“Diagnosis and timely treatment can markedly improve the chances of survival of the majority of children born with congenital heart disease, so that they can live active lives as adults,” said Dr Babar Hasan, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).
He was speaking at the public awareness session organised on World Children’s Day at the University.
Dr Hasan mentioned that AKUH established a dedicated congenital paediatric cardiac surgery unit in 2006 and to date over 800 surgical procedures of varying complexities have been performed. “We provide the most comprehensive cardiovascular services throughout the country with designated surgeons, cardiologists, intensivists and cardiac anaesthesiologists all trained in the management of congenital heart disease,” he added. Some of the procedures conducted at AKUH include total anomalous venous return repair, Tetarology of Fallot repair with a valved transannular patch (a unique procedure only available at AKUH), percutaneous atrial and ventricular septal closures.
Other experts spoke about infectious diseases in young children and the importance of adequate diets. Diarrhoea is one of the most common infectious diseases in infants and the main risk is dehydration that can be helped by oral rehydration solutions. Dr Farah Qamar, Consultant, Paediatric Infectious Diseases, AKUH, mentioned that young breastfed infants with diarrhoea could have up to three to 10 stools per day; while older infants, toddlers and children could have one to two bowel movements in a 24-hour period.
Most episodes of diarrhoea are self-limiting and medications such as antibiotics and antidiarrheal are generally not necessary; instead, they could be harmful. She warned that immediate medical attention should be sought for children who have bloody diarrhoea or show signs of moderate to severe dehydration. Help should also be sought if they refuse to eat or drink, have periodic abdominal pain that lasts over two hours and if they become irritable or cranky.
Children’s growth and eating habits were discussed at length by Dr Maqbool Qadir and Dr Khalil Ahmed, both Consultant Paediatricians and Neonatologists, AKUH. “The most common complaint that we hear from mothers is that their one-year-old has stopped eating,” said Dr Qadir. “If you look at the growth charts used to measure babies, you will see that the curve rises steeply. Infants grow very rapidly in the first 12 months of their lives – almost triple their birth weight,” Dr Qadir explained. Once the child turns one, there is a substantial slowdown.
“As long as your child is active, developing adequately and has some weight gain, parents should be reassured that their child is growing normally,” he said. A record of their height and weight over time plotted on a growth chart is a better indicator of whether there really is a health problem.
Hassaan Akhter, Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org