50 episodes

Paul Smolen, M.D., affectionately known as Doc Smo, brings you the “Pedcast”: a short, entertaining, and educational set of audio talks about childcare. For over 37 years, Doctor Smolen has listened to the concerns of parents about the health of their babies, toddlers, and teens. The pedcast format offers an innovative way to explore general pediatric and parenting topics in a thorough manner, while giving both Mom and Dad a chance to listen and learn at their own convenience. DocSmo.com provides parents a way to start conversations. So sit back, download a few pedcasts, and “Let’s Talk Kids” today!

Portable Practical Pediatrics Dr. Paul Smolen "Doc Smo"

    • Kids & Family

Paul Smolen, M.D., affectionately known as Doc Smo, brings you the “Pedcast”: a short, entertaining, and educational set of audio talks about childcare. For over 37 years, Doctor Smolen has listened to the concerns of parents about the health of their babies, toddlers, and teens. The pedcast format offers an innovative way to explore general pediatric and parenting topics in a thorough manner, while giving both Mom and Dad a chance to listen and learn at their own convenience. DocSmo.com provides parents a way to start conversations. So sit back, download a few pedcasts, and “Let’s Talk Kids” today!

    5 Important Things You Need to Teach Your Children During a Pandemic (Pedcast written by Sonya Corina Williams and Doc Smo )

    5 Important Things You Need to Teach Your Children During a Pandemic (Pedcast written by Sonya Corina Williams and Doc Smo )

    I think it’s fair to say that we’re living through unprecedented circumstances that are disruptive, unprecedented, and downright scary.  But there may be a silver lining; with the current "social distancing" and "stay-at-home" orders, we have an unplanned opportunity to spend more time with our children. Stretches of unscheduled time to spend with your children is truly a gift. Why not make the most of this time by teaching them important skills and lessons about life?  Your influence in your children's lives has just been heightened and believe it or not, when you speak, they listen. Don't miss this opportunity.  Take advantage to teach and lead.

    Musical Intro

    Lesson 1: How To Make The Most of Resources

    The other day, my wife and I were joking about the toilet paper shortage that has swept the U.S.. She recounted a learning-experience story that she still remembers her father teaching her when she was only three or four years old.  As a newly potty-trained child, my wife frequently used too much toilet paper. She ended up clogging the toilet more than a few times. So, her dad took this as an opportunity, not to scold her, but to help her learn to count the paper squares to gauge how much she was using, therefore avoiding waste. In that moment, my wife learned to count to four, judge how much paper to use to avoid clogging up toilets, and the power of thrift! To this day, she still remembers that lesson from her dad with fondness. You see my point, the current covid-19 pandemic gives you the opportunity to teach your children, today, an appreciation of the resources they have and the valuable lesson of not wasting them.  Whether it’s toilet paper, hand wipes, food, soap, water, hand sanitizer, or even their free time, your children need to learn not waste them, and you can be their teacher.

    Lesson 2: Respect and Care for Others

    We’re hearing all the time about ways to stop the spread of the covid-19; hand washing, cough covering, social distancing, and self-isolation when you’re sick. Now is the perfect time to point out to your children that all of these hygiene measures are intended to help keep everyone safe, including their family, their neighbors, and friends. What a great life lesson, the importance of looking out for the needs of others!  And what could be a better and more relevant way to learn this lesson than during a global pandemic? Infection control offers your children perfect example of how little things that they do or don't do can't affect many other people. While learning about germs, exponential growth, and incubation times, your children can learn that respecting and caring for others is important and that their behavior can make a big difference toward that end. Powerful stuff.


