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Which health conditions are more common in children with autism?

Posted on 5/21/2018

If your child is diagnosed with autism, it’s not surprising that your initial focus is working with his or her pediatrician to learn everything you can about managing this disorder. One thing that often gets overlooked is the fact that autism also increases the risk of other health conditions in kids. By knowing the conditions that your child has a greater risk of developing, you can be vigilant about spotting the symptoms and reporting them to his or her pediatrician as soon as possible. Although your pediatrician is the best source of information about your child’s specific health risks, here are some of the conditions that occur more frequently in kids with autism.

Gastrointestinal disorders
Gastrointestinal—or GI—disorders are among the most common co-occurring conditions with autism. Kids who have autism are more likely than other kids to suffer from a range of GI symptoms, including:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • IBS
  • GERD

As with most conditions, researchers are not sure why there is an increased risk of GI disorders with autism. Your pediatrician can recommend many different treatment options, depending on the nature of your child’s symptoms. The discomfort of GI disorders can impact your child’s behavior, so finding effective treatments is important.

Sleep disorders
Autism is closely linked with disrupted sleep, and most kids with autism will experience problems with sleeping at least sporadically. For some kids, sleep problems become chronic, leading to ongoing problems with falling and staying asleep. Disrupted sleep can cause a range of symptoms for kids with autism, including:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness

Sleep disorders in kids with autism can also affect the rest of the family’s sleep. Your pediatrician will try to determine if there are underlying causes for your child’s disrupted sleep, such as medication side effects, and recommend bedtime strategies that can help.

Seizure disorders
There is a close link between seizure disorders and autism. Kids with autism have a dramatically increased risk of developing a seizure disorder, while kids who have seizure disorders are more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

Treating seizure disorders is important for the overall wellness of kids with autism. Your pediatrician may recommend medications and dietary changes.

Finding out that your child has autism can be overwhelming, but the Las Vegas pediatricians at Sunrise Children’s Hospital are here to help you every step of the way. Call our children’s hospital at (702) 233-5437.

Provide your kids the tools they need to say no to alcohol

Posted on 5/7/2018

Parents don’t like to think about their kids experimenting with alcohol, but the truth is that by the time kids reach high school, most of them will. Talking to your kids early, often, and truthfully about alcohol is the best way to protect them from the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking and to give them the tools they need to make smart decisions. If you are concerned that your child is abusing alcohol, talk to his or her pediatrician about steps you can take. This advice will help you get the conversation about alcohol started with your kids in a way that it will sink in.

Be a good example
Your kids watch everything you do closely, so set a good example by the way you use alcohol. Don’t reach for a drink at every social occasion, so kids understand that drinking isn’t necessary to have fun.

Living a healthy lifestyle that involves physical activity, healthy eating, and not drinking to excess will teach your kids that these are normal, smart decisions that you make and expect them to make, too.

Don’t wait to bring it up
It’s never too early to start talking about alcohol in an age-appropriate way. For young children, talking about how alcohol can make you feel sick can be a good lesson, while slightly older kids might be interested in hearing about the ways that alcohol affects the body.

When kids reach middle school and high school, they are likely to encounter kids who are experimenting with alcohol. Talk to them about peer pressure and their right to say no to things that they don’t want to do. Focus on the health and legal consequences of drinking for kids in their age groups.

Open the lines of communication
Be open to kids asking questions about alcohol at any age, and answer them truthfully and without judgment. Resist the urge to lecture. Kids who feel respected are more likely to come to you for advice.

Remind teens that they can call you if they find themselves in a risky situation, and that you will help them without asking questions.

Talk to your physician at Sunrise Children’s Hospital for more advice for helping your kids navigate topics like alcohol and drug use. Contact our children’s hospital in Las Vegas to learn more about all of our services or to request a referral to a physician by calling (702) 233-5437.

Can children have IBS?

Posted on 5/4/2018

Irritable bowel disease, or IBS, doesn’t only affect adults. Kids are also vulnerable to this uncomfortable condition, and it can have an impact on their everyday lives. If your child is experiencing symptoms of a gastrointestinal problem, make an appointment with a children’s hospital pediatrician to determine if IBS could be to blame.

What exactly is IBS?
IBS is not actually a disease but is rather a group of symptoms that occur together and affect the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. People of all ages with IBS experience symptoms including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

For some people, these symptoms only show up occasionally, while others only experience a certain set of symptoms—such as only constipation or only diarrhea—and experience them on an ongoing basis.

How common is IBS in kids?
Doctors aren’t sure exactly how many kids are affected by IBS, but some studies have indicated that up to 14% of high school students have the condition. It appears to occur equally in boys and girls.

IBS is most common in kids who have family members with the disease. Kids who suffer from depression or anxiety are also more prone to developing IBS. If your pediatrician suspects your child has IBS, he or she may order some medical tests to rule out other conditions before making a diagnosis.

