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What is a Pediatrician?

A Pediatrician is a medical doctor that specializes in the branch of medicine focusing on health care for infants, children and young people. Pediatrics became a specialty in 1930 when the American Academy of Pediatrics was founded with the belief that infants and children have special developmental and health care needs and requirements.

Pediatricians spend much of their time conducting regular health care examinations, preventative medicine and general health practices. Pediatricians immunize children against infectious diseases such as Influenza, Measles, Meningitis and Mumps. Some Pediatricians specialize in areas of Pediatrics such as Immunology, Adolescent Health, Child Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Surgery and diseases of special organs and systems. Some Pediatricians specialize in the care of premature babies, critically ill children and those with congenital malformations.

Pediatricians are well-educated and have completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university, four years of medical school and an additional three years of residency training solely in Pediatrics.


Finding a Pediatrician

Choosing a Pediatrician is an important decision.  Thus, our goal is to assist you in making that decision.

First of all, when selecting a Pediatrician, you may want to begin your search several different ways:

          Ask a family physician. They are in constant contact with all kinds of health care professionals and will be able to direct you in the right direction.
Ask family, friends, neighbors and/or co-workers.
Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for reputable Pediatricians.
Contact your city, county or state medial agencies for names of qualified Pediatricians.
Contact and ask for referrals from medical associations. Many are listed in this publication.

You should begin searching for a Pediatrician in the final months of pregnancy. It is very important that you feel comfortable with the Pediatrician you select.

As a new parent you should feel at ease in asking the doctor anything, no matter how trivial it may seem. We recommend that both parents interview the Pediatrician and ask a potential Pediatrician the following:

Is your staff friendly and accommodating?

Do you have two waiting rooms, one for sick children and one for healthy kids that are just in for check-ups and vaccinations?

What are the procedures if we need a doctor in the middle of the night or on a weekend?

Do you have an associate that covers for you when you are not available?

Do you have more than one office, and if you do, how is your time divided between offices?

What kind of continuing education do you utilize?

How do you stay current on the latest drugs and prescriptions available, medical testaments, nutrition, and child development concepts?

What type of insurance coverage do you accept?

Discuss your family medical history and particular problems you are concerned about.

After you have consulted a few Pediatricians you should have a good idea which one you felt most comfortable with and who best answered your questions.

How Pediatricians Were Selected

Consumers’ Research Council of America has compiled a list of top Pediatricians throughout the United States by utilizing a point value system. This method uses a point value for criteria that we deemed valuable in determining top Pediatric health care professionals.

The criteria that was used and assessed a point value is as follows:



Each year the Pediatrician has been in practice


Education and Continuing Education

Professional Associations:

Membership in Pediatric Associations

Board Certification:

Completing an approved residency program and passing a    rigid examination on that specialty

Simply put, Pediatricians that have accumulated a certain amount of points qualified for the list. This does not mean that Pediatricians that did not accumulate enough points are not good Pediatricians, they merely did not qualify for this list because of the points needed for qualification.

Similar studies have been done with other professions using a survey system. This type of study would ask fellow professionals who they would recommend. We found this method to be more of a popularity contest. For instance, professionals who work in a large office have much more of a chance of being mentioned, as opposed to a professional who has a small private practice. In addition, many professionals have a financial arrangement for back-and-forth referrals. For these reasons, we developed the point value system.

Since this is a subjective call, there is no study that is 100% accurate. As with any profession, there will be some degree of variance in opinion. If you survey 100 patients from a particular physician on their satisfaction, you will undoubtedly hear that some are very satisfied, some moderately satisfied and some dissatisfied. This is really quite normal.

We feel that a point value system takes out the personal and emotional factor and deals with factual criteria. We have made certain assumptions. For example, we feel that more years in practice is better than less years in practice; more education is better than less education, being board certified is better than not being certified, etc.

The top Pediatrician list that we have compiled is current as of a certain date and other Pediatricians may have qualified since that date. Nonetheless, we feel that the list of top Pediatricians is a good starting point for you to find a qualified Pediatric health care specialist.

No fees, donations, sponsorships or advertising are accepted from any individuals, professionals, corporations or associations. This policy is strictly adhered to, ensuring an unbiased selection.

