Migraine in Children

A young girl holding her head due to migraine pain.Migraine is a neurological condition that can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Migraines are well-known for their ability to cause a severe, throbbing headache, but they also often cause nausea, light sensitivity, neck stiffness, and difficulty concentrating, among other symptoms.

Migraines affect approximately 12% of people throughout the United States, many of whom are adults; however, approximately 10% of children also experience migraine headaches. Migraines do not necessarily occur the same way for children as they do for adults. To name a few of the differences, adult migraines are more likely to:

  • Affect one side of the head
  • Last for up to several days
  • Lead to irritability or depression
  • Begin with aura (visual disturbances, speech difficulties, and/or numbness) before the actual headache

On the other hand, when a child experiences migraines, they are more likely to affect both sides of the head. This often lasts for a shorter period of time than an adult migraine. They also rarely begin with aura or lead to behavioral symptoms such as irritability or depression.

One of the primary risk factors for migraines in children is genetics; if one or both parents have experienced migraines, there is a high likelihood (up to 75%) that a child will also experience them. It’s also more likely to affect girls than boys; attacks often start to occur after a girl’s first period. Other contributing factors include:

  • Stress
  • Skipping meals
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Changes in weather
  • Hormonal changes
  • Concussions or traumatic brain injuries
  • Certain foods

There is no specific test to diagnose migraines in children. However, a doctor may be able to determine whether this could be the cause of a child’s head pain by getting more information about:

  • The child’s specific symptoms
  • How those symptoms have responded to treatment so far
  • How the child’s symptoms are affecting their ability to function in school or other daily activities
  • Whether migraine or other conditions that cause head pain run in the child’s family

If you believe your child may be experiencing migraines, you can get them the expert care they need at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 670-3007.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Should You Give Your Child Probiotics?

Cropped view of woman holding white probiotic container and pills in hands on blue background.Digestive problems such as the stomach flu, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and constipation are very common among children and are often causes for trips to a doctor’s office. In an effort to prevent these types of problems, many parents incorporate probiotics into their child’s diet. In fact, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics are the third most common natural product used by children.

Probiotics are strains of bacteria that support digestive processes. While many people associate bacteria with illnesses, certain types are necessary to help your digestive system function. In addition to processes such as nutrient absorption, these “good” bacteria also support a wide variety of functions associated with your heart, brain, and immune system.

There is some evidence to suggest that probiotics may be helpful for preventing and treating common digestive issues in children, such as IBS, the stomach flu, constipation, and acid reflux, as well as some other medical problems, such as upper respiratory tract infections and eczema. However, there is currently not enough research to determine what the long-term benefits and risks of giving your child probiotics may be.

There are many different sources of probiotics. While supplement products (such as gummies or pills) are available, these types of products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being sold, making it difficult to verify claims they make regarding health benefits. However, another popular source of probiotics among people of all ages is yogurt, particularly products that contain “live cultures,” as stated on their labels.

Not all probiotics contain the same types of bacteria; for this reason, certain products may be more helpful against specific digestive problems than others. Additionally, there are known risks associated with giving probiotics to certain groups of children; for example, children with compromised immune systems could develop an infection, and other, more serious side effects could occur in sick infants. Make sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician before giving them probiotics.

If your child is experiencing gastrointestinal problems, you can take them to visit a pediatrician at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 704-5020.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Can Cause Delayed Puberty in Children?

Puberty typically starts between the ages of 9 and 14 for boys and between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls. However, some children may experience this process later than normal. This usually does not indicate a medical problem, but in some cases, it can be caused by genetic factors or an underlying condition.

Delayed puberty is defined as a lack of increase in testicle size by the age of 14 for boys and a lack of increase in breast development by the age of 13 for girls. Even if a child is experiencing other indicators of puberty, such as public hair growth or body odor, they may still meet the definition of delayed puberty.

