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Don’t Postpone Children’s Health Care in the Pandemic

Dr. Ellen Stevenson, a professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health and Science University, said that there had been cases where parents waited on skin infections, so they worsened to the point that children needed oral antibiotics, rather than soaks and antibiotic ointment.

“Covid has taken all the air in the rooms, but we need to remember that other diseases are still out there,” said Dr. Sally Goza, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who is a primary care private practice pediatrician in Fayetteville, Ga. During the course of the pandemic, she said, she has taken care of a child who had recurrent fevers and turned out to have leukemia, and diagnosed acute appendicitis over the telephone. “There was chronic constipation, but the abdominal pain was a little different,” she said. “Luckily it had not ruptured.”

“If the recommendation is that you need to go in, you should go in; hospitals are in many ways some of the safest places to go, we’re so cautious,” Dr. Costello said.

Children with asthma, diabetes, sickle cell disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and other problems that require regular check-ins and preventive medications should be getting their care, “making sure your chronic conditions are being managed optimally,” Dr. Beers said. Some of this can happen remotely; make sure these children have their prescriptions adjusted and up-to-date, and that parents know exactly what to monitor.

Young children’s lives have been disrupted since last spring. They may not have been in the company of other children, so parents have not had the chance to make the kind of comparisons that sometimes raise developmental questions.

With many children for whom there were already questions, the pandemic interrupted the often lengthy process of evaluation and diagnosis. That means that months are passing without children getting evaluation, therapy and special help in the early years, when that help can matter most.

Dr. Stevenson worries when “I see someone who had a developmental concern who had been referred pre-pandemic and is still waiting.” Some children are getting early intervention services virtually, she said, but others are not getting help.

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