CHILD HEALTH PROBLEMS
Common Health Problems
Parents often worry that they will not be able to tell when their baby is unwell. After a few weeks, as you get to know your baby and understand his/her feeding-routine, sleeping and waking, you will be able to tell if the baby is behaving differently. It won't be long before you are able to judge your baby's health perfectly, once you understand his/her temperament and behaviour. The common health problems faced by all the babies can be dealt with at home, unless the case is not extreme. New parents often worry that they will not be able to tell when their baby is unwell. Once you get accustomed to the routine of your baby, you will be able to notice any change in behaviour or routine. Sometimes, you may not realise that your baby is ill. Here are a few signs that will help you detect that the baby is ill:
Lack of energy
Doesn't pass urine for over eight hours
Stools are yellow-green in colour
Child suffering from fever
Not feeding normally
Cries and is irritated when carried
Feels hot and sweaty or hot and dry
However, a physician is to be immediately consulted if a particular condition is specific to your baby. Issues of sleeping, infancy problems and skin conditions are some of the general health related problems in babies. Vomiting is also a common problem that may occur due to some abdominal infection. Cough, cold and viral infection of the respiratory tract is also experienced by babies. However, with proper and regular care, these instances can be reduced significantly. It is important to keep in mind and follow some basic health guidelines that can go a long way in ensuring good health of your baby. A healthy baby will also keep active and display a pleasant disposition.
1. Body Temperature
Babies need to be comfortable at all times; their body temperature should neither be too hot nor too cold. No matter how healthy your baby keeps, fever among babies is a normal occurrence and though this is no cause to worry regarding your baby's safety, taking certain precautions can certainly help. If the body temperature constantly keeps high, you need to consult the doctor at the earliest and it may be an indicative of a deeper problem.
Ideal Sleeping Temperature for Babies
To sleep well, the baby doesn't need a specially heated room. Studies have found that a cool room allows both adults and babies to sleep well. The ideal temperature is around 18°C or 65°F. Babies, like adults, will need less clothing in summer. So, make sure you clothe your baby lightly, particularly while he or she is sleeping to ensure there is no overheating. If it is cold outside, you can wrap your baby with an extra blanket. However, once during the night, make sure you remove the extra layers of clothing to ensure that he/she doesn't get too hot.
Reading Baby's Temperature
People often tell you that you can find out whether your baby is hot or cold by feeling their palms and the sole of their feet. But these are not indicators of baby's body temperature. To find out the ‘core temperature’, place your hand flat against the skin of the baby's back or chest. If he/she feels pleasantly warm and not too hot or cold, it means his/her body temperature is normal. If the baby is very hot, he/she will feel sweaty, may have a heat rash around the neck and the face may be flushed. Reducing the number of clothes that the baby is wearing or the layers covering him/her will make him/her feel better. If the baby is feeling very cold, he/she will cry and even shiver. Sometimes, when the babies feel extremely cold, they will become motionless, as they want to safe energy to keep themselves warm. Adding clothing or covering will make them warm. You could hold them close to your body, so that they get warm as a result of your body heat.
Using an ear thermometer is the most accurate way of finding out the baby's temperature. You can find out the ‘core temperature’ by placing your hand flat against the skin of his chest or back. If he/she feels hot, it indicates that the baby has fever.
Dealing with Infant Fever
Put the baby in a cool room and dress him/her lightly. Sponging the baby with lukewarm water will reduce his/her temperature. Remove all his clothes except his nappy, dip the sponge in lukewarm water and gently rub all over his body. Allow this water to evaporate from the skin, thus lowering the temperature. When the baby has very high temperature, he/she may experience febrile convulsions or fits. This happens when the baby's temperature rises suddenly. Some children may face this before they are one year old. Consult the doctor if the body temperature doesn't come down even after sponging the baby.
Dealing with infant fever
Tips to Maintain Temperature
Baby's clothing should suit the weather and the heating within the house should suit the children and adults alike.
If the house is centrally heated, your baby will be comfortable indoors in just a vest and a stretch suit.
When the baby leaves the house, he/she may need more clothing depending on the temperature outside.
At bedtime, cover the baby with as many blankets as you would use if you were sleeping in that room. Each folded blanket is equivalent to two blankets. You don't have to keep the central heating on through the night.
2. Teething Fever
Each baby has different teething patterns and symptoms, which can be generally recognised by fever, drooling, cranky behaviour and swollen gums. It takes a great deal of time in this process and involves much pain for them leading to discomfort and laziness. Babies generally do not have very high fever and the body temperature goes to a maximum of 100 degree Fahrenheit. In case it is more than that, parents should consult pediatricians for any medication advice. Most of the times, Pediatrics normally allow the baby to go through the teething process without any medication and gradually, they become fine. Teething also happens to be the root cause of ear infection due to the development of pressure on the infant's ear canal and sinus cavities by eruption of the new tooth. The process of teething can also follow hereditary patterns and will have almost similar patterns as per their parents.
Fussiness is the initial and the main characteristic of fever from teething, as baby's mouth is painful due to sharp little tooth rising from the surface of the gums leading to soreness and discomfort.
Drooling is caused by stimulation of teeth in the mouth and it can be excessive sometimes, so better pile a full lot of handkerchiefs around you!
Baby with new teeth coming
Fever is the most recognisable symptom of teething fever as it is a general indication to bulging out of teeth. The fever can be low or a bit high. In case of high fever, consult a pediatrician for prescription of medicines.
Diarrhoea, running nose, lesser sleep, knowing, biting are common symptoms for teething fever in babies.
As the gums are painful and swollen, it is advisable to rub little pieces of ice on the gums which will help to relieve the pain and swelling.
You can also gently rub frozen cloth or cold spoons on the gums of baby to soothe the pain relieving the heat in the body. This will also bring the fever down.
With a prior consultation from pediatrician, take some gel or paste for gums and rub on the gums, with its disinfectant properties, it will kill the germs in the mouth and make your baby a little more less feverish.
Getting a normal body temperature is purely natural, if the degree of fever is normal to 100 degrees. In case the temperature is above 100 degrees, you can keep some cold water cotton straps on the forehead of the baby. Try not to give medicines to babies and if required, consult a pediatrician for the same.
Your days were passing by happily with your baby. You were busy taking care of them and they were busy playing around and giving you more trouble. Suddenly one day, your baby gets uneasy and irritable. You take him/ her to the doctor and come to know that your little baby is suffering from some deadly flu. It is quite difficult to accept that suddenly your child has been attacked by some virus, isn't it? But, this uncertainty is always present with the growing babies. Their immune system is still developing and so weak. They are prone to get infected and attacked by any infection or virus if not taken care of. Flu of any kind is caused by a specific bug: the influenza virus.
Children under two years of age are more likely to get affected than the grownups, and the flu can prove to be quite dangerous for these young ones. Babies with flu require special care and full attention. The earlier the flu is detected, the better and easier it will be for you to provide medical attention to them. The symptoms of flu are quite common, which makes it difficult to diagnose. A baby with flu may simply be lethargic or may not eat as well, or they may have symptoms similar to that of cold. So because of the uncertainty and common symptoms and signs, it becomes important for the parents to be extra careful for their babies.
Influenza A and influenza B are potent pathogens flu viruses, which can easily spread through air. If your baby is near someone with the flu and is coughing and sneezing, they may breathe in infected droplets through their mouth and nose. The virus proliferates when people are in close contact. It travels easily through schools, playgroups, families and daycare centres. The victim will get sick one to four days after the exposure, making it difficult for diagnosing it. The severity of the virus differs from person to person, and because the symptoms are mild, many a time people mistake it to be just a simple cold. This unpredictability and invisible nature of the virus makes it a threat for the person affected and the ones around them.
A child suffering from flu might show signs of sudden onset of fever, typically 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
Congestion and normal coughing are also one of the symptoms of the flu, which are taken lightly and left unattended.
The child may also suffer from fatigue and chills, followed by respiratory symptoms like running nose and dry cough.
Your baby may also suffer with ear ache, which gets quite painful with time.
Poor appetite, sore throat and swollen glands are few other signs of flu. The flu can also bring along abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting making your baby irritable.
The baby might also start wheezing or working harder for breathing than usual.
A baby suffering with the flu might fall sick again and again, even after recovering back from the flu.
Nothing is better than giving your baby full rest and lots of fluids. Nurse your baby often and if they eat solid, try giving them frozen fruit bars to encourage them to get extra liquids along with soup or broth, this will ease their congestion.
Do not pressurise your doctor to give antibiotics, which kill only bacteria, to your child. It is the virus not the bacteria that causes flu, so antibiotics won't be of any help. Antibiotics will only be useful if your baby develops any bacterial infection such as pneumonia, an ear infection as a result of having flu.
If your baby is uncomfortable, ask your doctor whether you can give your baby a pain reliever like children's acetaminophen.
Your baby may get better in three to five days. First the fever will break down and then their appetite will return. But, some children have cold and cough associated body aches that may hang on till two weeks or so.
Here are some ways to prevent flu in babies:
CDS or the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, strictly recommends flu shots for all the people, children and adults. Even if your baby is too small for the shots, those who are in close contact should get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This vaccine is more important for children in the high-risk group. Like if your baby is suffering with other diseases like diabetes, or a suppressed immune system, severe anaemia or a chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, they become more prone to get infected, so vaccination is a must for them.
But, this vaccination does not give a hundred percent guarantee. The effectiveness of the vaccine also depends on the health of your baby, and also how well the vaccine is matched to the virus that is circulating. If at all your baby gets flu even after getting vaccinated, there is a good chance that he/ she will get a milder case.
Hygiene is the best way to keep away from any kind of viruses or bacteria. Make sure that your baby's hands are always clean. Develop this habit in your baby and all other members of the family. This will prevent the germs from spreading. Keeping your baby away from the people who are sick will also help a great deal. No matter how clean and conscientious you are, your baby may get affected by the virus. So being hygienic is just a preventive step that you can take to help your baby stay away from the viral infections.
4. Common Cold
As parents, you can spend a long time distressing over your child's health and trying to figure out the exact reason behind that running nose or incessant coughing! Well, what you need to understand that babies being as delicate as they are, they are vulnerable victims to potent viruses. So it is normal for them to get frequent colds often. All you need to do is stop fretting and educating yourself more on the disease and ways of warding it off. A common cold is usually triggered by a viral infection that hits the upper respiratory tract of your baby, i.e., his nose and throat. Babies run a risk of catching cold because they are often surrounded by elders who don't always follow the basic hygiene of washing their hands. Also the chances of getting a cold increases during monsoons or cold weather. It is normal for your baby to get eight to ten colds in the first two years of his/ her life. Since common cold is quite common for babies, it is likely that one infection may linger on for several weeks. Also a cold can be an indication of some other infection too.
