Optional — but it could prevent baby’s gastric flu!

On top of the usual MMR, BCG vaccines, there’s one other oral dose that may save your child from diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration…

Babies-Optional---but-it-could-prevent-babys-gastric-flu

Your baby is more vulnerable to various viruses and diseases surrounding you when newborn. However, this can usually be solved by strengthening their immunity — and, of course, not missing appointments with your paediatrician.

But beyond the familiar BCG (against tuberculosis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Hepatitis B and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), there is one more protection you should consider — a vaccination against the highly contagious rotavirus. This virus causes gastroenteritis, which would cause your munchkin to suffer from severe abdominal cramps, dehydration and even shock.

Other symptoms include:
• Fever.
• Watery, loose stools (aka diarrhoea).
• Vomiting.
• Loss of appetite.

You’ll also need to watch out for dehydration symptoms like:
• Cool skin.
• Lethargy.
• Sunken eyes.
• Dry mouth, extreme thirst.
• Dizziness when vertical.

Though the rotavirus vaccine is routinely recommended in many countries, it is not compulsory for babies in Singapore.

Why is this so? Read on…


The rotavirus infection is very common in developing countries and can even cause death. However in developed countries, the hospitals are able to manage this virus and patients tend to recover after receiving intravenous fluid hydration.

But if you wish to save bubba this trauma, it is usually available at most children-friendly clinics at the cost of about $90 — not payable via Medisave (alas).

The vaccines are given orally and the first dose should be given after your child is six weeks old and the last dose given by the time they reach six months of age.

According to Dr Low Kah Tzay, a consultant paediatrician and child development specialist, the vaccine will provide protection until bubba’s third year — the age when the illness can cause significant complications to occur.

However, please be warned: “Babies can still contract the virus after taking the vaccines as some of the babies do not respond to the vaccine,” says Dr Low. “Occasionally there are other strains of rotavirus that are not covered by the vaccine.

“However, the vaccine does provide protection against the most common and most severe strains of rotavirus.”

What you should do to further reduce bubba’s chances of contracting the virus is practising proper food hygiene and personal hygiene such as hand washing as well as frequently cleaning the toys and surfaces that bubba comes into contact with.

Dr Low Kah Tzay is a consultant paediatrician and child development specialist at Anson International Paediatric and Child Development Clinic.

Photos: iStock

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