Saturday, 27 September 2008

Muscular dystrophy

We say that a child has muscular dystrophy but in actual fact it is an umbrella term for many different diseases. The muscular dystrophies (MD) are a group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. Some forms of MD are seen in infancy or childhood, while others may not appear until middle age or later. The disorders differ in terms of the distribution and extent of muscle weakness, age of onset, rate of progression, and pattern of inheritance.

There is currently no specific treatment to stop or reverse any form of MD. Treatment may include physical therapy, respiratory therapy, speech therapy, orthopaedic appliances used for support, and corrective orthopaedic surgery. Drug therapy includes corticosteroids to slow muscle degeneration, anticonvulsants to control seizures and some muscle activity, immunosuppressant’s to delay some damage to dying muscle cells, and antibiotics to fight respiratory infections. Some individuals may benefit from occupational therapy and assistive technology. Some patients may need assisted ventilation to treat respiratory muscle weakness and a pacemaker for cardiac abnormalities.

The prognosis for people with MD varies according to the type and progression of the disorder. Some cases may be mild and progress very slowly over a normal lifespan, while others produce severe muscle weakness, functional disability, and loss of the ability to walk. Some children with MD die in infancy while others live into adulthood with only moderate disability.
For more information on this topic try Muscular Dystrophy Campaign at

Monday, 22 September 2008


There has been a noted increase in the number of cases of measles in recent years, this is thought to be as a result of parents deciding not to have their child immunised due to the controversy over the MMR vaccine.

Measles is caused by a virus that is spread by droplets. The virus is passed on through direct contact with someone who's infected, for example by touching or kissing them, or through breathing in contaminated air. It's fairly easy to catch if you haven't been vaccinated and come into contact with someone who has the infection, which is why epidemics often occurred among school children.

The infectious period is from four days before the rash to four days after it's appeared. Unfortunately, it's most infectious before the rash appears so people tend to spread the virus before they realise they have it, it is best to inform anyone who has been in contact with the child in this period that they have measles, as people of any age can get it.

It's most common among those aged between one and four, all children who have not been vaccinated are at risk from measles, and those who have problems with their immune system may have a more severe case of measles.

The symptoms take about ten to 14 days to develop after exposure to the virus, the early symptoms are like a cold, with runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis and fever, a few of days later, tiny white spots surrounded by red may develop on the inside lining of the cheeks, so they are difficult to see. The measles rash appears a day or two later, starting behind the ears or on the face and spreading down across the body.
It's a fine red rash which becomes blotchy and confluent, it fades after three to four days and should be completely gone after a week or so.

The infection isn't usually serious but there are potential complications that can be fatal, even for otherwise healthy children. These are rare but include otitis media, pneumonia, hepatitis, conjunctivitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Encephalitis or inflammation of the brain may develop a few days after the rash has appeared, and a quarter of those who get this complication will be left with brain damage and a devastating but extremely rare illness called sub acute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). This progressive illness may develop many years after the first bout of measles and is eventually fatal. Fortunately, it's very rare, occurring in fewer than one in 100,000 cases.

It is important to see your doctor to confirm the diagnosis as although rare, complications can be very dangerous. In most cases children may be treated at home with pain and fever-reducing syrups such as Calpol, always check it is the right product for your child age and they should be encouraged to drink fluids. Very rarely hospital treatment, with antiviral drugs, may be needed in more serious cases.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Heat Rash

Heat rash takes the form of tiny blisters which appear in newborn babies. It's often caused by the sweat glands which are not fully developed in babies, and can become blocked if the baby is too hot. This is why heat rash is commonly seen in newborn babies during summer. It may also appear during a fever, or simply when a baby has been overdressed.

It takes the form of pinkish blebs or small blisters which usually appear over the face, neck and in skin folds, especially in the nappy area. If infected, they may become pus-filled, and you should seek medical advice.

You can help by giving your child a luke warm bath, dressing them in light cotton clothing. The rash should disappear in two to three days. If your baby is scratching the spots, speak to your doctor or child health nurse about which creams may help.

Warning: Seek medical attention if

  • the spots become inflamed or pus-filled (yellow or green). This means that they have become infected, and need treatment
  • the rash lasts more than two to three days
  • in addition to having a rash, your baby is generally unwell, has a fever or is not feeding well
  • you are concerned

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Head Lice

Remember the nit nurse, thankfully those days of ritual humiliation and terror are gone but the down side is that if your child has head lice it may take a while before they notice, its a good idea to check every time you wash their hair those little buggers can arrive at any time.

Head lice often called nits unsurprisingly given the name like to live on heads, they are extremely common in children, often first noticed due to the presence of eggs in the child’s hair. they are spread from person to person by close contact, despite close attention to hygiene, the adult then lays egg in the next person’s hair which usually takes about a week to hatch, and the cycle begins again.

The first sign of head lice is usually itching the head, especially the nape of the neck and behind the ears. If you look closely at your child’s hair, you will see many small, white, oval-shaped eggs firmly attached to the root of the hair shaft, close to the scalp. The further away from the scalp, the longer the nit has been there (hair grows at the rate of 0.3 mm a day). The adult insects themselves move very quickly and are difficult to see unless you part the hair very quickly and you see one jump. There is no need to chase them, the fact that there are eggs are good enough evidence of their presence.

There are many different types of Anti-lice shampoos that are available from the chemist without a prescription, they are simple to use and effective. If you do choose to use them then do so strictly according to instructions.