Common cold is nothing but a viral infection caused by rhinovirus, coronavirus, enterovirus and coxsackievirus. Once a baby has been infected with a certain kind of virus, it usually develops immunity against it. However, there are hundreds of other harmful viruses and your baby still runs the risk of catching cold every now and then. Some of the common causes of cold are listed below:
Your baby can transmit cold by direct exposure with someone who is already infected.
The virus can also spread if a sick person touches his mouth or nose and then touches your baby without washing his hands.
Your baby may also catch cold by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces like toys, utensils, clothes, etc.
Allergy and passive smoking can also speed up the intensity in which your child gets affected.
Cold weather can instigate cold related problems. The air is usually dry during fall and winter and spending time outdoors can make your baby susceptible to cold.
Most colds are nothing less than an unnecessary trouble. However, it is important to note the signs of your baby when he/ she develop cold. Here are some common symptoms to check out for when your baby has cold.
The first sign of cold is usually a runny nose followed by sneezing and coughing.
Your baby may get fever due to infection.
There may be congestion of nose which may in turn lead to breathing problems.
Baby will refuse to nurse or show lack of appetite.
The baby will become cranky, irritable and lethargic.
Frequent cold can lead to quite a few complications in your child. Though these complications are not very common, yet it is important to be careful and be aware of them. Some of the common complications that might show up soon after your baby have suffered a cold are:
Babies suffering from common cold run a risk of developing ear infections. These infections can strike if the bacteria or virus creep into the space behind your baby's ear drum.
Colds can lead to wheezing in your babies even if your child doesn't have asthma or other respiratory disorder.
Colds can sometimes lead to sinusitis too. Inflammation and infection of the sinuses are common problems.
Other serious complications generating out of common cold include pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup and streptococcal pharyngitis.
A cold can be a miserable experience for your baby and the best way to combat cold is prevention. As they say “Prevention is better than cure,” this saying especially stands true for cold since there is no perfect cure for it. You can avert the chances of your little one catching gold by following the below listed preventive measures:
You can lower the chance of your baby getting infected by avoiding contact with any other person who is infected with cold. Keep a handkerchief handy to cover your baby's mouth to avoid all chances of droplet infections.
Always keep your baby warm and avoid any exposure towards cold.
If your child shows signs of cold, feed him with plenty of liquids as fluids are known to ease congestion and wash out all toxins from your body. You can also use saline drops to ease a baby's stuffy nose.
Always wash your hands before feeding or attending to the needs of your child.
Keep your baby's toys and pacifiers as much clean as possible.
Sadly there is no known cure for common colds. Even the antibiotics don't help much when it comes to treating colds. The best way you can help ease your baby's discomfort is to keep him as warm as possible and consulting a doctor if your baby is below three years of age.
If your child has fever, you can give him Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Never give aspirin to your babies as it can trigger other complications. Also avoid giving any medicines to your little one if he/ she is vomiting or dehydrated.
It is important to keep your child hydrated when suffering from cold. Keep feeding him with fluids to avoid dehydration. If you are nursing, it is an added advantage since apart from keeping your child hydrated, breast milk is believed to offer extra resistance against cold causing viruses.
Keep your baby's nasal passage clear to help him get over any breathing difficulty. You can use nasal aspirator with saline nasal spray to clean the passage and offer relief.
Frequent cold and wheezing can indicate that your infant may be suffering from asthma. For that reason, it is always safe to check with your pediatrician and get your baby properly diagnosed. Asthma is a medical condition that causes airways and lungs to become aggravated and inflamed, thus making it difficult to breathe. It is difficult to determine if your baby has asthma until five years of age, as most other conditions in babies reveal similar symptoms. A baby's airways is usually small and a respiratory tract infection can cause the openings to swell and get congested with mucus leading to cough, wheezing and other related symptoms of asthma. A recurring wheeze is one of the initial signs of asthma. However, the presence of a cough alone does not specify that your baby is suffering from asthma. If you suspect that your baby is suffering from asthma, make sure to get it diagnosed as early as possible. Hence, early diagnosis and treatment is essential.
It is difficult for a doctor to diagnose your baby with asthma before he/she is 12 months of age. Wheezing may not always indicate asthma as several other conditions can instigate this condition. Problems like bronchiolitis, respiratory viruses, cystic fibrosis, heart problems and milk aspiration can leave your baby gasping. Often, it is seen that babies with wheezing problem outgrow it when they grow old. It's important to understand that just one instance of wheezing cannot lead to asthma. Only if your child shows repeated signs of wheezing, you should take him to a pediatrician. Detailed observation and tests are required to confirm any signs of asthma in your baby. Doctors avoid making any early diagnosis as it might cause unnecessary anxiety to the parents and family. However, if the problem goes undiagnosed in your baby, it might lead to severe complications of lungs over time.
There are many things that might cause wheezing in infants. Any piece of food or alien object inhaled into the lungs might cause wheezing. Also, premature infants with underdeveloped airways may show signs of wheezing. Apart from these signs, any kind of physical exertion, too much crying or laughing, changes in weather, exposure to tobacco or cigarette, and allergens like pets, pollen and dust can trigger asthmatic attacks.
Asthma is generally the outcome of complex relationship between a baby's genes and his environment. The common symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, tightening of chest, rapid breathing, fever, short of breath after any physical activity. The intensity of these symptoms may usually vary from child to child.
Consulting the Doctor
If your child shows repeated wheezing or suffers from bouts of coughing, especially in the night, you need to consult the doctor. Also check out for any kind of breathing problem in your child after any physical activity. Check if your child suffers from respiratory uneasiness in certain conditions like cold, or cold air allergens, or even pets or dust and smoke, etc. Also, don't forget to tell your doctor if you have a family medical history of allergies, asthma and sinus problems.
Although it is difficult to say if your baby suffers from asthma before the first five years of his/her life, his/ her wheezing can definitely be checked with proper medications. The doctor might even recommend asthma medications to see if the condition improves. As these medicines are meant for infants and babies, they usually outrun the risk of any probable side-effects. Most often, the doctor decides the medicines and its frequency is based on severity of breathing problems and the symptoms. Asthma medicines are often delivered using an inhaler with a spacer or through a nebulizer. It is important to teach everyone in the house how to use the inhaler and nebulizer, so that they can attend to the baby when in distress.
Some common misconceptions regarding asthma are:
It is said that breast-feeding can reduce the risk of asthma in your babies. Though there is no proper study to back this, it is believed that breast-feeding has many advantages and can thus help reduce the risk in your baby.
Hydrolysed milk formulas or soy formulas are believed to be especially helpful in saving your babies from developing asthma. This belief is however very hypothetical.
It is assumed that taking probiotics when pregnant can reduce the risk of asthma. But again, there is no concrete proof to support this theory.
Skipping on potential allergens in the diet (e.g. eggs, milk, nuts and shellfish) during pregnancy or during breast-feeding does not appear to prevent asthma.
Also avoiding house dust mites or not allowing pets inside the house does little to prevent asthma in babies as contrary to the popular belief.
Vomiting is actually a strong reflex action which involves an upward motion of all the contents in the stomach, from the body's digestive system to the mouth. At the time of vomiting, all the muscles of abdomen and chest contract together, causing pain and exhaustion. It is actually a symptom and not a disease. The episode is troublesome for all, but affects babies deeply as their body is not strong enough to take in the pressure caused. It is normal for babies to vomit during the initial weeks, because this is the time when their body adjusts to changes in feeding patterns. Usually, an episode of vomiting subsides after six to ten hours, without any treatment, except a minor change in the regular diet. However, if vomiting continues for the whole day or every time your little one binges on food and liquids, it is a cause of concern and should be immediately consulted, to find out the underlying cause and the treatment. There are numerous reason as to why vomiting in small babies occur and most of them can be treated by using simple measures. in the following lines, we have provided detailed information on the causes and treatments of vomiting in kids.
A common physiological problem, vomiting in infants is mainly due to the underdevelopment of the digestive system. The posture of the baby is yet another major factor which causes vomiting or queasiness. In an infant body, there are valves at various places of the digestive tract. These valves are underdeveloped and are mainly present to prevent the backflow of the content to the previous organs of the digestive tract. Since these valves are in an underdeveloped stage, they allow the contents of the stomach to travel back to the infant mouth, thereby causing vomiting.
Some of the underlying reasons as to why vomiting in kids occur are acidity, indigestion, worms and certain infectious diseases involving digestive systems like typhoid, cholera and enteritis. On rare occasions, dangerous situations in vomiting include bloody vomiting which suggest internal hemorrhage and tuberculosis. Dark greenish or some abnormal coloured vomitus implies ingestion of poison.
The best treatment for avoiding vomiting in infants is burping. It is a method wherein the infant is gently patted on the back, from top to bottom, so that all the milk consumed goes down in the stomach and nothing remains in the food pipe. In case of vomiting in babies and children, the best treatment is to make them drink boiled water. This would prevent the infection which causes vomiting. Also, it is best advised not to over feed children. Leaving a small portion of the stomach empty is the best way to avoid vomiting or feeling of nausea.
The diet chart for kids should be such that it involves frequent eating of small meals rather than binging on large meals once or twice a day. Also, there should be a gap between two meals. This is mainly to ensure proper digestion of the food. However, if none of the above mentioned tips work, medications in the form of syrups, pills, tablets and injections that have anti-nauseant or anti-vomiting property is advised after proper consultation from a specialised doctor.
7. Nappy Rash
Nappy rash is a common problem faced by infants. It is characterised by the inflammation of the skin in the nappy area. Stale urine and faeces accumulated in the nappy make the baby's skin become sore. Irritation in the area surrounding the nappy is another indication of nappy rash. As a result, spots or blotches (red or pink in colour) may appear in the affected area, thereby, aggravating the problem. While most of the nappy rashes are mild and can be treated with simple skincare routine, the pain or discomfort experienced by the baby makes it a problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
A baby with nappy rash
When a nappy, with stale urine and faeces, is worn by a child for a long time, the waste products are converted into ammonia, a chemical that can irritate the infant's skin, making it become sore and inflamed.
Fungal infection is another leading cause of nappy rash. In case your baby's skin is damp for a long time, it can lead to the growth of fungus known as candida. The baby's skin starts reacting to the production of ammonia. When it is exposed to the fungus, the problem is even more aggravated.
Apart from the above causes, nappy rash can also be a problem due to eczema. If your child is already suffering from eczema, the skin around the nappy area can become dry and sore. Moreover, he/she will not be able to find relief from nappy rash even after frequent nappy changes.
