Meningitis is a cause for concern for any parent. It is an infection of the linings around the brain and spinal cord that can result in death. Some types of meningitis are more deadly than others but even if the condition is not life threatening, it is a serious infection with major possible complications. The key is to identify meningitis as early as possible in children – a task that can be difficult as symptoms may not be as typical as it would be in adults. Parents therefore need to be vigilant when a meningitis outbreak is reported among children in a certain area. Even without outbreaks, being able to spot meningitis early can sometimes make the difference between life and death.
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Autism is disorder of the brain that affects about 1 in 88 children in the United States. There is no specific test to diagnose autism. Instead it has to be identified by the signs and symptoms as observed by the parents of a child along with the assessment of relevant health care practitioners. Autism is evident from early childhood but the signs and symptoms can be difficult to spot. The problem is that most parents are not aware of the features of autism. It is only when parents realize that something is “wrong” that they seek medical advice and research autism further.
Globally, about 40% of mothers breastfeed their babies and health authorities around the world continue to encourage women to do so due to the nutritional benefit of breast milk. But breastfeeding can raise some concerns for mothers, especially first time mothers. The main such concern is whether baby is getting enough milk. Unlike with bottle feeding, whether it is baby formula or expressed breast milk, there is no way to verify the exact quantity of milk being breastfed.
Getting an infant to sleep is not an easy task. A baby can be well fed, have a clean diaper and be gently rocked for long periods but may still not sleep. It often proves to be frustrating for both parents and caregivers but can be much worse if the baby cries non-stop during the time awake. Parents may be at their wit’s end trying to find the reason why a baby is not having a good quality sleep but sometimes the most obvious problems are missed. It is always important to speak to a pediatrician – your baby could be unwell even though there are no otherwise obvious symptoms.
The basics may be obvious to most parents – feed regularly, change the diaper, make sure they are tucked in, a short lullaby and some gentle rocking. But it is not always a fool proof formula. All too often babies are labeled as being ‘colicky’ when the exact reason why he/she is not sleeping cannot be identified. But sometimes it is the simplest of measures that can make all the difference and help baby sleep soundly for at least a few hours.
Caring for a newborn baby can be daunting for any parent. It is generally more difficult for first time parents despite the advice and assistance of others. However, in most instances it is a matter of common sense and a few simple measures that most people know even if they are not parents. The first few weeks of life is the most delicate and while parents may have the child’s best interests at heart, conflicting advice and uncertainty can lead to incorrect decisions. Here are 8 simple tips on some of the most common points of concern for first time parents.
Many mothers panic when they discover that their newborn has a rash on the bottom, genitals and upper thighs. But diaper rash is very common. It is not usually a serious skin disorder and often resolves on its own with a few simple measures. However, there are instances where untreated and severe diaper rash can have serious consequences. But this is largely preventable. Diaper rash is not a poor reflection on the part of the mother, nanny or caregiver. Even the most conscientious mother may be unable to prevent diaper rash entirely. However, there are several ways to reduce the chances of your baby developing diaper rash and to help it resolve as soon as possible.
What is achondroplasia?
Achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, is the most common cause of dwarfism. Achondroplasia means ‘absence of cartilage formation’. However, the defect in achondroplasia is not in the formation of the cartilage but is in the conversion of cartilage to bone (particularly the long bones). Achondroplasia may run in families or may result from a spontaneous mutation.
The average height of a man with achondroplasia is 52 inches (131 cm, or 4 foot 4 inches). A woman with achondroplasia reaches an average height of 49 inches (124 cm, or 4 foot 1 inch). The appearance of a person with achondroplasia is distinctive as they have a short height with disproportionately small limbs. The features of achondroplasia are apparent at birth. Achondroplasia can also be detected in the fetal stage.
Macrosomia is the medical term for a baby that has a significantly higher birth weight than the average for newborns. The term is also known by the common term big baby syndrome. The other common term that overlaps with macrosomia is large for gestational age. Macrosomia is usually defined as a birth weight of more than 8 pounds 13 ounces (4 kilograms). It may also be defined by the gestational age which in turn is influenced partly by the gender of the newborn and ethnicity. Since male newborn babies are typically larger and heavier than females, macrosomia is more likely in male newborns. Overall, macrosomic babies are significantly larger compared to average infants.
What is autism?
Autism is a condition where there is impaired neurodevelopment to the extent that it affects communication, social interaction and intellectual development. A broad range of compromised behaviors related to abnormal brain development, are classified as autism or more correctly autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It becomes evident in childhood before the age of 3 years and persists through to adulthood. The overall cognitive functions are challenged in autistic children and the severity of symptoms determines the level of autism. Certain neurological conditions show symptoms common to autism like:
- Asperger Syndrome – show all signs of autism but have normal language development.
