At a child specialist clinic, there are several diagnostic tests that can be performed, under a range of circumstances. Some diagnostic tests need to be taken to determine whether a child has been infected with a specific strain of bacteria/virus, while other tests can be performed to find out the level of a substance in the child’s bloodstream.
What are the diagnostic tests offered at our clinic?
At FirstStep Child Clinic, we offer a range of diagnostic tests:
Allergy testing (blood sample)
Urine test / urinalysis
Stool sample test
Blood sugar level test
How do I know if my child needs to get tested?
Each type of diagnostic test is dependent on the child’s concerns. If you are unsure whether your child’s presenting illness requires further investigation, you can visit the clinic and the child specialist will assess the child, and advise you accordingly.
For example, if your child is experiencing pain when urinating, or has blood in their discharge, it might indicate the possibility of an infection of the urinary tract, the bladder or the kidneys. In this case,the pediatricianmay order a urine sample test to confirm the presence of an infection.
Similarly, a stool sample test would be carried out if the child has been experiencing persistent diarrhea, or if there is a presence of blood or mucus in the stool.
A jaundice test can be conducted fornewborns, especially for babies that appear to have a high level of bilirubin in their blood, to determine whether any further treatment is necessary.
On the other hand, certain diagnostic tests can be done for children that are not evidently unwell, such as an allergy test or a test for blood sugar level.
What is the background and procedure for each type of diagnostic test?
Usually, parents would be more inclined to get their child tested for allergies if the child has been experiencing persistent, long-lasting allergy symptoms (allergic rhinitis).
Mild-to-moderate allergy symptoms include:
rashes on skin
More severe allergy reactions include:
Swelling of the mouth and tongue
If the child is facing milder allergy symptoms at a rate where it interferes with their sleep, diet, school and daily routine, there is usually a possibility that they are allergic to something in their surroundings.
At first, the pediatrician may prescribe antihistamine, nasal spray and/or other allergy medications to treat the allergy, but if the child’s condition does not improve after taking the medicine, they could benefit from taking an allergy diagnostic test.
At our clinic, we conduct a blood test for allergies. A blood test measures the level of antibodies to specific allergens in the blood. A higher level of the antibodies indicate a higher chance of there being an allergy.
During a blood test, the pediatrician will draw a blood sample from the child, usually from the child’s arm or from the back of the palm of the hand. The blood sample collected will then be sent to the lab for testing. In one blood sample, it is possible to test for multiple allergies, and there are usually no risks no risks of allergic reactions.
A urine test, or urinalysis, is a diagnostic test performed when the pediatrician suspects that the child may have a UTI (urinary tract infection), or any health problem associated with abnormality in the urine.
If your child needs to conduct a urine test, the pediatrician or nurses will provide a clean container where the urine will be collected. When getting the sample, the skin surrounding the urinary opening (urethra) should be cleaned and rinsed first, before collecting the urine. This is because the skin around the urethra can contain traces of other bacteria, and these bacteria can contaminate the urine, which can interfere with the result of the test.
To provide a ‘clean’ sample, the parent will usually need to clean the surrounding skin, allow the child to urinate, and collect the ‘midstream’ urine.
When the sample has been collected, the pediatrician can place a dipstick (a strip that has patches of chemicals) into the urine. The patches on the dipstick will change colours to indicate the presence of different cells such as glucose and white blood cells. If needed, the pediatrician may send the sample to the lab to check for other substances that can reveal the presence of any infections.
Stool sample test
If your child has been experiencing symptoms related to the stomach, intestines and other parts of the gastrointestinal system, such as diarrhea, gas, nausea and vomiting, the pediatrician may order a stool/feces test. The results from this diagnostic test can indicate whether the child has a bacterial infection.
Illness-causing bacteria that are usually found in a stool culture may be:
Of course, it is possible for other strains of bacteria to be found as well.
The stool sample can be collected by a pediatrician at the clinic, or it can be done by parents at home. If you are collecting your child’s stool sample, do ensure to wear gloves and wash your hands after. Usually, only a small amount of the stool is enough to send to the lab – an amount roughly equivalent to the size of a 50-cent coin. If you are provided with the container to collect the sample in, it normally comes together with an applicator stick that you can use to take a small amount of the stool and place it in the container.
At the lab, technicians can check for any presence of bacteria by smearing the stool sample on sterile plates that contain ‘growth-encouraging’ substances. If a colony of bacteria grows on the plate, the lab technician can perform further tests to identify the specify type of bacteria present.
Amongst newborn babies, jaundice is a common condition and is usually harmless. It is caused by a build-up of a substance called Bilirubin, which is produced by the red blood cells. Due to the newborn’s underdeveloped liver, bilirubin in the blood may not get processed efficiently, which contributes to the higher level of bilirubin in the blood.
The symptoms of jaundice include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, as well as dark, yellow urine and pale coloured poo.
Some parents may need to monitor the baby’s jaundice a few days after birth in order to determine if the baby requires further treatment.
A baby can be tested for jaundice in two ways:
Using a bilirubinometer
A small digital device (bilirubinometer) is used to shine a light onto the baby’s skin. The level of bilirubin is calculated by measuring how much light is absorbed or reflected off of the baby’s skin.
A sample of blood is taken from the baby via a heel prick. The blood collected will be sent to the lab, where the level of bilirubin is then calculated.
Blood sugar level test
A blood sugar test, or a glucose test, measures the level of glucose in the child’s blood. Glucose is a type of sugar that the body uses for energy.
A blood sugar test can help to inform the pediatrician if the child has a healthy/normal amount of sugar in their blood, or if any treatment or intervention is needed for the child’s well-being.
How long do I have to wait for the results of the diagnostic test?
The time it takes to receive the results from a diagnostic test also depends on the type of test carried out. Tests that are usually sent to the lab for further examination can take 24-48 hours to get back.
On the other hand, a bilirubinometer can reveal the level of bilirubin in the baby’s blood immediately.
Are there any risks when taking a diagnostic test?
All diagnostic tests are common, safe procedures with minimal risks. Children that have a blood test may experience pain and soreness around the blood test site, which can last for a few days.
If your child’s discomfort or side effects become worse, seek medical help from a pediatrician.
Thank you for reading our article on the different types of diagnostic tests offered at the clinic. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or drop by our clinic!