Posts for category: Pediatric Health
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant communication, communication, and behavioral challenges. The thinking, learning, and problem-solving abilities of individuals with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some individuals with autism need only a bit of help in their daily lives; others need more. While there's no cure for autism, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
ASD is the fastest growing serious, developmental disability, affecting an estimated one out of 59 kids in America. Autism begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society — at work, in school, and socially, for example. Often kids show symptoms of autism within the first year. Autism impacts how people perceive and socialize with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.
Autism can look different in different people. Kids with autism have a hard time interacting with others. Social skills difficulties are some of the most common signs. A child with ASD might want to have close relationships but not know how. Most have some problems with communication. Kids with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual. Examples of this can include repetitive behaviors like jumping, hand-flapping, constant moving, fixations on certain objects, fussy eating habits, impulsiveness, and aggressive behavior.
The exact cause of ASD is not known, but it's believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved. Research shows that ASD tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child with develop autism. Research also shows that certain environmental influences may increase autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Researchers are exploring whether certain factors such as medications, viral infections, or complications during pregnancy play a role in triggering ASD.
Treatment options may include nutritional therapy, physical therapy, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies, and medications. No medication can improve the core signs of ASD, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety.
Autism can impact your child's quality of life. If you think your child may have autism, find a pediatrician near you and schedule a consultation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of autism can help your child live a happier, more successful life. The earlier children with autism get help, the greater their chance of treatment success.
Childhood asthma is more common than you might think. In fact, it is the most common chronic disorder in children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma is a long-term respiratory condition that causes swelling within the airways, making it different for your little one to breathe. How do you know if your child might have asthma? The telltale signs include:
- Trouble or difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or whistling when breathing in
- Tightness in the chest
- Coughing that often gets worse at night
- Fatigue, especially with exercise or play
If your child is experiencing or complaining about any of these symptoms it’s important that you schedule an appointment with a pediatrician as soon as possible. It’s important to write down the exact symptoms your little one has been experiencing, particularly because their symptoms may not be present during their evaluation. If you have a family history of asthma, this is something that your child’s pediatrician will want to know.
During the evaluation your doctor will also perform a physical exam, taking time to listen to both the heart and the lungs for signs of asthma. Sometimes a test known as spirometry will be used to test the lung function (this is most common in children over the age of 6 years old). This test is used to measure how much air is in the lungs and how quickly your child can exhale. Other tests may also be performed to check for other health issues that could be exacerbating your child’s asthma symptoms such as a sinus infection.
Asthma is serious and requires medication to keep this problem under control. While there is no cure for asthma, your pediatrician’s goal for asthma treatment is to prevent the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. We want to prevent your little one from having to rush to the hospital for a severe attack. Luckily, there are medications that your children’s doctor can prescribe to lessen asthma symptoms.
The type of asthma medication your child receives will depend on several factors including age. Infants and toddlers may require inhaled steroids to control asthma symptoms. The dosage will also change depending on your child’s age. Along with long-term medications that will be taken every day to help control symptoms and keep inflammation down there are fasting-acting medications that your child will also be prescribed (e.g. albuterol), which is only used when your little one feels an attack coming on. Before any medication is given to your child, your pediatrician will talk to both you and your little one about how to use asthma medication properly.
When your little one is first born they will go through a series of tests and screenings to make sure they are healthy. This includes checking their vital signs, hearing, and vision. Your child’s first battery of health screenings will occur while you are still in the hospital. If everything checks out just fine then you’ll be good to go until you need to visit the pediatrician in the coming week. Of course, if we discover that there is an issue with their vision you may need to visit your child’s pediatrician sooner.
Of course, not all pediatric eye problems occur at birth. They can also happen as your child continues to develop over the years. This is why it’s so important that you are visiting your pediatric doctor regularly to ensure that if there is a problem with your child’s vision that they get the proper care they need to prevent more serious issues from happening.
Here are just some of the most common eye problems that children face:
Nystagmus: A condition that causes involuntary and repetitive eye movements, which results in a reduction in vision.
Strabismus: Sometimes referred to as crossed eyes, this is when the eyes are not aligned with one another.
Amblyopia: Colloquially referred to as a “lazy eye”, this condition occurs when vision is one eye doesn’t develop properly, resulting in reduced vision.
Congenital cataract: While most people associate cataracts with older individuals, it is possible for a child to be born with this condition that causes clouding of the ocular lens.
