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Paediatricians allay parents' concerns

Olympia Shilpa Gerald
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Glued to seats: Paediatricians and parents at a session organised by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in the city on Sunday. PHOTO:R.M. RAJARATHINAM.
Glued to seats: Paediatricians and parents at a session organised by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in the city on Sunday. PHOTO:R.M. RAJARATHINAM.

Should you rush to the doctor if your child was running high temperature? What is the right age for enrolment in school? Why is a firm bed better than a soft bed? How do you prepare for a visit to the paediatrician?

Around 15 leading paediatricians from the city attempted to put to rest concerns of parents over the well-being of children at an interactive, humorous and visually-packed session organised by the Tamil Nadu and Tiruchi chapters of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) along with Hospital Administration Department of Shrimati Indira Gandhi College here on Sunday. Paediatricians were unanimous in insisting children should not be enrolled in school before four years.

Doctors were often pressurised by parents to prescribe antibiotics and carry out needless investigations for common complaints like fever and cold that required simple medication and rest, said state president K.Muthukumar. Opening the session, Dr.Sunil Srinivasan gave a few pointers for parents to make the most of a paediatric visit. He asked parents to carry toys and writing materials to keep the child engaged along with towels and change of clothes. “Describe the problem succinctly to the doctor, allow him to carry out the diagnosis and listen patiently.”

Healthy food choices for children, an area of universal concern, were discussed by senior paediatrician Dr.Virudhagiri from Kumbakonam. Obese lazy children were a product of junk food that is highly addictive due to salt, sugar and oil content. He urged parents to choose locally available foods over imported foods, whole grains over refined grains, natural breakfast food over packed cereals and crude salt over industrial salt.

Specifying child safety methods for various paediatric categories, Dr.Raghavan said restricted handling and avoiding face-to-face contact was integral to health of newborns. He advised parents to keep electric gadgets, door padlocks and sharp instruments out of reach of toddlers. Toxic toys and those with button size batteries should be avoided and water containers kept closed. He prompted parents to monitor television time of school kids and refrain from verbally abusing adolescents.

Noting that fever is not a disease but a proof of the body's defence mechanism, Dr.Ramanathan said most fevers could be treated at home with correct dosage of paracetamol and adequate rest. Fever may be symptomatic of a serious condition only if it continues for more than five days, accompanied by unusual tiredness, headache, fits or if the infant is below three months. Frequent cough or cold in childhood is not an indication of lack of immunity and would heal with time, said Dr.Sathiskumar. Unless accompanied by severe runny nose, discolouration of phlegm and change in breathing patterns, cough and cold were not major concerns. Insisting that every child have a growth chart recording height, weight and age to ensure normal growth, Dr.Krishna enumerated various significant development milestones.

Paediatricians Ashok Kumar, Rathinam, Saminathan, Suresh Chelliah and Senguttuvan discussed pertinent issues on child health. Hemalatha S.David , president and T.Nandakumar, secretary, Tiruchi Chapter, also spoke.

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