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Check your answers to our children’s health quiz.

What is the number one health issue concerning Australian parents?

According to the RCH National Child Health Poll, the number one health issue concerning Australian parents is excessive screen time.

In a recent study, it was found that excessive screen time affects sleep quality by increasing alertness. However, 43 per cent of children regularly use their devices at bedtime, with 26 per cent feeling the effects. Research also shows that more than a quarter of children are sacrificing physical activity for screen time, with teenagers most affected. Lack of physical activity is a factor in childhood obesity and can lead to other health issues.

The RCH Weight Management Clinic helps over 1,000 children ever year from the ages of three to 18. It is currently the largest specialist paediatric clinic in Australia and is recognised as an international centre of excellence. This service is entirely funded thanks to generous people like you.

What is the most dangerous summer activity children engage in?

Surprisingly, the most dangerous summer activity is jumping on a trampoline. Likened to cage fighting by RCH Director of the Trauma Service, Associate Professor Warwick Teague, jumping on a trampoline can result in everything from broken bones to severe head trauma, for one in six children affected. To avoid this, A/Professor Teague recommends that children are supervised while trampolining, safety nets are used and that no more than one child jump on a trampoline at a time.

The RCH is the designated state-wide major trauma centre for paediatrics in Victoria, providing emergency treatment and ongoing care for the majority of the State’s most severely injured children up to 16 years of age. Thank you for supporting A/Professor Warwick Teague and his team.

Are Australian children being affected by mental health issues?

Though it’s less frequently talked about, children are affected by mental health issues. However, only a third of Australian parents are confident they can recognise the signs of a mental health issue with their child. A recent RCH National Child Health Poll also found that a third of parents didn’t recognise that persistent sadness and tearfulness isn’t normal in children.

One of the ways that childhood mental health issues make themselves known is through school refusal, which is when children refuse to attend school due to emotional distress. Thanks to your support, the RCH has launched a program for children experiencing school refusal to help them engage in a classroom environment by addressing their mental health issues.

At what age is it safe for children to take over the counter cough and cold medicine?

It is recommended that over the counter cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under six years of age, as they have the potential to cause serious side effects in small children.

To help parents navigate which medicines are safe for their children, the RCH has developed the Kids Health Info app. Thanks to your support, this app contains over 300 medical fact sheets and is available for Android via Google Play and iPhone via the App Store.

When do you think a sick child should be taken to a GP instead of visiting Emergency?

The answer is all of the above! For common illnesses like a cold or gastro, RCH paediatrician Dr Margie Danchin recommends a visit to a GP for expert help. Symptoms include a mild fever, runny nose, cough, vomiting and diarrhoea. Even feeling a bit down or ratty can be signs that a visit to the GP is necessary.

However, if a child is very unwell, Dr Danchin suggests visiting an Emergency Department. Symptoms of serious illness include difficulty breathing, pale or blue lips, drowsiness or being unresponsive, a rash that doesn’t fade when the skin is pressed, or if a child suffers a fit or convulsion. In babies, additional signs of serious illness include when the soft spot on top of their head is full or bulging, as well as high pitched crying or screaming. If a child has sustained an injury like a burn, knock to the head or a broken bone, a trip to Emergency is necessary.

It can be tricky to know which course of action is best, but parents and carers know their children better than anyone. If a child is critically ill or their symptoms are worrying, they should be taken to an Emergency Department.