The red and scaly skin of the baby is caused by seborrheic dermatitis, which is another cause of nappy rash. This condition is commonly seen in baby aged between two weeks to six months.
Bacterial infection is another prevalent cause of nappy rash. Check whether your baby's nappy is unhygienic, or infected with bacteria.
Allergic reaction to a particular substance, such as grooming products including soap, fragrances, detergents, oils, and powders can trigger nappy rash. The condition may even lead to irritation and inflammation on the affected part of the body.
Baby Nappy Rash Treatment
Change the nappy of your baby regularly. Be sure to replace the spoiled nappy with a new one, whenever your baby defecates. Even if a nappy can soak the urine for a long time, it is better to change it frequently.
Leave your baby to play around without wearing a nappy, as long as possible. He/she would feel better without the nappy. Moreover, the rash will be healed quickly.
Do not forget to follow a skincare routine for your baby. Clean the genital areas of the baby, every time after he/she defecates. Allow the area to dry completely, before putting on a new diaper.
You may cover your baby's nappy area with a thin layer of protective ointment or a baby powder. Do this only after ensuring that your baby is not allergic to such products.
Allow room for air to circulate in the nappy area. Therefore, do not tighten the diaper too much. Nappies should fit somewhat loosely, so that the area of the body is allowed to ‘breathe’.
A normal nappy rash may continue for two to three days. If the condition persists for more than five days, consult a doctor and get a medicine prescribed for the same.
8. Hypoglycemia and Colic
Hypoglycemia is a condition characterised by low levels of sugar in blood. We need a certain amount of sugar, in the form of glucose, for normal functioning of the body. When the level of glucose in the blood decreases, it affects the functioning of our brain. While in the womb, the baby feeds through the umbilical cord and the blood glucose levels are more or less constant. After childbirth, the umbilical cord is cut and the baby has to adjust to the resultant fall in blood glucose levels. Immediately after birth, it is normal for the glucose levels in the blood to drop for a day or two. The baby's brain will get the energy it requires from the glycogen that is stored in the liver and is a substitute for glucose. In certain babies this may not happen, thereby leading to hypoglycemia.
Causes of Hypoglycemia in Newborns
The baby may not feed well for the first few days. As long as he/she is healthy and normal, there is no cause to worry. If the baby is breast-feeding, there is no need to give him sugar water to increase his glucose level. Some causes of Hypoglycemia in Newborns are:
Sickness in babies
Not developing well in the womb.
Babies whose mothers are diabetic are also susceptible to Hypoglycemia.
Monitoring the Baby
In case the baby is suffering from Hypoglycemia, he/she is monitored in the above categories closely.
Baby's body temperature
Baby's respiratory function
Baby's skin colour
Watch whether the baby is restless
If the blood sugar levels are very low, the baby may be administered glucose drips intravenously.
Colic and its Symptoms
The word, ‘colic’ is used to describe a specific crying pattern. If the baby draws his knees to his stomach, clenches his fists and makes a disgusting face while crying, he/she has colic in all likeliness. Colic usually begins when the baby is three or four weeks old and is, at its worst, when the baby is about eight weeks old. Babies with colic cry for long spells, which can last a few hours, usually in the evening or night. Though the child can be consoled for sometime, he/she begins to cry again for no apparent reason. Normally, babies with colic are happy, in good health and well developed. It is in very rare cases that colic lasts beyond three months. Some babies may show signs of colic, till they are about five months old.
An upset stomach
Underdeveloped nervous system
Fluid that flows back into the esophagus from the stomach.
Air trapped in the stomach forming gas.
Tips to Help the Baby
Bath the baby in lukewarm water.
Wrap him/her in cotton covering so that he/she feels safe.
Give him/her feet a massage.
Give him/her a dummy to suck on.
Give him/her gripe water or colic drops.
Dissolve three tbsps of sugar in a cup of boiling water, cool it and then slowly give it to the baby using a teaspoon.
You can consult your doctor for more advice. Ask family members to help out in taking care of the baby if crying is a regular feature.
9. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Babies often suffer many serious problems and they become more complex when you follow your own treatments and wait for the problems to vanish by itself over a period of time. Sometimes, parents seldom realise that some overlooked matters related to your child's health can subject to severe results detrimental to baby's health. One of the common health problems among your babies can be irritable bowel syndrome which is not a very dreadful disease but can lead to crampy pain, gassiness, bloating and change in bowel habits. Babies are more or less fragile beings and even any small infection can adversely affect their health.
Parents have to take notice about any bad health and should fully understand its affects on baby. Sometimes food can be the main culprit and when given occasionally, can trigger the stools to occur more often thus, adding to the syndrome. For the accurate diagnosis of the syndrome, parents need to take the baby to the doctor and get him examined for tests. Tests are mostly carried out by blood sample examinations. In other cases, endoscopy can also be carried out and better diagnosis can be stated for the right treatment.
Ordinary activities like eating or distention of gas or other material in baby's colon can trigger to overact with irritable bowel syndrome.
Spasms can be pulled out in babies if fed with milk or milk products very often.
Heredity is also a predisposition to occur in babies as they can inherit this syndrome from the genes of parents or ancestors.
Mostly large intestine is not able to absorb much salt or water from the food and leads to uncomfortable contraction of colon producing irritable and uncomfortable movements.
Abnormal passage of stools creating a feeling of emptiness in the stomach
Frequency is abnormal like 3 or 4 stools per day
Bloating of abdomen
Initially babies with this syndrome shouldn't be given much food to eat, especially milk or sugar rich products as they develop intolerance to sugar and fat rich food. If the symptoms for the syndrome do not disappear over a day or so, the baby should be taken to the doctor.
A baby suffering from this syndrome should be given water containing ORS which is available at any medical store and is suggested safe by doctors. ORS is given to replenish lost fluids in the baby's body and the quantity should vary between one to two glasses a day.
If parents observe that there is lesser constipation than fibre rich food can be provided to them and in case you figure out that after having fibre food, baby is still in the same condition then do not provide supplements rich in fibre.
It is advisable to consult a doctor in this condition as it is the question of a baby's health and they are far more delicate than adults. Thus, complete care and precautions should be taken in these cases.
10. Jaundice in Newborn Babies
A baby in the womb is totally dependent on his/her mother for food and oxygen, which reach the umbilical cord that connects him/her to the mother. The distribution of oxygen through the baby's body is aided by the additional red blood cells present in the baby's blood. After birth, the baby begins to breathe through his/her lungs and hence, does not need the additional red blood cells. His/her body will start disposing of the extra cells, soon after birth. These red blood cells are destroyed in spleen. A major by-product, thus produced, is bilirubin. The liver removes the bilirubin from the bloodstream and passes it on to the intestines of the baby.
Since the infant's liver is still in its developing stage, it is unable to manage the sudden increase in bilirubin, during the first few days post birth. As a result, large amounts of bilirubin mixes in the blood, thereby, making the baby's skin appear yellowish, which is a symptom of jaundice. Although it is natural to find newborns suffering from jaundice in the first few days post birth, a high concentration of bilirubin in the blood is considered a serious case. In such a situation, you should get the condition monitored by the doctor.
Treating Jaundice in Infants
Breast-feeding is one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of bilirubin in the blood of the newborn, because mother's milk contains some of the important nutrients required for the development of the baby's functional organs. Breastfeed your baby every two hours post birth. Frequent feeding can help the baby pass the excess bilirubin through his poop and thus, reduce the jaundice symptoms.
Sunbath is an effective remedy to treat jaundice in newborns. Remove the clothes of your baby and place him/her under direct sunlight or in a warm room for about 10 minutes. Lay your baby on a blanket, under the window, so that the sun's rays bathe his/her entire body. Be sure to block your newborns to avoid direct sunlight. The best time to sunbathe the baby is early morning hours, between 7 am and 8 am.
Treating jaundice in babies
In case the levels of bilirubin in your infant's blood are high, the doctor will administer phototherapy to treat the problem. During the treatment, your baby will be monitored under ‘special lights’ at the hospital, for 24 hours or 2 days. The special lights will eliminate jaundice by reducing the bilirubin levels.
Another way to treat jaundice in newborn is to substitute breast-feeding with formula. Depending upon the level of bilirubin in the baby's blood, the doctor may suggest to feed the baby on a formula (similar to mother's milk), for about 48 hours. After the bilirubin levels are back to normal, the physician would suggest to switch back to breast-feeding.
Your active and playful child suddenly displays signs of tiredness, weakness, irritation and has a pale face. These are nothing, but signs of anaemia. Anaemia is a condition in which there is an abnormally low level of RBCs and haemoglobin in the body. Red blood cells are the oxygen carrying cells, so when they become less in number, the body has to work harder to generate enough oxygen. To identify anaemia in adults is not a difficult job, as they exhibit clear signs. However, tracking anaemia symptoms in newborns is rather difficult. Only a very observant and keen mother would be able to notice this in her baby. The most typical signs of anaemia in babies are tiredness, inactiveness and pale skin. It is important to know the cause of anaemia in your baby, to treat it at the earliest.
These are some causes of anaemia in babies :
Abnormality in Haemoglobin
The structure and function of the RBCs depend upon the quality and quantity of haemoglobin present in the body. Certain inherited disease may cause abnormality in the haemoglobin. This in turn, causes the life of RBC's to reduce and they get destroyed at a higher rate. When the bone marrow is not able to keep pace with the dying cells, anaemia occurs. One such example is the sickle-cell anaemia. However, this problem is not so common with the babies.
Abnormal Shape of RBCs
Blood vessels are little tubes which run throughout the body. Sometimes, these tubes are large, while sometimes, they are microscopic. The tubes may be so small that at times, only one RBC can fit in through. Normally, Red Blood Cells are in the shape of a doughnut, giving them enough flexibility to pass through these small passages. However, if the RBCs are of abnormal shape, they may get stuck in the tube, causing it to fleece and destroy, thus resulting in anaemia
Deformity in Bone Marrow
The bone marrow plays an important role in producing RBC's. If some deformity takes place in the body, it will hamper the functioning of the bone marrow. Certain viruses and medications may cause such a dysfunction. Leukemia or cancer of the bone marrow also leads to a decrease in the production of normal RBCs.
Lack Of Proper Nutrition
To make RBCs, the body needs adequate amount of iron, foliate and vitamin B12. A lack of iron and vitamins lead to inadequate RBC production in the body and thus, anaemia. However, this usually occurs in infants on whole cow's milk, prior to one year of age and premature babies. Breastfed infants hardly encounter this problem.
Many other chronic illnesses can also slow down the process of cell formation and reduce the RBC count. Lead poisoning can also cause anaemia in children.
