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Life & Health. News and information to advance your health and well-being.
October 2015
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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
Plan a Thanksgiving 5K to keep the entire family healthy

Staying active as the weather gets colder can be a challenge. Fortunately, we live in an area with great outdoor space, making it easy to walk, run, or bike even as fall and winter approach. This Thanksgiving season, why not get involved in a local 5K walk or jog? A 5K is equal to 3.1 miles, and is a great distance for many families. Typically, children in kindergarten or older should be able to walk a 5K with a little bit of training and encouragement. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you and your family decide to register for this type of fun and healthy event:

  • Train in an area that is well lit. Local walking/biking paths or rails-to-trails offer good options that are traffic free.
  • Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle if you’re going to be outside for more than 15 or 20 minutes. Even though you may not feel as thirsty during the cooler weather, your body still needs fluids.
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What’s the deal with the “poisonous” caterpillars?

You may have read or watched reports about a caterpillar species that is new to the area. The caterpillars, named the Hickory Tussock Moth, are mostly white and look “fuzzy,” inviting curious fingers to touch them.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The caterpillar is not new to the area. According to Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Hickory Tussock Moth can be found up anywhere from Canada and down the east coast as far as South Carolina and Georgia.
  • The Hickory Tussock Moth is not poisonous, it is venomous. The caterpillar has hairy spines that contain venom, which is released as a defense mechanism from predators. The venom can cause irritating rashes.

DCNR recommends not touching any hairy caterpillar, including the well-known Wooly Bear caterpillar, to be on the safe side. If your child does come in contact with the Hickory Tussock Moth and develops a rash, call your pediatrician.



Is my child too sick to go to school?
Written by Caryl Waite, PA-C, pediatrics, Mount Nittany Physician Group
Caryl Waite, PA-C, pediatrics, Mount Nittany Physician Group

It’s that time of year where runny noses, coughing, and sharing germs become the norm. It’s not uncommon for children to have a half dozen colds or illnesses throughout the school year, but as a parent, knowing when to keep them home can be tricky.

While it’s ultimately a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis, there are a few scenarios in which a child should NOT go to school:

  1. Fever: Children with fevers greater than 100.4 degrees should not go to school. Once your child has a fever, he or she should be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
  2. Vomiting: Children who are vomiting should not go to school. Your child can go back to school when he or she has not vomited for at least 24 hours.
  3. Diarrhea: Any child with loose stool that occurs more than four times in a 24-hour period should stay home until the frequency slows down.
  4. Pink eye: Children with redness of the eyes, plus drainage from one or both eyes, should not go to school and should not return until they have been treated with antibiotic drops for 24 hours.
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Ask the pediatrician: How to help your child with homework

Dear Dr. Collison,

My child has a terrible time doing homework. It takes a really long time to complete, and I feel like I’m of no assistance because it’s been too many years since I’ve studied the material. What can I do to help?

Children all approach homework differently. While some prefer to complete it all at once as soon as they’re home, other children put it off until the last minute, oftentimes rushing through the work or forgetting to complete it altogether. As a parent, it’s your job to help establish good homework and study habits. Although it would be helpful for you to understand the information your child is studying, it is not necessary. Your goal as a parent is to encourage good study habits, and not to complete the homework on behalf of your child.

First, make sure your child has access to a quiet, clean workspace to complete homework. This could be in the bedroom or home office, for example. The space should be free of distractions like cell phones, television, and other electronics, except a computer as needed.

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Halloween makeup safety for kids

If your child’s Halloween costume includes makeup, keep these tips in mind before and after your child dresses up:

  • A patch test should be used on children with sensitive skin to make sure the makeup won’t be irritating.
  • Always be sure to take makeup completely off before going to bed.
  • Refrain from using makeup around the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Never decorate using items that are not meant for the face.
  • Purchase new makeup every year; if the makeup has a strong odor, this could be a sign that it is no longer safe to use.

These tips, along with these additional Halloween safety guidelines, can help ensure a safe and happy Halloween for all.



Mount Nittany Health Children’s Advocacy Center of Centre County adds forensic interviewer
Ashley Carper, forensic interviewer, Mount Nittany Health Children's Advocacy Center of Centre County

Mount Nittany Health is pleased to announce the addition of Ashley Carper, forensic interviewer, to its Children’s Advocacy Center.

“After deciding to major in criminal justice at Penn State University, I knew early on that I wanted to work with people who have been harmed by crime,” said Carper.

Carper graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Prior to her role as a forensic interviewer, Carper was the victim services team leader at Family Services Incorporated, where she provided supervision, case management, and debriefing to counselor advocates.

“I spent eight years working in the field, which also included a partnership with the Children’s Advocacy Center,” said Carper. “Working at the Center is an excellent opportunity to follow my passion of helping people, while also continuing to grow professionally.”

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Recent product recalls

Here are recent product recalls announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For the most up-to-date recall information, please visit and click on the Recalls tab from the home page.


Name of product: The Land of Nod Follow the Herd Sheep Mobile

Hazard: The yarn from the sheep figures can unravel, posing an entanglement and strangulation hazard to young children.

Incidents/Injuries: The Land of Nod has received three reports of the sheep's yarn unraveling. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves The Land of Nod Follow the Herd mobile. The recalled mobile is made of white wool felt and has five sheep figures made of white wool yarn. The sheep have black felt eyes and brown felt ears. The mobile is about 24 inches tall, 10 inches wide and 10 inches deep. SKU number 198234 is on a label attached to the body of the mobile.

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