Learn more about developmental and behavioral disorders in children.
A growing child can greatly benefit from visiting their pediatrician regularly for routine checkups. No, a child doesn’t have to be sick to visit the doctor. These regular wellness visits can help our pediatrician spot issues such as developmental delays and behavioral disorders that require special care and treatment. Here’s what you should know about common developmental and behavioral problems in kids and how a pediatrician can help,
Types of Developmental Disorders
Developmental disorders fall under the categories of,
- Cognitive (e.g., mental retardation; learning disabilities)
- Motor (e.g., cerebral palsy; muscular dystrophy; spinal atrophies)
- Behavior (e.g., anxiety disorders; autism; ADHD)
- Vision, hearing and speech (e.g., delayed language acquisition; hearing or vision impairments)
Some of the most common types of developmental disorders in children include,
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Genetic disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Spina bifida
- Down syndrome
Signs of Developmental and Behavioral Disorders
Warning signs and when they appear seem to vary from child to child. Some parents notice developmental delays as early as infancy, while others may not notice these concerns until they start school. Some warning signs include,
- Difficulty learning and academic troubles
- Delayed speech, unclear speech or difficulties communicating with others
- Social withdrawal
- Delay in crawling, sitting up or walking
- Has trouble completing everyday tasks such as grooming, washing hands or getting dressed
- Has trouble focusing on an activity
- Intense or extreme behaviors such as aggression, anxiety, irritability or frequent temper tantrums
When to See a Doctor
If you notice any of these delays, we understand how concerning this can be. The good news is that you don’t immediately need to run to a specialist for help. All you have to do is turn to your pediatrician for an evaluation. A pediatrician can perform a thorough assessment to determine if your child may be displaying signs of a developmental or behavioral disorder. Your pediatrician may recommend more in-depth testing, which may require turning to a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Suppose your child displays behavioral issues, or you notice that they aren’t reaching certain developmental milestones. In that case, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician at their next appointment or to call their office to find out if you should bring your child in for an evaluation.
Keep your child safe while enjoying fun in the sun.
School’s out for summer, and your child may be gearing up for outdoor adventures, summer camps, swim team, and other activities. Of course, keeping your child safe is of the utmost importance to all parents and pediatricians. Here are some helpful tips to keep your little one safe all summer long.
Recognize Signs of Heat Exhaustion
When kids get dehydrated, which is quite common on hot summery days, they are more at risk of heatstroke and exhaustion. By recognizing the symptoms of heat exhaustion in your children, you’ll be able to bring them indoors and prevent them from developing heat stroke (which can be incredibly dangerous, especially for young children). Signs of heat exhaustion include,
- Body temperature between 100 and 104 F
- Increased thirst and sweating
- Clammy, cool skin
When you notice these symptoms, it’s essential that you bring your child into a cool place and make sure that they drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated. You can also help lower their body temp by applying cool compresses to their skin.
Keep Kids Protected from the Sun
Sunscreen isn’t just for adults; it’s also for kids. Just one sunburn can increase your child’s risk for skin cancer in the future. That’s why it’s important that you have them lather up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
It’s important that you apply a generous amount to their face and body about 30 minutes before going outside. If they are going to be playing or swimming outdoors, it’s essential that they reapply immediately after coming out of the way or if they are sweating.
Know Water and Swimming Safety
Summer often means a lot of time spent in the pool or by the water. While the water can be a ton of fun for kids, it’s also important that they practice proper water safety habits to prevent drowning and other accidents. Make sure to keep an eye on your child, even if there is a lifeguard on duty. If your child is new to swimming, you may want to enroll them in a swim class that can help them develop strong swimming skills.
Keep Bug Bites at Bay
Along with protecting your child from the sun’s powerful rays, you must also protect them from mosquitos and other pests that could sting or bite them outdoors. Apply insect repellent before your child goes outside. There are many insect repellent options on the market these days, some of which are made from DEET-free and natural ingredients that are safe for all ages. Ask your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure which insect repellent is safe for them.
Summertime is the best time to be a kid, and these helpful tips will ensure a smart, safe, and fun season for the whole family. Don’t forget to schedule your child’s back-to-school physical with your pediatrician, especially before the sports season begins.
Be able to spot the warning signs of anxiety in your child.
Anxiety is undoubtedly on the rise, not just for adults but for children. The pandemic has certainly left kids feeling uncertain and worried about the future. It’s important to pick up on the signs that your child might have anxiety so you can talk with their pediatrician about tips and strategies to help them better cope with the issues they’re facing.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Children with anxiety may display these behaviors or motions,
- Anger and aggression
- Mood swings
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as stomachaches
- Nail-biting and other “nervous habits”
- Appetite changes
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Issues focusing or concentrating
How Can I Help My Child?
It’s important to figure out the type of anxiety your child is dealing with to help them cope with these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. There are certain habits you can start adopting now that can help your child better deal with their anxiety symptoms,
- Don’t try to reason with your child when they are panicked or anxiety
- Help them take deep belly breathes to help stabilize their sympathetic nervous system
- Validate your child’s fears and listen to them; never dismiss them or tell them to “buck up”
- Don’t avoid the fear, which can often make it worse, but help your child face the fear with baby steps (talk to your child’s pediatrician about the best ways to do this)
These are some helpful tips to get parents started when they notice their child’s “worry brain” taking over. Of course, if you suspect that they could have a true anxiety disorder, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician right away.
