Immunizations are an important part of your children's healthcare and wellness. Immunizations protect your children and every member of your family and community from a range of potentially serious illnesses like meningitis, pneumonia, chicken pox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and even seasonal flu. Infants, senior citizens, and other people with certain illnesses or weakened immune systems may not be able to receive immunizations and must rely on healthy people who can be immunized to help protect them from these vaccine-preventable diseases. Your pediatricians at Virginia Pediatric Group, Ltd. offer childhood immunization and the full range of pediatric healthcare services for children and their families in their offices located in Fairfax, Herndon, Great Falls, and Aldie, VA.
The standard vaccination schedule includes the following and is available on our website at VAPG.com.
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Influenza (flu)
- MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Meningococcal vaccines
- Hib vaccine
How Long Do Childhood Immunizations Last?
The vaccination schedule takes into account the variation in the duration of effective immunity and the age-related susceptibility of the diseases they protect against. Some immunizations require what is known as a booster shot, an additional dose of the vaccination applied at a specific interval after the initial vaccination to "boost" immunity and ensure that your child has ongoing protection and is adequately immunized against potentially serious illnesses like tetanus and the measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues updated recommendations and guidelines for vaccination and immunization schedules every year.
Adults are also advised to check on their immunization status to ensure that they have full immunity, particularly from serious illnesses like the measles and pertussis (whooping cough), which have seen an outbreak in various parts of the country in recent years. Boosters are also available for adults in order to close any gaps in immunizations. These vaccines are available for parents through our office if desired.
For more information about the benefits of childhood immunization and other pediatric services, contact Virginia Pediatric Group, Ltd. to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at one of our four locations by calling (703) 573-2432.
It’s easy for parents to be able to pinpoint when there is something physically wrong with their child. They may have a fever, body aches, or abdominal pain. When these symptoms arise parents often know to seek care from their pediatrician. Mental health issues, on the other hand, are just as important to treat as physical complaints; however, these symptoms and problems aren’t always as clear-cut.
Good mental health allows children to feel confident, think properly and develop the proper skills needed for social, personal, and even professional success throughout their lifetime. A child’s environment can greatly impact their emotional and mental states, and it’s important that parents are in tuned with their children, their emotions and what’s going on for them to spot problems right away so that they can seek proper care.
Here are some ways to foster healthy mental well-being in your child:
- Provide your child with unconditional love
- Foster a safe, nurturing environment
- Help build their self-esteem and confidence
- Encourage their passions and dreams
- Provide guidance and discipline when necessary
Along with these simple tips it’s also important to ensure that your child is:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Getting adequate sleep
Modeling Good Mental Health
Your child mirrors everything you do so by giving them a positive role model your child can mirror good behaviors that foster good mental health. When you take care of yourself your child also learns the importance in self-care. When you find joy in your life your child will also make a priority out of finding things that bring them joy.
Talk to a Pediatrician
We know that it isn’t always easy to determine what behaviors are normal and which ones warrant a deeper look. This is where your children’s doctor can provide you with the information you need. A pediatrician can answer questions about everything from healthy social and emotional skills to behaviors that could be problematic.
It’s also important that parents do not ignore their own mental well-being. After all, mentally healthy parents also provide better care and a positive, happy environment for their children to thrive. If you are having trouble with your own mental well-being it’s okay to talk to your child’s pediatrician about your issues.
If you have questions about your child’s mental health and wellness don’t hesitate to sit down and discuss your questions or concerns with a pediatrician who will be able to guide you along the way to make sure that you are providing your child with everything they need for optimal mental and emotional well-being.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant communication, communication, and behavioral challenges. The thinking, learning, and problem-solving abilities of individuals with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some individuals with autism need only a bit of help in their daily lives; others need more. While there's no cure for autism, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
ASD is the fastest growing serious, developmental disability, affecting an estimated one out of 59 kids in America. Autism begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society — at work, in school, and socially, for example. Often kids show symptoms of autism within the first year. Autism impacts how people perceive and socialize with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.
Autism can look different in different people. Kids with autism have a hard time interacting with others. Social skills difficulties are some of the most common signs. A child with ASD might want to have close relationships but not know how. Most have some problems with communication. Kids with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual. Examples of this can include repetitive behaviors like jumping, hand-flapping, constant moving, fixations on certain objects, fussy eating habits, impulsiveness, and aggressive behavior.
The exact cause of ASD is not known, but it's believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved. Research shows that ASD tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child with develop autism. Research also shows that certain environmental influences may increase autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Researchers are exploring whether certain factors such as medications, viral infections, or complications during pregnancy play a role in triggering ASD.