- Disintegrative disorder – a regressive condition where skills learned in early life are lost by the age of ten years.
Few studies suggest Rett syndrome as a form of autism but clinically, it is a completely different condition. Autistic children and adults deviate from what is considered be ‘normal human behavior’ but are often unusually gifted in certain aspects.
What is Hirschsprung disease?
Hirschsprung is a birth defect where the nerves in the lower parts of the large bowels are missing thereby affecting normal bowel movement in these sections. The contents of the colon cannot be pushed along and becomes backed up thereby causing an obstruction in the bowel. Since the condition is present from birth, symptoms will be evident from the start of life. However, it can be missed in mild cases although these days most babies are diagnosed within the first 2 to 6 months of age. Hirschsprung disease may exist with many other types of birth defects such as Down syndrome. The bowel will need surgical repair at some point in life and can lead to severe complications which may even be life threatening.
What is seborrheic dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that tends to occur on the oily areas of the body, most noticeably on the face, scalp and chest. The rash usually appears as scaly skin with greasiness and yellow crusting that flakes off to reveal underlying redness and a flat or slightly raised plaque. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic condition that occurs for unknown reasons. There seems to be a link with abnormal immune responses and a certain type of yeast (fungus) that normally dwells on human skin. When it occurs on the scalp, it is commonly referred to as dandruff. However, the term dandruff may also be used to describe similar scalp conditions that differs in the disease mechanism and appearance to some extent. Seborrheic dermatitis can also affect newborn babies and the scalp presentation is usually referred to as cradle cap. It may also cause severe diaper rash.
Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms in a person of any age but is a more common complaint in the childhood. It is often non-specific meaning that it does not clearly indicate a possible cause and in the absence of other symptoms, abdominal pain can be difficult to diagnose without further investigations. Often abdominal pain is used as an excuse by children to feign illness and avoid a situation that may be undesirable. It is therefore not given the proper attention when there are no other symptoms to verify an existing problem. However, there is a condition known as abdominal migraines that seems to be under diagnosed in children. With abdominal migraines, there may be episodes of intense abdominal pain with or without other symptoms that are largely related to the digestive tract.
What are abdominal migraines?
Abdominal migraines are a condition marked by recurrent episodes of abdominal pains due to no known cause. Although the term migraines commonly refers to a type of headache, abdominal migraines are a chronic recurrent type of abdominal pain. It can occur in both adults and children but is more common in childhood. Abdominal migraine is more frequently seen in children of parents who have migraine headaches. These children also tend to develop migraine headaches in adulthood.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is one of the most common behavioral disorders in children. Inattention, over-activity, impulsive behavior, or a combination of these symptoms are often to be found in normal children, but when these features continue over a longer period of time and occur in different settings, ADHD should be suspected. Previously known as attention deficit disorder or ADD, the term ADHD is now preferred since it includes all features of the disorder. Childhood hyperkinesis is another term that is often used synonymously, although it does not embrace all aspects of the disorder.
ADHD can impair a child’s ability to perform well in school, as well as hamper normal functioning at home, in school, and with in social settings. Although it cannot be cured, appropriate treatment can help children with ADHD to adjust to their problems and carry on normal activities sufficiently well. The symptoms of ADHD may continue into adulthood, but many children outgrow their problem, especially when proper treatment has been instituted in childhood. Adults who do retain the symptoms may be better able to manage it more effectively than children and thus it may only minimally hamper normal functioning.
continue reading Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder resulting from possession of an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is named after Dr Langdon Down who first recognized and described the condition in 1866. The genetic origin of Down syndrome was identified much later by scientists in 1959. Individuals with this disorder suffer from varying degrees of learning impairment as well as having typical physical features such as a flat facial profile with upward slanting eyes, short neck, a single palmar crease, and various other recognizable characteristics.
Delayed milestones of development in a baby, such as a delay in sitting up or walking, may lead to a diagnosis of cerebral ataxia. For instance, most babies learn to walk by 12 to 14 months of age. If it is noticed that even at 20 months the baby cannot walk and other milestones of development are delayed, together with various other findings such as seizures and speech problems, cerebral palsy may need to be excluded.
What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is not a single disease but a range of disorders which include numerous physical and mental problems, as well as various developmental defects, that may occur as a result of alcohol consumption by the mother while pregnant. No amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy since alcohol passes easily through the placenta to reach the fetus, where it may also affect the fetal brain. Consuming even a small amount of alcohol carries the potential danger of irreversible birth defects in the baby. However, the risk may be lower with occasional drinking than with regular heavy drinking.
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