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News from Baby Medical Q&A, Issue #045
June 01, 2010

New Questions and Answers

Question:I have a young cousin aged 18 months who is acting very strange and I wanted to tell you about it and possibly get some answers.

First off he acts like his hearing is not very good - you can repeat his name over and over and he will not respond. He does not really respond to loud noises - if you pop a balloon near him he won't even flinch but sometimes he does respond. It is very confusing.

If he falls onto the dirt and feels the sensation of the dirt on his bare skin he instantly throws up. He likes to play with any cords or vibrating things he can find. His nose is always runny, he drools badly if he bumps his head or falls he screams and cries. He bites onto the end of vaccum cleaner handles while they are running for a few seconds and lets go and stares at it or shakes it then it is back into his mouth again. He runs with his hands outstretched in front of him with his head down and when he walks he holds his hands on his lower back with his head either down so his chin is on his chest or his head is way back so he is staring straight up.

He can't talk he can't say anything other than the occasional mumbled mum or dadda and if you try to get him to talk he shouts Ha and looks puzzled. He stumbles frequently he does not play with others. He runs wobbly and screams as he is running. He does not have a good attention span. He won't tell you that he is done eating or drinking he simply either smacks the spoon you're offering to him away or if it is his drink he is done with he throws it to the ground.

I do not know what to do I am trying to get help for my aunt and uncle so they can learn how to help him but all signs so far are pointing in every direction. Please let me know what you think. I am very concerned for his well being.

Answer: Thank you for your detailed letter. To summarise, it seems as if your 18 month old cousin: - has some communication issues - he hasn't many words - at times it seems he can't hear and at other times he seems to hear well - he has some repetitive behaviors, for example with the vacuum cleaner - he is sensitive to loud noises - he is a little uncordinated with his locomotor skills

The first thing is to make sure your cousin has normal hearing, so he needs a hearing test. If that is normal, the family should see his doctor and ask for the CHAT questionnaire for autism. See Speech Development and go to the link on the bottom of the page where it says communication disorder.

Question: My baby is 8 weeks old. He has a lot of saliva in his mouth. Why is this and can this be dangerous?

Answer:Babies often do have saliva in their mouth. As long as your baby is swallowing ok - so manages to drink his milk without problems, it is probably ok.

If your baby chokes a bit on his milk or seems to have difficulty breathing with feeding or after, then you should see your doctor. Occasionally, there can be connections between the oesophagus and trachea (called a fistula) and that can mean babies have a lot of bubbly saliva in their mouths. But they do usually have other issues as well (such as choking on feeds or difficulty breathing).

Question:Is there any problem when teething that causes stomach disorders ,loose motions or vomiting,etc.

Answer:Teething does not cause illness in children but it can be uncomfortable and infants often find relief by biting on hard objects, particularly cold objects - like a teething ring.

Studies have shown that infants also get frequent viral illnesses such as gastroenteritis (with diarrhoea and/or vomiting) and respiratory tract infections with runny nose etc. These illnesses can coincide with the appearance of teeth. However it is coincidence not cause and effect.

Because viral infections are common in children and so is teething, the two events often coincide. Treat each symptomatically.

Question: When we are playing my 18 month old grandson, he will sometimes slap his head two or three times, laugh and repeat this two or three times. Is this normal behavior?

Answer:Nothing you have said in your letter causes me any concern. It doesn't sound like abnormal behavior so you can relax.

To read about normal development for an 18 month old, see the development page.

News and Updates

Probiotics Reduce Infection in Hospitalised Children

This is a study showing benefit of probiotics (the Lactobcillus GG strain) in reducing gastrointestinal and respiratory infections in children admitted to hospital.

Different studies show varying results for probiotics, and it maybe that the actual strain is important. However, giving you child a probiotic is likely to do more good than harm - so consider regular yoghurt containing live bacteria.

Reference: Hojsak I, Abdovic S, Szajewska H, et al. Lactobacillus GG in the prevention of nosocomial gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections. Pediatrics. 2010 May;125(5):e1171-7. Epub 2010 Apr 19.

Have you seen this website?

MindFood - this is a great site - they produce a monthly magazine that I subscribe to. There are great features and articles and there is enough to keep me reading right through the month to the next issue. You can also subscribe to a daily ezine for free. I highly recommend it.

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