Should I be giving multivitamins to my child?  

The DoH recommends vitamins daily for ALL children from the age of 6 months to 5 years.  For some reason this important piece of information is not filtering down to parents and health professionals.  Vitamins can be got on prescription from your GP, brought over the counter or sometimes if you are struggling to get them then your Health Visitor can help.  There is no particular brand that takes precedent – just your barn door multivitamins for kids.  What is absolutely vital is Vitamin D – this vitamin is essential for bone health and we are seeing a rise in rickets in the UK because of Vitamin D deficiency.  So not only does sunlight (what sunlight you may ask?!) help your body produce vitamin D, but this essential vitamin is incorporated into all the standard multivitamins for children, hence the reason we must give them to our children from the age of 6 months.

Vaccines – to give or not to give?

Being a paediatrician I guess you are asking the wrong person to have a debate over vaccinations – I am 100% pro vaccination in all its forms.  I wish the chickenpox vaccine was available to everyone here as part of the  routine immunization schedule in the UK as it is in Australia and I cannot wait for the rotavirus vaccine to be put into place here.  Vaccination is the best form of prevention and protection in my book. I cannot understand why one would not to vaccinate one’s child but I know that people have their reasons and as a paediatrician my job is to provide them with the evidence, have an informed discussion with them and then I guess leave it up to them to make a choice.  Interestingly though in the USA it is compulsory that a child is vaccinated in order to go to nursery and in some areas it is linked with child benefits.  Should we follow suit?  MENINGITIS B VACCINE Please read+sign up so all children can get it. This is an amazing discovery.

My child is always ill, is this normal?

It is perfectly normal for your child to have loads of coughs and colds of varying severity.  Sometimes so mild you do not even notice, other times really disturbing their sleep and eating.  It is obviously worse in winter time, and unfortunately tummy bugs (norovirus) are also at their peak this year.  There is no way of really avoiding these illnesses as many are airborne – but I your child is ill then try and avoid coming into contact with other children and therefore making them ill is my only piece of advice.  Also be fair to other parents and don’t send your child to nursery if they show any signs of diarrhoea or vomiting – Norovirus is highly contagious.  With tummy bugs, hand hygiene is paramount to try and stop it spreading to other family members making the whole holiday period one you would rather forget.  Let’s hope that your child will some gain immunity this year to stop it happening again next year.