Like most child specialist clinics, our clinic offers general pediatrics and outpatient care. This means that the pediatrician is able to assess and treat newborn babies, infants, children and adolescents that come with a range of ilnesses and conditions. Children with more complex conditions can also be assessed, and if needed, the child specialist may then refer them to the appropriate doctor.
When should I bring my child to see a pediatrician?
Of course, whenever your child feels unwell, a visit to the doctor would be beneficial. Although most common childhood illnesses are mild and can be treated at home, occasionally, the child may experience symptoms that need medical attention. Some of these symptoms include:
Undoubtedly, there are many more symptoms that require urgent medical care. If you are unsure whether to bring your child to see a doctor, contact your pediatrician and let them know your concerns.
On the other hand, a sick visit is not the only opprtunity to talk to your pediatrician. In fact, a child specialist is also trained and equipped to monitor and assess your child’s growth and developmental milestones. These types of visits are usually referred to as well-child checkups. As your child ages, there are certain periods when a well-child checkup is usually recommended. Usually, well-child checkups would be conducted at:
2 weeks old
1 month old
2 months old
4 months old
6 months old
9 months old
12 months old
15 months old
18 months old
2 years old
2.5 years old
3 years old
Furthermore, a pediatrician is also able to provide screening services for autism, ADHD and several other developmental disorders. Although pediatricians do not usually diagnose children with specific disorders, seeing a specialist to talk about your child’s challenging behaviours would still be beneficial, as they would be able to inform you if your child is at risk of developing a disorder. This would then enable you, as a parent, to start thinking about getting the appropriate intervention/therapeutic service for the child. This is because early intervention has countlessly been proved to be more effective for a child faced with behavioural, emotional or intellectual challenges.
What are the common illnesses that can be treated by a pediatrician?
Because of their underdeveloped immune system and higher exposure to pathogens at school/daycare, children naturally have a higher susceptibility to illnesses. The good news is that most of the common childhood illnesses are mild and can be treated with the appropriate medication prescribed by your pediatrician.
Here are some examples of the most common illnesses that children usually visit the clinic for:
1. Common cold and influenza
A cold and the flu are caused by different viruses, but both share similar symptoms as both illnesses affects the child’s respiratory system. The flu would generally be more serious, cause more intense symptoms and is more likely to lead to complications, such as pneumonia.
Some of the symptoms of a cold or flu include:
The cold and flu are highly contagious illnesses, and can be spread from child to child via respiratory droplets in the air. In addition, the virus can survive for a short time on surfaces such as doorknobs, toys, countertops and digital devices, which makes it even easier for children to get infected.
2. Bronchitis and Bronchiolitis
Both these illnesses affect the child’s lungs and is typically caused by a virus. The main indicator that your child may be affected by these illnesses would be if the child is having difficulty breathing (making wheezing sounds) or difficulty eating. Another main symptom is if the child frequently coughs.
In some cases, the child may need to be treated with a nebulizer, which can contain anti-inflammatory drugs or bronchodilators to ease their coughing.
Gastroenteritis, better known as the stomach flu, is an infection of the stomach or intestines, caused by viruses or bacteria. A pediatrician would usually be able to tell that a child has this illness if they are experiencing:
It is also possible for the child to have fever, stomach cramps and abdominal pain. The symptoms of the stomach flu can cause a child to experience a loss of body fluids, which can lead to dehydration. The pediatrician would normally prescribe oral rehydration salts to restore the balance of electrolytes and treat the child’s dehydrated body.
Constipation is often caused by not having the appropriate amount of high-fibre foods and water in the child’s diet. Alternatively, constipation can also be caused by behavioural reasons, such as the child feeling anxious to go to the toilet in unfamiliar surroundings, or feeling pressured to go to the toilet.
Constipation is usually marked by the child having less than 3 bowel movements in a week, or if the child is producing large and hard stool. Upon assessment, the pediatrician may prescribe laxatives for the child to consume.
5. Ear infections
When viruses or bacteria infects the space behind the child’s eardrum, it can cause a lot of discomfort and pain for the child. The symptoms of an ear infection would be ear pain, which can be accompanied by fever and difficulty sleeping.
In most cases of ear infections, the pediatrician may prescribe paracetamol for pain relief, and sometimes the child may have to take antibiotics.
What other conditions can be treated by the pediatrician?
