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Recurrent illnesses in patients can be a frustrating challenge for not only the patient, but also the doctor as well. Answers are obvious when there is an underlying weak immune system but in most cases, patients will not be suffering from other co-morbidities and will repeatedly just get sick. In pediatric cases, this poses even a bigger problem because children have much weaker immune systems compared to teens and adults. When a child presents to the physician due to recurrent illnesses, a doctor needs to determine two factors:

  • is there an immune disorder or,
  • is it the environment that the family lives in. 

If a child routinely visits his doctor because of recurrent illnesses, doctors will start to suspect that there could be some type of congenital immune defect that could be the root cause of this disorder. Babies will almost always be healthy in the first 6 months of their life but as antibodies from their mother gradually disappear and as a baby becomes reliant on their own defenses, they become more likely to get sick. This class of disease involves the B and T cells of our adaptive immune system. Certain disorders in pediatric patients can lead to low levels of B or T cells so when a baby comes in contact with a new virus or bacteria, they will not be able to defend themselves against the pathogen as effectively as they should. [1]

These disorders are not necessarily tested in every clinic at the time of birth because of limited resources in low-level hospital systems so it is important for young children to be checked during their baby "well-visits" and parents must as their doctors about the possibility of immune disorders when a baby routinely has illnesses in the first year of their life. 

Another disease that can target pediatric patients would be Cystic Fibrosis. This is another congenital disease that predisposes patients to having an increased number of immune diseases. Patients will have chronic problems with their sinuses and will have increased levels of mucus production. They will likely have multiple bouts of pneumonia or other severe respiratory infections and will generally be small in weight and grow quite poorly. Most hospitals screen for this genetic disorder but if your child was born in a rural setting, it may have been something missed so make sure you consult with your pediatrician about this possibility as well.

If a clear genetic disease has been ruled out and that patient has approached the toddler ages while being relatively healthy, the environment that the child lives in starts to be the focus of what can cause these recurrent sicknesses. Pollution and poor ventilation are two factors that disproportionately affect small children compared to adults and studies show that children in cities tend to have more health problems and lower quality of lives compared to children living in the suburbs or even country-side. Unfortunately, this becomes a very difficult decision for parents because lives may be easier in the city with better access to jobs, schools and entertainment but if you are living in a highly polluted area with high levels of smog, it is something to seriously consider for the health of your child. 

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