In their early years, a child is exposed to the risk of developing serious ailments that can last for a lifetime and in certain cases prove fatal too. Educating yourself on the signs of possible illness in babies and the various vaccinations can outweigh all risks and ensure your baby has a healthy and happy childhood. Vaccinations today are considered as one of the safest and the easiest ways to deflect any possible threats to your child's health. Immunizing your baby can be a life saviour for your little one. Polio is certainly a big example on how immunization practice has helped to avert a grave disease among kids today. Polio has been wiped out of most countries with only a few developing nations facing its threat now. For this, babies are now being given routinely polio vaccines to ward off any possible threat to their health. However, due to polio being almost eliminated now, most parents often do not realise how important it is to vaccinate their little one against this disease. Polio is a serious life crippling ailment and if not taken care of, it may show up as an ultimate danger to your child's life.
Effects of Polio
Polio is a highly contagious viral illness that can induce graver health complications like paralysis, respiratory disorders and even death. A person exposed to polio may not reveal any serious symptoms initially. However, at times polio virus can show flu-like indications in non-paralytic form and a much graver symptom in paralytic polio. In paralytic polio, the polio virus attacks the central nervous system, crippling the entire system and at times proving fatal. Anybody suffering from paralytic polio may lose the ability to use one or both the limbs, and face complications while breathing. The rate of recovery depends from person to person, but people afflicted with polio will complain of weakness in their arm and leg for their entire life. Also the chance of recuperating from paralytic polio is quite low.
Given that polio can have life threatening complications, it is surprising to note that most people infected with the disease never realise that they are affected. People suffering from non-paralytic polio or abortive poliomyelitis may reveal the usual symptoms of viral illness like fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, malaise, back pain, neck pain, pain or stiffness in limbs, muscle spasms and even meningitis. Paralytic polio, which is a more serious but rare form of this disease shows initial symptoms of fever and headache and other signs of non-paralytic polio in the beginning. However, later signs like loss of reflexes, severe muscle aches or spasms, loose and floppy limbs might show up as the infection progresses. Paralysis may hit all of a sudden.
Polio is caused by a virus that lives in the throat and intestinal tract. It primarily spreads through human faces and thrives in areas with poor sanitation.
It can also be transmitted through throat secretions.
People with weak immune system and those who haven't been immunized are likely to catch poliovirus, if exposed to infected person or contaminated surroundings.
Poliovirus spreads itself through contaminated water, food, or even through direct contact with the infected person.
Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, people infected with it can continue to spread the virus weeks on through their faces even after the disease has been detected.
Anyone who has not been immunized against the disease has the maximum chances of acquiring it. Expecting mothers, young infants and children and adults with fragile immune systems living in unhygienic conditions and in areas without regular or non-existent immunization programs, are potent victims of poliovirus. If you have not been immunized against polio, here are some things to watch out for:
Do not travel to areas where polio is common or has recently suffered an epidemic.
Avoid being in direct contact with someone who is infected with poliovirus.
Do not deal with lab specimens containing poliovirus.
You need to be careful if you have undergone tonsillectomy.
Stay away from doing any taxing physical activity once exposed to poliovirus as it might further depress your immune system.
Paralytic polio may have grave consequences like paralysis, disability, and deformities of the hips, ankles and feet in children. Although they may be corrected with surgeries or therapies, it may not be possible in areas where polio is still prevalent.
Polio can be easily diagnosed by following symptoms like back stiffness, abnormal reflexes, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. A stool test or samples of throat secretions and cerebrospinal fluids may be checked to confirm the presence of poliovirus in the patient.
Polio vaccine being administered
Polio is untreatable once infected and hence the prime focus of a treatment is usually aimed on offering comfort, quick recovery and averting further complications.
The patient should be given complete bed rest.
A nutritious diet is strictly advised.
Antibiotics are usually prescribed to deal with secondary infections.
Analgesics are advised to relive pains.
Portable ventilators to help in comfortable breathing.
Physiotherapy to avoid deformity and loss of muscle function.
Apart from improving public sanitation and maintaining personal hygiene, another successful way to put a stop to this disease is through polio vaccine. The OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine) and the IPV (Inactivated Poliovirus) is effective against polio and offers resistance to people with weakened immune system. However, IPV is not recommended for anyone who is allergic to antibiotics, streptomycin, polymyxin B and neomycin. If you or your child experiences an allergic reaction after any shot, get medical help immediately. The common symptoms of allergy are high fever, breathing disorder, weakness, wheezing, skin rashes, rapid heart rate, swelling of the throat, dizziness and unusual paleness. Polio vaccine is normally given to your baby together with other vaccinations, including diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP); hepatitis B-Haemophilus influenzae type b (HBV-Hib); and Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV).
It can be most disheartening for parents to see their little one down with sickness. Babies are more prone to infections during their early years of infancy. As parents, the best gift you can give your child is a healthy childhood. Nutritious diet and basic hygienic care may not be always enough to protect your baby from acquiring harmful diseases. What you need is a correct attitude and proper awareness towards your baby's health to combat all risks. Most parents often fancy thinking that their babies are less likely targets of diseases like tuberculosis and malaria. With the result they end up treating fever and flu as general signs of cold when at times it could indicate something graver. Educating yourself on some of the most common health threats of your child can help you fight all risks of infections. Malaria is one of the most common diseases to be found in children below five years of age. Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasitic infection generally characterized by fever, chills, and sweating. Malaria parasites contain the capacity to inflate in a short time thereby posing a risk of epidemic. A little care, proper diagnosis and timely medication can help save you a lot of trouble.
Malaria is more common in warm, tropical climate. A baby acquires malaria when smitten by an infected Anopheles mosquito and the parasites enter his/her bloodstream to his liver. Malaria can be treated with anti-malarial drugs. However, not all drugs are suitable for your baby.
Babies suffering from malaria will show sudden behavioural changes like irritability, lethargy, drowsiness, loss of appetite and aversion towards food.
Your baby is likely to get fever when suffering from malaria. In certain cases, the fever can rise with time while in some infants, the fever can shoot up immediately and go as high as 105 degrees.
A baby in a mosquito net
When your baby is down with malaria, he will show flu-like symptoms like chills, sweating, headaches and muscle aches.
Your baby may also show some rare symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea when suffering from malaria.
If malaria affects your baby's brain, it might lead to serious and aggressive symptoms like seizures, convulsions and unconsciousness.
Your baby might pass less urine or even suffer kidney damage or kidney failure if malaria affects the kidneys.
Malaria can be diagnosed very easily. A blood test is all it takes to confirm if one is infected with malaria.
Malaria can at times lead to severe complications. Therefore, prompt diagnosis and treatment is required to fight it. Anti-malarial medicines, such as chloroquine or quinine, given by mouth, by injection, or intravenously (into the veins) are used to treat malaria. The type of medicine prescribed, and the term of your treatment, will rest on a number of factors like the type of malaria, whether you are pregnant, your age, the place where you were infected and the severity of the symptoms. Doctors usually look out for signs of dehydration, convulsions, anaemia, and other complications that can affect the brain, kidneys, or spleen in the patient. Babies suffering from malaria should to be kept on fluids, blood transfusions, and breathing assistance.
Malaria is a serious threat to underdeveloped nations, while health authorities are taking adequate measures to control it by using mosquito-control programs aimed at killing mosquitoes that carry the disease. If you travel to the vulnerable areas of the world that run a higher risk of malaria, be careful to use window screens, insect repellents, and place mosquito netting over beds.
Measles is a dangerous disease. It is a contagious infection that can spread from person to person. The virus of the disease present in the air makes it more dangerous and difficult for the people to take some precautions. It spreads like some flu in babies, causing many deaths also. Measles is also popularly known as ‘Rubeola’. It is a disease of the respiratory system and spreads very quickly. A person suffering from measles lies down in a state of pity. The disease brings along shivering due to coldness and white spots which turn pink in a day or so all over the body. The patient gets rashes which grow quickly to the upper body, back and legs. There are not many treatments available for the disease because of it being an airborne disease. The best treatment is to prevent the disease, and you can prevent the disease only through vaccination. If the mother of the child is vaccinated then the chances for the kid to get affected is less, but it is better to get the kids also vaccinated. There are few vaccinations available in the market. The best and the most recommended among them is MMR.
Measles is caused due to the paramyxo virus present in the air, so it is also an airborne disease. The virus causes respiratory problems in infants. The babies suffering with rubeola may have high fever and rashes all over their body. This disease can spread if a child comes in direct contact with another child suffering from the disease. Secondly, the virus may be present in the saliva, sputum and phlegm of a child. So, there are chances of this virus to spread if that kid sneezes, coughs or spits.
The basic symptoms that a baby suffering from this disease will show is feeling cold, fever, rashes all over the body, cough and conjunctivitis. However, once the paramyxo virus hits a kid, it takes 10 to 12 days for it to show its full effect. Between these days, there will be certain symptoms shown by the kid which will appear in certain pattern.
This is the time lag between the exposure to the virus and actual culmination of the disease. It may last for a period of 12 days and on the 14th day, rashes appear all over the body.
This succeeds the incubation period. This period projects a cold like symptom. Babies will have running nose and watery eyes. They can get high fever.
Appearance of Rashes
Rashes show out completely after 2 or 3 days of projection of cold symptoms. Rashes are pinkish in colour that grow dark in the later stages.
Disappearance of Rashes
The rashes begin to fade down after 3 to 4 days. Once the rashes disappear, the kid may or may not be running temperature.
Though drugs like Ibuprofen, Advil, etc. are recommended for babies, home treatment is the best for this infection. It takes almost two weeks to recover from the disease. Doctors recommend bed rest in such cases. Measles reduces the level of vitamin A in the body which may complicate things. The best treatment is to immunize the person.
It is a bit difficult to prevent rubeola as it is an airborne disease. However, there are few precautionary measures that when taken can help prevent the disease. The best among them is to provide vaccination to the patient suffering from the disease. There is a vaccine called MMR which stands for measles, mumps and rubella. This vaccine should be provided to all kids after fifteen months of their birth.
15. Chicken Pox
New parents cannot stop bubbling with excitement at the arrival of their little one. However, the initial joy is cut short when more serious concerns over health and hygiene take over your mind, leaving you jittery for a while. The road to parenthood is laid with challenges. And one of the toughest things that you face as parents is to battle against those malefic germs and diseases that pose a constant threat to your little one. As parents, your concern over the health of your baby is natural. Babies are more vulnerable to germs and your baby will have to deal with common but dangerous diseases like typhoid, chicken pox, tetanus, polio and chicken pox, if not cared for. Chicken Pox is one of the most common occurrences among children. Though it is a rare thing among infants, who are generally defended by the antibodies generated in their mother's wombs until their first year, there may be some exceptional cases. Even if an infant is infected, it is likely to be mild and will be off in 5 to 10 days. Chicken Pox is contagious and you should take utmost care of your babies when infected.
