Posts for category: Pediatric Health Care
Vitamin D is critical for all of us, but especially children. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, as well as for the support and development of a healthy body. Children with severe vitamin D deficiencies may develop muscle weakness, delayed motor development, rickets, and fractures.
Unlike most vitamins, which we can often get through diet alone, vitamin D is acquired through time spent in the sun. You won’t find many foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Unfortunately, if you’re in a place that doesn’t get much sunlight then chances are good your child may not be getting enough vitamin D.
Children get about 80 percent of their vitamin D from sunlight. So if your child doesn’t spend much time outdoors (especially during the winter months) it’s a good idea to talk with your pediatrician about ways to ensure that your child is getting enough vitamin D.
Children with certain health problems such as cystic fibrosis or celiac disease, as well as children who’ve undergone bone surgeries may require more vitamin D. This is something you should discuss with your pediatrician. Children over 1-year-old need at least 600 IU of vitamin D (or more) a day. Ideally, children should get around 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day.
We also know that too much time in the sun can also pose risks for children, especially their skin. During the summer months, children only need a few minutes a day in the sun to get enough vitamin D. During the winter months, kids should get about 2-3 hours per week. Children under 6 months old should never be placed in direct sunlight.
Children with darker skin will also need to spend more time in the sun to produce the same levels of vitamin D as kids with lighter skin. Just sitting inside near windows won’t be enough for your child’s body to produce vitamin D.
Generally, a fever is brought on by an infection from a virus or bacterial infection. While many times a parent’s first instinct is to worry when their child has a fever, it’s not necessarily a sign that something serious is taking place. That’s because a fever is the body’s normal, infection-fighting response to infection and in many cases is considered a good sign that the child’s body is trying to heal itself.
When to Visit Your Pediatrician
Fevers are one of the most common reasons parents seek medical care for their child. Most of the time, however, fevers require no treatment.
When a child has a fever, he may feel warm, appear flushed or sweat more than normal—these are all common signs. So, when does a child’s fever warrant a pediatrician’s attention?
You should call your pediatrician immediately if the child has a fever and one or more of the following:
- Exhibits very ill, lethargic, unresponsive or unusually fussy behavior
- Complains of a stiff neck, severe headache, sore throat, ear pain, unexplained rash, painful urination, difficulty breathing or frequent bouts of vomiting or diarrhea
- Has a seizure
- Is younger than 3 months and has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher
- Fever repeatedly rises above 104°F for a child of any age
- Child still feels ill after fever goes away
- Fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years or more than 3 days in a child 2 years of age and older
All children react differently to fevers. If your child appears uncomfortable, you can keep him relaxed with a fever-reducing medication until the fever subsides. Ask your pediatrician if you have questions about recommended dosage. Your child should also rest and drink plenty of fluid to stay hydrated. Popsicles are great options that kids can enjoy!
For many parents, fevers can be scary, particularly in infants. Remember, the fever itself is just the body’s natural response to an illness, and letting it run its course is typically the best way for the child to fight off the infection. Combined with a little TLC and a watchful eye, your child should be feeling normal and fever-free in no time.
Whenever you have a question or concern about your child’s health and well being, contact your Decatur pediatrician for further instruction.
The tonsils are oval-shaped, pink masses of tissue on both sides of the throat. They are part of the body's immune system, designed to fight off bacteria and viruses that try to enter the body through the mouth. Sometimes common illnesses are too much for the tonsils to handle, and the tonsils become infected themselves. This condition is known as tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils that can cause a sore throat and discomfort for your little one.
Tonsillitis is common in children, but it can occur at all ages. Many cases of tonsillitis in elementary-aged kids are caused by a viral infection, such as the common cold or flu. Bacterial infections, particularly streptococcus (strep), can also cause an infection of the tonsils.
If your child has tonsillitis, his or her main symptom will be a sore throat. It may be painful to eat, drink or swallow. Other common signs of infected tonsils include:
- Red, tender and enlarged tonsils
- Yellow or white coating on tonsils
- Swollen, painful lymph nodes in the neck
- Bad Breath
If your child’s symptoms suggest tonsillitis, call your pediatrician. Your child will need to visit a pediatrician to determine whether it is a bacterial or viral infection, which can usually be diagnosed with a physical exam and a throat culture.
