Today host Karl Stefanovic has urged parents to be vigilant after a sudden health scare sent his young daughter to the hospital.
He opened up about the “really scary” ordeal on Friday morning while hosting Channel 9’s Today show. He became emotional as he detailed how suddenly his one-year-old daughter Harper became seriously ill.
Two days ago, the father of four said his toddler had a “sniffle and a cough” that quickly developed into a temperature. She was laid to sleep but woke with wheezing, difficult breaths, a racing heart rate, and a soaring temperature.
Camera IconThe Today host said he was worried about his young daughter. Credit: Supplied
Stefanovic and his wife Jasmine rushed their daughter to the GP, but the toddler’s condition worsened dramatically, and she had to be rushed to the hospital.
While the breakfast show host praised healthcare staff for their time and “brilliant job”, he said he knew he was not the only parent to have gone through this “shared experience”.
“There were thousands of parents in similar situations,” he said.
“We are lucky it wasn’t more serious, and we were lucky we had good people around her.”
Royal Children’s Hospital pediatrician Margie Danchin agreed it was a “familiar story”.
“After the last two years being so tough with Covid for parents, we’re now seeing just a huge increase in viral respiratory infections for children,” she said.
NSW Australian Medical Association president Michael Bonning said the dramatic increase could be blamed on a lack of exposure to respiratory viruses and the flu.
“We know for infants and toddlers who may not have been exposed to (respiratory viruses and the flu) at all in the last two years, this first exposure can be quite severe,” he said.
“We know that influenza is a serious condition in children under five.”
According to a recent report, children under the age of five are among the most at-risk age groups for contracting the potentially “life-threatening” flu.
“They‘re one of our priority groups for immunization,” Dr. Bonning said.
“That is something that we want to encourage all parents to be thinking about, especially while there‘s a bit of a blitz on for flu vaccination across the country.”
Dr. Danchin said emergency departments had experienced a spike in sick children, 20 percent of whom needed to be hospitalized.
Camera IconDr Margie Danchin advised parents on how to monitor for serious symptoms. Jason Sammon Credit: News Corp Australia
Stefanovic admitted he “felt guilty” about not taking Harper to the hospital. Still, Dr. Danchin said a GP was the best option for parents who may otherwise have to wait up to eight hours at the “really overwhelmed” emergency department.
She said children with mild symptoms should go to the doctor, but she urged parents to head straight to the hospital if their child had difficulty breathing, blueness around the lips, signs of dehydration, and listlessness.
Parents should assess their child’s breathing by looking at the indent at the bottom of the neck and around the ribs to see whether they are breathing faster than normal or struggling to breathe.
Dr. Bonning urged parents to seek professional advice early, as a child’s condition can quickly change.
“Your GP is often a good person to have that discussion with early at that time when it‘s a fever and a runny nose, and you just want to talk to someone and get some advice,” he said.
Camera IconJasmiIcon Jasmine Stefanovic rushed their daughter Harper to the hospital during the health scare. Credit: Supplied
He said knowing what to look for regarding triggers and warning signs would help parents be prepared for the illness.
Stefanovic hoped sharing his family’s experience would help other families battling similar conditions.
“There’s nothing more mortifying than when one of your kids goes down and goes down quickly when they’re sick,” he said.