   Accidental Poisoning Prevention 

Poison is any type of substance that can cause harmful effects in the body. It has been estimated that millions of people are poisoned each year, with children six years of age and younger being the greatest at risk. Each year poison control centers report that over one million children under the age of six are exposed to potentially poisonous medicines and household chemicals.

Children will eat or drink just about anything regardless of taste. Children tend to be curious by nature and investigate and explore things by putting all sorts of items in their mouths. They can be attracted to items with colorful packaging, good smells and bottles or packaging in interesting shapes and sizes.

We suggest being pro-active and taking preventative measures to avoid any possibility of your child being poisoned. We have listed some tips for you:

                       Use child-resistant packaging on all medicines
Install a carbon monoxide alarm
Use safety locks on all cabinets
Teach your children about poisonous substances
Store all poisonous household and chemical products out of sight and out of reach
Do not use food containers (milk or soda containers) to store household cleaning and chemical products
Keep the telephone number of the nearest poison control center close to your telephone
Do not mix household products, as they can produce poisonous gases if mixed together
Never leave pills on the counter or in a plastic bag
Keep vitamins away from children. Vitamins with iron can be very poisonous.
Keep poisonous plants away from children
Know the names of plants that are in and around your home.
Tell your children not to eat plants, mushrooms and berries that grow wild
Keep children away from all vegetation that has recently been sprayed with weed killer or fertilizer
Destroy and throw away all old medications or flush down the toilet

The Most Dangerous Poisons for Children:


Iron Pills

Fingernail Glue & Primer

( lighter fluid, paint thinner, gasoline, oil, furniture polish )

( alcoholic beverages, facial cleaners & mouthwash )

Wild Mushrooms

( bug killers and pest chemicals )

Windshield washer solution and antifreeze

Cleaning Products
( oven cleaner, drain opener, rust remover & toilet bowl cleaner )

Poison Control Center Directory

Click here for a list of the U.S. Poison Control Members. The members are listed alphabetically by state. Certified Centers are italicized.

About Chicken Pox

Most everyone gets Chicken Pox before they become adults. Chicken Pox is caused by a virus and is highly contagious. Generally, Chicken Pox is a mild illness but it can be severe in infants and adults who have a weak immune system. Millions of people get Chicken Pox every year and 9 out of 10 infected people are under the age of 15. Chicken Pox epidemics usually begin in late winter or early spring.

The Chicken Pox virus is spread by direct contact, coughing or sneezing from the infected person. A person is contagious 48 hours before the Chicken Pox rash appears until about one week after the rash has materialized. The incubation period, or the time that it takes for symptoms to appear from the time that you were exposed, ranges from 10 to 21 days.

The Chicken Pox rash has itchy oval and round sores which at first look like pimples, but soon blister and crust-over and heal. The sores are commonly found on the back, chest, face and stomach. The Chicken Pox virus can cause fever, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Adults seem to feel a lot sicker than children with the affliction. Chicken Pox lasts approximately 10 to 14 days. Complications include possible skin scarring, skin infections and pneumonia.

A Chicken Pox vaccine has been available since 1995, and is is 96.4% effective for children. The 3.6 % of children that still get Chicken Pox after vaccination only experience a very mild case. A blood test can confirm if a child is immune to the virus. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for a child to become immunized against Chicken Pox, and the vaccination is estimated to last about 20 years.

Asthma Facts

Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system in which the airways constrict, become inflamed, and are lined with excessive amounts of mucus, often in response to one or more "triggers," such as exposure to an environmental stimulant (or allergen), cold air, exercise, or emotional stress. In children, the most common triggers are viral illnesses such as those that cause the common cold. This airway narrowing causes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing, which respond to bronchodilators. Between episodes, most patients feel fine.

The disorder is a chronic or recurring inflammatory condition in which the airways develop increased responsiveness to various stimuli, characterized by bronchial hyper-responsiveness, inflammation, increased mucus production, and intermittent airway obstruction. The symptoms of asthma, which can range from mild to life threatening, can usually be controlled with a combination of drugs and lifestyle changes.

Public attention in the developed world has recently focused on asthma because of its rapidly increasing prevalence, effecting up to one in four urban children. Susceptibility to asthma can be explained in part by genetic factors, but no clear pattern of inheritance has been found. Asthma is a complex disease that is influenced by multiple genetic, developmental, and environmental factors, which interact to produce the overall condition.

