The Rhythm of Pediatrics (Pedcast)

Experienced pediatricians are very attuned to the health problems that children have throughout the year.  The cycle is predictable and consistent.  Listen to this week’s podcast to get a glimpse of what pediatricians see throughout the year when it comes to childhood illnesses, season by season.



Hope you are having a good day

-Thank you for joining us for another pedcast.

-Weather is changing here in Charlotte

-Colder nights and shorter days can only mean one thing… the seasons are changing and so will the illness that we will see in the office.

-Pediatricians get used to a rhythm of illness that progresses through the year…predictable pattern season by season

-In today’s pedcast I wanted to give my listeners a chance to see things the way a pediatrician views them

-Lets face it, weather has a big influence on your children and their health. We all know this instinctively from our own experience but today lets take a closer look at how the natural world influences the health of your children through the seasons.

-Before we get started today, I want to remind my listeners that my intention in making this blog is not to provide specific medical advice for your child but rather to provide general information that may be useful to parents.
-For specific advice about your child, visit the wonderful person you call your child’s doctor.


2. To me, it only makes sense that your child’s health is strongly influenced by the natural world they live in. That natural world is made up of a huge variety of microbes…bacteria, viruses, molds, fungi .  Your child touches disease producing germs constantly.  It is amazing to me that they are not sick all the time. Here are some of the disease producing microbes your child needs to be ready to encounter this year, season by season;


3. Lets start with Fall -As soon as school gets back in session, here comes strep.

-School means strep I guess because the school environment provides an opportunity for close secretion contact.  Yuck.  Being in close contact with 30 other children all day, mostly in one classroom provides ample opportunity to spread this nasty germ around.


Fall also brings us some cool nights along with a distinctive barky cough illness we call croup.  The croup syndrome consists of a sore throat, maybe some fever, followed a few days later by a deep wet cough that comes from the bronchioles

Croup…First shot across the bow of winter. Of course babies first, then the older children.   Lots of germs can cause the croup syndrome but most commonly a virus called parinfluenza


Again, school provides the vehicle for germs to easily travel.  Remember this  DocSmo pearl – Germs can’t run, jog, or walk, … they need to be dragged from nose to nose and the dragging happens on your child’s hands.   In other words, clean hands mean a lot less illness.  Teach your children to wash before eating and after the potty… and teach them the elbow cough!



4. OK, next comes winter…It is getting colder and darker and here comes the big bad players of the year.  The really mean, dangerous germs of the year…the dreaded winter diseases.

The season opener is usually Bronchiolitis- an infection that affects your child’s lungs a little deeper than croup , in the smaller air tubes called bronchioles- usually caused by a germ called RSV.

By December, in the Northern hemisphere where it is winter, we are getting a sneak preview of the worst illness of the year, influenza–  By mid December this disease starts to take hold and then…

Kids get out of school….  wanes

School is back in session and the explosion of flu occurs. Attack rates as high as 90%.  That’s when the kids start coming to the office in their pajamas and lovies and not sitting up when you go into the exam room…bad sign.

Finally, as if the winter hadn’t been bad enough, here comes the stomach flu caused by a germ called Rotavirus. Often with this illness, the parents look as bad as the kids.  Thankfully we now have a vaccine to make this illness milder in our most vulnerable children, babies.  Make sure you take advantage of this vaccine.


5. With the change of seasons into spring comes another shift in pediatric illness…


Now it’s time for “allergies” along with a surge in cases of streptococcal diseases.  Scarlet fever, Strep throat, Impetigo, and even Rheumatic fever.  More on that later in another podcast.


6. Finally summer comes Summer

Major drop off in illness…but now they are getting hurt! Sunburns, poison ivy, lacerations, and broken this and that.

When the pool opens, here comes water borne and food borne diseases…diarrhea caused by a group of germs called entero viruses ( entero being a word that means stomach)  Some of the common ones that you might have heard about are HandFootMouth, and Herpangina.  In years past, before the miracle of vaccines, polio was caused by one of these entero that came around in the summer and could devastate a child for life. Great grandma’s was so afraid of this germ that she insisted that  grandpa not go swimming or out in public during community outbreaks for fear he might contract the disease.  Pools were closed and get togethers canceled.   Communities just shut down. Once again, Grandma showed her genius.  She understood how germs travel without ever taking a microbiology class.   How did that lady know.


That reminds me of another DocSmo pearl…

Germs love get togethers so they can get it together!  In other words, crowds of young children means germs can be on the move and make your child sick.  Limit your child’s exposure to large groups of children.


7. So that’s the Rhythm of Pediatrics. Croup and strep in the fall, Bronchiolitis, flu, and severe rotavirus diarrhea in the winter, strep and allergies in the spring, and finally injuries and enteroviral illnesses in the summer.  Each year the cycle gets repeated.  Vaccines have made the list of germs that children have to deal with much shorter thank goodness but as you can see, kids still have a lot to deal with.



I want to thank you for joining me today.  Please be sure to check out the next episode of when Dr Sheila Kilbane will give us her insight into how to “Winterize” your children.  She is always full of great information both practical and thought provoking.

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This is Dr Paul Smolen, broadcasting from Studio 1E, first child’s bedroom, east side of the house, hoping you have a little more smarts as the next season starts!


Until next time
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