First time parents are probably the most skittish people on earth. A pediatric physician is the perfect choice of a doctor to eliminate child care fears. Once a mother and child leave the hospital, they are basically on their own and the only source of information for most of them is relatives, know-it-all older people, with out-dated information, and the current crop of books about raising children, where sales may be more important than actual help. Having a pediatrician can assuage new parents in eliminating their fears of first time child care.
The first place these parents go when something does not seem right with the newborn is their pediatrician. All well and good, however, it is also important, after those first months as the jitters wear off, to have their child checked when nothing is wrong. Some parents relax too much, not returning periodically for a well-child check up, though a regular visit to a pediatrician can eliminate fears about child care and re-enforce a parents’ confidence. These are just as important as any acute problems experienced in a young child’s early development.
Soon those first visits fade, the time between doctor’s visits turn into years, the child may be two or three years old and ready for shots and vaccinations, before they again see a doctor. Vaccines play an important part in a child’s life. Their success as preventive medicine has turned into a false sense of security against preventable diseases, due to the effective use of these vaccines. Parents may make the choice to abstain from these positive health measures, the scientific community however, has proven time and again the effectiveness of their use as a proper measure of child care and eliminating fears of vaccines.
Recently many outbreaks of measles, impacting those children not vaccinated, has been a serious concern. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a record number (477) of cases in 20 states. Measles cases were considered eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. If not vaccinated, death can result for one or two out of every 1,000 children infected. Parents who need important and accurate information about measles may want to visit their pediatric doctor, find where the vaccine is available and schedule a time to take their child for shots. Pediatricians are expertly trained in child care and can assist parents in eliminating fears health issues.
The care of a child is a pediatrician’s concern, and the elimination of fear and doubt about the validity of vaccines is part of the doctor’s responsibility to the patients. A discussion with an informed provider can ease the fear of vaccines and parents may discover what diseases they prevent. Aside from the current measles concern, other reasons to visit a pediatrician are finding out about language skills and when children learn to articulate, behavioral health issues and other questions related to how normally the child is developing. Timely child care is an important aspect and responsible role of a parent, visiting their pediatrician may also demonstrate to their child that the function of a doctor is to provide help when they are sick or healthy.
Vision and hearing screenings are also an important service offered by pediatricians, and most states require certified sports physicals in preparation for school or club athletics. It is unfortunate that many children either go too long without seeing a doctor, or only visit an urgent care facility or emergency room, and not a pediatric care. An important adjunct for many families are school clinics, many communities schedule specific times for parents to have their children come to be vaccinated for childhood diseases and help eliminate and eradicate many of these infectious agents.
Minnesota experienced an outbreak of measles in 2011, the disease continues to reverberate within the state. A 30-month-old child was determined to be the first identified case of the outbreak. A study conducted by the medical journal Pediatrics identifies the child as being of Somali descent who was infected while visiting Kenya. Suspicion among Minnesota’s Somali immigrant population that the MMR vaccine causes autism is the reason for fear and the lack of vaccinated children. Adequate health education is an important responsibility pediatricians need to instill in young parents to eliminate their fears and properly care for their child.
Fears of this kind resulted from a paper Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the British Medical Journal in 1998. After being thoroughly discredited, and found guilty of professional misconduct, Wakefield was stripped of his medical license. The medical journal printed a retraction, though his idea still persists in the minds and actions of many.
Families may suffer from anti-vaccination fear propaganda and pay the ultimate price of losing their children. Pediatric physicians seek educational opportunities to inform parents about their children’s care, to eliminate fear and doubt concerning the welfare of youngsters just starting out in life.
POpinion By Andy Towle