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Daily Dose

How to Treat a Baby With Thrush

I have received some recent e-mails and now an office visit regarding the possibility of a baby having thrush. Thrush is a yeast (fungal) infection that involves the mouth, and is most typically seen in infants.I have received an email via our iPhone App and now an office visit regarding the possibility of a baby having thrush. Thrush is a yeast (fungal) infection that involves the mouth, and is most typically seen in infants.

The yeast infection usually involves the inside of a baby’s cheeks and lips and occasionally the tongue. It appears as white, almost cottage cheese like patches, and is often visible when a baby is yawning or crying. A baby who only has a white tongue typically does not have thrush, but just a milk coated tongue (see if you can wipe some of the milk off of the tongue, as yeast is usually more adherent). Thrush is fairly common as we all have yeast in our digestive tracts, and babies are often colonized with yeast as they travel through the birth canal. For unknown reasons, in some infants there is an overgrowth of yeast and thrush may develop. Many mothers feel guilty that they “gave their baby” a yeast infection. They worry that thrush has something to do with cleanliness (NOT) and somehow that maternal guiles thing is already beginning. (Dads have already cut to the chase and say, how do you treat it?!) Thrush can happen to any infant. In a breast feeding baby it may also cause a mother to have inflamed and tender nipples, and the baby and mother actually pass the yeast back and forth during feeding (no guilt, as breastfeeding is good!) In most babies thrush does not cause a lot of problems and may go away by itself. But if the infection becomes extensive it may become painful and cause an infant to be uncomfortable when nursing or taking a bottle. If you notice that your baby has white plaques in their mouth or under their lips it may be worth a phone call to your pediatrician. (This is not an emergency and can wait till office hours.) There are several prescription preparations that may be used to treat thrush. The most common being Nystatin, which is a liquid medication that is given to the baby after they have been fed, and is squirted into the mouth on the inside of the cheeks, to treat the yeast infection.  It is also beneficial to treat a nursing mother’s nipples with an anti-fungal agent. I usually tell patients to use the medications for at least seven days or until the white patches have been gone for several days before stopping treatment. It is not uncommon to get thrush again, so don’t fret if your baby develops another infection, at least you know what it is and how to treat it. A yeast infection in the mouth may often lead to a yeast infection in the diaper area (candidal diaper dermatitis), because as you know what goes in the mouth comes out in the poop. But that rash is for another day…. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Car Seat Safety

1:30 to read

I recently received a text from a patient who asked if she could turn her 17 month old child’s car seat around and have it forward facing in the back seat. She said that her car seat instructions read “may forward face after the child weighs 20 lbs”.

 

Not long after that, another patient came in for her 18 month check up and during the course of the check up I always ask about car seat position.  I remind them that they should continue to have their child in a rear facing car-seat until they 2 years of age.  The child’s mother said that she had turned the car seat around to forward facing because the child “did not like rear facing”.  Interesting discussion with a toddler.

 

So, this just so happens to be Child Passenger Safety Week and National Car Seat Check Saturday as well. What a better time to remind parents that the safest way to restrain your child who is under the age of 2 years (depending on your carseat height and weight restrictions)  is in a rear facing car seat.  

 

In a recently published article in the journal Pediatrics, about 38% of 17-19 months olds were not following AAP recommendations to ride in a rear-facing car seat. The recommendations were changed in 2011 as studies found that young children in a forward-facing car seat were 5 times more likely to be seriously injured than those in a rear-facing seat. 

 

In the study many of the families involved who had their children forward-facing often said that they “thought their child was too tall or too heavy to be rear-facing”. Others commented that “their feet were touching the back seat and they looked uncomfortable”. 

 

Interestingly, your child has been in a rear-facing car seat since birth, so it is strange that they “prefer” to forward face.  Kind of like being in the middle seat of an airplane, if you have never been seated on the aisle you don’t know the difference in seats.

 

If you are concerned about the appropriate car seat for your child or how to install it, this is a good week to have a car seat expert help make sure that your child is riding in the safest car seat possible. If your child is under the age of 2…that also means rear facing!  

