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Perth's Child

Current Issue - Health

Feature Stories

Juvenile Arthritis

Dr Sam Tormey reports on a disease commonly associated with older people, but which can occur in children.

"Andrew was limping, but nobody could remember how or when he had hurt himself, and it wasn't the first time his mum had noticed him walking with difficulty. There were other things, too – he was having daytime naps again and not running around as much as the other kids. It was almost as if the very active three-and-a-half year old was regressing to toddlerhood.

"Some nights he would wake up complaining, other nights he would be screaming in pain. Sometimes the pain seemed to be in his legs; other times it seemed all over. He would point to his left ankle, which on bad days looked red and swollen. After multiple visits to the GP and diagnoses of sprains, viral illnesses and growing pains, a physiotherapist noticed something wrong with Andrew's left ankle that could not be explained by the usual rough and tumble of childhood..."

Vision Insight

Megan Howe reports on the importance of children's eyes being tested before they start school.

"Susan* has worked for many years as an optical dispenser, and runs her own optical store in Brisbane, yet her daughter Emily* was four before Susan noticed problems with her eyesight. "Her eye was turning in when she got tired, and one day after kindergarten her left eye seemed to be drifting a bit," says Susan. "Then one day she said, 'I can see two mummies'." A test revealed she was long-sighted in both eyes and amblyopic (also known as 'lazy eye') in one. Emily's treatment involved wearing glasses and patching her stronger eye to help her weaker, amblyopic eye improve..."

Defence From Disease

Dr Paul Effler encourages all parents to ensure their children are up to date with immunisations.

"Now is a good time to ensure your child is up to date with immunisations before starting kindergarten next year. WA has the lowest immunisation rates in the country, with about 10 per cent of five year olds still not fully vaccinated. This is concerning, since being vaccinated before starting school protects children against preventable illnesses and ensures they are not contributing to an outbreak by spreading preventable diseases to others.

"As many parents know, it doesn't take long for a sick child at school to pass their illness on to their classmates. Many diseases such as measles or rubella are highly contagious, but can be prevented through vaccination..."

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Your Stories

Sweet Retreat

Nina Laitala wonders why children's celebrations have to revolve around unhealthy food.

"My daughter started kindergarten recently, and during the information session for parents, her teacher explained the centre's food policy: healthy snacks and no chocolate, lollies or chips. We were also asked to try to reduce packaging to promote sustainability and environmental awareness, and I was quite happy to abide.

"So I was surprised to find that to celebrate a child's birthday recently, the child and his mother gave all the children a 'treat' as they left to go home. The treat was an individually wrapped, chewy lolly – the antithesis of the policy the centre tries to encourage. After raising concerns at a staff meeting, I was disappointed to find the teacher and committee considered 'special occasions' an exception to the policy..."

A Tough Call

Amanda Sheehan recounts one of her most upsetting parenting moments.

"My daughter was taken to hospital by ambulance recently. An existing chest infection and a sudden drop in the night-time temperature triggered her asthma, and her breathing became very difficult. There was no debate: she needed to get to hospital, but more importantly, she needed immediate treatment, so I called 000.

"It's scary dialling that number. When you hear the voice on the other end of the line reality suddenly hits, and just when you need it most, your voice falters and shakes with the gravity of it all. I was told an ambulance would be on its way very soon. We turned on the front lights, put the dog outside and waited. The ambulance was in our driveway within 10 minutes, although it seemed much longer. They entered our home with an air of confidence and concern and immediately began treating Amy. They placed an oxygen mask over her face, monitored her heart rate, and gave her steroids to open her airways. I watched from the foot of the bed..."

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Special Series

Special Series – D3: Diversity, Difference & Diagnosis

Light And Shade

Amanda McLeod writes about the challenges of raising a child while dealing with a mental illness.

"Being a parent can drive you crazy at the best of times. Balancing home life with work and childcare can send you mad, but throw in sick kids, shared viruses, homework and extra work commitments, and you are nearly driven to the edge. For me, the juggling act sometimes gets too much and the balls come tumbling down.

"It doesn't help that I happen to be crazy – all the time. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when my son was two years old. In my case, it wasn't brought about by pregnancy or postnatal complications. I had my first breakdown in my early twenties, and by the time my now-seven-year-old boy was born I had experienced about a decade of extreme ups and downs. My diagnosis came as no real surprise, but treatment was another story. It took about five years and a major life overhaul for me to achieve and maintain some kind of balance and stability..."

For the full stories, get your copy.


Book Reviews

This month, David Witt reviews:

The Day My Father Became a Bush written and illustrated by Joke van Leeuwen.

Angela and the cherry tree written by Raphaële Frier, illustrated by Teresa Lima.

And Veronicah Larkin reviews:

Parachute written by Danny Parker, illustrated by Matt Ottley.

Digger Dog written by William Bee, illustrated by Cecilia Johansson.

For the full stories, get your copy.


Family Calendar

You can access our online calendar, which is full of wonderful activities and events for families occurring in Perth in September.

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