How Are Childhood Anxiety Disorders Treated?
In most cases, your pediatrician will provide a referral to a psychotherapist that works with children. The first appointment, or intake session, will allow the therapist to get to know your child and determine if they have an anxiety disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy tends to be the ideal treatment option to help children talk through their fears and discover effective coping strategies to help them face and overcome their fears. Sometimes medications are prescribed in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle changes.
Worried that your child might have an anxiety disorder? If so, this is the ideal time to speak with their pediatrician to find out if they could benefit from additional diagnostic testing or talking to a mental health professional who works with children. A pediatrician can provide resources, support, and referrals.
Make sure your child is following a healthy, balanced diet.
One in 5 school children is considered obese in the US. So, how do we stop these statistics from getting any higher? It starts with proper nutrition, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Your child's pediatrician can always provide some helpful tips for ensuring your child is getting the vitamins and nutrients they need.
Daily Caloric Guidelines By Age
The number of calories your child consumes every day will depend on their age and their activity levels and gender. These are the caloric guidelines you should follow,
- 2-3 years old (both girls and boys): 1,000-1,400 calories
- 4-8 years old (boys): 1,200-2,000 calories
- 4-8 years old (girls): 1,200-1,800 calories
- 9-13 years old (boys): 1,600-2,600 calories
- 9-13 years old (girls): 1,400-2,200 calories
- 14-18 years old (boys): 2,000-3,200 calories
- 14-18 years old (girls): 1,800-2,400 calories
Incorporating the Right Foods into Your Child’s Diet
It’s important that your child is getting a variety of healthy foods to ensure that they get all the essential vitamins and nutrients they need to grow up strong and healthy. This includes,
Lean protein: This includes seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts
Vegetables: It’s important to incorporate many vegetables into your child’s diet every day. This can include everything from leafy greens to vibrant peppers to beans. If you do choose canned vegetables, make sure to check nutrition labels to ensure that there isn’t added sugar or sodium.
Fruits: Stay away from fruit juice, which can have a ton of added sugar, and opt for fresh or frozen fruit instead. Also, limit dried fruits, which can be high in calories.
Whole grains: Whole grains provide more benefits than refined grains (e.g., white bread and rice) and include whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice.
Dairy: Include some low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, or milk into your child’s daily diet.
While sugar won’t cause harm in moderation, it is important to limit added sugars and trans and saturated fats (found in red meat, full-fat dairy, and poultry). Wonder if your child’s diet gives them all the nutrients they need? This is something that your pediatrician can discuss with you during their next well-child visit.
Are you having challenges helping your child maintain a healthy weight? Are you concerned about their health? If so, it’s time to turn to your child’s pediatrician. They can provide you with strategies to help your child eat healthier and maintain a healthy weight.
Here’s your first-aid guide on how to care for minor childhood injuries.
In a perfect world, your child would never get injured, sick, or hurt; unfortunately, this just isn’t 100 percent preventable. Children are deeply curious and far more fearless than adults, which often means that they leave themselves prone to injuries and incidents along the way. Fortunately, most minor illnesses and injuries can be treated from the comfort of home.
Quick and Dirty First Aid Tips for Injuries
Minor burns, cuts, scrapes, and wounds won’t necessarily bring your child into the pediatrician’s office but you do want to know that you are doing everything you can to treat the injury. For minor scrapes, cuts, and wounds, gently clean the area with water to wash away any debris. If there is blood, apply pressure first for about 10-15 minutes before washing the wound. Then apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage to the area to prevent an infection.
If your child is dealing with a strain or sprain, using the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) method can certainly help. Ask your child’s healthcare provider about any over-the-counter pain medications they can use that might help them manage their pain as the injury heals.
When to Call Your Pediatrician
It’s important to recognize when injuries can be treated at home and when you need to make a trip to the pediatrician’s office. You should turn to a pediatrician if,
- There are signs of an infection (e.g. fever; increased redness; pus or drainage)
- There is a visible deformity after injury
- There was a popping or snapping sound at the moment of injury
- Pain is severe or getting worse
- Your child can’t put weight on the injured leg, ankle or foot
- Bleeding doesn’t stop after 10-15 minutes of applying pressure
Treating Minor Illnesses
So, what constitutes a minor illness? Minor illnesses include colds, ear infections, sore throats, and stomach flu. Viral infections like colds and certain ear infections don’t respond to antibiotics, so often the best course of action is to keep your child well hydrated and rested so the body can fight the infection. Of course, you also want to know when you should turn to a pediatrician for treatment. It’s time to call your pediatrician if,
- Your child is dealing with a severe sore throat and is having trouble swallowing or breathing
- Your child’s fever is high (102.5 F for children 3 months to 3 years and 103 F in children older than 3 years)
- Their symptoms are getting worse or aren’t improving with home care
- Your child is showing signs of dehydration
- Your child is acting strangely (e.g. severely lethargic; confused)
- New symptoms appear
- Symptoms persist for more than 5 days
If you are ever concerned about an illness or injury your child is dealing with, it’s always best to play it safe and turn schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
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