    Lesson 3:  Learning New Skills

    With all this new time you have to spend with your kids, why not teach them how to step up and take a greater role with keeping the household running by giving them new skills that might be helpful.  Pull your kids into some of the family's daily activities that they might not have done previously. Kids love to be involved in the tasks that their parents are doing, and this is an opportunity for them to learn essential life skills before they leave the nest.  This means taking the time to teach them how to take on more responsibilities around the house like helping to cook, doing yard work and gardening, repairing broken items around the house, sewing and mending clothes, paying bills, or organizing garages and closets. It all needs to get done and now, if all goes well with your teaching, you just might get some help from them in the future. And while you are at it, take some time to ask your kids what skills they would like you teach them.  You may be surprised at what they might want to learn.  And if nothing else,

    • 10 min
    “Conscious Parenting”, by Robert Saul (Book Review Pedcast)

    “Conscious Parenting”, by Robert Saul (Book Review Pedcast)

    Accomplished pediatrician, Dr. Robert Saul, of Greenville South Carolina has written a very interesting and useful book that parents will definitely benefit from reading. Let's take a closer look at his book in this book review pedcast.

    Help support docsmo.com by purchasing your copy of Conscious Parenting with this amazon link. You will get Amazon's best price and help support our podcast.

    Conscious Parenting: Using the Parental Awareness Threshold

    Musical Intro

    Defining the Role of a Parent.

    Dr. Saul believes that the foundation of good parenting is a parent's ability to lead. He defines a parent leader as parent who can provide a good example for their children, makes rational parenting decisions, maintains emotional engagement with their children,  commits to the well being of their children, and above all, provides their children unconditional love.  Anyone who has been a parent very long knows how difficult consistently providing this kind of leadership can be, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year end and year out. Let's face it, all parents have their lapses and moments of fatigue. In fact, I am sure that Dr. Saul would agree with this Doc Smo Pearl; "Raising children is a marathon not a sprint."

    Conscious Parenting Skills Can Help

    And that is the point of the book; the recognition that every parent is fragile at times and incapable, at times, of fulfilling all their parental duties; of being the leader they need to be for their children.  Every parent recognizes those times when they are not making the best parenting decisions; when they are tired and overworked, when they don't feel well, when they would like to be free of their parenting responsibilities, when they over react to things their children do, and when they just don't have the patience or energy to be a good parent. During those times, parents aren't being leaders for their children. It is in those moments that Dr. Saul's PAT strategy can really help. Wondering what PAT strategy is... read Conscious Parenting  and find out. I'll just leave it at there.

    Doc Smo's Take on Conscious Parenting

    So here are my thoughts after reading Conscious Parenting; I'm left with the feeling that Dr. Saul's philosophy of parenting, his definition of a good parent, flies in the face of American contemporary hyper-competitive, get ahead at any cost culture. But Dr. Saul is not trying to win a popularity contest, he is trying to improve the lives of children and families. Swimming against the current is a good thing when your ultimate goal is for parents to raise children who have high character and become good citizens. Lofty goals in an era where many parents are just trying to survive and at a time when the state of our communication with our fellow citizens are at a historic low. I've got to tell you, I love the way Dr. Saul redefines a successful child from one who achieves to one who is ethical, one who possesses strong moral standing, and one who ultimately becomes a good citizen. Dr. Saul's parenting advice is unique, practical, thought provoking, and important for today's parents. I give Conscious Parenting 4/5 Doc Smo stars for his work.

    • 5 min
    “Corona Safe Shake” or “Elbowla” Can Save Lives

    “Corona Safe Shake” or “Elbowla” Can Save Lives

    Hey parents, a quick pedcast to help keep you and your children safe during the corona outbreak of 2020. A few years ago, during the ebola outbreak, I coined the term "Elbowla". It's a hands free handshake that eliminates a lot of the spread of germs from person to person. Now in the era of corona virus, I am reintroducing it but calling it the "Corona safeshake". Stay tuned to learn more.

    Musical Introduction

    How Do Germs Get Around So Fast?