In some individuals asthma is characterized by chronic respiratory impairment. In others it is an intermittent illness marked by episodic symptoms that may result from a number of triggering events, including upper respiratory infection, airborne allergens, and exercise.

An acute exacerbation of asthma is referred to as an asthma attack. The clinical hallmarks of an attack are shortness of breath and wheezing. Some people present primarily with coughing, and in the late stages of an attack, air motion may be so impaired that no wheezing may be heard. When present the cough may sometimes produce clear sputum. The onset may be sudden, with a sense of constriction in the chest, breathing becomes difficult, and wheezing occurs.

Signs of an asthmatic episode are wheezing, rapid breathing, prolonged expiration, a rapid heart rate, rhonchous lung sounds, and over-inflation of the chest. During a serious asthma attack, the accessory muscles of respiration may be used and the presence of a paradoxical pulse (a pulse that is weaker during inhalation and stronger during exhalation). During very severe attacks, an asthma sufferer can turn blue from lack of oxygen, and can experience chest pain or even loss of consciousness. Severe asthma attacks may lead to respiratory arrest and death. Despite the severity of symptoms during an asthmatic episode, between attacks an asthmatic may show few signs of the disease.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease, also known as Sickle Cell Enemia, is a general term for a group of genetic disorders caused by sickle hemoglobin. In many forms of the disease, the red blood cells change shape upon deoxygenation because of polymerization of the abnormal sickle hemoglobin. This process damages the red blood cell membrane and can cause the cells to become stuck in blood vessels. This deprives the downstream tissues of oxygen and causes ischemia and infarction. The disease is chronic and lifelong. Individuals are most often well, but their lives are punctuated by periodic painful attacks. In addition to periodic pain, there may be damage of internal organs, such as stroke. Lifespan is often shortened with sufferers living to an average of 40 years.

In the United States, hemoglobin Sickle cell disease affects mostly African Americans and some Latino Americans. Some forms of sickle cell disease may occur, although less frequently, in people with different ethnic backgrounds such as those whose ancestors came from Mediterranean countries or East India. Sickle cell disease can occur in any individual of any color or ethnicity, however.

A child with sickle cell disease has inherited a defective hemoglobin gene. In a child with sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin can take on an abnormal shape, distorting the shape of the red blood cell. The cells change from a normal round, doughnut shape to the elongated shape of a sickle, or the shape of a "C."

Unlike normal red blood cells, which move easily through small blood vessels, sickle cells are hard and pointed. The sickle shape means that they have a tendency to get stuck in narrow blood vessels and block the flow of blood. This can cause episodes of pain and can also lead to damage of the body organs because they aren't getting enough oxygen.

Sickle cells have a shorter-than-normal life span, which leads to anemia (low red blood cell count). A normal red blood cell lives for about 120 days, whereas a sickle cell lives for only 10 to 20 days.

Symptoms of sickle cell disease vary and range from mild to severe, and symptoms may be less severe or different in children who have inherited a sickle cell gene from one parent and a different abnormal hemoglobin gene from the other.

Most children with sickle cell disease have some degree of anemia, and they may develop one or more of the following conditions and symptoms as part of the disorder:

          Acute chest syndrome: Infection or trapped red blood cells in the lungs cause this syndrome. Signs include chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever.
Aplastic crisis: This is when the bone marrow temporarily slows its production of red blood cells due to infection or another cause. Signs include paleness and fatigue.
Hand-foot syndrome: This may be the first sign of sickle cell anemia in some infants. Signs include painful swelling of the hands and feet and fever.
Infection: Children with sickle cell disease are at increased risk for certain bacterial infections. It's important to watch for fevers of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher, which could signal an infection.
Stroke: Poor blood flow in the brain can occur from the sickle-shaped cells blocking small blood vessels. This may lead to a stroke. Signs may include headache, seizures, weakness of the arms and legs, speech problems, a facial droop, and loss of consciousness.


An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that's harmless to most people. But in someone with an allergy, the body's immune system treats the substance (called an allergen) as an invader and reacts inappropriately, resulting in symptoms that can be anywhere from annoying to possibly harmful to the person.

In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system of the allergic person produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E. Those antibodies then cause mast cells (which are allergy cells in the body) to release chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against the allergen "invader".

