Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Dr. Peter Lindgren, right, gives Hazel Staten a general examination for school while her brother Elliot watches at Intermountain Memorial Clinic Wednesday.

In a general pediatric practice, there's a little of everything: infections and injuries and genetics and behavioral issues. And since there's no handbook handed out in the delivery room, parents have a lot of questions about their children's health.

All things related to kids and health, from in the womb to college-bound, is the topic of Saturday's Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Hotline. Pediatrician Dr. Peter C. Lindgren of LDS Hospital and Salt Lake Memorial Clinic, and Tracy Karp, a neonatal nurse practitioner at LDS Hospital and Intermountain Medical Center, will take questions from 10 a.m. to noon. Call 1-800-925-8177.

During hot summer months, pediatricians treat more children for trauma than at other times of year, says Lindgren. But that's far from the only issue. Those who deal with kids spend a fair amount of time on topics like sleep and nutrition, on developmental concerns and body changes, on substance abuse or chronic conditions like autism.

Among the hot topics that routinely come up in the doctor's office are sleep concerns, nutrition, childhood obesity, vaccine safety and more.

They debate sleep position for baby (it's still "back to sleep") and how much rest a child needs and how to handle the big category of sleep disturbance that so many babies between 8 months and a year experience. Key to that is what a parent does to try to help the little person get back to sleep, because you can actually reinforce the propensity to wake up multiple times a night. Feeding a child until he falls back to sleep is another problem. A parent can be setting a child up to be a "night feeder" or a "night crier," he says.

For teens, the biggest sleep issue is a delayed sleep syndrome. It's not uncommon for teens to have "windows" of time when they can get to sleep. Miss those and you're going to be awake and tired. One of the answers, according to Lindgren, is consistency, particularly in when you arise. You can't sleep 'til noon Saturday and Sunday and think you can go to bed at a decent time so you can get up early on Monday morning. It doesn't work. You need to preserve that rhythm, he said.

Toddler years are tough when it comes to nutrition, because many toddlers are picky eaters. Parents, worried that the child isn't eating enough, may make the mistake of letting said child eat whatever he or she wants. Not a good idea, Lindgren says.

Nutrition is really an "exercise in moderation," with nothing completely off the menu. He says parents ultimately pick what a child is going to eat, because they do the shopping. But the kids have the power when it comes to "if" and "how much." No parent's going to let a kid eat a brownie as the whole meal. But he said that parents underestimate how much a child knows about what he really needs. Parents tend to over-estimate what a child needs in terms of portion, for instance.

Exercise is of major importance and most kids are genetically programmed to be active, although diversions like video games can override it. He's particularly fond of activities that families can do to together, for everyone's benefit. "We live in a beautiful place" with a lot to see and do for cheap or free. But a lot of people don't take advantage of it, he says.

Take a hike. Ride a bike. Enjoy it together.

Tomorrow: Helping reduce the risk, effects of prematurity

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