I thought I knew plenty about newborns. But I didn’t know that they are obligate nasal breathers, which means they cannot breathe through their mouths until they are around four months old.
I also didn’t really ever understand how to use saline solution to clear a new baby’s nose. (Four kids, and I never learned this? Imagine how many hours of sleep I lost!) Or that toxins from the clothes of a tobacco smoker are enough to cause irritation to the respiratory system.
Or that if you can hear a child snoring from the next room, it could indicate a significant sleep problem — such as sleep apnea.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Nina Shapiro, M.D., has published a book with plenty of new information on breathing problems in babies and young children.
Take a Deep Breath: Clear the Air for the Health of Your Child offers a look at the function of the entire respiratory system in the very early years so that parents can better understand what is normal and what is not.
The book is divided in to sections based on age- from newborn to five years. Each chapter presents the information that parents are most likely to wonder about during that particular age.
Shapiro, who is director of pediatric otolaryngology and an associate professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, formats the close of each chapter with a nice re-cap based on the “big picture,” what is normal, (don’t worry) and when to become concerned and seek medical attention (worry).
A book that focuses on the respiratory system is a great resource for parents, especially in the first few weeks of life. As Shapiro explains, a clearer understanding of the anatomy of the air passages, where the windpipe is in relation to the esophagus, and how the entire, minuscule system must work together in order for a baby to thrive can help to make caring for a baby a little less daunting.
Shapiro weighs in on proper sleeping positions (back remains best to help prevent SIDS), the immune system and vaccines, (get them) and air quality issues within the home. She describes in detail the little noises that babies and young children can make while breathing or sleeping and explains just what those sounds can mean.
Take a Deep Breath is packed with respiratory specifics that until now have been glossed over in other more general books on child health. Information abounds on sore throats, but should a parent be concerned if a child has a hoarse voice? How do you tell apart a bad cold from a sinus infection? Would you recognize pertussis? Or, what do you do if you sense a foul odor coming from a toddler’s nose?
Shapiro’s work would make a great resource to any new parent’s print library. It’s always a plus when a highly-trained medical specialist provides essential information in a usable and very readable format.
If you have a new baby, this one isn’t going to gather dust on the shelf. And if you’re worried about dust, check out chapter seven…