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Posts for category: Child Health

By Belkis R. Cepero, MD
September 11, 2020
Category: Child Health
 Tips to Help Your Child Eat HealthierYou want your child to lead a healthy, happy life but it can be difficult if they are picky eaters or only seem to crave junk food. If you’re having trouble making smart nutritional choices when it comes to your kids, your child’s pediatrician can help you create some healthier eating habits and map out a treatment plan if your child is currently struggling to lose excess weight.

Choose Smarter Snacks

Kids always seem hungry, so they may be begging for snacks throughout the day. Snacks should be small, and they shouldn’t be enjoyed too close to mealtimes, as this could ruin their appetite. Instead of reaching for a bag of candy or potato chips try opting for smarter snack options such as nuts, apple slices or celery with peanut butter, whole-grain crackers and cheese sticks, or hummus and carrots.

Get Your Kids Cooking

One of the best ways to get your child dedicated to nutrition is by making them an active part of the process. Cooking can be fun, especially for kids, and by cooking together they will experience a source of pride in the foods they’ve helped to make (which typically leads to them being more likely to eat it). Enjoy this quality time together and show them how eating and cooking healthy foods can be fun.

Hide Healthier Foods

Particularly at the beginning of this new nutritional journey, you may find that your child has an “aversion” to eating healthy. They may turn their nose up at broccoli, carrots or certain veggies, but don’t despair. Instead of making them eat it plain, you can hide these important veggies into dishes they already love such as whole grain mac and cheese, soups, or sandwiches.

Show Your Kids How It’s Done

Kids watch and mimic what parents do, so if parents aren’t eating healthy chances are fairly good that they won’t see a reason to eat healthily either. Therefore, it’s a good idea for parents to also show how important eating healthy can be. Lead by example and this simple habit could actually improve not just your child’s health but yours as well.

A healthy child begins with a healthy diet. If you are having concerns about your child’s health and nutrition, it’s important that you talk with a qualified pediatrician to figure out the right dietary choices for your little one.
By Belkis R. Cepero, MD
August 17, 2020
Category: Child Health
Child Behavior ProblemsWhile we may not love it, all kids are going to act up, throw tantrums and be irritable at times; however, if your child is displaying negative actions and behaviors regularly, you may be concerned that there is something more going on. Is your child just “going through a phase” or is this a sign of a more serious problem?

Is This Normal Behavior?
 
Common behaviors issues may include:
  • Being defiant
  • Lying
  • Whining
  • Impulsivity
  • Issues around bedtime
  • Issues around food (being a “picky eater” or refusing to eat)
  • Anger
  • Temper tantrums
Most of these issues are common and while they certainly aren’t pleasant at the moment, they are typically fleeting. However, you may want to seek professional help if your child’s behaviors:
  • Are still occurring regardless of discipline or punishment
  • Are affecting their schoolwork and/or social interactions
  • Aren’t appropriate for their age (e.g. throwing temper tantrums as an older child)
While the behaviors above are fairly common in children, certain behaviors are not normal and should be a cause for concern:
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Harm to self, others, or animals
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
  • Breaking the rules or skipping school
  • Sudden or extreme behavioral changes
  • Showing no remorse
How can a pediatrician help?

Pediatricians come equipped to handle and address any issues regarding your child’s health, and this includes behavioral concerns you may have as a parent. If your pediatrician believes that a developmental, neurological, or mental health disorder could be to blame, then they may recommend additional testing and evaluations. This is done either through their practice or with a specific specialist who can properly diagnose and treat certain conditions such as depression, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder.

Based on the results of your child’s screening, your pediatrician will then be able to create a custom treatment plan to help you and your child manage their condition and their symptoms. Your pediatrician can also refer your child to therapists and other specialists who can also provide additional support and treatment for the whole family.

If you’re having concerns about your child’s behavior, it’s best to talk with your pediatrician at your child’s next wellness checkup.
By Belkis R. Cepero, MD
June 18, 2020
Category: Child Health
Tags: Vision Test  
Vision TestParents want nothing more than their children to be healthy and happy. This applies to every element of their well-being, including their eyes! Your pediatrician recommends that all children receive a comprehensive eye exam by the age of one. These tests detect any problems that require correction. Prolonging an exam can damage your child’s eyes for life. 
 
When Should My Child’s Vision Be Tested?
Your child should have had several tests done by the age of five. This confirms for your pediatrician that they are developing normally. Follow this recommended time-table: 
  • At birth: this is performed right away on your child, as part of the newborn physical assessment.
  • 6 months: your pediatrician evaluates your child’s eyes at their regular appointment. 
  • 3.5 years old: at your child’s appointment, the pediatrician tests their eyes and also their visual acuity. 
  • 5 years old: a standard assessment performed at a pediatric appointment. 
After this, eye screenings are implemented at your discretion. Your pediatrician will check your child’s eyes at their annual checkup. If your child fails an eye exam, you need to schedule a full pediatric eye evaluation right away. 
 
Another reason you should get your child’s eyes checked is if you have a family history of eye conditions. This is especially true if you have other children that have vision problems.
 
