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Upstate Parent gets answers to those health questions you’ve always wanted to ask. This month, experts from Greenville Health System answer.

Remember that these answers are the opinions of these specific experts and are not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal doctor about your health.

QWhat can I do to protect my infant from winter colds and flu?

A: One of the most important – but probably overlooked – protections from respiratory infections for infants in the winter is excellent hand hygiene by the parents and other family members and avoidance of people with obvious respiratory infections. Anyone handling infants should always wash their hands before and after handling. Always sneeze or cough into their closed elbows to eliminate the airborne spread of the germs. Avoid exposure to sick people if at all possible. Children six months and older should receive the flu vaccine, as should adults in the home. If you have questions about the vaccine, talk with your healthcare provider.

Robert A. Saul, MD Medical Director, General Pediatrics Children’s Hospital of the Greenville Health System

Q I know some holiday items are dangerous to children. What steps should we take to baby proof as the decorations go up?

A: There are some simple steps we can take to make sure the holiday fun is not hampered by a trip to the ER. Tree lights, ornaments, tinsel and other decorations and stocking stuffers are potential choking hazards. Place large unbreakable ornaments at the base of the tree and smaller more fragile decorations up high. Don't overload indoor or outdoor electrical outlets. Lit candles can also be a hazard. Keep plants like mistletoe, poinsettias, Jerusalem cherry plants and holly out of the reach of children. In case of poisoning, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Injuries to children while traveling increase during the holiday season. Make sure children are buckled up securely during car rides. Be extra cautious when traveling at night on holidays such as Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve because there is a higher incidence of impaired driving.

Cynthia D. Fryer Safe Kids Upstate Manager, Children’s Hospital of the Greenville Health System

QIs almond or soy milk a good alternative for my child who doesn't like dairy?

A: The type of milk depends on the age of the child and any dietary requirements or restrictions the child may have. For all children under one year, we would recommend breast milk or fortified milk formula. After a year, milk as a primary source of calories is much less important and is part of the diet rather than the center of it. For children that do not prefer milk or have milk allergies, both soy or almond milk are acceptable substitutes. Both supply equal amounts of calcium and vitamin D as compared to cow’s milk. However, almond milk has significantly less protein and more sugar unless the sugarless version is used. Patients that are allergic to cow’s milk may be allergic to soy as well.

Stephen E. Lookadoo, Jr. MD GHS' Pediatric Associates Simpsonville

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