Child Immunisation, Teething Troubles and Accidents
Providing means to an individual to develop body resistance to fight successfully against various diseases and infection is called immunisation. Immunisation is a procedure by which we produce in the child resistance against certain usually occurring infectious diseases like small-pox, whooping cough, diphtheria-tetanus, polio, measles etc. There are other diseases like typhoid, yellow fever etc. against which we can produce temporary immunity during epidemics or during some seasons when they occur more frequently.
Protected with such immunisation, the organism which enters his or her body fails to culminate in the disease from their affliction. Even if they succeed to produce the disease in the body its intensity will be very mild. Hence the need to protect the infant against these communicable diseases, forth consequence of these diseases can be very severe and sometimes fatal. Many of these diseases are preventable and it is the duty of the parents to get the immunisation done.
Immunisation or Inoculation
Being soft and weak, infants are susceptible to many diseases. There are some common communicable or contagious from which children can be protected by immunisation. The dictum: “prevention is better than cure” is most suitable for these diseases.
Normally following are the diseases against which infants should be protected:
- A whooping cough
- (B.C.G.) against Tuberculosis.
Since all of these diseases are dangerous, immunisation procedures become very important. Don’t be afraid of injections as they are meant to protect your child and not injure him. While there is a craze to take injections for every necessary and unnecessary ailment in adults, parents are afraid to give injections to their young ones to protect them against these especially when they are looking apparently well. To take care of the child when it is well in order to safeguard his health against future ailments, immunisation is essential. It is like taking a pill to prevent the onset of any serious sickness.
These immunisation procedures, coupled with proper nutritional care will be able to reduce the sickness and death rates in children below five years of age.
The Table for Necessary Vaccinations
|1.||D.P.T.||1st Dose||3 to 4 months|
|2.||D.P.T.||2nd Dose||5 to 7 months|
|3.||D.P.T.||3rd Dose||10 to 12 months|
|4.||Polio Drops||1st Dose||3 to 4 months|
|5.||Polio Drops||2nd Dose||5 to 7 months|
|6.||Polio Drops||3rd Dose||10 to 12 months|
|7.||Measles||15 to 24 months|
|8.||T.B. (B.C.G.)||Any time after Ist months|
|9.||D.P.T. and Polio Booster||4-5 years|
|10.||German Measles||Only for girls||after 10 years|
- The first disease against which we have to protect our children is small-pox. Many civilized countries have eradicated this disease. This is still a widespread sporadic disease attacking all age groups in our country.
- The method of vaccination has, however, undergone a great change during the past few decades. Formerly, the practice was to give four insertions, two on either side of the upper arms with a knife, scratching lengthwise. Then the practice was to have circular insertions with a lancet at four places. The most recent in one insertion method by the bifurcated needle. It was first employed in 1968. The bifurcated needle has proved to be as revolutionary a device as the safety pin in its time. With it, a single vaccinator can perform as many as 1500 vaccinations a day.
General Psychological Care
All children need tender love and care besides food and other amenities. If you cannot provide emotional satisfaction all the other efforts will be ineffective. Thus tender love and care play a great part in making efforts effective in building up better health.
The mother must develop the habit of taking the baby to a Baby Clinic or to her family doctor for general check up-even when the child is well, at various fixed periods.
Standard Parameters for the Growth of your Child
Given below are in the two tables of weight and height, the normally accepted parameter to determine the correct growth of your baby. Though based on the findings of various researches, these may still vary from child to child. A mere 5% or so deviation from these should not cause any alarm, although major deviation would necessitate a visit to your doctor for assessing its reason.
Child’s Height in Inches
Note: Though the height of the infant grows according to his or her overall development and the hereditary, yet some doctors lay great emphasis on the growth of an infant’s body still has or her second year of age. According to them the total height gained by a person is just double of the height he or she might have gained at two years of age!
Child’s Weight in Kilograms
Teething And Other Constitutional Disturbances
It is a great phenomenon to watch the teeth sprouting slowly one by one in your infant. It depends upon the various family patterns. The first tooth begins to come from about 3 to 4 on average till 7th month. The front right teeth are called incisors as they are sharp and biting teeth. First, the lower two central teeth will be erupting, then the upper teeth, then the lower two and then the lateral ones. Thus slowly the baby in total gets about 20 teeth in its first two and half years. This process of teething is continuous and every ailment that may come during this period is attributed to teething.
In olden days and even now in many parts of the world it is customary to blame teeth for diarrhea, fevers etc. But these diseases are caused by germs and not by teething. However, in some babies teething lowers resistance, making it easier for an infection to start at the same time. But if the baby is sick at the time of teething or is having fever 100-101°F, it needs a doctor to diagnose and treat the disease instead of wasting the time in ascribing it to teething. This lack of understanding is not only conferred to backward areas but even in advanced countries teething rings and other popular wares are sold in millions as it became a habit amongst the people to wear them during the teething period.
