WHILE people of all ages are susceptible to the novel coronavirus, children account for the fewest cases of the people who have contracted the virus globally. This, along with the fact that most children who contract the virus develop milder symptoms of the disease, has made it a little easier for parents to sleep. But with no clear sign of when the virus will be over, and world leaders encouraging their citizens to prepare to co-exist with the virus, parents are uncertain how to navigate their new normal especially when the number of confirmed cases continue to grow.
To quiet the chaos in the minds of some parents, we asked primary consultant paediatrician at We 'R' Kids Paediatrics, Dr Lisa Franklin-Banton, to answer some common questions that parents have at this time.
Your child is due a vaccine now, should you keep the clinic date?
Dr Franklin-Banton: Yes. The recommendation is that you should try keeping the child's immunisations up to date to reduce the chances of children becoming sick with other illnesses that can be otherwise prevented with vaccines.
What should parents do if their child already missed the immunisation date?
Dr Franklin-Banton: If you are not able to keep your child's immunisation appointment for whatever reason, make every effort to arrange for the child to get their shots the next available date. You want to make sure that they get the vaccine as close to the original date as possible.
What should parents do if their child is having flu-like symptoms?
Dr Lisa Franklin-Banton: If your child is having flu-like symptoms you should treat the symptoms. So you can use acetaminophen for pain and fever and antihistamines for runny nose. Ensure that the child is adequately hydrated. If available, give him/her vitamin C. It is very important to monitor the symptoms closely. If they seem to be getting worse or are not settling down within three days, reach out to a medical professional.
What are some instances in which parents should take the child to a hospital, instead of trying to administer care at home?
Dr Franklin-Banton: If a child has severe allergic reactions, excessive vomiting and diarrhoea and is not tolerating oral fluids, if they're coughing and breathing with difficulty, and has a prolonged fever, these are instances in which the child should be taken to the hospital.
Medical experts have seen a rise in the number of paediatric patients presenting with anxiety and other panic disorders since COVID-19. How can parents help to treat or manage these conditions at home?
Dr Franklin-Banton: Depending on the age of the child, parents can try a few things. For example, you want to teach them breathing techniques, yoga, journalling, drawing, get a stress ball, encourage exercise, meditation/visualisation, and encourage them to talk through what is making them anxious.
The prime minister has made it mandatory for masks to be worn in public spaces. Should kids wear masks?
Dr Franklin-Banton: The recommendation is that once your child is two years and older and is going out in public then the child should wear a mask. Children who are under age two are not advised to wear masks.
How can you keep your child physically active at home?
Dr Franklin-Banton: Putting greater focus on physical activity now is very important, especially since children are not going to school and are not moving around as they would usually do, in general. It is easy for them to sit around all day, but you have to make sure that they exercise. So consider including exercise in their daily timetable. If you can take walks as a family, do that. Engage in family activities in the backyard. If you don't have a backyard, which is the reality for many families, then you can get something as simple as a skipping rope and you can do other simple exercises like jumping jacks. You can also get dance videos, make a nice playlist for them, and join them as they exercise.