It's the release of these chemicals that causes allergic reactions, affecting a person's eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract as the body attempts to rid itself of the invading allergen. Future exposure to that same allergen will trigger this allergic response again. This means every time that person eats that particular food or is exposed to that particular allergen, he or she will have an allergic reaction.

The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, which means it can be passed down through your genes. However, just because you, your partner, or one of your children might have allergies doesn't mean that all of your children will definitely get them, too. And a person usually doesn't inherit a particular allergy, just the likelihood of having allergies.

But a few children have allergies even if no family member is allergic. And if a child is allergic to one substance, it's likely that he or she will be allergic to others as well.

There is no real cure for allergies, but it is possible to relieve a child's symptoms. The only real way to cope with them on a daily basis is to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens. That means that parents must educate their children early and often, not only about the allergy itself but also about what reaction they will have if they consume or come into contact with the offending allergen.


Immunization is a method of developing resistance within the human body for specific diseases using microorganisms that have been killed or modified. Immunization is also know as vaccination or inoculation. Immunization has drastically reduced the number of serious and deadly diseases. The success of vaccines speak for themselves; in 1962 , the year before Measles vaccine was introduced, there were over 500,000 cases registered. Currently less than 100 cases per year are now reported. The number of cases of Meningitis in the United States for children and infants has dropped 96% since the it was introduced in 1988.

A vaccine may consist of a living organism that has been purposely weakened or altered. The microorganisms have been modified enough so that the human body will create immunity and not get infected with the actual disease. The theories of vaccination are based on the ability of a person’s immune system to respond much faster and more effectively to a microorganism the second, third or fourth time that the immune system confronts the invading organism. Some immunizations protect a human for an entire lifetime; many other vaccines such as Tetanus require booster shots at required intervals to provide continued protection.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U. S. Public Health Service recommend a series of immunizations beginning at birth. For your convenience we have provided a Recommended Childhood Immunization Chart below. Check with your Pediatrician for any risks and side effects associated with the vaccines that could affect your child.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease that affects the liver. Although it is a very serious condition, it can go undetected for great lengths of time. Some people who have the virus Hepatitis B never feel sick and still others have symptoms that can last for only a few weeks. These symptoms include jaundice (yellowish tone to skin and eyes), pain in muscles, pain in joints, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, tiredness. In the United States alone there are over one million chronically infected with the Hepatitis B virus. Many of these chronically-infected people will suffer from serious health problems such as Cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis B virus is the leading cause of liver cancer in the world.

Hepatitis B is spread through contact with bodily fluids and/or blood of an infected person. This disease is also spread by sharing personal items like toothbrushes and razors with anyone afflicted. Another way that the condition is spread is through unprotected sex and needle-sharing related to drug use.

You can protect your child by getting them vaccinated with three doses of the Hepatitis vaccine. A newborn should get the first vaccine between birth and two months old, the second vaccine between one and four months old, and the third vaccine between six and eighteen months old.

HIB (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B)

HIB disease was the leading cause of bacterial Meningitis in children under five years of age. Approximately 12,000 children got Meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain) as a result of HIB. About 25% of these children suffered permanent brain damage and close to 5% died.

HIB is a bacterial disease that is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. When the bacteria enters the blood system or lungs it is then called "invasive" HIB disease. This type of HIB can cause complications that lead to Pneumonia, Arthritis and Epiglottitis. Most of the time this type if HIB occurs in children under the age of five.

Great success has been realized with the Haemophilus Influenzae Type B vaccine. The first vaccine came out in 1985 and soon afterward the disease began to disappear. In 1985 there were over 20,000 cases of HIB and now there are only a few hundred cases per year.

Children should get three to four doses of the vaccine. The first dose is recommended at two months of age, the second dose at four months of age and the third dose between twelve and fifteen months of age. Children who are over five years old do not need the HIB vaccine.


Polio is caused by a virus that resides in the throat and intestinal tract. Polio is spread through contact with feces and bowel movements of an infected person. Polio was one of the worst diseases in the past century. In 1916 it had killed over 6000 people and had left over 27,000 paralyzed. Today, there is no Polio in the United States but it is still common in other parts of the world.

Some children who get Polio become paralyzed. This type is called Paralytic Polio. It can start out like a common cold and soon will have symptoms that include severe muscle pain. Paralysis starts within the first week and most often affects the muscles in the legs. Some children can recover but most will become permanently disabled. Once contracted there is no treatment for Polio.

