Children are not mini adults

Dr Liew Woei Kang gives an insight into his daily encounters as a paediatrician.

Q: Describe what you do.

Dr Liew Woei Kang: As a paediatrician, I look after the well-being, and treat illnesses of, people from babies to young adults.

My special interests are in childhood allergy and immunological disorders. Other than consultations, I also attend to newborn babies and emergency admissions at the hospital.

Q: Word association game! What is the first word when you think: "Baby."

A: Cute.


A: Sick.

Q: What makes kids tick and why did you want to specialise in them?

A: Children are not miniature adults. There are many unique diseases in children, such as genetic abnormalities like primary immunodeficiency diseases.

Q: Children can't really tell you what is wrong with them. What tricks do you use?

A: Children can usually warm up to us after seeing us talk for several minutes.

When they are unwell, they can be very cranky. We just have to be patient and gentle.

Q: Is it true that docs really give out sweets to kids?

A: We give out stickers and sweets as rewards for a job well done, like after allergy testing and for good behaviour.

Q: Are our little ones generally fragile or resilient?

A: Both. I have young children diagnosed with severe infections and needing intensive care support. With the appropriate medical treatment, they bounce back and recover fully.

Q: What would you say are the perks of your job?

A: Seeing cute children every day.

Q: The downsides?

A: Being exposed to multiple germs every day as we look into a coughing kid's throat, a sick baby's poop, and handle various infectious diseases.

Q: What kind of parent is the best kind when you are doing your job?

A: An involved parent - one who knows the symptoms and is able to provide feedback on the child's treatment responses.

Q: Do you have children? Does it make it harder or easier as a paediatrician?

A: I have five children, aged between 16 months and over 12 years old. As a parent, I tend to be more conservative and not over- prescribe medication for my young patients.

Q: Can you write your own kids' MCs?

A: Thankfully, my kids have not needed MCs as I am able to monitor their illnesses closely.

Dr Liew practices with Gleneagles Hospital Singapore.


This article was first published on Jan 18, 2015.
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