Q. My children seem to have tummy aches regularly, and often complain of tummy upsets. Could swallowing swimming pool water be the cause?
Dr Jacqueline Thorpe is a family medicine specialist at Health Bay Polyclinic (www.healthbayclinic.com, 800-4272). She says:
"Recurrent abdominal pain is probably the most common symptom in children worldwide, and it is often very difficult to identify the cause of the pain.
"In fact, it is unlikely to be due to an organic cause, such as bacteria in the swimming pool water. Common causes include irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraine, constipation, mesenteric adenitis - meaning inflamed glands due to viral infection - and urine infections.
"There are some rare causes, too, which you should be aware of. If there are alarm-bell symptoms, such as persistent fever, vomiting, chronic and severe diarrhoea, blood loss, abnormal growth, or weight loss, further tests will be required. It may be sensible to have their stools checked for parasites if there is persistent diarrhoea and check they are up to date with hepatitis A vaccinations."
Q. My son is off nursery quite a bit with conjunctivitis. Is there any reason why he might be more prone to this than other children? How can we prevent it, rather than treat it?
Rachel Jex is the school nurse at Jumeira Baccalaureate School (www.jbschool.ae). She says:
"Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink-eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.
"It can be alarming and can spread rapidly. It is a very common condition and usually causes no long-term eye or vision damage. However if your child shows symptoms, it's important to see a doctor.
"Pink-eye can be caused by viral and bacterial infections that often present as coughs, colds, ear and sinus infections. Allergies can also cause pinkeye - especially hay fever and air pollution.
"Good hand washing will reduce the risk of your child reinfecting himself with the virus and bacteria infection. As with all infections, poor hand-washing hygiene is one of the primary ways in which many infections are spread in schools and nurseries."
Q. What are the psychological effects of harsh parenting on young children, aged three and four?
Alaa Abu Ali is a counselling psychologist at Synergy Integrated Medical Centre (www.synergyctrdubai.com). She says:
"Harsh parenting can have a long-term psychological impact on children. They may feel a sense of shame, guilt and humiliation as a response to fear and intimidation. It may result in children being more aggressive and less able to express their emotions in a healthy way. Additionally, children that experience harsh parenting may develop an unhealthy form of attachment to parental figures, which can impact on future relationships. Research shows that harsh parenting can result in anxiety, social isolation, low self-esteem, poor social skills, poor conflict resolution, coping and problem-solving skills, and mental health issues - even into adulthood. Newer studies indicate that harsh parenting may also make children more prone to victimisation outside of the home. Taking a more compassionate and responsive approach to parenting can lead to a healthier parent-child bond and help children feel safe and secure."