The child may be irritable, perish and cause minor disturbances of not taking feeds and loose stools etc. But it is not right to ascribe all those ailments to teething and be indifferent till the disorder becomes serious, forcing the parents to take it to the doctor. Doctor need to be consulted to prevent any deterioration in the general condition of the child without leaving it to nature for the cure.
Usually, the first two teeth to come are the lower incisors. After a few months come the four upper incisors. The average is four above and two below when he is one year old. After this, there is usually a pause for several months. Then six more teeth are about to come out without much pause. Then come all the molars. The molars donot come very next to incisors but farther back leaving the space for the canine teeth. The canine is sharply edged teeth which are next and lateral to the incisors. After the first molar teeth, there is a pause for several months before the canine teeth come through in this series of getting incisors and the molars. This is the commonest type in the second half of the second year. The last four teeth to come in are the second molars. They come out, right behind the first molar, usually in the first half of the second year.
Other Disturbances in Teething Period
The baby may wake up at night and may quieter down after a few minutes. As already stated, there is a common refusal to take the feed either from bottle or breast. Sometimes the baby bites the breast or chews the nipples of the bottle. Rubber teething rings of various shape are good but any piece of the rubber that the baby can hold into the mouth is dangerous. However, be careful about toys made up of celluloid as they may break and the child may chew a piece and cause obstruction in the throat. One must also be careful that the child may not lick the paint of any toy which to made up of lead. Now such toys are painted for children devoid of lead. Some babies love to have their gums rubbed at times. Donot use any medication for this.
To make babies teeth strong, it is advantageous that the pregnant mothers take some nutritious food with elements like calcium, phosphorus (available in milk and chilies), vitamin D (available in vitamin drops and sunshine) vitamin C (available in fruits like oranges, cabbages, citrus fruits etc.) There may be patent vitamin pills now prepared to be given on the mothers as pre-natal capsules, providing all the necessary vitamins and minerals have been taken during pregnancy. However, it is any time better to depend upon natural food for the mother as it gives satisfaction in more ways than one to the mother and the growing baby.
Permanent teeth will erupt from about the sixth year or so. But these permanent teeth are already advanced as “tooth buds” below milk teeth with in a few months after the baby’s birth. At this stage, the child will be getting sufficient calcium from his milk.
Milk teeth are 20 in number and permanent teeth are 32. The last molars that come are called the Wisdom Teeth because they come at 18th years. Whether Wisdom Teeth are an index of wisdom or not, they give enough trouble and hence it is better to get wise about them.
Decay of Teeth
There may be a slight decay of the teeth (caries) in children creating small holes and root pain. The main cause is Lactic Acid formation which is formed by the inter-action of food particles left over in between the teeth and glucose present in the sweet substances, chocolates etc. The Lactic Acid produced dissolves the enamel (covering of the teeth). Eating of lolly-pops, stick candy and dried food damage the teeth.
The clear teething time that is over when your child is about two years old. At this stage, he has a passion to imitate. So allow him to brush the teeth after every feed, so that nothing hangs in between the teeth. It is better to get the teeth checked up from about three years.
Care of the Genitals
- Boys get more curious than girls about their genital organs as they grow old. Handling of genitals by a growing baby is a part of learning about its own body.
- This is the part of learning on its own. The infant boy generally handles them the same way be handles a toy. This early interest in sex in natural part of the slow process of growing up and it occurs to some degree in all the older children as well. You must take a sensible view of this and should not be worried. They discover their genitals as they discover their fingers toes etc. It is not a bad habit.
- You can restrain your anxiety. Instead of reprimanding or slapping, you must evolve a way to divert his attention or your action may make him more determined.
- It must be understood that in infants there is no ‘vile’ feeling and their handling the genitals is purely out of their curiosity. The causal handling may begin sometime after six months or 1-year children may play together or they may play along with their genitals. But you must take care that the baby doesn’t damage his private parts and these are kept clean, as already explained.
Coping with Accidents And Poisons
Growing infants, when healthy are invariably over-active. They remain curious about anything they see and taking that thing in their hands is their natural reaction. Most of the cases of accidents etc are caused by their unbroddled curiosity. With a little more care and understanding, they can be saved from such mishaps.
- Suffocation in the Bed: An infant left in a bed in which it is sleeping with a soft pillow under the head may die of suffocation as the nose may get buried in the pillow. It is always better to keep the child on a flat bed on its back with face towards the roof.
- Head Injury: There can be an internal hemorrhage by impaction of head on the hard surface of the floor. Thus a minor fall without any external abrasion or cut may still result in even a fatal hemorrhage of the brain.
Thus never leave the baby alone on a cot or couch without protective railings of proper height as he may roll over the edge and hurt himself. If you are busy in the house and if the child is crawling, keep him in a play-pen with toys. This will avoid many accidents that may have very serious consequences.
- Fire, Accidents, and Burns: The child may crawl and heart himself with the fire of the earth or of a stove, may keep his hand in boiling water or in liquid food preparation like rasams, sambar, dal soup etc., resulting in severe scalds. Precautionary never use fire with your nylon clothing.
