Getting to Know Your Child

Pediatricians help parents navigate unexpected health issues

Be Prepared for Allergic Reactions
As a parent, you never know when your child may have an allergic reaction. When Allison was a toddler and a patient at Pediatrics Northwest, food allergies began with what seemed like a harmless pesto sandwich. She was with her family at her older sister’s back-to-school night when her life changed forever.

“Allison was almost 3 years old at the time,” said her mom. “I shared a sandwich with her that had pesto sauce on it. After just a couple bites, she began vomiting, and then her upper lip began to swell.”

20150720_jlsfoto_pedsnw_0023Allison’s mom was shocked because her daughter had never experienced an allergic reaction before. After a few moments she gave Allison an oral antihistamine and called the doctor. Soon, they were visiting Pediatrics Northwest co-founder Dr. Lawrence Larson, who specializes in treating highly complex cases in allergy, immunology,
and pulmonology.

Allison was diagnosed with asthma, food and inhalant allergies, and severe atopic dermatitis, which makes her skin red and itchy. Every night Allison has to soak in a bath for 10 minutes before getting lathered up with ointment and lotion to keep her skin from flaring up.

“It’s just the worst itch you’ve ever had all over the body,” said Larson. “This makes it challenging for (patients) to sleep through the night.”

Since her first diagnoses, Allison has also developed other allergies and is anaphylactic, something her family has to monitor closely.

“At school, we fill out what seems like a book to explain all of her allergies and asthma,” said Allison’s mom. “We meet with the nurse and teacher to come up with a safety plan for her, especially during lunchtime.”

Allison’s older sister also has learned to read food labels so that Allison never accidentally consumes something dangerous. Allison’s mom says Allison has so many allergies, it can be easy to miss something or make a mistake. Larson recommends always having an emergency plan should a child ever go into severe shock.

Thanks to allergy shots, medication, and other practical tools, Allison’s condition is improving. And her pediatrician is still trying to remove Allison’s allergic responses, and to make her feel more comfortable in her everyday life.

“We try to think like a child,” said Larson. “They don’t like to be messed with or hurt. They want to be treated gently, to be a part of the process, and to have choices. I think that’s what makes us unique here. We understand that kids need
to be kids.”

20150728_jlsfoto_pedsnw_0095The Importance of Routine Checkups
When Ethan met his Pediatrics Northwest doctor, Anna Chacko, for the first time at a checkup a few weeks after he was born, everything looked normal. He seemed like a perfectly healthy little baby boy. But when Chacko listened to his heartbeat, she heard something irregular: a heart murmur.

After informing Ethan’s mother, Dr. Chacko referred Ethan to a cardiologist who diagnosed him with congenital heart disease along with several other heart issues. About a week later, he was having open heart surgery.

“I couldn’t think at all; it just felt like a video being played in slow motion,” said Ethan’s mom. “I was so shocked with the news, the only thing I could do at the moment was cry every time I looked at our baby.”

It was critical that Ethan’s heart condition was caught at that early checkup with Dr. Chacko. It saved his life.

“Well-child visits are very important,” said Dr. Chacko. “It’s critical our families understand that we have well-child visits for a specific reason. Some may think, ‘Everything is going well with my child; why do they need to see the doctor?’ As providers, we have the training to look for things with a different eye. What parents may perceive as normal, may not turn out to be normal at all.”

Today, Ethan is an energetic and active little toddler. His parents call him their miracle baby. But his fate might have been different if his parents didn’t take him in for that early checkup.

“If it wasn’t for Dr. Chacko paying attention and treating my son the right way, his heart may have stopped working,” Ethan’s mom said. “Dr. Chacko is very special to us; she’s not only a great doctor but also a friend.”

Information courtesy of Pediatrics Northwest.

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