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Pediatrician Offers Four Tips for Back-to-School Health
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Written by Dr. Komal Afzal, DO   

Health Medical Group – Dominican, a service of Dignity Health Medical Foundation, is encouraging parents throughout Santa Cruz County to prepare for back-to-school season by focusing on family health. Dignity Health Medical Group pediatrician Komal Afzal, DO, offers four tips for families preparing for the new school season:

  1. Make sure children have all the required vaccinations.

In the state of California, and specifically the greater Santa Cruz County area, schoolchildren are required to receive certain immunizations. Vaccinations stimulate the body’s immune system and protect children from dangerous infections and diseases.

 

  1. Maintain a healthy diet through the transition.

When children go back to school, it can shake up a family’s eating routine. “Try to prepare for early wake-up times so that your family can still enjoy a balanced breakfast before heading out the door,” says Dr. Afzal. Studies show that children are more alert during class after they have eaten a healthy meal in the morning.

 

  1. Establish reasonable bedtimes.

Dr. Afzal recommends starting the bedtime transition two weeks before school starts, if possible. Children who get plenty of sleep are able to pay attention during class and keep a positive attitude. “If your child is struggling with earlier bedtimes, try adjusting their diet, reducing their digital device time in the evening and encouraging quiet time activities before bed,” says Dr. Afzal.

 

  1. Avoid and prevent the spread of new germs. 

Proper hand hygiene is very important for kids, as schools and playgrounds can host millions of germs. Children should wash their hands before eating, after using the restroom, after sneezing or coughing and as soon as they get home. “On average, kids get six to 10 colds each year,” says Dr. Afzal. “Hand washing is the best defense against new sicknesses your child will be exposed to when school starts.”

 

While parents are preparing for the new school season, it’s a good time to also schedule yearly physical exams for the entire family. During an annual exam, doctors screen for potential hidden health problems and are available to answer questions. Dignity Health Medical Group - Dominican operates 18 clinics in Santa Cruz County, with specialties including pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, oncology, hematology, gastroenterology, OB/GYN, urology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, urgent care and more.

 

Dr. Komal Afzal, DO, graduated from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in New Jersey. She completed her pediatrics residency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where she was named Resident of the Year. Dr. Afzal speaks Spanish, Hindi, and Punjabi. Dr. Afzal’s special clinical interests include nutrition, preventive health and population health. She is accepting new patients at 1820 41stAvenue, Suite D, in Capitola. To make an appointment, call 831.476.3000.

 
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