You’d be forgiven for considering that COVID-19 was the only essential overall health issue this yr. But kids’ overall health is about so significantly additional than viruses, and whilst media stores and even professional medical journals concentrated on COVID-19 concerns thirty day period after thirty day period, medical doctors and scientists retained investigating other subjects, like fever, sore throats and little one basic safety. As a paediatrician and a mom, I saved my eye out for sport-altering developments in kids’ wellness this year. In this article are 5 that are vital for us all to know about. 

New fever rules

Fever is a single of the most popular and worrisome signs and symptoms in infants mainly because it can be the very first indication of a critical bacterial an infection, identified as an SBI. For much more than 40 a long time, health professionals have been trying to create proof-centered guidelines to predict which babies are at significant chance and which are at reduced threat of these SBIs, which involve sepsis (infection in the blood), urinary tract bacterial infections and meningitis. The threat of blood infections, in particular, has been tough to forecast soon just after a fever begins simply because it can be current without the need of possessing noticeable signs or symptoms or laboratory test indicators. 

Right until now, quite a few hospitals have tested all infants under two to three months who have a fever for all three SBIs with urine and blood assessments as properly as a lumbar puncture, a needle inserted in the back to withdraw cerebrospinal fluid. They have also treated them with intravenous antibiotics and admitted them to the healthcare facility, even when the babies looked well. 

Now the American Academy of Pediatrics has produced new recommendations (that Canadian medical practitioners will comply with as nicely) to assist medical practitioners make a wider vary of decisions about tests and cure. Infants less than three months of age still require all the tests and cure that was available before, but the great information is that following a few months of age, they may not will need a lumbar puncture, as much treatment method as in advance of or a remain in hospital—all identified by algorithms medical doctors can now adhere to.  Young infants with a fever need to always see a medical professional but mother and father can now come to feel reassured that doctors have proof-dependent suggestions in many situations that can assistance them “safely do much less.”

Swabs are not just for COVID-19

When our children establish a runny nose or sore throat, it has turn out to be common practice for us to just take them for a swab of their nose and/or mouth to see if it’s COVID. But when would another variety of swab, this sort of as a swab for strep throat, be wanted? 

Most throat infections (pharyngitis) are brought on by viruses, but 20 to 30 p.c are prompted by group A streptococcus microorganisms. Distinguishing in between viral and bacterial leads to of a sore throat is crucial due to the fact viral infections only need to have symptom relief (ie: discomfort treatment, fluids, tender foodstuff and relaxation) whilst group A streptococcus infections require cure with  antibiotics to prevent problems these kinds of as abscess, blood an infection or long term coronary heart valve damage in acute rheumatic fever. 

The Canadian Paediatric Modern society a short while ago released direction on when to swab sore throats and/or take care of for bacterial bacterial infections. If school-aged young children have a few or extra of the adhering to criteria, they need to have a swab for strep throat: fever, swollen tonsils or pus on the tonsils, tender lymph nodes at the front of the neck and no cough. A handy tip is that little ones with strep throat ordinarily don’t have chilly symptoms, these as runny nose and cough. Young children less than three many years of age hardly ever develop strep throat. 

So, if your boy or girl has a sore throat they may possibly need a throat swab for strep. Signs commonly resolve in 4 to 5 times, with or devoid of antibiotics. But ten days of amoxicillin or penicillin is continue to advisable to stop major problems.  

Apparent data on slumber-connected deaths

Wellbeing Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Modern society jointly published a assertion on risk-free slumber and cutting down unexpected infant fatalities in Canada this October. This was in reaction to new facts from the Canadian Coroner and Healthcare Examiner Databases from 2015 to 2020 demonstrating that of the 1,700 deaths in infants underneath a single 12 months of age, a person in 15 of these took place all through rest and most had been “sudden and unpredicted.” An unsafe snooze ecosystem was pointed out in additional than 90 per cent of circumstances and almost 70 p.c of unexpected and unexplained deaths occurred with the newborn sleeping in a area not supposed for infant slumber. 