How is IBS treated?
Treatment for IBS depends on the type of symptoms being experienced. For some kids, dietary changes are all that are needed. Kids may need to avoid common trigger foods, such as:

  • High-fat foods
  • Milk products
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Beans
  • Cabbage

If symptoms aren’t improved by dietary changes, then medications may be necessary. Laxatives may help with chronic constipation, while antidiarrheal medicines can help with diarrhea. For chronic abdominal pain, antispasmodic medications may be used.

Living with IBS can be a challenge, but at Sunrise Children’s Hospital, our pediatricians can help your child find a treatment plan that effectively manages symptoms. For all of your child’s medical needs, trust our children’s hospital in Las Vegas. We’re here to answer your questions about our services and provide referrals to pediatricians. Call (702) 233-5437.

How will a brain injury affect your child's development?

Posted on 4/6/2018

Brain injuries can have serious impacts for people of all ages, but for children, they can be especially devastating. Because children’s brains are still developing, the implications of a brain injury can be more severe. If you think your child has suffered a brain injury, getting emergency care at a children’s hospital as soon as possible is critical. Here is what you need to know about brain injuries in kids and the potential long-term impacts for development.

How common are brain injuries in kids?
Children face a serious risk of brain injuries. These injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for children and teens in the US, with the age groups of 0-4 and 15-19 being most at risk. Approximately 62,000 kids between birth to age 19 are diagnosed with a brain injury annually, while 564,000 seek emergency care for potential brain injuries.

Car accidents, sports injuries, and falls are the most common causes of brain injuries in kids. Physical abuse also plays a role in the prevalence of brain injuries in kids.

How is development affected after a brain injury?
It is difficult to predict exactly how a brain injury will affect a child. Several factors can influence the kinds of impacts an injury causes, including:

  • Which part of the brain is injured
  • Cause of the injury
  • Severity of the injury

Often, the impacts of a brain injury are not immediately apparent and can take years to appear. Some of the developmental impairments that can occur affect:

  • Concentration/attention span
  • Communication skills
  • Motor coordination
  • Sensory issues (such as visual or hearing impairments)
  • Reading skills
  • Socially appropriate behavior

Can developmental impacts be prevented?
Although developmental impacts can be hard to prevent after a brain injury, since there is no clear way to determine how an injury will affect a child, there are things parents can do to mitigate the risk and limit the severity of developmental issues:

  • Get emergency treatment as soon as possible after an injury
  • Participate in ongoing therapeutic treatment
  • Arrange support for developmental issues, such as classroom help and therapy
The children’s emergency room in Las Vegas at Sunrise Children’s Hospital is equipped to provide fast diagnosis and critical care to kids facing brain injuries. To learn more about all of our pediatrics services, please call (702) 233-5437.

How much sleep do kids need?

Posted on 3/30/2018

Just was with adults, sleep is the cornerstone of good health for kids. At your child’s check-ups with his or her pediatrics specialist, be sure to discuss sleep habits and healthy sleep amounts with the doctor, so you can ensure your child is getting the shuteye he or she needs for good health. Here is a look at the recommended sleep amounts for kids at different ages of their development.

Newborns, infants and toddlers
It’s not surprising that newborns, infants and toddlers require more sleep than any other age group. For these ages, aim for these amounts of sleep:

  • Newborn to three months of age: Between 14 and 17 hours is recommended. As little as 11 and as much as 19 may be appropriate, but not less or more than those amounts.
  • Infants between four to 11 months of age: Between 12 and 15 hours is ideal, but anywhere between 10 to 18 hours may be acceptable.
  • Toddler between one to two years of age: Between 11 and 14 hours is recommended, but anywhere from nine to 16 may be healthy.

Preschoolers and school-aged kids
Kids in this age range still need a significant amount of sleep, as they grow and adjust to a new schedule. These are healthy targets for this age group:

  • Preschoolers between three and five years of age: Between 10 and 13 hours is a good goal, but as a little as eight hours and as much as 14 may be healthy
  • School-aged kids between six and 13 years old: Between nine and 11 hours is recommended. Some kids may need as little as seven or as much as 12.

Teens and young adults
During these years, kids transition to having similar sleep needs as adults. Teens are frequently at risk of getting too little sleep, so keep these ranges in mind:

  • Teens between 14 and 17 years: Between 8 and 10 hours, though some teens may need as little as seven or as much as 11 hours of sleep to be healthy.
  • Young adults between 18 and 25 years: Between seven and nine hours, with as little as six and as much as 11 being appropriate.
Let the pediatrics specialists in Las Vegas at Sunrise Children’s Hospital keep your kids healthy at all stages of life. Get a referral to a physician by calling (702) 233-5437.

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