For a more natural cure try hair conditioner. Apply a very generous amount of conditioner to dampened hair, and rub into the scalp and along the hair shafts. Leave on for at least 15 minutes. You may place a shower cap over your child’s head while you are waiting. The action of the conditioner is to suffocate the lice, which then release their claws from the hair shaft or scalp. A fine-toothed lice comb can then be used to comb out the conditioner. Use a tissue or tap water in the sink to rinse the comb between strokes. You will often see lice bodies that you have combed out. It is said that this treatment needs to be repeated every 2-3 days for two weeks, but it is very effective. Remember that there is no need to shave or cut your child’s hair, the little lice have no preference as to length and for that matter age.

Lice are highly contagious, and can spread rapidly between families and between children in the same class. If you find lice in you child’s head check the whole family, and even if you do not see any eggs or lice, it may well be worthwhile to treat all other family members just in case. It is important to let the child’s creche, nursery or school know that your child has lice.

Clean and vacuum your child’s room, as well as any areas in which they have been playing. Soak all brushes and combs in anti-lice shampoo for several hours to disinfect them. Wash all bedding, blankets and clothes in hot water. Any item that can't be washed should be sealed in plastic bags for two to three weeks in order to kill the eggs. If your child is itching excessively and it interrupts their sleep or if sores develop on the scalp, and weep or spread then you need to see a doctor.

These little buggers are tricky so keep an eye out

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


the first thing to know about eczema is that it is a common condition in childhood it affects a fifth of the children in the UK, the good news on this statistic is that 75 % of those children grow out of it by puberty.

It is thought that eczema has a genetic basis and tends to run in families. It is often associated with other conditions such as asthma or hay fever. Children with eczema have dry, sensitive skin which is easily irritated by certain chemicals (such as soaps or bubble bath solution) and by contact with woollen or polyester garments. In some children and adults for that matter, diet seems to play a role in eczema, although it is often very difficult to find the offending food. Eczema is not contagious.

It is characterised by a very itchy, red rash, usually present in patches on the elbow creases and behind the knees, although it may occur on the face, neck, hands and feet almost anywhere.

In babies it usually starts with the cheeks then moves to the wrists,ankles, folds behind the knees and on the inside of elbows. The rash may develop cracks and weep or bleed, especially when the child scratches excessively because of the itch. the scratching can cause the area to get infected by bacteria, which enter the skin via the cracks. In between attacks of eczema, the skin looks thickened and dry. Eczema usually begins at some time during the childhood, often in the first few months of life. The main truiggers seem to be soap which dries the skin, dust mites and occasionally foods such as dairy, eggs and fish.

Eczema cannot be cured. The key it living with the condition is to try to prevent severe flare-ups, the way to do that is to treat symptoms as soon as they appear. Eczema is worsened when the skin is dry, so oils and moisturising creams applied directly to the skin are helpful, as is the use of bath oils, all these things help to prevent the skin from becoming dry but be careful to only use products which are specially formulated to help with the condition or some non perfume products such as aqueous creams as perfumed products can aggravate the condition.

If your child is scratching at the rash, try putting cotton mittens on their hands at night, cut nails short and keep them clean. If their scratching becomes constant, see your doctor equally if the rash becomes infected, your doctor will probably recommend a short course of antibiotics.

If the eczema is servere your G.P. may prescribe steroid creams to help but always read the instructions very carefully and use as instructed, as this type of cream can lead to thinning of the skin.

What you can do to help
Try to dress your child in cotton clothes and more spercifically underwear as they are more comfortable for your child than woollens or synthetics, keep the child cool, as overheating can make the itch worse also avoid very hot baths or showers are also aggravating. Use creams after your childs bath to keep the skin supply and prevent it from drying. It maybe worth looking into food intolerances to see if the out breaks are linked to a food allergy

For more information try The National Eczema society at

Friday, 22 August 2008

Ear Infections

Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses in babies and young children. Most ear infections are middle ear infection, young children are more prone to these types of infections, because the tubes which connect the throat to the middle ear are softer and shorter. This means that germs can reach the middle ear more easily than in older children, whose tubes are longer and more vertical. In younger children the tubes are prone to getting blocked, so that there is less ventilation into the middle ear space.

Although they may cause fever and pain in the short-term, they usually get better with treatment and there are no long-term consequences.

Some children do have recurrent ear infections, for reasons that are still not clear, and these may lead to a condition known as ‘glue ear’ and can result in hearing loss. ‘Glue ear’ is the term used to describe the presence of thick, glue-like secretions in the middle ear. These are sometimes the consequence of repeated ear infections. Glue ear, very often affects the child’s hearing, which in turn may have an impact on the child’s speech development.

Ear infections in young children need to be seen promptly by a doctor and followed up to make sure that they don’t keep coming back.

The symptoms experienced depends on the age of the child, symptoms may include fever, irritability or drowsiness, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting and sometimes diarrhoea, and headache. Younger children may tug their ear, or poke their finger inside. While sometimes ear infections are ‘silent’ and do not cause any specific symptoms, usually your child will complain of earache, or of a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. Babies may cry a lot and pull at the affected ear, especially at night when lying down. Some children may suffer severe and intense pain in their ear. Ear infections can cause a temporary decrease in hearing, so that some children may have noticeable partial deafness during ear infections. Occasionally the eardrum may rupture (perforated eardrum), with a thick and sometimes bloody discharge. This creates some relief of the pressure that has built up in the ear as a result of the infection, and eases the pain, do not panic the burst eardrum usually heals naturally.