Some of the medical conditions that can cause delayed puberty include cardiac problems, celiac disease, Klinefelter syndrome (in boys), Turner syndrome (in girls), and conditions that disrupt normal hormonal processes. Delayed puberty may also result from hereditary factors. If one or both of a child’s parents experienced puberty at a slower rate than most children, it is more likely that it will happen to that child, as well.

Many cases of delayed puberty (particularly in boys) are also associated with constitutional growth delay (CGD). CGD causes skeletal growth to be temporarily delayed. While potentially alarming, this delay is recognized as a normal part of physical development for some children and is not a cause for concern.

Treatment for delayed puberty often involves hormone therapy to jumpstart the overall process. However, it also partially depends on the factors that are causing it to occur. If the delay is the result of an underlying medical problem, treatment will also need to focus on resolving or managing that problem. Aside from a physical examination, these problems can be diagnosed through x-ray imaging (to look at bone development) and blood tests (to check hormone levels and identify signs of underlying disorders).

If your child is experiencing delayed puberty, you can visit a pediatric endocrinologist at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 704-5020.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Head Lice Prevention Month

Head lice are parasitic insects that infest people’s hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, feeding on human blood several times per day. They are not known to spread disease, but they are contagious and can spread through contact with the hair of a person who has them. Aside from direct personal contact, this can also occur through indirect means, such as sharing clothes with a person with head lice or laying on furniture after they’ve used it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head lice infestations (also known as pediculosis) occur most commonly in the United States among pre-school and elementary school children, as well as among people living in the same household as children within these age groups.

Signs of pediculosis include the feeling of something moving through the hair, itching, the development of sores on the scalp, and difficulty sleeping due to the increased activity of head lice in the dark. A diagnosis is generally made when head lice are found on the scalp.

Preventing the spread of head lice can be challenging, as children are often in close contact with one another throughout each school day. Some steps you can take to protect them (and yourself) from an infestation include:

  • Discouraging your child from sharing clothes or close personal space with someone who may have head lice
  • Regularly combing your child’s hair and encouraging them to practice this habit on their own
  • Stocking up on lice removal kits, shampoos, creams, lotions, and medications

If you notice signs of a head lice infestation in your child, yourself, or another person in your household (and if non-prescription products aren’t helping enough), you can also visit a doctor for treatment. A doctor can prescribe specialized shampoos, lotions, and other products that aren’t available over-the-counter, as well as oral and topical medications.

You can receive treatment for head lice from a doctor at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Back-To-School Health Tips

Both the new school year and flu season are approaching, and with other viral illnesses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 continuing to spread, it’s important to prepare your child with effective habits and strategies for staying healthy. Follow these tips to keep them (and the rest of your family) disease-free this fall:

Get your child vaccinated: Many schools require students to receive the immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for their age group. This is a simple, effective method for boosting your child’s natural protection against some of the most common diseases they are likely to be exposed to at school.

Emphasize good hand-washing habits: Your child can come into contact with many different types of germs, bacteria, and viruses while they’re at school or traveling to or from home. Some of these substances, such as cold germs, can live for up to 24 hours on hard surfaces and up to an hour on hands; others, such as the flu, can last much longer, living on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. Regular, thorough hand-washing is essential for minimizing your child’s contact with these germs and reducing their likelihood of becoming infected.

Take your child to a doctor if they feel sick: If your child starts to feel ill, you can reduce the amount of time they spend feeling sick (and, potentially, the amount of school days they may have to miss) by taking them to a doctor right away. A doctor can prescribe certain medications, such as antivirals or antibiotics (depending on whether your child has a virus or bacterial infection), and recommend other medications and treatments for relieving their symptoms effectively.

If your child has an infection, you can receive specialized treatment at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists. To schedule an appointment or for more information about the office, please call (718) 704-5020.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

When Should You Worry About Your Infant Vomiting?

