Top 10 Confessions of a Pediatrician

Common Gripes

3. We hate the Internet. Okay, so that's not a completely fair statement. There are certainly a number of very helpful, informative, easy-to-use Web sites out there. As with anything else, however, there are a large number of sensationalizing, nonscientific sites that contain misinformation and provoke unnecessary fear and apprehension in well-intentioned parents.

Your pediatrician should be open to discussing any information you come across on the Internet and, at the same time, be able to provide you with a few reputable and reliable child-health Web sites that you might use. (For suggestions, see "Worthy Web Sites," on page three.)

4. We really try not to run late, and we don't think your time is any less valuable than ours. Trust me, as a mother, I've been there. You've left the house without a spare diaper or a sippy cup because you've rushed to make it to the doctor's office on time, only to sit for 30 minutes in the waiting room and another 30 minutes in the exam room before she makes an appearance. All the while, your under-the-weather toddler is becoming more and more unmanageable. To be certain, running behind is not something that is just built into the system. Doctors hate it as much as you do! We try hard to stay on schedule, but we hope parents will understand if we've chosen to take extra time to care for another child because she needs it, as opposed to speeding through each visit. We think your children's health and everyone's time is more valuable than that.

5. We really don't mind being woken up at 3 a.m. We may not verbalize that to parents, but that's the truth. Not only do we not hate it, as is commonly feared, but we expect it! We weren't drafted into medicine, we chose it as our life's work; and part of that means being available at all hours, no matter how big or small the problem. I joke with most of the parents in my practice that nothing is certain in life except that fevers and vomiting always start in the middle of the night, and not during office hours. We know that's true, and we'd be surprised if we didn't hear from you from time to time.

6. When it comes to your baby's health, don't listen to your mother -- unless she's a practicing pediatrician. This one might truly get me in trouble, but what I'm referring to is the perpetuation of medical old wives' tales from generation to generation. What exactly do I mean, you ask? Let me offer up a few examples: Constipation causes fever and ear tugging is a reliable sign of ear infections. These notions are often widely held beliefs, but have no physiological basis. So while Grandma is well intentioned, think twice next time she recommends an enema to help pass the "toxins" causing Emma's fever.

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