Children should get four doses of IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine); the first dose at two months of age, the second dose at four months of age, the third dose between six and eighteen months, and a booster between four and six years of age.

DtaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis)

DTaP is three vaccines, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis combined into one. A child needs five DtaP vaccines for maximum protection. The first three shots should be given at two, four and six months of age; the next vaccine should be at fifteen to eighteen months. A booster shot should be given between the ages of four and six.

Diphtheria is a bacterial disease that resides in the mouth, throat and nose of an infected person. The disease is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. This malady was a major cause of childhood sickness and death. In 1920 over 150,000 were infected with diphtheria and about ten percent of them died. Today there are only a few cases a year.

Tetanus is a bacterial disease that can live anywhere and can be found in soil, dust and manure. Tetanus enters the body through cuts and scratches on the skin. It can even get through a tiny pin- prick, but it is more common with deep puncture wounds or cuts. Tetanus produces a poison in the body that causes muscle spasms in the arms, neck legs and stomach. It has been known to cause such powerful muscle contractions that it will actually break a child’s bones. Tetanus is not contagious.

Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough, is a very contagious disease and is common in the United States. It is caused by a bacteria that resides in the mouth, throat and nose. Pertussis is spread through the air via coughing and sneezing. This disease causes such severe coughing that it can continue until the air is extracted from the lungs, causing a person to make a loud ‘whooping’ sound as they gasp for air. Afflicted children have be known to turn blue from lack of air, vomit and experience problems eating and drinking.

Pneumococcal Disease

Pneumococcal Disease is a bacterial disorder that kills more people in America each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. This disease is the leading cause of bacterial Meningitis. Over 200 children die from invasive Pneumococcal Disease each year.

This sickness is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. There are over 90 strains of the Pneumococcal bacterium. Pneumococcal Disease is the leading cause for all middle-ear infections in children. It is becoming more resistant to antibiotics, making the vaccination increasingly important.

Children should get four doses of the vaccine; one dose each at two, four and six months of age, and the last dose between twelve and fifteen months of age. It will not prevent all, but will prevent many of the ear infections caused by the Pneumococcal bacteria.


The MMR is combination of three vaccines in one. They are Measles, Mumps and Rubella. This vaccine works well and should protect a child for life. Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine: The first dose should be given at twelve to fifteen months of age and the second dose at a minimum of twenty eight days later.

Measles is a deadly disease that kills over one million people a year throughout the world. Most afflicted children get a rash and a cold and need to stay home for a few days. Approximately ten percent of the children with Measles get an ear infection and five percent will develop Pneumonia.

Measles is caused by a virus that spreads very easily to any child that is exposed to it. Measles is airborne and contracted through coughing, sneezing and even close-contact conversation. Before the Measles vaccine in 1963 there were over 500,000 cases reported each year and over 3 million cases not reported. Today there are only a few hundred cases a year.

Mumps is a virus that is spread through the air via coughing, sneezing or close-contact conversation. Children get Mumps through others who are already infected. Common signs of Mumps are swelling of the cheeks and jaw and many afflicted get a headache and fever. Approximately ten percent of children who get Mumps also gets Meningitis, but generally Mumps is a mild disease.

Rubella is also known as German Measles and 3-Day Measles. Rubella strikes children, teenagers and adults who have not been vaccinated. The Rubella vaccine was first licensed in 1969; prior to that in 1965 there were 12½ million people who contracted the disease. Today there are only a few hundred cases reported a year. Rubella is most dangerous to unborn babies. If a woman contracts Rubella during the first few months of pregnancy, there is an 80% chance that the baby will have some type of birth defect.

Varicella (Chicken Pox Vaccine)

Chicken Pox is caused by a virus and can be spread very easily from person to person. The virus is airborne and is contracted through coughing, sneezing and close-contact conversation. Chicken Pox is generally a mild disease, but serious problems can still occur. The Chicken Pox blisters can become infected and some children get Encephalitis (infection of the brain) as a result.

