15 Things Pediatricians Wish Parents Knew

What should parents worry about? And what knowledge might save you a lot of worry?  There are some new health risks that might effect the baby, and some old ones that most parents still aren't aware of. Most parents aren't putting their children to sleep safely, many parents don't know the real difference between vomit and spit-up in infants, many parents don't know what to do if their child come into contact with poison. It's not all so troubling! For example, there's new medications for head-lice that you probably haven't heard of, pediatricians are more prepared than ever to help with maternal mental health, and some pediatricians find that new parents have to stop sweating the small stuff.

Plus, there are some interesting health issues that pediatricians often have a lot to do with, that you really may not expect! For example, pediatricians are a great place to go with concerns about maternal postpartum health issues. They also are in need of blood and organ donors for children, despite our usual image of someone in need of an organ transplant as an elderly person. The American Academy of Pediatrics is all about educating new parents, here are some of the highlights of their, and other pediatricians, advice to parents.

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15 Fevers Are Serious In Infants

While older children's fever isn't usually a big emergency, there are several reasons that anything over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or 37.7 degrees in Celsius) in infants is really bad. Firstly, you can't give children under six months of age any Tylenol or other fever-breaking medications, which really renders you unable to treat the fever at home. Then, especially before the child is three months, there's just no other indications to a parent whats going on.

Your child can really only cry, giving you no indication of if this is a flu, an infection, or what. Especially at this vulnerable age, your child will need a physician's care with a fever. Usually, a three month old with a fever will be hospitalized, because infants have full-body reactions to infections, they don't localize their response, meaning fevers and infections get out of control quickly. Pediatricians will (probably) have to run some tests to determine what's causing your little one's fever. So don't delay, and bring your infant to a doctor as soon as you know they have a fever.

14 The Real Difference Between Spit Up And Vomit

How do you tell spit-up and vomit apart? Some people believe that the velocity of a baby's spit up is what determines whether or not it's a cause for concern. This causes problems for pediatricians, who have parents coming into their office with a child who is spirited about their after-meal burp, while other parents whose baby is vomiting softly don't recognize that their child needs medical attention.

To really determine if your baby is okay, notice when they're regurgitating. Your baby is only vomiting if they're covering their birthing blanket every 30-45 minutes, regardless of when they were last fed. On the other hand, if they only spit up after eating, they're likely fine. It's a disappointing mess, but spit up can be just as projectile as vomit. Pay special attention to changes of colour, though, even if spit-up is bloody or unusually colored it's a cause for concern.

13 Lots Of Newborns Get Jaundice

If you're lucky enough to have a smooth and healthy labor you'll probably be out of the hospital before your child is three days old. That's good news for you and your baby, but it also means that the hospital staff wasn't able to test your baby for jaundice. Plenty of babies, especially premies, get jaundice from three to seven days of age, because their liver isn't developed enough to properly remove the bilirubin (a yellow tinted substance produced by red blood cells) from their blood system.

It's easy for pediatricians to treat jaundice in infants, but it can be dangerous if it's left alone or it could be a sign of another, more serious condition. That's why most pediatricians recommend you visit them between three and seven days of age so that they can test your child's bilirubin levels. So, if your child starts to look a little yellow don't panic, but do get them to a doctor.

12 Most Parents Aren't Putting Their Baby To Sleep Safely

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a study they conducted that revealed that most parents are putting their child to sleep in unsafe conditions. This study was unique because it didn't ask parents what they do, instead it observed 160 infants and their parents directly. The study specifically focused on well-educated parents, but the results were disappointing.

They found that ten per cent of babies were on unsafe surfaces, fourteen per cent were put in unsafe positions, and a huge eighty seven per cent had unsafe materials in the bed with them! Then the researchers found that twelve per cent of parents moved their babies to a less safe position during the night! The worry is that these unsafe positions contribute to a baby's SIDS risk. And, if educated parent's aren't even making the best decisions, then not many parents are. We explain more of what you need to keep in mind to put your newborn to sleep safely here.

