In conversation with eminent paediatrician Dr Rashmi Kekatpure
Today we have an expert who is very close to my heart- Eminent Paediatrician and Neonatologist Dr Rashmi Kekatpure. She is special because she is my daughter’s paediatrician. I have been seeing her for my daughter since many years now and meeting her is always a pleasure. She is extremely calm with a gentle demeanour. And she is so good with the kids.
So I am very happy today that she agreed to chat with us for our group. Here is our chat:
Me: Hello Dr Rashmi, tell us according to you, what is ailing today’s children?
Dr Rashmi: Today’s children are ailing with:
(i) viral respiratory infections due to climate change.
(ii) more cases of respiratory tract allergies, food allergies & skin allergies secondary to environmental pollution, use of food additives and preservatives.
(iii) lifestyle related diseases like obesity and hypertension.
Me: Childhood obesity is on the rise. Please comment.
Dr Rashmi: Yes, childhood obesity is on the rise. According to a report from urban India, 21.4% of boys and 18.5% of girls aged 13-18 years were obese.
Me: Oh! the numbers are huge.
Dr Rashmi: Yes they are and they are constantly rising.
Me: Doctor, do you think that the immunity of children today is low?
Dr Rashmi: I cannot really say that children have low immunity nowadays. Children upto 5 yrs are as such, immunologically naive. Added to this is our altered environment, faulty diet and changed lifestyle which makes them more susceptible to infections.
Me: How does lack of physical activity affect children?
Dr Rashmi: Nowadays most children have an easy access to gadgets which makes them neglect games and free play. This has led to increased incidence of obesity, hypertension, hyperactivity & lack of inter-personal communicative skills.
Me: Children are also sleeping less. How does that affect them?
Dr Rashmi: Lack of sleep causes fatigue, decreased attention span, poor cognitive skills & a general feeling of being unwell.
Me: Doctor, how does this dependence on gadgets affect their brain development and cognitive abilities?
Dr Rashmi: Dependence on gadgets leads to reduced quality time that a child can spend with parents and friends. It also increases stress levels giving rise to headaches and behavioural issues.
Me: What are your tips for the good health of children?
Dr Rashmi: My tips for good health:-
(i)Engage in free play.
(ii)Make more friends, talk & discuss.
(iii)Eat natural foods like fruits, vegetables, our traditional Indian food items as much as possible.
(iv)Any food that comes in packets will contain preservatives, artificial colours and flavours —- AVOID IT
(v)Spend more time with nature—- LEARN TO APPRECIATE IT.
Me: Thanks a lot, Dr Rashmi.
So, we heard it from the expert today. Excessive use of gadgets, lack of physical exercise and packaged food is causing more harm than we imagine. It is affecting the mind and body of our children. It is affecting their inter-personal skills and social behaviour. This is setting them for a difficult adulthood. Let us brace ourselves and try to reduce this impact on our little ones.
Dr Rashmi practices in Thakur village. You can meet her at the following address:
Bahawa Child Health Clinic, Thakur Village, Kandivali East, Mumbai.