Other Health Topics

There are several steps you can take to improve your child’s health. This includes seeking health services such as dental and reproductive health that are available in select schools. You can also read more about how to prevent the flu, detect bed bugs, and manage obesity. We have also provided recommended guidelines for sleep and playing outdoors.

Dental

Keeping your mouth healthy is an important part of good overall health and well-being. Oral health problems are common among school-aged children. Tooth decay (cavities) and other oral diseases can lead to pain, infection, tooth-loss, and difficulty eating and speaking. But the good news is that oral health problems can be prevented. Find out how you can take simple measures to improve your child’s oral health

How can I prevent my child from having tooth decay?

  • Brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Avoid sugary snacks and drinks.
  • Limit the time spent sipping on bottles and sippy cups.
  • Don’t share utensils or bites of food, because this can pass cavity-causing germs from your mouth to your child’s.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about applying dental sealants.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist or doctor about applying fluoride varnish.
  • Read more of our tips to prevent tooth decay.

What dental services are offered in school?

Select schools have dental clinics. Depending on the school, the clinic may be mobile or at the school based health center. All students are treated at no cost to the parent.

Dental services may include:

How can my child get dental services in school?

  • Ask a school staff member to find out if your school has dental services.
  • If your child comes home with a form to consent for a school dental program, be sure to sign and return it to school.
  • After your child’s dental visit, you will receive information and any further instructions for care.

How do I find a dentist for my child?

  • If you do not have dental insurance you can call 311 or find a low cost dental provider.
  • If you have dental insurance, call your dental insurance provider.

Reproductive Health

Students can receive confidential reproductive health services at school from a school nurse, school nurse practitioner or school physician. In school services include:

Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare Program (CATCH)

CATCH is a program for high school teens in grades 9-12. CATCH offers reproductive health services at 51 high school sites, serving 90 high schools without school based health centers. CATCH offers services such as health education and limited reproductive health services in school. CATCH also gives referrals to comprehensive reproductive health, primary care, mental health, and community based clinics.

All services offered are confidential and free of charge. Parents can choose to have their child opt-out of these services.

Questions? Please contact the CATCH Program Director, Pamela Haller at phaller@health.nyc.gov.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping. Bed bugs are annoying, but they are not known to cause or spread disease. The bite is painless, but it may become swollen and itch, like a mosquito bite. If you have concerns for you or your child, call your doctor.

Bed bugs may be found in many places, including hotels, airplanes, buses, hospitals, stores and movie theaters. Students may accidentally carry bed bugs with them into a school building. However, schools are not a friendly environment for bed bugs to live and breed. As a result, the chance of transferring bed bugs from person to person in a school is very small. Finding one bed bug in a school does not mean that the school is infested.

Even though it is unlikely for bed bugs to spread in schools, we will continue to work to identify bed bugs and other pests. We check schools for pests, and have licensed pest control specialists treat rooms as appropriate.

If you have found bed bugs in your home, we encourage you to seek professional help from a qualified pest control company.

Learn more about bed bugs at NYC Department of Health.

The Flu

The flu usually affects a person’s nose and throat. It can cause a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. It can also affect a person’s ability to breathe normally. The flu can be passed easily from one person to another. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine every year.

Talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine.

If your child is six months or older, they should definitely get the flu vaccine—especially if your child is young, or has a long-term condition. This is because some long-term conditions make children more vulnerable to the flu. Examples of these conditions are asthma, sickle-cell anemia, diabetes, seizures, heart disease, kidney disease, immunosuppressive disorders, and diseases that require children to take aspirin long-term. 

If your child does get the flu

They should stay home to rest. Do not take your child to school or day care—they could get other children sick!

Your child can go back to school

  • if it has been over 24 hours since your child had a fever, and
  • your child has not been using medicine that lowers fever

Additional Resources

Obesity

Obesity is the condition of being at an unhealthy, high weight. Unfortunately, more New York City students suffer from obesity than ever before. Only half of New York City students are at a healthy weight.

Child obesity can have major health consequences. If your child is obese, they are more likely to get high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. They are also more likely to have low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Thankfully, there are some simple actions you and your family can take to fight obesity.

Eating Better

A healthy diet has a lot of fruits, vegetables, lean protein foods (like eggs), and low fat dairy products. Try to also reduce fatty food, and the amount of sugary beverages your family drinks. Encourage your children to drink more water.

Another easy way to improve your family’s eating habits is to switch to 1% or fat-free milk. 1% milk has all the nutrition of whole milk, with 50 fewer calories and a third of the fat. Most supermarkets and bodegas sell 1% and fat-free milk.

Exercising More

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Kids and teens should be active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for six out of eight weeks. Encourage your child to find ways to exercise after school. Find fun activities like sports, dance, or fitness programs that will keep your child active and engaged.

Financial Concerns

If you don’t think you have enough money to buy healthy food for your family, see if you qualify for Food Stamps. If you need help applying, find a SNAP center in your area. 

Healthy food also isn’t as expensive as you may think. Eating healthy really can be easy and affordable. Check out these great tips, and how to prepare healthy meals on a budget.

Sleep

Make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep for his/her age. Sleep is incredibly important to health, especially during childhood years. When your child gets the recommended hours of sleep, they will likely be healthier and do better in school.

The Benefits

If your child gets the right amount of sleep, they may experience:

  • Improved Attention
  • Better Behavior
  • Increased Learning Ability
  • Increased Memory
  • Better Control of Emotions
  • Increased Quality of Life
  • Improved Mental Health
  • Improved Physical Health

See the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for more information.

The Recommendations

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Children 3-5 years old should get 10-13 hours of sleep.
  • Children 6-12 years old should get 9-12 hours of sleep.
  • Teenagers (13-18 years old) should get 8-10 hours of sleep.
  • Young Adult (18-25 years old) should get 7-9 hours of sleep.

For more information, see CDC Sleep and Sleep DisordersNSF Teen Sleep Facts and Sleep for Kids.

Guidelines for Playing Outdoors

Exercise is good for children. They should be allowed to play outside whenever possible. For this reason, schools still have recess on most winter days.  Make sure your child is dressed appropriately for the weather. Read the NYC Department of Health’s tips on staying safe and warm outdoors.

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