11 Drowning Is A Leading Cause Of Death Among Kids

Parent's don't come into the pediatrician's office worrying about their backyard pool. But emergency medical responders, like paramedics, and ER staff both see drownings of children all of the time. According to the CDC in the United States there are about two children under the age of fourteen dying of drowning per day. Plus, for every child who drowns four more are saved from drowning by emergency responders. These children still require hospitalization, for brain injuries, lung infections and more risks of being submerged under water. Children under four are at the highest risk of drowning, and usually in home pools! Pools need to be completely inaccessible to children, they can't be unsupervised near pools even for seconds, and older children should have formal swimming training, not left to learn it on their own or with their parents.

10 New Head-lice Treatment Is Available

You may reach for the tea-tree oil when your child has head-lice, but because of the variability of teatree solutions, its isn't likely to work. Also, Lindane and other old medicines for the treatment of head-lice are no longer approved. Instead, of this and other discontinued medications, the FDA has recently approved some new solutions for the treatment of head-lice, including Benzyl Alcohol at 5% (2009), Spinosad (2012), and Ivermectin (2012). Some children can't use these medications, so they are given out by prescription only.

However, they are highly effective and worth the trip to the doctor's office, especially over ineffective old wive's tales like tea-tree oil. It's also important to understand that, while annoying, head-lice do not spread disease and cannot be attributed to unclean hair. Anyone can get them, but only by direct head-to-head contact, as is common in schools.

9 E-Cigarette Poisoning Is Rising

While most parents are aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes near children, they're not yet as familiar with the dangers of smoking e-cigarettes around children. The National Poison Data System published a report in the Jounral of Pediatrics showing that the rates of nicotine poisoning in children just keeps rising, specifically 1,50o per cent from 2013-2015. This means that seven calls a day are made to poison centers because a child has been exposed.

Young children, especially those under two years old, get their hands on their family member's e-cigarette and swallow the "e-juice" which is essentially concentrated nicotine that quickly finds its way into the body's most vital systems. Possible side effects of this nicotine exposure in children are: seizure, coma, and breathing failures. The lead researchers for this report, Dr. Smith, told CNN a few ways parents could reduce the likelihood of their child being poisoned by their e-cigarette.  He suggests parents keep their e-cigarette products in a locked box stored somewhere children can't reach and that parents smoke and refill their e-cigarettes alone.

8 Talk To Pediatricians About Maternal Depression

Since 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged pediatricians to incorporate maternal mental health into their care. Most women only have two postpartum appointments with their OBs, and this just may not be enough to identify and treat any postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis that a mother may experience. Sr. Siriaman explained to Postpartum Progress that pediatricians are in the best position to help mother with any postpartum mental health issues, as they will likely see the mother about once a month for the first six months of her child's life-- the highest risk period for these mental health issues to develop.

While some pediatricians feel less confident about maternal mental health than their chosen field, these doctors are happy to refer mothers to doctors with more experience. It might seem odd to bring up your own health issues at your child's appointment, but your health will have a direct impact on theirs.

7 Children Are Saved By Blood And Organ Donations

When we envision organ and blood recipients we usually imagine older people. However, blood and organ donations are frequently used for children as well, which may motivate people to donate blood and sign up for organ donor lists. Most children who are waiting for an organ need a kidney or a liver, both of which can be donated by living patients. Unfortunately, sometimes a child's own family members are just not a match and these children have to wait for someone else to offer to help.

While children are usually given priority on waiting lists (also depending on the progression of their disease and how long they have been waiting) the child has special needs in terms of some organs. For example, in kidney transplants children are prioritized only for kidneys that are younger than 35 years old. The kidney has to last the child their whole life and an older kidney may not work for very long. This raises the importance of signing up living donors to give to children, as not many people die under age 35 with conditions where their organs can be easily donated.

6 Talk To Pediatricians About Vaccines

There are a handful of celebrities and others that have spread some misinformation about vaccines. While not many are convinced by the myth that vaccines cause autism, you may have been taken in by some of the less dramatic myths about vaccines, and this may cause you to "lose confidence" in the efficacy of vaccines. When a wide number of people do this, it causes an outbreak that delays the eradication of the disease, as we can see from the image above. A pediatrician can talk to you about the testing behind any vaccine you're worried about. They can also show you that vaccines are still monitored for safety, even after decades of use. Bottom line: When you rely on information from people who don't have medical knowledge you risk imperiling the life of your child.

