Contemporary Pediatrics' content managing editor looks at how pediatric practice has changed since her own childhood.
As a child, I grew up with measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and whooping cough, and I vividly remember being sick. I watched my youngest sister almost suffocate during an asthma attack when she couldn’t breathe. I saw red “QUARANTINED” signs posted on houses in our neighborhood during an epidemic of scarlet fever. I heard the whispers about iron lungs, paralysis, and death, and I stood in line to get polio shots from the school nurse. Years later, I stood in line again with families of all ages eager to get sugar cubes dressed with a “miracle” polio vaccine that was going to eradicate this horrendous disease from the face of the earth.
My parents wanted to be modern parents, so they chose a pediatrician specifically trained in the care of babies and children. I realize now how fortunate I was.
When my own children were born, I chose a pediatric practice for its association with our local teaching hospital/medical school. Through my pediatricians, I experienced firsthand the wonders of modern medicine: the DPT, MMR, Hib, and oral polio vaccines; bubble-gum-flavored amoxicillin; and smiley faces drawn around tuberculin skin tests. I read all the newest child care books and dutifully followed my pediatrician’s advice about putting my babies to sleep on their stomachs or propped on their sides to prevent SIDS. When my children could talk, our pediatrician quizzed them about car-seat/seat-belt use and asked if I read to them every day. My kids loved going to the doctor's office, even when they were sick, because the waiting room had such cool toys; the doctor always made them giggle even after giving a shot; and they got to pick out a sticker after the visit was finished. They still suffered the indignities of chicken pox-varicella vaccine was introduced several years after my youngest child was infected-but they didn’t miss weeks of school being sick as I had.
Today, my newborn grandbabies experience kangaroo care in the delivery room and ride home from the hospital in safety-engineered infant seats. They sleep on their backs in empty cribs. They get life-saving vaccines-now including those for hepatitis A and B, pneumococcus, and rotavirus-at a well-child visit, and they get annual flu shots. Their growth is charted, and their parents are counseled 24/7. They also meet their pediatric dentist before they can walk. Neither my grandkids nor their parents will ever know what misery had been wrought on families in the not-so-distant past, when infectious and contagious childhood diseases invaded our homes and ravaged our communities unchecked, when children died.
With the help of my incredible pediatric group of physicians, my children grew up to be healthy young adults who are now raising their own healthy kids, guided by “contemporary” pediatricians whose universal concern has been and always will be the health and well-being of children.
Thank you, and bless you all.
MS RADWAN is content managing editor for Contemporary Pediatrics. She is the mother of 4 and grandmother to 3 lovely girls, ages 13 and 5 years, and 10 months, and a bouncing 3-year-old boy.