When an ear infection is diagnosed antibiotics are usually only given to babies and children who are very unwell, as symptoms of a middle ear infection usually get better without intervention within 24 hours. if you child is diagnosed with an ear infection an is prescribed antibiotics, even if the symptoms have improved always make sure that the child finishes the whole course of treatment, as stopping too soon could make the infection come back.

Your G.P. may tell you to give your child infant painkillers such as Calpol to help with the pain and bring down any fever

Many children who have recurrent ear infections, or a chronic infection (glue ear), may require the insertion of ventilating tubes (grommets) into the eardrum. This prevents fluid from building up behind the drum, and helps to preserve hearing. This is a very common procedure in childhood, and usually your child can be a day patient. Grommets usually fall out after 6-12 months, although sometimes special tubes are inserted which will stay in longer. Unfortunately in some children, grommets may need to be reinserted again if infections recur.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Down's syndrome

Down's syndrome is a genetic condition known as trisomy, where a person inherits an extra copy of one chromosome, chromosome 21. This additional genetic material changes the balance of the body and results in characteristic physical and intellectual features. Even with extensive research it is still not known why this abnormality occurs. Down's affects around one in 1,000 babies born in the UK, about 600 babies a year.

There are three types of Down's syndrome:

Regular trisomy 21 - all the cells have an extra chromosome 21, this is the most common type
Translocation - the extra chromosome 21 material is attached to another chromosome and one of the parent's may carry the translocated chromosome without any signs of the condition themselves. This accounts for around four per cent of all cases.

Mosaic - only some of the cells have an extra chromosome 21. Around two per cent of people with Down's have this type, which tends to result in milder features.

Most people recognise the typically flat facial profile and eyes of those with Down's syndrome. Other typical facial features include smaller ears, flat back of the head and protruding tongue. People with Down's also tend to be shorter than average with poor muscle tone and have short, broad hands with a single crease across the palm.

Medical Problems
Thera are a number of medical problems that are more common in people with Down's syndrome. Almost half have heart defects, some of which can be treated, some of which cannot. Many have stomach problems, which can make eating difficult, and thyroid gland problems.

Other physical problems include cataracts, hearing and sight problems and a susceptibility to infection. Most suffer from varying degrees of learning disability, which may range from moderate to severe. Also in later life there is an increased risk of developing leukaemia.

On a more positive note children with Down's syndrome are usually happy and extremely affectionate. Many live well into adulthood, with the average life expectancy being around 60 years.

Care and treatment
At the present there is no cure for Down's, but treatment of any accompanying health problems and support for learning difficulties allows many people with the syndrome to lead relatively normal (what ever that means) and semi-independent lives. Others, however, need full-time care it purely depends on the severity of the illness.

Risk of having a child who has Down's syndrome
The risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases with the age of the mother, especially over the age of 35. There is also an inreased risk of having a child with Down's syndrome if a woman already has a child with the syndrome, or if a close family member has had an affected child. However, most cases are sporadic (the parents aren't affected) and the risk of recurrence in further pregnancies is very small.

Antenatal screening
It's not possible to prevent the genetic abnormality occuring, but in recent years it has become possible to identify more accurately during pregnancy those babies most at risk. In most antenatal clinics, women are routinely offered a blood screening test (the triple test) from 14 weeks of pregnancy, which measures the level of specific substances in the blood. The results are combined with a woman's age at her expected date of delivery to give an estimated level of risk of Down's syndrome. Another method of screening available in some hospitals is the nuchal translucency test. This is an ultrasound scan performed between 10 and 13 weeks of pregnancy, which measures the amount of fluid at the back of the baby's neck. It's important for women to realise that both forms of screening only identify those women who are at an increased risk of having a baby with Down's, it doesn't tell them whether their baby has Down's or not.

Those women who are found to be at a higher risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome are offered the opportunity of further tests to establish whether their child has Down's or not. The tests offered may be amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. These do provide a definitive answer.
Screening for Down's syndrome isn't compulsory. Women are offered screening if they wish to know whether they're at an increased risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome. If they are, they can then decide whether to have a definitive test. If this test confirms Down's syndrome, women can then make an informed decision about continuing with their pregnancy or not.

For more information and support,
The Down's Syndrome AssociationTel: 0845 230 0372 Website:

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Diarrhoea, causes and treatments

Cleaning your child and the floor when your child has diarrhoea is unpleasant, even the most motherly woman has to admit that there are many things they would rather be doing, we have all had that nappy where its easier to put them in the shower than try to clean them, the unfortunate fact is that diarrhoea is relatively common in young children. Thankfully, it usually passes naturally after a day or two, however if your child is under 3 months it is best to see your G.P. as they can dehydrate very quickly. Always remember that if you are worried or the problem is severe or carries on more than a couple of days always seek medical advice.

There are many possible causes of diarrhoea, including food poisoning, but the most common in children is a viral infection, such as gastroenteritis. In some toddlers with chronic diarrhoea it turns out to be as simple as they are drinking too much fruit juice. Like vomiting, diarrhoea can accompany many infections, both bacterial and viral. Other causes of chronic diarrhoea include Giardia, coeliac disease, apendicitus and other less common conditions. Sadly in many toddlers, no cause for the diarrhoea can be found and most grow out of it as they get older.

Where your child is suffering from a mild case of diarrhoea the most important thing to remember is that your child has enough to drink. Your doctor or pharmacist may prescribe or suggest an oral preparation that can be used to rehydrate your child but always follow the instructions carefully. If you have a young baby who is breast or bottle fed, you should continue to feed but offer extra fluid between feeds. For older children food can generally be given after one to two days, especially if your child is hungry. It is generally best to start with bland foods such as plain biscuits, bread, rice, potato or jelly.