    Germs are able to move around the globe so quickly because both children and adults touch various surfaces, and then move those germs into their bodies by by wiping their nose, rubbing their eyes, or putting things we touch in our mouths. We witnessed their incredible travel speed during the H1N1 outbreak a few years ago and now we are seeing it again with the corona virus. H1N1 flu  managed to reach every continent, despite our best attempts at isolation, and it did it in 2 weeks. And since we can't see these microbes, we inadvertently and unknowingly move them around and infect ourselves and others. And sas you probably know,  your children are the germs most fertile friends since their hygiene is so terrible and they seem to be constantly sick. They are virtual incubators for microbes. Fortunately, so far during this 2020 corona virus outbreak children don't seem to be getting sick, but, they may turn out to be the key to spreading the germ. time will tell. So what can we do to cut down on the transmission of germs in the era of deadly germs like corona virus and ebola? Well, the CDC has an answer. Their strategy comes down to 4 simple steps:

    1. Keep your children's hands as clean as possible by teaching them how to wash their hands properly, by using hand sanitizers when soap and water is not available, and by taking responsibility to remind your kids about keeping their hands clean.  Just like Grandma said, hand washing is vital to your children's good health.

    2. Keep your children home and away from others when they are sick. It is particularly important to keep them away from babies and the elderly who have such difficulty handling these viruses.

    3. Discourage your children from shaking hands with others. Instead, teach them to greet each other by bumping elbows, not fist bumps, but elbows. I called this the "Elbowla" during the ebola outbreak of 2014 but I am now calling it the "Corona Safeshake". I know what you are thinking, this will make their elbows full of germs, right? Well even if their elbow are very germy, your kids are not going to wipe their nose or eyes with their elbows hence a much lower chance of inoculating themselves with a sickness. Elbows bumping breaks up the hand to mouth/nose/eyes cycle.

    4. And rather than teaching your children to cover their coughs with their hands, teach them to cover the cough with the crook of their elbows. Yes, that makes for dirty elbows but it keeps their hands clean and greatly reduces the number of infected droplets they are spreading to others in the air and on surfaces. Oh, and those clothes they come home from school wearing that are full of germs, toss them in the laundry as soon as possible to be safe.  Don't believe that clothes carry germs, think again?



    I hope you found this pedcast useful. In our globally connected world, we are going to have to figure out a way of defending ourselves against novel viruses that seem to be emerging on a regular basis. Breaking their cycle of transmission seems to be the best strategy to date. If you find the information on docsmo.com useful, consider taking a moment to like, share, and comment where you get your podcasts or on social media. This is pediatrician, Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, hoping you think twice before you or your children take, another hand shake. Until next time.

    • 6 min
    Grandma Was Right, Children Don’t Need Snacks (Archived Pedcast)

    Grandma Was Right, Children Don’t Need Snacks (Archived Pedcast)

    Doc Smo here, your pedcast host. Thanks for joining me today. News flash, life expectancy in the US has fallen for the past three years straight. I am sure there are many reasons for this but I am afraid that this fact may not just be a temporary aberration, but a glimpse of things to come in the future? Could it be that your children's life will be shorter and sicker than the one you are living?  Could the obesity epidemic among American children be teeing up this generation for a world of hurt in the future? I fear so and if you stay with me for a few minutes and I will explain why this is and, more importantly, what you can do today, to protect your children.


    Musical intro

    The Number of Adult Onset Diabetics Keeps Increasing

    One of the biggest adult health problems in contemporary America is adult onset diabetes and its precursor, pre-diabetes. It is estimated that there are about 100 million adults who suffer from one of these disorders. You heard me right, 100 million! Well, there are only 326 million Americans and 74 million of them are children. Some simple math tells me that 40% of adults in the U.S. are now pre-diabetic or full blown diabetics.  And with the diabetes diagnosis comes a whole host of horrible potential tag along diseases, like kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, and loss of limbs, Alzheimer’s dementia and more. But it may all be preventable, especially if we start the prevention in childhood. What is this magic prevention you are wondering... eating like humans have done since the beginning of time and how your grandma told you eat, that's how.


