Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is caused by melanocytes, a type of pigment-producing cell in the body. The term “childhood melanoma” refers to cases of this cancer diagnosed in patients under the age of 18. While rare, this type of cancer can be dangerous if not promptly treated.

Types of Childhood Melanoma

There are six types of melanoma that arise in children. These include:

  • Melanoma development in brown birthmarks, also known as congenital melanocytic naevus.
  • Congenital melanoma, which is present at birth.
  • Blue naevus, which is malignant.
  • Melanoma in patients with atypical or dysplastic naevi.
  • Spitzoid melanoma.
  • Nodular melanoma (accounts for 40%-50% of malignant childhood melanoma cases)

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Melanoma

The signs and symptoms of melanoma in children vary depending on the child’s age. Older children, for example, will present symptoms very similar to adults. Younger children, on the other hand, exhibit unique symptoms.

In order children, aged 11-18, melanoma appears as a growing lesion, typically pigmented. Typically, the lesion has irregular borders, is asymmetrical, varies in color, is evolving and has a diameter of less than 6 mm.

For children aged 10 and younger, melanoma is more likely to be red in color (known as “amelanotic”), thick and nodular. In this age bracket, the lesion may appear as a bump and may bleed. The color is not uniform and may be any size.

Children born with birthmarks are more likely to develop melanoma, but still, cases are rare when the birthmark is small or medium in size. However, children born with large birthmarks (greater than 40 cm in diameter) have a 4% risk of developing melanoma. Birthmarks of this size are very rare and only occur in 1 in 20,000 births.

Who is at risk for Childhood Melanoma?

Melanoma is rare in children, and exceptionally rare before puberty. Of all pediatric cancers, it accounts for just 3% of cases. Common risk factors for this type of cancer include:

  • Immunodeficiency
  • Dysplastic naevus syndrome
  • Fair skin that burns easily and freckles
  • Multiple moles
  • History of the eye cancer retinoblastoma
  • Xeroderma pigmentosum

While typically caused by sun exposure, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests melanoma can also arise from exposure to laser devices, like those used for laser hair removal. With at-home devices now available, children may be at greater risk of accidental exposure.

How is Melanoma in Children Treated?

The treatment for melanoma in children is similar to those used in adults.

Typically, suspicious lesions are removed by an excision biopsy. If melanoma is confirmed in the lesion, a second procedure is performed, known as a wide local excision. This procedure removes a wider margin of the child’s normal skin. The amount of skin removed will be dependent on the thickness of the melanoma.

In cases of advanced melanoma, where the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or another place in the body, treatment may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy or surgery.

Prognosis of Childhood Melanoma

The outlook for children diagnosed with melanoma is largely dependent on the stage of the cancer. Thicker tumors are more likely to spread to other areas of the body, and may be more difficult to treat.

The survival rate of childhood melanoma is similar to survival rates in adults. Cases involving children under the age of 11 are an exception, as they tend to be less aggressive than cases involving older children and adults.

Children need vaccines because their immune systems aren’t able to fend off diseases. Infants and young children under the age of five are at risk of contracting diphtheria, mumps, tetanus, whooping cough, chickenpox and polio (the latter has been eliminated in the United States in 1979, but it’s still present in Africa and Asia). Vaccines are safe and unless they are living in an underdeveloped region, there are seldom good reasons for children not to receive them. The first two years of life are the most critical time to get the recommended shots.

Vaccinations for Newborns

At two to four months of age, infants should receive the following vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (these are given simultaneously with one injection). Additionally, pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines are administered during this time. The former is an infection causing pneumonia and the latter, vomiting and diarrhea. At four and six months of age, the same round of three vaccinations is repeated, with two injections for the DTP and pneumococcal disease and oral drops for the rotavirus.

Vaccinations at One Year of Age

Twelve-month old infants are at an important stage in the vaccination cycle. The MMR vaccine is for protection against measles, mumps, and rubella – all of which are transmitted from one person to another in the air. Some infants younger than one year should be immunized if they will be outside of North America. The second round of vaccines is given much later, around four to six years.