If bacteria caused the child’s tonsillitis, then antibiotics may be prescribed to kill the infection. If a virus causes it, then the body will fight the infection on its own. Rest and drinking fluids can also help alleviate symptoms and ease pain. In some cases, if the child suffers from frequent episodes of tonsillitis or repeat infections over several years, your pediatrician may recommend a tonsillectomy, a common surgical procedure to remove the tonsils.
Because tonsillitis is contagious, kids should help protect others at school and home by washing hands frequently, not sharing cups or other personal utensils, and covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Always contact your pediatrician when you have questions about your child’s symptoms and health.
A number of factors can cause a child to develop a headache, such as stress, lack of sleep, skipped meals and certain medications. Other times a child may suffer from a headache due to a common illness or infection, such as a cold or flu. And in serious cases, head trauma or an underlying condition such as meningitis could be causing the child’s headache. That’s why it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s headache patterns.
Although it’s easy for parents to worry, most headaches in children are rarely a sign of something serious. However, parents should contact their child’s pediatrician if the child has unexplained or recurring headaches over a short period of time or on a regular basis.
Parents should also notify their pediatrician if the child’s headache is accompanied by one or any combination of these symptoms:
- Double vision, weakness in a limb or loss of balance
- Disabling pain that does not improve with over-the-counter pain medication
- Interrupted sleep
- Decreased level of alertness
- Change in personality
To help pinpoint the causes of your child’s headaches, parents should keep a diary of their child’s symptoms. Track when headaches occur, how long they last, the severity of the headache and if anything provides relief. Over time, your notes can help you and your pediatrician understand the child’s symptoms to reach a diagnosis and proper treatment plan.
Your child’s pediatrician may also ask you a series of questions to determine the source of your child’s headaches:
- Do the headaches follow a pattern or do they change over time?
- Has your child recently suffered a serious injury?
- What seems to help or worsen headaches?
- Does your child take any medications or have any past medical issues?
- Does your child have allergies?
- Is there a history of headaches in your family?
In many cases, a child’s headache may be relieved at home with simple care. Over-the-counter pain medications, rest and avoiding those triggers that prompt headaches may be enough to ease the pain.
Remember, headaches are not always a symptom of something more serious. However, parents should be mindful of the types of headaches their child has and how frequently they occur. If you suspect something is wrong or not normal, always contact your pediatrician for an appointment.
Whether it’s at the park, school or in your own backyard, kids of all ages enjoy climbing on the monkey bars, going down the slide and swinging. Playgrounds are a great place for kids to exercise, take in fresh air and socialize with friends. Unfortunately, it’s also a place many kids get injured every year as a result of faulty equipment and improper use. In fact, each year more than 200,000 kids under the age of 15 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries.
While there are some inevitable dangers, the good news is that many of these injuries can easily be prevented with proper supervision. Do you know what to look for to make sure your playground is safe?
Play it Safe: What to Look for at Your Playground
Risks linked with playground safety may not be as apparent as those associated with swimming or biking; you just have to know what to look for. You can make the playground safe and fun for your kids by checking equipment and surfacing for potential hazards and following some simple safety guidelines. These include:
- Always supervise your child to ensure playground equipment is used properly.
- Regularly check playground equipment for loose, sharp or broken parts.
- Know which surfacing is most appropriate. Sand, wood chips and rubberized matting are the safest surfaces for playgrounds, while concrete or asphalt could lead to a serious injury if a child falls.
- Make sure playground equipment is age and size appropriate for your child.
- Minimize injuries by teaching your kids basic playground rules.
- Play areas for younger children should be separated from those for older kids.
- Don’t let children wear drawstrings, purses, necklaces or other items that could get caught on equipment.
- Report dangerous playgrounds to responsible parties.
- Ask your pediatrician about other tips for playground safety.
Don’t let careless behavior or a faulty apparatus ruin playground fun. To minimize injuries, always be on the lookout for faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior. Play is an essential part of a child’s physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. Following these playground safety tips will help your kids play as safely as possible.