9 common childhood diseases or medical conditions

Childhood diseases

Childhood diseases refers to any disease that is contracted or becomes symptomatic before a child celebrates their 18th birthday. Many of these diseases can also be contracted by adults. Knowing the common symptoms, and when your child needs to see a doctor, will help make these diseases or conditions manageable.

Below are some common childhood diseases and conditions;

1. Autism

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Parents usually notice signs in the first two or three years of their child’s life.

2. Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone, posture and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way) that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain of a child. The brain damage usually happens before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child’s life.

3. Cleft lip and cleft palate

Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. During the first 6 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, the bones and tissues of a baby’s upper jaw, nose, and mouth normally come together (fuse) to form the roof of the mouth and the upper lip. A cleft happens when parts of the lip and mouth do not completely fuse together.

4. Down syndrome

Down syndrome (sometimes called Down’s syndrome) is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome when one of the chromosomes doesn’t separate properly. The baby ends up with three copies, or an extra partial copy, of chromosome 21, instead of two. This extra chromosome causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities.

5. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

6. Measles

Measles is one of the highly infectious childhood diseases caused by a virus. It can spread through contact with infected mucus and saliva. An infected person can release the infection into the air when they cough or sneeze. Measles is an endemic disease, meaning it is continually present in a community, and many people develop resistance. The measles virus can live on surfaces for several hours.

7. Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can occur when fluid surrounding the meninges becomes infected. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck. The most common causes of meningitis are viral and bacterial infections.

8. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the airspaces in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.

9. Rickets

Rickets is a childhood disease that causes the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually because of an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include bowed legs, stunted growth, bone pain, large forehead, and trouble sleeping. It begins in childhood, typically between the ages of 3 and 18 months old.


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