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is unpleasant. Many people in North America and other developed countries can recall having this illness, which causes painful rashes. This vaccine is given around twelve to fifteen months of age, with a booster shot between four and six years.

Conclusion

Any injection can cause side effects, but they are rarely serious. Most of the time, problems that stem from vaccinations are mild fevers and sore arms. “Needle pain” causes anxiety and resistance to vaccinations, but these shots will do more good than harm because these illnesses are far less frequent in the developed world.

As a parent it’s only natural that you want your child (or children) to be in good health. To protect young members of a family from dangers that can’t be seen, heard, or felt, i.e., diseases, parents can choose vaccinations. In the developed world, cases of potentially lethal illnesses have been reduced on a massive scale and that’s only because most children continue to be vaccinated. Once they stop getting their shots those diseases return – and they’re tougher to beat. Many children remain unprotected because their parents believe that a child’s immune system will provide adequate protection during an illness and after it runs its course. That could happen, but it’s a dangerous thing to assume. Why take that kind of risk? not only will your child benefit from proper food eating habits, but also keeping them active even during days when the weather outside is bad. Getting your child to use an indoor rowing machine or cardio equipment is going to be difficult as children will find it boring, so I would suggest that an area where they can play indoors safely. Here are reasons children should get their shots.

Diseases Hang Around

While it’s true that diseases such as diphtheria, measles, and whooping cough have been controlled, they haven’t been eradicated. They’re still here, and they make life very unpleasant for children who haven’t been properly immunized. The diseased mentioned above don’t occur with great frequency in the developed world, but they can reach epidemic proportions elsewhere. And when people from an affected area travel abroad, they might carry something with them without knowing it. Many illnesses are contagious, and that’s a scary thought when you consider how many international flights are going around the world every day.

Vaccinations Are Safe

Not everyone likes needles and they cause some pain, but getting a shot is a small price to pay for preventing an illness that could threaten a child’s life. There have been theories going around about the possible link between vaccinations and autism; however, there is no concrete evidence to support this case. Autism is a highly complex disorder that develops before a child receives the first jab of a syringe. Refusing to administer lifesaving vaccinations can lead to disastrous results for adults and children alike. In 2010, California saw a resurgence of whooping cough not seen since the 1940s, and incidents like this can happen again without appropriate measures.

Vaccinations Aren’t Toxic to the Body

The success of vaccines may be undermined because of the following ingredients anti-vaxxers love to hate: mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, and thiomersal. What isn’t understood about these chemicals is that we absorb them on a daily basis, in the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Only trace amounts are in vaccines.

Vaccines Save Money

Beyond saving lives, reduction in diseases means less pressure on the health care system. If a child comes down with measles, that means no school. Instead, he or she will be taken to the emergency room – and this kind of trip always costs money. What if an illness becomes serious and a child is admitted into intensive care? That means lots of medications, bills for special tests, etc.

Conclusion

If we trust medical professionals about a vaccine’s effectiveness, fewer people will become sick. As science continues to advance, we shouldn’t forget how many deaths have been prevented with vaccines.

Whooping cough can be prevented with a vaccine but the disease continues to appear in sporadic outbreaks. Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that targets the upper respiratory tract, and those who have it suffer from violent fits of coughing followed by a distinct “whoop” sound as the person gasps for breath. Naturally, the laryngeal structures are swollen and they vibrate during a quick inflow of air, thereby producing that noise. Whooping cough is also known as pertussis, named after the bacterium Bordetella pertussis and it spreads rapidly in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or just exhales. A person may not know that he or she has whooping cough because early symptoms resemble the common cold with only a mild cough. When was whooping cough first recognized as a threat to public health?

A Short History of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough has been around for centuries, and at a time when diseases were poorly understood and vaccines didn’t exist, the illness claimed many lives. Two French scientists – Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou – isolated the bacterium responsible for whooping cough in 1906. In the 1920s, doctors were able to control infectious diseases such as smallpox and typhoid fever, but whooping cough was a tougher nut to crack.

