Posts for category: Health Conditions
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant communication, communication, and behavioral challenges. The thinking, learning, and problem-solving abilities of individuals with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some individuals with autism need only a bit of help in their daily lives; others need more. While there's no cure for autism, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
ASD is the fastest growing serious, developmental disability, affecting an estimated one out of 59 kids in America. Autism begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society — at work, in school, and socially, for example. Often kids show symptoms of autism within the first year. Autism impacts how people perceive and socialize with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.
Autism can look different in different people. Kids with autism have a hard time interacting with others. Social skills difficulties are some of the most common signs. A child with ASD might want to have close relationships but not know how. Most have some problems with communication. Kids with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual. Examples of this can include repetitive behaviors like jumping, hand-flapping, constant moving, fixations on certain objects, fussy eating habits, impulsiveness, and aggressive behavior.
The exact cause of ASD is not known, but it's believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved. Research shows that ASD tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child with develop autism. Research also shows that certain environmental influences may increase autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Researchers are exploring whether certain factors such as medications, viral infections, or complications during pregnancy play a role in triggering ASD.
Treatment options may include nutritional therapy, physical therapy, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies, and medications. No medication can improve the core signs of ASD, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety.
Autism can impact your child's quality of life. If you think your child may have autism, find a pediatrician near you and schedule a consultation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of autism can help your child live a happier, more successful life. The earlier children with autism get help, the greater their chance of treatment success.
Understanding Mono: The “Kissing Disease”
Often called the kissing disease, mononucleosis (mono) is a caused by a virus that is transmitted through saliva. You can get this infection through kissing, but you can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or even by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who has mono. However, mono is not as contagious as some infections, such as the common cold.
As an adolescent or young adult, your child is most likely to get mono with all the signs and symptoms. If your child has mono, it is important to be careful of certain complications such as an enlarged spleen. Your pediatrician urges you to allow your child proper rest and adequate fluids for a full recovery.
Some of the signs and symptoms of mononucleosis may include:
- General feeling of being unwell
- Sore throat that doesn’t get better with antibiotic use
- Swollen lymph nodes in neck and armpits
- Swollen tonsils
- Skin rash
- Soft, swollen spleen
If your child is experience any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your pediatrician.
Since mononucleosis is spread through saliva, if your child is infected your pediatrician urges you to take extra precautions. To help prevent the spread of the virus, it is important to not kiss your child and not to share food, dishes, glasses and utensils until several days after his or her fever has subsided and even longer, if possible.
Contact your pediatrician for more information on mono and how you can help your child make a full recovery.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, caused by excess yellow pigment in the blood called bilirubin, which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. When bilirubin is produced faster than a newborn’s liver can break it down, the baby’s skin and eyes will appear yellow in color.
In most cases, jaundice disappears without treatment and does not harm the baby. However, if the infant’s bilirubin levels get too high, jaundice can pose a risk of brain damage. It is for this reason that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should be examined for jaundice within a few days of birth.
Is it Jaundice?
When parents leave the hospital with their newborn, they will want to look for signs of jaundice in the days following, as the condition usually appears around the second or third day of life. Most parents will be able to detect jaundice simply by looking at the baby’s skin under natural daylight. If you notice your newborn’s skin or eyes looking yellow, you should contact your pediatrician to see if jaundice is present.
Also, call your pediatrician immediately if your jaundiced newborn’s condition intensifies or spreads. The following symptoms may be warning signs of dangerously high levels of bilirubin that require prompt treatment.
- Skin appears very yellow
- Infant becomes hard to wake or fussy
- Poor feeding
- Abnormal behavior
While most infants with jaundice do not require treatment, in more moderate to severe cases treatment will be recommended. Some infants can be treated by phototherapy, a special light treatment that exposes the baby’s skin to get rid of the excess bilirubin. Infants who do not respond to phototherapy or who continue to have rising bilirubin levels may be treated with a blood transfusion.
Always talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about newborn jaundice.
It’s normal for a child to get a rash at one time or another. But one common type of rash, known as eczema, can be especially troubling. Eczema refers to many types of skin inflammation, with atopic dermatitis being one of the most common forms of eczema to develop during a baby’s first year.
You may first notice signs that your child has eczema as early as one to four months of age, appearing as a red, raised rash usually on the face, behind the knees and in the bends of elbows. The rash is typically very itchy and with time may spread and lead to an infection. The patches can range from small and mild to extremely itchy, which may make a small child irritable.
While the exact cause of eczema is not known, the tendency to have eczema is often inherited. Allergens or irritants in the environment, such as winter weather, pollen or certain foods, can trigger the rash. For most infants and small children, eczema improves during childhood. In the meantime, however, parents should help reduce the triggers that cause eczema outbreaks and control the itch to prevent infection.
While there is no cure for eczema at this time, there is treatment. Talk to your pediatrician about ways to alleviate itching and reduce the rash. Minimizing how often a child scratches the rash is especially important as the more the child scratches, the greater the risk of infection.
To prevent flare-ups and help your child cope with eczema, parents should follow these tips:
- With your doctor’s direction, use antihistamine to relieve itching and reduce scratching.
- Minimize nighttime itching by having child sleep in long-sleeved clothing to prevent scratching through the night.
- Apply cortisone creams or medication to reduce inflammation.
- Use mild soaps during bathing and avoid frequent, hot baths, as they will dry out the child’s skin.
- Wrap moist bandages around the affected areas of the skin before bed to soothe and rehydrate the child’s skin.
- Avoid triggers that aggravate eczema, such as rapid changes in temperatures or seasonal allergies.
Many kids will outgrow atopic dermatitis, but it is still important to treat the condition right away to keep it from getting worse. Work with your pediatrician to find the best combination of skin care strategies and medications to ease the itch and inflammation and keep infection at bay.
A common condition seen in kids and teens, asthma is a lung condition that causes trouble breathing and shortness of breath. During an attack, the bronchial airways become inflamed and the muscles surrounding them constrict, making breathing difficult. Repeated attacks may cause permanent lung damage and in severe cases can be life-threatening. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 23 million Americans have the condition and more than one-quarter of them are children under the age of 18.
There are a variety of triggers that can lead to an asthma flare-up or make asthma worse. These vary for every person, but common triggers include:
- Allergens, such as animal dander, pollens, mold and house dust mites
- Environmental irritants, such as cigarettes, dry air, fragrances and air pollution
- Infections, such as pneumonia, sinus infection and viral infections of the nose and throat
Does my child have asthma?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is the most common chronic medical problem in children. Asthma symptoms will vary in frequency and severity, and most children with asthma develop their first symptoms before the age of five. Common signs include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in chest
If you think your child may have asthma, contact your pediatrician. They can help you identify the early signs of childhood asthma and provide support for prevention and treatment.
A child may be at a greater risk for having asthma if there is a family history of asthma or if the child has eczema or frequent bouts of chronic lower respiratory problems occurring before the first birthday. Keeping your kids away from cigarette smoke in the home or car, removing pets from the house, paying attention to pollen and air quality forecasts and monitoring exercise are all ways to reduce asthma problems.
The good news is that the majority of asthma cases are only mild, and when the condition is properly managed with medications and extra caution, severe asthma flare-ups can be prevented. Work with your child’s pediatrician to learn more about the condition and ensure your child leads a healthy, normal, active life.