    Neither Children or Adults were Meant to Eat Continuously

    Here's the thing, I don't believe that humans were designed to eat continuously. In fact, until the twentieth century, they never have.  For people living before the industrial revolution there were inevitable periods of fasting like when the hunting was bad, when crops failed, or when the tribe simply had to move on in a hurry.  Our ancestors certainly didn't have access to the wealth of food that we have today and their bodies were adjusted to periodic starvation.  Their bodies and metabolism learned to maintain their health during times of fasting... or even starvation. In fact researchers today, believe that going without food at times, improves our heath. Today's science backs up the notion that fasting is helpful.  Don’t believe that, check out the links in my show notes.

    Doc Smo's Crunchout Campaign Must Continue!

    Now, let's fast forward to today and look at where we are in terms of the way we feed children in America. 40% of calories eaten by a child are done so out of the home, 61% of calories are coming from processed foods, snacking is abundant, average sugar intake for a child is about 3X that is recommended. Add to that a marked decrease in physical activity for today's children and no wonder we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. And here is the take home message...it is exactly these factors that are going to drive serious health problems for today's children in the future.

    A few years ago, I made the argument that children are snacking way too much in America and that it is hurting their short term and long-term health. I still believe I was right about this point and the recent surge in adult onset diabetes along with the falling life span of Americans reinforces my argument. Somehow, we got the idea that even very limited periods of time without food should be avoided, especially with children. Wrong, wrong, wrong! My original "crunch out" campaign was meant to convince parents not to feel compelled to throw snacks at their kids every few hours. Let me quote from my original post:

    "So when your little Johnny or Janie has a snack that contains carbohydrates (another word for sugar), especially a snack that has no fiber to slow down t.

    • 10 min
    Is Eczema in Infancy the Spark that Ignites a Child’s Allergies? (Pedcast by Sonya Corina Williams)

    Is Eczema in Infancy the Spark that Ignites a Child’s Allergies? (Pedcast by Sonya Corina Williams)

    Photo from Pixabay Images

    You are just not paying attention if you haven't noticed that more children today have eczema and allergies than in past generations. Allergy is one of the most common chronic health problems children today have. Interestingly, most children with allergies have eczema before their allergies develop. A coincidence or does this tell us something fundamental about what triggers allergy?  Stay tuned and my outstanding intern Sonya Corina Williams and I are about to tell you the answer to this interesting and practical question.

    Musical Intro

    What is the Allergic March?

    For a long time, pediatricians have recognized that children who develop rough itchy skin, a condition called eczema, frequently turn out to suffer from food allergies, seasonal hay fever, and asthma. This sequence is so common that is has been coined with the name, the allergic march because as the child gets older, these maladies typically appear in a predictable order- eczema first, then food allergies, then hay fever, and finally asthma. The child literally marches from one condition to another. Fortunately, not every child who develops eczema in infancy gets all the rest of these problems but pediatricians have also noticed that the more intense the eczema, the more likely these other conditions develop. They must all be related in some way, right?   All of these problems are signs of a child's immune system acting up, overreacting to substances that should not provoke reactions but somehow do. Substances like milk, peanuts, grass pollen, or cat dander. Until recently, it was thought that allergies are mostly a manifestation of a child's genes that drives the child's immune system to overreact but recent evidence points to an additional mechanism which we are about to talk about.  And, if you think about it, the child's immune system overreaction happens where the child's body interacts with the outside world- their skin that touches various surfaces, the inside of their intestines where various foods pass through, and the inside of their noses and bronchioles where dusts and other airborne substances settle; all places where stuff from the outside world touches the child. So, you can see that the outside has something to do with provoking allergies and when it happens, it happens in a very predictable way, usually in the baby's skin first. It turns out that the baby's rough skin may be the initiating event to the entire process as you are about to see.



    What is Eczema and why does the Allergic March Start in the Skin?


