Category Archives: Pediatric

Complications In Pregnancy

Pre-eclampsia, eclampsia or toxemia of pregnancy
Pre-eclampsia or preeclampsia (PE) is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and a large amount of protein in the urine. The disorder usually occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy and gets worse over time. In severe disease there may be red blood cell breakdown, a low blood platelet count, impaired liver function, kidney dysfunction, swelling, shortness of breath due to fluid in the lungs, or visual disturbances. PE increases the risk of poor outcomes for both the mother and the baby. If left untreated, it may result in seizures at which point it is known as eclampsia.


Toxemia of pregnancy is a severe condition that sometimes occurs in the latter weeks of pregnancy. It is characterized by high blood pressure; swelling of the hands, feet, and face; and an excessive amount of protein in the urine. If the condition is allowed to worsen, the mother may experience convulsions and coma, and the baby may be stillborn.
The term toxemia is actually a misnomer from the days when it was thought that the condition was caused by toxic (poisonous) substances in the blood. The illness is more accurately called preeclampsia before the convulsive stage and eclampsia afterward.

Preeclampsia affects between 2–8% of pregnancies worldwide. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are one of the most common causes of death due to pregnancy. They resulted in 29,000 deaths in 2013 – down from 37,000 deaths in 1990. Preeclampsia usually occurs after 32 weeks; however, if it occurs earlier it is associated with worse outcomes. Women who have had PE are at increased risk of heart disease later in life. The word eclampsia is from the Greek term for lightning. The first known description of the condition was by Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE

Swelling (especially in the hands and face) was originally considered an important sign for a diagnosis of preeclampsia. However, because swelling is a common occurrence in pregnancy, its utility as a distinguishing factor in preeclampsia is not great. Pitting edema (unusual swelling, particularly of the hands, feet, or face, notable by leaving an indentation when pressed on) can be significant, and should be reported to a health care provider.

In general, none of the signs of preeclampsia are specific, and even convulsions in pregnancy are more likely to have causes other than eclampsia in modern practice. Further, a symptom such as epigastric pain may be misinterpreted as heartburn. Diagnosis, therefore, depends on finding a coincidence of several preeclamptic features, the final proof being their regression after delivery.

The symptoms of toxemia of pregnancy (which may lead to death if not treated) are divided into three stages, each progressively more serious:
Mild preeclampsia symptoms include edema (puffiness under the skin due to fluid accumulation in the body tissues, often noted around the ankles), mild elevation of blood pressure, and the presence of small amounts of protein in the urine.

Severe preeclampsia symptoms include extreme edema, extreme elevation of blood pressure, the presence of large amounts of protein in the urine, headache, dizziness, double vision, nausea, vomiting, and severe pain in the right upper portion of the abdomen.
Eclampsia symptoms include convulsions and coma.

Risk Factors:
Known risk factors for preeclampsia include:

*Nulliparity (never given birth)
*Older age, and diabetes mellitus
*Kidney disease
*Chronic hypertension
*Prior history of preeclampsia
*Family history of preeclampsia
*Advanced maternal age (>35 years)
*Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
*Multiple gestation
*Having donated a kidney.
*Having sub-clinical hypothyroidism or thyroid antibodies

It is also more frequent in a women’s first pregnancy and if she is carrying twins. The underlying mechanism involves abnormal formation of blood vessels in the placenta amongst other factors. Most cases are diagnosed before delivery. Rarely, preeclampsia may begin in the period after delivery. While historically both high blood pressure and protein in the urine were required to make the diagnosis, some definitions also include those with hypertension and any associated organ dysfunction. Blood pressure is defined as high when it is greater than 140 mmHg systolic or 90 mmHg diastolic at two separate times, more than four hours apart in a women after twenty weeks of pregnancy. PE is routinely screened for during prenatal care.
There is no definitive known cause of preeclampsia, though it is likely related to a number of factors. Some of these factors include:

*Abnormal placentation (formation and development of the placenta)
*Immunologic factors
*Prior or existing maternal pathology – preeclampsia is seen more at a higher incidence in individuals with preexisting hypertension, obesity, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, and those with history of preeclampsia
*Dietary factors, e.g. calcium supplementation in areas where dietary calcium intake is low has been shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
*Environmental factors, e.g. air pollution
*Those with long term high blood pressure have a risk 7 to 8 times higher than those without.

Physiologically, research has linked preeclampsia to the following physiologic changes: alterations in the interaction between the maternal immune response and the placenta, placental injury, endothelial cell injury, altered vascular reactivity, oxidative stress, imbalance among vasoactive substances, decreased intravascular volume, and disseminated intravascular coagulation.

While the exact cause of preeclampsia remains unclear, there is strong evidence that a major cause predisposing a susceptible woman to preeclampsia is an abnormally implanted placenta. This abnormally implanted placenta is thought to result in poor uterine and placental perfusion, yielding a state of hypoxia and increased oxidative stress and the release of anti-angiogenic proteins into the maternal plasma along with inflammatory mediators. A major consequence of this sequence of events is generalized endothelial dysfunction. The abnormal implantation is thought to stem from the maternal immune system’s response to the placenta and refers to evidence suggesting a lack of established immunological tolerance in pregnancy. Endothelial dysfunction results in hypertension and many of the other symptoms and complications associated with preclampsia.

One theory proposes that certain dietary deficiencies may be the cause of some cases. Also, there is the possibility that some forms of preeclampsia and eclampsia are the result of deficiency of blood flow in the uterus.

Pre-eclampsia is diagnosed when a pregnant woman develops:

*Blood pressure >_ 140 mm Hg systolic or  >_  90 mm Hg diastolic on two separate readings taken at least four to six hours apart after 20 weeks gestation in an individual with previously normal blood pressure.
*In a woman with essential hypertension beginning before 20 weeks gestational age, the diagnostic criteria are: an increase in systolic blood pressure (SBP) of   >_ 30mmHg or an increase in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of   >_15mmHg.
*Proteinuria  >_ 0.3 grams (300 mg) or more of protein in a 24-hour urine sample or a SPOT urinary protein to creatinine ratio  >_ 0.3 or a urine dipstick reading of 1+ or greater (dipstick reading should only be used if other quantitative methods are not available)

Suspicion for preeclampsia should be maintained in any pregnancy complicated by elevated blood pressure, even in the absence of proteinuria. Ten percent of individuals with other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and 20% of individuals diagnosed with eclampsia show no evidence of proteinuria. In the absence of proteinuria, the presence of new-onset hypertension (elevated blood pressure) and the new onset of one or more of the following is suggestive of the diagnosis of preeclampsia:

*Evidence of kidney dysfunction (oliguria, elevated creatinine levels)
*Impaired liver function (impaired liver function tests)
*Thrombocytopenia (platelet count <100,000/microliter)
*Pulmonary edema
*Ankle edema pitting type
*Cerebral or visual disturbances
*Preeclampsia is a progressive disorder and these signs of organ dysfunction are indicative of severe preeclampsia. A systolic blood pressure ?160 or diastolic blood pressure ?110 and/or proteinuria >5g in a 24-hour period is also indicative of severe preeclampsia. Clinically, individuals with severe preeclampsia may also present epigastric/right upper quadrant abdominal pain, headaches, and vomiting. Severe preeclampsia is a significant risk factor for intrauterine fetal death.

Of note, a rise in baseline blood pressure (BP) of 30 mmHg systolic or 15 mmHg diastolic, while not meeting the absolute criteria of 140/90, is still considered important to note, but is not considered diagnostic.

Predictive tests:
There have been many assessments of tests aimed at predicting preeclampsia, though no single biomarker is likely to be sufficiently predictive of the disorder. Predictive tests that have been assessed include those related to placental perfusion, vascular resistance, kidney dysfunction, endothelial dysfunction, and oxidative stress. Examples of notable tests include:

*Doppler ultrasonography of the uterine arteries to investigate for signs of inadequate placental perfusion. This test has a high negative predictive value among those individuals with a history of prior preeclampsia.
*Elevations in serum uric acid (hyperuricemia) is used by some to “define” preeclampsia,[14] though it has been found to be a poor predictor of the disorder. Elevated levels in the blood (hyperuricemia) are likely due to reduced uric acid clearance secondary to impaired kidney function.
*Angiogenic proteins such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and placental growth factor (PIGF) and anti-angiogenic proteins such as soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) have shown promise for potential clinical use in diagnosing preeclampsia, though evidence is sufficient to recommend a clinical use for these markers.
*Recent studies have shown that looking for podocytes, specialized cells of the kidney, in the urine has the potential to aid in the prediction of preeclampsia. Studies have demonstrated that finding podocytes in the urine may serve as an early marker of and diagnostic test for preeclampsia. Research is ongoing.

Differential diagnosis:
Pre-eclampsia can mimic and be confused with many other diseases, including chronic hypertension, chronic renal disease, primary seizure disorders, gallbladder and pancreatic disease, immune or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, antiphospholipid syndrome and hemolytic-uremic syndrome. It must be considered a possibility in any pregnant woman beyond 20 weeks of gestation. It is particularly difficult to diagnose when preexisting disease such as hypertension is present. Women with acute fatty liver of pregnancy may also present with elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine, but differs by the extent of liver damage. Other disorders that can cause high blood pressure include thyrotoxicosis, pheochromocytoma, and drug misuse
Preeclampsia and eclampsia cannot be completely cured until the pregnancy is over. Until that time, treatment includes the control of high blood pressure and the intravenous administration of drugs to prevent convulsions. Drugs may also be given to stimulate the production of urine. In some severe cases, early delivery of the baby is needed to ensure the survival of the mother.

Recommendations for prevention include: aspirin in those at high risk, calcium supplementation in areas with low intake, and treatment of prior hypertension with medications. In those with PE delivery of the fetus and placenta is an effective treatment. When delivery becomes recommended depends on how severe the PE and how far along in pregnancy a person is. Blood pressure medication, such as labetalol and methyldopa, may be used to improve the mother’s condition before delivery. Magnesium sulfate may be used to prevent eclampsia in those with severe disease. Bedrest and salt intake have not been found to be useful for either treatment or prevention.

Protein or calorie supplementation have no effect on preeclampsia rates, and dietary protein restriction does not appear to increase preeclampsia rates. Further, there is no evidence that changing salt intake has an effect.