Effective vaccines weren’t available yet, and whooping cough killed more children than scarlet fever and measles combined. By the 1970s, cases of whooping cough decreased sharply due to the introduction of a “whole-cell” vaccine, made of dead bacteria. It seemed medical science triumphed at last.

Who is at Risk for Whooping Cough?

As in the past, infants who aren’t vaccinated can end up is serious trouble if they fall ill with whooping cough. In many cases, another family member passes the disease to everyone in the home. A large percentage of the U.S. population is vaccinated against whooping cough, and they may think it provides a lifetime of immunity. It doesn’t. Adolescents and adults should receive booster shots to minimize the chance of making somebody else sick, and the whooping cough vaccine is part of the combined TDP (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) formula.

How is Whooping Cough Treated?

Infants with whooping cough must be treated with antibiotics and kept in isolation. Severe cases may require corticosteroid medication to remedy inflamed airways. For older children and adults, symptoms aren’t so bad and these cases can be treated with such medicines as erythromycin and sulfamethoxazole.

The infection can also be managed at home with plenty of rest and taking drugs to reduce pain – ibuprofen, for example. Whooping cough doesn’t clear up so fast, and even after the initial runny nose goes away the cough is just beginning. It might get so bad that a child can’t eat or sleep, so it’s imperative to seek medical attention.

Conclusion

It seems that whooping cough is coming back with a vengeance. In the United States in 2014, a staggering 32,971 cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control. Many of these people were adolescents, between thirteen and fifteen years. The old vaccines aren’t offering protection anymore and the microbes are adapting faster than anticipated.The last time whooping cough was so prevalent Dwight Eisenhower was the American President!

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Tetanus is a disease that affects the muscles and nerves, and is a rare but serious condition. It’s caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium tetani, which is present in cultivated and virgin soil. Although tetanus can’t be transmitted from person to person, infants are particularly vulnerable and an adult can become ill if he or she has never been immunized, or has not been given a booster shot for more than ten years. Tetanus is occasional in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, but in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries – the disease kills thousands of children a year. In places with inadequate health care services, cases of tetanus often go unreported and many neonatal deaths occur in the home. Therefore, the disease is allowed to flourish. What are the symptoms of tetanus and how can the disease be stopped?

Initial Stages of Tetanus

When outside, cuts and scrapes are liable to happen when working in the garden, nailing pieces of wood together for a home renovation, or just playing around. An open wound anywhere on the body is a way for Clostridium tetani spores to enter the bloodstream. Once inside the body, the bacterium produces a toxin that germinates near the wound site. Then the toxin interferes with neurotransmitters released by the brain, blocking inhibitory impulses. The most noticeable physical symptom of tetanus is lockjaw: muscle stiffness that makes it hard to open the mouth or swallow.

The toxin amplifies the chemical signal between the nerve and the muscle, so the next stage of the disease is the most painful. After the disease attacks the muscles around the face and neck, the abdominal muscles are next. They are “locked” in a continuous spasm, making it difficult to breathe. Artificial respiration might be necessary. As a result of prolonged muscle contractions, tetanus patients can appear to have a weird, steady grin or smile on the face and elsewhere in the body the constant pressure may cause bones to break.

How Tetanus is Treated

Even though this is the twenty-first century, there is no cure for advanced cases of tetanus. Patients can only recover by an extended stay in a hospital and subsequent rehabilitation. The good news is that although tetanus can be life-threatening, it’s preventable with vaccines.

Children should be given shots at two, four, six, and around eighteen months of age. After the final dose at the four-year mark, a booster should be administered once every ten years throughout teenage and adult life. Tetanus shots are often given in conjunction with diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines.

Conclusion

When people think of tetanus, an image of getting sick after stepping on a rusty nail usually comes to mind. If the wound is cleaned quickly and a visit is paid to a doctor to get an additional round of antibiotics and/or shots, there is little to be concerned about. It would be a far different matter in an unsanitary environment, which encourages bacteria to multiply. Nobody is immune from dirty wounds. That’s probably why tetanus has ceased to be a problem in industrialized nations.