Chicken Pox is caused by Varicella zoster virus, which spreads easily from one person to another. Any kind of direct contact with the infected person like touching, coughing or sneezing onto their hands or coming in contact with the infected air can expose your child to the risk of Chicken Pox.
Chicken Pox or Varicella initially pops up as tiny, red, prickly bumps that quickly change into fluid-filled pink blisters before crusting into dry brown flakes. The most common symptoms are fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, mild cough and running nose. It usually takes around 14 to 16 days for the pustules to appear, although they may show up anytime between 10 and 21 days. The bumps normally appear on the face, scalp, back and abdomen, but can show up on the entire body at times. A child can get as many as 200 to 250 blisters, although it is possible to have fewer bumps too.
Although Chicken Pox itself isn't any serious threat to your baby, it may, at times, lead to serious complications like pneumonia, encephalitis, and bacterial skin infection and even swelling of the brain.
You can prevent your baby from developing Chicken Pox by keeping him/her away from infected people. Also vaccinating your child against this disease is an absolute must. Vaccination doesn't immunize your child against the threat of Chicken Pox. Rather, it makes the disease a lot milder. However, it is not advisable for children below one year of age.
It is medically advised that your child should receive the vaccination at 12 to 15 months of age, followed by a second dose at the age of four. Vaccination has few side-effects. It is not advisable if your child has severe allergic reaction to gelatin. Again if your child has any kind of respiratory disorder or has undergone a blood transfusion, consult your pediatrician before taking your baby for vaccination.
Prickly Chicken Pox can bring a lot of discomfort to your child. You can ease you baby's irritation with a cool bath after every three to four hours. You can add baking soda or colloidal oatmeal to the water for a cooling effect. Apply lactocalamine lotion to the itchy areas after bath to provide further relief. Also, keep your baby from picking and scratching his/her sores. You can help by trimming his/her nails. Unhealed sores can leave scars and even trigger skin infections, such as impetigo. Always keep your child indoors when down with chicken pox to avert spread of the virus. Give your baby complete time to recuperate before taking him/her out. If your baby has high temperature, try to bring down the fever by giving some medicines prescribed by the doctor. Avoid giving aspirin as it can trigger a rare but deadly syndrome, called the Reye's syndrome. If your baby's condition worsens, you can ask your pediatrician for over-the-counter children's antihistamine to help reduce the itching.
Conjunctivitis is caused by an infection of the lining of the eyelids and of the outer protective layer of the eye called the conjunctiva. It can be caused because of a virus or any allergy and leads to sore, red and sticky eyes. Though it is not something serious, but is definitely uncomfortable. Some kinds of conjunctivitis may cause damage to the eyes if not attended on time. If it is due to an allergy, it will always come with other signs like fever including itchy nose and sneezing, while making the eyes feel itchy. But, if it is caused by some bacteria, both the eyes will always be infected with gritty feeling and pus. Conjunctivitis is notorious in nature and is a welcoming infection. It is welcoming in the sense it can get transmitted to anyone who comes in contact with the infected person. So a great deal of care and precaution need to be taken by parents whose babies are infected. They should keep the surrounding clean; keep themselves and their hands clean before coming near the infected child. There are other precautions and remedies that if followed can prove to be of great help to the mothers and their babies.
Consult your doctor at the earliest and get it diagnosed accurately. Use an ointment or drops, if necessary.
Bathe your baby's eyes daily with warm water and clean up any debris. Use a separate clean cotton cloth for each eye to avoid cross-infection. Sweep gently from the inner to the outer part of the eye to remove any discharge.
Give your baby his/ her own tweed and towel to use. This will prevent the infection from spreading.
It is an infectious disease and has a notorious tendency to spread, so wash your hands before and after touching the baby's eyes.
Bathing baby's eyes with a sea-salt solution will help the eyes remain free from discharge. It has a cleansing and mild antiseptic property which will help cure the infection.
Eyebright is well reputed by herbalist to be the best herb for treating the eyes. It has both the cleansing and strengthening properties. Make a solution in a cup of boiled water. Let it cool down and strain, and then use a fresh cotton wool and apply gently on the eyes.
Bacterial conjunctivitis may need antibiotic drop or ointment from the doctor.
Viral conjunctivitis will get cured on its own. However, regular cleaning is required.
Bathing babies in a little freshly expressed breast milk is also effective.
Babies suffering from conjunctivitis may get sore eyes. In this case, regular cleaning away of pus is useful to make the child feel better. Eyes can be cleaned either from the outside inward or from inside outward, whichever is comfortable.
Careful hand washing is most important to stop the infection from spreading.
Children and adults having conjunctivitis should stay away from schools and work places until the infection is cured.
Disposal of tissues, cottons and towels after use is an important step to control the spread of infection.
Pneumonia is a serious disease. It may become life-threatening if not treated on time. It is an inflammatory condition in which inflammation and solidification of air sacs in the baby's lungs takes place. This inflammation may be caused by a virus or bacteria or other organisms. Although pneumonia can develop at any age, but it is particularly serious in infants below one year.
During the normal process of breathing, purification of blood takes place. In the process, carbon dioxide is removed from the blood and oxygen is absorbed. This takes place by a process of diffusion within the air sacs or alveoli which are situated deep inside the lungs. In case of pneumonia, the air sacs become infected. Due to this, the baby's respiratory function gets disturbed. The baby's breathing becomes fast and shallow and he/she develops fever.
In small babies, a grunting noise can be heard during breathing and their chest heaves very fast and indrawing of the chest is clearly visible. The baby cannot take the feed properly and cries inconsolably. In severe cases, the baby's lips and face may turn greyish-blue due to the low level of oxygen in the blood. The baby may become drowsy or faint because of poor supply of oxygen to the brain.
Pneumonia is a serious disease. It should not be treated lightly. This disease demands prompt and effective medical treatment. In severe cases, the baby will have to be hospitalised for the administration of oxygen. The effective control of infection is very important with appropriate antibiotics. Regular monitoring of the baby till the infection is cleared should be done under specialised care of the pediatrician. For immediate relief, nebulizers are used which help in dilating the respiratory passage and help the baby in easy breathing.
A baby with nebulizer for treatment of Pneumonia
Meninges is the sheet-like membranous lining of the brain. Meningitis is the inflammation of this lining and the spinal cord. Meningitis can occur at all ages starting from newborn babies. It is a serious disease. It occurs very abruptly sometime even in a matter of a few hours.
Meningitis is caused by different types of bacteria and viruses. Meningococcal meningitis and pneumococcal meningitis are two common types of bacterial meningitis in babies. In some cases, tuberculosis can also cause meningitis.
These are the symptoms of meningitis. A child suffering from meningitis may have some or all of these symptoms.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Stiffness in the neck
Pain on bending the neck
Dislike of bright lights
A desire to keep the eyes closed
Drowsiness, irritability and confusion
Tiny red and purple spots or bruise-like patches on the skin
In small babies, who cannot complain of their discomforts like headache, etc, these are the symptoms.
Lethargy and feeling too sleepy
Difficulty to wake up
Rash over the body
A baby with meningitis needs to be hospitalised. The doctor would take a sample of the baby's spinal fluid and examine it before establishing the diagnosis of meningitis.
How Meningitis affects the brain
Regular and careful administration of antibiotics and careful supportive treatment is required for as long as the infection is not cleared.
If this disease is diagnosed early and treated quickly, then the chances of the baby to recover completely improve. But if the treatment is delayed, then the disease can result in permanent disabilities like deafness and brain damage. It may even prove fatal if prompt treatment is not given.
19. Hiccups in Babies
You are enjoying your food and suddenly you hear a ‘hic’ sound and it continues till you have some water. These are called hiccups and often come without any prior trigger. Hiccups happen when we do two things together, like laughing or talking while eating or drinking. Hiccups in babies happen while feeding. Like sneezing and snuffling, hiccups are also normal and very common in babies. Very rarely, hiccups happen due to any health problems.
How Meningitis affects the spinal cord
Hiccups are definitely not a health emergency, but for some people, it may continue for months together. In such cases, medical assistance is necessary. Hiccups are caused by a sudden, unpredictable tightening of the diaphragm, i.e. the muscle at the bottom of the lungs that you use while breathing, sucking air into the lungs. Just after the muscle start moving, the epiglottis (a flap in the wind pipe which stops food and drinks going down the lungs) closes over the airway, causing the ‘hic’ sound. This is the scientific explanation for the cause of hiccups. In simple words, hiccups occur when we swallow in excess of air. Hiccups are very common with babies. They often get hiccups while being fed and also after meals. This so happens because the babies tend to swallow air when they are been fed, creating gas in their stomach leading to hiccups. This is not at all an alarming situation and does not call in for not feeding the baby. You can just follow simple steps and cure the hiccups of your babies even while feeding them. Here are tips as to how you can cure your baby's hiccups.
Hold the baby against your shoulder and pat his/her back. Some babies tend to swallow a lot of air during the feeding process and this distends the stomach which leads to hiccups. So some gentle pats on their back can stop these hiccups.
A baby can take in a lot of air through the feeding bottle also if the hole in the nipple is too big. The hole should be such that there is drop by drop flow and not a continuous flow. This will not allow extra air to flow in for the babies to swallow, thus preventing hiccups.
There is a myth stating that you should not feed your baby at the time of hiccups. This is not true and thus, you should do not delay your baby's eating process because of hiccups since hiccups will not create any problem while feeding your baby.
Anise seeds for infants is also said to work. Add a teaspoon of anise seeds into a cup of boiling water and feed the baby two or three teaspoons. It often cures the hiccups immediately.
If for the first few months your baby is continuously getting hiccups, then overfeeding can be one of the causes. Feed your baby in portions and with time intervals. If you have realised that you have been overfeeding your baby, then start feeding them only on demand rather than the schedule created by you. Also don't force them to eat more than what they want.
This is a traditional European remedy. Gripe water contains safe, fast, effective and natural ingredients for curing colic discomforts. Gripe water is being used since centuries by mothers to cure their babies from hiccups, stomach cramps, gas and colic discomforts.
20. Nail-Biting in Toddlers
Toddlers and even grownups develop the habit of biting nails whenever they are in some trouble or are stressed out or simply when they are bored. Nail-biting is a very common habit that can develop in any person. It is a habit which gets developed without even the person himself knowing about it. Your child might be watching some horror movie and suddenly would have started biting his nails. Also when he/she is narrating you something new or different about their class or school, you might suddenly see them biting their nails. It is a very normal reaction by any person or a child. It helps them deal with the pressure of stress, anxiety, excitement or curiosity. It may become a matter of concern and worry when it becomes a routine for your child.
