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Q&A Tips for Happier Healthy Children

Provided by HealthMonitor

Q My 5-year-old and 7-year-old gravitate toward processed snack foods. How can I get them to eat more healthfully?
A The best way to help your children eat better is to keep processed foods out of your pantry. Fill your fridge with cut-up fruit, veggies and dips. At this age, kids can even make their own healthy snacks, such as trail mix with nuts and fruit and fruit smoothies with yogurt. Consider letting them grow their own snack foods, such as sugar snap peas. Get a kids" cookbook and go wild!
'Barbara Frankowski, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT

Q My son really wants to play football, but I'm worried he'll get a concussion. How can I protect him?
A Let him play! If you say no, you'll rob him of a chance to exercise and be part of a team, both of which are good for him. Kids need to have a certain amount of autonomy. The best way to protect him is to buy a high-quality helmet and other protective gear, such as shoulder pads, an athletic cup and mouth guard. Share your concerns with the coach, and ask what equipment your son needs. Keep in mind, if he's younger than a certain age, the team probably won't allow tackling.
'Philip Lanzkowsky, MD, ScD, professor of pediatrics, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ, School of Medicine, Hempstead, NY

Q My 10-year-old daughter has some large moles on her body. Should I worry about skin cancer?
A Skin cancer is rare in children, but a recent study published in Pediatrics showed that melanoma'the deadliest form of the disease'is becoming more common. Your daughter may be at risk if she has a history of severe sunburns and skin cancer runs in your family. Keep an eye on her moles. In general, we worry most about those that are changing in shape, color and size. Those with notched or irregular edges are usually suspicious, too. The good news: Large moles that have been present since birth and remain unchanged are probably not a cause for concern. Still, if you're worried, talk with your child's pediatrician or dermatologist.
'Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, FAAP, Seattle Children's Hospital, WA
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