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Nutrition is central to the child's well-being. Getting a complete nutritional history not only helps you monitor the child's health but may also help you make the diagnosis of an acute problem. Ask the following questions:

' 'Is the child being breast-fed?'' If yes, ' 'How often? For how long at each feeding? Is vitamin D or supplemental fluoride being given?''

''How many ounces of formula{ is the baby given a day? What kind of formula do you feed? How do you prepare it?''

''When did you introduce solid foods, such as cereals?''

Has the child ever had a problem with vomiting? diarrhea? constipation? colic? Would you describe the child as a fussy eater'?''

For infants, differentiate diarrhea from normal liquid stools. If the child is breast-fed, the stools are usually a yellow or mustard-colored liquid and may follow each feeding. If the child is formula-fed, the stools are more likely to be yellowish-tan and firmer. Infants frequently have green, brown, or grayish stools, and normal stools may be loose or liquid in consistency. With diarrhea, the stools are more frequent and all liquid, and watery rings stain the infant's diaper. Minor changes in the stool are common. Normal infants may have several bowel movements a day but may go 1 or more days without a bowel movement. Small, hard, pebble-like stools indicate constipation.

Until an infant is 1 year of age, breast milk or infant formula should be his or her main food. Cow's milk may be fine for older children, but it may irritate the infant's digestive system, which is not fully developed. There are some major differences between cow's milk and breast milk or formula: Cow's milk has too much protein and sodium and too little iron, vitamin C, copper, and zinc for developing infants;also, the type of fat in cow's milk is poorly absorbed by infants.

For a toddler or older child, determine how many ounces of milk and juice the child drinks. Inquire about the daily consumption of vegetables, fruit, protein, and ''junk foods.'' Does the child take a vitamin supplement? It is also valuable to ask about the meal pattern: Does he or she eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? Where does he or she eat? With whom? Older children and adolescents eat many meals away from home; such patients are your best source of information about their eating patterns.

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Constipation Prescription

Constipation Prescription

Did you ever think feeling angry and irritable could be a symptom of constipation? A horrible fullness and pressing sharp pains against the bladders can’t help but affect your mood. Sometimes you just want everyone to leave you alone and sleep to escape the pain. It is virtually impossible to be constipated and keep a sunny disposition. Follow the steps in this guide to alleviate constipation and lead a happier healthy life.

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