May 04, 2016 1266
Our team spoke to Dr Foo, a paediatrician associated with Doktorbudak and here is what he had to say.
GetDoc: My child falls sick often so does that mean he or she has weak immunity. What can I do to improve her immunity?
Dr Foo: It is normal for a child’s immune system to be less mature, less developed. A child who is less than 4 years old (before the preschool age) may get mild sickness (cough, mild fever, congested nose) for up to 8 times a year, almost once a month. Some may even have more, about 10 times a year. So this can be rather worrying for the anxious parent but be rest assured, your child is healthy. The common cause for these mild sicknesses is virus and to avoid frequent infections practice good hygiene, try to avoid contact with other sick kids. The child’s immune system will improve as they encounter more viral infections along the way.
A child with a real problem with immunity will present with recurrent serious infections that require hospitalisation, not merely outpatient clinic visits.
GetDoc: What diet must I adopt for my child to ensure that he/she has all round healthy development and also falls sick less?
Dr Foo: A well-balanced diet – not easy to achieve this as many children are picky eaters. There are foods that will boost a child’s immunity such as vegetables, fruits and healthy meat like fish.
Besides diet, a healthy all-round routine involving regular and balanced time for play and sleep will also help.
GetDoc: Do toddlers need to be given multivitamin tablets regularly? Can I not replace it with food – fruits/nuts/vegetables?
Dr Foo: Supplement nutrients are recommended for children who are not yet able to have a balanced healthy diet. They are usually the picky-eaters (very common) or those with chronic illness conditions. You don’t need the supplements if a toddler eats well and able to eat good nutritious food in various types of fruits and vegetables.
GetDoc: How often must I take my child to the paediatrician to get him/her checked? And till what age?
Dr Foo: Ideally, your baby should be checked monthly till 6 months of age. This is usually done together with the scheduled vaccinations. Then, at least once or twice between 6 month to 12 months of age, then 6 monthly till 2 years old, then yearly follow-up is ideal till about 4 years old.
During this time, if you have any concerns or doubts about the well-being of your child, do not hesitate to bring him/her in for a proper assessment.
GetDoc: My child’s weight is lesser than the what is prescribed in the growth chart, should I worry?
Dr Foo: We have a growth chart to plot on to get a better idea on the growth rate of the child. It’s not just merely whether below or above a certain figure.
A child who is suspected to have poor weight gain should get a proper assessment by the paediatrician. We should assess in relation to other growth parameters of the child such as height, head circumference and also the developmental milestones achieved. It is important to make sure whether the child has developmental delay. The nutritional aspect should also be explored by checking on the dietary habits.
In short, a child with weight concerns should be evaluated by the paediatrician, but it may not necessarily be due to an illness.
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by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.