Amna Husain: Hi everyone. Dr. Amna Husain here. Board-certified pediatrician, lactation consultant, and mom. And I thought this week we’d do something super fun. We’ve already talked about New Year’s resolutions for your kids, but we’re in 2021 and I’ve been thinking a lot. This has been a really difficult year for a lot of reasons. We all already know that. Of course we’re referencing 2020. But what about going into 2021? What does this pediatrician want you to know? Keeping this short. Everybody has lives at the end of the day. I’m actually filming this while my daughter’s napping. So we’re keeping it to five tips. Let’s get started.
First things first, and I really have to say this, but tip one or thing one that we pediatrician we want you to know is we want to see your child no matter what. Even in a pandemic. Guys, I have seen everything from newborn parents keeping their little one at home and checking their weight at home and checking their head circumference at home from parents of school aged children trying to Google what’s been going on with their child. The fact that their wetting their bed more or having more tantrums. So even adolescents going to Tik Tok for their own health. Tik Tok can be filled with some really great health tips. But listen, we exist for a reason and we want to help you even if it’s a pandemic. Listen, we are there for you and we want to see you.
Let’s just start off with newborns for example. These are such a sensitive age group. There’s so many moving parts here and that’s why we see you so frequently in the beginning. So I know it might seem easy because they’re so small and even if this is your third or fourth child, things like a weight or even a head circumference, those are vital signs for us and we have very sensitive scales. There’s a technique to checking all of these items. We really want to see you. This is not something that you should be doing at home at this point in the pandemic.
Middle aged children. I have nieces and nephews at this age so I really know, but also just in regards to my pediatric knowledge, there’s a lot going on here. And whereas these children really are great at rolling with the punches, I have seen a lot of behavioral regressions. I have seen concerns about behavior ranging from autism, selective mutism, ADHD. The list goes on. And we want to be able to help you through this. Google can be great for a lot of things, don’t get me wrong. Some parenting sites can be really helpful, but your pediatrician really needs to know about what’s going on here.
Now teens. Teens are an incredibly sensitive age group right now. We know that suicide is at a high, high risk right now. They feel isolated. They feel alone. And also this is the generation that is all on screens right now. Not just for entertainment, not at all, even virtual schooling and it can have an effect on you. It can have an effect on your mental health, on your psyche. So really it’s important to keep your pediatrician plugged in here.
Lastly, do I need to remind you that we pediatricians are not just advocates for your children, we’re advocates for you, the parents. And I’m a parent and I’m struggling during this time. And when we went to the pediatrician, it just felt like a breath of fresh air to have someone else lay eyes on her. So trust me, we want to see you. If I could say this one more time, let this motivate you to today pick up the phone and call. Call, get your child in for a well child check. This is not the beginning of the pandemic. We have PPE. We have systems in place for distancing from making sure waiting rooms are not full, for scheduling in a smart way. So please make sure that you do get your child in for a checkup.
Two, we want to know about vitamins and supplements. Yes, we do. Every single one. Even if you think that it’s silly, even if you just think, oh, well it’s just gripe water. Oh, I just give a probiotic every now and then. We want to know. I know you may not think it’s a big deal, really, but let’s talk about the pros and cons here. First of all, vitamins. I have spoken before about how I feel about vitamins and they may not be needed for every single child, but if you’re a parent giving a child a vitamin and your pediatrician ends up telling you it’s not really necessary, that’s awesome because we parents have a billion things going on in our head every day. And if we can be told, hey, you don’t actually have to remember this, it’s not essential for your child, that would be so helpful.
Secondly, and this is really important and I have to emphasize this is that vitamins and supplements are not FDA approved. So Federal Drug Administration, they don’t really have any approval over these products before they hit the shelves. Sure there are some laws that allow them to be regulated and tells them what they have to list on their ingredients, but there’s no approval. There’s no necessary laws out there that are telling you these amounts are regulated. And this is really important, especially with a few years ago we had some over the counter teething tablets and supplements and things that you can take for teething pain that ended up actually being found to have Bella Donna, which is really not safe for children. So it’s very important to run any supplements or vitamins you might be giving your child by your pediatrician.
