By Dr. Chetan Ginigeri, Lead Consultant – Paediatrics & Paediatric Intensive Care, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore.
With the Covid-19 restrictions easing, people have once again resumed their normal lives. The pandemic took a toll on all of us and children along with senior citizens were the worst victims of the disease due to the unavailability of Covid-19 vaccines. As online classes have ended and children have started going back to schools, there is an emerging trend of increasing viral infections among them, with many children falling ill more frequently than usual.
While the school reopening brought normalcy to the lives of the little ones, however, the gap of two years has compromised the immunity of the children. Due to the increased precautionary periods and a longer stay at home, many children have not been infected for a long time which is now taking a toll on them and is a probable cause behind them falling frequently ill.
Several cases of children with pre-existing health conditions and younger age groups have been found with increasing complaints of cough, allergies, viral infection, water-borne diseases, respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal infections. This has highlighted the need for parents to take precautionary measures and adopt measures to boost the immunity of their children.
Precautionary measures that parents can take
Avoid Sedentary Lifestyle
According to a recent study, during the pandemic, the physical activity of school-going children had been reduced by 70% or less than 15 minutes a day, due to which their chances of falling sick have drastically increased. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can be dangerous for both kids and adults as it not only increases obesity but also gives rise to chronic illnesses.
Therefore, as we normalize, it has become critical for parents to limit the screen time of children and ensure that they get at least 60 mins of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. A sedentary lifestyle not only impacts the child’s immunity but also hinders their physical growth. Hence, ensuring a balance between playtime and studies is now extremely critical for the parents.
Ensure regular and sleep cycle
For over two years children have been battling with irregular sleep cycles which is also a probable cause behind their poor immunity. The pandemic not only increased the screen time of the children but also made it difficult for them to keep up with their routines.
Parents must ensure that their child gets sufficient sleep which is essential for their immune system. Maintaining a proper sleep cycle helps in strengthening a strong innate and adaptive immunity and can also help the children in avoiding any severe allergic reactions.
Adopt a balanced diet and hygiene practices
Dr. Chetan Ginigeri, added, “Children love to eat unhealthy foods like pizza, burgers and colas etc. This often leads to obesity among them and increases their chances of inflammation. Parents need to understand that regular consumption of a diet with high additives, preservatives and sugar can weaken their child’s immunity. Therefore, parents must develop a practice to include at least 5 vegetables in their family’s diet every day that can boost the child’s immunity and improve his/her digestion. Additionally, teaching healthy hygiene practices to your child at home will ensure that they will follow similar measures at school. Teaching your child the proper hand hygiene practices will prevent them from dirt and dust and other gastrointestinal infections”.
It is also important to note that on average school-going kids can have five to six colds a year and hence, parents must avoid panicking if they notice any symptoms. If your child is feeling under the weather and has severe symptoms then parents consult a paediatrician to avoid any complications from water-borne diseases, typhoid and hepatitis.
Lastly, you must take your child’s vaccination schedule seriously. In case you’ve missed out on any, schedule an appointment immediately.