Demystifying Pediatrics

I have a confession. When my first baby was born, the nurse said she was going to check the bilirubin, and I thought it was somebody’s name. You know, like “Billy Reuben.” I wasn’t stupid; I was a well-educated professional in a different field. But obviously, I had no idea who/what bilirubin was, or why she cared to check it.

A lot of parents find themselves in the same position–they want to be actively involved in their child’s healthcare, but they don’t always have the information they need. Just like me, they’re too embarrassed to ask. And when they seek information on their own, it’s frequently hard to decide what to believe. That’s the reason I began writing several years ago, and I’m grateful to be able to help so many parents navigate these issues.

I write for parents who want to know “why”–those that want to understand their child’s health so that they can make truly informed decisions. But medicine isn’t simple, and neither is learning how to interpret the science behind it. My goal is to not to water down these issues, but to distill it into meaningful but manageable posts. I hope it helps you in some way. If you like what you read, be sure to sign up for my mailing list, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter for updates about new posts.

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17 thoughts on “Demystifying Pediatrics

  1. I had to laugh when I read the opening paragraph about the elephant in the piece about colic that was published in the Washington Post. Colic in the non-ruminant cellulose eating herbivores is a relatively common intestinal problem that can be fatal. The term colic is a catch-all term in these animals, too, however it is always in reference to a GI problem, e.g. impaction colic or gas colic (two of the most common colics) both of which can be fatal. I had to euthanize a 14 month old filly due to impaction colic some years ago. Upon necropsy she was found to have a beach ball sized mass of dry matter in her large intestine. This impaction would never have resolved without surgery ($8,000) and she probably would have had digestive issues for the rest of her life if she survived the surgery, which is doubtful since draft horses are poor surgical candidates. Anyway, just because we use the same word for animals doesn’t mean we are talking about the same problem associated with the term in people. I guess if we could sacrifice some human babies and do necropsies, we could learn more, but this would be inadvisable for a multitude of reasons.

    • I agree–the proposal to sacrifice infants for the sake of science would likely be met with at least mild resistance. Honestly, the concept of veterinary colic was foreign to me prior to this event, but it quickly became apparent as I read that we were talking about a different animal. Unfortunately, some of my explanation had to be cut for the sake of brevity for the WaPo article, and I fear that some of the intentional contrast (and subtle humor) was lost.


  2. would like your input on whether or not a Grandmother’s should speak up to the parents about her Grandson’s junk food diet and weight gain at his age of 10.If so,how would it best be said.Thank you…ps find your articles very helpful,wish I had this resource as a young Mom many years ago.

    • Claudia–thanks! I’m glad you’ve found my blog helpful. Bringing up awkward topics like that is never easy, but it is important. How you go about it would depend on your relationship with your son or daughter, I suppose. I guess from my perspective, I always try to focus on the positive aspects of promoting healthy eating and the associated benefits, and then work towards potential changes. (But then, people who come into my office are usually looking for my input in some form or another.)

      Unsolicited advice may or may not be welcomed, but it’s certainly worth a shot to bring it up and a loving and constructive way.


  3. Chad,
    You are a well educated talented writer with a lot of parental insight. Thank you for your candid approach to many pediatric issues. We have been sharing your articles on our Facebook page with much positive feedback. I actually print some of your topics for parents to pick up in the office.
    Your style covers tough topics by teaching parents something valuable with a smile.
    Your just getting started, Keep it up!

  4. Hi. I have a 17 year old that has always been an under achiever, mostly happy to stick around home and live a relaxed lifestyle. He has been a difficult kid to parent because is very stubborn. He hasn’t responded to the various incentives and consequences we have tried regarding school, homework and performance. He is now in the college application process and realizes his options are limited due to his grade point be 2.95. He is very upset and has, for the first time, shown an interest in what he can do to be a better student. He can still get his grade point up to a level that gets him into the school he wants by doing really well this semester. He has been absolutely unwilling to be evaluated and take study or test prep courses. But he is suddenly motivated and confided in me for the first time that he is so distracted he has a hard time getting through tests, can’t even read a few pages of a book without daydreaming and can do very little to stay on track with homework and note taking. I asked for help. I don’t know where to start to get him a quick evaluation and intervention plan. We can’t wait for months. We live in Cincinnati. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    • Maggie Sue–don’t have any contacts in that area, but there’s no shortage of good pediatric care. The second step should probably be talking to his pediatrician or family doctor about this issue and what steps you need to take for evaluation (or if he doesn’t have a regular doctor, finding one).

      The first step, he’s already done–recognizing that he has a problem and having the motivation to look for help. If his top choice of schools doesn’t work out, a year or two spent elsewhere demonstrating his true potential may change the minds of the admissions board. Best of luck to both of you–it’s never too late to turn things around.

  5. Hi Dr. Hayes,

    Great blog and wonderful resources to read. I would like your input on a my 14 month old’s problem with bowel movement discomfort. She never had a problem before until the exact day after I started her on cow’s milk. Immediately she began crying every time she went whether the stool was soft or hard. I took her to her pediatrician but she said it was normal because of diet change. She has continued with the same problem even though she has a healthy diet where she drinks lots of water and eats fibrous foods. Even when she has soft stools she still had signs of discomfort before she has a bowel movement. She did get an anal fissure but were prescribed a cream and those have healed. She still is uncomfortable and walks around crying until she goes. Once she goes she is fine. I was wondering if it might be better to remove the milk and try goats milk? I give her no more than 16 oz of milk a day. I’m concerned as this issue has gone on for 2 and half months. Thanks for your advice in advance.

  6. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! I find it very informative, and interesting. I truly appreciate all you do. I was wondering your thoughts on homeschooling and proper “socialization” for children. I personally homeschool my 4 children, and many people have different views on homeschooling.

    • Hi, Abby–I’ll probably come back and address this more completely in the future, but I think that for many families, homeschooling is a great option. The education can be tailored to each child, the material can typically be covered much more efficiently (leaving time for learning from playing outside or other activities), and there are plenty of ways to allow children to interact with others outside of a typical school setting. My wife and I homeschooled our children for a couple years, and it worked well for us. I think that the co-ops or other homeschooling groups offer the same socialization benefits as schools, while allowing the parent to have much more control over the child’s education.