It’s common for infants to struggle with keeping food and liquids down as they eat, particularly during their first month of life. However, certain symptoms accompanying this vomiting may indicate a more serious underlying medical problem with your child, potentially requiring a visit to a pediatric specialist. Some of these conditions include:

Gastroenteritis: Symptoms that may indicate gastroenteritis include mild diarrhea, irritability, stomach pain, and a poor appetite. This condition typically goes away on its own within a week, but if your baby starts to display symptoms such as dry skin, mouth, or eyes, a lack of tears, no wet diapers for up to 12 hours, or an unusual level of sleepiness or fatigue, they may be dehydrated and require an immediate visit to a pediatrician.

Ear infection: If your baby has an ear infection, it could cause nausea and vomiting without a fever. Some other symptoms they may experience include pain or discomfort in one or both ears, muffled hearing, and diarrhea. While an ear infection will usually resolve on its own without treatment, you should still take them to a pediatrician in case antibiotics are needed; severe infections could potentially damage a baby’s hearing.

Overheating: Hot weather and warm environments could overheat your baby, causing them to vomit and become dehydrated. In more serious cases, this can even lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Make sure to get your baby into a cooler environment and hydrate them as soon as possible; if they continue to display symptoms such as pale skin, abnormal irritability, and fatigue, get them medical attention immediately.

Pyloric stenosis: This rare condition occurs when the pathway between the stomach and the intestines is too narrow, leading to excessive vomiting as well as dehydration, weight loss, constipation, and abnormally few wet diapers and bowel movements. Surgery is required to correct this condition; tell your pediatrician right away if you notice these symptoms.

Intussusception: This rare intestinal condition occurs when a baby’s intestine is damaged and slips into another part of the intestine. Aside from vomiting without a fever, a baby with intussusception may experience severe stomach cramps that cause them to curl their knees up to their chest, as well as fatigue, nausea, and blood or mucus in their bowel movements. Treatment for this condition involves pushing the intestine back into place.

If your child is experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions, they can receive specialized treatment at Forest Hills Pediatrics Specialists. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 704-5020.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Are the Signs of Pediatric Thyroid Disease?

For most people, thyroid disease is a problem that only begins during adulthood. However, it can affect children and young adults as well, leading to a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and constipation. While these symptoms can indicate many potential conditions, a pediatrician will typically perform diagnostic testing to check whether thyroid disease may be the cause.

“Any time a child experiences these symptoms, they are screened for thyroid problems,” said Dr. Hariram Ganesh, a pediatric endocrinologist at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists. “That screening is performed through the same type of blood testing that’s usually involved in a patient’s routine checkups.”

A family history of auto-immune disorders, as well as conditions such as diabetes and celiac disease, increase a child’s risk of experiencing thyroid problems. According to Dr. Ganesh, certain signs may also point to thyroid disease as the potential cause of your child’s symptoms, such as:

Hair loss: Thyroid problems may cause a higher volume of hair to fall out than normal in affected children.

Difficulty paying attention at school: “A lot of children who experience thyroid problems may have trouble paying attention or staying awake during class,” said Dr. Ganesh.

Irregular periods: “Irregular periods are a particular indicator of thyroid problems in children, as girls experience them more often than boys,” said Dr. Ganesh. “A mother with thyroid disease can pass it down to her daughter.”

Delayed development and speech problems: While not as common as in older children, thyroid problems can affect newborn babies, leading to delayed physical development and speech impairments if they are left untreated or not caught early. “A baby as young as two or three years old may have to be given thyroid medicine if problems are detected during newborn screening tests,” said Dr. Ganesh.

If you notice these potential signs of thyroid disease in your child, you can schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists by calling (718) 704-5020.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Infant Immunization Week

Infants under the age of two are susceptible to a variety of serious illnesses that can significantly harm or even kill them, as their immune system is still in an early stage of development. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a series of immunizations that can protect infants against some of the most dangerous diseases to their health.

Many parents may have concerns about vaccinating their children due to potential side effects. While mild adverse reactions are possible with many vaccines, they typically disappear on their own within a few days. Generally, the side effects most children may expect include reactions such as fever, fatigue, body aches, and swelling or tenderness around the site of the injection. More serious, long-lasting side effects are extremely rare.