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Daily Dose

MMR Vaccine Changes Are Coming

There is always a lot of news about vaccines, especially this year with the need for two different flu vaccines to provide protection against both seasonal influenza and novel H1N1 (swine flu). But another newsworthy story involves the vaccines to prevent measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

The MMR II vaccine is typically give given to infants at their 12 month check up. It has been given for over 30 years, and as a result, the incidence of these diseases has decreased dramatically since that time. But in recent years there had been “concern” by some that the MMR vaccine was one of the “causes” of autism. Due to this “unfounded and unsubstantiated” concern, some parents had opted not to give their children MMR vaccine, while others had decided to spread out the doses by giving individual components of the vaccine. In other words, the parents, and some doctors, gave mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine as individual vaccines separated by weeks to months. This decision puts more children at risk for acquiring these diseases that have not been eradicated, especially in other parts of the world and can be imported into the U.S. by international travel. Such was the case in 2006 when there was a mumps outbreak in the U.S. and in 2008 there was a measles outbreak across this country. In the measles outbreak, the first case was imported to California by an unvaccinated child who had been in Switzerland and acquired the measles virus and become ill upon his return to the U.S. This is again an example that the re-emergence of these diseases is always a threat in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children. Due to the fact that there were different vaccines available, some being MMR combination and other single disease vaccines there was even more concern that children would not be adequately vaccinated, and that there could be widespread disease in this country. Merck had been the only distributor of single component vaccines, which had always been difficult to obtain. It seemed that there were often shortages of either the measles, the mumps or the rubella single dose vaccines, which again just delayed vaccination. After many meetings with both the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Committee on Infectious Diseases, Merck has announced that it will no longer produce single antigen component measles, mumps or rubella vaccines. Studies have confirmed that combination vaccines like MMR are not only safe, but are an important way to improve overall vaccine compliance and results in higher vaccine coverage. With the decision by Merck to stop producing single antigen vaccines, the MMR vaccine will become the only vaccine available for use and will help clear the “muddy” waters surrounding single antigen vaccine. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Head Flattening on the Rise!

1:30 to read

A recent study published in the online edition of Pediatrics confirms what I see in my practice. According to this study the  incidence of positional plagiocephaly (head flattening) has increased and is now estimated to occur in about 47% of babies between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks.  

The recommendation to have babies change from the tummy sleeping position to back sleeping was made in 1992. Since that time there has been a greater than a 50% decline in the incidence of SIDS. (see old posts).  But both doctors and parents have noticed that infants have sometimes developed flattened or misshapen heads from spending so much time being on their backs during those first few months of life.

This study was conducted in Canada among 440 healthy infants.  In 1999, Canada, like the U.S., began recommending  back sleeping for babies. Canadian doctors had also reported that they were seeing more plagiocephaly among infants.  

The authors found that 205 infants in the study had some form of plagiocephaly, with 78% being classsified as mild, 19% moderate and 3% severe.  Interestingly, there was a greater incidence (63%) of a baby having flattening on the right side of their heads.  

Flattening of the head, either on the back or sides is most often due to the fact that a baby is not getting enough “tummy time”.  Although ALL babies should sleep on their back, there are many opportunities throughout a day for a baby to be prone on a blanket while awake, or to spend time being snuggled upright over a parent’s shoulder or in their arms.  Limiting time spent in a car seat or a bouncy chair will also help prevent flattening.

Most importantly, I tell parents before discharging their baby from the hospital that tummy time needs to begin right away. It does seem that some babies have “in utero” positional preference for head turning and this needs to be addressed early on. Think of a baby being just like us, don’t you like to sleep on one side or another?  By rotating the direction the baby lies in the crib you can help promote head turning and prevent flattening.  

Lastly, most cases of plagiocephaly are reversible. Just put tummy time on your daily new parent  “to do list”.   

Daily Dose

Mumps Outbreak!

1:30 to read

The latest infectious disease outbreak is in the Boston area where several colleges have reported cases of mumps. Mumps is a viral illness that causes swelling of the salivary glands as well as other symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headache.    Harvard University has been hit the hardest and has now documented over 40 cases this spring.  Boston is a city with numerous colleges all in close proximity, and there are documented mumps cases at Boston University, University of Massachusetts  and Tufts as well.  These Boston area colleges are all in close proximity and are merely a walk, bike or train ride away from one another, so these students, while attending different universities may all co-mingle at parties and athletic events.

Mumps is spread via saliva (think kissing), or from sharing food, as well as via respiratory droplets being spread after coughing or sneezing. It may also be spread via contaminated surfaces that will harbor the virus. People may already be spreading the virus for  2 days before symptoms appear and may be contagious for up to 5 days after their salivary glands appear swollen….so in other words there is a long period of contagion where the virus may inadvertently be spread. It may also take up to 2-3 weeks after exposure before you come down with mumps.

All of the students who have come down with mumps had been vaccinated with the MMR vaccine (mumps, measles, rubella).  Unfortunately, the mumps vaccine is only about 88% effective in preventing the disease. Despite the fact that children get two doses of vaccine at the age of 1 and again at 4 or 5 years….there may be some waning of protection over time. This  may also contribute to the virus’s predilection for young adults in close quarters on college campuses. Something like the perfect infectious disease storm!

In the meantime there are some studies being undertaken to see if adolescents should receive a 3rd dose of the vaccine, but the results of the study are over a year away.

