What your paediatrician wants you to know: 5 FAQs about your child’s health
With the new school term beginning next week, as parents, our top priority is to ensure that our children have a fun and safe learning experience.
We speak to Dr Mohana Rajakulendran, a paediatrician at Parkway Hospitals Singapore with more than a decade of experience. She answers five common questions about child health and how to help our children to grow up well.
Q1: HOW DO I HELP MY CHILD MANAGE THEIR ALLERGIES?
Managing allergies can start up-stream, even before the child is born.
“For individuals with a strong family history of allergies, I usually provide evidence-based prevention advice, starting from pregnancy,” Dr Mohana shares. Typical advice includes specific probiotics that should be in both the mother and newborn’s diet, opting for breastfeeding, and minimising unnecessary usage of antibiotics.
“You should also discuss an allergy action plan with your child’s doctor so that you know what to do if their allergies flare up,” advises Dr Mohana. For example, empower yourself with the knowledge of how to manage and administer your child’s medication, in the event of a bad allergy attack. “Additionally, work with your doctor to identify triggers, so you can proactively minimise your child’s exposure to them.”
Q2: WHAT ARE SOME EARLY SIGNS OF CHILDHOOD ASTHMA?
If you’re worried that your child has asthma, you can look out for the following signs:
Chronic coughing in the daytime or at night
Coughing or breathlessness after vigorous play or exercise
Wheezing episodes when your child is ill
“It’s important to speak to your paediatrician if you notice these signs, so that you can get your child started on medication,” emphasises Dr Mohana. Although there currently is no cure for asthma, there are various types of medication for childhood asthma that can relieve the symptoms, so that they can play worry free.
“Seeking asthma treatment is important because wheezing from asthma may affect your child’s lung growth.”
Q3: WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT CHILDHOOD ECZEMA?
While the exact cause of eczema is still unknown, it may be due to several factors, such as one’s genes as well as irritants in the environment. Nevertheless, the itchiness from childhood eczema is an uncomfortable experience for most children.
“Try wet wrap therapy to soothe their discomfort,” says Dr Mohana. To do this, soak gauze or soft fabric in warm water, apply it to the affected areas on your child’s body, and wrap a dry dressing over. This helps to rehydrate the skin and provide some relief to the itching. “Do take your child to see a doctor, if you notice signs of infection, such as ooze or pus.”
To reduce flare ups, you can also:
Explore different types of body washes and moisturisers to find the one that suits your child’s skin the best and provides the most comfort
Reduce irritants and triggers in your child’s environment, such as synthetic materials, fragranced washes, objects that collect dust
Q4: MY CHILD KEEPS FALLING SICK AFTER ENTERING PRE-SCHOOL. SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
“It’s pretty common for children to catch at least 8 – 12 common cold or viral infections within their first 2 years of entering pre-school,” says Dr Mohana, who wants to assure many of the worried parents out there. “This is because pre-school is one of the first times your child is exposed to a myriad of viruses and bacteria.”
“What would be a cause for concern would be if your child shows symptoms of repeated bacterial infection, such as lung, sinus, ear or skin infections,” says Dr Mohana. In such cases, you should take your child to see your regular doctor or paediatrician, for a closer medical examination.
Q5: SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT MY CHILD’S DIET WITH VITAMINS?
“A well-balanced diet and encouraging healthy eating habits should be enough to provide the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development,” says Dr Mohana. A nutritious meal typically looks like: ½ plate of fruits and vegetables; ¼ plate of whole grains; and ¼ plate of proteins.
“However, if your child is a picky eater, you may need to supplement their diet with some multivitamins to ensure they get the nutrients they need.”