Supplementation with antioxidants such as vitamin C and E has no effect on preeclampsia incidence, nor does supplementation with vitamin D. Therefore, supplementation with vitamins C, E, and D is not recommended for reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia.

Calcium supplementation of at least 1 gram per day is recommended during pregnancy as it prevents preeclampsia where dietary calcium intake is low, especially for those at high risk. Low selenium status is associated with higher incidence of preeclampsia.

Taking aspirin is associated with a 1% to 5% reduction in preeclampsia and a 1% to 5% reduction in premature births in women at high risk. The WHO recommends low-dose aspirin for the prevention of preeclampsia in women at high risk and recommend it be started before 20 weeks of pregnancy. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends a low-dose regimen for women at high risk beginning in the 12th week.

Physical activity:
There is insufficient evidence to recommend either exercise or strict bedrest as preventative measures of pre-eclampsia.

Smoking cessation:
In low-risk pregnancies the association between cigarette smoking and a reduced risk of preeclampsia has been consistent and reproducible across epidemiologic studies. High-risk pregnancies (those with pregestational diabetes, chronic hypertension, history of preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy, or multifetal gestation) showed no significant protective effect. The reason for this discrepancy is not definitively known; research supports speculation that the underlying pathology increases the risk of preeclampsia to such a degree that any measurable reduction of risk due to smoking is masked. However, the damaging effects of smoking on overall health and pregnancy outcomes outweighs the benefits in decreasing the incidence of preeclampsia. It is recommended that smoking be stopped prior to, during and after pregnancy

Restriction of salt in the diet may help reduce swelling, it does not prevent the onset of high blood pressure or the appearance of protein in the urine. During prenatal visits, the doctor routinely checks the woman’s weight, blood pressure, and urine. If toxemia is detected early, complications may be reduced.


Spina bifida

Spina bifida is a type of birth defect called a neural tube defect. It occurs when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) don’t form properly around part of the baby’s spinal cord. Spina bifida can be mild or severe….CLICK & SEE

Spina bifida malformations fall into three categories: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica with meningocele, and spina bifida cystica with myelomeningocele. The most common location of the malformations is the lumbar and sacral areas. Myelomeningocele is the most significant and common form, and this leads to disability in most affected individuals. The terms spina bifida and myelomeningocele are usually used interchangeably.

Spina bifida meningocele and myelomeningocele are among the most common birth defects, with a worldwide incidence of about 1 in every 1000 births. The occulta form is much more common, but only rarely causes neurological symptoms.

Clasification:....CLICK & SEE
Spina bifida occulta:
Occulta is Latin for “hidden”. This is the mildest form of spina bifida. In occulta, the outer part of some of the vertebrae is not completely closed. The splits in the vertebrae are so small that the spinal cord does not protrude. The skin at the site of the lesion may be normal, or it may have some hair growing from it; there may be a dimple in the skin, or a birthmark.

Many people with this type of spina bifida do not even know they have it, as the condition is asymptomatic in most cases. The incidence of spina bifida occulta is approximately 10-20% of the population, and most people are diagnosed incidentally from spinal X-rays. A systematic review of radiographic research studies found no relationship between spina bifida occulta and back pain. More recent studies not included in the review support the negative findings.

However, other studies suggest spina bifida occulta is not always harmless. One study found that among patients with back pain, severity is worse if spina bifida occulta is present.

Incomplete posterior fusion is not a true spina bifida, and is very rarely of neurological significance.

A posterior meningocele  or meningeal cyst  is the least common form of spina bifida. In this form, the vertebrae develop normally, but the meninges are forced into the gaps between the vertebrae. As the nervous system remains undamaged, individuals with meningocele are unlikely to suffer long-term health problems, although cases of tethered cord have been reported. Causes of meningocele include teratoma and other tumors of the sacrococcyx and of the presacral space, and Currarino syndrome.

A meningocele may also form through dehiscences in the base of the skull. These may be classified by their localisation to occipital, frontoethmoidal, or nasal. Endonasal meningoceles lie at the roof of the nasal cavity and may be mistaken for a nasal polyp. They are treated surgically. Encephalomeningoceles are classified in the same way and also contain brain tissue.

This type of spina bifida often results in the most severe complications. In individuals with myelomeningocele, the unfused portion of the spinal column allows the spinal cord to protrude through an opening. The meningeal membranes that cover the spinal cord form a sac enclosing the spinal elements. The term Meningomyelocele is also used interchangeably.

Spina bifida with myeloschisis is the most severe form of myelomeningocele. In this type, the involved area is represented by a flattened, plate-like mass of nervous tissue with no overlying membrane. The exposure of these nerves and tissues make the baby more prone to life-threatening infections such as meningitis.

The protruding portion of the spinal cord and the nerves that originate at that level of the cord are damaged or not properly developed. As a result, there is usually some degree of paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of the spinal cord defect. Thus, the more cranial the level of the defect, the more severe the associated nerve dysfunction and resultant paralysis may be. People may have ambulatory problems, loss of sensation, deformities of the hips, knees or feet, and loss of muscle tone.

Signs and symptoms:
Physical complications:

*Leg weakness and paralysis
*Orthopedic abnormalities (i.e., club foot, hip dislocation, scoliosis)
*Bladder and bowel control problems, including incontinence, urinary tract infections, and poor renal function
*Pressure sores and skin irritations
*Abnormal eye movement

68% of children with spina bifida have an allergy to latex, ranging from mild to life-threatening. The common use of latex in medical facilities makes this a particularly serious concern. The most common approach to avoid developing an allergy is to avoid contact with latex-containing products such as examination gloves and condoms and catheters that do not specify they are latex free, and many other products, such as some commonly used by dentists.

The spinal cord lesion or the scarring due to surgery may result in a tethered spinal cord. In some individuals, this causes significant traction and stress on the spinal cord and can lead to a worsening of associated paralysis, scoliosis, back pain, and worsening bowel and/or bladder function

Neurological complications:
Many individuals with spina bifida have an associated abnormality of the cerebellum, called the Arnold Chiari II malformation. In affected individuals, the back portion of the brain is displaced from the back of the skull down into the upper neck. In about 90% of the people with myelomeningocele, hydrocephalus also occurs because the displaced cerebellum interferes with the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid, causing an excess of the fluid to accumulate.  In fact, the cerebellum also tends to be smaller in individuals with spina bifida, especially for those with higher lesion levels.

The corpus callosum is abnormally developed in 70-90% of individuals with spina bifida myelomeningocele; this impacts the communication processes between the left and right brain hemispheres. Further, white matter tracts connecting posterior brain regions with anterior regions appear less organized. White matter tracts between frontal regions have also been found to be impaired.

Cortex abnormalities may also be present. For example, frontal regions of the brain tend to be thicker than expected, while posterior and parietal regions are thinner. Thinner sections of the brain are also associated with increased cortical folding. Neurons within the cortex may also be displaced.

Executive function:
Several studies have demonstrated difficulties with executive functions in youth with spina bifida, with greater deficits observed in youth with shunted hydrocephalus. Unlike typically developing children, youths with spina bifida do not tend to improve in their executive functioning as they grow older. Specific areas of difficulty in some individuals include planning, organizing, initiating, and working memory. Problem-solving, abstraction, and visual planning may also be impaired.  Further, children with spina bifida may have poor cognitive flexibility. Although executive functions are often attributed to the frontal lobes of the brain, individuals with spina bifida have intact frontal lobes; therefore, other areas of the brain may be implicated.

Individuals with spina bifida, especially those with shunted hydrocephalus, often have attention problems. Children with spina bifida and shunted hydrocephalus have higher rates of ADHD than typically developing children (31% vs. 17%). Deficits have been observed for selective attention and focused attention, although poor motor speed may contribute to poor scores on tests of attention.  Attention deficits may be evident at a very early age, as infants with spina bifida lag behind their peers in orienting to faces.

Academic skills:
Individuals with spina bifida may struggle academically, especially in the subjects of mathematics and reading. In one study, 60% of children with spina bifida were diagnosed with a learning disability.  In addition to brain abnormalities directly related to various academic skills, achievement is likely affected by impaired attentional control and executive functioning. Children with spina bifida may perform well in elementary school, but begin to struggle as academic demands increase.

Children with spina bifida are more likely than their typically developing peers to have dyscalculia. Individuals with spina bifida have demonstrated stable difficulties with arithmetic accuracy and speed, mathematical problem-solving, and general use and understanding of numbers in everyday life. Mathematics difficulties may be directly related to the thinning of the parietal lobes (regions implicated in mathematical functioning) and indirectly associated with deformities of the cerebellum and midbrain that affect other functions involved in mathematical skills. Further, higher numbers of shunt revisions are associated with poorer mathematics abilities. Working memory and inhibitory control deficiencies have been implicated for math difficulties, although visual-spatial difficulties are not likely involved. Early intervention to address mathematics difficulties and associated executive functions is crucial.

Individuals with spina bifida tend to have better reading skills than mathematics skills. Children and adults with spina bifida have stronger abilities in reading accuracy than in reading comprehension. Comprehension may be especially impaired for text that requires an abstract synthesis of information rather than a more literal understanding. Individuals with spina bifida may have difficulty with writing due to deficits in fine motor control and working memory.

The exact cause of this birth defect isn’t known. Experts think that genes and the environment are part of the cause. For example, women who have had one child with spina bifida are more likely to have another child with the disease. Women who are obese or who have diabetes are also more likely to have a child with spina bifida.

Spina bifida is sometimes caused by the failure of the neural tube to close during the first month of embryonic development (often before the mother knows she is pregnant). Some forms are known to occur with primary conditions that cause raised central nervous system pressure, which raises the possibility of a dual pathogenesis.

In normal circumstances, the closure of the neural tube occurs around the 23rd (rostral closure) and 27th (caudal closure) day after fertilization. However, if something interferes and the tube fails to close properly, a neural tube defect will occur. Medications such as some anticonvulsants, diabetes, having a relative with spina bifida, obesity, and an increased body temperature from fever or external sources such as hot tubs and electric blankets may increase the chances of delivery of a baby with a spina bifida.

