Sites to Keep Kids Healthy

(thanks to Brenda R. Pfannenstiel, see note below)

CSR Issue: January 2001

You would think that CD-ROMs, with all their amazing multimedia and data-holding capabilities, would be the perfect medium for an all-purpose family health reference. (You know, something that you'd use to get more information on that weird-looking rash little Mikey has….). When we went looking for such a program, however, we came up empty-handed. The best selling CD-ROM set right now is DK Multimedia's Family Medical Reference Library, but this is sadly dated (copyright 1997!). The Merck Manual of Medical Information Home Edition (McGraw-Hill) is no better. It's not very family friendly, easy to use or comprehensive. So, where do we go for advice? Books are great, to be sure, but expensive. We suggest turning to the web for your family-based health advice. Here are some outstanding sites to get you started.

This site offers a wealth of information. There's a pediatric encyclopedia to look up symptoms and treatment, videos on child development, special sections devoted to Kids' Health and In the News, and more. We found information on orthodontia, toilet training, drugs, chickenpox-- you name it, it's in here.

Features of this comprehensive health site include a great quick search function, plus sections called Ask an Expert, Parenting & Pregnancy, and Food & Nutrition. You can also keep your own health records online.

We especially like the Answers From Mayo Specialists section of this web site. Also handy are its first aid pages and its Diseases and Conditions database. The site is a great place to get educated if you or a family member have been recently diagnosed with a particular health condition.

I have just been reading your most recent issue (January/February 2001) and was staggered that you recommended three commercial web sites to keep kids healthy, none of which are focussed on children's health. As director of a pediatric consumer health library, I can certainly suggest alternatives, starting with KidsHealth at (, which has sections for parents, for teens, and for kids. The parenting section contains infectious diseases information on 75 diseases, complete with symptoms, when the child is contagious, what to do, when to call the doctor, etc. There is a section that describes children's development at different ages (motor, sense, language, etc.) and has descriptions of various lab and imaging tests, together with lots of safety information. The sections for kids and teens teach many health and healthy behavior concepts (smoking stinks, scoliosis, how the kidneys work, when someone you know is thinking about suicide, etc.). There are no intrusive ads, or hidden underwriting from drug companies, and the site is entirely focussed on kids' health.

A better, more accurately descriptive title for your list of three commercial sites would be Keeping FAMILIES Healthy. When I saw "Handy Health Resources" on the cover of Children's Software Revue, I really hoped you were going to review children's health software, which is information I could use. I was disappointed to see you pushing these web sites when I find it so difficult to find good health software for children, and even harder to find good reviews. Recently I have acquired Airtopia (asthma education game for kids), Kidz with Leukemia (another teaching game), and I would like to know more about the Starbright Foundation's software. Children's Software Revue is rarely helpful to me in this area. There is plenty of software to be tested and reviewed; please stick to what you do best!

PS. If you are interested in health web sites for kids, there are some good ones, like Healthfinders' Girlpower: Bodywise, Bandaids & Blackboards, ( or Kidd Safety ( None of these are commercial. A general consumer health web site that is really valuable is MedlinePlus at

Brenda R. Pfannenstiel, Kreamer Family Resource Center, Kansas City, MO

Dear Brenda,
We appreciate the feedback and recommendations. Keep in mind that just because a site is "commercial," doesn't mean that it's automatically bad. With regard to your question about STARBRIGHT, we tested STARBRIGHT Life Adventure Series: Diabetes CD-ROM (for Mac or Win) in 1998 and gave it 4.5 stars. Designed for children ages five to thirteen with diabetes, this CD teaches kids how to properly manage their disease. The game takes children through a day in the life of a child with diabetes, showing how blood sugar levels are checked, how to inject the insulin and how daily activities are affected. Features include 3D navigation, exercises, arcade games, quizzes, and narration in both English and Spanish. Please let us know about any other products that you'd like us to review.

Minimizing "Slipped Disk" Syndrome
It's an eternal problem; losing CDs, that is. One solution that's worked like a charm for us is to give each child their own, clearly labeled CD wallet. It's affordable ($6), portable, and keeps CDs safe from dirt and scratches. It also makes it easy for your child to find the disks she wants, encouraging her independence with the computer. PS. It also works for adults!

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