Ways to improve your child’s immunity

A child is continuously exposed to disease-producing organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites. Although a simple exposure does not mean that your child will fall sick, a strong immune system provides the child with a natural defense against diseases.

Newborns enter this world with an inexperienced immune system. With time children battle various infections and get their immunity primed. Hence it is perfectly normal for a child to develop 6 to 8 episodes of upper respiratory infections in a year. In fact, it is important for a child to acquire mild infections and develop lifelong immunity against some diseases. However, if a child is overly susceptible to infections, his/her immune system may need to be boosted.

The simplest yet important way to boost a child’s immunity is to give him the necessary vaccinations. Hygiene techniques, particularly hand washing, also play an important role in reducing the stress on a child’s immune system. Hence, children should be taught the importance of hand washing at home and school.

A few ways to boost up a child’s immunity include:

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The basics of breastfeeding

“A newborn baby has only three demands. They are; warmth in the arms of (his) mother, food from her breasts and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastmilk satisfies all three.”

  • Grantly Dick-Read

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is at least 6 months of age as it is optimal for babies and mothers. Breastmilk is your baby’s first feed and the first means of immunizing your baby against infections and allergies. Breastmilk keeps your baby healthy by supplying them with all the essential nutrients in its required quantities. It has the perfect combination of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats.

The importance of breastfeeding and its benefits for the mother and child are commonly known and often spoken about. However, there are certainly other aspects of breastfeeding that mother’s or expectant mothers need to know about in order to be able to breastfeed their baby efficiently.

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Back to school ready

Going back to school can be a stressful time for children. They will be excited but will also have certain apprehensions about the new class they are going into, new teachers and new friends. Parents are the sole support system for children and must encourage their children while at the same time address their concerns. Some of the tips to help your child to get ready for school are:

  • Communication is key. Talk to your child about the new and exciting things at the school. Also, talk to your child and ask him about his concerns and fears.
  • Tell your child about the positive points like making many new friends, meeting old friends and having new teachers.
  • Visit the school with your child to meet the new teachers, if possible, and to have a look at your child’s new classroom.
  • Reassure your child that you will be by his/her side at all times.

It could be challenging for the parents to bring the child back to the school routine after a long break of two months of summer holidays. Parents can help their child by simple measures, including:

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Tips to protect your children during summer

  • The most common illnesses that occur to children during the summer and how to avoid them

Summer is the longest season in the UAE. With the summer break around the corner, children are prone to a number of allergies and infections. The most common issues seen in children during the summer are dehydration, heat stroke, dry skin, fungal infections in the foot, and sun burn.

Dehydration and heat exhaustion can happen very quickly during the summer and it is very important to drink lots of water and electrolytes to stay hydrated at all times. Fresh fruit juices with no added sugar are a great source of electrolytes. School going children need plenty of fluids because they may play outside in the heat.

Heat stroke results in high body temperature, rapidly increased breathing, and fast pulse. To avoid this one must avoid direct sun rays and heat. During the summer, it is best to avoid being outside during peak sun hours.

Dry skin, rashes and sun burn are common skin problems seen in children and adults during summers. Dry skin is caused due to dehydration, which one must drink lots of water to avoid. Keeping the skin moisturized at all times is also important to avoid dryness. Rashes are caused due to excess sweating caused by the heat. Sun burn is generally seen in people with less melanin or lighter skin color, although this doesn’t rule out the probability of children with darker skin developing sun burns.

Food poisoning is also rather common during summers. Food must always be kept covered at all times if it is kept outside.

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Mother kissing baby

Newborns at risk, from a simple kiss

Can a simple kiss really be dangerous to newborns?

Dr. Bhavani: Yes it can. To some extent, some dangers depend on the immune status of the new born as the child is exposed to many diseases and infections that can be transmitted by one way or the other.

 

Is it easy for a newborn to contact diseases/infections from a kiss or other ways?

Dr. Bhavani: Yes, an adult with a cold sore, which is caused by the Herpes simplex virus spreads from skin to skin contact, like kissing and also by sharing razors, lipsticks, tooth brushes, eating from the same utensils or even sharing towels. The virus lies in the dormant cells of the skin, and of the mouth and breaks out into disease when the immune system of the individual goes down. Though Herpes Simplex I virus is commonly distributed as a benign infection in the population, it can have a much more severe effect on newborns. Symptoms of the herpes simplex virus typically appear as a blister or as multiple blisters on or around affected areas — usually the mouth, in this case. The blisters break, leaving tender sores.

Often, the appearance of Herpes Simplex virus is typical and no testing is needed to confirm the diagnosis. If a health care provider is uncertain, herpes simplex can be diagnosed with lab tests and virus cultures. Furthermore, individuals with other communicable diseases like cold and flu, tuberculosis, etc. can pass on the infection when they kiss or touch a newborn. Infectious mononucleosis, commonly called as kissing disease, is another infectious disease that spreads by kissing in older children, mostly in teenagers. It is caused by the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV).

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