In the cases of mild burns that cause only redness of the skin or small blisters treat them by holding the burnt part in ice-cold waters or by applying any antiseptic ointment like ‘Burnol’ etc. You can also apply a paste of bicarbonate of soda and cover it with a clean bandage. The skin may develop blisters but no need to break them as they may get infected. Don’t use absorbent cotton which sticks to the burn.
- Cuts: All sharp instruments like knives and scissors or blades must be kept out of reach of the children as they may cause bleeding cuts. An intelligent, observing toddler imitates his father. Hence always keep the razors etc. beyond the reach of growing infants.
However, in case the child gets such a cut, control the bleeding by exerting firm pressure directly over the wound with a piece of clean cotton wool or a cloth. Clean the adjoining skin thoroughly with water and mild soap as soon as bleeding stops. Apply some antiseptic solution and take the baby to the nearest doctor for necessary bandaging with clean gauze and an antiseptic powder.
- Severe Burns: In case the baby gets a severe burn, immediately take him to the hospital. Wrap the baby in a clean smooth sheet or cover with blankets to take him to the hospital or to a clinic. If the baby’s clothing catches fire, smother the fire by wrapping the baby in a rug or blanket. Keep the matchbox away from the child as he may irritate you in kindling the fire with matchsticks.
Never leave a child alone in a room where there is naked fire. On festive occasions like Diwali, when crackers are exploded the growing children should not be allowed to go near the fire, especially with loosely fitting garments wrapping their body. Never allow your child to go near fire wearing synthetic garments.
- Electric Shocks: Children may get electric shocks from mild to severe, by handling improperly insulated electric wires with wet hands or even in their mouth. In case of mild shocks, only try to normalise the child by giving him feed. In case of severe shock, consult the doctor immediately.
- Swallowing Foreign Bodies or Choking: Every child has a tendency to take everything it sees into his month. The habit of sticking all sorts of objects into himself: in the nose, in the ear, in the arms or into the mouth springs the danger of a child’s swallowing poisonous objects and other such things which may cause transient shock to death, if not immediately attended to. Objects if not immediately removable then take the child at once to the doctor.
If a baby swallows smooth objects or closed safety pins, many a time they pass through his intestines without causing any damage. Any child who has swallowed any such thing should be watched carefully by examining every bowel movement for the hallowed object. No purgative should be given nor should there be any change in the diet except when advised by a doctor. If some sharp object like a broken blade or a sticking needle or a heed pin is swallowed, immediately consult a doctor. It is surprising as to how many of the sharp objects also come out of the rectum without injuring the child. Normally the human body is quite capable of expelling the foreign bodies on its own but still, no chance should be taken in these matters. Thus any pain or any severe symptoms are to be watched for carefully.
A baby who gulps a foreign body into his windpipe feels choked and coughs out the objects. If the baby is choking and gasping for breath, turn him upside down, holding him by the legs or ankles and slap him gently on the back. The object would come out. Never put your fingers down through the throat or windpipe. There have been cases when mother’s such attempt resulted in trickling down the swallowed object to the lungs and causing the unfortunate collapse of the baby.
- Swallowing Injurious Pills or Poisonous Objects: You should immediately try to wake the baby by tricking the back of the throat with your finger. Give him plain or warm water with either a tablespoon of salt or mustard powder or both in a glass full of water. After he has vomitted or if he does not vomit, give him some milk to swallow and take him to the doctor at once. In case you know that he has swallowed dye or kerosene, don’t try to make him vomit but call your doctor or take him to the hospital. It is because if you induce him to vomit he may aspirate kerosene into his lungs. If you take him to the hospital, the doctors there would give him a stomach wash and the necessary medicine to set right the disorder.
There are certain objects used in the household chores which have poisonous effect-like caustic soda, kerosene, eucalyptus oil, tincture iodine or benzoin etc. Some sedatives used by the adults like cardinal also have a similar effect. If your child has swallowed any such objects take him to the hospital immediately.
- Prevention From Accidents: Be always watchful when you are moving with your child in the crowded streets or through busy traffic. When you stay in a crowded market never let your child slip into the market on its own. Never leave the baby alone in the house when you go out whether he is sleeping or awake. Never leave the baby in the care of young children. never leave the child in the bathtub while you busy yourself elsewhere. Always keep away small articles that a baby might swallow it, like buttons, coins etc. Never throw out casually the used battery cells or any such things which might attract your child’s attraction and be swallowable.
Avoid tablecloths loosely hanging over the table as the child may accidentally snatch it, causing all the things over the table fall upon him. Warm elder children not to keep with them scissors, blades and other such sharp objects. All the watering ponds or big tubs must be kept well covered and beyond the reach of your infant.
Of course, there could not be an end to the precautions’ list because you cannot be sure how a child can cause the accident. All these guidelines or preventions have been suggested to warm you about these possible mishaps. However, the most important fact is: never leave your child alone, especially out of your sight. This regimen you must exercise till your child develops enough intelligence to realise what could be dangerous or him.