Parenting can be a daunting task. Amidst multiple suggestions and extensive advice pouring from family and friends, one should not ignore the misconceptions about child health propagated through the virtual world. Dr Rajath Athreya, senior consultant and head of department, pediatrics & neonatology, Sakra World Hospital, Bangalore, who took part in the first children’s wellness summit conducted by Happiest Health, ‘Get, Set, Grow’, explained the need to bust myths.
While information pours in, parents can arm themselves with the right resources. He also suggested that reaching out to reliable sources or asking experts and doctors are some great ways to ensure efficient parenting. He also cleared some common misconceptions about children’s health.
Myth: Eating ice creams can give you a cold
Fact: Ice creams are many people’s favorite dessert. While most adults enjoy their scoop, children are often told to not eat ice cream, fearing that they can catch a cold.
Dr Athreya explained, “Viruses are the most common cause of cold and fever. They spread when one comes in contact with droplets that carry the virus, which are released while sneezing or coughing. Touching contaminated surfaces like doorknobs or phones can also spread the virus. So, children can have ice cream if they like — it won’t give them a cold.”
Myth: Being in a cold environment can give you a cold
Fact: Many parents hesitate to turn on the fan when infants and young children are around in the room. This is because they are afraid that the little ones might catch a cold.
“If that were true, Eskimos [indigenous people living in northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and eastern Siberia] would always be suffering from cold or pneumonia. So, the fear that turning on fans can give the baby a cold is baseless,” he said.
Myth: Feeding children solid food and making them wear layers of clothes helps in quick recovery from fever
Fact: When sick, children feel miserable and uncomfortable. This is because the body temperature increases to combat the virus or bacteria. “While having a fever, kids shiver a little. Covering them with several layers of clothes to keep them warm will not help, nor will forcing them to eat solid food. Many children tend to lose their appetite when they are sick,” he explained. He also stressed that hydration is crucial during infection.
“By giving medication, keeping the child hydrated, reducing the layers of clothing, and turning on the fan, the child will feel cooler, and the fever will reduce over time,” Dr Athreya suggested in the children’s wellness summit.
Myth: Immunity boosters help to fight infection
Fact: Parents can be concerned about low immunity in their children, especially if they frequently contract infections or get a fever. “The idea that immunity can be improved using marketed products or certain types of herbs is a misconception,” shared Dr Athreya
“As parents, one can help the child’s complex immune system, which is extremely robust, to function optimally by taking several measures like maintaining the child’s circadian rhythm,” said Dr Athreya. He added that ensuring quality sleep, sufficient exposure to sunlight, and a balanced diet as well as following the child’s vaccination calendar works towards boosting immunity in kids.
Myth: Medication can be addictive to children
Fact: Medicines are necessary for kids battling conditions including diabetes, asthma, and fever, said Dr Athreya. In the case of asthma, inhalers have to be used. These are safe, but there is a lack of awareness regarding the same, he highlighted. “They are medications and not drugs,” he added, emphasizing the need to take medication, when necessary and as prescribed by doctors.