As parents, we do our best to protect our children from falling sick. It can thus be frustrating if they are prone to frequent illnesses — a phenomenon that often happens when our little one first heads off to school. We speak to paediatric GP Dr Katrina Heng about the reasons why children are often susceptible to common infections and what you can do to help them stay well.
Why does my child fall ill so often?
“Younger children tend to catch infections easily because their immune system has not matured. It is not uncommon for children attending childcare to catch up to 6 respiratory infections and experience 2-3 gastrointestinal infections a year,” shares Dr Katrina. Other common infections include respiratory tract infections such as the common cold and sore throat, infectious diseases such as hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) and chickenpox, and the list goes on.
“Research shows that children attending childcare tend to fall sick more often than those who are cared for at home. Being alongside other children increases the chances of contact, which inevitably increases the risk of being exposed to unwanted germs,” says Dr Katrina.
What can I do to protect my child?
Prevention is one of the best ways to protect your child from falling ill. “Making hand hygiene and cleanliness part of play for your child helps them to develop good habits. This helps to make hand hygiene second nature to them, so that they’ll continue practising these good practices, even when they’re not with you,” shares Dr Katrina.
Parents can also support their child’s immunity by ensuring that their child completes the recommended vaccinations. This means ensuring that your child is vaccinated according to MOH’s National Childhood Immunisation Schedule.
“Vaccines work by exposing a child’s immune system to a non-infectious form of the germ. This trains your child’s immune system to fight off the infection when they are exposed to it in the future,” shares Dr Katrina. Even if they do end up falling ill, vaccinations help to reduce the severity of the illness so that it’s easier and quicker for your little one to recover.
Arranging your child’s vaccination is fuss-free and easy. Book an appointment online for your child’s vaccination at any our of 9 islandwide DA clinics or at home.
Is your little one feeling unwell? Our doctors are here to help them anytime they need. Speak to a doctor on the DA app and receive your medication within hours. All you need to do is create an account for your child to get started.