Thursday, August 16, 2012
The unintended consequences of choosing your kid's first names

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
William Shakespeare addressed the issue of names in Romeo and Juliet. In that play Juliet says, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." We sometimes take names for granted. We inherit our last names. As an individual with a last name like "Policastro," I know full well that complicated names create a variety of situations. For example, when someone asks me for my last name, I proceed to spell it for them. I know if I tell them what the name is, they will simply ask to spell it anyway. When I have people ask me how to say my name, I have come up with a way of remembering it. I tell them to form an image. I ask them to imagine a polar bear chasing Fidel Castro. They can then think "polar" "Castro" and come pretty close. Of course, when Fidel dies, I will be in big trouble. I also have had an endless variety of misspellings of my name. Two of the more interesting ones came from the Air Force Times. They quoted me on two different occasions. The first time I was Dr. Polly Castro and the second I was Dr. Paula Castro. I canceled my subscription. They then called to get me to renew my subscription. The callers usually have a list of responses to give to the typical answers for non-renewal. I told them I did not want to renew because they kept changing my sex. There was always a pause at the other end of the phone. They were looking for the suggested answer to the "changed sex" response. For some reason or other they never seemed to have one. Our first names are given to us by our parents. Most of the time, there is not an issue with the names we are given. However, sometimes it is dependent on circumstances. I was named after my father who was named after his father. Thus, I was Anthony the third. I was raised in Brooklyn. If I had used Tony instead of Anthony, the Brooklynese for it would have made me Tony the turd. Over the years, I have encountered a variety of first names in children that I have seen as patients. Some of them are more interesting than others. I have seen a set of twins named Jack and Jill. I have come across children named Alexia. The word alexia means someone who cannot read. Some names naturally result in children being teased as they grow up. I teased my oldest daughter about naming her children. Her married name is Saxon. I told her she should name her child Anglo. We laughed about that possibility. Sometimes first names do not always flow well with the last name. All children go through periods of not liking their names. However, for some children this is more of an issue than others. There are some reasons for being frustrated with a name. For example, a complex name might always require someone to spell it out. That is what I need to do with my last name. I am glad I do not need to do that with my first name. That is not always the case. I have come across the name La-A (Ladasha) on a couple of occasions. While the name itself does not sound unusual, the spelling of it certainly is. The individual will eventually have to spell her first name just about every time she is asked. There are other first names whose spelling does not sound like the name is pronounced. These individuals will also have to spell their names whenever asked. In general terms, Shakespeare was correct. However, there are some names that are hard to pronounce. There are some names that are hard to spell. There are some names which generate teasing for children. As parents we spend a lot of time wondering about what names to give our children. We need to not only look at the name. We need to also look at whether that name might have unintended consequences tied to it.

A checklist for kids with asthma As summer sizzles by, families across the state are beginning to prepare for the new school year. A new school environment can sometimes be difficult for children with asthma. This back-to-school season, the American Lung Association in Delaware highlights tips for families of children with asthma and stresses the importance of crafting a plan to properly manage asthma in a school environment. "It's important that parents of students with asthma first consider their child's health and the time they spend under the supervision of school personnel and the school environment in preparing their child to go back to school," said Albert Rizzo, M.D., immediate past-chair, National Board of the American Lung Association. "Parents should work closely with their healthcare provider and school personnel before the school year begins to initiate a plan for good asthma control in the classroom." The onset of a new school year also marks the beginning of the cold and flu season. Influenza poses a special health risk to children with asthma, as these children often experience more severe symptoms. The American Lung Association in Delaware strongly recommends that all children – especially those with asthma – be immunized against influenza. Yearly flu vaccinations will begin in September, or as soon as the vaccine becomes available. In preparation for the school year ahead, the American Lung Association urges parents who have children with asthma to complete the following checklist:

  • Step 1 - Learn about asthma - Visit to learn about asthma and asthma management. Visit Lungtropolis with your 5-10 year old child. You'll find action-packed games designed to help kids control their asthma – plus advice for parents like you.
  • Step 2 - Talk to the school nurse - A visit or phone call to the school nurse should be your next step. Together, you and the school nurse, along with your child's healthcare provider, can work to reduce asthma triggers and manage symptoms while in school.
  • Step 3 - Schedule Asthma Check-up - Each school year should begin with a visit to your child's healthcare provider for an asthma check-up.
  • Step 4 - Develop an Asthma Action Plan - An asthma action plan is a written worksheet created by your healthcare provider and tailored to your child's needs. The plan includes a list of their asthma triggers and symptoms, the names of their medicines and how much medicine to take when needed.

The plan also explains the steps to take to manage an asthma episode and a breathing emergency. An asthma action plan should always be on file in the school nurse's office and easily accessible to anyone who may need to help your child use their inhaler.
  • Step 5 - Get a Flu Shot - On average, one out of five Americans suffers from influenza (flu) every year. Respiratory infections such as the flu are one of the most common asthma triggers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccination. The best way to protect your family from the flu is for everyone to get vaccinated. Learn more at
  • For more information on asthma and children, including a downloadable version of this checklist with more details, visit or call 1-800-LUNG-USA.

    West Nile Virus detected West Nile virus has been detected in Delaware for the first time this year in a blood sample taken from sentinel chickens that are monitored for mosquito-borne diseases. The samples are collected as part of a statewide surveillance program conducted by DNREC's Mosquito Control Section. No cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been found in humans or horses so far in Delaware this year. The chicken was sampled at a monitoring station near Stanton on July 30. Based upon these virus-positive findings, Mosquito Control will increase its mosquito population monitoring activities in the area and take appropriate mosquito control actions. "The 2012 mosquito-disease transmission season is really only beginning, but preliminary indications suggest that 2012 might be a worse transmission year across the country than usual," Mosquito Control Section Administrator Dr. William Meredith said. To reduce mosquito-breeding, people should drain or remove items that collect water, such as buckets or other containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, downspout extenders and unused swimming pools. "The possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmissions won't subside until cooler autumn temperatures set in, usually in mid-October and sometimes even later," Meredith added. An effective equine vaccine now exists to protect horses from WNV and EEE. To help determine when and where Mosquito Control Section services are needed, DNREC encourages Sussex County residents to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes by calling the Milford office at 302-422-1512.

    ALA hosts skydiving fundraiser Take a leap to make the air cleaner and healthier. The American Lung Association in Delaware is sponsoring the Third Annual "Fighting for Air at All Extremes," a skydiving fundraiser. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8 at Skydive Delmarva on 32524 Aero Dr., Rt. 24 West, Laurel. Lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Lung Association's State of the Air 2012, more than 140,000 Delawareans suffer from asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema - all forms of lung disease. The ALA-DE hopes to raise $40,000 to support lung health research, education and advocacy efforts. Participants of Fighting for Air at All Extremes can join the jump as an individual, team, volunteer or sponsor. There is a registration fee of $25 per participant. All skydivers must be 18 or older. A fundraising minimum of $300 is required to receive a tandem jump. All fundraisers will receive gift bags and t-shirts. The top fundraiser will take home a special prize and all participants who raise $500 or more will be entered into a raffle for some great prizes. To register, contact Kelli Burris at 302-737-6414, ext. 14 or at or visit

    Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

    HIV/AIDS Support Group A new support group for HIV/AIDS will meet every other Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in the Branford Lounge at Epworth United Methodist Church at 19285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach. The group is sponsored by Epworth UMC, CAMP Rehoboth, the AIDs Delaware and Delaware HIV Consortium. For more information, contact David at

    NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.