Though mom and dad have read about protected rest for many years, this assertion clearly outlines the facts to aid dad and mom make informed selections, recognizing that giving the excellent snooze setting for your infant every single time they slumber is not an uncomplicated task. 

In accordance to the assertion, the most significant factors involve: Never inserting your child on their entrance to slumber, not smoking throughout pregnancy, and holding your baby’s natural environment absolutely free from second-hand smoke through infancy. But even if you can not stop smoking, lessening the amount of cigarettes through pregnancy or the second-hand exposure through infancy decreases the risk. 

Breastfeeding for a bare minimum of two months cuts the danger of SIDS by fifty percent. You ought to keep tender toys and bedding out of sleeping parts and if your newborn makes use of a snooze sack, make guaranteed it is sized effectively so they cannot slip down into it. Have your toddler slumber in their individual crib, cradle or bassinet in your bed room for a least of six months. Keep in mind to modify the floor as the little one becomes more mobile—dropping the level of the crib mattress and halting working with the bassinet attachment for playpens once they can roll around. Sharing a bed or sofa with an grownup, one more youngster or a pet amplified the chance of sudden toddler loss of life, especially if the grownup has utilized alcoholic beverages or a further compound, or is overly exhausted.

The information point to several elements that influence snooze safety and sudden toddler deaths are imagined to be a sophisticated dilemma linked to a lot of things. But this presents us a lot of means to modify our babies’ sleep environments to maintain them as secure as doable. 

Head injuries and babywearing

Babywearing with slings, carriers, wraps and other products is prevalent and might even market breastfeeding and attachment. But a person U.S. study this yr analyzed accidents affiliated with these solutions. The small abstract was introduced at the meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the entire research has nonetheless to be revealed. The investigate, involving more than 14,000 emergency office visits for babywearing accidents in excess of 10 many years, located that additional than 60 percent of the visits had been for infants below 6 months of age. In this group, 83 percent had head accidents and 19 p.c essential hospital admission. Other little ones had fractures or cuts. Just under 1-quarter of all situations involved a caregiver drop. 

When paediatric businesses have presented protection ideas on positioning infants safely and securely when in a carrier, less attention has been paid to minimizing falls. Health and fitness Canada endorses not using carriers for infants born prematurely and employing extra caution for babies below 4 months of age. They advise staying notably thorough when placing babies into or pulling them out from a carrier or sling. They also endorse not employing the provider or sling all through larger danger routines these kinds of as running or cooking. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises remaining watchful when bending above and implies bending at the knees in its place of the waist when making use of an infant carrier. Ensuring the carrier is the right sizing for your baby and using all straps securely can also lower falls. 

What is really an crisis?

Children’s hospital crisis departments have noticed the quantity of sufferers wax and wane all over the pandemic. Early on, the departments had been empty. Now departments are generally full to capability, with quite a few solutions, like counsellors, autism services, respite treatment and in-property guidance applications continuing to have lessened functions and neighborhood doctors’ places of work and clinics remaining unable to see youngsters with infectious signs. 

A analyze of 18 emergency departments in British Columbia showed that paediatric visits reduced to one particular-third of the regular fee at the peak of community health measures in that province. Even so, young children with serious diseases and injuries stsick showed up at the hospital and had been admitted as necessary. It was the significantly less critical circumstances that stopped arriving for treatment. Orthopedic, fever and gastrointestinal troubles were being the a few styles of difficulties accounting for the greatest lower in visits to the crisis division.  

For the very first time in Canada, some children’s clinic unexpected emergency departments began to see patients almost. 1 study in Ottawa confirmed that 87 per cent of moms and dads were delighted with the expertise, and much less than 17 % of situations were referred for in-man or woman assessments.

It is not crystal clear nonetheless what long lasting impact the pandemic will have on how unexpected emergency departments run and when persons choose to use them but 2021 showed us that mother and father can get at the very least some of their children’s wellness requirements fulfilled with out getting to stop by the emergency office.

COVID-19 will continue to dominate the headlines into 2022 but keep tuned for other new developments about children’s wellness.

Michelle Ward is a paediatrician, associate professor and journalist in Ottawa.