Our favourite was to have boiled lemonade (sound vile but it not), it was almost worth being ill to get it, I suppose the theory behind it was that when you boiled it you took out all the fizz so you were left with a sweet easily digestible liquid that would help to rehydrate you and you would get some energy from the sugar. Not sure how it would go down today probably moan about the sugar rotting their teeth or something similar but I can remember it was enjoyed three generation of our family.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Colds and flu's can lead to a cough, if there is a lot of mucus running down the back of the child’s throat. A cough tends to be a symptom of another illness and can vary in its severity depending on its cause. If your child has a temperature as well as a cough, it could be a sign of a infection. You should visit your GP they will be able to tell if it's a bacterial infection and might prescribe antibiotics to clear it up.

Things you can do to help

Trying to give a feed or a drink just before a nap this can help to soothe the throat. Help clear a chesty cough by laying your baby across your lap and patting their back gently.
  • Keep your child warm but not too hot and keep their room at a comfortable temperature. This should help stop a cough moving down the chest which could lead to an infection.
  • Use a inhalant or vapouriser in the room such as Olbas oil or use the oil it self if your child is old enough (3 months), always check the labels before you buy or use products. Most of these products are unsuitable for very small babies.
  • Take you child into the bathroom sit on the toilet and run the shower so the room fills with steam your child breathes in the steam and it should help to clear the passages ( its the child equivalent of putting your head over a bowl of steam).

  • Warning: It is worth bearing in mind that a cough or wheezing can be a sign of something more serious, such as croup, asthma, or bronchitis. If the cough lasts for more than three days or your child seems breathless, particularly irritable or has a fever, or if you are concerned in any way you should contact your GP.

    Saturday, 2 August 2008

    Cradle cap - flakey scalp

    The first thing to say about cradle cap is that it is very common. If your baby's scalp has flaky, dry skin that looks like dandruff, or even thick, oily, yellowish or brown scaling or crusting patches, it's most likely cradle cap.

    Cradle cap is harmless it shows up in the first few months of life, and it usually clears up on its own in about six to 12 months, although it is not uncommon of some babies to have it for several years.

    The cause of cradle cap seems to be unknown but debated. What is known for sure is that it is not caused by poor hygiene or allergies and it's not contagious. It probably doesn't bother your baby at all, although if it gets severe it might itch. In most cases it is the mothers who are bothered by the cradle cap the babies as with most things are completely oblivious.

    Do nothing ! You don't really need to do anything, but if it bothers you, try shampooing more frequently and gently brushing your baby's scalp with a soft brush or a terrycloth towel. Some parents find that rubbing olive oil into the scalp and leaving it for 15 Min's before washing it out can help to lessen the problem.
    If you are in any way worried about it or it spreads beyond the scalp speak to your G.P. about it.

    Sunday, 27 July 2008

    Croup - how to help

    Most mums who have had a child with croup can recognise it straight away it causes a cough that is so distinctive that you will never forget it once you hear it. Croup is a swelling of the voice box and windpipe it can be caused by bacteria, or inhaled irritants, allergy, but more often it's the result of a virus and as such is contagious. Croup is most common in children between the ages of 6 months to 3 years, although a child can get croup at any age. The illness seems to be more prevalent between the months of October and March. Most cases of croup today are not serious, but a severe case can require hospitalization. If you suspect croup always get it checked out by a medical practitioner just to be certain.


    • A very hoarse, deep cough that sounds like a barking seal, this cough is very distinctive once your hear it you will know if you hear it again and any G.P. will pick it up just by listening to the bark
    • It often appears after several days of cold symptoms and usually worsens at night.
      they may also run a low fever
    • It is often worst the first two or three nights, and it usually goes away in a week or so.

    Warning: if you child’s breathing is difficult or there is a change in the colour of your child’s lips to a bluish colour then it is best to get your child to hospital immediately.


    If your child has a mild case of croup the doctor will give you advice as to how to improve the symptoms and possibly medication to help reduce the swelling. You must make every effort to keep your child hydrated so get as much fluid into them as you can. You can give children painkillers to help reduce the temperature but always check that they are suitable for your child. It may help if you take the child into a steamy bathroom for 20 min, this will help to open the air ways.

    If your child has a severe case of croup that requires hospitalization, they may be given oxygen, a medication to inhale, or steroids to help reduce the swelling of the airways. They will probably be given intravenous fluids to combat dehydration.

    Tuesday, 22 July 2008

    Conjunctivitis (red or pink eye)

    We have all seen kids running around with bright red eyes that look sore and angry, hence the name red eye. If the whites of one or both of your child's eyes and the lower rim of their eyelids are red, chances are they have an infection called conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye or red-eye, always get this checked out by a doctor before you use any treatment.

    The infection occurs when a virus, some bacteria, an allergen, or some other substance inflames the transparent membrane covering the white of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids (the conjunctiva).
    As your toddler's system tries to fight the infection, their eyes may water or become crusty. It's important that you treat the infection quickly, so its best to visit your G.P. as soon as you see the symptoms.

    Types of conjunctivitis
    There are three types of conjunctivitis, bacterial, viral and allergic, each is described below

    • Bacterial conjunctivitis - If bacterial conjunctivitis is the culprit, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops for you to use on your child's eyes for about seven days.
    • Viral conjunctivitis - Viral conjunctivitis usually clears up on its own in a week or so. Your doctor will advise you to keep the area clean by gently washing your toddler's eyes with warm water and rubbing away the dried discharge. If your child eyes haven't improved after two weeks, let your doctor know.

