The current Covid 19 pandemic has left almost of all us adults and children alike in some form of either physical or mental stress. Physical stress perhaps easier to be detected albeit at times difficulty in treatment associated with poor outcome.
Mental stress on the other end perhaps is the one often ignored, not easily detected, or diagnosed and most likely uncertain outcome.
Stress to the Children
To ease discussion, I would recommend we divide the stress into two-part, one is physical stress and another mental stress.
Physical stress means the Covid 19 illness effecting our physical health. Of course, it has been widely discussed but not much attention given to how parents can prevent if not minimize the illness.
We would agree that prevention of your children from getting the infection is tedious but of utmost importance. Tedious does not mean difficult, but it’s just something responsible parents would do to keep their children safe and sound. These measures are strongly advocated.
- Get yourself vaccinated to promote herd immunity, as of now vaccines for Covid 19 are only given to the youngest age of 12 years (in other parts of the world). So, if you are vaccinated you are reducing the risk of getting the severe form of this infection and you would passively transfer the immunity to your child. Any Covid 19 vaccines are good and should be taken if available. Just a gentle reminder Prevention is best, better than treatment.
- Enough said on the ways we can protect ourselves from getting infected. The bottom line is good hygiene, Avoid the crowd AND practice all the simple measures to avoid ourselves from getting any infection, not just Covid19.
- Parents may inquire about any vitamins or medication to help reduce the risk of this infection if not preventing it. Steps 1 and 2 Must be prioritized before embarking on this. Medical research has shown taking Vitamin C at least 2000 mg a day and vitamin D at least 500 mg a day may help. The oral form of both vitamins is sufficient and easily available. Parents ask would it be alright to prescribe to children, but lacking evidence-based data to support efficacy in children does not mean these measures is not effective for children.
- Since our children below 12 years old elsewhere and 18 years old back home might not receive the Covid 19 vaccine, parents are strongly advised to give their children all available vaccines particularly those preventing respiratory infections. Medical data support that the probable reason adults fare worse in Covid 19 infection could BE attributed to not vaccinated against other illness. Get to your doctors (or your children Pediatrician) to ask more about these.
Mental Stress to the children is a topic most doctors (myself included) would rather avoid but we will in our best interest advise parents if asked. The majority of parents would say that their children feel confined or constrained due to the “stay home” order.
In my opinion, it’s all that we want to think of what it is. Do we really need to go to the mall or eat in a restaurant or go on a beach vacation for family bonding? We could not do these in the comfort of our home?
I would agree many of us (If not most) has cultivated the idea of e-ternak environment is of great importance for normal, quality, family time. How have we missed the good old time of getting our children involved in house activities like cooking, gardening, reading, playing board games and of course watching movies at home?
All our children need their parents’ devotion, attention and love and we don’t need to give them these only by going on a beach vacation, eating in fancy places and etc. It is just that during this pandemic going out is statistically proven to increase chances of getting the infection.
Eating fancy food can be purchased online to be enjoyed at home. Older children undergoing online education may feel stressful but we can tell and show them methods of stress reduction like getting involved in their school work as our parents did.
Perhaps these are easier methods to be practised. However a point (or two) for all of us to ponder, “would the pandemic has a long term effect on the child mental development particularly as I have been frequently asked, like increase risk of autism spectrum disorders?”, my answer would be your guess is good as mine.
We are not sure at least for now if in the next few months or years these cases would see a rise. Matter of fact to date no full-proof statistics or medical-based evidence can pinpoint the exact cause of this disorder.
Doctors and other health personal are also affected during this trying time. We would in our best interest and capacity to ease the physical and mental burden of parents and children. Let’s play our part in hasting the pandemic demise.
The article is written by Dr. Khairul Zaman Omar, Paediatrics (Haemato Oncology) of Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
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