Are you having a baby? Selecting a pediatrician — a
doctor who specializes in the care of children – and
learning about common childhood diseases are likely top
concerns for you. As the happy day draws near, the
following information should help calm your
Choosing a Doctor
have never looked for a pediatrician, talk to your
friends and family who have children. “Asking friends is
a great way to find out why they chose a particular
pediatrician and how long they have been with him or
her,” says Dr. M. Sarah Hambrook with Shoreview
Pediatrics in Shorewood. “Word of mouth is one of the
best ways to learn about doctors in your area.”
good way is to look at physician practice websites.
These web pages typically will provide office hours,
insurance and after-hours care information.
up-to-date website could also tell you a lot about a
physician. If the site looks professional and current,
it could be a good indicator as to whether the doctor is
up to date with medical knowledge and technology. Review
the doctor’s background, credentials and possible
feedback from clients. Certification by the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) means the doctor has
graduated from an accredited medical school, completed
an accredited residency program, and passed the board
exam in pediatrics.
important, set up an appointment so you can interview
the doctor. You’ll be visiting this doctor six times in
the first year alone for routine and well-baby visits,
and it’s important to find someone who’s a good fit.
“Many pediatricians offer free consultations, so you can
see if your personalities match,” says Dr. Kristin
Bencik-Boudreau with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“If not, you should feel comfortable moving on to
choose a doctor and later feel you made a mistake, talk
to the doctor about your concerns. If your worries
aren’t addressed, don’t hesitate to change doctors. “You
need a doctor you can trust and communicate with. This
is a relationship that is 18 to 19 years long,” says
Common Childhood Diseases
child gets sick, parents naturally worry. “The most
common thing that makes kids sick is viruses. There are
multiple viruses that can be mild or serious, and there
is no treatment for them. You have to wait them out,”
Hambrook says. “There are a few anti-viral medications
like Tamiflu, but there are very specific guidelines for
infections are common with children, but most will
resolve within two to three days without antibiotics.
The days of hastily implanting ear tubes are gone, says
Bencik-Boudreau. “We follow strict guidelines; there
have to be four ear infections in six months to consider
tubes. We’re also not as quick to operate on tonsils and
adenoids as in the past,” she says.
infants, fever is the biggest concern, says Hambrook.
“If a baby has a fever of 104 degrees or higher, that’s
a baby who needs a complete evaluation to look for
serious bacterial infections. It’s crucial to seek
medical care,” she adds.
upper respiratory viral or bacterial infections, such as
colds, bronchitis, strep throat and croup, are quite
common and difficult to avoid, especially when children
are together. (See “When to Call the Doctor” sidebar.)
tract infections (UTIs) are common, especially among
girls. Bacteria normally found in the bowel cause most
UTIs in children.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, also should be a big
concern for parents. “It’s very important to get the
pertussis shot, the Tdap. And, make sure that any
caregivers are also vaccinated,” Bencik-Boudreu
brings up another issue. “We are concerned about parents
using virtual appointments and retail walk-in clinics
like those in a drug store when their child is sick.
Even if it is just for a sports physical, we like to
look at the whole person — the emotional as well as the
physical. There could be missed subtleties if children
don’t receive care from a pediatrician who knows them
well. We have seen some missed diagnoses, so we don’t
recommend the clinics. We encourage families to make
sure they are getting complete care for their children,”
has been some confusion and misunderstanding about
vaccines, but our experts say vaccination is a very
important part of family and public health. Vaccines
prevent the spread of contagious, dangerous and even
deadly diseases like measles, polio, mumps, chicken pox,
whooping cough and diphtheria.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the U.S.
childhood immunization schedule based on recommendations
from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a
group of medical and public health experts. The AAP and
the American Academy of Family Physicians also approve
this schedule. “All clinics have the same schedule, and
everyone gives the same vaccine,” Bencik-Boudreau says.
really encourage parents to get children vaccinated.
There is no evidence that links exist between vaccines
and autism,” Hambrook says. “Routine vaccinations have
been so successful that most young parents have never
seen the effects (that) diseases like polio, measles or
pertussis can have on a child or community. We try to
work with parents to counteract anecdotal information
and help them understand that this is their child’s
more information and the recommended childhood
immunization schedule, go to
to Call the Doctor
Most childhood illnesses run their course
without any big worries. Knowing how to recognize that
your child needs medical attention is important. Watch
— Vomiting and diarrhea. When it lasts
for more than just a few hours in a child of any age,
call your physician.
— Dehydration. Your child may have sunken
eyes or, if he’s a baby, a sunken fontanel (soft spot on
baby’s head), may seem extremely lethargic, or his mouth
might be sticky or tacky to the touch. Also, beware if
the child is urinating fewer than three or four times a
— Fever. In newborns, any elevated
temperature warrants a call. For infants 3 to 6 months
old, phone if the fever hits 101 degrees; for older
babies and children, the threshold is 103 degrees. The
American Academy of Pediatrics says to call your
pediatrician right away if your child’s temperature
repeatedly goes above 104 degrees.
— Breathing difficulty. You can usually
recognize that your child is having trouble breathing if
he is breathing fast and hard, if you can see his ribs
moving in and out, or if it seems like he can’t catch
— Not eating. It’s normal for a sick
child to have little interest in food, but if your kid
is eating or drinking less than half of what she
normally would for two days or longer, check in with