    Warning: Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are extremely contagious. To keep this kind of infection from spreading, you'll need to wash your hands after every contact with your child's eyes. Keep their towels, clothing, and bedding separate from yours, and wash these items regularly. The infection will continue to be contagious until the symptoms are gone, so if your toddler goes to a nursery, you'll need to keep him home until then.

    • Allergic conjunctivitis - Since allergic conjunctivitis is the result of your child's having been exposed to an irritating substance, you need to identify the allergen and try to keep them away from it. If your toddler's eyes are making them uncomfortable, you can soothe them with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops from your G.P. These drops are made especially for allergic conjunctivitis but always be careful to make sure that the medicine is suitable for your child.

    Thursday, 17 July 2008

    Colic - what to do

    Colic or wind is common in small babies it is caused by small bubbles of air trapped in your baby’s stomach or bowels and this in turn can cause tummy ache which can be very distressing for your baby, they can seem restless or niggled or they may cry if they have wind.
    It is thought that breastfed babies may get less wind than bottle fed babies, as they may take in less air, but they still do get wind. If you’re feeding your baby with a bottle, make sure that the bottle is tipped up enough so that the teat is always full of milk. This can help to reduce the amount of air the baby swallows.

    • they may have a bluish tinge on the skin, between their top lip and nose
    • your baby is restless or crying and may be pulling legs up to their tummy
    • they may grimace and look like they are smiling but appear uncomfortable.
    After a feed if your child is not settling it is best to spend a few moments trying to get up their wind this maybe achieved by:
    • Putting your child over your shoulder or sitting them on your knee with their heads supported and gently rubbing or patting their back, many feel that rubbing is now more effective that the traditional method of patting but the choose is yours it worked for our mums
    • Try to be patient if they don’t get any wind up straight away, try for a few minutes but not longer as they may simply not have wind, or just a small gurgle in his tummy could be a sign that any wind has escaped.

    If you are concerned, discuss your worries with your midwife or health visitor, they may suggest other forms of help such as colic drops. However, it is important that you read the label as they are not all suitable for newborn babies

    Saturday, 12 July 2008

    Chicken Pox

    Chicken pox, also called varicella, it is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which passes from person to person with remarkable ease, it typically causes an itchy rash that starts out as small red bumps. These bumps quickly change into clear, fluid-filled blisters on a pink base, which eventually become dry brown crusts. New waves of blisters often spring up as the illness progresses. The rash often appears first on the scalp, face, or trunk, it can then spread over the entire body. Children usually get between 250 and 500 blisters, although it's possible to have just a few. Many children get tired and slightly feverish, they may loose their appetite and have a mild headache or abdominal pain. Before the rash appears they may have a cough or a runny nose. Chicken pox usually lasts five to ten days.

    People with chicken pox can pass the virus along by touching someone after touching the blisters or coughing or sneezing onto their hand, or by releasing it into the air whenever they sneeze, cough, or even breathe. The virus can also spread from direct contact with the fluid from the blisters before they crust over. Children are most contagious the day or two before the rash erupts, usually before parents know their child is sick. Once your toddler has been exposed to the virus, it usually takes 14 to 16 days for the pustules to appear, although they can show up anytime between ten and 21 days. In most cases it is a pain in the neck more than a danger to your child but in very rare cases it can cause serious complications, like a bacterial skin infection, pneumonia or encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. It is best to contact a doctor if your child has chicken pox, if you toddler seems sicker than expected, if they develops a fever after the first few days, if the rash spreads to their eyes, or if the skin around the pox becomes swollen, painful, or very red or if you have any concerns.

    Adult who get chicken pox generally get shingles, shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox can cause a painful rash in adults. When a child has chicken pox, the virus remains in the body and can reappear as shingles many years later. This happens to about one in ten adults who had chicken pox earlier in life.

    It may seem like an impossible task, but try to keep your toddler from picking and scratching their sores, as this can slow the healing process. Sores that aren't allowed to heal can leave scars. You can alleviate the itching with calamine lotion applied to each sore and keeping your child's nails short can help. You can bring down the fever with children painkillers but always read the label to be sure it is safe for your toddler

    Wednesday, 9 July 2008


    Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs and airways. If your toddler has asthma, these airways are irritated and swollen, and this can affect their ability to breathe. It's important that you work with your child's doctor to prevent and treat asthma attacks, they will probably prescribe medication to prevent attacks. With the right medications, education, an asthma action plan, and regular medical follow-ups, most asthmatic children do just fine.

    Asthma attacks

    If your toddler has an acute asthma attack, the lining of their airways becomes even more inflamed and produces more mucus, the muscles around the airways tighten. They may breathe rapidly, cough, wheeze, or whistle as the breath is forced through the narrowed airways. If left untreated or if there's a delay in seeking medical attention, asthma attacks can be deadly. As soon as you notice symptoms of an attack, promptly give your child the inhaler prescribed by his doctor. If you have none or this is their first attack call an ambulance. Once the medicine opens his breathing tubes, the symptoms should subside. If the symptoms persist or get worse call an ambulance.

    Allergy’s and asthma

    Exposure to allergens such as dust mites, mould, pollens, or animal dander can trigger or worsen symptoms in some children with asthma, his condition is referred to as allergic asthma. Seasonal allergies to outdoor pollens, hay fever won't usually be a problem until your child is 4 or 5 because it can take that long to develop sensitivity to them. Allergies to dust mites mould, or animal dander may develop earlier in life, though. If your toddler has asthma and you know or suspect they have allergies, you may want to take him to an allergist for further evaluation and treatment to help prevent allergic asthma attacks. Other common asthma triggers include cold air, viral infections, smoke, or just plain running around.

