(a) Cow's milk doesn't have enough iron, which your baby needs to make red blood cells. After a year, infants eat a wider variety of foods that have more iron to make up the difference. Drinking milk earlier doesn't cause allergies, nor does milk taste funny to babies (many formulas contain cow's milk protein, for example, which is fine, as is yogurt). Breast milk and cow's milk both contain lactose; many people become lactose intolerant as they age, not as babies.
(c) Children get vaccines against rotavirus (diarrhea), varicella (chicken pox), hepatitis (liver disease), and influenza (flu), among many other diseases. But there's no vaccine against strep throat yet.
(a) Twelve-month-olds usually weigh between 21 and 23 pounds. Pediatricians use a growth chart to ensure that babies stay on track.
(a) Most ear infections disappear without any treatment, and many of them are caused by viruses. They can't be prevented with a vaccine (the pneumococcal vaccine may be partially responsible for the drop in rates of ear infections, though). Thankfully, most bacteria that cause ear infections aren't resistant to antibiotics.
(d) All of these are smart moves.
(d) Any clothes your child came in contact with should be washed in hot water to kill live lice. Cleanliness of the hair has nothing to do with lice, and lice only infect people, not pets. Depending on the anti-lice shampoo you use, the nits (lice eggs) may not hatch, so you shouldn't have to keep your child home -- though schools' nit policies vary.
(a) A fever over 100.4°F might be the only sign of a possible life-threatening infection in a child under 1 month, so the baby needs tests and antibiotics.
(a) Occasional cross-eyes are normal in babies and usually go away by 4 months. However, a white pupil could mean a cataract or another eye problem; frequent eye rubbing might mean vision problems; and regularly crusted eyes imply an allergy or an eye infection.
(b) Antibiotics such as penicillin prevent an unusual reaction to strep throat, in which the child's immune system mistakenly attacks her heart (known as rheumatic heart disease). The drugs don't really help the fever or prevent the unusual kidney damage from some strep infections. After starting antibiotics, children can still spread strep for 24 hours.
(d) A murmur is simply a noise, which is usually the normal sound of blood moving through the heart. In rare cases, a high-pitched rushing may mean a heart defect, but doctors can usually determine that by using a stethoscope.
(b) Though they're scary for parents to watch, night terrors aren't a reason to suspect seizures or some other serious brain problem. The cause is unknown, but kids nearly always outgrow them in a few years.
(c) The wheezy attacks of asthma can be triggered by colds, cold air, exercise, and allergies to dust. However, sudden breathing problems after a bee sting are a sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which needs emergency treatment with epinephrine in the form of an EpiPen or Auvi-Q device.
(e) 2010's Affordable Care Act includes all of these provisions.
(a) Cats can spread the parasite, which comes from eating birds or mice. Pregnant women should avoid changing cat litter, but if that's not possible, use gloves and wash hands afterward. The same goes for gardening, since contaminated soil may also harbor toxoplasma.
(b) Women can have a single drink occasionally but should wait at least two hours before nursing. Most antidepressants won't affect breast milk, nor will small amounts of caffeine, but cigarettes contain many toxins that show up in breast milk.
(d) Colic can drive any parent crazy, so know your limits and take a break if you might do something you'll regret. Despite the plethora of products and explanations out there purporting to help colic, it remains a medical mystery. Thankfully, it's usually gone by 3 months of age.
(b) Fever and lower-right-belly pain may mean appendicitis, which needs immediate medical attention. Mild head bonks, coughs, and spit-up are all a normal part of childhood.
(c) A child's age has nothing to do with whether he's ready for a booster seat. He should be in a five-point-harness car seat until he reaches the height-and-weight limit set by the manufacturer.
(b) Babies placed on their back have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Excessive padding, like bumpers and multiple blankets, can increase a baby's suffocation risk, and babies can twist and harm their limbs if they fit through crib rails.
(d) This so-called "target lesion" is a sign of Lyme disease, which needs antibiotic treatment.