On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 277 (SB277), which tightened requirements so that parents could no longer opt out of vaccinating their children if they were attending state licensed schools, daycares, and nurseries. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician, sponsored the legislation, which quickly became a nationwide litmus test on the debate over personal liberty versus public health in the aftermath of the large, ...

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As a pediatrician who has been practicing for fifteen years, the most frequent non-medical question that patients' parents ask me is, "Doctor, do you have children of your own?" Their questions show that although they value my medical education and expertise, they want to know if I've had first-hand experience with the worries and difficulties of having a sick child, making decisions regarding vaccinations, and raising children in general.  I answer ...

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Robert Kennedy, Jr. is an activist, author, and attorney specializing in environmental law.  He is the son of Robert "Bobby" Kennedy, a former U.S. attorney general, and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy is president of the board of Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit focused on protecting and enhancing waterways worldwide.  He has written a book about the damaging effects of vaccinations due to thimerosal, and to round ...

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Megan, like all parents, hates the whining and nagging: "It’s driving me crazy. My children whine and complain until they get what they want. I try not to give in, but sometimes it’s just impossible. What can I do?" (That’s an excerpt from a much longer message. You get the idea.) Let’s look at whining from a classic behavioral approach. Stay with me, here -- behavioral theory is a big part of ...

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I love my children. This should come as no great surprise. Parents love their children.  While many are feeling that our nation is divided, love for our children and their future can unite us. In my professional career as a pediatrician, I have seen parents experience happiness, sadness, fear, and sometimes frustration but always behind these emotions is love for their children.  As a mom, I can empathize with each of ...

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During sports physical appointments, I routinely address preventive health topics that range from asking about alcohol, drugs, and sexuality, to addressing accident prevention and updating immunizations.  At one such appointment recently, a young male teen was due for two routine vaccines.  The mother accompanying him had no concerns about one of the vaccines, but expressed concern about the other. A friend had recently shared information on Facebook about how the ...

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Parents are sometimes surprised to find out that migraines are the most common cause of recurrent headaches in children. Yes, kids get migraines -- and many adults who get them started getting them as children, even if they weren’t diagnosed correctly. (And many adults who get migraines are still not being diagnosed correctly. Do you get “sinus” headaches? They’re almost certainly migraines. Yes, I know you feel congested with them. Yes, ...

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Pediatrician-rapper Young IV with some holiday safety tips.

In my former life as a hospital-based, shift-working physician with young children at home, this time of the year inevitably brought the same question from at least a handful of individuals:  “Isn’t it hard on your kids not to have you home on Christmas?”  Thankfully, I was always able to answer truthfully, “no.”  With consistent effort and a no-nonsense attitude, my kiddos either didn’t know the difference because they were ...

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When was the last time your child read a book featuring someone different from them? When did they last read a book about an African American girl celebrating her birthday, a Mexican American girl celebrating her quinceañera, or a Jewish American boy celebrating his bar mitzvah? What about a book featuring Chinese American, Native American, Indian American or Muslim children? Think of the last few books you read to your children. Chances are, ...

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