Extensive evidence from mouse strains with spina bifida indicates that there is sometimes a genetic basis for the condition. Human spina bifida, like other human diseases, such as cancer, hypertension and atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease), likely results from the interaction of multiple genes and environmental factors.

Research has shown the lack of folic acid (folate) is a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Supplementation of the mother’s diet with folate can reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by about 70%, and can also decrease the severity of these defects when they occur. It is unknown how or why folic acid has this effect.

Spina bifida does not follow direct patterns of heredity like muscular dystrophy or haemophilia. Studies show a woman having had one child with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida has about a 3% risk of having another affected child. This risk can be reduced with folic acid supplementation before pregnancy. For the general population, low-dose folic acid supplements are advised (0.4 mg/day)

There is no known cure for nerve damage caused by spina bifida. To prevent further damage of the nervous tissue and to prevent infection, pediatric neurosurgeons operate to close the opening on the back. The spinal cord and its nerve roots are put back inside the spine and covered with meninges. In addition, a shunt may be surgically installed to provide a continuous drain for the excess cerebrospinal fluid produced in the brain, as happens with hydrocephalus. Shunts most commonly drain into the abdomen or chest wall. However, if spina bifida is detected during pregnancy, then open or minimally-invasive fetal surgery can be performed.

In childhood:
Most individuals with myelomeningocele will need periodic evaluations by a variety of specialists:

*Physiatrists coordinate the rehabilitation efforts of different therapists and prescribe specific therapies, adaptive equipment, or medications to encourage as high of a functional performance within the community as possible.

*Orthopedists monitor growth and development of bones, muscles, and joints.

*Neurosurgeons perform surgeries at birth and manage complications associated with tethered cord and hydrocephalus.

*Neurologists treat and evaluate nervous system issues, such as seizure disorders.

*Urologists to address kidney, bladder, and bowel dysfunction – many will need to manage their urinary systems with a program of catheterization. Bowel management programs aimed at improving elimination are also designed.

*Ophthalmologists evaluate and treat complications of the eyes.

*Orthotists design and customize various types of assistive technology, including braces, crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs to aid in mobility. As a general rule, the higher the level of the spina bifida defect, the more severe the paralysis, but paralysis does not always occur. Thus, those with low levels may need only short leg braces, whereas those with higher levels do best with a wheelchair, and some may be able to walk unaided.

*Physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and speech/language pathologists aid in rehabilitative therapies and increase independent living skills.

Transition to adulthood:
Although many children’s hospitals feature integrated multidisciplinary teams to coordinate healthcare of youth with spina bifida, the transition to adult healthcare can be difficult because the above healthcare professionals operate independently of each other, requiring separate appointments and communicate among each other much less frequently. Healthcare professionals working with adults may also be less knowledgeable about spina bifida because it is considered a childhood chronic health condition.  Due to the potential difficulties of the transition, adolescents with spina bifida and their families are encouraged to begin to prepare for the transition around ages 14–16, although this may vary depending on the adolescent’s cognitive and physical abilities and available family support. The transition itself should be gradual and flexible. The adolescent’s multidisciplinary treatment team may aid in the process by preparing comprehensive, up-to-date documents detailing the adolescent’s medical care, including information about medications, surgery, therapies, and recommendations. A transition plan and aid in identifying adult healthcare professionals are also helpful to include in the transition process.

Further complicating the transition process is the tendency for youths with spina bifida to be delayed in the development of autonomy, with boys particularly at risk for slower development of independence. An increased dependence on others (in particular family members) may interfere with the adolescent’s self-management of health-related tasks, such as catheterization, bowel management, and taking medications.  As part of the transition process, it is beneficial to begin discussions at an early age about educational and vocational goals, independent living, and community involvement.

There is neither a single cause of spina bifida nor any known way to prevent it entirely. However, dietary supplementation with folic acid has been shown to be helpful in reducing the incidence of spina bifida. Sources of folic acid include whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, dried beans, leaf vegetables and fruits.

Folate fortification of enriched grain products has been mandatory in the United States since 1998. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Public Health Agency of Canada  and UK recommended amount of folic acid for women of childbearing age and women planning to become pregnant is at least 0.4 mg/day of folic acid from at least three months before conception, and continued for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  Women who have already had a baby with spina bifida or other type of neural tube defect, or are taking anticonvulsant medication should take a higher dose of 4–5 mg/day.

Certain mutations in the gene VANGL1 are implicated as a risk factor for spina bifida: These mutations have been linked with spina bifida in some families with a history of spina bifida.

Pregnancy screening:
Open spina bifida can usually be detected during pregnancy by fetal ultrasound. Increased levels of maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) should be followed up by two tests – an ultrasound of the fetal spine and amniocentesis of the mother’s amniotic fluid (to test for alpha-fetoprotein and acetylcholinesterase). AFP tests are now mandated by some state laws (including California). and failure to provide them can have legal ramifications. In one case a man born with spina bifida was awarded a $2 million settlement after court found his mother’s OBGYN negligent for not performing these tests. Spina bifida may be associated with other malformations as in dysmorphic syndromes, often resulting in spontaneous miscarriage. In the majority of cases, though, spina bifida is an isolated malformation.

Genetic counseling and further genetic testing, such as amniocentesis, may be offered during the pregnancy, as some neural tube defects are associated with genetic disorders such as trisomy 18. Ultrasound screening for spina bifida is partly responsible for the decline in new cases, because many pregnancies are terminated out of fear that a newborn might have a poor future quality of life. With modern medical care, the quality of life of patients has greatly improved.



Alternative Names: Exanthem subitum; Sixth disease

Roseola is a generally mild infection that usually affects children by age 2. It occasionally affects adults. Roseola is extremely common — so common that most children have been infected with roseola by the time they enter kindergarten.

Two common strains of herpes viruses cause roseola. The condition typically causes several days of fever, followed by a rash.

Some children develop only a very mild case of roseola and never show any clear indication of illness, while others experience the full range of symptoms.

Roseola typically isn’t serious. Rarely, complications from a very high fever can result. Treatment of roseola includes bed rest, fluids and medications to reduce fever.

It is frequently called roseola, although this term could be applied to any rose-colored rash.

The child may have a runny nose, sore throat, and eye redness.

A fever usually occurs before the rash appears. It lasts for 3 (sometimes up to 7) days. The fever may be as high as 105° Fahrenheit, and it generally responds well to acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Between the second and fourth day of the illness, the fever drops and a rash appears (often as the fever falls).

•The rash starts on the trunk and spreads to the limbs, neck, and face. The rash is pink or rose-colored, and has fairly small sores that are slightly raised.
•The rash lasts from a few hours to 2 – 3 days. It usually does not itch.
Other symptoms include:

•High fever that comes on quickly

Until recently, its origin was unknown, but it is now known to be caused by two human herpesviruses, HHV-6 (Human herpesvirus 6) and HHV-7, which are sometimes referred to collectively as Roseolovirus. There are two variants of HHV-6 and studies in the US, Europe and Japan have shown that exanthema subitum is caused by HHV-6B which infects over 90% of infants by age 2. Current research indicates that babies congenitally infected with the HHV-6A virus can have inherited the virus on a chromosome

The virus is spread through the faecal-oral route (poor hygiene after using the toilet) or by airborne droplets. Careful handwashing can help prevent its spread.

Occasionally other viruses cause an illness very similar to roseola.

Like other viral illnesses, such as a common cold, roseola spreads from person to person through contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions or saliva. For example, a healthy child who shares a cup with a child who has roseola could contract the virus.

Roseola is contagious even if no rash is present. That means the condition can spread while an infected child has only a fever, even before it’s clear that the child has roseola. Watch for signs of roseola if your child has interacted with another child who has the illness.

Unlike chickenpox and other childhood viral illnesses that spread rapidly, roseola rarely results in a communitywide outbreak. The infection can occur at any time of the year.
Roseola occurs throughout the year. The time between becoming infected and the beginning of symptoms (incubation period) is 5 to 15 days.

Risk Factors:
Older infants are at greatest risk of acquiring roseola because they haven’t had time yet to develop their own antibodies against many viruses. While in the uterus, babies receive antibodies from their mothers that protect them as newborns from contracting infections, such as roseola. But this immunity fades with time. The most common age for a child to contract roseola is between 6 and 15 months.

Seizures in children
Occasionally a child with roseola experiences a seizure brought on by a rapid rise in body temperature. If this happens, your child might briefly lose consciousness and jerk his or her arms, legs or head for several seconds to minutes. He or she may also lose bladder or bowel control temporarily.

If your child has a seizure, seek emergency care. Although frightening, fever-related seizures in otherwise healthy young children are generally short-lived and are rarely harmful.

Complications from roseola are rare. The vast majority of otherwise healthy children and adults with roseola recover quickly and completely.

Concerns for people with weak immune systems
Roseola is of greater concern in people whose immune system is compromised, such as those who have recently received a bone marrow or organ transplant. They may contract a new case of roseola — or a previous infection may come back while their immune system is weakened. Because they have less resistance to viruses in general, immune-compromised people tend to develop more severe cases of infection and have a harder time fighting off illness.

People with weak immune systems who contract roseola may experience potentially serious complications from the infection, such as pneumonia or encephalitis — a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the brain.

Roseola is usually diagnosed from the history and symptoms, especially if the infection has recently been reported in the community.
•Physical exam of rash
•Swollen lymph nodes on the neck (cervical nodes) or back of the scalp (occipital nodes)

Clinical features:
Typically the disease affects a child between six months and two years of age, and begins with a sudden high fever (39–40 °C; 102.2-104 °F). This can cause, in rare cases, febrile convulsions (also known as febrile seizures or “fever fits”) due to the sudden rise in body temperature, but in many cases the child appears normal. After a few days the fever subsides, and just as the child appears to be recovering, a red rash appears. This usually begins on the trunk, spreading to the legs and neck. The rash is not itchy and may last 1 to 2 days.  In contrast, a child suffering from measles would usually appear more infirm, with symptoms of conjunctivitis and a cough, and their rash would affect the face and last for several days. Liver dysfunction can occur in rare cases.

The rare adult reactivates with HHV-6 and can show signs of mononucleosis.

