Friday, August 17, 2012

MGHfC physicians engage with ‘mommy bloggers’


MOMS IN MEDIA: Canapari was featured in an Aug. 10 post on the blog “Food Allergy Buzz.”


Nine local mothers who blog about parenthood visited MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) on July 31 to meet MGHfC physicians and learn about three popular pediatric health topics – obesity, food allergy and sleep behavioral disorders. The “mommy bloggers” regularly write about the trials and tribulations of raising children and frequently cover pediatric health issues.

According to a 2012 Scarborough Research report, mothers are a growing force in social media, with 14 percent of American moms blogging. Boston area-based bloggers who attended the MGHfC event included writers for “Capability Mom,” “Food Allergy Buzz,” “Boston Babies” and Bright Horizons’ “MomToMom.”

MGH pediatric pulmonologist Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, director of Parenting for Health, Inspired Health, and Exercise, Nutrition and Relaxation for Growing Youth, shared her decision to change her entire family’s eating habits to help them live healthier lives. Scirica said she initially struggled with her inherent desire to give her children extra snacks “just in case.” Now, Scirica said, she only provides snacks when her children are hungry and also limits their intake of sugary sweets.

Food continued to be a theme as Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, chief of Pediatric Allergy & Immunology and director of the Food Allergy Center, discussed the rise of food allergies among children and talked about his research in oral immunotherapy treatments, a procedure intended to gradually reduce the allergic sensitivity of a patient for a given food. Although studies show promise, more research needs to be done to ensure long-term efficacy.  Shreffler also described research that has shown food avoidance can actually lead to allergy development. He said many physicians now are encouraging parents to feed their children peanuts and other foods commonly associated with allergies at a younger age to prevent the development of allergies.

Moving from parental struggles with food to challenges at bedtime, Craig Canapari, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and sleep expert, talked about his work with sleep behavioral disorders, including the interplay between sleep apnea and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Canapari also shared he writes his own blog,

“It was a wonderful lunch, and your speakers were engaging, informative and covered the topics we all care so much about,” said Nancy Brown, “Capability Mom” blogger. “It was a fantastic event.”

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