Ten myths in paediatry

Ten myths in paediatry


Ten myths in paediatry

There are many beliefs and misconceptions surrounding paediatry medicine. Dr Arvind Kasaragod busts ten of the common ones

Despite health improvements over the last thirty years, lives continue to be lost to early childhood diseases, inadequate newborn care and childbirth-related causes. More than two million children die every year from preventable infections. The lack of knowledge in dealing with preventable diseases among children is alarming.

When it comes to their kids, the natural instinct of parents is to protect them and their worst fear or nightmare involves their children being in harm’s way.  Given the changing social and lifestyle scenarios, most parents nowadays are worried to death about their kid’s health, what they are eating, the right kinds of nutrients required for their growth, diabetes, obesity, cold, fever and various other diseases affecting them and how to effectively deal with them.

Most of the time, parents tend to panic over small issues and believe in myths and hearsay that fuel their worst fears.There are many beliefs about child care that are not true. Some of the myths are as follows.

All antibiotics need to be taken with vitamins: As a routine, antibiotics need not be taken with vitamins. Antibiotics are not the reason why one feels tired. It is the infection for which the antibiotic is being taken that makes you tired. In children, it is usually
unnecessary to have vitamins with antibiotics.

Frequent cold is a sign of weakness: It is normal for children, especially those who attend pre-school, to have 6-10 episodes of cold and cough in a year. There is no need for concern as long as they are growing well and are active.

Injections are better than oral medicine: Injections are needed only if the child is unable
to take anything orally or if the organism causing the infection is resistant to oral medicines. Just a reminder, oral medicines don’t hurt as much.

Cold temperature and ice cream cause cold: Cold weather may cause certain viruses to be more prevalent and they in turn can cause infections that bring on the symptoms of the common cold. The weather pattern may be conducive for some plants to thrive and produce pollen, and they in turn can cause symptoms similar to the common cold. Using the fan and air conditioner does not predispose you to viral infections or cold. Ice creams definitely do not cause cold or fever. Let children enjoy their ice creams.

Children cannot have a bath if they have a cold: It is very safe to bathe children who have a cold. Make sure that the temperature of the water used is comfortable for the child.

Antibiotics will cure all infections: Most infections are caused by viruses. Children very rarely need antibiotics for infections. Antibiotics are harmful when used inappropriately, and are very expensive too.

Children need medicines for a common cold: The only medicine needed for children with cold and fever is paracetamol for fever. Cough and cold syrups do not help and may cause harm. A common cold lasts for seven days if you go to a doctor and for one week if you don’t go to one. It is lot cheaper if you do not go to one. It is safe to wait for 2-3 days as long as the child is active and playful.

Dietary restrictions are a must for all illnesses: Dietary restrictions are hardly ever needed for most illnesses in children. Children with cough and cold can eat whatever their appetite permits them to.

Inhalers are addictive: Inhalers that are used for asthma or wheezing are not addictive. It is the best way of delivering the medicine to the lungs. Syrups that are used for wheezing are inefficient in relieving the symptoms.

It is a fact that children and adults with wheezing may need inhalers for long periods as the nature of the disease is such. That is no reason to shun inhalers.

Stuffing your ears with cotton prevents colds: covering your children’s ears with ear muffs may make them feel warm, but stuffing their ear canals with cotton does not prevent them from getting a cold.

(The writer is pediatrician, Columbia Asia Hospital.)