The disease usually gets better without complications.
Most children recover fully from roseola within a week of the onset of the fever. With your doctor’s advice, you can give your child over-the-counter medications to reduce fever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). However, don’t give aspirin to a child who has a viral illness because aspirin has been associated with the development of Reye’s syndrome, which can be serious.

There’s no specific treatment for roseola, although some doctors may prescribe the antiviral medication ganciclovir (Cytovene) to treat the infection in people with weakened immunity. Antibiotics aren’t effective in treating viral illnesses, such as roseola.

Like most viruses, roseola just needs to run its course. Once the fever subsides, your child should feel better soon. However, a fever can make your child uncomfortable. To treat your child’s fever at home, your doctor may recommend:

*Plenty of rest. Let your child rest in bed until the fever disappears.

*Plenty of fluids. Encourage your child to drink clear fluids, such as water, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, clear broth or an electrolyte solution (such as Pedialyte) or sports drinks (such as Gatorade and Powerade) to prevent dehydration. Remove the gas bubbles from carbonated fluids. You can do this by letting the carbonated beverage stand or by shaking, pouring or stirring the beverage. Removing the carbonation will mean having your child avoid the added discomfort of excess burping or intestinal gas that carbonated beverages may cause.

*Sponge baths. A lukewarm sponge bath or a cool washcloth applied to your child’s head can soothe the discomfort of a fever. However, avoid using ice, cold water, fans or cold baths. These may give the child unwanted chills.There’s no specific treatment for the rash of roseola, which fades on its own in a short time

Because there’s no vaccine to prevent roseola, the best you can do to prevent the spread of roseola is to avoid exposing your child to an infected child. If your child is sick with roseola, keep him or her home and away from other children until the fever has broken. Once the rash appears, the virus is much less contagious.

Most people have antibodies to roseola by the time they’re of school age, making them immune to a second infection. Even so, if one household member contracts the virus, make sure that all family members wash their hands frequently to prevent spread of the virus to anyone who isn’t immune.

Adults who never contracted roseola as children can become infected later in life, though the disease tends to be mild in healthy adults. The main concern is that infected adults can pass the virus on to children.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.


Pyloric stenosis

Alternative Name : Infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis

Pyloric stenosis is a condition that causes severe vomiting in the first few months of life. There is narrowing (stenosis) of the opening from the stomach to the intestines, due to enlargement (hypertrophy) of the muscle surrounding this opening (the pylorus, meaning “gate”), which spasms when the stomach empties. It is uncertain whether there is a real congenital narrowing or whether there is a functional hypertrophy of the muscle which develops in the first few weeks of life. Babies with this condition may seem to always be hungry
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Pyloric stenosis also occurs in adults where the cause is usually a narrowed pylorus due to scarring from chronic peptic ulceration. This is a different condition from the infantile form.

Prompt treatment of pyloric stenosis is important for preventing complications. Pyloric stenosis can be corrected with surgery.

Males are more commonly affected than females, with firstborn males affected about four times as often, and there is a genetic predisposition for the disease. It is commonly associated with people of Jewish ancestry, and has multifactorial inheritance patterns. Pyloric stenosis is more common in Caucasians than Hispanics, Blacks, or Asians. The incidence is 2.4 per 1000 live births in Caucasians , 1.8 in Hispanics, 0.7 in Blacks, and 0.6 in Asians. It is also less common amongst children of mixed race parents.  Caucasian babies with blood type B or O are more likely than other types to be affected

Signs of pyloric stenosis usually appear within three to five weeks after birth. Pyloric stenosis is rare in babies older than age 3 months.

Signs and symptoms are:
*Frequent projectile vomiting. Pyloric stenosis often causes projectile vomiting — the forceful ejection of milk or formula up to several feet away — within 30 minutes after your baby eats. Vomiting may be mild at first and gradually become more severe. The vomit may sometimes contain blood.

*Persistent hunger. Babies who have pyloric stenosis often want to eat soon after vomiting.

*Stomach contractions. You may notice wave-like contractions that move across your baby’s upper abdomen (peristalsis) soon after feeding but before vomiting. This is caused by stomach muscles trying to force food past the outlet of the pylorus.

*Dehydration. Your baby may cry without tears or become lethargic. You may find yourself changing fewer wet diapers or diapers that aren’t as wet as you expect.

*Changes in bowel movements. Since pyloric stenosis prevents food from reaching the intestines, babies with this condition may be constipated.

*Weight problems. Pyloric stenosis can prevent a baby from gaining weight, and can sometimes even cause weight loss.

*Less active or seems unusually irritable

*Urinating much less frequently or is having noticeably fewer bowel movements


The cause of the thickening is unknown, although genetic factors may play a role. Children of parents who had pyloric stenosis are more likely to have this problem.

Normally, food passes easily from the stomach into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) through a valve called the pylorus. In pyloric stenosis, the muscles of the pylorus are thickened. This thickening prevents the stomach from emptying into the small intestine.

Risk Factors:
Risk factors for pyloric stenosis include:

*Sex. Pyloric stenosis occurs more often in males than in females.

*Birth order. About one-third of babies affected by pyloric stenosis are firstborns.

*Family history. More than 1 in 10 babies with pyloric stenosis has a family member who had the disorder.

*Early antibiotic use. Babies given certain antibiotics, such as erythromycin, in the first weeks of life for whooping cough (pertussis) have an increased risk of pyloric stenosis. In addition, babies born to mothers who were given certain antibiotics in late pregnancy also may have an increased risk of pyloric stenosis.

Pyloric stenosis can lead to:

*An electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are minerals, such as chloride and potassium, that circulate in the body’s fluids to help regulate many vital functions, such as heartbeat. When a baby vomits every time he or she eats, dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes eventually occurs

*Stomach irritation. Repeated vomiting can irritate your baby’s stomach. This irritation may even cause mild bleeding.

*Jaundice. Rarely, infants who have pyloric stenosis develop jaundice — a yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes caused by a buildup of a substance secreted by the liver called bilirubin.


Diagnosis is via a careful history and physical examination, often supplemented by radiographic studies. There should be suspicion for pyloric stenosis in any young infant with severe vomiting. On exam, palpation of the abdomen may reveal a mass in the epigastrium. This mass, which consists of the enlarged pylorus, is referred to as the ‘olive,’ and is sometimes evident after the infant is given formula to drink. It is an elusive diagnostic skill requiring much patience and experience. There are often palpable (or even visible) peristaltic waves due to the stomach trying to force its contents past the narrowed pyloric outlet.

At this point, most cases of pyloric stenosis are diagnosed/confirmed with ultrasound, if available, showing the thickened pylorus. Although somewhat less useful, an upper GI series (x-rays taken after the baby drinks a special contrast agent) can be diagnostic by showing the narrowed pyloric outlet filled with a thin stream of contrast material; a “string sign” or the “railroad track sign”. For either type of study, there are specific measurement criteria used to identify the abnormal results. Plain x-rays of the abdomen are not useful, except when needed to rule out other problems.

Blood tests will reveal hypokalemic, hypochloremic metabolic alkalosis due to loss of gastric acid (which contain hydrochloric acid and potassium) via persistent vomiting; these findings can be seen with severe vomiting from any cause. The potassium is decreased further by the body’s release of aldosterone, in an attempt to compensate for the hypovolaemia due to the severe vomiting.

The gastric outlet obstruction due to the hypertrophic pylorus impairs emptying of gastric contents into the duodenum. As a consequence, all ingested food and gastric secretions can only exit via vomiting, which can be of a projectile nature. The vomited material does not contain bile because the pyloric obstruction prevents entry of duodenal contents (containing bile) into the stomach.

This results in loss of gastric acid (hydrochloric acid). The chloride loss results in hypochloremia which impairs the kidney’s ability to excrete bicarbonate. This is the significant factor that prevents correction of the alkalosis.

A secondary hyperaldosteronism develops due to the hypovolemia. The high aldosterone levels causes the kidneys to:

*avidly retain Na+ (to correct the intravascular volume depletion)

*excrete increased amounts of K+ into the urine (resulting in hypokalaemia).

The body’s compensatory response to the metabolic alkalosis is hypoventilation resulting in an elevated arterial pCO2.=[pp\][[\=0808i[po9il;


Infantile pyloric stenosis is typically managed with surgery; very few cases are mild enough to be treated medically.

Prior to surgery and surgery alternatives:
The danger of pyloric stenosis comes from the dehydration and electrolyte disturbance rather than the underlying problem itself. Therefore, the baby must be initially stabilized by correcting the dehydration and hypochloremic alkalosis with IV fluids. This can usually be accomplished in about 24–48 hours.

Intravenous and oral atropine may be used to treat pyloric stenosis. It has a success rate of 85-89% compared to nearly 100% for pyloromyotomy, however it requires prolonged hospitalization, skilled nursing and careful follow up during treatment. It might be an alternative to surgery in children who have contraindications for anesthesia or surgery.

The definitive treatment of pyloric stenosis is with surgical pyloromyotomy known as Ramstedt’s procedure (dividing the muscle of the pylorus to open up the gastric outlet). This is a relatively straightforward surgery that can possibly be done through a single incision (usually 3–4 cm long) or laparoscopically (through several tiny incisions), depending on the surgeon’s experience and preference.
Today, the laparoscopic technique has largely supplanted the traditional open repairs which involved either a tiny circular incision around the navel or the Ramstedt procedure. Compared to the older open techniques, the complication rate is equivalent, except for a markedly lower risk of wound infection.[9] This is now considered the standard of care at the majority of Children Hospitals across the US, although some surgeons still perform the open technique. Following repair, the small 3mm incisions are hard to see.

The vertical incision, pictured and listed above, is no longer usually required. Though many incisions have been horizontal in the past years.

Once the stomach can empty into the duodenum, feeding can commence. Some vomiting may be expected during the first days after surgery as the gastro-intestinal tract settles. Very occasionally the myotomy was incomplete and projectile vomiting continues, requiring repeat surgery. But the condition generally has no long term side-effects or impact on the child’s future.

Surgery usually provides complete relief of symptoms. The infant can usually tolerate small, frequent feedings several hours after surgery.

There are no known ways of preventing pyloric stenosis, although it is possible that breastfeeding might reduce the risk.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.



