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Childrens Health

Overview :

All children should have regular well-child check ups according to the schedule recommended by their physician or pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that children be seen for well-baby check ups at two weeks, two months, four months, six months, nine months, twelve months, fifteen months, and eighteen months. Well-child visits are recommended at ages two, three, four, five, six, eight, 10, and annually thereafter through age 21.

In addition, an immunization schedule should be followed to protect against disease and infection. As of 2004, the AAP and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that the following childhood immunizations be administered by age two:

  • Hepatitis B. Three doses.
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP). Four doses.
  • H. influenzae type b (Hib). Four doses.
  • Inactivated Polio. Three doses.
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate. Three doses.
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR). One dose.
  • Varicella (chickenpox). One dose.
  • Hepatitis A. (In certain geographical areas and with certain high risk groups.)

The flu vaccine has been added in recent years and has been recommended for childhood caregivers. It is not recommended for children younger than six months of age. A combined vaccine called the Hexavac includes the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, H. influenza B, and hepatitis B in one dose. In clinical trials in 2004, it was shown to be safe and effective in young children.

Some immunizations may cause mild side effects, or more rarely, serious adverse reactions. However, the benefits of immunization greatly outweigh the incidence of health problems arising from them.

There are serious chronic diseases and health problems that are frequently diagnosed in childhood and cannot be vaccinated against. These include, but are not limited to, asthma, type I diabetes (juvenile diabetes), leukemia, hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis.

Mental health

Children who have difficulty in areas of language acquisition, cognitive development, and behavior control may be suffering from mental illness. Mental health problems that may afflict children include:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to the AAP, 4-12% of school-aged children have ADHD, a condition characterized by poor impulse control and excessive motor activity.
  • Learning disorders. Learning disabilities affect one in 10 school children.
  • Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Affective, or mood, disorders can affect kids as well as adults.
  • Eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (BED) frequently occur in adolescent girls.
  • Schizophrenia. A disorder characterized by bizarre thoughts and behaviors, paranoia, impaired sense of reality, and psychosis may be diagnosed in childhood.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Also called OCD, this anxiety disorder afflicts one in 200 children.
  • Autism and pervasive developmental disorder. Severe developmental disabilities that cause a child to become withdrawn and unresponsive.
  • Mental retardation. Children under age 18 with an IQ of 70 or below and impairments in adaptive functioning are considered mentally retarded.

Emotional and social health

Children take their first significant steps toward socialization and peer interaction when they begin to engage in cooperative play at around age four. Their social development will progress throughout childhood and adolescence as they develop friendships, start to be influenced by their peers, and begin to show interest in the opposite sex.

DR. BENJAMIN SPOCK (1903–1998)

Benjamin Spock, pediatrician and political activist, was most noted for his authorship of Baby and Child Care, which significantly changed predominant attitudes toward the raising of infants and children. He began medical school at Yale University in 1925, and transferred to Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1927. Spock had decided well before starting his medical studies that he would "work with children, who have their whole lives ahead of them" and so, upon taking his M.D. degree in 1929 and serving his general internship at the prestigious Presbyterian Hospital, he specialized in pediatrics at a small hospital crowded with children in New York's Hell's Kitchen area.

On a summer vacation in 1943 he began to write his most famous book and he continued to work on it from 1944 to 1946 while serving as a medical officer in the Navy. The book sharply broke with the authoritarian tone and rigorous instructions found in earlier generations of baby-care books, most of which said to feed infants on a strict schedule and not to pick them up when they cried. Spock, who spent ten years trying to reconcile his psychoanalytic training with what mothers were telling him about their children, told his readers, "You know more than you think you do…. Don't be afraid to trust your own common sense…. Take it easy, trust your own instincts, and follow the directions that your doctor gives you." The response was overwhelming. Baby and Child Care rapidly became America's all-time best-seller except for Shakespeare and the Bible; by 1976 it had also eclipsed Shakespeare.

Leading Causes Of Death In Adolescents

Motor vehicle crashes

Suicide (numbers 2 and 3 are approximately equal)


Poisoning (which includes accidental poisonings due to alcohol or other drug overdose)


Factors which can have a negative impact on the emotional and social well-being of children include:

  • Violence. Bullying can cause serious damage to a child's sense of self-esteem and personal safety, as can experiences with school violence.
  • Family turmoil. Divorce, death, and other life-changing events that alter the family dynamic can have a serious impact on a child. Even a positive event such as the birth of a sibling or a move to a new city and school can put emotional strain on a child.
  • Stress. The pressure to perform well academically and in extracurricular activities such as sports can be overwhelming to some children.
  • Peer pressure. Although it can have a positive impact, peer pressure is often a source of significant stress for children. This is particularly true in adolescence when "fitting in" seems all-important.
  • Drugs and alcohol. Curiosity is intrinsic to childhood, and more than 30% of children have experimented with alcohol by age 13. Open communication with children that sets forth parental expectations about drug and alcohol use is essential.
  • Negative sexual experiences. Sexual abuse and assault can emotionally scar a child and instill negative feelings about sexuality and relationships.

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