And of course, everything relates back to the pandemic because it occupies like everything in our lives right now or affects it. But what about the pandemic and giving your child large mega doses of vitamins or supplements? And particularly elderberry. This is a very popular remedy and supplement that I’ve seen families give their kids in the flu season, but I have to remind families that we don’t really have data for children. This is data that we have for adults and families are choosing to give it to younger children. Now we do know that elderberry can actually increase cytokines or cell signaling factors that are parts of the immune system. And it can be helpful for adults during flu season. However, the pathophysiology or the bad stuff that happens in the body when you contract Covid-19 is actually due to an inflammatory cascade in the body after getting the virus. And that inflammatory cascade is driven by, you got it, cytokines. So I’m not sure elderberry would actually be a good thing to take here, especially if your child were to contract Covid-19, we don’t necessarily want to be ramped up in cytokines because that is the thing that really causes some of these larger effects from the inflammatory cascade.
So my daughter is three years old and she actually ended up contracting Covid-19 after her father and I had it around Thanksgiving. And what did I give her? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Nothing at all. I just kept a close eye on her and her and her symptoms and how she was feeling and how she took in her fluids, how her breathing was going. Overall just kind of keeping a close eye on how she was acting. We weren’t doing large mega doses of vitamin C or vitamin D. She eats a very healthy diet. I don’t even give her a multivitamin. And definitely I didn’t give her elderberry.
All right. Number three of what your pediatrician wants you to know in 2021. This is kind of a general piece of advice that you need to know about your child’s well check, but every well check exam needs to be a thorough exam from head to toe. I said it. So a few weeks back I posted a video of my own daughter’s three-year well child check. I get a lot of requests all the time about seeing a day in the life of or trying to see some of my most popular cases or interesting cases that come through. But you guys have to remember, HIPAA is something that exists and I’m not going to share my personal patient’s private information unless I have their approval. And in this case it was my own daughter. And I’m very private about her as you guys already know on social media, but I was able to film a little bit of her, actually a good bit of her well child check and share some basically thorough pieces of the exam and what we’re looking for.
Here’s what saddened me. I got a lot of, wow, my child’s never had a checkup like that. Wow, I don’t think my child’s ever had a neuro exam. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thorough exam before. Guys, the well child check or the annual physical, it needs to be thorough. This is a head to toe assessment, okay? Now that’s very different from a focus physical that we do in a sick visit or an acute visit. So let’s say your child comes in for a sprained ankle or a rash on their wrist or their ear hurts. Sure, we may not be doing a full neurologic exam and taking a diet history, et cetera, going through the full bells and whistles at that time because it’s a focus physical for an acute problem. But when you come in for a physical, for a well child check, this needs to be a thorough head to toe assessment. We talk so many things at checkups and physicals and annuals. So we talk safety, nutrition, development behavior. I mean the list goes on and on and on. And yes, it’s very personalized per age group. And now that you know this, you should advocate for it. Do not feel bad about that at all. And if you’re not getting this at your child’s well child check, then you need to walk away. You need to find a new pediatrician. And I mean that as seriously as possible.
Brings me into point number four. This pediatrician wants you to know that no question is dumb. Really, no question is dumb. When I went into pediatrics I got a very frequent comment from so many people in the medical field and out of the medical field. Well, I love kids, but I just couldn’t take their parents. Listen guys, I would much rather take a helicopter parent, that parent who hovers over their child and has tons of questions all the time, over a negligent parent any day. And this is not to say that if you have no questions that you’re a negligent parent. Not at all. I mean of course you’re allowed to not have questions and we don’t want you to necessarily just make up one. But this is to tell you that you should not be feeling dumb when you ask questions at your checkup or your sick visit for your child. And I’d actually rather take questions because it’s a further opportunity to talk and guide more.
