Healthy Kids: Kiddie Health Myths That Mums Can Ignore!
Confused by kiddie health myths? Let your healthy kids go out and play as you read this list of popular health myths that have been scientifically debunked.
People always have something to say about something, your child’s health is no exception. From hand-me-down pieces of advice from your great grandmother to straight-up old wives tales, it’s best to know what’s fact from myth. Here are some popular kids health myths that have scientifically been debunked:
1. The cold weather or going out with wet hair will give my child a cold!
While being exposed to cold weather may give one the chills and make them feel uncomfortable, it is not the reason behind your child’s cold. According to D.J. Verret, MD, an otolaryngologist from Texas, going outdoors may actually be one of the best things you can do to prevent catching a cold. Why? Because people tend to stay indoors to keep warm therefore making them more susceptible to colds which are caused by viruses or bacteria.
Author of “The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu”, Neil Schachter, M.D, says that a sneeze or a cough brings forth viral-rich fluids from your airways making it easy for germs to spread. To protect your baby or child from catching a cold, make sure that they wash their hands often.
2. Don’t kiss your baby if you have a cold
According to Neil Schachter, M.D., author of “The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu, there is nothing wrong with giving your child a peck on the lips even if you have a cold. The saliva hanging out in your mouth harbours very little cold virus — so it’s surprisingly hard to pass the illness through kissing. The best way to keep your baby from catching your cold: Wash your hands often.
3. It’s okay for your baby to sleep on his side!
Babies placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep may have more difficulty breathing than those placed on their backs. This is because when infants sleep tummy-down, they’re more likely to overheat, breathe incorrectly, and rebreathe carbon dioxide air they’ve exhaled, which lacks oxygen. If you’re worried about your baby developing a flat spot on her head after too much back time, you can always give your baby adequate amounts of tummy time while she’s awake and under your watchful eye.
According to Dr. Richard Desi, a gastroenterologist from the Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, your swallowed chewing gum will not stick to your digestive tract. “This is certainly a myth. A portion of gum is indigestible, and like any indigestible substance that is consumed, it will simply pass through the gastrointestinal tract and be evacuated.”
5. If my child has either a cough or cold, it’s okay to immediately give them OTC medicines
According to Norman Tomaka, a spokesperson for the American Pharmacists Association, “OTC cough and cold products such as decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants should not be used in children under 2 years old.” Said medicines may be misused thus causing serious and life-threatening side effects.
On the other hand, Elizabeth Shepard, MD, a clinical associate professor of paediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine says, “You can buy and give OTC cough and cold products to children aged 4 and over. But talk to your doctor first, and never use more than one at a time.” She goes on to say, “Beware of combination products. There are many of them out there. Don’t give a cold medicine and Tylenol because the cold medicine may also have acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) in it, and this can result in an overdose.”
6. Breastfeeding babies SHOULD NEVER drink from a bottle or else they won’t go back to breastfeeding
According to WebMD, babies suck on a nipple but suckle at the breast. The difference between the two actions will rarely confuse your little one, experts say. If you think you need to supplement your baby’s feeds (particularly if you plan to return to work before you finish nursing), then you should introduce your baby to the bottle between two and six weeks of age.
Use the bottle for one or two feeds a day. Your baby will develop the skills necessary to bottle-feed without losing the ability to feed at the breast. Use your own milk when trying the bottle, and hold your baby close to your body to cuddle. It’s the bonding time that matters almost as much as the actual feeding.
7. My child is healthy, active, and eating well so he doesn’t need immunisation shots
“Vaccinations are intended to help keep healthy kids healthy. Because vaccines work by protecting the body before disease strikes, if you wait until your child gets sick, it will be too late for the vaccine to work. The best time to immunise kids is when they’re healthy.”
8. Reading in the dark will weaken your eyesight
This myth goes hand in hand with the “watching television too close will cause severe eye damage” myth, and with both, your child’s eyesight is not being damaged but instead may be indicative of underlying vision problems. Aside from getting eye strain or a headache, such actions may pertain to your child needing glasses.
In fact, according to The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), “kids can actually focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting right in front of the television or holding reading material close to their eyes. However, sitting close to a TV may be a sign of nearsightedness.”
9. The B.R.A.T. diet is best for diarrhoea
According to Andrea McCoy, M.D., an associate professor of paediatrics at Temple University in Philadelphia, a regimen of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast used to be the standard prescription for thickening watery stools. While they work great, a plate full of rice, with banana for dessert, isn’t always appealing to a sick kid. In fact, the child will feel better faster if fed the food that he actually wants to eat sans spicy and greasy foods and fruit juice.
10. To be healthy, you have to drink 8 glasses or more of water a day
Research shows that it can actually be detrimental to drink too much water, as it can lead water intoxication. Water intoxication occurs when a person drinks so much water that the other nutrients in the body become diluted to the point that they can no longer do their jobs. This may lead to the swelling of your cells with excess fluid or may even lead to fatal results.
“The exact amount of water intake that can lead to water intoxication is unknown and varies with each individual. Symptoms of water intoxication include nausea, altered mental state, vomiting, headaches, muscle weakness and convulsions. In severe cases of water intoxication, coma and death come fairly quickly as a result of brain swelling. The condition is quite rare in the general population, but in distance athletics, it’s a known risk and is often avoided by drinking sports drinks instead of water during training and events.”
This article was first published on theAsianparent Philippines.