    Thursday, 3 July 2008

    Asperger syndrome

    Asperger syndrome is a classed as a type of autism which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. There are over half a million people in the UK with an autism spectrum disorder - that's around 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and religions. However, the condition appears to be more common in males than females; the reason for this is unknown.

    Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:

    social communication
    social interaction
    Social imagination

    While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.

    The characteristics of Asperger syndrome vary from person to person but are usually split into three main groups.

    Social communication - People with Asperger syndrome sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. For example, they may:
    have difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
    have difficulty knowing when to start or end a conversation and choosing topics to talk about
    use complex words and phrases but may not fully understand what they mean
    Be very literal in what they say and can have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphors and sarcasm.

    Social interaction - Many people with Asperger syndrome want to be sociable but have difficulty with initiating and sustaining social relationships, which can make them very anxious. For example they may:
    find it difficult to understand the action of other people they may find them unpredictable and confusing
    Find it difficult to make or maintain friendships
    Often they may behave in what can be interpreted by other as an unacceptable manner.
    Find it hard to understand the unwritten 'social rules' that most of us pick up without thinking, e.g. they may invade a persons personal space not realising that that may make them uncomfortable.
    They may seem withdrawn, shy or possibly ignorant or rude

    Social imagination
    People with Asperger syndrome can be imaginative in the conventional use of the word. For example, many are accomplished writers, artists and musicians. But can have difficulty with social imagination. For example:
    imagining alternative outcomes to situations and finding it hard to predict what will happen next
    Understanding or interpreting other peoples thoughts, feelings or actions. The subtle messages that are put across by facial expression and body language are often completely missed
    Having a limited range of imaginative activities, which can be pursued rigidly and repetitively e.g. lining up toys or collecting and organising things related to his or her interest. Some children with Asperger syndrome may find it difficult to play 'let's pretend' games or prefer subjects rooted in logic and systems, such as mathematics.

    Other characteristics

    People with aspergers often show other characteristics such as:

    Love of routines - many try and make the world less confusing, and may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) which they insist upon and if they can not perform them they may get anxious or upset.

    Special interests - many have an intense, sometimes obsessive, interest in a hobby or collecting.

    Sensory difficulties - may have sensory difficulties. These can occur in one or all of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste). The degree of difficulty varies from one individual to another. Most commonly, an individual's senses are either intensified or underdeveloped.

    The exact cause of Asperger syndrome is still being investigated. However, research suggests that a combination of factors - genetic and environmental - may account for changes in brain development. It is very important to remember that we know what it is not caused by, Asperger syndrome is not caused by a person's upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

    There is currently no cure as such and no specific treatment for Asperger syndrome. Children with Asperger syndrome become adults with Asperger syndrome. There are many approaches, therapies and interventions, which can improve an individual's quality of life. These may include communication-based interventions, behavioural therapy and dietary changes.

    Sunday, 29 June 2008

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) refers to a range of problems with behaviour. It is estimated that about 1.7% of the UK population, mostly children, have ADD or ADHD. Boys are more likely to be affected.

    The symptoms may include attention difficulties, impulsiveness, restlessness and hyperactivity, as well as inattentiveness, and often prevent children from learning and socialising well, we have discussed some of these symptoms below.

    Attention difficulties

    In order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD a child must have exhibited at least six of the following symptoms for at least six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.

    Fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless errors during work or play.
    Fails to finish tasks or sustain attention in play activities.
    Seems not to listen to what is said to him or her.
    Fails to follow through instructions or to finish homework or chores
    Disorganised about tasks and activities.
    Avoids tasks like homework that require sustained mental effort.
    Loses things necessary for certain tasks or activities, such as pencils, books or toys.
    Easily distracted.
    Forgetful in the course of daily activities.


    A child must have exhibited at least three of the following symptoms for at least six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
    Runs around or excessively climbs over things. (In adolescents or adults only feelings of restlessness may occur.)
    Unduly noisy in playing, or has difficulty in engaging in quiet leisure activities.
    Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected
    Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms on seat.


    At least one of the following symptoms must have persisted at least for six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
    Blurts out answers before the questions have been completed.
    Fails to wait in lines or wait their turn.
    Interrupts or intrudes on others, e.g. butts into others conversations or games.
    Talks excessively without appropriate response to social restraint.
    Pervasiveness of attention difficulties and hyperactivity

    For a diagnosis or description of ADHD a child would be expected to show the above difficulties in more than one setting, e.g. at school and at home. Many of these symptoms sound like traits of every normal child but when they appear together it may be a little more than just laziness, being a little different, so if you are worried speak to your child’s school and see how they behave there and if you think there is a problem speak to a medical professional

    The causes of ADND are still unclear it is thought that there may be both biological and environmental factors,

    Biological factors
    The child's temperament, as this contributes to their attitude and personality.
    Deficiency of certain nutrients in the child’s diet
    Studies of twins suggest a genetic link to ADHD. In 80-90 per cent of identical twins where one has ADHD so does the other.
    Recent research also suggests there is a greater chance of inheriting the condition from male relatives such as grandfathers and uncles.
    Brain injuries due to birth trauma or pre-birth problems.

    Environmental factors
    Family stress.
    Educational difficulties.