For example, you might have a DACA Taught at home. DACA Taught is one of those marketing sort of gimmicks that are out there for the parent industry for kids. And it’s not very safe. So if you were to ask me about, can I have the DACA Taught while my child is in bed or when my child is on the couch and I’m awake watching him? This is a great way for me to talk about safe sleep, sleeping, talk to you about the parenting industry, talk to you about the devices that are out there and what’s necessary, what’s not. Again, I would much rather take this as an opportunity to talk about safety and run with it than have you run home and Google and then try to piece it together and make sense of it. And if you’re not getting that from your pediatrician, running theme here, you need to walk away and get a new pediatrician.
Brings me to point number five. We are not judging you. I really need you to hear this. We are not judging you. You know your newborns cries or maybe you’re starting to get them. You know your child’s moods, especially if they’re a teenager. And you know when you’re six or seven year old is actually truly upset versus just asking for attention. As pediatricians we know the evidence-based guidelines when it comes to safe sleep, safe feeding, common behavioral issues and how to troubleshoot them. And the list goes on and on. And we want to be there as a source of advice and information, a resource for you. We want you to let us know if you have concerns or worries or again, a question which goes back to point four, there is no dumb question. Or if you are not sure about the vitamins and supplements you’re giving your child and if they’re essential we want to know. And if for any reason that advice or guidance or feedback you’re getting from your pediatrician makes you feel like a bad parent, makes you feel shamed, which I completely understand that this is something that’s really prevalent in our culture today, please understand that that’s not what we want.
And I’m going to take a moment here and just segway and realize that communication here is king and queen. And I totally 150% know that some physicians can be really bad at communication. And I know that because I have not only worked with them as a medical student, as a resident, but also had them as my own physician. And I completely do feel sometimes shamed or brushed off. So don’t get me wrong here, I do know that some physicians are really not the best communicators. I really pride myself on my communication skills and I think that is because I am so hyper aware of the mom shaming that’s out there, but also I’m very overly critical of myself. So I’m literally thinking of the words before they even come out of my mouth because I don’t want to slip up and say something that’s not what I intended or say it in a way that’s not what I intended.
And I’ve talked about this before on Tik Tok and had a lot of feedback, but let’s talk about dermatologists or ophthalmologists who are both advocates for your skin and your eyes respectively. But when they give guidance on washing your face, making sure you don’t sleep in makeup or making sure you don’t sleep in your contacts, it’s medical advice. Yet when pediatricians, who are advocates for your children, might give guidance on safe sleep it suddenly becomes mom shaming because I get it, it’s tied to our kids and our kids are emotionally tied to us. And we think that as parents we can’t make mistakes. And then we run into that shaming again, the mom shaming, or the dad shaming, the parent shaming that we consistently are seeing in more prevalence as the years go on, especially with social media. Have good guidance for pediatric that follows evidence-based medicine. And it differs from a parent’s current actions. Please understand that it is not meant to be shaming.
We pediatricians, we don’t care about your nursery size or what brand you dress your children in. We just want to keep you and your child safe, thriving, and doing well. And if you do feel like your pediatrician is judging you or you feel like you were being brushed off or you feel like your pediatrician is a bad communicator, please, again, running theme. I’m very passionate about this because I feel like a pediatrician is such an important relationship for a parent and for a child growing up, but please feel free to walk away if you were not jiving with your pediatrician and find a new pediatrician. Now I realize that my practice for example is unique. I have one hour long well child checks so I can really sit there and get to know the parent and answer the questions in an unrushed unhurried way and also examine the child in a less rushed way. But I won’t pretend that bad communicating physicians and rushed well child checks and missed concerns don’t happen.
There you go. Five things that this pediatrician wants you to know in 2021. I really hope this video was helpful. I did try to keep it as thorough, but as succinct as I could. Now if you guys have any comments or questions below, make sure you ask and then tune in next week for our next video. New videos on Mondays.