While vaccines have made some newborn diseases rare, many others remain a fact of life. They range from common infections like croup to mysterious ailments like Kawasaki disease. In the following slides, you'll learn the facts about various newborn diseases. But be sure to consult your paediatrician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Respiratory Syncytial Virus is the top cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways) and pneumonia. The infection begins with flu-like symptoms, including a fever, runny nose, and cough. Up to 40% of young children with their first RSV infection will develop noticeable wheezing, and up to 2% will require hospitalization. RSV tends to be milder in older kids and adults.
- Ear Infection: Infants are prone to ear infections because of their small auditory tubes. These tubes connect the ears to the throat, and they may get blocked when a cold causes inflammation. This traps fluid inside the middle ear, behind the eardrum, allowing germs to breed. The symptoms include fever, fussiness, and ear-pulling. Many ear infections are due to viruses and go away on their own. Childhood vaccinations help prevent infections from certain bacteria that can cause ear infections.
- Glue Ear: A build-up of fluid in the middle ear (either with or without any pain) is called Otitis media with effusion. It often follows an acute ear infection or upper respiratory infection. The fluid usually clears up on its own within a couple weeks. However, if it lingers or is thick and glue-like (“Glue Ear”), it can interfere with a child's hearing. Ear tubes may be recommended to help the fluid drain.
- Croup: The hallmark of croup is a tight cough that sounds like a barking seal. The cause of the cough is inflammation in the upper airways, usually due to a virus. If breathing becomes severely impaired, hospital treatment may be needed. However, most kids get better on their own in about a week. Croup is most common in children under 5.
- Pinkeye: Tearing, redness, itching, and crusty eyelashes are all signs of conjunctivitis, commonly called pinkeye. Often caused by the same viruses as the common cold, pinkeye spreads rapidly in schools and day care centres. Consult your paediatrician to determine whether your child needs treatment. Most cases clear up in four to seven days.
- Rotavirus: Before the introduction of an effective vaccine, rotavirus was the top cause of diarrhoea-related deaths in young children. The main symptoms are vomiting and watery diarrhoea, which can make babies become dehydrated very quickly. There are now two rotavirus vaccines for infants, and studies indicate a dramatic drop in the number of new cases.
- Kawasaki Disease: Kawasaki disease is a very rare and mysterious ailment that strikes children under age 5. The symptoms include a high and prolonged fever (lasting more than 5 days), patchy rash, swelling and redness of the hands and feet, bloodshot eyes, and chapped, red lips. Without treatment, the illness can damage the heart and may be fatal.
- Chickenpox: Once a very itchy rite of passage, chickenpox is now preventable through the varicella vaccine. The reasons for vaccination go beyond sparing your child the uncomfortable red blisters. Chickenpox can cause dangerous complications in newborns, adults, and pregnant women.
- Mumps: Mumps is another childhood illness that was very common before a vaccine was developed. The infection often causes no symptoms, but when it does, the classic sign is swollen glands between the ear and jaw. Despite high vaccination rates, there have been regular outbreaks. Unvaccinated individuals are much likely to catch mumps.
- Rubella (German Measles): Rubella, also called German measles, is a mild virus that usually causes no serious problems. However, it can harm the foetus if a pregnant woman becomes infected. The symptoms are a low fever and rash that spreads from the face to the rest of the body. A standard childhood vaccine called MMR protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
- Flu: Is it a cold or the flu? These illnesses can have similar symptoms. The flu more commonly causes high fever, chills, body aches, extreme fatigue, and nausea or vomiting. While most children get better on their own, the flu can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, especially in newborn babies.
- Seasonal Allergies: Seasonal allergies, sometimes called hay fever, are not an infection, but a reaction to microscopic particles like pollen. Symptoms may include sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny or stuffy nose and may only occur in spring or autumn. Kids may constantly rub their nose with the palm of the hand, a gesture called the allergic salute. There is no cure for hay fever, but there are ways to help control the symptoms.