    ADHD requires a medical diagnosis by a doctor, usually a child or adolescent psychiatrist, a paediatrician or paediatric neurologist or a GP. It will often be appropriate for other professionals such as psychologists, speech therapists, teachers and health visitors to contribute their observations to the assessment of a child with possible ADHD. There is no single diagnostic test for ADHD so different sorts of information needs to be gathered, it can often be a long road to getting a definite diagnosis

    The treatment given to a child with ADHD will vary depending on the individual child. It can sometimes be difficult to live with or cope with a child with ADHD. Both parents and teachers can follow general guidelines to manage a child's problematic behaviour but most need specialist support and advice to ensure that each child is being given the best treatment for their particular needs. The treatments available are,

    Behavioural management
    Behavioural management techniques are always important as is anxiety management, cognitive therapy, individual psychotherapy and social skills training. Every child is different and therefore the therapies used are different for each child

    The most common and effective medications are amphetamine-like stimulants mainly Ritalin. Ritalin reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness and helps to focus a child's attention. They become less aggressive, seem to comply with requests, and become less forgetful. Many parents say their child's behaviour has vastly improved as a result of Ritalin. Some of our parents swear by Ritalin others say it made the situation worse, finding the right treatment is a case of trial and error and persevering until you find something that helps your child.

    Research suggests that diet is not a significant factor in ADHD for most children. Some children have particular food allergies that need investigation. Dietary changes need to be supervised by a doctor and nutritionist. In this approach all foods suspected of causing behavioural problems are removed from the diet then gradually reintroduced while the child's behaviour is monitored by the psychologist.

    Fish oils
    Many parents have noticed an improvement in their children’s behaviour when they have introduced a fish oil supplement, some have said that it has change their child sufficiently that no other coarse of action was necessary, sounds amazing but there is little scientific evidence to back the claims, the one thing that can be said is that it can not harm them so it has got to be worth a try.

    Removing the artificial sweeteners and colourings
    Equally removing all the artificial additives and preservatives from a child's diet has help some children improve hugely. Many manufacturers of children’s food products are starting to catch on the the fact the artificial additives do have an adverse effect in some children and are removing them from their products. Our advice always read the label!

    For more information and support try or try this forum

    Thursday, 26 June 2008

    Food Allergies in babies

    What causes Food Allergy?

    Food allergies are surprisingly rare and happen when a harmless food is wrongly interpreted by the immune system as being harmful. The symptoms of allergy (such as tingling lips, and rashes) are due to the efforts of the immune system in tackling the food. In some cases the reaction is severe, and affected individuals must avoid the problem food at all cost.

    The family trait
    It is just a sad fact that some families are more prone to food allergies and intolerances than others these families are categorised as a topic. This means they are more likely to develop conditions such as asthma or eczema. However, being in an atopic family doesn’t automatically mean that your baby will be affected, but it does mean that the risk of developing an allergy is greater.

    The government guidelines suggest that if you have allergies in your family that you:
    Breast feed for six months or longer
    Wait until your baby is at least 6 months before introducing foods which commonly cause allergy (cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, nuts and shellfish)
    The most common allergy in babies is milk allergy (understandably as that is all they eat)

    Common symptoms of milk allergy in babies
    The symptoms of cow's milk protein allergy will generally appear within the first few months of life. A baby can experience symptoms either very quickly after feeding (rapid onset) or not until 7 to 10 days after consuming the cows milk protein (slower onset).The slower-onset reaction is more common.

    Symptoms of slower onset may include loose stools (possibly containing blood), vomiting, gagging, refusing food, irritability or colic, and skin rashes. This type of reaction is more difficult to diagnose because the same symptoms may occur with other health conditions. Most children will outgrow this form of allergy by 2 years of age.

    Rapid-onset reactions as the name suggests come on suddenly with symptoms that can include irritability, vomiting, wheezing, swelling, hives, other itchy bumps on the skin, and bloody diarrhoea. In rare cases, a potentially severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur and affect the baby's skin, stomach, breathing, and blood pressure. Anaphylaxis is more common in other food allergies than in a milk allergy. If you feel that your child has this type of allergy seek medical help immediately

    Diagnosing a Milk Allergy
    If you suspect that your infant is allergic to milk, call your baby's doctor. The doctor will likely ask about any family history of allergies or food intolerance and then do a physical exam. There's no single lab test to accurately diagnose a milk allergy, so your doctor might order several tests to make the diagnosis and rule out any other health problems. In addition to a stool test and a blood test, the doctor may order an allergy skin test, in which a small amount of the milk protein in inserted just under the surface of the child's skin with a needle. The doctor may also request an oral challenge test. After you stop feeding your baby milk for about a week, the doctor will have the infant consume milk, then wait for a few hours to watch for any allergic reaction.

    Treating a Milk Allergy
    If your baby has a milk allergy and you are breastfeeding, it's important to restrict the amount of dairy products that you ingest because the milk protein that's causing the allergic reaction can cross into your breast milk.

    If you using a formula to feed your baby, your doctor may advise you to switch to a soy protein-based formula. If your baby can't tolerate soy, the doctor may have you switch to a hypoallergenic formula.

    If you suspect your baby has a food intolerance or allergy, talk to your doctor straight away.

