You ask. OHSU health experts answer. This month, our pediatric and and pituitary specialists are on the hot seat.
Q. When is my child old enough to use an iPad or tablet?
A. In general, consider any child younger than two years old too young. Tablets may prevent infants and toddlers from engaging in the give-and-take of everyday exchanges with family, as well as the “real” world of playing with physical objects that require and develop sensory and motor skills.
iPads do offer some terrific “edu-tainment” apps to help young children learn, especially in spelling, reading, and math. Tablets can also promote self-control. Before you use one for the first time, practice when it’s time to start and stop using it. Make its use dependent upon stopping on time, and let the child earn additional minutes with good behavior.
Finally, lead by example: Children mirror what their parents do, and if you’re always on your phone (“app-sorbed”), your child may follow suit or sigh, cry, or go to other great lengths to get your attention.
Q. I’ve noticed a change in my menstrual cycle and frequent headaches. Could this be a pituitary issue?
A. If you are experiencing absent or infrequent periods and other symptoms, such as frequenct headaches and abnormal weight gain, talk to your doctor. While these symptoms certainly could be due to other causes, they also may be signs of pituitary deficiency or a pituitary tumor that is overproducing a particular hormone.
The good news is that pituitary tumors are rarely cancerous and are typically treated with medication or surgery.
The pituitary is a pea-sized gland located at the base of your brain. It secretes prolactin, a growth hormone, and other hormones that control symptoms such as the thyroid, which regulates almost all metabolic processes; the adrenal cortex, which produces hormones, such as cortisol that regular metabolism and the body’s reaction to stress; and the ovaries.
Dr. Craigan Usher, M.D., joined the OHSU faculty in 2008 and specializes in psychiatry and pediatrics.
Dr. Maria Fleseriu, M.D., F.A.C.E., is Director of OHSU’s Northwest Pituitary Center and an internationally renowned clinician, researcher and author. She focuses her clinical practice on the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary and adrenal tumors and pituitary dysfunction.