In the meantime, be alert for symptoms compatible with mumps and make sure to isolate yourself from others if you are sick.  Harvard is isolating all of the patients with mumps for 5 days….which could mean that some students might even miss commencement.  Doctors at Harvard and other schools with cases of mumps are still on the watch for more cases …stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose

Are Parents Too Connected?

1.30 to read

Has your spouse, babysitter or other child care provider ever called you to come home “because the baby is crying”?  It seems that technology, which is readily at our finger tips 24/7, has created yet another dilemma - what to do if a baby is crying? 

Pre-cell phone days, there really was not much to do if you the parent left home and your baby/child started crying.  Outside of calling the restaurant, store, movie theater (directly), and asking them to page a parent, most of us just muddled through a crying child.  I also think that in most cases, said child eventually stopped crying (unless there was an obvious reason that could be “fixed”) and by the time you the parent returned home, all was typically well.  

But now, with a cell phone in every hand, it only takes one call to summon the parent of a crying child.  I think this is a good news/bad news dilemma.  The good news is: parents may feel more comfortable leaving their child with a babysitter, knowing that they may be reached in the event of an emergency.  The bad news is:  is a baby or child who is only crying, typically an emergency?  Depends on your definition. 

The reason I bring this up is that I often hear young parents, and especially mothers, tell me that during the first several months of their infant’s life, they cannot leave the house for more than minutes, before being called home....because the baby is crying.  Some of these mothers are really “stressed out and exhausted” and need a bit of a get-away to “re-boot”. I am not talking about a trip to the day spa. I am simply talking about an hour or 2 to go to the store or meet a friend for lunch or just sit alone in the park and read a book.  Just a bit of quiet after being home with a baby day in and day out for the first 4 weeks of their newborn’s life.  If you have been there you understand. 

But, now that they have a cell phone, there is CONSTANT communication.  The minute the baby cries, the cell phone rings....”the baby is CRYING, come home.”  My husband would tell you that his best parenting started the first time I left him alone with our first son and I actually went away for the weekend.  (I believe the baby was 6 or 7 weeks old and off I went breast pump in hand to a reunion.)  No cell phones then, and guess what, he did a great job!!!!  He told me how after the first 24 hours he figured out that he really didn’t have to have the baby in the bathroom with him in order to take a shower. He later told me that the first shower he took, not only was our son in the room in his “bouncy” chair, but he left the shower door open as the door got steamy and he couldn’t see the baby!! How cute is that. 

Technology, as wonderful as it is, may also enable us to “cop out” when things get a bit difficult.  That goes for parenting as well. 

Turnoff your phone off sometime and let the “other parent” or babysitter handle it for awhile. Being disconnected is NOT always a bad thing!

Daily Dose

Spider Bite or MRSA

Is it a spider bite or staph infection?While walking down the hallway in my office, I keep hearing more and more patients concerned about a “spider bite”.  Think about this: how many spiders could there be out there, especially in the winter and early spring months? Also, these “spider bites” occur on really weird places; a baby’s bottom, the inner thigh, or even on the palm of the hand.

The poor spiders are being maligned when in fact they have nothing to do with these random skin lesions at all. In most cases, a patient had never even seen the offending spider! In reality, all of those “spider bites” are often due to a community acquired MRSA (methicillin resistant Staph Areus) infection of the skin and soft tissue. The frequency of these infections continues and parents should be aware of the fact that an unusual “bite” that is becoming more tender, has surrounding redness (erythema), feels warm to the touch and may have the appearance of a large pimple or boil needs, to be examined. In some cases that I have seen, a parent has tried to open the lesion with a needle. DO NOT take needles, pins, finger nails or anything else to open the lesion!! I tell the older kids, “if your mom or dad comes at you with a needle run Toto run!!” Once a “spider bite” has been correctly diagnosed as a MRSA infection, it is appropriate to try and drain some of the purulent material for a culture. This is usually easily done in the pediatrician’s office. By obtaining some of the purulent discharge the correct diagnosis may be made, and an antibiotic that treats community acquired MRSA may be prescribed. For larger lesions it is appropriate to drain them, and this may be done under sterile conditions (no home needles). There are certain times a pediatric surgeon may need to actually drain these larger lesions. There have been numerous journal articles debating the pros and cons of drainage versus antibiotic use. In most cases in my office, we culture the drainage, and prescribe an oral antibiotic.  There are some articles that advocate drainage only without the use of antibiotics. There is not a definitive opinion on this and I would defer to your doctor to decide the appropriate individual treatment. So… if you think the spiders have invaded your home, think MRSA instead. That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Breastfed Babies & Diaper Rash

1:30 to read

I was shopping at Target just the other day and happened to be in the “baby aisle” looking for one of those snack cups with the lids to let little fingers get in and not let the puffs fall out.  I needed it as part of a baby gift basket.  Useful for sure!!

