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Claire McCarthy, M.D.
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Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital. An Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a senior editor for Harvard Health Publications, she has been writing about health and parenting for magazines, newspapers, and the internet for more than 20 years. She and her husband are raising five children ranging in age from 24 to 9. She blogs for Thriving, the health and parenting blog of Children's Hospital Boston, and for as MD Mama; you can follow her on Twitter at @drClaire.

Entries by Claire McCarthy, M.D.

Why Our Teens Turn Us Into Shrews

(6) Comments | Posted February 1, 2016 | 3:11 PM

It happens each time one of my children enters the teenage years (sometimes a little bit before). I go from having a lovely child and feeling like a reasonably pleasant parent to having a moody houseguest and becoming a shrew.

You'd think, having gone through this now four times,...

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When It Comes to Gun Violence, Our Children Need Us to Do Better

(5) Comments | Posted December 10, 2015 | 10:45 AM

Just a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was telling me about how there had been threats of gun violence at her children's elementary school three times in the previous week.

I don't know what freaked me out more: the threats, or the fact that...

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After 24 Years of Parenthood, Only Four Things Matter

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2015 | 4:49 PM

My 10-year-old son, my youngest, badly needs a haircut--and we just can't seem to get around to it.

I feel bad for him. He actually crossed the line between needing a haircut and needing barrettes quite a while ago. Add to that the fact that he is on a swim...

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Should We Take the Tackling Out of Youth Football?

(5) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 10:06 AM

Tackling: in so many ways, it's what football is all about.

Now, of course running, passing and scoring (and strategy) are important parts of football too. But it's tackling that stops the opponent. Without tackling, you can't play football.

Or can you?

A policy statement just released by...

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How Driving Lessons Sum Up Parenthood

(2) Comments | Posted September 15, 2015 | 1:39 PM

I did something really death-defying with my daughter this summer.

I taught her to drive.

Truly, teaching a teen to drive is scarier than just about anything else we do as a parent. It's scarier than giving birth, as there are usually skilled people around during labor who can take...

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6 Questions Parents Should Really Be Asking Pediatricians

(17) Comments | Posted August 18, 2015 | 2:41 PM

As a pediatrician, I get lots of questions from parents -- but sometimes I wish they would ask different ones.

That's what check-ups are for, really: questions. Aside from questions about illnesses (obviously my purview, as a doctor), I get questions about just about every aspect of a child's life....

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The One Thing We Know For Sure About Screens and Babies

(13) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 11:29 AM

There's an awful lot we don't know about the effects of screen time on babies and toddlers -- which is too bad, as babies and toddlers get an awful lot of it these days.

We don't know if watching TV or using tablets or smartphones will turn them into violent...

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Écrans : ces 5 conseils que je donnerais aux parents

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2015 | 4:14 PM

En tant que pédiatre, je constate chaque jour que les écrans et la technologie sont omniprésents dans la vie des enfants: la plupart sont collés à leur téléphone ou à leur tablette quand j'entre dans le cabinet (comme leurs parents), et les écrans semblent faire...

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The 5 Pieces of Advice I'd Give About Screens If Parents Ever Asked

(22) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 4:26 PM

The explosion of tech and screens into the lives of children is outrageously obvious to me as a pediatrician. Besides the fact that most kids and parents seem to be attached to a phone or tablet when I enter the exam room, when I ask questions about how kids spend...

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4 Key Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Unusual Childhood

(1) Comments | Posted July 7, 2015 | 3:47 PM

I had an unusual childhood.

I was raised mostly by my father -- my mother was rarely home. She worked full-time and got a PhD and law degree while my sister and I were growing up. My father, as a college professor, had a more flexible schedule, so he...

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Why the Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Is Good for Children

(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 2:25 PM

As a pediatrician, I am really happy about the Supreme Court's decision that same-sex couples have the right to marry -- because it's a decision that is good for children.

It's good for children for a simple reason: marriage is good for children.

As a Catholic, I was very...

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The Question That Could Save Your Child's Life

(6) Comments | Posted June 18, 2015 | 11:12 AM

This Sunday, June 21st, isn't just Father's Day. It's National Ask Day -- a day to pledge to always ask a question that could save your child's life:

Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?

Here are a few scary facts:

  • 1 in 3 homes...
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19 Signs I've Been at This Parenting Thing Too Long

(14) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 2:14 PM

I've been parenting for 24 years now... and I still have a kid in elementary school. In fact, we are in year 18 of 20 consecutive years at the local elementary school.

My husband and I managed to space out our children so that by the time our youngest...

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Why Don't We Treat Gun Safety Like Car Safety?

(234) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 12:31 PM

Here's a question for you: Which causes more deaths, motor vehicle traffic accidents or firearms?

I asked a bunch of people that question, including a bunch of doctors, and everyone said that motor vehicles did, by a lot.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...

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Think Your Kid Is Getting Exercise at Dance Class? Think Again

(13) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 1:14 PM

When you send your kid to dance class, it's reasonable to think that not only are they learning how to dance, but that they are getting exercise. Most parents think that way; dance class certainly gets mentioned when I ask parents in my practice what their children do for exercise.

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How Bruce Jenner Changes the Birds and the Bees Talk

(1) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 2:25 PM

The other day, a teen patient of mine told me she is pansexual.

We were having the usual talk I have with teen patients, the one where I we talk about sex and sexuality and birth control and sexually transmitted infections. But over the past few years, that conversation...

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What Parents Need to Tell Their Kids About the Baltimore Riots

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 4:34 PM

The riots in Baltimore are all over the news. As a parent, it would seem like the best thing to say to your kids is that riots are bad, that violence isn't the way to solve anything.

But that would be missing the point -- and missing an opportunity.


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I Give Up on Having It All

(1) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 4:43 PM

Recently, it hit me that I really can't have it all.

For the past few years, during Lent, what I "give up" is working on Sundays. I can do housework and errands, but no professional work -- no catching up on projects or patient charting, no writing blogs. The...

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Why We Need to Talk to Strangers

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 3:44 PM

I remember a warm September day at the playground 22 years ago. I was there with my 19-month-old daughter and newborn son. Zack was hungry, so I sat down on a bench to nurse him -- but every time I got him settled, Michaela ran away from me. Far away,...

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What I Tell Parents Who Ask Me About Alternate Vaccine Schedules

(6) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 3:23 PM

It happens every once in a while in my practice: Parents ask if we can delay or skip certain vaccines, or spread them out.

According to a study just published in the journal Pediatrics, I'm not alone -- in fact, 93 percent of pediatricians get asked the...

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