Your frequent questions answered by the experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital

We're nearing the end of winter and it's been one cold after another for our preschooler. Is this truly a necessary part of her developing her immune system, or should we be getting her tested for anything?

We often get this question from parents who have children in daycare. They notice their child getting illnesses almost back to back and wonder if there is an underlying problem.

During the younger years, kids average up to 10 colds per year, and colds generally last from 10 to 14 days. Looking at these numbers, we can see that it is not unusual for children to be sick for a third of the year or more.

The higher frequency of illness is especially true when children initially transition to groups such as daycare. During these big transitions, they tend to have frequent upper-respiratory-tract infections for many months.

This occurs because they are introduced to more than 200 common cold viruses through touch and play with other children and they are naturally exposed to germs that their savvy immune systems must learn to fight off.

The good news is that it gets better with time so kids who were exposed in daycare tend to average fewer colds when they reach school age.

If your child has illnesses that are more severe than colds, or occur more frequently than discussed above, it is always a good idea to discuss your concerns with your primary physician.

-- Dr. Wendy Anderson is a member of the Section of Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

My daughter's friend recently suffered from a severe burn and will be undergoing plastic surgery. My daughter has been asking about what the surgery will do. What can I tell her?

Children who suffer burn injuries may face two stages of surgical intervention. The first is to assist with the initial healing of the burn, and the second is to provide for long-term restoration of both form and function.

Many burns heal without the need for surgical intervention. If the burns are deep enough, however, healing cannot take place, and skin grafting is necessary. This process involves the surgical transplantation of thin sheets of skin from an uninjured part of the body (usually the buttocks or thighs) to the burned area.

The skin is removed using a special surgical instrument called a dermatome. With time, the transplanted skin heals and replaces that which was destroyed by the burn. Grafted skin, however, always has an abnormal, scarred appearance.

Long-term plastic surgery may be needed in order to reconstruct damaged structures, such as the lips, nose, ears, and hands. Plastic surgery may also be performed in order to improve the appearance of scars and to release tight scar bands (called contractures) that interfere with the motion of the underlying joints.

Nationwide Children's Hospital recognizes that, in many cases, rehabilitation following a burn injury requires the work of several professionals. Our burn and plastic surgery programs include comprehensive teams of surgeons, occupational and physical therapists, social workers, psychologists and more to help children recover from all aspects of what can be a very traumatic experience.

--Dr. Richard Kirschner is Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Director of the Cleft Lip and Palate-Craniofacial Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Our 8-year-old son broke his collarbone this winter while sledding. He seemed to heal pretty quickly but I'm still concerned about him breaking it again.Should I be?

If your son is in good health and his collarbone has healed properly, it should take the same amount of force to re-break the bone as it did when he first broke it. Though it is possible to re-break a bone, rest assured that often the bone is equally as strong as it was before the initial break.

Make sure your son doesn't have any tenderness at the fracture site and that he has full, painless range of motion. You can also have him do a few push-ups. This is a good test to make sure he has the strength to sustain a fall without the likelihood of re-injury.

To help your son's body build strong bones, be sure he is getting enough calcium. It is recommended that children from 4 to 8 years of age drink three 8-oz. glasses of milk a day. Other dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans and fish are great sources of calcium.

Regular physical activity and exercise are also important to bone health. Weight-bearing exercises such as jumping rope, jogging and walking can help develop and maintain strong bones.

As always, consult your primary physician to determine what activities are appropriate for your son. Your doctor can also help you keep tabs on your son's bone development.

--Dr. John R. Kean is Chief of the Department of Orthopaedics at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.