Why Does My Child Need an Eye Exam If They Passed the Vision Screening?
There are certain circumstances where your pediatrician refers your child for a full eye examination. This is common for infants that show signs of a lazy eye or crossed eyes. Other possible red flags in infants are problems tracking objects or a strangely colored pupil. 
 
Is your child struggling in school? Don’t jump to conclusions without an eye examination from your pediatrician. If a child can’t see the board or follow along with lessons, their performance will suffer. Corrective eyewear and other treatment options can help. Eye examinations are even more important for children with learning disabilities. Eye problems can make coping with a learning disorder much harder. 
 
What to Expect at Your Child’s Eye Examination
Your child has nothing to be worried about at their appointment. There is nothing scary or painful! The pediatrician will ask you about your family history, especially anything related to eye health. From there, they check your child’s pupil and muscle function, along with sharpness.
 
In certain cases, your pediatrician will dilate the eyes. This is performed by placing special drops in the eyes. After about forty minutes, the pediatrician can examine the major structures. 
By Belkis R. Cepero, MD
June 04, 2020
Category: Child Health
Tags: Autism  
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects how a person views and interacts with the world around them, including other people. In most cases, differences become apparent by the time your child reaches 24 months. Mainly, parents notice behavioral differences and language delays. If you suspect that your child has ASD, schedule an appointment with your local pediatric office. We work with you to figure out what to do next.
 
Signs of ASD 
Every child with ASD is different. Not everyone will have the same symptoms or experiences. With that in mind, here are some summaries on social, communication, and behavioral differences. 
 
Social Differences
  • Your child doesn’t keep or make eye contact
  • They don’t respond to your facial expressions or smiles
  • Does not reciprocate facial expressions or have the appropriate ones
  • Doesn’t respond to parent’s pointing 
  • Has problems making friends
  • Shows a lack of concern for others
Communication Differences
  • Your child hasn’t spoken by 16 months
  • Repeats or parrots what others say
  • Doesn’t feel the need or want to communicate 
  • Starts missing language and social milestones after 15 months
  • Doesn’t pretend play but does have a good memory for numbers, songs, and letters
Behavioral Differences
  • Has an affinity for routines and schedules and does not like altering them
  • Likes to twirl their fingers, sway, rock, or spin
  • Has strange activities that they enjoy doing repeatedly
  • They are sensitive to sounds, lights, touch, textures, and smells
  • They are more interested in the parts of a toy instead of the whole thing
Common Examples
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the information listed above. As mentioned, a child can have a mixture of any of these behaviors. There are a few other common examples that your pediatrician sees. These give you insight into how a neurotypical child reacts in certain situations versus a child with ASD.  
 
By the age of 12 months, your child should turn their head when they hear their name. A child with ASD won’t respond even if their name is called multiple times.
 
By 18 months, a child with speech delays finds accommodations through gestures, facial expressions, or pointing. Children with ASD find no reason to compensate for speech. 
 
After 24 months, many children enjoy bringing their parents objects or toys to look at or play with. A child with ASD may bring their parent an object but will not play with their parent or respond to their reaction.
By Belkis R. Cepero, MD
May 20, 2020
Category: Child Health
Tags: Tonsillitis  
TonsillitisEveryone is born with two tonsils. These are lymph nodes located right in the back of the throat. They help out the immune system by housing important white blood cells. Even so, the tonsils themselves can become infected, which is known as tonsillitis. The tonsils swell up, causing pain and discomfort. Children between the ages of five and eleven experience it the most. You need to bring your child in to see a pediatrician right away. Tonsillitis is commonly caused by streptococcus pyogenes also known as strep throat. 
 
The Basics of Tonsillitis
 
Your tonsils work by trapping dangerous viruses and bacteria within. As mentioned before, this can lead them to become infected. Infections are easily transferred between children, with tonsillitis being caused by strep, adenovirus, the flu, and Epstein-Barr virus (mono).
 
Your pediatrician is highly qualified in treating tonsillitis. That is because almost all cases are found in children. During puberty, the tonsils shrink in size. This makes it much harder for them to become infected. You need to seek medical intervention right away. Infections can become life-threatening if not treated, leading to diseases like rheumatic fever. An even more serious complication is a peritonsillar abscess. The infection spreads beyond the tonsils and swells up the neck and chest tissues. This can block and stop your child’s airways. 
 
Signs of Tonsillitis in Children
 
In children under the age of two that have problems communicating what is wrong, symptoms manifest in the form of excessive drooling, refusing food or bottles, and fussiness. Expect these symptoms in older children: 
  • Sore throat
  • Noticeably bigger tonsils
  • Fever
  • Pain or problems with swallowing
  • Yellow or white patches coating the throat and tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Foul breath
  • Stiff neck
  • Headaches
  • A scratchy or rough voice
  • Stomach pain
Diagnosing Tonsillitis
 
Your pediatrician won’t have any trouble diagnosing your child with tonsillitis. They will first start by asking for a brief history of when your child started feeling sick. The next step is performing a physical exam. The pediatrician will look in the throat, nose, and ears. If strep is suspected, a nurse takes a swab of the throat. A blood test will also be drawn to identify what bacteria or virus is responsible.
 
If strep or another bacteria is responsible for your child’s tonsillitis, antibiotics are prescribed. It’s important that your child finishes the whole dose. This guarantees that the entire infection is gone.