5 Also, Pediatricians Recommend The Flu Shot

It may come as a surprise to many new parents that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the flu shot for all children over the age of six months. It's not just high risk kids who benefit from the flu shot! You may be shocked to learn that 60% of the children who died from influenza in the 2015-2016 flu season did not have complicating diseases. They were perfectly healthy other than the flu. A total of 85 children under the age of five died from the flu that season (and lab tests were run to confirm the flu and identify which strain the infant had). So, the AAP also recommends the flu shot to all pregnant women, all breastfeeding women, all teachers and preschool staff, all babysitters, all family members, and pretty much everyone who could come in contact with a child, especially if that child is under five years of age.

4 Kids Learn 20 Times Better From Parents Than Screens 

Pediatricians receive a lot of questions from parents about how much screen time their children should be exposed to. There's a lot of concern about quality and not just quantity of screen time, with many parents thinking that educational material is vastly superior to lower quality screen time. However, the educational benefits of screen time for children is exaggerated. Ultimately, children will learn twenty times better from interaction with their parents than they will from a screen, even if they are playing an education game or watching an educational program.

While its certainly better to have your child play an educational game than to have them watch low-quality television, it still cannot replace interaction with parents and family members. If technology is helping to achieve that interaction-- like your child is video chatting with a distant family member, then that doesn't really count as screen time and you should feel free to let your child do it.

3 How To Deal With Poisoning

There are plenty of safe precautions you can take to ensure that your child hasn't come into contact with any poisonous material. But if these safeguards fail, most parent's aren't aware of exactly what response they need to take. Generally:If the child has minor symptoms, or none, you call Poison Help at 1 800 222 1222. If the child has serious symptoms like a seizure, failing to breath, going unconscious, then you call 911.

If your child has specifically swallowed something you have your child spit out what remains in their mouth but you do not induce vomiting especially not by syrup of ipecac (unless a medical professional tells you to, but they usually do this themselves, and not with ipecac because it is ineffective!). If the child has swallowed a battery or a non-liquid, you bring them to the emergency room.

If your child has come into contact with poison on their skin, you take their clothing off and wash their skin in lukewarm water for 15 minutes at least. Eye poison is the same but you use cold water and have to hold the child's eyelid open. If they're breathed in poisonous fumes you take the child to fresh air and call an ambulance. The biggest risk here is that they may stop breathing, so start CPR and do not stop. If in doubt, call 911 and let the operator instruct you.

2 How To Recognize Normal Development

With recent successful campaigns to raise awareness about autism, more parents are becoming concerned about their child having the condition. This is a good thing, because the earlier autism is identified in a child the earlier that child can get the help he or she will need to remain successful and happy.

On the other hand, some parents with perfectly normally developing children come in to the pediatrician's office with concerns for their child that are unmerited. Of course, head to the pediatricians when you have worries, but also familiarize yourself with the usual progression of a child's development.

In particular, developments that indicate your child likely does not have autism include: smiling by two months, laughter by five months, enjoys peek-a-boo by nine months, responds to their name by twelve months, uses five words by eighteen months, and points to show you something interesting by eighteen months.

1 Don't Need To Stress So Much

By all means, pop into your pediatrician's office when you're worried. But try to let your pediatrician's advice calm you and try to stay relaxed at home. Leon Hoffamn MD., director of the Pacella Parent Child Center in New York told Web MD, "Many new parents have overblown physical reactions...the baby picks up on that anxiety." Your distress can cause your child more distress, especially if you are frequently having physical reactions to your child's symptoms, like crying, or talking sharply. While the youngest of children won't understand your words, they do understand your tone of voice. This can contribute to their illness. So no matter the situation try to remain calm and reassuring. You'll be giving your child the best chances of recovery if you can calm them. This doesn't mean ignore their symptoms, but simply take action as calmly as possible.

Sources: WebMD.com, Dr. Maud Pediatrician, Aap.org,  FDA.gov, CDC.govCNN.com, PostpartumProgress.com, HealthyChildren.org

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