The skull isn’t perfectly smooth – it’s covered with lumps, dips and some flatter areas. But sometimes a large area of flattening distorts the skull, making it look parallelogram-shaped. This is known as plagiocephaly.

The most common form is positional plagiocephaly. It occurs when a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to pressure on that area. Babies are vulnerable because their skull is soft and pliable when they’re born.


Positional plagiocephaly typically develops after birth when babies spend time in a position that puts pressure on one part of the skull. Because babies spend so much time lying on their back, for example, they may develop a flat spot where their head presses against the mattress.

Starting in the early 1990s, parents were told to put their babies to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS. While this advice has saved thousands of babies’ lives, experts have noticed a fivefold increase in misshapen heads since then.

More rarely, babies develop positional plagiocephaly when movement in the uterus is constricted for some reason – because their mother is carrying more than one baby, for example. It can also happen to breech babies who get wedged under their mother’s ribs.

Another type of plagiocephaly is craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the joints between the bones of the skull close early. Babies born with craniosynostosis need surgery to allow their brain to grow properly.

Plagiocephaly may become apparent at different ages, depending on the cause. Some babies are born with a flat head (this may be a temporary deformity due to the baby’s passage down the birth canal), while others develop it later as the bones of the skull fuse. The abnormal shape can best be seen if you look down on the baby’s head from above.

Signs of plagiocephaly include:
•Parallelogram-shaped skull when viewed from above
•Flattening on one side at the back of the head, with a compensatory protrusion or bulge in the forehead on the same side
•Eyes appearing to have unequal positioning
•A bald spot on flattened side (may be asymmetrical)

To learn more you may click to see :Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, Brachycephaly with Plagiocephaly and Scaphocephaly

Causes & Risk Factors:
A baby’s skull is very soft and can be forced to grow in different directions fairly easily. When the skull is kept in one particular position for long periods – because the baby is sleeping in a set position (such as on his back) or because muscles attached to the skull go into spasm (known as torticollis) – areas of the skull may be squashed or pulled flat. This is known as positional or deformation plagiocephaly. It generally gets better by itself over time.

Other factors that increase the risk of plagiocephaly include a multiple birth pregnancy (as the babies ‘squash together’ in the womb), prematurity, poor muscle tone and a condition known as oligohydramnios, where there’s insufficient fluid in the womb to cushion the baby.

In the US at least, plagiocephaly has become more common in recent years. Statistics show that while one in 300 healthy infants was affected in 1992, by 1999 one in 60 had the condition.

This increase is thought to be due to the Back to Sleep campaign, designed to reduce the number of sudden infant deaths (cot deaths).

It’s possible to prevent positional plagiocephaly by changing your baby’s resting position frequently. Your baby still needs to be laid on their back to sleep, but try to alternate the position of the head and encourage them to spend time on their tummy while they’re awake and supervised.

Switch between putting them in a sloping chair, car seat or sling, or on a flat surface, so there’s no constant pressure on one area of the skull.Prolonge keeping the baby in the carseat is  very dengerous for the babies.

Plagiocephaly may also be caused by the bones of the skull joining together abnormally early. These bones normally grow together slowly so the skull expands in all directions. But if some fuse too soon (craniosynostosis), that part of the skull can’t grow in the way it should, pulling the head out of shape. This may occur in isolation, or as part of a genetic syndrome such as Apert syndrome or Crouzon syndrome.

Many vaginally delivered babies are born with an oddly shaped head caused by the pressure of passing through the birth canal. This usually corrects itself within about six weeks. But if your baby’s head hasn’t rounded out by age 6 weeks – or if you first notice that your baby has a flat spot on her skull after 6 weeks of age – it’s probably a case of positional plagiocephaly.

Plagiocephaly shows up most often in babies who are reported to be “good sleepers,” babies with unusually large heads, and babies who are born prematurely and have weak muscle tone.

Babies with torticollis can also develop a flat spot on their skull because they often sleep with their head turned to one side. Torticollis occurs when a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck causes the chin to tilt to the other side. Premature babies are especially prone to torticollis

Most often, your child’s doctor can make the diagnosis of positional plagiocephaly simply by examining your child’s head, without having to order lab tests or X-rays. The doctor will also note whether regular repositioning of your child’s head during sleep successfully reshapes the child’s growing skull over time, whereas craniosynostosis, on the other hand, typically worsens over time.

If there’s still some doubt, X-rays or a CT scan of the head will show your child’s doctor if the skull bones are normally separated or if they fused together too soon. If the bones aren’t fused, the doctor will probably rule out craniosynostosis and confirm that the child has positional plagiocephaly.

It’s important the type and cause of plagiocephaly are determined, as each requires different treatment. X-rays, CT scans and other tests may be needed to confirm diagnosis.

The condition will sometimes improve as the baby grows, but in many cases, treatment can significantly improve the shape of a baby’s head. Initially, treatment usually takes the form of reducing the pressure on the affected area through repositioning of the baby onto his or her tummy for extended periods of time throughout the day. Other treatments include repositioning the child’s head throughout the day so that the rounded side of the head is placed dependent against the mattress, repositioning cribs and other areas that infants spend time in so that they will have to look in a different direction to see their parents, or others in the room, repositioning mobiles and other toys for similar reasons, and avoiding extended time sleeping in car-seats (when not in a vehicle), bouncy seats, or other supine seating which is thought to exacerbate the problem. If the child appears to have discomfort or cries when they are repositioned, they may have a problem with the neck.  If this is unsuccessful, treatment using a cranial remoulding orthosis (baby helmet) can help to correct abnormal head shapes. These helmets are used to treat deformational plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, scaphocephaly and other head shape deformities in infants 3-18 months of age. For years, infants have been successfully treated with cranial remolding orthoses. A cranial remolding orthoses (helmet) provides painless total contact over the prominent areas of the skull and leaves voids over the flattened areas to provide a pathway for more symmetrical skull growth. Treatment generally takes 3-4 months, but varies depending on the infant’s age and severity of the cranial asymmetry.

There are some beginning studies that indicate that babies with plagiocephaly tend to have learning difficulties later on in school, however these studies are still early, and do not yet represent a scientific consensus. Other more complete studies suggest that there is no evidence to suggest that plagiocephaly is harmful to brain development, vision, or hearing


To successfully prevent Plagiocephaly, prenatal education on skull deformation   is crucial.
Being aware of preventative measures can help reduce the chance your child will develop positional plagiocephaly. Different repositioning techniques and adequate Tummy Time are keys to prevention and also help your baby meet developmental milestones.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


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Oral thrush


Alternative Names: Candidiasis – oral; Oral thrush; Fungal infection – mouth; Candide – oral

Oral thurs  is an infection of yeast fungi of the genus Candida on the mucous membranes of the mouth and tongue. It is frequently caused by Candida albicans, or less commonly by Candida glabrata or Candida tropicalis. Oral thrush may refer to candidiasis in the mouths of babies, while if occurring in the mouth or throat of adults it may also be termed candidosis or moniliasis…


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Although oral thrush can affect anyone, it’s more likely to occur in babies and people who wear dentures, use inhaled corticosteroids or have compromised immune systems. Oral thrush is a minor problem if you’re healthy, but if you have a weakened immune system, symptoms of oral thrush may be more severe and difficult to control.

Signs and symptoms of oral infection by Candida species may not be immediately noticeable but can develop suddenly and may persist for a long time. The infection usually appears as thick white or cream-colored deposits on mucosal membranes such as the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils, and palate. The infected mucosa may appear inflamed (red and possibly slightly raised) and sometimes have a cottage cheese-like appearance. The lesions can be painful and will become tender and often bleed if rubbed or scraped. Cracking at the corners of the mouth, a cottony-like sensation inside the mouth, and even temporary loss of taste can occur.

In more severe cases, the infection can spread down the esophagus and cause difficulty swallowing – this is referred to as Esophageal candidiasis. Thrush does not usually cause a fever unless the infection has spread beyond the esophagus to other body parts, such as the lungs (systemic candidiasis).

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In addition to the distinctive lesions, infants can become irritable and may have trouble feeding. The infection can be communicated during breast-feeding to and from the breast and the infant’s mouth repeatedly

Thrush is caused by forms of a fungus called Candida. A small amount of this fungus lives in your mouth most of the time. It is usually kept in check by your immune system and other types of germs that also normally live in your mouth.


However, when your immune system is weaker, the fungus can grow, leading to sores (lesions) in your mouth and on your tongue. The following can increase your chances of getting thrush:

•Taking steroid medications
•Having an HIV infection or AIDS
•Receiving chemotherapy for cancer or drugs to suppress your immune system following an organ transplant
•Being very old or very young
•Being in poor health
Thrush is commonly seen in infants. It is not considered abnormal in infants unless it lasts longer than a couple of weeks.

Candida can also cause yeast infections in the vagina.

People who have diabetes and had high blood sugar levels are more likely to get thrush in the mouth (oral thrush), because the extra sugar in your saliva acts like food for Candida.

Taking high doses of antibiotics or taking antibiotics for a long time also increases the risk of oral thrush. Antibiotics kill some of the healthy bacteria that help keep Candida from growing too much.

People with poorly fitting dentures are also more likely to get thrush.

Risk Factors:
*Newborn babies.

*Diabetics with poorly controlled diabetes.

*As a side effect of medication, most commonly having taken antibiotics. Inhaled corticosteroids for treatment of lung conditions (e.g., asthma or COPD) may also result in oral candidiasis: the risk may be reduced by regularly rinsing the mouth with water after taking the medication.

*People with an immune deficiency (e.g. as a result of AIDS/HIV or chemotherapy treatment).

*Women undergoing hormonal changes, like pregnancy or those on birth control pills.

*Denture users.

*Tongue piercing

Oral thrush is seldom a problem for healthy children and adults, although the infection may return even after it’s been treated. For people with compromised immune systems, however, thrush can be more serious.

If you have HIV, you may have especially severe symptoms in your mouth or esophagus, which can make eating painful and difficult. If the infection spreads to the intestines, it becomes difficult to receive adequate nutrition. In addition, thrush is more likely to spread to other parts of the body if you have cancer or other conditions that weaken the immune system. In that case, the areas most likely to be affected include the digestive tract, lungs and liver.