A single dose of the Varicella vaccine is recommended for children between the ages of 12 to 18 months. Children who miss this vaccination can still get it up to the age of thirteen. Data suggests that the vaccine is 70% to 90% effective in preventing Chicken Pox and 95% effective in preventing a serious outbreak of the disease.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver like other types of Hepatitis. Hepatitis A is a caused by a virus found in feces and bowel movements and is spread through personal contact or drinking and eating contaminated food and water.

Hepatitis A does not cause long-term illness or liver damage as is the case with Hepatitis B. Signs of Hepatitis A include fever, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, tiredness, dark urine and jaundice (yellowish tone to the skin and eyes). Blood testing is required to determine which type of Hepatitis is present.

Hepatitis A vaccine requires two doses; the first dose can be given to children two years of age or older and the second dose should be given six to eighteen months later.

Childhood Immunization Schedule


1 month

2 months

4 months

6 months

12 months

15 months

18 months

2 years

4 to 6 years

Hepatitis B Shot 1


Shot 2


Shot 3


Shot 1


Shot 2


Shot 3


Shot 1


Shot 2


Shot 3


Shot 4

Shot 1
Shot 2                    

Shot 3


Shot 4


Shot 5


Shot 1


Shot 2


Shot 3


Shot 4


Shot 1


Shot 2




Hepatitis A
Shot 1


Hepatitis A
Shot 2


Shot 2
6 to 18 months after the fist shot


Flu Shots A-Z

The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine, containing killed virus, which is given with a needle, usually in the arm. It contains three influenza viruses. The three vaccine strains—one H3N2 virus, one A H1N1 virus, and one B virus—are representative of the influenza vaccine strains recommended for that year. Two weeks after receiving the shot, antibodies in your body will form and protect you from the virus.

 When to Get Vaccinated

October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but you can still get vaccinated in December and later. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

 Who should get the flu shot?

Basically, anyone who wants to cut their chances of getting the flu can be vaccinated. Certain people, however, should get vaccinated each year. They include: 

          All children ages 6-23 months.
Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma.
Pregnant women.
Parents with children with children older than 6 months.
People who are 65 or older.

Who should not get the flu shot?

Some people should not get the flu shot without talking to a doctor first. These people include:

          People who have had Guillain-Barre syndrome.
People who have had a severe reaction to the vaccine before.
People who are allergic to chicken eggs.
The flu shot is not approved for people who are younger than six months.


The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on the health status and the age of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity or "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation. Studies have shown that the flu shot is effective at preventing the flu.

What to expect

The virus in the flu shot is killed, so you cannot get the flu from it. Some minor side effects are:

              Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
    Mild fever

If these problems should appear, they will occur within one to two days after receiving the flu shot. Although most people who receive the flu shot have no serious problems, on rare occasions, people can experience severe allergic reactions.


Infant & Child Nutrition

It is best to start good eating habits at a very young age. Children have different nutritional requirements at different ages throughout their childhood. Breast-feeding still is the best form of feeding infants that are born at full term. Human milk contains the most nutrients, anti-bacterial and anti-infection agents, more than any other type of food can provide. An infant experiences fast growth the first four to six months, particularly growth of the brain. Breast milk provides amino acid and a fatty acid composition that is beneficial for brain development. Breast-feeding for five to six months can lessen the chances of allergies significantly.

Breast-feeding can continue to up to two years of age. However, with today’s lifestyle of women so prevalent in the workforce it is common that after an initial period of breast-feeding that infants are switched over to formula. Infant formula is designed to copy as close as possible human milk.

The introduction to solid foods should begin no sooner that four to six months. Cereals mixed with breast milk or formula are generally the first foods that are introduced. The first foods need to be soft, smooth and warm. A blender is recommended to make the food smooth enough so the infant can swallow it.

Some suggested meals for proper nutrition include: soft-cooked ground rice, pureed cooked apple, pear, peach, banana, pumpkin and carrot; soft fresh fruit, segments of orange, mandarins, kiwi fruit, banana, plum and peach; soft-cooked vegetables such as yams, cauliflower and broccoli. Protein is essential for infants and we suggest small servings twice a day of soft cooked tofu, mashed egg, pureed lentils, chickpeas, finely minced meat, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, and yogurt sweetened with pureed fruit.

The next nutritional stage is for one-to-four year olds; it is in this age bracket that they may be weaned off of breast milk and infant formulas. They start to feed themselves by being able to hold and grasp food and to put it in their mouths. They enjoy chewing because it helps with their teething.