Treatment options may include nutritional therapy, physical therapy, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies, and medications. No medication can improve the core signs of ASD, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety.
Autism can impact your child's quality of life. If you think your child may have autism, find a pediatrician near you and schedule a consultation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of autism can help your child live a happier, more successful life. The earlier children with autism get help, the greater their chance of treatment success.
Your child just woke up with a runny nose, an elevated temperature and body aches. Could this just be a passing cold or could it be the flu? It’s important to be able to tell the difference between the two. A common cold is usually mild and will go away on its own without treatment but the flu often requires medical attention to prevent serious complications. While an annual flu shot can protect your child from developing the flu it’s also important to know what to look for and when to visit their pediatrician for care.
Warning Signs of the Flu
Unfortunately the common cold and the influenza viruses have a lot of the same symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what your child might have. We know that you don’t want to worry unnecessarily and rush them into the office if you don’t need to but it’s also good to know when their condition warrants medical attention.
One difference is that a cold will come on gradually over the course of a couple of days while the flu will often attack suddenly, with symptoms showing up practically overnight. While a fever isn’t a common symptom of a cold a fever is almost always present with the flu, as well as full body achiness or weakness.
Children are also more likely to deal with diarrhea or vomiting with the flu. While symptoms of a cold are usually localized to the head, flu symptoms are more widespread.
You Suspect Your Child has the Flu. Now What?
The first step is to call your pediatrician. While it can take up to a week for your child to feel better after the flu sometimes medical attention is required. It’s especially important that you talk to your doctor if your child has flu-like symptoms and they are under the age of 5, as young children are more likely to deal with health-related complications from the flu.
You’ve talked to your doctor and you now know whether you are supposed to bring them in right away for care or whether you should continue to monitor their condition before bringing them in. At this point the most important thing you can do is help reduce their discomfort and control their symptoms. Make sure they are staying hydrated and getting as much rest as possible.
Avoid giving your child over-the-counter medications, as many of these medications aren’t safe for young children and won’t be effective for treating flu symptoms. If your child has a mild fever ask your pediatrician what over-the-counter medications could help alleviate their fever. Keep in mind: Children should never take aspirin!
The sooner you seek medical attention for the flu the better, as many antiviral medications can prevent the virus from getting worse if it’s administered within the first 48 hours. This medication is often taken for 5 to 7 days and it can help ease symptoms and speed up recovery.
The key is making sure to get your child proper medical care as soon as flu-like symptoms appear. Call your children’s doctor right away.
Did you know that asthma affects American children more than any other long-term health condition? The American Lung Association confirms that asthma, with its constricted and inflamed airways, wheezing, coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath, is very serious and needs vigilant monitoring and care. At Virginia Pediatric Group in Fairfax, Herndon, Great Falls, and South Riding, VA, your team of 15 physicians helps parents and children cope with asthma, so everyone enjoys their daily routines.
Why do asthma attacks happen?
Ranging from mild to severe and life-threatening, episodes of asthma typically start with exposure to a trigger. It may be an allergen, such as pet dander or mold, or something in the environment, such as outdoor air pollution or cigarette smoke. In addition, attacks may be precipitated by:
- Cold weather
- Colds and the flu
When children present with asthma symptoms, your pediatrician will work with you to identify triggers so you can limit your child's exposure.
Besides identifying triggers, your doctor may order a chest X-ray and lab work to rule out other health conditions. Also, they will do a complete physical examination, including a lung function test and chest auscultation (listening to breath sounds with a stethoscope).
The American Lung Association stresses the importance of an asthma action plan, well-thought out steps to take when an asthma attack starts or seems imminent. The rationale is that the child would breathe more easily, exhibit fewer symptoms, and be able to do their usual routine, including school.
Asthma action plans often include monitoring of peak flow (or the amount of air the child can exhale in a single breath) and medication. Bronchodilators are short-acting medications which mitigate symptoms quickly and long-term maintenance medications help prevent symptoms. Long-term medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, keep airways from constricting.
Additionally, your pediatrician may recommend allergy testing. Allergies may be treated with shots or sublingual (under the tongue) medications as needed.
An old adage says, "Forewarned is forearmed." It's so true where your child's asthma is concerned. The team at Virginia Pediatric Group will help your family with questions you have regarding your child's condition, and our on-call service can address any off-hours concerns. Our Fairfax, Herndon, Great Falls, and South Riding, VA, office number is (703) 573-2432.
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