Baylor College of Medicine News

Hectic holidays can raise spirits of chronically ill child

The holiday season can often cause stress but for a chronically ill child, it can actually offer an emotional boost, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

"The holidays usually are very hectic, but the benefit of seeing family and friends outweighs the hassles of travel and preparation," said Dr. Ernest Frugé, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and director of psychosocial programs at Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Center. "It's no different for a child with a chronic illness."

Relationships trump everything else

Many families visit relatives during the holiday season or host large gatherings of family and friends. Those road trips and party preparations require a lot of effort.

"What it signifies to a child is what it signifies to everyone else – people are worth the trouble," said Frugé. "The importance of our relationships trumps everything else."

Planning is the key to successful travel, whether it is allowing for extra breaks on a long road trip or reminding older relatives about childproofing needs.

Parents should always consult with their child's physician before the trip, pack all medications in their original prescription containers and bring along a copy of appropriate medical information. A brief summary of the child's medical history, current treatments and any guidance for other medical professionals can be very helpful.

Holiday effort worthwhile

Involving the child in the planning and preparations for trips and gatherings reinforces the importance of reconnecting with family and friends, said Frugé.

Keeping children away from the usual holiday traditions because they have been ill would separate them from what is a normal experience for the family, he said.

"If at all possible, the ill child should be allowed to experience the full package of hustle, bustle, stress and joy that comes with connecting to family and friends during the holidays," Frugé said.