Some eye problems can be caught at birth; however, it’s important to understand that babies aren’t born with all of their visual capabilities. This is something that is learned over time as their eyes continue to develop and send signals to their brain. A baby’s vision isn’t as clear as ours; however, in the first few months, you’ll begin to see them focus on objects close up, develop eye-hand coordination as they grab for things they want or follow moving objects.
Of course, you will have a pediatrician schedule to follow, which ensures that your little one is getting the proper care, checkups, vaccinations, and screenings they need to check off certain developmental milestones. If your pediatrician detects vision problems they will most likely refer you to a pediatric eye doctor who can provide you with the best treatment options.
If at any time you become worried about your child’s vision, then it’s important that you make an appointment with your pediatrician to have their vision tested. Your pediatrician is here to make sure that your growing child gets the care they need throughout the course of their developing life so they can become a healthy, happy adult.
Many people mistake a common cold for sinusitis, and vice versa, as the symptoms of a cold and a sinus infection can be quite similar to each other because the same viruses often cause both conditions. Additionally, since the nose and sinuses are connected, it is possible for viruses to move easily between the nasal passages and the sinuses.
Your child may feel run down, have a low-grade fever, post-nasal drip and a sore throat. So is it a common cold or a sinus infection? Typically, a cold can definitely morph into a sinus infection, but there are some classic symptoms for each illness that can help distinguish between the two.
The Common Cold
With a cold, there is a cluster of symptoms that your child might be experiencing, including:
- Nasal congestion
- A run-down feeling
- Runny nose with clear discharge
- Sore throat
- Post nasal drip
- Fever may be seen in children, but not often in adults
If your child has a cold, they may even experience a cough or a headache, and it can often last from three to seven days with or without any treatment. Your child develops a cold from a virus in which the symptoms usually build slowly over the course of a day or two, peak by days three or four, then slowly improve around the fifth or seventh day.
With a cold, treatment might include supportive care, fluids and chicken soup. Drinking plenty of water is also beneficial as it helps to hydrate your child. By hydrating your child through water consumption, you can help to flush out the infection because it liquefies the mucus. There are also medications available to help make your child more comfortable as the cold passes.
Sometimes colds can set in the sinuses and cause swelling, which then prevents the flow of mucus and turns the cold into a sinus infection. Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses that can be caused by a cold, an infection or allergies. Any swelling of the sinuses can produce symptoms such as:
- Pressure or pain behind the eyes or cheeks
- Pain in the top teeth
- Green or yellow nasal drainage
- Post nasal drip
Your child may also complain of being tired, having a difficult time breathing through his or her nose, decreased sense of smell and restless sleep. If your child develops a cold every month or every other month, this is because his or her sinuses are flaring up and it is probably not a cold, but chronic sinusitis.
The main difference between a common cold and sinusitis is that a cold comes around once a year and lasts for three to five days, and then is gone and your child most likely will not experience it again until next year. Acute sinusitis typically lasts less than four weeks, with chronic sinusitis lasting more than 12 weeks. So if your child’s symptoms last more than a week, odds are they are experiencing a sinus infection and should visit your pediatrician.
By visiting your child’s pediatrician, you can help your child breathe easy once again. Whether it is a common cold, or a more serious sinus infection, your child’s pediatrician is available to help relieve their symptoms.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, caused by excess yellow pigment in the blood called bilirubin, which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. When bilirubin is produced faster than a newborn’s liver can break it down, the baby’s skin and eyes will appear yellow in color.
In most cases, jaundice disappears without treatment and does not harm the baby. However, if the infant’s bilirubin levels get too high, jaundice can pose a risk of brain damage. It is for this reason that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should be examined for jaundice within a few days of birth.
Is it Jaundice?
When parents leave the hospital with their newborn, they will want to look for signs of jaundice in the days following, as the condition usually appears around the second or third day of life. Most parents will be able to detect jaundice simply by looking at the baby’s skin under natural daylight. If you notice your newborn’s skin or eyes looking yellow, you should contact your pediatrician to see if jaundice is present.
Also, call your pediatrician immediately if your jaundiced newborn’s condition intensifies or spreads. The following symptoms may be warning signs of dangerously high levels of bilirubin that require prompt treatment.
- Skin appears very yellow
- Infant becomes hard to wake or fussy
- Poor feeding
- Abnormal behavior
While most infants with jaundice do not require treatment, in more moderate to severe cases treatment will be recommended. Some infants can be treated by phototherapy, a special light treatment that exposes the baby’s skin to get rid of the excess bilirubin. Infants who do not respond to phototherapy or who continue to have rising bilirubin levels may be treated with a blood transfusion.
Always talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about newborn jaundice.