Vaccinations and well visits are important, even during coronavirus (COVID19), but these days, you'll want to call ahead before paying a visit to your children's pediatrician. Chances are you appointment will be handled via phone, Skype or Facetime.
Dr. Lori Storch Smith, with Bay Street Pediatrics in Westport, misses the in-person visits, but has been enjoying getting to know her patients in a new setting.
"I strongly encourage patients to take advantage of any telemedicine option offered. With telehealth," Dr. Smith explained, "we see each other and I get to meet their pets and see them in their home environments."
Her office has been hearing a lot from parents concerned about COVID-19.
"We're getting a lot of calls of what to do about social stuff like, 'Dad lives in the city. Should he come to visit?' and lots about normal upper respiratory illness and whether or not it could be related to COVID-19," Dr. Smith said. "We're triaging all sickness via phone or telemedicine.
"The symptoms seen in children have typically been mild," continued Smith, noting an American Academy of Pediatrics recent study on COVID-19 in children in China, which looked at 2,000 children who tested positive or were presumed positive for COVID-19. Ninety-four percent of the children did not have severe disease.
The more severe cases (the remaining 6 percent) were substantially less severe than those classified as such (18.5 percent of cases) in the adult population, according to that study. The symptoms included mild/moderate fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches, according to the study Smith referenced. And some children just had gastroenteritis symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
Dr. Smith also stressed that when looking at the severity of disease among various ages of children, those under one had more severe symptoms. Parents need to pay attention to symptoms like trouble breathing (for example, fast breathing or increased work to breathe), and keep children properly hydrated.
Although testing is becoming more available, parents need to check with their physicians if their child shows symptoms of the illness to determine if testing is needed.
"There are still not enough tests, and we must make sure there are tests available for those who absolutely require it," Dr. Smith said.
A mother of twins, Dr. Smith, who is a native of Westport. said it is important for moms and dads to keep cold/cough medications and acetaminophen for children over six and inhalers for asthma on hand. However, she also asked that parents not hoard the asthma medications, such as albuterol, which are in short supply and needed at hospitals.
For those that have to come in to the office, say children requiring vaccinations, Dr. Smith urged parents not to postpone those appointments. Summer camp physicals are coming due and lots of kids just need their yearly well visit that may require vaccinations.
"We do not want to create another issue by having a community increase in pertussis or MMR, for example," she cautioned.
While the focus is on COVID-19, parents shouldn't let their guards down about ticks now that kids are spending more time outdoors.
"The advice is to check them after they come in from playing. That's important," Dr. Smith said.
Dr. Smith also encouraged parents to make sure their kids get fresh fruits and vegetables (or vitamins if those are not plentiful) and spend time outside for some daily play and sunshine while in social isolation. No playdates; children, like adults, need to maintain social distancing. Smith sad her own family has tried online activities like jigsaw puzzles that can be worked on virtually among several people and have game nights with other families, along with a virtual dinner party via FaceTime with friends.