead to suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in children ages 10-24. The National Suicide Prevention Line is  available 24/7.  They provide free and confidential support and crisis resources for people and their loved ones during times of distress.

The new depression screening guidelines were updated to help primary care physicians screen for depression in adolescents in the primary care settings.  It is imperative to start the screening early during this era of shortage of behavioral health resources.  If your teen meets the criteria for mild depression this can be managed by your pediatrician.  For moderate to severe depression, starting an anti-depressant may be required. This therapy should be managed by your pediatrician in adjunct with a mental health professional who can provide psychotherapy simultaneously.

In summary, our children deserve the best and it is important to identify signs of depression early on for the best possible outcomes.








P.S. Remember you can book an appointment with me for any pediatric non-emergent illnesses like ear aches, rashes, vomiting, pink-eye etc. or for any parenting questions about pediatric illnesses, behavior, mood or development.

All posts containing medical information are for informative purposes only and is not direct medical advice nor establishes a patient-physician relationship. 

Photo by G. Madeline on Unsplash.


Burn Injuries in Kids: 5 Myths & Facts!

Family, health tips, parenting, telemedicine


I talked a little bit about an old wives tale about butters and burns on my instagram page last week during Burn Awareness week.  Every 60 seconds someone sustains a burn injury severe enough to require medical attention. Children are also 2.4 times more likely to suffer burn injures that require emergency medical treatment than the general population. 75% of burn injuries in children come from liquids or steams. Burn injuries includes thermal, chemical and electrical causes. 

Here is what you need to know if your child sustains a burn injury:


MYTH:  You should rub an ice cube over the burn area

FACT:   Do not put ice directly on thermal burns as this can make it worse and can make the healing time longer. Rubbing burns will slow down the healing process.  Instead run cool water over the area until there is pain relief.  If the burn is from a chemical injury remove the clothing and wash off the skin and contact your pediatrician or Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.


MYTH:  Pre-testing the bath water with your hand is sufficient enough to gauge the temperature intensity for your child.  If it’s not hot for you its not for them!

FACT:  Younger children have thinner skin and their skin can burn more quickly, even at lower temperatures.  Water temperature should be at 120 F or the manufacture’s recommended setting.  Always test the temperature of bath water for younger kids with a bath toy thermometer.  If that’s not available use your elbow or wrist.


MYTH:  You should pop the burn blister.

FACT:  There are three levels of burn severity.  First degree burns are like sunburns. They turn red, somewhat painful but do NOT blister.  Second degree burns are superficial.  The first outer layer of skin is burned. This burn is painful and will have blisters.  Third degree burns involved the first two layers of skin.  The skin will appear white in color.  Popping a blister is not recommended as this can increase the risk of infection. Gently cleanse the burn with soap and water.  Cover the burn with a clean non-sticking bandage until new skin forms and there is no longer fluid coming from the burn.  Don’t forget to give pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.


MYTH:  Microwaves are safer than ovens.

FACT: Children, especially young toddlers, are at risk for burn injuries from microwaves as well. Most burns in children requiring medical treatment are related to the preparation or consumption of food.  This includes injuries like splashing of hot liquids, spills,  opening hot containers or consumption of  unevenly cooked foods.


MYTH:  Do like grandma says and put some butter on that burn. It helps!

FACT:  Applying butters, oils, creams, grease or powders will worsen the burn injury.  If the burn is more severe than a superficial (redness only) burn then they require immediate attention. You can cover non-oozing burns with a sterile gauze or a clean and dry towel.  If the burn covers  their face, hands,  feet, genitals, joints or has a surface area of more than 10% of  their body then immediate medical attention is required.  All electrical burns should be evaluated by a medical physician.





P.S. Remember you can book an appointment with me for any pediatric non-emergent illnesses like superficial burns, ear aches, rashes, vomiting, pink-eye etc or for any parenting questions about pediatric illnesses, behavior or development.

All posts containing medical information are for informative purposes only and is not direct medical advice nor establishes a patient-physician relationship. 

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

Fourteen extra sweet ways to love my baby on Valentine’s Day!!

Family, Holidays, Love, parenting


As I lie on the floor of the nursery (hey, this mamá is tired!) I look up and see a framed picture of Sweet Sage at one week old. I remember hanging that pesky ole thing before she was even born. Watching it swing back and forth on the nail head as I stepped back and forth.  Readjusting, catching my breath as my belly was beyond watermelon size, and then realigning with my eyeball measurements. Now, inside that frame is a picture of her at one week of life. I remember that day too-clearly. Propping her up against my pillow makeshift backdrop with the floral arrangements we got after her birth. She’s smiling in that picture. I lie here and I smile at that smile. Thinking, I will always remember that day.
Yesterday morning I was taking to my neighbor about the morning tantrums and she said “these days won’t last forever”, as she compared it to her now days with her 10 year old.  She told me that time flies by.  It always sounds cliche but it’s the honest truth, “they grow up so fast”.   I lie here thinking she was JUST one week young and now we are half way done with February in this third calendar year of her existence.
Time slow down please so I can give….
  1. Extra bedtime story to read.
  2. More rounds of singing her favorite nursery song.
  3. Additional “high-fives” when she solves a problem on her own.
  4. Longer hours in the day to sit and play without worrying about an undone chore.
  5. Extra minutes of chasing her around the playground.
  6. -ty seconds more to soak in those sweet besitos before leaving for work.
  7. Days of pure rest to disconnect from the world and focus solely on family time and to express my thankfulness.
  8. Fun attempts at Pinterest crafts, even if that means a messy house and questionable finished product.
  9. Silly dances, in the car, on the couch, at the library, at bath time, to the rhythm of our in synced heartbeats.
  10. Extra minutes to listen to her giggles as she explores with her own imagination.
  11. More cuddle sessions.
  12. Additional hours so I can savor every detail of those precious “first” moments.
  13. Daily practices of extra grace for the tough moments.
  14.  More “I Love You’s” and covered prayers for her health, protection, development, wisdom, joy, purity, peace,  humility, courage, resilience, gratefulness and self-love throughout each and every day.
There is only one Author of time and time slows down for no one. So while Sweet Sage is still small enough to cuddle in my lap and not shy away from my hugs and kisses I am going to do my best to intentionally shower extra love not just on this Valentine’s Day but on every day that follows. IMG_0678