Foods recommended include: oatmeal, rolled rice, sugar-free cereals, cow, goat or soy milk, mashed egg, cottage cheese, salt-free creamy peanut butter; sardines, tuna, cooked beans, lentils, chickpeas, soft cooked tofu, scrambled egg, finely chopped lean meats, chicken and fish. Other good foods that are popular are cooked or raw vegetables and fruit, vegetable pasta, brown rice, potatoes and yams.

Keep in mind that children need as much calcium as a fully-grown adult because of nerve, teeth and bone growth. Infants require more iron than an adult male. Iron promotes brain development and helps in the body's immune system. Between the ages of five years and adolescence there is a period of slow but very steady growth. The peak of growth is between 11 and 15 years of age for girls and 13 to 16 years of age for boys. Regular meals and a proper diet that includes all food groups will contribute to proper growth and development. Nutritional requirements vary tremendously at this age but the common nutritional need is extra iron and calcium. Among adolescents, iron deficiency, or anemia, is one of the most common dietary diseases. Since the largest skeletal weight gain is in this period of growth, calcium is of paramount importance. It is said that 45% of skeletal mass is formed during this growing stage.

click here to see the complete section on Nutrition and your Health

Breast Feeding

In past centuries mothers instinctively had to breast-feed their children. Today, however, there are other options of scientifically designed formula containing nutrients to nourish infants. Many debates and studies have been done to see which is best.

The scientific community is quite certain now that mother’s milk is superior and offers many advantages related to health benefits. Breast milk contains vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats to nourish an infant. In addition to the nutrients provided in breast milk, it also influences the immune system. Human milk contains at least 100 ingredients not found in formula.

breast-feeding is not only good for the baby but is also better for the mother. It is easier for mothers to lose the pounds put on during pregnancy since nursing burns approximately 500 calories a day.

There are times when bottle-feeding is necessary. There are certain illnesses such as Herpes, Hepatitis, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), and Beta Streptococcus infections that can be transmitted through breast milk. We recommend that you consult your Pediatrician since each particular case should be dealt with individually.

Women planning to breast-feed should educate themselves as much as possible before the baby is born. Your Pediatrician or Obstetrician can offer you information on this subject. There are national support groups such as La Leche League that meet regularly in many cities to discuss breast-feeding problems.

For your convenience, a chart of pros and cons of both breast-feeding and bottle-feeding follows:

PROS of Breast-Feeding

Breast-fed babies are less likely to
be overfed

Breast-fed babies are less likely to have diarrhea

breast-feeding promotes bonding between mother and baby

Breast-fed babies have fewer allergic reactions

Breast milk contains antibodies to help babies develop their immune systems

Breast milk is natural and provides perfect infant nutrition

Breast-feeding is inexpensive; no formula or bottles

Breast milk is more digestible than formula

Breast-feeding helps the mother lose weight and shrinks the uterus after the child is born

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding

Breast-feeding can help protect babies from bacterial Meningitis, diarrheal infections, developing Asthma and promotes fewer cavities


CONS of Breast-Feeding

Breast-feeding mothers may feel uncomfortable at first and want privacy during feedings

Breast-feeding mothers need to be in close proximity to baby or utilize a breast pump

Breast-feeding mothers may experience leaking

Other people and family members will not be able to participate in helping to feed the baby 


PROS of Bottle-Feeding

Other people including the father can help and participate in feeding the baby

Bottle-feeding is less awkward in public for many woman

No need to use breast pumps

No leaking from mother's breasts

Bottle-feeding allows other people to help in nighttime feedings so mothers can get caught up on rest

Mothers know exactly how much baby has consumed

Bottle-fed babies are not harmed by what mother may eat or any medications she may have taken

No special clothing/bras are needed


CONS of Bottle-Feeding

Formulas may produce some allergic reactions in babies

Bottle-feeding requires preparation of formulas and cleaning of bottles

Bottle-feeding accessories need to be sterilized before each use

Formulas do not provide as much nutrition as a mother’s natural milk

Formulas do not provide the maternal immunities and antibodies that a mother’s natural milk does



All About Ear Infections

Ear infections include a wide range of diseases that can affect any of the ear structures. A middle ear infection— known as otitis media —is an inflammation or infection of the middle ear. This condition is most common in young children, because their Eustachian tubes—the tubes that connect the throat and the middle ear—are shorter, more horizontal, and more easily blocked than those in older children and adults. A middle ear infection commonly occurs along with or after a cold or other upper respiratory infection.

