Congenital Heart Disease: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Introduction: A baby’s heart begins to beat as early as 22 days into the pregnancy. But it doesn’t always progress properly. What is congenital heart disease? Complex folding and development of the heart before a baby is born results in distinct chambers, separated by walls and valves. Important large blood vessels enter and leave the […]

Stark Rubella Contrasts

The World Health Organization estimates that about 100,000 children each year are born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), a major cause of severe birth defects such as blindness, deafness, heart disease, and mental retardation. When pregnant mothers get rubella, a highly contagious otherwise-minor illness, the results for their babies can be devastating.

Zoster (chickenpox): A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Introduction to chickenpox: Chickenpox is one of the classic childhood diseases. A young child covered in pox and out of school for a week is a typical scene. The first half of the week feels miserable from itching; the second half miserable from boredom. Since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine, classic chickenpox is becoming […]

Meningitis: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Introduction to meningitis: Bacterial meningitis is one of the most dangerous infections in children. Meningitis can be swift and deadly. It can also lead to chronic disability. The fear of meningitis often haunts parents. Thankfully, most cases of bacterial meningitis can now be prevented.

Bacterial Meningitis

Dr. Greene, my 16-month-old son died of complications of bacterial meningitis on 17 December 1997. Up until 14 Dec he was healthy. He got sick on Sunday, 14 December 1997, we took him to the pediatrician on Monday the 15th, where she said her diagnosis was an intestinal virus. We took him home, he kept throwing up, but the doctor said this was OK. We took him in on Wednesday the 17th with a 104 degree fever in the early AM, and while waiting for a bowel x-ray, my son went into a seizure, we rushed to the ER one floor below, and my son later died in the pediatric intensive care unit. The doctor in the PICU said the cultures later showed pneumococcal bacteria had caused sepsis in his blood, and a CAT scan had shown that his brain was full of a fluid the doctor interpreted as blood or pus. My questions are many, but I have spoken to several doctors who are personal friends… they all say this is basically a crap-shoot kind of situation, where 100 kids can go to the doctor with the same symptoms, and 99 will have a virus in their intestines, and the one will have bacterial sepsis or meningitis. Is there any way we could have known? Everyone says no. Once they realized in the ER what was happening, it was too late to save him, the damage was done. He also died with the purple spots on his arms and torso, which, I am told, indicated advanced sepsis. Is there anything that you can tell me about this situation?

P.S. We bought your book on ear infections a few months ago. Liked it a lot, plan to use it for the next kids.

Neal Woodall – Shreveport, Louisiana

Haemophilus Influenzae: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Introduction to haemophilus influenzae: Not long ago H influenzae type b (Hib) was the number one cause of bacterial meningitis. More than half of the cases of Hib infection in the United States involve bacterial meningitis. Thankfully, Hib disease has plummeted by more than 99 percent since the Hib vaccine was introduced in 1988 – […]

Pertussis Exposure

Do I need to worry about my older kids getting pertussis if they were vaccinated as babies?

Chicken Pox Vaccine

No matter how much is known about a vaccine before it is licensed for routine use, after it has been used in millions of people it is possible to discover side effects that are too subtle or too rare to show up in pre-license testing. The November 2000 issue of Infectious Diseases in Children reviewed […]

Autism on the Rise

Can you trust statistics? Back in 1999, a report from California’s Department of Developmental Services, concluded that the number of children with profound autism had grown from 2,778 in 1987 to 10,360 in 1999 — an increase of 273 percent! The study did not include the milder end of the spectrum, such as Asperger syndrome. […]

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A-to-Z Guide

Introduction to SIDS: Everything dear to us causes pain. Becoming a parent opens up new landscapes within us: new hopes, fears, delights, and sorrows. There is no magic moment when you will stop worrying. Sometimes, even when we do everything right, babies die. The fragility and unpredictability of life underscore how precious each life is. […]

Allergic to Shots

A severe form of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur after eating peanuts, shellfish, eggs, bananas, kiwi, avocado, or other foods. It can occur after bee stings, in those who are allergic. It can also occur after receiving medicines, including the shots in the routine immunization schedule. How often does this occur?

Treating Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, or Poison Sumac

My boyfriend has had poison ivy for four days now and has been using Hydrocortisone to stop the itch. He claims that it will cure the rash. I refuse to see him until he sees a doctor. Am I overreacting?
Silver Spring, Maryland

Mercury in Childhood Vaccines

Is it true that there is mercury in the Hepatitis B vaccine? My obstetrician told me that that’s one of the vaccinations they routinely give newborns. Is it harmful?

What’s a Superbug?

Yesterday I introduced some pretty scary statistics about antibiotic resistance and today I want to go into more depth about the superbug how it all works.

Health Related Apps for Parents

Any parent of multiple children can tell you that keeping track of their family’s medical history can be a challenge!  Every time I am asked for a child’s birthdate, I have to pause and think, let alone their most recent weight and height! 

Bathing Your Baby

I am 22 years old and a brand new mom. Both our parents (my husband’s and mine) live in different states and aren’t able to come and help. We’re new here so we don’t have many friends and the friends we do have aren’t parents. There’s so much I don’t know! Like how do I give my little girl a bath? She’s so tiny. Her birth weight was 7 lbs. 9 oz., but that seems so small. What if I drop her? What kind of soap do I use? When does she need a bath? Today on the phone my mom asked me how bath time was going. She was shocked when I told her I hadn’t given Emily a bath yet (she’s four days old). Please help!
Jeanne Lemoore – California

Smallpox: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Introduction to smallpox: Smallpox long reigned as the king of dreaded contagious diseases. It killed more people than any other virus in recorded history — about 500 million people in the 20th century alone. For about 20 years, it seemed to have vanished, no longer haunting the dreams of most people. Many had never even heard […]

Ear Piercing – How Early is Too Early?

Many parents opt to wait on ear piercing until a child is able to make the decision for herself (or himself). Some parents find it desirable for their children to have pierced ears as babies. But how early is too early?