Many parents probably have experienced a time when your child has a high fever with diarrhea, vomiting and incessant crying. There are so many germs out there and it is your job to follow the news to keep your children safe. Rotavirus is another one of those treacherous microorganisms that you need to keep an eye on because it can affect your child in more ways than just diarrhea. Pediatrician Hathaitip Chaiprapa, specializes in neonatal perinatal medicine and shares some news with us.
“Children inflicted with the Rotavirus and have experienced repeated episodes of diarrhea during the the period of 12 to 24 months old and it can have long-lasting effects on their development, such as reduced height, as compared to average children, by 8.2 centimeters.”
Thailand is one of the countries that lacks awareness about Rotavirus and its effects. Some may think that it is only simple diarrhea that typically affects many people in our warm climate. So there is a lack of proper preparation, especially for infants from six months to two years old, which are the highest risk group for Rotavirus infections. Studies have shown that almost all children from newborn to five years old, have had a Rotavirus infection. One in 10 of those may have repeated infections (as many as five times).
Studies showed that about 43% of children under five years of age, who have been hospitalized for diarrhea, were caused by the Rotavirus. It is the main cause of severe diarrhea in children that may lead to death. Furthermore, it can hinder their development and affect their future. Because the virus can hide anywhere around children, especially in toys, infection occurs spontaneously no matter how much you try to prevent it. So, every child is considered to be at risk.
The symptoms of Rotavirus infection include severe diarrhea and vomiting that may lead to dehydration. Children may not be able to eat anything at all and if there are repeated episodes, it may progress to malnutrition, which can be detrimental to child development. Since the first five years is the time when children develop mentally and physically, repeated episodes of diarrhea will impact their development, both in their learning abilities and physical development with respect to future height and weight.
Studies have shown that children affected with Rotavirus and have repeated diarrhea during 12 to 24 months of age will have physical effects, such as less height than average children by as much as 8.2 centimeters before the age of seven or they may have learning disabilities compared to average children and have their mental development or IQ lower than their peers by 10 points. Furthermore, studies have shown that diarrhea affects nutrition thereby causing lower weight gain in some children.
The best deterrent for your child is the Rotavirus vaccine; it is considered the most effective preventative it at present because it can help prevent and reduce the severity. The sooner you can start prevention, the more likely your child will be spared the worst of the virus.
There are two types of vaccines against the Rotavirus. One vaccine is made from a type of Rotavirus originally isolated and weakened for human efficacy. It can be administered twice, once at six weeks or older and another at four months old (approximately two and four months). This vaccine will help prevent the virus in infants from four months old and it can cover a wide range of the virus. Another type of vaccine comprises five types of Rotavirus isolated from human-bovine hosts and the droplets require three separate administrations at two, four, and six months old, and protection can begin after six months.
“The easiest way to prevent the virus is to breastfeed your infant for at least six months to boost his/her immune system.”
M.D., College of Medicine, Rangsit University, 1998. , 2002