Vaccines such as those given to infants only use the ingredients necessary to be safe and effective. These ingredients may often include adjuvants (commonly found in antacids and antiperspirants), stabilizers (such as sugar or gelatin), and formaldehyde (which is already present in the body). Additionally, all vaccines go through extensive lab testing, often for years, before they are available to the general public.

The CDC recommends vaccinating children under the age of two against:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Rotavirus
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, & acellular pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Pneumococcal conjugate
  • Inactivated poliovirus
  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Hepatitis A

You can find the complete schedule of recommended vaccines for your child by age on the CDC’s website. To schedule an appointment for your child to receive the vaccines they need, you can call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at (718) 670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Does Your Child Have a Viral or Bacterial Infection?

Throughout the spring season, there are a number of different ways your child can become sick, leading to common symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, fever, or stomach problems. In some cases, these issues may only be a result of seasonal allergies to substances such as pollen. However, these symptoms could also occur due to an infectious disease, such as the common cold or flu.

Children develop infections due to either viruses or bacteria. A virus is a piece of genetic material surrounded by protein that requires a living host; when it infects something, it takes control of the host’s cells and uses them to create more of the virus. Some examples of common pediatric viral infections include:

  • Influenza
  • Colds
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)
  • Chickenpox
  • Bronchitis

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that live in a variety of different environments; most cause no harm to humans, with some even aiding in bodily processes such as digestion, but others may cause illnesses to develop in certain parts of the body. Common bacterial infections in children include:

  • Strep throat
  • Ear infections
  • Impetigo

Some infections may also be caused by either a virus or bacteria. These include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis
  • Diarrhea

Knowing the cause of your child’s infection is important, as this will determine the type of medicine they will need. Viruses are treated with antiviral medication, while bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Trying to treat your child’s infection with the wrong type of medication will not work, and in some cases could even lead to negative side effects.

Both antiviral medication and antibiotics can only be obtained with a prescription. A doctor can determine the most likely cause of your child’s infection and prescribe them with the appropriate medication for effective treatment results. You can schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists by calling (718) 704-5020.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Are the Most Common Types of Pediatric Hernias?

Hernias, which are defects in your abdominal wall that allow tissue or fat to bulge through, typically occur in children as inguinal or umbilical hernias. They’re often present due to birth complications such as premature birth.

There are two types of inguinal hernias. The most common type in children, indirect inguinal hernias, generally occurs as a result of an opening in the abdominal wall being present at birth. Direct inguinal hernias develop more rarely, as they usually result from physical overexertion due to sports or lifting heavy objects.

The other most common form of childhood hernia, umbilical hernias, occur in the spot where the umbilical cord was previously attached to the belly button. They develop when the muscles fail to close around this spot after the umbilical cord falls off.

Both inguinal and umbilical hernias may cause a pain or tenderness in the belly button or groin, as well as a bulge in this area that grows in size as a result of laughing, crying, or physically straining. However, more severe symptoms such as bloating, fever, severe and sudden abdominal pain, and nausea may indicate that the hernia has become strangulated.

A hernia can become strangulated after an extended period of incarceration, a condition in which part of the intestine becomes trapped in the abdominal opening. This can lead to the loss of that part of the intestine, as well as any involved testicles or ovaries.

Hernias occur most commonly in children who are assigned male at birth, are born prematurely or underweight, are of African descent, and who experience conditions such as undescended testicles, cystic fibrosis, or a genetic syndrome that increases the risk of a hernia.

A pediatric hernia is typically treated through surgery, during which your child’s surgeon will push the bulging tissue back into its proper position and re-seal the opening with stitches. This can be performed as an open surgery (involving a small incision in the affected area) or as laparoscopic surgery (involving several tiny incisions in the abdomen and groin).

To schedule an appointment with a doctor and begin treatment for your child’s hernia, you can schedule an appointment at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists by calling (718) 704-5020 or at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Pediatric Surgery Division by calling (718) 670-3007.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.