Is my Granddaughter’s Pediatrician a Boob?

Dear Mamas,

I’m lucky enough to live in the same town as my daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter, and I care for her two days each week while her mommy works part-time. Because I’m with her so much, I worry about her health.

Like lots of children her age Lulu gets a lot of ear infections. She also has noticeable bowlegs and walks with a swagger because of it.

When I was raising my children and they got ear infections our family doctor would prescribe an antibiotic syrup to take care of it. This always seemed to work well, and eventually they outgrew them. Not Lulu’s doctor. At least half the time, she gives no treatment whatsoever and tells my daughter it will “run its course”.

On top of that, she says Lulu’s bowlegs are perfectly normal and refuses to do anything about them, too. It sure doesn’t look normal to me.

My daughter has a lot of confidence in this woman and I hesitate to give my opinion (you know what happens to grandmas who butt in), but how can I be sure Lulu is getting the best medical care? Is my granddaughter’s pediatrician a boob?

Nana Jean

Dear Nana,

How great is it that you get to spend two full days a week up close and personal with your granddaughter? That’s real quality time for both of you, and it will cement your relationship for the years to come. You’re also giving an amazing and invaluable gift to your daughter.

We hear loud and clear how much you adore little Lulu. It’s natural for you to be concerned about her health and compare her care to your experience raising your own, but some things have changed since your kiddos were small.

For example, due to the serious problem of antibiotic resistance, the medical community has become much more careful about limiting antibiotic use to bacterial conditions where they will be effective. We now know that many ear infections are caused by viruses and antibiotics don’t work against them.

In a similar way, experts have learned that bowing is a natural stage of development for many toddlers and doesn’t require treatment. With the rare exception of specific cases of malnutrition, Lulu’s gait will straighten as she grows. Back in the day we used to put young children with bowing in leg braces, which only served to interfere with learning to toddle and move around in their world. The fact that kids got better was due to natural development, not the braces. Who knew?

I know these changes in practice must seem odd to you. Others, like back-sleeping and no solid foods before 4 months, are new since I raised my 3. It’s not always easy to change habits, but it’s important to take advantage of advances in knowledge.

The first thing they teach new medical students when they begin their studies is that 50% of the information they learn will turn out to be wrong. The problem is no one knows which 50%.

So trust your daughter and her choice of doctor for your precious little one. Feel free to ask questions when you don’t understand — an educated consumer is the best patient!

~ The Mamas

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


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