    Monday, 23 June 2008


    The symptoms of nasal allergies are much like cold symptoms, runny nose, watery eyes, cough, congestion, sneezing, it can be hard to tell the difference, between an allergy and a simple cold. The main indications for allergy as appose to cold are when your child is suffering from one or more of the symptoms below, to confirm your suspicions of allergy or if you are concerned its best to check it out with a G.P. Common symptoms of allergies are if:
    it seem like your child always has a cold
    the mucus that drains from their nose is clear and thin as opposed to yellow or greenish and thick
    they sneeze a lot
    their eyes are itchy, red, and watery
    they have a dry persistent cough
    their nose is always stuffy or running
    their skin is irritated or broken out in an itchy red rash

    Causes of allergies
    An allergy simply an immune response to something in the environment; these substances are known as an allergen. When a child with allergies comes into contact an allergen either through touching it, breathing it, eating it, or having it injected their body views the allergen as an invader and releases histamines and other chemicals to fight it, these chemicals irritate the body and cause the symptoms that you see.

    Different people can be allergic to almost anything but the most common are food, drugs, animal fur, dust mites, feathers, meld, and pollen. It depends upon the allergy as to what type of immune response will occur it can cause, respiratory symptoms, skin symptoms, like eczema, or stomach problems usually from food allergies.

    How do you find out what your child is allergic too?
    Trying to establish what a child is allergic can be very simple or very difficult and in some cases takes a long time or you may be lucky and find it straight away, it is important to keep tack or when reaction occur and try to establish some kind of pattern. Doing this will help your doctor to decide what tests if any are needed, the most commonly used is a skin test. The skin test can establish what a child is allergic to and then a treatment can hopefully be found.

    How to help
    The most important thing you can do to help your child is reduce their exposure to the allergen, once you find out what the allergen is of course.

    If your child is allergic to nuts or something which has an extreme reaction like that remember to tell everyone they come into contact with, it is mind-blowing how many things contain nuts or are made in factories that produce nuts it is really hard but important to check every label and ensure that everyone else does the same before giving it to your child!.

    If the allergy is feather or down it is best to have non allergenic pillows duvets and a plastic mattress protector over. If it is dust mites, they live in fabrics and carpets and are common in every room of the house, especially the child’s bed room it is advised that you try to
    Buy washable quilt and pillows. Wash bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites, washable quilts and covers are available everywhere.
    Avoid having stuffed animals in your child's room they collect dust, if there are some that they love wash them as often as you can get them out of their hands or put them in the freezer overnight, cold also kills the mites.
    Dust everyday or as often as you can and vacuum everything including the mattress weekly, but make sure your child isn't in the room when you do it. The action of dusting and vacuuming can stir up residual dust-mite particles in the room. Wet dusting and buying a special hover with a hepa filters can help.
    If your toddler has a severe dust mite allergy, replace the carpeting with wood and clean as often as possible but not when they are in the room as we have said.
    If your child has a pollen allergy try to keep them inside on high pollen days, we know this is very hard but when they do go out once they return it helps to have a shower to remove pollen and to wash the clothes that they were wearing. You may also think about having an air purifier to help cut down the allergens in the house. Try to keep doors and windows closed, that includes in the car.

    Your G.P may prescribe antihistamines for your child so it is worth visiting the doctor if the symptoms persist.

    For more information go to Allergy UK at or call 01132 619898

    Wednesday, 18 June 2008


    What is Autism?

    Autism is a complex developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, although it is sometimes diagnosed much later. It affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Common features of autism include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, problems processing information from the senses, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour.

    As we have said in most cases the average age for an autism diagnosis is between three and four years old. However many parents start to become concerned around 18 months old. This age coincides with some vaccinations and has caused many parents to blame the vaccinations for autism a debate we are not going to get into. However research over the last few years has indicated that many autistic children show signs of autism in their first year.

    What are the symptoms?

    The first thing to look out for is that your child is hitting the normal milestones of development. These millstones are listed in the toddlers section of mum’s home. The difficulty in detecting autism is that some children do develop slower than others so being a few weeks late reaching one particular milestone is nothing to worry about. When a child is late over a range of these milestones then it is best to seek medical advice.

    Other symptoms to watch for in early development. Children with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, and pretend play. In some, aggression toward others or themselves may be present. Autistic children often lack or rarely use the ’social gaze’, the process of looking at someone when giving them attention. ‘Joint Attention’, when parent and child are both giving their attention to the same object or person, is also rarer. These early signs forewarn of the two of most notable symptoms of autism, a lack of empathy for others and a tendency to withdraw into a world of their own. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress" and lose language or social skills they had previously gained.

    One of the physical symptoms of autism is the child’s patterns of movement. Clumsiness, being uncoordinated, violent outbursts and repetitive movements are all common in autism. People with autism may perform repeated body movements, show unusual attachments to objects or have unusual distress when routines are changed. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste. Such children, for example, will refuse to wear "itchy" clothes and become unduly distressed if forced because of the sensitivity of their skin.

    What causes autism?

    Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research. It is thought that there are probably a combination of factors that lead to autism but there seems to be no definitive answer at the present time.

    Are there test to see if my child has the disorder?

    The simple ansewr is yes there are test. All children should have routine developmental exams by a medical professional. Further testing may be needed if there is concern on the part of the clinician or the parents. Babbling by 12 months
    What is the treatment?

    All treatments must be undertaken under medical supervision and they include;

    Treatment programs - it is thought that an early, intensive, appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with autism.
    Medicines are often used to treat behaviour or emotional problems that people with autism may have. These include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, attention problems, irritability, mood swings, outbursts, tantrums, aggression, extreme compulsions that the child finds it impossible to suppress, sleep difficulty, and anxiety.
    Some children with autism appear to respond to a gluten free or a casein-free diet. Gluten is found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. Casein is found in milk, cheese, and other dairy products.

    If you have worries that your child is autistic speak to a medical proffesional as soon as you can

    For more information try these sites

    Autism Independent UK (SFTAH)

    The National Autistic Society