Behavior & Development • Dec 04, 2015

Top 10 reasons children end up in the ER during the holidays

Special thanks to Aisha Sultan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for co-authoring this list. 

Given that the holiday season is upon us, I wanted to share from my years in the ER how to keep our families healthy and safe. These are my top 10 reasons why children end up in the ER this time of year — and how to prevent these unwanted trips to the hospital.

10.  Depression, anxiety and suicide
Sadly, the holidays for many are not very merry. Teens are especially at risk for depression, anxiety and suicide. I see many of these patients in the ER. Their stories are complex and devastating. The good news is that teens have a good likelihood of full recovery from mental illness with appropriate treatment. Read my article Stressed and depressed: How American teens are hurting themselves, and what parents can do to reverse the trend.

9. Drunk teens
Parents like to drink during the holidays, and teens often follow our example. When teens are off school and left home alone while parents are at work, they often break into the family liquor cabinet. Snow days and school holidays are prime time for teens to get into trouble with alcohol, and with alcohol comes all the other risky behaviors, including sex, drugs, drinking and driving, etc. We see a growing number of teens who think that marijuana is not dangerous. Driving under the influence of marijuana is a real risk. Ever wonder when you should start talking to your kids about drinking? I write about that here. My colleague, child psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Rothweiler, also writes about the dangers of social hosting.

8. Allergic reactions
Food allergies are common during the holidays when people may eat party food that has hidden ingredients. For example, a lot of holiday foods contain hidden nuts. Here’s some additional food for thought on food allergies from a MomDoc.

Click here to see a slideshow of the top 10 reasons children end up in the ER during the holidays on