Here are few points on the causes and remedies for this unhealthy habit.
Boredom or Curiousness
Children tend to get bored very fast. They always want something new to happen around them. They are always curious to know and find out new things. This feeling of boredom and curiousness may also develop the habit of biting nails among them. In this case, there is nothing to get worried as the habit will disappear with time.
Nail-biting is a very common habit among the toddlers and falls in line of other habits like nose-picking, hair-twisting and tooth-grinding which kids develop to get rid of their nervousness and irritation. Almost all the kids develop such a habit before pre-school.
Tension and Anxiety
Nail-biting is often taken up by children to get rid of some tension or anxiety that they are living with. While taking the first steps towards the world outside, all kids tend to get scared and anxious. The first day of school, feeling shy in gatherings, learning something new in school are the common triggers. But, at times some serious problems at home or school may also be concerning them. Otherwise, there is no need to worry if your child is biting his/ her nail because it is just their way to get away from their small tensions.
Negative Effects of Nail-Biting
Nail-biting has negative effect on the physical and mental status of the baby.
Nail-biting can lead to red, painful fingertips. Your child may bite the nail so hard that it may swell up the fingertip which can turn out to be very painful and start bleeding.
Nail biting habits
Nail-biting transfers germs from the nails to the mouth and this can lead to various infections. Even bacteria from the mouth can get transferred to the skin through nails.
Deformed Nail Bed
Nail bed tends to get deformed due to continuous nail-biting. It may cause the newly grown nails to look odd and out of shape.
Biting nails can result in broken or chipped front teeth. It may also transfer germs to the mouth which may cause cavities in the gums.
Your child while biting his/ her nail may also pull off the skin from above the nail bed, called the cuticle. Cuticle damage may cause bleeding and painful nail bed.
Nail-biting may be a sign of great anxiety in a person. It can also cause self-consciousness and embarrassment in a person.
Here are some pointers on ways to remedy this bad habit.
If you can determine and you know when your child will bite his/ her nails, while watching TV for example, find out something that will distract them from biting their nails. Give them some toys in hand or play with them so that their attention is diverted. This will prevent them from biting their nails.
Do Not Overreact
You are tired with your kid's habit and start inveigling and cajoling your kid. Offering them options like painting their nails, telling them every now and then that their habit is disgusting will only make the matters worse. Kids love attention, negative or positive, and they measure attention by quantity and not quality.
Take Advice from Your Pediatrician
Taking advice from your pediatrician is a good option. You may be told that the habit will fade away with time, but mention smallest details like if their finger bleeds and so on. This will help the pediatrician in judging the anxiety level in your child.
Make the Habit Less Tempting
Cut your baby's nails and keep them clean always. This will leave them with no option but to refrain from biting their nails. There are products available that if brushed on, leave a bitter taste which lasts for days together. This discourages the little ones to opt for biting. However, parents are happy with such products but, experts consider them to be harmful for use.
Make Your Child Aware of Their Habit
Encourage your child to be aware of his/ her bad habit. Don't forget to give quite, secret reminders if they forget: a light pat on the arm, or some eye movement. This will make them conscious of what they are doing.
The first reaction from a parent, if they see their child biting his/ her nail is to scold or punish them. Nail biting like any other habit is unconsciously adapted. May be your child doesn't even know they are biting their nails. Nagging them or punishing them at that time will not serve any purpose. Speak to them in an understanding and compassionate way and make them understand that even though unconscious, biting nail is a bad habit and that you can't watch them doing so. This understanding gesture on your side will help them make an effort to get rid of their habits.
Praise Your Child
Praise your child if they are not biting their nails. Encourage them by rewarding them, if possible. Appreciate their efforts and make sure they continue to show such positive attitude towards you whenever asked for.
21. Restless Legs Syndrome in Babies
Is your baby not sleeping properly? Is he/ she quite restless? Is your baby throwing around their legs a lot? This may all sound very common a reaction from babies. But this is ironical when it comes to baby care. When you think it to be just nothing, it turns out to be a critical and complicated situation. When you notice any such symptoms in your baby, it means there is a need to consult a doctor. Your child might be suffering with RLS. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder, which gives creepy, crawly, itchy sensation accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. The uneasiness aggravates as the day falls and it restricts the sufferer from sleeping. Therefore it is also known as ‘sleep or evening disorder’ and experts refer to it as “Ekbom's syndrome”. In children, this disorder is associated with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that results due to inattention. We can also associate RLS with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. This disorder can prove out to be too irritable for your baby if it is not attended at the earliest and cured.
Diagnosis of the syndrome depends upon the manifestation of physical symptoms, child's description of what they feel and a polysomnogram showing typical limb movements.
RLS or Restless Legs Syndrome in adults could be due to many reasons. But in children, RLS is mostly due to the deficiency of iron content in the body. Genetic predisposition can also be a reason for children to suffer from the syndrome, and at times, it can be the combined affect that leads to the syndrome.
Being offensive, absentmindedness, inability to sleep at night, are few of the behavioural symptoms shown by children suffering from RLS. This all might be accompanied with pains and aches. These symptoms might be considered as a psychiatric disorder and might lead to misdiagnosis, increasing the risk. If your child is suffering from restlessness and agitations in the evening and fails to get sleep continuously, then it should be taken as an alarming situation. If the family has any history of RLS, then the babies are at larger risk of getting the syndrome.
Precaution and Treatment
There are several opinions regarding the treatment or precautions to be taken to curb the affect of the disorder. The uncertainty and cluelessness of this disease may lead to other complications. So it is always better to take precautions than opt for some cure. The iron content in infants should be regularly measured and taken care of. If required, food supplements and multivitamin tablets can be provided. There should be a routine life maintained for your child. There should be a time for everything, their sleep, food, play, etc. but the precaution and treatment of RLS is not at all a cakewalk. Firstly, detect the symptoms of the syndrome, which calls in for a lot of alertness and care on the part of the parents.
22. Shaken Baby Syndrome
A baby's body is immensely delicate and fragile as it has very soft muscles around the neck and contrary to that has a big head and big body. Violent shaking of its body can lead to unbelievable outcomes, especially in the brain portion, as a baby's brain is immature and needs room to grow in the small space between the brain and the skull. Violent shaking of the baby's body, although in a playful manner, can lead to internal bleeding, forming a clot inside the brain. Shaken body syndrome can also lead to bruising of brain tissue and tearing of blood vessels. None of the parents shake their babies intentionally but when a baby doesn't stop crying, parents do it angrily and shake babies violently. It is a result of intentional baby abuse most of the times, but can also be caused without any reasons, like playing with a baby while jogging. Parents should also take care of those guests who come to play with their babies which can also cause much trouble. You might have noticed that there are many small injuries which happen to your babies, but are all unexplained. The reason being is this particular syndrome that can happen over a twinkling of an eye can cause bruises, rib fractures and clotting of blood in the eyes.
Symptoms are always non-specific and can remain unnoticed for sometime, but can have sudden vomits or fussiness caused by the internal pressures developed in the brain.
Lethargy is also a characteristic feature of the syndrome and can be observed occasionally.
Babies may also have some breathing difficulties and may show some signs of epilepsy.
Treatment depends upon the type of abuse and in case of rapid symptoms; the baby should be immediately taken to a hospital for close monitoring.
Doctors watch for signs of brain swelling or bleeding, breathing difficulties and if these aspects are positive then the baby will be admitted in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and treatment will be carried out accordingly.
In case of less severe injuries, a cast is applied on the broken bones and cuts are stitched or bandaged.
Those babies who are affected by epilepsy are further treated by neurologists and medication is provided by them, but epilepsy can lead to dangerous problems like physical disabilities or mental retardation also.
If the baby is not much harmed by shaken baby syndrome then simple medications can also be followed by the parents and some prescribed pain gels can be applied on the baby's body.
Mother shaking and throwing up baby playfully
23. Tourette Syndrome
Tourette Syndrome is often thought to be a type of mental illness, but it is not. It is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood. Individuals suffering with Tourette Syndrome feel an irresistible urge to make sounds and body movements, and these movements are beyond their control. These uncontrollable movements are called tics. Tourette is defined as a part of a spectrum of tic disorder which includes transient and chronic tics. For children suffering with Tourette's Syndrome, tics are very distressing, with they having no control over it. In few cases, patients might even blurt out obscenity in their behaviour, although this is very rare. People suffering with this syndrome get relief only when their tics are expressed out. Tics increase with tension or any worries, and decrease with relaxation. So children suffering with this syndrome should always be kept calm and away from any kind of worry. Children suffering should be treated normally and should not be made fun of. You need to understand that the sudden actions or noises which they make are not under their control. These kids need extra care.
It is important to diagnose the syndrome correctly. The moment you notice any unusual expression or movement in your kid, pay a visit to your healthcare professional. Tics are the first sign of the syndrome, though all tics signs might not be tourette. Few kids develop tics for few weeks after which it disappears. A treatment plan for the syndrome can only start with accurate and thorough diagnosis. There are no specific tests conducted for diagnosing Tourette Syndrome. Doctors just rely on the past history of the patient's symptoms. There is nothing as the perfect or a typical case of Tourette Syndrome. This condition follows a reliable course, in terms of the age of onset and history of severity of the symptoms.
The symptoms for Tourette Syndrome are the tics which the patient develops.
These are a rapid, sudden and brief movement which involves a limited number of muscle groups. These include eye blinking, and other vision irregularities, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging and head and shoulder jerking. Some vocal tics may include repetitive throat clearing, sniffing or grunting sounds.
These are distinct coordinated pattern of movement and involve several muscle groups. Complex motor tics might include facial grimacing with a head twist and a shoulder shrug. Other complex tics might appear purposeful, like sniffing or touching objects, hopping, jumping, bending or twisting. The vocal tics may include sniffing, throat clearing, grunting and snoring. There are few more complex vocal tics that might include words or phrases, like coprolalia or echolalia. These motor movements can also get dramatic and disabling and result in self-pain like punching oneself in the face. Some of the tics can also be preceded by an urge in the muscle group called the premonitory urge. People suffering from the syndrome will be relieved only after they complete a tic in a certain way or a certain number of times. Tics tend to increase with anxiety and reduce when the person is calm. Any physical experience can trigger a particular tic.
Causes of Tourette Syndrome
Here are some causes which lead to Tourette Syndrome:
Person suffering with the syndrome is most likely to pass it on to their children. Tourette is a condition of variable expression and incomplete penetrance, so not everyone who inherits genetic vulnerability will show symptoms. The genes may express a mild tic disorder or as obsessive compulsive symptoms without tics. Only a minority of children who inherit the infected genes show symptoms severe enough to require medical attention. Gender also plays a role; males are more likely to express tics than females.
