While all children will become ill at some point or another, parents and older children and adolescents can help minimize some of the risk factors. Parents with children less than 4 months should attempt to decrease their risk of infections by limited exposure to sick people especially during the winter. If possible, this would include avoiding taking their infants to big enclosed places like malls, restaurants, department stores and supermarkets.
If possible, when children are placed in daycare consider a smaller daycare with a small number of children. If using a large commercial daycare, make sure the ratio of infants to care giver is no higher than 4 to 1, preferable 3 to 1. Toddlers should be separated from infants and older children. For toddlers the ratio should be no greater than 10 to 1.
Children should get regular check-ups and immunizations on time. Regular check-ups (Baby check/physicals) are scheduled as follows… a few days after discharge from the nursery, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 2 years and then yearly physicals after that. At the baby checks/physicals, a history is taken and an exam preformed searching for acute or chronic problems in health, development or family issues. The object is to treat any problems that are occurring and to address problems before they develop.
Addressing problems before they develop include discussing issues of health from diet to safety to development issues to chronic medical problems. This encompasses screen labs at appropriate ages for illness (eg. anemia, lead poisoning in infant), screening questionnaires and the following growth graphs (for all ages). The physical also involves discussing and giving immunizations. While immunizations can occasionally have some minor side effects including fever, swelling at the site of the shot and short term irritability; Immunizations provide the most effective way of preventing many life threatening diseases including forms of meningitis, whooping cough and hepatitis.
One of the most avoidable dangers to children of all ages is smoking. The secondhand smoke infants and children inhale promote colds, ear infections, sinusitis, bronchitis and increases asthma attacks. Further, parents who smoke model this behavior to their children. This modeling promotes smoking in older children and adolescents. Adolescents who smoke are subject to the same and even greater risks as previous noted.
Hand washing with soap and water or using Purell helps dramatically decrease the spread of disease. Please do this frequently and especially before pick up infants.
I tremendously enjoy taking care of children. I hope this acute illness book is helpful. If my staff or I can be of further help, please call.