Mosquitoes might seem harmless pesky pets, but their bites go beyond causing some itching and swelling. They hold the power to wreak havoc on your child’s overall development!
Being bitten by mosquitoes is a common childhood concern. As parents, most of us have experienced our child’s distress and tears when a stray mosquito bit them while they were playing in the park. Usually, we perceive mosquito bites as harmless and forget about them after the itching and swelling have come down. However, there are certain mosquito bites that can be very serious and trigger health complications in little ones. In severe cases, these complications even affect the child’s overall development, including physical, cognitive and emotional growth.
Mosquito-Borne Diseases That Affect Child Development
The following mosquito borne diseases are unfortunately common in India and can have severe effects in patients, especially in children. Please take note of their possible effects on child development and the preventive measures that doctors recommend for parents.
Can Affect The Child’s Brain Development
Malaria is among the most common diseases caused by mosquitoes, transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. While in several cases, children recover completely without any lasting side effects, this may not always hold true. If your child comes down with severe malaria, it could have long-term effects on his cognitive ability, behaviour and performance in school. According to a research paper published in BioMed Central, cognitive impairment in language, memory, attention, etc., is the hidden burden of malarial infection.
What Parents Need to Do: If your child has malaria, watch out for symptoms such as seizure, coma, and low blood sugar. These symptoms can indicate a high risk of acute infection and must immediately get evaluated by the doctor.
Lowers The Child’s Overall Immunity
The malarial parasite can also interfere with your child’s immune system and reduce its ability to trigger an immune response. A paper published in Science Daily notes that malaria patients often fail to respond to many vaccines and are susceptible to many infections. During the developing years, children are exposed to several new stimuli, germs, etc., especially when they are spending time outdoors. In the absence of a strong immune system, their chances of falling ill are much higher.
What Parents Need to Do: Maintain a high level of hygiene at home. Use a liquid vaporizer at home to keep mosquitoes away.
You also need to take preventive steps to protect your children from being bitten by mosquitoes when they venture outdoors. The Anopheles mosquito is the most active at dusk or dawn, which means kids have high risk of being bitten during their evening playground time. An effective protection is to use Good knight Fabric Roll-On which uses natural eucalyptus oil and citronella to keep mosquitoes away for up to 8 hours. You only have to dab 4 dots onto the child’s clothes. If you make this a habit whenever your child ventures outdoors to play or goes off to school, you can rest assured that your child will remain protected from mosquitoes even outside the house.
Apart from this, also feed your child immunity-boosting foods such as citrus fruits, yoghurt, almonds, etc. If your child falls ill frequently, discuss with your doctor to rule out the possibility of a suppressed immune response.
May Trigger Long-Term Joint & Muscle Pain
If your child gets infected by dengue, the impact on his physical development can persist even after the infection has gone. Dengue has been known to cause severe pain in the muscles and joints – conditions called polyarthralgia and myalgia. In case the child already suffers from any vitamin or mineral deficiencies, this pain can be severe for their tender, still developing joints.
What Parents Need to Do: If your child complains of joint pain even after the infection has subsided, discuss this with the doctor. He will be able to evaluate the pain and prescribe medication and dietary changes.
Protect the child from any subsequent diseases caused by mosquito bites by not allowing any stagnant water in and around the house. If your little one is under 2 years old, apply Goodknight Fabric Roll-On on their prams, cots, strollers, etc. It is doctor-tested to be effective and safe.
Can Produce Signs of Depression
It seems odd that a mosquito-borne disease can also adversely affect a child’s emotional development. However, it is true that one of the long-term effects of chikungunya is depression. As per doctors, the depression comes in waves, wherein the patient may feel fine for a certain time period but subsequently have an emotional breakdown. These effects can be felt for even a year after the infection! This makes chikungunya one of the most worrisome in this list of diseases caused by mosquitoes.
What Parents Need to Do: If your child has had a chikungunya infection in the past and complains of mood swings, have a discussion with the doctor. It may be accompanied with joint pain as well.
In Rare Cases, Can Trigger Paralysis
This disease triggered worldwide panic after its feared connection to microcephaly, wherein the disease transmitted to newborn babies through their mothers and led to brain damage. In older children, the disease doesn’t usually have any lasting side effects. But the one condition all parents must know about is the Guillan-Barre syndrome. This complication of Zika can damage brain stem cells and lead to paralysis. As per reports, the Zika virus can make a person up to five times more likely to develop this syndrome.
What Parents Need to Do: The chances of children developing this condition are low. However, it is best to be cautious and prevent the onset of Zika by protecting your children from mosquito bites and being on the lookout for the common symptoms of Zika – rash, joint pain and fever. Japanese encephalitis
Poses Risk of Serious Brain Damage
The mosquito that transmits this disease usually lingers in marshy areas, rice fields, etc. While the illness starts off with relatively mild flu-like symptoms such as mosquito borne fever, headache, etc., it can eventually infect the brain and lead to serious brain damage. Not only can this hamper the child’s development but it can also prove to be fatal.
What Parents Need to Do: If you live in a high-risk area for this disease, discuss this with your doctor. One of the worst cases of this illness was seen in 2005 in Eastern UP. You can avail of a vaccine for this illness under India’s free immunization program to keep your child protected.
Can Cause Lymphatic Damage and Permanent Disfigurement
This disease is caused by a worm that gets transmitted by mosquitoes. The worm is a parasite that then resides in the lymphatic system, affecting the body fluids and leading to swelling in the face, limbs, etc. The resulting disfigurement can even be permanent.
What Parents Need to Do: Apart from controlling the breeding of mosquitoes, parents should also follow the government’s prevention drives for elephantiasis. The “Hathipaon Mukt Bharat” (Filaria Free India) is the government’s public health campaign against this deadly disease, especially in the high-risk areas of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Discuss this with your doctor.
As we just saw, mosquito-borne illnesses can prove to be very damaging to your child’s health, safety and development. Make sure you keep the preventive measures in mind to avoid the onset of infection in the first place.