What Parents Should Know about Childhood Diseases

* This article was initially published in Philippine Daily Inquirer – 2016

What Parents Should Know about Childhood Diseases | Dr. Cleo Anna Marie Pasco is a Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist answers the most frequently asked questions and what parents should know about childhood diseases. Dr. Pasco comes from a family of doctors—her father was a general surgeon–it runs in their genes, as others often say. Unfortunately, this hadn’t spared them from an early tragedy. Cleo relates that their youngest sister died of severe dengue hemorrhagic fever at three years old.  

The tragic incident cemented Dr. Cleo’s path to becoming a full-fledged pediatrician. “The good news is, childhood illnesses are preventable by vaccination and proper hand hygiene.” 

Childhood diseases are diseases contracted during childhood (ages 0-19 years), is caused by bacteria or viruses. “For parents, it is very important to know about common childhood diseases. These illnesses are prevalent in our society and the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children.” Dr. Pasco, LH Prime’s resident pediatrician, shares. 

In the Philippines, the most common diseases are the following: acute gastroenteritis, dengue fever, pneumonia, and the common cold. Proper information on such diseases can help parents protect their children before it’s too late. 

Gastroenteritis or ‘stomach flu’ involves the inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Gastroenteritis is normally due to Rotavirus or Norovirus, which have no antibacterial treatment and symptoms normally resolve within a week.  

Dengue fever is endemic in Cebu and exists throughout the year, especially among  school children. It is contracted through the bite of a certain type of mosquito.  Symptoms may manifest as fever, poor appetite, tiredness, abdominal pain and  vomiting. Presence of dengue virus can be confirmed via blood smear test. 

The common cold is the white blood cell’s inflammatory response against the  presence of viruses (such as rhinovirus or coronavirus). Symptoms include runny  nose, whopping cough and itchy or sore throat. Treatment is normally for  symptomatic relief, and often there is no need for antibiotics. 

Vaccination is among the best ways parents can protect their infants, children and teens from severe diseases. These diseases can have serious complications, and even  be deadly—especially in babies and young children. 

The following childhood diseases can be prevented by vaccination: hepatitis A,  hepatitis B, influenza, measles, meningococcal, mumps, chickenpox, just to name a  few. Because of effective vaccination, some highly deadly diseases like polio and  smallpox have been eliminated in many countries. Nowadays it is rare for children to contract these devastating diseases that were once common all thanks to modern  medicine. 

Education is the first step to your children’s health protection and disease prevention—and as a responsible parent, this newfound education should go hand-in-hand with constant consultation with your pediatrician for the right diagnosis and treatment. (What Parents Should Know about Childhood Diseases, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2016)

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