Board-Certified Pediatrician FAQs

If a baby is premature, what type of diet should the parents provide? Is it better to breastfeed?

Thank you for your question. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, providing breast milk for a premature or seriously ill newborn may be a challenge, but it is usually possible and it is certainly an effective way to enhance your baby’s health, growth, and development. Even if your baby is unable to breastfeed at first, you can begin expressing your milk immediately after giving birth. No matter how your breast milk is delivered, it provides the best nourishment possible at a time when such an advantage makes a big difference. Other dietary considerations should be discussed between the parents and the baby’s doctor. 

Sincerely, Dr. Seema Csukas

I would like to know about how long would I need to go to college after I finish high school. I’m currently a junior, and looking for a college so I can study nursing. I would also like to know what would be the best option for choosing healthcare and insurance for a 2 or 3 year old toddler. And what benefits could I get from being a pediatrician?

Thank you for your question. A pediatrician is a physician who is primarily concerned with the health, welfare and development of children. In order to become a pediatrician, training includes four years of undergraduate course work, four years of medical school education, plus an additional year or years (usually at least three) of intensive training devoted solely to all aspects of medical care for children, adolescents, and young adults. The American Medical Association provides additional information on requirements for becoming a physician, www.ama-assn.org

Choosing healthcare and insurance for a toddler depends on a number of factors. You should ask questions so you can make an informed decision. Questions to consider include but are not limited to the following: 

  1. Are there physicians on the plan that can care for my child? 
  2. Is the physician office location convenient? 
  3. What hospitals are covered on the plan? 
  4. Cost? 
  5. Are well child visits and immunizations covered on the plan? 
  6. How are prescriptions handled? 
  7. How are after hours questions/problems handled? 
Do you find it easy to work with babies?

Thank you for your question. When deciding on a career in pediatrics, it is important to identify your interest and decide if you are interested in caring for children. A pediatrician is a physician who is primarily concerned with the health, welfare and development of children. You will work not only with children but also with parents, caregivers and others in the community. I would encourage you to shadow others who work with children to determine your interest and desire for working with this population. Working with children can be very rewarding. 

Sincerely, Dr. Seema Csukas

What are the requirements of becoming a pediatrician and what can pediatricians do for a premature baby?

Thank you for your question. A pediatrician is a physician who is primarily concerned with the health, welfare and development of children. In order to become a pediatrician, training includes four years of undergraduate course work, four years of medical school education and three years of training devoted solely to all aspects of medical care for children, adolescents, and young adults. Additional years may be required for specialized training in a specific focus area of child health. The American Medical Association provides additional information on requirements for becoming a physician, www.ama-assn.org

Sincerely, Dr. Seema Csukas

What is a nutrition diet you can take during pregnancy?

Thank you for your questions. Prenatal care is extremely important during pregnancy. An obstetrician is a physician that specializes in pregnancy and child birth. If you do not have an obstetrician, you can go to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) web site to help you locate a physician in your area, www.acog.org. During your appointment, this would be a good time to talk with your physician about your diet. A healthy diet is extremely important before, during and after pregnancy. Your body needs a regular supply of nutrients to grow, replace worn-out tissue, and provide energy. To be sure that your diet gives you enough nutrients, you need to know which ones are in the foods you eat. The US Department of Agriculture’s food-planning guide called MyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov can help you make healthy food choices. Your physician will be able to provide more specific recommendations.

What are your recommendations for children with thrush attending classroom care?

Thrush is a yeast infection causing mouth infections in young infants. The signs and symptoms of thrush are white patches on the inside of cheeks and on gums and tongue. The children would need to be seen by their pediatrician to confirm the diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the yeast that causes thrush is widespread in the environment and normally lives on the skin, and is found in the mouth and stool. It can be controlled by using good hand-washing techniques. This includes, but not limited to, before and after handling food, administering medication, after diapering and toileting, handling body fluids, wiping noses, mouths and sores. It can also be controlled by treating the individuals who have an infection.

One additional suggestion is to make sure you properly wash and sanitize toys, bottles and pacifier nipples after they have been mouthed. You would not want to allow sharing of mouthed objects between children without first washing and sanitizing them. Once you have alerted the parents and had the child seen by their pediatrician, prescribed medications would need to be administered as instructed. I hope this additional information is helpful. 

I have several toddler parents who are concerned about their two year olds weight. They have asked me to only give one serving of fruit at lunch and no bread. These children are so hungry by lunch time and they love the fruit especially. We serve canned fruit packed in water. Is this OK or should I be saying no to second helpings? Do two year olds need to be on diets?

It is never too early to encourage children to make healthy food choices, but using the term diet is not ideal.  Instead of limiting the number of helpings, limit the availability of nutrient-poor foods that are high in sugar, salt or fat.  Fruits or vegetables should be a part of every meal and snack, but it is important to offer a variety of types and colors to keep kids interested.  Canned fruit packed in water or 100% fruit juice (instead of syrup) is a healthy option if fresh fruit is not available.     In addition, always serve water with meals and snacks and have water readily available for kids to drink.  For additional suggestions on healthy eating options for kids, visit https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ or https://www.letsmove.gov/.

I hear so many stories about the dangers of immunizations. How do I know if they are safe?

Vaccines available today are safer than ever and have virtually eradicated many illnesses.  Before a vaccine is approved, it goes through rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness. While some children may have a reaction after receiving an immunization, such as a slight fever or swelling at the injection site, these reactions are usually mild and do not last long.  The greatest risks from immunizations actually come when children are not immunized.  Immunizations not only protect the child, but they protect everyone who comes in contact with the child.  Parents are always encouraged to discuss their concerns with their child’s doctor.  For information about immunizations, visit https://health.state.ga.us/programs/immunization/ or https://www.healthychildren.org/english/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/default.aspx

I gave a classroom tour to a pregnant mom who is very young. I was encouraging her to come in after the baby was born to breast feed or to feel free to send in breast milk and she looked at me as if I was crazy. She stated that breast feeding was gross and she was not going to do it. I was wondering if you could give me a few key facts about breast feeding that I could share with her when she comes back to enroll. Also is there a website I can go to get some information on why moms should breast feed?

Breast milk contains the ideal balance of nutrients for your baby.  In addition, breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby and is inexpensive.  Nutrients in breast milk are easily absorbed and digested by your baby, and breast milk contains immune factors that protect against illness.  Breastfed babies have fewer allergies and ear infections, resulting in less missed worked for parents.  Mothers who breastfeed lose pregnancy weight more easily and have a lower risk of reproductive cancers.  For additional benefits of breastfeeding, visit https://www.health.state.ga.us/programs/nutrition/breastfeeding/benefits.asp or https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/.  

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This project was supported by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Grant #93.575, with funds made available to Virginia from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of VDOE or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.