Some infections and psychological factors may also cause the syndrome. In some cases, auto-immune processes may affect tic onset and exacerbation. The National Health of Mental Health in 1998 proposed a hypothesis that both obsessive compulsive disorder and tic disorder arise in children as a result of a post streptococcal auto-immune process. Children who meet five diagnostic criteria are classified according to the hypothesis as having pediatric auto-immune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections.
There is no specific treatment for the syndrome, so more attention is paid on controlling tics and helping the person to adjust and live with the disorder. Individuals should go through a thorough evaluation. Counselling, learning coping techniques, medication and natural remedies are few treatment options for the syndrome. Depending on the need of the person, the treatment options can be mixed and combined. This will all lead to assisting the person to cope up with the disorder. Parents of the newly diagnosed children should be careful and investigate all possible treatment avenues for their children.
24. Asperger's Syndrome
Self-centred behaviour, repetitive behavioural patterns and difficulty in social interaction – all these symptoms point to Asperger's Syndrome in your baby. Asperger's Syndrome is a part of the family of autism spectrum disorders. Those suffering from the syndrome show difficulties in social interaction, along with repetitive and restricted behaviour and interests. This syndrome differs from other autism disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Unlike other autism disorders, it is also very difficult to track and diagnose. The babies suffering from this syndrome might exhibit a few symptoms only and even they might be difficult to identify. Unlike the children suffering from autism, those with Asperger's Syndrome might show no delay in language development. They usually have a good control over grammar, but do exhibit a kind of language disorder. There are no delays in cognitive development or in age-appropriate self-help skills, such as feeding and dressing themselves. However, they may have problem with attention span and in organisation. Such children usually have average and, at times, above average intelligence.
The causes of Asperger's Syndrome are not very clear. Researchers are still investigating for the exact reasons behind this syndrome. It is believed that the pattern of behaviour that characterises Asperger's Syndrome may have many causes. The condition seems to have a hereditary factor or component in it. Studies indicate that Asperger's may be associated with other mental disorders as well, like depression and bipolar disorder. Researchers are also looking for any possibility of environmental factors affecting brain development. However, what needs to remembered is that Asperger's Syndrome is not caused by emotional deprivation or deficient upbringing of a person. Some of the behaviour may appear deliberate and intentionally rude, but people should not mistake it as the result of bad parenting or upbringing. It is a neurological disorder whose causes are not yet been fully understood. Currently, there is no treatment for the disorder, as the causes are so vague, so a child with Asperger's grows up with the same. However, it generally does not affect the normal living of a person.
Babies suffering from Asperger's Syndrome usually stay away from other people. They are more of a shy nature and indulge in minimal interaction with the people around them.
Children suffering from Asperger's Syndrome are often highly self-centred. From their talks and behaviour, it seems that nothing matters to them more than their own self.
Such kids even tend to have a robot-like scripted speech or way of conversing. They keep repeating the same things again and again.
The syndrome often projects some odd behaviour and mannerisms. The kids may behave in a strange manner to a certain situation, or just generally.
The babies suffering from Asperger's might also lack in common sense. They may find it difficult to apply their brain in common situations.
Such kids tend to show some kind of an obsession with any complex topic or situation, which does not even require the amount of attention they are giving.
The children suffering from the syndrome may face some problem with regard to reading and writing. They may also have problem in subjects like maths, where reasoning is required.
Patients may also face problems with regard to non-verbal cognitive abilities, which can be average or below average. The verbal ability remains average or above average.
This syndrome is very difficult to diagnose as children suffering with Asperger's function well in most aspects of life. So, their strange behaviour can easily be attributed to them being different. According to mental health experts, the detection of the syndrome at the earliest is very important. Interventions involving educational and social training perform while a child's brain is still developing is highly recommended. Though the symptoms are not very clear, but if you are able to detect even few of them, it is advisable to recommend your child to a doctor. A complete psychosocial evaluation will be done while examining the baby. This will include careful examination of the history of symptoms, the language and motor skill development of the child and other aspects of personality and behaviour.
These are the ways of treating Asperger's Syndrome (A.S.):
It is very important for the parents to be completely aware about all the aspects of the disorder. The parents whose child is suffering with the disorder should be well aware of the disorder and its affect, so that they can take proper care of their children, as prescribed by the specialist.
Children suffering with this syndrome are self-centred. They don't mingle well with the society. It is important to give them some social-skill therapy. The parents or the family members can only help them by comforting them and granting confidence in them at social gatherings.
Children suffering with Asperger's Syndrome show some difficulty in speaking and communicating, though they have good control over language. There is a need for them to go through a language therapy to make their expressing ability fluent.
Specialised Educational Interventions
Children suffering with A.S. can also face problems in educational field, so a special educational intervention is a must.
Sensory Integration Training
The sufferers of the syndrome might be highly sensitive to certain things or situations. So, a sensory integrated training can be conducted by a specialist, which will help decentralize the stimuli to which the children are highly sensitive.
Once a child grows up, they can also undergo psychotherapy or a cognitive therapy for better results.
There are no medications as such for Asperger's Syndrome. But some medications as prescribed by a specialist may improve some specific symptoms that might be complicating your baby's progress.
25. Thumb Sucking
As soon as the babies get control over their limbs, everything they can lay their hands on goes into their mouth. The same goes for their thumb. Babies around six months of age suck their thumbs as it gives them pleasure. This may continue for a few months and most babies outgrow it when they become toddlers. However, there are some babies who continue to suck their thumbs beyond that period.
The main causes of thumb sucking in a baby are :
Some children are particularly shy. They contine to suck their thumb to overcome this feeling of shyness.
Some children resort to thumb sucking when they face unusual situations or new environment. This could be starting of a new kindergarten school or the arrival of unfamiliar guests in the house. All this makes them feel secure and they find comfort in thumb sucking.
When a child is feeling frightened, he/she sucks his/her thumb as it gives a soothing feeling. This is similar to holding tight the stuffed teddy bear.
A few children may return to thumb sucking which they had given up earlier when they are faced by some insecure situation like the birth of a sibling. In such a case when all the attention is bestowed on the new arrival, the older child seeks attention and picks up the habit of thumb sucking.
Thumb sucking habit
There is no clinical treatment available for thumb sucking. You must understand that this habit signifies a growing sense of insecurity in the child. So be patient. Give more attention to your child. Do not try to punish him/her. Avoid scolding or making fun of the child in front of others. You may face some setbacks in his progress so be prepared for them. Slowly and gradually wean the baby from this habit.
In this condition, there is a raw swelling over a portion of the spine at birth. This results in paralysis of the legs (either partial or complete), inability to control bladder functioning and inability to feel anything below the spina bifida. In some cases, there is a build up and retention of water in the brain, which is known as hydrocephalus. This swelling can be closed by an operation by specialists.
In this condition, parts of the digestive system are lying outside the stomach cavity. This is because the area around the navel is not very strong. Normally, cases of umbilical hernias around the navel heal on their own; if they don't, surgery is required.
Sickle Cell Disease
This is a hereditary condition that is most commonly found among people of West African or African Caribbean descent. The haemoglobin in the Red Blood Corpuscles disintegrates at a quicker rate than normal. Haemoglobin is important, as it carries oxygen to the different parts of the body. Reduction in haemoglobin causes anaemia and blocks blood vessels in the hands, legs and stomach. An attack can last for a few days and can be treated with painkillers. This is also known as Sickle Cell Disease.
This is another hereditary illness, in which the tissues in the body produce unusually thick mucus. The commonly affected organs are the lungs, the intestines and the pancreas. If the lungs are affected, the air ducts are blocked and hence, vulnerable to infection. Children with this condition have an inability to digest food completely and have bad smelling bowel movements and constipation. They are well below the normal weight for their age. This illness has no cure, but if detected in the initial stages, lung damage can be reduced. These children are susceptible to chest infections and have to be treated with antibiotics. Chest physiotherapy is required regularly to remove thick phlegm.
In this condition, the child's intestine reacts strongly to gluten, a protein found in wheat. These children have a severe case of diarrhoea, where the stools are fatty, pale and don't flush away. The child does not put on weight as required. The illness can be detected by a blood test. After being detected, the child will have to completely give up gluten containing food. Once this is done, stools return to normal and the child will put on weight.
In this condition, the foot curves inwards or outwards. All babies are checked for this at birth, more so, if they were born in the breech position, as it occurs more frequently with these babies. Often, they can be manipulated into the proper position, with little or no treatment. Surgery may be required in severe cases. This condition is also known as Talipes.
In this condition, the cleft lip and the cleft palate are fused, thus the baby cannot be breastfed. Various support groups will help you deal with the situation and corrective plastic surgery is possible.
Congenital Dislocation of the Hip
All babies are screened for this condition at birth and when they are eight weeks old. If this condition goes undetected, walking can become a problem later in life. If diagnosed with this problem, the baby will have to wear a special splint for some time. Most recover without having to be operated on, but some do need an operation. This condition is prevalent more among girls and breech babies.
In this condition, the parts of the brain that control body movements are damaged. This can happen before birth, during birth, or in the first two years after birth. In some cases, damage may not be noticed at birth, but as the child grows, it becomes evident. It is difficult to pinpoint as to what causes this damage. There are a few tests that can be conducted when the baby is eight weeks old to screen him for cerebral palsy.
Having a baby calls in for a lot of alertness. Parents need to always be on their toes for any negligence on their part can make the baby suffer for the whole life. Babies are in a stage of development, but the process of their development can be hampered and slowed down by many diseases and disorders. One such disorder is ‘Autism’. Autism is a complex brain disorder that affects many aspects of child development, including how a kid talks, plays and interacts. This is a disorder that appears in early childhood affecting their basic, expressive skills. The severity of the disease and its symptoms differ from one child to another. Some autistic children have only mild impairments, while some have more obstacles to overcome. To detect a child suffering with this disorder is not all that difficult, and the sooner the symptoms are detected, the better it is for the child. It is very important to sight the warning signs in toddlers, and the moment the signs are detected, help should be sought at the earliest.
Here are some common symptoms which indicate that your child is suffering from autism:
Babies suffering from this disorder may suffer communication problems. They may face problems both in verbal and non-verbal communication. Spoken language is delayed in autistic babies and may even be absent. Even if they are able to speak, they might have difficulty in doing so freely and easily. Other symptoms involve odd or repetitive speech pattern, inappropriate facial expressions and gestures.
Impaired Social Skills
Children suffering from this disorder have impaired social interaction. They may lack in interest for their surroundings and people around. These children are always in their own world, not interacting or playing with others. They face trouble in sharing emotions, making friends and understanding the feelings and thinking of others.