Oral thrush can usually be diagnosed simply by looking at the lesions, but sometimes a small sample is examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

In older children or adolescents who have no other identified risk factors, an underlying medical condition may be the cause of oral thrush. If your doctor suspects that to be the case, your doctor will perform a physical exam as well as recommend certain blood tests to help find the source of the problem.

If thrush is in your esophagus
Thrush that extends into the esophagus can be serious. To help diagnose this condition, your doctor may ask you to have one or more of the following tests:

*Throat culture. In this procedure, the back of your throat is swabbed with sterile cotton and the tissue sample cultured on a special medium to help determine which bacteria or fungi, if any, are causing your symptoms.

*Endoscopic examination. In this procedure, your doctor examines your esophagus, stomach and the upper part of your small intestine (duodenum), using a lighted, flexible tube with a camera on the tip (endoscope).

For thrush in infants, treatment is often NOT necessary. It generally gets better on its own within 2 weeks.

If you develop a mild case of thrush after taking antibiotics, eating yogurt or taking over-the-counter acidophilus capsules can help.

Use a soft toothbrush and rinse your mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution several times a day.

Good control of blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes may be all that is needed to clear a thrush infection.

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal mouthwash (nystatin) or lozenges (clotrimazole) to suck on if you have a severe case of thrush or a weakened immune system. These products are usually used for 5 – 10 days. If they don’t work, other medication may be prescribed.

If the infection has spread throughout your body or you have HIV/AIDS, stronger medications may be used, such as fluconazole (Diflucan) or ketoconazole (Nizoral).

Thrush in infants may be painful, but is rarely serious. Because of discomfort, it can interfere with eating. If it does not resolve on its own within 2 weeks, call your pediatrician.

In adults, thrush that occurs in the mouth can be cured. However, the long-term outlook is dependent on your immune status and the cause of the immune deficit.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


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Alternative Names : Wry neck; Loxia

Torticollis is a twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side, while the chin is turned to the other.It is a stiff neck associated with muscle spasm, classically causing lateral flexion contracture of the cervical spine musculature. The muscles affected are principally those supplied by the spinal accessory nerve.


•Limited range of motion of the head
•Head tremor
•Neck pain
•Shoulder is higher on one side of the body
•Stiffness of neck muscles
•Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)

Types of Torticollis:

Temporary Torticollis: This type of wry neck usually disappears after one or two days. It can be caused by:

*swollen lymph nodes
*an ear infection
*a cold
*an injury to the head and neck that causes swelling

Fixed Torticollis:  Fixed torticollis is also called acute torticollis or permanent torticollis. It is usually due to a problem with muscle or bone structure.

Muscular Torticollis:
This is the most common type of fixed torticollis. It is caused by scarring or tight muscles on one side of the neck

Klippel-Feil Syndrome:
This is a congenital form of wry neck. It occurs when the bones in an infant’s neck have formed incorrectly. Children born with this condition may have difficulty with hearing and vision.

Cervical Dystonia:
This rare disorder is sometimes referred to as spasmodic torticollis. It causes neck muscles to contract in spasms. If you have cervical dystonia, your head twists or turns painfully to one side. It may also tilt forward or backward. Cervical dystonia sometimes goes away without treatment. However, there is a risk of recurrence.

This type of wry neck  or Torticollis can happen to anyone. However, it is most commonly diagnosed in middle age. It affects more women than men.

Torticollis  can be inherited. It can also develop in the womb. This may happen if the fetus’ head is in the wrong position. It can also be caused by damage to the muscles or blood supply to the neck.

Anyone can develop wry neck after a muscle or nervous system injury. However, most of the time, the cause of wry neck is not known. This is called idiopathic torticollis.

Evaluation of a child with torticollis begins with history taking to determine circumstances surrounding birth and any possibility of trauma or associated symptoms. Physical examination reveals decreased rotation and bending to the side opposite from the affected muscle. Some say that congenital cases more often involve the right side, but there is not complete agreement about this in published studies. Evaluation should include a thorough neurologic examination, and the possibility of associated conditions such as developmental dysplasia of the hip and clubfoot should be examined. Radiographs of the cervical spine should be obtained to rule out obvious bony abnormality, and MRI should be considered if there is concern about structural problems or other conditions.

Evaluation by an ophthalmologist should be considered in children to ensure that the torticollis is not caused by vision problems (IV cranial nerve palsy, nystagmus-associated “null position,” etc.). Most cases in infants respond well to physical therapy. Other causes should be treated as noted above.

Common treatments  might involve a multi-phase process:

1.Low-impact exercise to increase strong form neck stability
2.Manipulation of the neck by a chiropractor, physical therapist, or D.O.†
3.Extended heat application.
4.Repetitive shiatsu massage.

†An Osteopathic Physician (D.O.) may choose to use Cranial techniques to properly position the occipital condyles – thereby relieving compression of cranial nerve XI in children with Torticollis. This is an example of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment.

Acquired torticollis:
Acquired torticollis occurs because of another problem and usually presents in previously normal children and adults…..

*A self-limiting spontaneously occurring form of torticollis with one or more painful neck muscles is by far the most common (‘stiff neck’) and will pass spontaneously in 1–4 weeks. Usually the sternocleidomastoid muscle or the trapezius muscle is involved. Sometimes draughts, colds or unusual postures are implicated; however in many cases no clear cause is found. These episodes are rarely seen by doctors other than a family physician.

*Trauma to the neck can cause atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation, in which the two vertebrae closest to the skull slide with respect to each other, tearing stabilizing ligaments; this condition is treated with traction to reduce the subluxation, followed by bracing or casting until the ligamentous injury heals.

*Tumors of the skull base (posterior fossa tumors) can compress the nerve supply to the neck and cause torticollis, and these problems must be treated surgically.

*Infections in the posterior pharynx can irritate the nerves supplying the neck muscles and cause torticollis, and these infections may be treated with antibiotics if they are not too severe, but could require surgical debridement in intractable cases.

*Ear infections and surgical removal of the adenoids can cause an entity known as Grisel’s syndrome, a subluxation of the upper cervical joints, mostly the atlantoaxial joint, due to inflammatory laxity of the ligaments caused by an infection. This bridge must either be broken through manipulation of the neck, or surgically resected.

*The use of certain drugs, such as antipsychotics, can cause torticollis.

*Antiemetics – Neuroleptic Class – Phenothiazines

There are many other rare causes of torticollis.

Spasmodic torticollis:
Torticollis with recurrent but transient contraction of the muscles of the neck and esp. of the sternocleidomastoid. “intermittent torticollis . “cervical dystonia”

TREATMENT: Botulinum toxin has been used to inhibit the spastic contractions of the affected muscles.

In animals:.CLICK & SEE
The condition can also occur in animals, usually as a result of an inner ear infection but sometimes as a result of an injury. It is seen largely in domestic rodents and rabbits, but may also appear in dogs and other different animals.

Possible ComplicationsComplications may include:

•Muscle swelling due to constant tension
•Neurological symptoms due to compressed nerve roots

The condition may be easier to correct in infants and children. If the condition becomes chronic, numbness and tingling may develop as nerve roots become compressed in the neck.

The muscle itself may become large (hypertrophic) due to constant stimulation and exercise.

Botulinum toxin injections often provide substantial relief.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


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Hydrocephalus (pronounced hi-dro-SEF-a-lus) is a potentially harmful build up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in parts of the brain.

Images from a patient with normal pressure hyd...

Images from a patient with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) showing pulsations of CSF with heartbeat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)A clear fluid produced in the brain’s ventricular system – the four cavities in the brain. It travels throughout the brain and in the area outside the brain and spinal cord. It bathes and protects or cushions the brain and spinal cord.

Hydrocephalus literally means water (hydro) in the head (cephalus). It is sometimes called water on the brain. The “water” is actually cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is normally present in areas both inside and outside the brain.

Children with hydrocephalus have too much cerebrospinal fluid in the areas of the brain called ventricles.

Ventricles are four small cavities in the brain that produce cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid flows through the ventricles to the area around the brain and spinal cord.

The ventricles store and circulate cerebrospinal fluid. Children with hydrocephalus may also have extra fluid in spaces between the brain and the skull called the  subarachnoid spaces

Subarachnoid spaces  are the spaces lie between the three membranes protecting the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid moves through these spaces. Delicate connective tissue extends across them.

When a child’s cerebrospinal fluid cannot flow or be reabsorbed properly, it builds up. This makes the ventricles bigger and puts pressure on the tissues of the brain

Hydrocephalus is sometimes present at birth, although it may develop later. About 1 out of 500 children is born with the disorder. The outlook if  some one has hydrocephalus depends on how quickly the condition is diagnosed and whether any underlying disorders are present.


The signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus vary by age group and disease progression.

In infants, common signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus include:

*An unusually large head
*A rapid increase in the size of the head
*A bulging “soft spot” on the top of the head
*Eyes fixed downward (sunsetting of the eyes)
*Developmental delay

In older children and adults, common signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus include:

*Headache followed by vomiting
*Blurred or double vision
*Eyes fixed downward (sunsetting of the eyes)
*Problems with balance, coordination or gait
*Sluggishness or lack of energy
*Slowing or regression of development
*Memory loss
*Urinary incontinence
*Changes in personality
*Impaired performance in school or work

Hydrocephalus produces different combinations of these signs and symptoms, depending on its cause, which also varies by age. For example, a condition known as normal pressure hydrocephalus, which mainly affects older people, typically starts with difficulty walking. Urinary incontinence often develops, along with a type of dementia marked by slowness of thinking and information processing.
The cause of hydrocephalus is excess fluid buildup in the brain.

Our brain is the consistency of gelatin, and it floats in a bath of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid also fills large open structures, called ventricles, which lie deep inside the brain. The fluid-filled ventricles help keep the brain buoyant and cushioned.

Cerebrospinal fluid flows through the ventricles by way of interconnecting channels. The fluid eventually flows into spaces around the brain, where it’s absorbed into your bloodstream.

Keeping the production, flow and absorption of cerebrospinal fluid in balance is important to maintaining normal pressure inside your skull. Hydrocephalus results when the flow of cerebrospinal fluid is disrupted — for example, when a channel between ventricles becomes narrowed — or when your body doesn’t properly absorb this fluid.