    So why does the allergic march start with eczema? It may seem like eczema is just a skin-deep issue, right? Well let’s delve into the issue of eczema a little further. The word eczema comes the Greek meaning “bubbling up” and for a long time, there has been a debate among doctors as to whether eczema starts under the skin surface and bubbles up, hence the name, or whether eczema is actually a surface barrier problem where the skin 's outer barrier is failing and therefore letting allergens get through and provoking allergic reactions. This is known as the barrier hypothesis. Recent evidence confirms that the basic problem in eczema is a  ‘barrier problem’ and here is why it mostly affects young babies.  A baby's skin is much thinner than an older child's skin and is more prone to drying and cracking allowing allergens to touch the deeper part of the skin. This actually makes sense when you think about it. Just close your eyes and run your hand gently over the skin of a child with eczema and you can tell that the surface barrier, the epidermis of their skin, has a lot of cracks compared to a child without eczema. Could those cracks actually be letting allergens touch the baby's deeper skin and start the allergies ...and... could prevention of cracking by frequent appli

    • 11 min
    It’s Winter, Are Your Children Vitamin D Deficient? (Archived Pedcast)

    It’s Winter, Are Your Children Vitamin D Deficient? (Archived Pedcast)


    Our great grandmothers knew that vitamin D deficiency was a big problem for her children, hence the daily fight over giving your grandfather his cod liver oil. Great Grandma didn't know what vitamin D was or what was in cod liver oil, but she knew it kept her kids healthy. How did she figure all this out, long before the era of biochemistry? I don’t know. All I can figure is that she was truly a genius. But now this old fashion disease, vitamin D deficiency, and its many variants, are making a comeback. So in this pedcast, we are going to learn more about vitamin D and how you can avoid your children from becoming D-ficient in this important chemical of their bodies.


    Musical Intro

    Pediatricians Catch on Faster than Adult Doctors

    I think it is fair to say that pediatricians catch on faster than adult doctors. First, diseases are recognized in babies, then in older people. That's the way it seems to play out. Remember toxic shock back in the 70’s that terrible deadly ICU type disease that adult women were getting. Eventually, that disease was pinned down to these women's use of super-absorbent tampon that promoted an overgrowth of a toxigenic staph aureus.  This germ was deadly. Pediatricians had recognized a similar disease in non-tampon using children years earlier and called it staph scalded skin disease. Oh, and what about in the 1980’s when the flesh eating strep made an appearance? Well, pediatricians have known about that for a long time as well. They called it erysipelas. Oh and shingles, don’t forget shingles. Well, shingles is nothing more than chickenpox, a baby disease, coming out in a localized way. Now old people get a chickenpox shot to make sure that they don’t get this dreaded old age disease. Well, the latest baby disease to make adult headlines is rickets and vitamin D deficiency. Rickets is a baby bone disease usually caused by vitamin D deficiency. And you know it; adult doctors have begun to recognize that many of adults are vitamin D deficient. Furthermore, many adult diseases are being tracked down to vitamin D deficiency. Adults don’t get rickets because they are not growing but they can have other problems from a lack of vitamin D, as you are about to see.

    Science Lane- Essential facts to Know about Vitamin D

    Sometimes in these talks, I take a stroll down Opinion Lane, but today, we are going to make a detour down Science Drive.  Vitamin D, what is it?  It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning this vitamin is stored in fat for long periods of time. A little vitamin D comes from foods, but the vast majority of the vitamin D that your child has in their body comes from their own production of it. Production occurs in their skin when they are exposed to ultraviolet light, particularly UVB light.  Once this vitamin/hormone is formed in their skin, their livers and kidneys put some final touches on it and it becomes an active substance in their bodies. And here is a key point to remember- vitamin D unlocks your child's absorption of calcium and phosphorus, the minerals that are needed for them to make strong bones. Without enough vitamin D, infants, children and adults just can’t keep their bone strength optimal. There are just not enough minerals absorbed to make their bones really hard. If there is a severe deficiency of minerals in the bones, we call that disease rickets in babies or osteoporosis in adults.

    Vitamin D deficiency is not just for babies anymore.

    As I said before, the whole vitamin D story has been getting more complicated recently now that adult investigators have linked its deficiency to a whole host of adult diseases—namely multiple sclerosis, adult onset diabetes, immune dysfunction and certain types of cancer- colon and breast. It turns out that there are vitamin D receptors on every cell in your body so it makes sense that vitamin D deficiency

    • 12 min

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