• Which health conditions are more common in children with autism?

    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

    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?

    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.

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