This is from the “I can’t make this up and I learn new things everyday file”!
I was getting ready to enter an exam room to see a patient when my nurse pulled me aside. Now that I have EMR (electronic medical record) I sometimes have not “clicked” to see what is going on with the patient until I am already in the room, which is different than the days of paper charts when the patients chief complaint was always right in front of you.
At any rate, she said the mother of the baby was worried that “he wasn’t growing well”. That is not an uncommon concern for parents with a new baby, but as I entered the room I realized that this was an 8 month old patient of mine. He was sitting in his mother’s lap, adorable and happy with plump little cheeks and legs. I glanced at his weight and saw that he had gained over a pound in the last month and he appeared to be “growing and developing” normally.
So, when I asked the mother why she was concerned she told me she knew that he was gaining weight, but she didn’t think he was getting any taller. WHAT?? I get lots of questions about a child’s height and predicted adult stature, but typically not in baby under 1 year of age. What made her think or worry about this? His growth velocity at 2,4,6 months had been entirely normal and his next check up was scheduled for 9 months.
Seems that she had routinely been laying him on a table to measure him and she didn’t think he had grown in length. I had never even thought about having a baby measured at home, it is hard enough for our nurses to get an accurate height on a squirming baby and I sometimes have a nurse do several height measurements as they seem to be “off”. It is really when your child is 2 -3 years of age and they are able to stand and are measured on the wall stadiometer that the heights seem to be more accurate and significant.
I guess the “root” cause of many parental concerns is anxiety, and unfortunately parental anxiety just seems to be escalating. I am continually trying to help “calm” parents about so many worries but there seem to be new ones cropping up all of the time. This sweet mother was losing sleep because she just wasn’t sure if her baby’s height was increasing.
I hope that I reassured her and she agreed to stop the home measurements. I told her that my job was to track the baby’s height and weight and I promised that I would tell her if I was concerned. I wanted her job to be to enjoy the baby and get on the floor and play before he started to crawl!
Your own pediatrician will also tell you when they are concerned, so let them relieve some of that anxiety. Lastly, don’t go to the internet and “Google” some topic as it seems to always head parents to the worst possible scenario. Do you think that is planned?
That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.