It’s particularly rewarding to see a child recover from a serious illness. Countless families are grateful for the biggest recent breakthroughs in children’s health. These preventative measures, treatments, and cures have meant everything to millions of kids all over the globe.
As recently as the early 1990s, parents were terrified that their babies might succumb to the mysterious sudden infant death syndrome. But a public awareness campaign urged parents to put infants to sleep on their backs instead of their tummies. The number of SIDS cases decreased dramatically as a result.
The survival rate for kids with acute lymphocytic leukemia—the most common form of childhood cancer—used to be dishearteningly low. With advances in medications and research, though, the majority of young sufferers will survive. Many parents now bank their children’s umbilical cord blood in case they need stem cells to treat cancers of the blood and bone marrow.
Since 1995, health organizations have recommended more vaccines for viruses such as rotavirus, which was particularly deadly for kids, as well as chicken pox, hepatitis A, and more. The vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type b alone has saved many lives, as the bacteria would lead to dangerous infections from pneumonia and meningitis. The good news is that children no longer need to get a vaccine for polio, the scourge of the 1950s. The vaccine eradicated the disease.
One of the biggest recent breakthroughs in children’s health that we already take for granted is the requirement for kids to wear seat belts. This simple rule has reduced car accident fatalities for people of all ages, but the statistics for children under one year of age have decreased in a stunning way. Researchers and manufacturers continue to improve on those numbers with more secure systems for infant car seats and other restraints.