Defective absorption of cerebrospinal fluid causes normal pressure hydrocephalus, seen most often in older people. In normal pressure hydrocephalus, excess fluid enlarges the ventricles but does not increase pressure on the brain. Normal pressure hydrocephalus may be the result of injury or illness, but in many cases the cause is unknown.

Risk Factors:
Premature infants have an increased risk of severe bleeding within the ventricles of the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage), which can lead to hydrocephalus.

Certain problems during pregnancy may increase an infant’s risk of developing hydrocephalus, including:

*An infection within the uterus
*Problems in fetal development, such as incomplete closure of the spinal column

Congenital or developmental defects not apparent at birth also can increase older children’s risk of hydrocephalus.

Other factors that increase your risk of hydrocephalus include:

*Lesions or tumors of the brain or spinal cord
*Central nervous system infections
*Bleeding in the brain
*Severe head injury

The severity of hydrocephalus depends on the age at which the condition develops and the course it follows. If the condition is well advanced at birth, major brain damage and physical disabilities are likely. In less severe cases, with proper treatment, it’s possible to have a nearly normal life span and intelligence


Doctors will examine the child, looking for signs of hydrocephalus. They may also use techniques to monitor pressure inside your baby’s head. Doctors also use imaging tests to see signs of hydrocephalus. These tests include:

*CT scan (computerized tomography) of the head
*MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

If the child has hydrocephalus, doctors may use ultrasound images of the brain to monitor the condition.
To treat hydrocephalus, doctors try to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Most often, they use surgery to do this.
Neurosurgeons most often perform three types of operations for hydrocephalus.

The most common surgery for hydrocephalus is putting in a shunt.

A shunt is a small tube (catheter) that drains extra cerebrospinal fluid from a ventricle in your child’s brain to another area in the body. There, the fluid is either reabsorbed by your child’s body or passed out through the kidneys.

Neurosurgeons place one end of the small tube in the ventricle where extra fluid is causing problems. A valve in the tube controls the amount of fluid that runs through it. This controls the pressure in your child’s head. It also makes sure that the fluid flows in only one direction, away from the brain.

The three areas a VP shunt can be placed in the head
The tube is placed under the skin and drains the fluid to another area of the body. The end of the tube most often is placed in the belly (abdomen). This is called a ventricular to peritoneal shunt. If the abdomen is not suitable for the tube, it may be placed in the heart (ventricular to atrial shunt), chest, or other areas. No matter where the tube ends, the fluid from the brain is reabsorbed by the body.

Placement of a VP shunt from the head to the belly.
Our neurosurgeons choose from many different types of shunts and valves, depending on your child’s needs. In some cases, they use a valve that can be adjusted from the outside by a small magnet. If your child has an MRI, these types of valves must always be reset immediately by one of our neurosurgery nurse practitioners.

An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube that carries a light and a camera. Surgeons can use it to see inside the body and perform some operations. Endoscopy requires smaller cuts (incisions) than other types of surgery (open surgery). It is a minimally invasive technique. Neurosurgeons use it to treat some types of hydrocephalus.

The approach made by an endoscope to make a hole in the ventricle so that the patient can avoid needing a shunt.
Some children have a complex type of the condition called multiloculated hydrocephalus. This happens when bleeding or infection causes scars within the ventricles of the brain. The scaring causes many small compartments of spinal fluid that do not connect with each other to develop.

In the past, doctors treated this condition by placing a separate shunt in each area with fluid and draining it. But by using an endoscope, they can make small holes in each of the areas. This connects them so they need only one shunt to drain the entire system.

3.Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV)
Depending on your child’s brain structures and age, the neurosurgeon may talk with you about using an ETV instead of putting in a shunt.

During an ETV, the neurosurgeon makes a small hole in your child’s skull. Then the neurosurgeon uses an endoscope to reach the third ventricle in brain. Using the endoscope, the neurosurgeon makes a hole in the ventricle. This lets the extra fluid drain out and be reabsorbed.

An ETV lets neurosurgeons avoid putting in any permanent hardware, such as a shunt. Such a treatment may avoid the complications of using shunt hardware. But the treatment may fail and a shunt may be needed.

This video, developed by Anthony M. Avellino, MD, shows an example of an endoscopic third ventriculostomy procedure for treatment of obstructed hydrocephalus.


To reduce the risk of hydrocephalus:

*If you’re pregnant, get regular prenatal care. Following your doctor’s recommended schedule for checkups during pregnancy can reduce your risk of premature labor, which places your baby at risk of hydrocephalus and other complications.

*Protect against infectious illness. Follow the recommended vaccination and screening schedules for your age and sex. Preventing and promptly treating the infections and other illnesses associated with hydrocephalus may reduce your risk.

To prevent head injury:

*Use appropriate safety equipment. For babies and children, use a properly installed, age- and size-appropriate child safety seat on all car trips. Make sure all your baby equipment — crib, stroller, swing, highchair — meets all safety standards and is properly adjusted for your baby’s size and development. Older children and adults should wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, skateboard, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

*Always wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle. Small children should be secured in child safety seats or booster seats. Depending on their size, older children may be adequately restrained with seat belts.

Should you be vaccinated against meningitis?

Ask your doctor if you or your child should receive a vaccine against meningitis, once a common cause of hydrocephalus. A meningitis vaccine is now recommended for people ages 2 and older who are at increased risk of this disease due to:

*Traveling to countries where meningitis is common

*Having an immune system disorder called terminal complement deficiency

*Having a damaged spleen or having had your spleen removed

*Living in a dormitory as a college freshman

*Joining the military

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


Helping children swallow medicine

Most parents know the battle of getting a child to swallow medicine when necessary. It’s strange how children can savour the most disgusting sweets but refuse medicine that tastes far more pleasant. It’s all part of the art of being two: recognising when your parents are really worried about something and then refusing to play the game.

But it’s important for children to get the doses of medicine they’ve been prescribed and that they finish any course of antibiotics they’re given, so you need to be patient and keep trying.

Some of the following might help:

*Make sure younger children get liquid rather than tablet forms of medicine where possible.

*Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medicine can be prescribed in a flavour your child likes. This isn’t always possible, but there are lots of different makes of antibiotics, so it’s worth a try.

*Try mixing the medicine with something very sweet, such as honey or fruit syrup. This is particularly useful if the medicine is in tablet form. These can often be crushed into the syrup (but check with your pharmacist first, as some come in a gel form that doesn’t dissolve easily) or mixed with other more solid foods.

*Use a syringe (from the pharmacy) to give medicine, especially to younger children. This is much easier to hold than a spoon and far less likely to spill, especially when you’re holding the child tight and they’re trying to push you and the medicine away. When you put the syringe in your child’s mouth, point it towards their cheek as you press the plunger to avoid squirting it straight down their throat and choking them.

*Toddlers may be more willing when they’re given medicine in an animal-shaped medicine tube and allowed to sip it at their own pace.

*Try reverse psychology – tell your child it’s special medicine and she’s not allowed to have it. It’s amazing how often this one works.

*Bribery and corruption involving large amounts of sweets is often a good bet, too (but don’t tell your dentist).

*Stay calm and never force your child to take medicine. If they persistently refuse, try again after about half an hour.

*Say you’ll take them back to the doctor to be given the medicine (this showdown is too much for most toddlers, who’ll back down at this point).

Many children find it hard to swallow pills and capsules. Most have never had to, since almost all medications for children are available in liquid form. However, pills have their advantages: parents know the child gets the entire dose, pills hide the flavor of medicines that taste bad, pills are easier to take when traveling, and pills do not have to be refrigerated like many liquids.

What is the best way to teach a child to take a pill? There are many techniques parents can try, but everyone agrees that it is a good idea for parents to teach their kids the technique of pill swallowing before they really need it. A sick or cranky child is not a cooperative student!

Here are some suggestions that might help:

*Keep a calm and positive attitude

*Be patient. Some normal children can’t accomplish pill-swallowing until their late teens!

*Show the child how to swallow pills calmly and quickly. Demonstrate by placing a tablet or capsule back in the center of their tongue. Have them quickly drink water, Kool-Aid, or their favorite drink through a straw. When the child concentrates on using the straw and swallowing the liquid, the pill usually follows quickly along.

*Train in small steps with success at every stage. For example, have your child practice with a piece of small cake decoration. When the smallest size is swallowed without a problem, a slightly larger size may be tried. Then work up to the size of an M & M. Use substances that will melt if they get stuck or coat them first with butter. It is best to work in short sessions (5-10 minutes) several times a day over a couple of days.

*Eliminate distractions during medicine taking time. Close the door, turn the TV off, etc. allowing the child can concentrate on the job at hand
If the child gags or vomits, be calm and clean up the mess in a matter-of-fact way. Let the child settle down and try again in 10 or 15 minutes.

*Some kids like to play “Beat the Clock.” Use a one or two minute time limit!

*Give plenty of praise, such as “Oh good! You swallowed it right down.” Avoid negative comments like “Only babies take liquid medicine.” These comments rarely motivate children to try harder.

*Some pills are easier to swallow if they are broken into halves. Check with the pharmacist first, however, to make sure a divided pill does not lose its potency.

*Have the child drink a little water before taking the pill. Tables and capsules are harder to swallow when the youngster’s mouth is dry (which often happens when they are sick).

*As long as the pill does not have to be taken on “an empty stomach,” have your child place a little piece of food on their tongue, next to the pill. Next have them drink some water to swallow the food and the pill usually goes down at the same time. Don’t have your child tilt their head back too far when swallowing as this can sometimes make it more difficult for the pill to go down.

*Another way to get a child to swallow a pill is to stick it in a cube of Jell-O TM. The pill will usually slide down easily with Jell-O.
One pharmacist recommended the “Tic Tac” strategy: Put a “Tic Tac” on the tip of the child’s tongue. Place a glass of water filled to the brim on the table. Have the child suck in water from the brim without picking up the class. About one half mouthful will do. Remove the lips from the glass and quickly tip head back. The “tic tac pill” will be washed to the throat and swallowed with the gulp of water without the tongue being involved. The pharmacist claims this method works with kids as young as three years old.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


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Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness of the breast. If you have mastitis, you might also experience fever and chills. Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis), although in rare circumstances this condition can occur outside of lactation.

click to see the pictures

The term mastitis is from the Greek word mastos, for breast, and itis, for inflammation of. The response to injury to the udder of sheep is called inflammation. Mastitis is the reaction of milk -secreting tissue to injury produced by physical force, chemicals introduced into the gland or most commonly from bacteria and their toxins.