Babies are usually curious and playful. However, a baby suffering with autism will not be interested in human attention. They will not respond to any attention or any gesture made towards them. They will be least affected and bothered about what is happening around them.
Autistic children often depict stereotypical or repetitive and restricted behaviour and interests. They may show extreme restriction to change, obsession towards unusual objects, inflexible routines and schedules. They also are subject to repetitive body movements like hand flapping, rocking, etc.
Lack of gestures and expressions is the sign of babies suffering with autism. When infants reach their first birthday, it is a stepping stone for them to a new world. They are curious and eager to use their limited communication skills to know about the world around. It is not the same with kids suffering with autism. They are least interested in knowing anything and might not perform typical gestures like babies of their age, such as waving hands, or pointing towards something.
Lack of Bonding
Babies suffering with this disorder might not bond with their parents, siblings or other members of the family. They may react the same way to their parents as they do with the strangers.
Lack of Interest
Autistic babies are very different from any other babies. They may not get attracted to popular play items like ball, stuffed toys, dolls, etc. They have their own way of passing time. They will perform repetitive actions like rotating their hands, turning the pages of books, etc.
The causes of autism are generally unknown, but experts label them as genetic and environmental.
Research has proved that genes inherited have a crucial role to play in getting autism along. However, no single gene is to be blamed. Scientists believe that atleast 5 to 20 major genes are involved in autism, with others contributing to the risk. The evidence that autism is hereditary comes from twin studies. Multiple twin stories show that when one identical twin develops the disorder, it is very likely for other to get affected in 9 out of 10 cases. In fraternal twins, the ratio is 1 in 10. Studies have also proved that older parents are significantly at higher risk of having autistic babies. The age of father appears to be more important.
Genes alone do not explain the rising cases of autism, so scientists are also looking for answers in the environment. The idea is that toxic chemicals or other harmful elements in the environment may trigger autism, either by turning on or exasperating a genetic vulnerability, or independently disturbing brain development. Studies have suggested that autism can be triggered by exposure to viral infections, pesticides, insecticide at the time of pregnancy. Oxygen deprivation during delivery can also increase the risk of autism. Air pollution, food additives, flame retardants and certain chemicals used to make plastic and other synthetic materials can also cause autism. These toxins are more dangerous for young babies whose brains are more likely to absorb these toxins, but less effective in clearing them out.
There is no best treatment package for those suffering with autism. However, experts believe that a well-structured specialised program can help. Early detection of the signs and early medical reference is very important. Before taking decision about child's treatment, parents must do as much research as possible. Parents should also ask questions like, how successful will be the program? Is the staff well trained? How are activities planned and organised? How is the progress measured? Asking these questions will not only make the doctors responsible, but will also provide you an insight of what is taking place with your baby.
27. Down Syndrome
Upward slanting eyes, unusual looking ears, broad hands with short fingers, sometimes pinkish in colour, small head are all characteristic features of Down syndrome. It sends waves of terror down your spine when you imagine the condition associated with down baby syndrome. Scientifically, it is the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in the body. Down syndrome usually carries slow mental and physical growth. Even language also develops slowly and in the worst cases babies are born with heart problems and needs to be operated later. It is hard to believe that babies with Down syndrome are nothing but incomplete bodies marred with wrong functioning. It can also lead to hearing impairment and vision problems too, accompanied by intestinal infections. Babies can be treated over a period of time as they grow older and are resistant enough to bear pain involved in operations.
If one of the parents is overaged at the time of conceiving, it can lead to Down Syndrome in some cases.
Smoking by parents can be a prominent factor for a baby to get affected by Down Syndrome.
It can be genetic in some cases and may pass from ancestors to next generations, but the probability is very low.
It is really one of the most disheartening moments in one's life when one comes to know that the much awaited baby has arrived, but with Down Syndrome. The relief is that the treatment can help to alleviate the condition to a certain extent.
A confirmed diagnosis of Down Syndrome requires a test. After your baby's birth, this test is performed on the blood samples and in 2 or 3 weeks time, the test displays results. This waiting period can be extremely difficult, especially if earlier test results were uncertain and your baby displays only subtle characteristics of Down Syndrome.
Since it is a problem related to the chromosomes and nothing much can be done about these ingrained issues, it is important to, at least, reduce the syndromes symptoms as per the doctor's consultation.
Down Symdrome in babies
Doctors encourage several counselling sessions for parents and children to make them aware. Educating oneself on the syndrome will encourage parents to take corrective actions and consider the extent of mental retardation in babies and its influence in their child's life.
Make sure your baby has regular checkups and tests and any symptoms and signs associated with it are diagnosed as early as possible, so that drugs and medicinal help can be given to the baby at the earliest.
Apart from everything else, don't forget to lend moral support to your baby. Never give up on hope and try as much as you can to bring back your baby to the normal state.
28. Flat Head Syndrome
Babies are like newly published books that seem to reveal some new and astounding information every now and then. Babies are born with waxy and pliable organs and can develop some dramatic problems arising due to resting in the same position for longer times, may be in a car seat or their beds. This may lead to baby's head being flat at some spots. In such cases, you can always encourage the babies to rest their heads in alternative directions. You should take notice that they are not sleeping at one particular position and turn them whenever you can. You just have to make sure that the baby doesn't take pressure on a particular area of the head and even if the head has been flattened before, it can be resumed to normal shape again. Adding to your relief is the fact that flat head syndrome is purely a cosmetic issue and doesn't relate to the mental development of a baby. Yet it is a matter to be thought about.
Apart from sleeping or resting postures, flat head syndrome can also be caused in the womb itself by mother's pelvis or pressure from a twin.
‘Craniosynostosis’ is a term characterised by a condition where the bones in the skull fuse together in a short time and can lead to the syndrome.
Congenital disabilities can also add to the deformity of the head.
Flat head baby – before and after cure
Babies are born with normal heads, but due to postures can be deformed easily; you can initially give the condition its own time to recover the flat head.
If you are noticing the flat head of your baby for a longer period of time, you can take an appointment with your pediatrician and can check with his specifications and directions.
Treatment starts with the recommended exercises by the doctor, which include sleeping more on tummy, using a U-shaped ring on the neck at the time of lying down, repositioning during sleeping can help, etc.
All the recommended exercises should be beneficial but if it's not turning to be so, then you can again consult your pediatrician for more improvements and suggestions.
Cranial moulding devices and helmets are also available under doctor's guidance at stores, which can be bought and used for the recovery purposes.
Make sure you do not use the devices for a longer period of time as it may hinder the blood circulation in the head and may produce a numb feeling as well.
29. Handicaps in Children
When any disability of body or mind interferes with the ability of the child to lead a normal life or to benefit from a normal education, then the child is considered to be handicapped. Most of these handicaps may be prevented by careful pre-pregnancy planning, regular checkups, care of the pregnant mother and supervised delivery of the baby. These are the various handicaps found in children.
Types of Handicaps
Partial or total blindness
Partial or total deafness
Disorders of joint, bone or muscle
Nervous system disorders like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, etc
Organ diseases like lung, heart, kidney diseases
Timely detection of a handicap is very important. It helps to correct or limit disability and allow better chances of recovery with optimum results of rehabilitation therapy. Some defects are obvious and can be detected very early but some defects like mental retardation, visual and hearing defects, etc., may remain unrecognised for quite some time. Regular examination of the baby by the pediatrician helps in early detection of any handicap.
Depending upon the nature of disability, handicapped children require different kinds of treatment. Occupational therapies, speech therapy, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, etc., are some of the treatments which are given by specialists to the child according to the nature of handicap.
Handling of Handicapped Child by Parents
Discuss the exact nature of your child's handicap and find out the underlying cause of the problem and its genetic implications. Also find out from the doctor the likely outcome of the handicap in the long run. You should learn the outline of the proposed management.
Keep a positive outlook while remaining pragmatic and realistic in accepting the existence, nature and severity of the handicap.
Do not harbour any sense of trauma, guilt or shame in association with the handicap.
Avoid feeling embarrassed in public in the company of your disabled child. This mental approach will help you to look after the child properly.
Give consideration and respect to your handicapped child like any other child.
Help the child to retain his/her sense of self-esteem despite the disability and be strong enough to face the difficulties with confidence.
Your love and security is important for the child but do not become overprotective.
30. Congenital Abnormalities
Some babies are born with certain abnormalities, which are present at the time of the birth of the baby. These are known congenital abnormalities. These abnormalities are a result of problems, while the baby was developing in the foetus or because of complications during labour. These may be hereditary abnormalities. The causes of more than half of the congenital abnormalities in human are unknown. They are referred to as sporadic, which implies an unknown cause in medical terms.
Given below are a few common congenital abnormalities that may be seen in babies.
Q-1. My two-year old son has worms in his stools. Is it true that this happened because he eats lots of sweet as he is very fond of sweets.
Ans. You will have to deworm your son by giving him the medicine prescribed by his pediatrician. Teach him the general rules of hygiene like washing hands properly after using the toilet and before and after eating food. Sweets can be responsible for tooth decay if the child does not practise oral hygiene but they are in no way responsible for worms in the stools.
Q-2. My daughter's tonsils are enlarged due to frequent throat infections. Can I get them removed by an operation?
Ans. Tonsils are the glands which protect a child against infection. Giving proper and complete course of antibiotics can cure this problem. Improve immunity of your child by giving her good and nutritious diet. Removing tonsils should be the last resort and that too, in case they are obstructing the child's breathing.
Q-3. My daughter has asthma. Her pediatrician has prescribed some steroid puffs to be taken every day. Are there any side-effects of these steroids?
Ans. There are no side-effects with steroid puffs so long as you make sure that the child rinses her mouth each time she takes the puff. This is done to avoid any possibility of developing a fungal infection or hoarseness of voice. Continue her treatment under the watchful eyes of a pediatrician and follow the doctor's advice properly.
Q-4. My one and a half-year old daughter keeps getting urine infection often. What should be done?
Ans. Urine infection is more common among girls because urethra, the duct from which the urine comes out, is located closer to the anus as compared to boys. So the bacteria from the stools can reach the urethra easily and cause urine infection. Clean her genitae area from front to back after she passes stools so that chances of infection lessen. If she still gets frequent urine infection, consult her pediatrician. She may need to be investigated thoroughly.
Q-5. In our family, no one eats curd and orange during winter season thinking they will catch cold. My son is very fond of these two things. Can I give him curd and orange during winter?
Ans. It is just a myth that curd and orange should not be eaten during winter. In fact, both these things contain vitamin C which is good to boost body's immunity and help in fighting infection. There is definitely no harm in giving both these things to your son so long as he does not have any allergic tendency towards them.