So…while I am browsing, I see a young mother and her mother looking at diaper creams and obviously trying to decide which one to buy. I could’t resist offering help (always worry about being intrusive). When I asked what they were trying to treat the mother said, “ my new baby has this raw and red diaper rash right around his bottom”.  “He is just 12 days old and I change his diaper all of the time….how could he possibly get a diaper rash? What am I doing wrong?”

As we say in Texas, “bless her heart”!!! I asked if she was breast feeding,  and she was,  then I immediately knew what she meant. A breast fed infant will poop ALL OF THE TIME.  Many times you change a new diaper and as soon as the next diaper is put on the baby stools again. There are many times when your infant may poop a bit of stool during sleep and when you get them up they have a dirty diaper…all normal. No new mother guilt!!

The good news is that a newborn who is stooling a lot is probably getting plenty of breast milk as well…and that means they are gaining weight too!  The flip side is that it is not uncommon for a newborn to get that raw red bottom during the first month or so of breast feeding.  After that time, the stools do slow down a bit and diaper rash is less common.

The best remedy I have found for treating that tender new bottom is a combination of a diaper cream that contains zinc (Destin, Dr. Smith’s, or Boudreaux’s Butt Paste) and a bit of a liquid antacid (Mylanta, Maalox, Gaviscon). I put  a blob of diaper cream in my palm and then pour a bit of the antacid into it and mix….you can’t use too much of the liquid or it will run off.  Then I take that combo and coat the baby’s bottom. You can’t over do it. Use it with each diaper change.   It seems to do the trick and is easy. Several years ago I told a mother about the concoction (she had 4 children and was very sleep deprived) and I  just said use some antacid if you have some. She called later in the day and said she had tried to crush up the tablets and mix it with diaper cream and it wasn’t working.  I have since learned to be a bit more specific about a LIQUID antacid.  

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose

The Difference Between Cradle Cap And Dandruff

1.15 to read

I recently received a question from a Twitter follower related to cradle cap and dandruff. She wanted to know if there was a difference in the two.

You know there really isn’t as they are both due to seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory condition of the skin in which the skin overproduces skin cells and sebum (the skins natural oil). Cradle cap is the term used for the scaly dermatitis seen on the scalp in infants. It is also seen on the eyelids, eyebrows, and behind the ears. It is typically seen after about three months of age and will often resolve on its own by the time a baby is eight to 12 months old. It is usually simply a “cosmetic” problem for a baby as it looks like a yellowish plaque on a baby’s scalp and is often not even noticed by anyone other than the parents. Unlike seborrheic dermatitis in adults, cradle cap typically doesn’t itch. It is thought that cradle cap may occur in infancy due to hormonal influences from the mother that were passed across the placenta to the baby. These hormones cause the sebaceous glands to become over active. In some severe cases an infant’s scalp becomes really scaly and inflamed and causes even more parental concern, as it appears that the infant is uncomfortable and may be trying to scratch their head by rubbing it on surfaces. The treatment for cradle cap is to wash the baby’s scalp daily with a mild shampoo and then to use a soft comb or brush to help remove the scales once they have been loosened with washing. When washing the head make sure to get the shampoo behind the ears and in the brows (keeping the soap out of baby’s eyes). This is usually sufficient treatment for most cradle cap. In situations where the greasy scales seem to be worsening it may help to put a small amount of mineral oil or olive oil on the baby’s head and let it sit (I left a small amount on my children’s heads overnight) and then to shampoo the following day. The oil will help the scales to loosen up and come off more easily. For babies that have very inflamed irritated cradle cap a visit to your pediatrician may be warranted to confirm the diagnosis. In persistent cases I often recommend shampooing several times a week with a dandruff shampoo that has either selenium (Selsun) or zinc pyrithione (Head and Shoulders) making sure not to get any in the infant’s eyes. I may then also use a hydrocortisone cream or foam on the scalp that will lessen the inflammation and itching. In these cases it may take several weeks to totally clear up the problem. As children get older, especially during puberty, you may see a return of seborrhea as dandruff. Again you can use dandruff shampoos. It also seems that with the overproduction of sebum there is an overgrowth of a fungus called “malessizia” so using a shampoo for dandruff as well as a antifungal shampoo (Nizoral) often works. I have teens alternate different shampoos, as sometimes it seems to work better than always using the same shampoo for months on end. Teens don’t like white flakes falling from their scalp and unlike a baby, a teen is worried about the cosmetic issues of seborrhea! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue!

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When should you get your flu shot?

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