The space in the middle ear, behind the eardrum, is normally filled with air. Any buildup of fluid in the middle ear space is called an effusion. This fluid provides an environment that allows infection to develop.

This inflammation often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory or breathing problems spread to the middle ear. They can either be viral or bacterial infections. Seventy-five percent of children experience at least one occurrence of otitis media by the time they are three-years-old. Almost half of these children will have three or more ear infections during their first 3 years of life. Although otitis media is primarily a disease of infants and young children, it can also affect adults.

What if an ear infection is left untreated? 

Not only will otitis media cause severe pain, but also, in rare cases, it may result in serious complications. An untreated infection can travel from the middle ear to the nearby parts of the head, including the brain. Any hearing loss caused by otitis media is usually temporary, but if left untreated, otitis media may lead to permanent hearing impairment. Persistent fluid in the middle ear and chronic otitis media can reduce a child's hearing at a time that is critical for speech and language development. Children who have early hearing impairment from frequent ear infections are likely to have speech and language disabilities.


For an ear infection, treating the symptoms at home may be all that it is needed.  Up to eighty percent of ear infections get better without treatment. If your child is under 2 years old and you think your child has an ear infection, take your child to a doctor.  Antibiotics, however, are often prescribed to treat middle ear infections that don’t get better at home. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat all ear infections, while others ask parents of otherwise healthy children older than 2 years to watch their child for a couple of days. And if the child begins to feel better within a couple of days, antibiotics may not be needed. If a child has not improved, antibiotics can then be started, and the infection usually clears. Children who are 3 years old or younger should have a follow-up visit in about 4 weeks—even if they seem well. If fluid behind the eardrum persists for 3 months, the child should have his or her hearing tested.

Meningitis Facts

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges—tissues that that offer protection for the brain and spinal cord. Microorganisms can invade the meninges and produce this life-threatening illness. Meningitis is a deadly illness that can produce long-term disabilities for those who survive. Meningitis results in swelling of the brain tissue and in some cases the spinal tissue. When brain tissue swells, it puts pressure on brain cells, which can kill the neurons and result in brain damage.

The infection occurs most often in infants, young adults between the ages of 15 and 24, and people who have a long-standing health condition, such as a weakened immune system. Viruses, bacteria and fungi can cause meningitis. The seriousness of the infection and the best treatment depend on the cause of the infection. Bacterial meningitis is generally much more serious than viral meningitis, and quick treatment is necessary. The causes of most cases of meningitis are viruses.

The effects of meningitis can be severe. The longer you have the disease without treatment, the greater the risk of permanent neurological damage, including hearing loss, loss of speech, learning disabilities, behavior problems and brain damage, even paralysis.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

High fever, headache, and stiff neck are common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over the age of 2 years. The onset of this illness is very rapid: It can take over several hours, or they may take 1 to 2 days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness. As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures. In small infants, symptoms may be hard to detect; however, some signs include: being inactive, very irritable, vomiting, or poor appetite.

Can meningitis be treated?

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics. However, it is important that treatment be started early in the course of the disease. Antibiotic treatment of most common types of bacterial meningitis should reduce the risk of dying from meningitis to below 15%, although the risk is higher among the elderly.

Viral meningitis cannot be cured with antibiotics, but most cases resolve on their own in a week or so without therapy. Mild cases of viral meningitis are usually treated with bed rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter pain medications to help reduce fever and relieve body aches.

Vaccination may prevent some types of meningitis. Vaccines help protect against the most common causes of bacterial meningitis—Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitides. Vaccines are recommended for people at high risk of infection. These include older adults and children and adults who have a weakened immune system, such as those who have an underlying serious illness.


Some types of meningitis are contagious. You may be exposed to the bacteria when someone with meningitis coughs or sneezes. The bacteria can also spread through kissing or sharing eating utensils, a toothbrush, or a cigarette. You increase your risk if you live or work with someone with the disease.

Washing your hands may be one of the best ways to stay well. Teach your children to wash their hands often, especially before they eat and after using the toilet, spending time in a crowded public place or petting animals. Try to boost your immune system by exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

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