Click to see the picture   :Udder of a of a Roux du Valais sheep after a healed mastitis, one teat was lost due to the disease.

In most cases, lactation mastitis occurs within the first three months after giving birth (postpartum), but it can happen later during breast-feeding. The condition can leave you feeling exhausted and rundown, making it difficult to care for your baby.

Sometimes mastitis leads a mother mistakenly to wean her baby before she intends to. But you can continue breast-feeding while you have mastitis.

It is called puerperal mastitis when it occurs in lactating mothers and non-puerperal otherwise. Mastitis can occur in men, albeit rarely. Inflammatory breast cancer has symptoms very similar to mastitis and must be ruled out.

The popular misconception that mastitis in humans is an infection is highly misleading and in many cases incorrect. Infections play only a minor role in the pathogenesis of both puerperal and nonpuerperal mastitis in humans and many cases of mastitis are completely aseptic under normal hygienic conditions. Infection as primary cause of mastitis is presumed to be more prevalent in veterinary mastitis and poor hygienic conditions.

The symptoms are similar for puerperal and nonpuerperal mastitis but predisposing factors and treatment can be very different.

Click to see the picture    Serous exudate from bovine udder in E. coli mastitis at left. Normal milk at right.

Puerperal mastitis is the inflammation of breast in connection with pregnancy, breastfeeding or weaning. Since one of the most prominent symptoms is tension and engourgement of the breast, it is thought to be caused by blocked milk ducts or milk excess. It is relatively common, estimates range depending on methodology between 5-33%. However only about 0.4-0.5% of breastfeeding mothers develop an abscess.

The term nonpuerperal mastitis describes inflammatory lesions of the breast occurring unrelated to pregnancy and breastfeeding. This article includes description of mastitis as well as various kinds of mammary abscesses. Skin related conditions like dermatitis and foliculitis are a separate entity.

Names for non-puerperal mastitis are not used very consistently and include Mastitis, Subareolar Abscess, Duct Ectasia, Periductal Inflammation, Zuska’s Disease and others.

Lactation mastitis usually affects only one breast and the symptoms can develop quickly.[3] The signs and symptoms usually appear suddenly and they include:

Click to see the pictures..…….
*Breast tenderness or warmth to the touch
*General malaise or feeling ill
*Swelling of the breast
*Pain or a burning sensation continuously or while breast-feeding
*Skin redness, often in a wedge-shaped pattern
*Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or greater [4]
*The affected breast can then start to appear lumpy and red.

Click to see the picture

Some women may also experience flu-like symptoms such as:

*Shivering and chills
*Feeling anxious or stressed
*Breast engorgement

Contact should be made with a health care provider with special breastfeeding competence as soon as the patient recognizes the combination of signs and symptoms. Most of the women first experience the flu-like symptoms and just after they may notice a sore red area on the breast. Also, women should seek medical care if they notice any abnormal discharge from the nipples, if breast pain is making it difficult to function each day or they have prolonged, unexplained breast pain.

Since the 1980s mastitis has often been divided into non-infectious and infectious sub-groups. However, recent research [6] suggests that it may not be feasible to make divisions in this way. It has been shown that types and amounts of potentially pathogenic bacteria in breast milk are not correlated to the severity of symptoms. Moreover, although only 15% of women with mastitis in Kvist et al.’s study were given antibiotics, all recovered and few had recurring symptoms. Many healthy breastfeeding women wishing to donate breast milk have potentially pathogenic bacteria in their milk but have no symptoms of mastitis.

Mastitis typically develops when the milk is not properly removed from the breast. Milk stasis can lead to the milk ducts in the breasts becoming blocked, as the breast milk not being properly and regularly expressed.  It has also been suggested that blocked milk ducts can occur as a result of pressure on the breast, such as tight-fitting clothing or an over-restrictive bra, although there is sparse evidence for this supposition . Mastitis may occur when the baby is not appropriately attached to the breast while feeding, when the baby has infrequent feeds or has problems suckling the milk out of the breast.

Experts are still unsure why breast milk can cause the breast tissue to become inflamed. One theory is that it may be due to the presence of cytokines in breast milk. Cytokines are special proteins that are used by the immune system and are passed on to the baby in order to help them resist infection. It may be the case that the woman’s immune system mistakes these cytokines for a bacterial or viral infection and responds by inflaming the breast tissue in an attempt to stop the spread of what the body perceives as an infection.

Some women (approximately 15% in Kvist et al. study) will require antibiotic treatment for infection which is usually caused by bacteria from the skin or the baby’s mouth that entering the milk ducts through skin lesions of the nipple or through the opening of the nipple.[8] Infection is usually caused by staphylococcus aureus.

Mastitis is quite common among breastfeeding women. The WHO estimates that although incidences vary between 2.6% and 33%, the prevalence globally is approximately 10% of breastfeeding women. Most mothers who develop mastitis usually do so within the first few weeks after delivery. Most breast infections occur within the first or second month after delivery or at the time of weaning.  However, in rare cases it affects women who are not breastfeeding.

Mastitis can also develop after nipple piercing. In some rare cases, however, Mastitis can occur in men.


Risk Factors:
Women who are breastfeeding are at risk for developing mastitis especially if they have sore or cracked nipples or have had mastitis before while breastfeeding another baby. Also, the chances of getting mastitis increases if women use only one position to breastfeed or wear a tight-fitting bra, which may restrict milk flow

Women with diabetes, chronic illness, AIDS, or an impaired immune system may be more susceptible to the development of mastitis.

Complications that may arise from mastitis include recurrence, milk stasis and abscess. The abscess is the most severe complication that women can get from this condition. Also, women who have had mastitis once are likely to develop it again with a future child or with the same infant. Recurrence appears especially in cases of delayed or inadequate treatment.

Milk stasis is another complication that may arise from mastitis and it occurs when the milk is not completely drained from the breast. This causes increased pressure on the ducts and leakage of milk into surrounding breast tissue, which can lead to pain and inflammation.

Delayed treatment or inadequate treatment, especially in mastitis related to milk stasis, may lead to the formation of an abscess within the breast tissue. An abscess is a collection of pus that develops into the breast which ultimately requires surgical drainage.

The diagnosis of mastitis and breast abscess can usually be made based on a physical examination. The doctor will also take into account the signs and symptoms of the condition.

However, if the doctor is not sure whether the mass is an abscess or a tumor, an ultrasound may be performed. The ultrasound provides a clear image of the breast tissue and may be helpful in distinguishing between simple mastitis and abscess or in diagnosing an abscess deep in the breast. The test consists of placing an ultrasound probe over the breast.

In cases of infectious mastitis, cultures may be needed in order to determine what type of organism is causing the infection. Cultures are helpful in deciding the specific type of antibiotics that will be used in curing the disease. These cultures may be taken either from the breast milk or of the material aspirated from an abscess.

Mammograms or breast biopsies are normally performed on women who do not respond to treatment or on non-breastfeeding women. This type of tests is sometimes ordered to exclude the possibility of a rare type of breast cancer which causes symptoms similar to those of mastitis.

If you develop a painful, red or swollen breast, and especially if you have generalized symptoms such as a fever, it’s important to see your doctor because there may be infection that needs treatment with antibiotics.

You should try to continue breastfeeding. Although mastitis may interfere with breastfeeding – because the breasts become distorted in shape, for example – it is often the best treatment because it empties the breast.

In fact it’s important to persevere, because otherwise engorged breasts rapidly lead to a fall in milk production, as the body sees it as a signal that more milk is being produced than is needed.

With engorgement, if the affected area is not drained there’s a risk of infection developing. Try to give frequent feeds varying the position of the baby (many recommend a position where the baby’s chin points towards the affected area). Offer the affected breast first for the best chance of good drainage.

You can also try massaging the affected area of the breast as you feed, and applying warmth to the area.

There’s no risk to the baby from infection being passed on in the milk, so this is not a reason to stop feeding.

You can try to relieve the symptoms with cooling treatments – everything from cabbage leaves to cold flannels to gel-filled cool packs. Gentle breast massage can also help. If there is no infection, medicines are often not very effective in resolving the mastitis but may help with symptoms.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen may ease pain and reduce fever for example. These are usually safe although ibuprofen can get through into breast milk in small amounts – this doesn’t usually do any harm but you should check with your GP if your baby was born prematurely, had a low birth weight or any other medical problems. Paracetamol can also pass through into breast milk in tiny amounts but is thought to be even less likely to do harm.


Lifestyle and home remedies :
If you have mastitis, it’s safe to continue breast-feeding. Continuing breast-feeding offers the added benefit of helping clear the infection in your breast.

To relieve your discomfort:

*Maintain your breast-feeding routine.
*Get as much rest as possible.
*Avoid prolonged engorgement before breast-feeding.
*Use varied positions to breast-feed.
*Drink plenty of fluids.
*If you have trouble emptying a portion of your breast, apply warm compresses to the breast or take a warm shower before breast-feeding or pumping milk.
*Wear a supportive bra.
*While waiting for the antibiotics to take effect, take a mild pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others).

If breast-feeding on the infected breast is too painful or your infant refuses to nurse on that breast, try pumping or hand-expressing milk.


Prevention :
To get your breast-feeding relationship with your infant off to its best possible start — and to avoid complications such as mastitis — consider making an appointment with a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can give you tips and provide invaluable advice for proper breast-feeding technique.

Minimize your chances of getting mastitis by fully draining the milk from your breasts while breast-feeding. Allow your baby to completely empty one breast before switching to the other breast during feeding. If your baby nurses for only a few minutes on the second breast — or not at all — start breast-feeding on that breast the next time you feed your baby.

Alternate the breast you offer first at each breast-feeding, and change the position you use to breast-feed from one feeding to the next. Make sure your baby latches on properly during feedings. Finally, don’t let your baby use your breast as a pacifier. Babies enjoy sucking and often find comfort in suckling at the breast even when they’re not hungry

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

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