We care for a wide range of childhood conditions, from minor ailments to more serious diseases requiring hospitalisation. Common examples are: Asthma, Atopic Dermatitis, Acute Bronchiolitis, Allergies, Eczema, Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) and more.

Asthma

Asthma is a very common childhood illness and it affects about 20% of the children in Singapore. As parents, it is worrying to hear when your child has been diagnosed with asthma. However, your child is still able to remain health and be physically active with this condition.

Asthma is a condition whereby there is chronic inflammation of the airways. Inflamed airways are more sensitive than normal airways and when exposed to a trigger, chemicals are released resulting in narrowed airways.

Common symptoms of asthma include:

  • Chest tightness: May be felt in older children especially after intense physical activity.
  • Shortness of breath: May be severe enough to interfere with normal daily activities, sleep or exercise.
  • Cough: Varies from child to child. Some children may have a dry cough while others may have a wet cough that comes with whitish or yellowish phlegm.
  • Wheezing: A whistling sound that occurs when the child breathes out. This symptom might not be present in all children.

Every child is different and thus, the presentation of asthma varies from one child to another. Do consult your paediatrician on how to better manage the specific symptoms for your child.

Common triggers of asthma include:

  • Allergies: Common allergens are dust, animals (i.e. fur, saliva), pollen and mould. Food allergy is not common but peanuts, egg or dairy products and bird’s nest may trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Irritants: Air pollution can trigger asthma and asthmatic children have more symptoms during hazy periods. It is best to avoid outdoor activity during these periods. Cigarette smoke is also highly detrimental for children with sensitive airways.
  • Sudden weather changes: Cold and dry air is a trigger to sensitive airways.

Viral infections: Viral respiratory infections (e.g. a cold) in young children can result in asthma. The child can start off with a mild cold which then develops into a cough and asthma symptoms can persist for the next one to two weeks.

 

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a recurrent itchy skin condition and affects at least 20% of school-going children in Singapore. Many patients with atopic dermatitis have dry skin which is easily irritated, causing the skin to flare up. Atopic dermatitis appears as red and scaly rashes. Most children with this condition improve as they grow older. However, there is no cure and the condition can recur from time to time.

Common parts of body that can be affected by atopic dermatitis:

  • Neck
  • Elbows
  • Behind the knees
  • Face
  • Limbs

How to manage atopic dermatitis?

Lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid stuffed toys, pets, carpets, thick curtains in the home to reduce the level of house dust mites.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and soaps which are scented.
  • Avoid hot baths.
  • Moisturize regularly with fragrance-free moisturizers.

Targeted treatments:

  • Topical steroids: Apply thinly on the red and itchy areas. Frequency of application is two to three times daily, depending on the doctor’s instructions. Prolonged usage of topical steroids can lead to side effects, such as, thinning of the skin and increased hair growth.
  • Non-steroid creams: Applied in the same way as topical steroids. Some patients may experience a burning or stinging sensation. Inform your doctor if these symptoms occur.
  • Anti-histamines: Medication to relieve itch.

Oral antibiotics: May be prescribed if there are signs of skin infection worsening the atopic dermatitis.

 

Colic

Colic is a condition whereby a healthy infant (less than 4 months old) with no known medical conditions cries incessantly for an extended period of time.

Symptoms of Colic:

  • Crying that lasts for several hours
  • Crying occurs at the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or early evening
  • Crying seems to be without reason (e.g. infant is not hungry, clean diaper, etc.)
  • Infant may more his arms and legs more, i.e. clenching his fists, drawing up his legs and may also expel gas
  • Infant is well at other times

Causes of Colic

There is no evidence to determine the root cause of colic.

Some speculated causes include:

  • Allergy – If the infant is formula-fed, he/she may be allergic to certain proteins in the formula.
  • Lactose malabsorption – The infant’s inability to digest certain sugars may lead to poor absorption of these sugars from milk.
  • Overstimulation – With many new sensations (i.e. light, sound) surrounding infants, some become overwhelmed, especially at the end of the day. In response to the overstimulation, they cry and are not easily soothed.

Should I bring my infant to see the doctor for colic?

Yes, it is a good idea to talk with a doctor about your infant’s crying. Your doctor can also rule out other potential causes, such as, intestinal problems or urinary infections and to check that your infant is feeding and growing normally.

If your infant has colic, your doctor would be able to advise you on your next course of action as well.

 

Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD)

HFMD is an infectious disease caused by a family of viruses called Enteroviruses. It can occur in people of various age groups, the most common being young children.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

  • Blister-like or pimple-like rashes on their hands, feet and buttocks.
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

How does HFMD spread?

HFMD can be spread through direct contact with nose discharge, saliva, faeces and fluid from the blisters.

A developmental assessment is conducted to ensure your child’s ability to meet expected milestones and perform everyday tasks.

During infancy, a child’s gross motor, fine motor, language functions and social-emotional development is assessed.

During earlier childhood, the assessment aims to identify a child’s strengths and challenges in a range of developmental domains including cognitive, social, emotional, language, physical development and adaptive behaviours such as self-care and self-direction.

Screening tools could also be specific to a disorder such as autism. If the screening test identifies a potential developmental problem, a more detailed evaluation will be necessary to investigate whether the child needs treatment and early developmental intervention.

Dr Teo is experienced in diagnosing and treating paediatric infections such as the common sore throat, diarrhoea, common cold and more. With her warm and reassuring personality, Dr Teo will help your child feel safe and comfortable throughout his/her visit.

Every child gets sick from time to time, as young children are exposed to many new germs particularly in community settings such as school. As the child’s body fights such infections, their immunity will slowly build up as well.

