8 Pediatric Myths Busted By Tabibi 24/7

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Being pediatric health care providers has us not only giving medical advice, but also dispelling long-held “medical” beliefs as well, erroneously passed down from one generation to the next.

So let’s grab the bull by the horns and offer the factual side of mythical medical rumors!

Myth #1:  Breastfed infants need water too.

Fact: Breast milk is more than 80% water, which provides all your nursing baby needs. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), babies do not need water before they are 6 months old. Water may also not be clean and cause infections. However, water could be given in very hot climates in limited amounts.

Myth #2: Antibiotics treat colds

Fact: Antibiotics are not effective for viral infections, including colds. On the other hand, misuse or overuse of antibiotics can promote antibiotic resistance i.e. antibiotics become less effective or don’t work at all.

Myth #3: Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines are the best way to help a child who has a cold feel better

Fact: Common cold is generally a mild, self-limiting illness that usually improves with time. OTC cough and cold preparations are not recommended for use in children under four. Evidence indicates that they don’t really help and may pose risks, particularly to young children. Parents need to be aware that these preparations contain multiple ingredients that their children might not need all. Moreover, there’s a risk of accidental overdose if multiple medications containing the same ingredient were used.

Myth #4: Thick yellow-green nasal discharge during a cold is a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics.

Fact: This could be the normal end stage of a cold running its course. Nasal discharge from a cold generally starts out clear and watery and can become more cloudy and thicker and finally turn green or yellow at the end of the cold. In an era of antibiotic overuse, it is important not to over treat a green runny nose. Treatment should be considered for a green runny nose that does not clear after 7 to 10 days or the cold symptoms do not go away by 10-14 days. So, it’s not about the color, but the duration.

Myth #5: Ear infections usually need antibiotics for treatment

Fact: Most ear infections resolve without using antibiotics. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a wait-and-see approach where doctors wait for 2-3 days then assess the need for an antibiotic as one option for some children depending on their age and severity of symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of antibiotics weighed against the potential side effects and overuse concern.

Myth #6: Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity

Fact: The risks of infection outweigh the risks of immunization. Some infections could cause irreversible damage e.g. Polio, or can cause severe complications e.g. Measles. In addition, not all infections offer life-long immunity e.g. Pertussis. Some vaccines protect against multiple strains of a disease, whereas infection only provides future protection against one strain e.g. Rota, pneumococcal, HPV & influenza vaccines.

Myth #7: Too many vaccines too soon overload the child’s immune system

Fact: The child’s immune system is stronger than you think! It’s well equipped to handle thousands of bugs at a time. Our vaccines today are much purer than those of the past. In fact, children are exposed to more bugs in the environment every day than to those in all their vaccinations combined. Therefore, parents should adhere as closely as possible to vaccination schedules for optimal protection.

Myth #8: Children need vitamin supplements for better health

Fact: Multivitamins aren’t necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally. Foods are the best source of nutrients. While many young children are picky eaters, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have nutritional deficiencies. Many common foods including breakfast cereal, milk and orange juice are fortified with important nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and iron. So your child may be getting more vitamins and minerals than you think. Furthermore, mega doses of vitamins and minerals can be harmful. Some vitamins and minerals can interact with medications your child is taking. Talk with your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about whether your child is getting the recommended level of vitamins and minerals.

 

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