Newborn babies and infants can get their immunisation record updated at our clinic, as we provide vaccinations according to the national immunisation program. Babies are usually due to receive over 10 types of vaccinations, which can be quite overwhelming for parents to keep up with, but the pediatrician and clinic assistants are there to help with any questions and concerns you may have.
Minor injuries 🤕
When a child experiences a physical injury, it is often best to get them treated immediately by the emergency department at a hospital, as sometimes the injury may be life-threatening and require urgent medical care. It would be wise to contact the pediatrician first to let them know if your child’s injury can be treated at the clinic, to save time and prevent the injury from worsening.
Some minor injuries that can be treated by a pediatrician include:
wound dressing for minor scrapes / cuts
dressing for minor / first degree burns
In some cases, after the pediatrician has assessed the child, they may refer them to a different specialist for further evaluation or treatment.
Ear cleaning 👂
Most of the time, cleaning your child’s ear is not required, as a moderate amount of earwax in the child’s ear is considered to be healthy. In fact, earwax contains enzymes that helps to prevent bacteria to grow in the ear, and works to protect the ear canal by trapping dust particles that enter.
Occasionally, children may need to have their ears cleaned because of a build-up of earwax or if there is a sign of ear discharge due to an ear infection. In this case, the pediatrician is able to remove the earwax in a process called ear flushing/syringing.
Nasal suctioning 👃🏽💧
Young children with nasal congestion can have difficulty cleaning out their own airways by coughing or blowing their nose. A pediatrician is able to perform nasal suctioning to clear mucus that is blocking the nasal passage, using a small catheter which is passed into the nostril.
What should I expect to happen during my visit to the child specialist clinic?
Usually, after registering your child at the clinic, the clinic assistants would get your child’s measurements, which will then be recorded. Measurements include the child’s height, weight and sometimes, their head circumference. Getting the child’s weight during a sick visit is especially important, as it is needed for the doctor to calculate the appropriate amount of medication dosage prescribed for the child.
Depending on the main complaints presented by the child/parent, the pediatrician will use a variety of instruments to properly examine the child to reach a diagnosis, such as a stethescope or an otoscope.
Your child may be anxious and uncomfortable at a clinic, but, fret not, as that is a completely natural reaction to an unfamiliar environment. To help put them at ease, parents can try distracting them with toys, songs and videos.
Get to know the team at FirstStep Child Specialist Clinic:
Dr JoAnn Rajah (Consultant pediatrician)
Dr JoAnn achieved her medical degree from Melaka-Manipal Medical College (Manipal University) in 2008, and attained her MRCPCH (membership of the royal college of pediatrics and child health) from the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health UK in 2017. Since then, she has also been certified as an Early Nutrition Specialist.
Dr JoAnn’s friendly nature, combined with her patient-oriented approach enables her to genuinely connect with and care for each of her patients individually, to ensure that they all receive the most appropriate and relevant treatment.
Jacqueline Rajah (Clinic manager)
Jacqueline is a meticulous, friendly and determined individual. Her previous role as a physiotherapist has provided her with extensive knowledge surrounding the healthcare industry and how to care for patients appropriately. Her experience in the line of healthcare has also enabled her to develop exceptional customer service skills.
As a mother to two young children, Jacqueline is well-versed in understanding the challenges faced in parenthood.
Shazatul Yusoff (Clinic assistant)
Shazatul, also known as Shaz, has six years of experience working with children of all ages. Her bubbly and cheerful personality naturally puts children at ease during their visits to the clinic. Shaz’s previous work experience at a kindergarten has provided her with the appropriate skills to handle and communicate with children with the utmost care.
In addition, Shaz is an organized and reliable individual, who strives to ensure each patient receives the best care.
Nur Hazirah (Clinic assistant)
Hazirah’s responsible and amiable temperament makes her an excellent clinic assistant. As a registered nurse with a nursing certification, she has an extensive knowledge of common healthcare practices and the management of patients of different ages.
Her nursing certificate and previous experience in a child developmental clinic has allowed her to develop the appropriate skills needed to excel in a child specialist clinic.
Overall the team at FirstStep clinic are passionate and dedicated in providing the best care and service for children. Our clinic staff not only prioritizes the child’s mental and physical well-being, but also makes the extra effort to listen to you, the parent, and understand your perspective, to ensure that your parenting journey is as smooth as it can be.