Sore Throat

Sore throats are common in children and can be caused by either viral or bacterial infections. A sore throat caused by virus does not need antibiotics. In other cases, sore throats are caused by the streptococcus group bacteria which requires medication.

Diarrhoea

Common in toddlers and infants. The child could replenish lost fluids and electrolytes with increased water intake, oral rehydrating solutions, or bananas. Most cases do not require further treatment. However if your child is having high fever, persistent vomiting, persistent lethargy, or has mucus and blood in stool, you should consult a paediatrician.

Urinary Tract Infections

Bladder infections, also called urinary tract infections or UTIs, occur when ­bacteria build up in the urinary tract. Symptoms include pain or burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, abdominal or back pain, poor weight gain and fever in infants. UTI in children should not be taken lightly, and you should consult a paediatrician for treatment.

Skin Infections

Fungal infections, insect bite allergies, atopic dermatitis, boils and cellulitis are commonly seen in children. Skin Infections in your child could be due to improper hygiene, excessive sweating or poor nutrition. Most eruptions resolve with improved hygiene and moisturisation of the skin.

Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is a common lung infection in young children and infants. It causes inflammation and congestion in the small airways (bronchioles) of the lung. It is mostly caused by viruses and does not require antibiotics. In these cases your child should be closely monitored and seen by the paediatrician if there is difficulty breathing, signs of dehydration and lethargy.

Common Cold

Colds are caused by viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Nasal saline drops and warm baths could be beneficial for your child. Call the paediatrician if your child is experiencing shortness of breath, high fever, unusual lethargy or worsening headache.

Schools may require medical examinations for purposes such as admission and participation in various co-curricular activities. Overseas colleges may also require detailed medical reports and records for their admission process.

In order to ascertain your child’s health, various examinations including a thorough history and physical examination and other tests may be needed. Catch up immunisations can also be planned.

If your child requires medical documents for admission, overseas attachments and participation in various co-curricular activities, Dr. Teo and team can provide comprehensive assessments for your child that are in line with criterion outlined by educational institutions in Singapore and overseas.

Newborn Screening

Newborns are usually medically examined within their first day of life. At your first visit, Dr Teo will go through the following checks:

— Measure your baby’s weight, length, BMI and head circumference
— Perform a thorough physical exam (She may also feel the neck and collarbone to see if there is a fracture from delivery, a common complication that heals quickly.)
— Check your baby’s breathing and reflexes
— Check for abnormalities (i.e. heart function, eyes, hip dysplasia or undescended testes for boys)

You are encouraged to ask any questions you may have, especially if you are a new parent and have questions relating to baby care and baby developmental milestones.

Start looking for a paediatrician early on in your pregnancy to prepare for your baby’s arrival.

Well Baby Checks

Scheduled well baby checks are important to your child. This is the time when your paediatrician is able to regularly check on several aspects of your’s child growth and development. Any problems or developing condition can then be identified early and treated as soon as possible.

What exactly does Dr Teo check for during well baby checks?

— Your baby’s weight, height, BMI and head circumference in reference to growth charts
— Physical examination, including checking of birthmarks, eyes, head, and oral health
— Your baby’s eating habits and sleeping patterns
— Developmental and language milestones

Dr Teo will answer any questions that you may have. She will also share relevant safety information according to your baby’s age.

Well baby visits are a chance for you to address your concerns for your child, since parents are usually the first ones to notice changes in their baby’s behaviour or growth. It is important that you take an active role in your baby’s health and come prepared with questions and an open ear.

Early recognition and treatment of symptoms can help to prevent illnesses or injuries from getting worse. It is recommended to consult early with your child’s doctor for the appropriate course of action to take when the unfortunate illnesses or accidents occur.

Dr. Teo and her team provide primary level care for urgent conditions in children such as high fever, post fits and simple trauma. Upon assessment of the condition, appropriate immediate treatment can be given and follow-up action such as referral to hospitals will be recommended if needed.

Optimal nutrition during your child’s early years of life is fundamental for good health and in preventing adverse effects that can sustain beyond childhood.

Without adequate amounts of macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates and micronutrients like vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc, children are at risk of becoming ill and having delayed mental and motor development.

At each visit, Dr Teo will have in depth discussions with you about both you and your baby’s nutrition intake and breastfeeding patterns. She may prescribe supplementation of essential vitamins and minerals when medically indicated.

Your baby’s growth will also be assessed through measurements of his/her height, weight, BMI and head circumference. With reference to growth chart percentiles, Dr Teo will be able to assess if he/she might require medical attention.

Childhood immunisation is when your child is given a vaccine to protect them against infectious diseases. The vaccine encourages the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against infectious disease such that your child can fight the disease if they are exposed to it.

Childhood immunisation protects your child against serious infectious diseases which can otherwise lead to lifelong complications and occasionally be fatal. If enough children are immune to a particular disease, the risk of it spreading is lowered and might eradicate the disease entirely. This phenomenon is named “Herd Immunity”.

Optional vaccines include vaccines for Hepatitis A, Rotavirus, Influenza and Chicken Pox. Consult the doctor if you are considering these vaccines for your child.

About Dr. Irene Teo

Education
  • Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore (2016)
  • Specialist in Paediatric Medicine by Specialist Accreditation Board (2016)
  • Member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (2010)
  • Royal Free and University College London, MBBS (2005)
Professional Activities
  • Paediatric Medicine Clinical Tutor to undergraduates (2013 – 2016)
  • Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS
  • Physician Faculty Member at SingHealth
  • Long Service Award by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (2017)

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