Controlling Childhood Ailments
By Nila Bala, Assistant Teacher
This spring, the Bing staff learned about early detection and control of some common childhood health issues. Alumni parent, Joann Blessing-Moore, MD, and current parent, Tandy Aye, MD, visited Bing on classroom set-up day and discussed obesity, germs and allergies. While these conditions affect children of all ages, Blessing-Moore stressed that preschool teachers and parents are exceptionally positioned to catch them early and control them. “We’ve begun to call it an ‘allergic marathon’ to describe how allergies develop. At 6 months we might see folds [of skin] with dryness, which transforms into a stuffy nose at 3 years and wheezing by 6 years,” explained Blessing-Moore. She also discussed how allergies can cause long-term health issues if not treated.“Allergies and asthma can disrupt the REM cycle (rapid eye movement, found to be essential for normal sleep), affect the child’s bite (alignment of teeth), and cause permanent scarring of airways because of inflammation,” continued Blessing-Moore. Blessing-Moore recommended controlling asthma and allergies so they don’t become chronic. She also reviewed emergency administration of antihistamines and EpiPen with the staff.
The staff also learned more about community-associated MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a type of staph infection. Aye explained that MRSA is spread by the “five Cs”: Crowding, Contact, Compromised skin, Contami-nated personal items and Uncleanliness—essentially skin-to-skin contact. Although MRSA can be serious, Aye explained that it can be controlled. “MRSA presents a low risk of serious infection in healthy kids. Also, it’s not a ‘strong’ bacterium, which means compared to other bacteria it’s easy to clean off. Just wash your hands with regular soap and water. Keep open wounds clean and covered,” she said.
Aye also discussed another concern for early childhood educators and families: obesity. “A child’s weight at age 5 is a predictor for the weight at age 9 and for life. A single measure of weight at 5 years can point towards obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, joint problems, and type 2 diabetes in the future,” reported Aye. So what can we do to help? Aye mentioned a few different causes for obesity in young children, including an excess intake of juice and all sugar-sweetened beverages and “the big reason” being not enough physical activity for young children. “Cultural values may be favoring educational achievement,” said Aye. “You know that free, creative play is being lost and that alternate activities are increasingly sedentary. You are wise at Bing!” She expressed her hope that teachers would continue to encourage young children and their families to be active and make healthy choices.