Posts for category: Child Health
Learn more about developmental and behavioral disorders in children.
A growing child can greatly benefit from visiting their pediatrician regularly for routine checkups. No, a child doesn’t have to be sick to visit the doctor. These regular wellness visits can help our pediatrician spot issues such as developmental delays and behavioral disorders that require special care and treatment. Here’s what you should know about common developmental and behavioral problems in kids and how a pediatrician can help,
Types of Developmental Disorders
Developmental disorders fall under the categories of,
- Cognitive (e.g., mental retardation; learning disabilities)
- Motor (e.g., cerebral palsy; muscular dystrophy; spinal atrophies)
- Behavior (e.g., anxiety disorders; autism; ADHD)
- Vision, hearing and speech (e.g., delayed language acquisition; hearing or vision impairments)
Some of the most common types of developmental disorders in children include,
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Genetic disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Spina bifida
- Down syndrome
Signs of Developmental and Behavioral Disorders
Warning signs and when they appear seem to vary from child to child. Some parents notice developmental delays as early as infancy, while others may not notice these concerns until they start school. Some warning signs include,
- Difficulty learning and academic troubles
- Delayed speech, unclear speech or difficulties communicating with others
- Social withdrawal
- Delay in crawling, sitting up or walking
- Has trouble completing everyday tasks such as grooming, washing hands or getting dressed
- Has trouble focusing on an activity
- Intense or extreme behaviors such as aggression, anxiety, irritability or frequent temper tantrums
When to See a Doctor
If you notice any of these delays, we understand how concerning this can be. The good news is that you don’t immediately need to run to a specialist for help. All you have to do is turn to your pediatrician for an evaluation. A pediatrician can perform a thorough assessment to determine if your child may be displaying signs of a developmental or behavioral disorder. Your pediatrician may recommend more in-depth testing, which may require turning to a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Suppose your child displays behavioral issues, or you notice that they aren’t reaching certain developmental milestones. In that case, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician at their next appointment or to call their office to find out if you should bring your child in for an evaluation.
Be able to spot the warning signs of anxiety in your child.
Anxiety is undoubtedly on the rise, not just for adults but for children. The pandemic has certainly left kids feeling uncertain and worried about the future. It’s important to pick up on the signs that your child might have anxiety so you can talk with their pediatrician about tips and strategies to help them better cope with the issues they’re facing.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Children with anxiety may display these behaviors or motions,
- Anger and aggression
- Mood swings
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as stomachaches
- Nail-biting and other “nervous habits”
- Appetite changes
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Issues focusing or concentrating
How Can I Help My Child?
It’s important to figure out the type of anxiety your child is dealing with to help them cope with these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. There are certain habits you can start adopting now that can help your child better deal with their anxiety symptoms,
- Don’t try to reason with your child when they are panicked or anxiety
- Help them take deep belly breathes to help stabilize their sympathetic nervous system
- Validate your child’s fears and listen to them; never dismiss them or tell them to “buck up”
- Don’t avoid the fear, which can often make it worse, but help your child face the fear with baby steps (talk to your child’s pediatrician about the best ways to do this)
These are some helpful tips to get parents started when they notice their child’s “worry brain” taking over. Of course, if you suspect that they could have a true anxiety disorder, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician right away.
How Are Childhood Anxiety Disorders Treated?
In most cases, your pediatrician will provide a referral to a psychotherapist that works with children. The first appointment, or intake session, will allow the therapist to get to know your child and determine if they have an anxiety disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy tends to be the ideal treatment option to help children talk through their fears and discover effective coping strategies to help them face and overcome their fears. Sometimes medications are prescribed in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle changes.
Worried that your child might have an anxiety disorder? If so, this is the ideal time to speak with their pediatrician to find out if they could benefit from additional diagnostic testing or talking to a mental health professional who works with children. A pediatrician can provide resources, support, and referrals.
A cleft lip and palate can present many challenges if left untreated including serious hearing, speech, and swallowing problems. As you can imagine, a cleft lip or palate can affect a child’s speech. Children born with these birth defects are also more likely to deal with recurring ear infections and even hearing loss. By repairing this birth defect as soon as possible we can minimize these issues.
Most children will undergo a cleft lip repair between 3-6 months old, while children will often get a cleft palate repair within the first 12 months. Consequent surgeries may be required later on depending on a variety of factors, including the severity of the defect.
Surgery is the only way to correct a cleft lip or palate. The goal of this surgery is to not only improve your child’s appearance but also make it easier for them to speak, chew, or hear. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so your child will be asleep throughout the procedure.
To repair a cleft lip, a surgeon will make incisions on both sides of the defect and then stitch the two pieces of tissue together to close the gap, which will greatly improve the shape and appearance of your child’s lip. A cleft palate repair is also performed under general anesthesia and involves making incisions on both sides of the palate to restructure and rebuild the roof of the mouth.
Accidents happen, but if bedwetting or daytime enuresis is becoming quite frequent in older children then it’s worth seeing your pediatrician for a closer evaluation. Girls happen to gain bladder control a little faster than boys. Girls are often diagnosed with enuresis if they continue to have bladder control issues past the age of 5, while it’s often diagnosed in boys after age 6.
There are many reasons why your child might be dealing with enuresis, which is another reason to see a pediatrician for answers. Whether your child is dealing with nighttime or daytime enuresis, or both, gives us some idea of what the cause might be. Common causes of nighttime or daytime enuresis include:
- Overactive bladder
- Small bladder
- Intense deep sleep
- Urinary tract infection
- Sleep disorders (often obstructive sleep apnea)
- Structural issues within the urinary tract
Sometimes enuresis goes away on its own without treatment, while other causes may require treatment. For example, a urinary tract infection will require medication to treat the infection and alleviate the enuresis. Underlying health problems such as diabetes will also require proper treatment and long-term maintenance and care.
Many people seem to think that juice is healthy, and while it does contain vitamin C, there are certainly better sources for ensuring your child gets enough of this important nutrient. Today, most fruit juices found at the grocery store are chock full of sugar and can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk for cavities. A better alternative is whole fruits since they provide more nutritional value than juice will.
How many calories your child consumes will depend on their gender, age, and activity level. A recommended calorie range for kids between 6-12 years old is between 1600-2200 per day. Verywell Family provides a more detailed breakdown by age and gender.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that kids don’t need to eat as much as we do, so their portions will be considerably smaller than ours. If your child is growing then chances are good that they are getting the nutrients they need; however, if you find that your child is refusing meals or isn’t eating it’s important to bring this up with your pediatrician as soon as possible.
To help your child maintain a healthy weight they must be eating a healthy, balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Make sure that they are also getting at least one hour of physical activity every day. Limit sugar and processed foods.
Young children may seem voraciously hungry and may beg for snacks. How many are actually okay? It’s normal for little ones to want food every 3-4 hours. While snacking can be a great way to prevent kids from overeating during mealtimes you don’t want to ply them with treats (and you want to be sure you’re providing them with nutrient-rich snacks rather than sugary ones).
A snack mid-day between lunch and dinner is typically the best time. If it’s only going to be a couple of hours before a meal, then something small like a piece of fruit or a slice of cheese with crackers is good. If your child isn’t going to eat for more than four hours then you’ll want a snack that incorporates protein, fat, and carbs to satiate their appetite.