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Keeping Whopping Cough At Bay

Is vaccinating your baby against whopping cough enough protection? The deadliest trait of pertussis or whooping cough, is that it is an airborne disease. It is transmitted via miniscule droplets of saliva when coughing, sneezing or even simply talking, and your baby could get it from anyone just about anywhere! Named most appropriately for the "whoop" sound children and adults make when they try to breathe in during or after a severe coughing spell, this disease is very difficult to diagnose especially when it is mild. This is because the mild version's symptoms are very similar to those of a cold, complete with a prolonged cough without the "whoop":

In order for your baby to be fully protected, he or she requires a total of five doses of the vaccine to be administered at specific ages. Herein lies the predicament, as your child will still be vulnerable to infections up to the age of one. According to a worldwide review done in 1996 on pertussis and its classical vaccine, the disease is responsible for more than 355,000 deaths per year, which roughly adds up to about 1,000 deaths a day.

How Infections Occur

The majority of whooping cough cases in babies occur as a result of infection from family members. This is very common as the symptoms of the disease in adults, adolescents and older children are very similar to those of the common cold. However, the effects of the disease on babies is much more severe and it is up to you the adult to be on the lookout. Generally, any ordinary-seeming cold that comes with a cough that lasts longer than two weeks is suspect.

Infants and young children are the most susceptible as the lack of immunisation or even having partial immunisation can lead to infection. This, in turn, may lead to death through severe illness and complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis. Pertussis-related seizures may also result and these include seizures, encephalopathy (swelling of the brain), otitis media (severe ear infection, anorexia (severe restriction of food intake) and dehydration.

What Can You Do

Strictly speaking, there is no permanent protection against this disease, but immunisation through the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP vaccine has proven to be highly effective. Most parents diligently ensure that their child gets the required doses at the recommended ages of three, four, five and 18 months. However, the fifth and final dose that gives your child the absolute maximum protection modern medicine can provide, is often neglected. This is to be administered at the age of six.

On the other hand, prevention is also a key component in keeping your child safe from whooping cough. The best way to do this is to get you and your spouse vaccinated against this disease, along with all other people that your child comes into close contact with regularly. In the past, there was no adequate vaccine for adults due to the undesirable side effects of the child DTP, but there is now an adult version of the DTP which protects you from all three diseases for 10 years!

Taming Temp Tantrums

"My independent three-and-a-half-year-old has started demanding that my husband and 1 do everything for her, such as putting on her clothes, putting puzzles together, etc. If we refuse, she starts throwing a tan trum. Please help?"

Answers were provided by: Joanne, a psychologist: By three years' old, the child is able to decide what she wants to do and what others need to do for her. Some will develop independence and prefer to do things for themselves, while others may depend on others. If you are using a behavioral approach, one may suggest that this is a learned behavior. When a child is younger, some parents may do everything for them out of fear that they are not able to handle the chores.

This teaches the child that others need to do things for them. Another explanation is that when a child knows that their emotions can be used as a form of control, they will use it to get what they want. For example, a parent may refuse to buy the child a toy and the child may start crying. In order to calm him down, the parent would buy him the toy. This reinforces to the child that his emotions can help him to get what he wants. The child may also do so to seek attention or do it out of laziness.

You Can Try The Following

  • Set out a behavior plan with rewards for the child to do her own things.
  • Encourage independence.
  • Stop doing things for the child when she starts to cry.
  • Reinforce positive behavior and offer praises.
  • When the child is throwing a tantrum, do not give the child an audience to react to.
  • Avoid using force because it will result in a power struggle.
  • Be consistent and firm.
  • Set rules that are related to this area so that the child will know what is expected from them and what are the consequences if they do not follow it.

My Baby Bites!

"My nine-month-old has- started biting when he gets excited. I say, "Ow!" and "No biting!" but that doesn't seem to help. What else can I Do?"

Answers were provided by: Joanne, a psychologist.: When a baby bites, it may be due to teething, stress, attention seeking, boredom, anger, excitement, etc. This is how they cope with their feelings or changes that happen around them. Your baby is still unable to communicate properly, so this is how he expresses himself. However, sometimes, it may also become a habit if nobody stops them because they tend to think of it as a game.

You Can Try The Following

  • Look out for movements or any changes in their jaw and if you notice that they are going to bite you, pull them away from you.
  • Try to calm the baby down if you notice that they are too distressed, excited or even happy.
  • Pay attention to your child while carrying them and maintain some eye contact with the child.
  • Try giving the baby something else to bite on and say, "you can bite this and not mummy".
  • Use positive reinforcements, e.g. give hugs, cuddles or praises when she is able to feed without biting.
  • If the baby bites you, place the baby down so that he/she knows that biting and carrying do not go together.

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