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     Volume 8 Issue 71 | May 29, 2009 |

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Don't Panic,
Manage the Disease

Ershad Kamol
Professor M Abid Hossain Mollah

During the hot summer many parents are alarmed when their infants are afflicted with very high fever (103-105 degree F), continuous runny nose and cough for a few days. Anxious parents rush to the clinics and hospitals, when common medicines fail to get the temperature down.

Child specialists urge parents not to be panicked since this is a common flue caused mostly by the viruses such as rhinovirus which takes an epidemic form during this period of the year. They even suggest not to prescribe any antibiotics initially, because usually the temperature becomes normal within three or four days in case of rhinovirus flu.

"A few parents use high dose di-clofenac suppositories, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), since ordinary paracetamols cannot reduce the temperature in case of such flu," says child specialist Professor M Abid Hossain Mollah, "But the use of NSAID is not wise. It may decrease body temperature drastically that may be even more harmful for babies.

"It is better to prescribe limited doses of paracetamols than to suggest any antibiotic initially. Any form of liquid intake should be increased. It may be pure water, juice or even soft drinks. In case of high fever, it's wise to wash the body with warm water. Only when the fever continues for a week, antibiotic can be prescribed after a thorough diagnosis."

And for treatment of cough Professor Mollah suggests to give babies raw tea. "Treatment of cough for babies is difficult, since most of the available medicines are cough suppressive. World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests tea is very effective to cure cough. I've also got good result prescribing tea instead of any medicine. Moreover, mixture of tulsi juice and honey can be used for cough," says Professor Mollah.

He also suggests parents to be aware of the amount of urine the baby is excreting. "In the late 1980s we recognised a good number of babies suffering from renal problems for viral infections. Though in these days it's not frequent, we should always be careful," he advises.

Following the old proverb 'prevention is better than cure', Professor Mollah suggests proper baby care can effectively keep children safe from diseases. He says, " According to the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), the guideline formed jointly by WHO and Unicef, children below two years of age should never be fed any type of commercial food. Till six months age only breast milk should be given to infants. Not even water or baby cereal should be given, suggests IYCF. After six months, along with breast milk, the child should be given natural food like khichuri, eggs and fruits.

"It's better to give more oil in baby food, because oil provides sufficient energy. Moreover, vitamin A that increases body resistance is fat-soluble. So use of more oil in khichuri or other types of naturally cooked food makes babies healthier", continues Professor Mollah, "At the same time parents must keep the babies clean all the time. They should be given baths regularly."

But, whenever a baby has symptoms like anemia, gradually becoming pale, lack of interest in playing and other things, she should be immediately taken to a child expert to find out the cause of anemia. In Bangladesh the most common cause of anemia in children is iron deficiency anemia. "In addition to the iron deficiency anemia there are possibilities of hemoglobin related disorders and thalassaemia, the name given to a group of inherited blood disorders that affect the body's ability to create red blood cells. So, symptoms like anemia, gradually becoming pale should seriously be considered, since in these days the rate of thalassaemia major afflicted babies has increased.

"An estimated six percent people in Bangladesh are carriers of thalassaemia which is not that much harmful, But when both of the parents are carriers, the baby becomes a thalassaemia major carrier. Each year seven to eight thousands babies are born carrying thalassaemia major in Bangladesh. The most serious types of thalassaemia can cause other complications including organ damage, restricted growth, liver disease, heart failure and even death."

For the preventive measure for life killing thalassaemia major disease Professor Mollah suggests, "In fact, we should initiate awareness generating programmes for preventing thalassaemia immediately, since treatment for such disease is very expensive. An introduction on thelaseamima may be included in academic curriculum. And marriage between blood relations should be discouraged."

Many countries in the world such as Italy, Cyprus, Greece and Iran have significantly decreased the rate of major thalassaemia through awareness generation programme. The carriers of thalassaemia should not marry each other. In many countries of the world people ask report of thalassaemia test before marriage. Such preventive measures have proved effective in those countries.

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