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Your team at Eugene Pediatrics is always looking for ways to address important health concerns for kids and families, and we lead our community in efforts that we believe will protect everyone's health, most of all our precious children.

Starting Monday, we will be recommending that your child's "kindergarten shots" be given at age 4 years instead of the current community practice of giving them to children at age 5. Why?

Here are our top reasons:

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve these vaccines to be given as young as age 4 to safely and effectively boost children's immunity to potentially life-threatening diseases, and to protect babies and those with decreased immunity who live in the community with these kids.

2. Our region is in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic – there has been a 220 percent rise this year, compared to the same time last year –which means 4-year-old children entering pre-K are at much higher risk this year.

3. This new vaccination schedule will help ensure that every single kindergarten student is protected with the recommended vaccines, prior to entering kindergarten.

As pediatricians and parents, your medical providers at Eugene Pediatrics believe vaccines are one of the most important ways we can help protect babies and children from serious or life-threatening illnesses. We believe in the safety and efficacy of currently recommended vaccines, and we worry about low vaccination rates in our region.

Hopefully, other medical clinics that care for children will follow our lead and join in a community-wide effort to vaccinate at age 4.

Our desire, at Eugene Pediatrics, is to help parents take the best-possible care of their kids. Because we love your kids, too!

Please talk with us if you have questions about vaccines. Call today to get your 4-year-old scheduled for their wellness exam and shots, or schedule a nurse-only visit to get vaccines before your next scheduled visit.


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IMPORTANT FOOD SAFETY INFORMATION! The American Academy of Pediatrics just released a policy statement addressing food additives, the use of plastics to heat and store food, and pregnant mother/child health. Please read!

Today, more than 10,000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food or food packaging. But a growing body of research suggests many of these chemicals may contribute to human disease and disability. And the safety of many of the other chemicals is not established.

For example, the AAP notes, a recent evaluation of 3,941 direct food additives revealed that 63.9 percent of these had no feeding safety data whatsoever. Only 6.7 percent had reproductive toxicology data. And only 2 of the 3,941 chemical additives to food had research on potential toxic effects on developing fetuses.

In a scathing policy statement, the AAP noted that the FDA's current programs "cannot ensure the safety of existing or new additives." Further, it states that "the FDA's toxicological testing recommendations have not been updated on the basis of new scientific information." Overall, the AAP finds that the FDA guidelines for food additive safety "may not be adequately protective for children."

Also, of great concern, plastics used to store or heat food may transfer harmful chemicals to people of all ages. Although modern baby bottles are BPA-free, many other chemicals in plastic may be harmful.

What is a parent to do? The AAP policy recommends the following steps:

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, as much as possible. Always wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Avoid processed meats, especially for pregnant mothers and young children.
  • Avoid microwaving or heating food or beverages in plastic, including infant formula.
  • Avoid placing plastics in dishwashers; high heat can release more chemicals from plastic.
  • Use glass and metal as alternatives to plastic for heating and storing food, as often as possible.
  • Entirely avoid plastics with the following recycling codes: 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols).
The full policy statement and all references is available here. Please talk to us at Eugene Pediatrics if you have questions.
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A common question parents ask this time of year is: When is my child old enough to mow the lawn? Before a child takes on that job, ask yourself: Does he or she exhibit the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires?

In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should be at least:

  • 12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower safely
  • 16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower safely
Before allowing your child to mow the lawn alone, show him or her how to do the job safely. Be sure to supervise your child's work until you are sure that he or she can handle it alone.

Make safety a priority

Did you know that more than 9,000 children go to the emergency room for lawn mower-related injuries every year? Most lawn mower-related injuries can be prevented by following these safety tips.

  • Keep children out of the yard while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins.
  • Make sure your mower is in good condition, and protective guards, shields, the grass catcher and other safety equipment are placed properly.
  • Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Ensure that the operator wears sturdy shoes while mowing. No bare feet, open-toed shoes or flip flops.
  • Never allow children to ride as passengers on a ride-on mower.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you must mow in reverse, look for children or objects behind you.
  • Use extra caution when mowing a slope.
For more safety information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, click here.
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I believe that team-building and nurturing staff morale is critically important to building on the foundation of our work; the more supported we feel as providers, the better the care we give to our patients. So, I recently took the entire staff at Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health out for lunch to celebrate the positives we've experienced at our practices within the last year.

That good news includes:

  • We all made it through the busiest, sickest winter season we've experienced in the past 10 years in our region and nationwide.
  • Eugene Pediatrics provided 7,330 same-day office visits for urgent concerns, which is a significant increase from prior years. This was an important goal for us, in response to patient surveys that requested more same-day access to pediatricians.
  • Thrive Behavioral Health welcomed child psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Schumann, who now works alongside the therapists, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, and the social work and pediatric medical teams at Thrive, which is our region's premiere example of fully integrated medical-behavioral health care for kids.
  • Doctors LoRanée Braun and Ross Newman will be joining our medical team in July. Dr. Braun is a U.S. Army colonel and pediatric infectious disease specialist, as well as an experienced clinical professor, teacher and mom of three. Dr. Newman is a father of four young children and an avid runner who grew up in the Coburg hills. We are so excited to have them join us!
The future is bright at Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health. We have a fantastic team of loving, skilled people who are experts in taking care of kids, and it is a joy and a privilege to care for families every day.
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Motherhood is a sacred sisterhood, a collection of hearts devoted to the small people of this planet. I still remember the first moment I felt as though I belonged in this special group— it was my 30th birthday and I had my first glimpse of the tiny heart beating inside me (my future Jack in the first trimester). I wondered with awe, "What will it be like to be a mother?"

Now, more than twenty years later, I've had the blessing (and sometimes the curse) of knowing what it means to be a mom. It's late nights feeding your newborn, taking care of your toddler's fever and worrying about whether your teenage driver will get home safely. It's sitting in the audience holding your breath, knowing the big moment where your child will play "Twinkle, Twinkle" on her tiny violin is coming. And it's enveloping your son in your arms as he runs out of his high school's graduation ceremony waving his cap above his head in victory. 

Jack, now almost 20 and finished with his first year of college, and Liesl, nearly 18 and about to be a high school senior, have been the motivating force for me as a mother and my greatest inspiration in my work as a pediatrician. Watching them become young adults feels like a quote I recently heard: "Having a child is like pinning your heart to a little person's sweater and sending it out into the world." Sending my two big kids into the world is the hardest thing I have ever done.

And this summer marks a new and wonderful journey for me—becoming stepmom to two littles, six-year-old Jonah and Malika, a rambunctious second grader. They are giving me another run at mothering small children. And this time, it's different. I find that I worry less about the small things—which Easter outfit looks better or the call home from the teacher saying somebody pushed someone else on the playground—and focus more on how to raise good citizens of the world, how to teach children to be resilient and cherish people instead of places and things.

Motherhood evolves as we get older. Perhaps that is one of God's great gifts to women. We move on and we focus on new challenges.

With that said, one thing remains true for all of us in the mother sisterhood: wherever our children go, however old they get, whatever life brings our way, mothers love their children with a depth and ferocity unparalleled in life. To all my fellow mothers, enjoy your Mother's Day. You deserve it.




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