Paeds in a Pinch

A Practical Guide to Paediatrics for Students by Students with Specialist Review

Commissioning Editor: Lehlohonolo Ntlatlapo

Developmental Editors: Carol Hlela and Rannakoe Lehloenya

Project Editor: Christine Ile

Illustrator: Chihoriem Eresia-Eke

Cover art by Katelyn Pye

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

CC-BY logo

Copyright © 2022 Author(s)

Published in 2022 by University of Cape Town Libraries, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700, South Africa.

ISBN: 978-0-7992-2555-6


Suggested citation: Ntlatlapo, L., Hlela, C., Lehloenya, R. & Ile, C. Eds. (2022). Paeds in a Pinch: A Practical Guide to Paediatrics for Students by Students with Specialist Review. Cape Town: UCT Libraries.


To the children we serve, you are our future. Be more than we imagined.

To the students and doctors who serve, we salute you. Remember why you were called.


I have had the great privilege of both teaching and working on various projects with health sciences students over the years. In a world in which we have become accustomed to ‘leaders’ avoiding responsibility, I have watched these young people buck the trend. They have, instead, sought out problems, owned them and immersed themselves in the task to find solutions thereto. It is, thus, a great honour for me to be asked to provide a foreword to this student-led manual of paediatrics, a project that exemplifies these traits that I have just described and have come to admire in our students. The completion of this project also pays homage to what is possible when senior clinicians freely give of their time to guide junior colleagues to ensure the quality of the outcome, in a spirit of collaboration.

Children remain marginalised in our society. At times, the care they receive seems an afterthought once adults have had their fill. This also shows in the investment made in the training of medical students. Many a general practitioner speak of a feeling of having been inadequately trained to look after children as medical students. They often confess of being frankly terrified when faced with a sick child. As a paediatrician and a teacher, I am, therefore, suitably excited to see the students identify what they see as a potential gap in training tools for those who want to look after children suffering from common ailments competently, and endeavouring to close it.

This manual was put together by students in a format that reflects the way they found works best in learning and assimilating knowledge on how to look after ill children. The selected material prioritises what is essential core knowledge in paediatrics and child health while at the same time forming the foundation on which more knowledge can be built. The involvement of senior experienced colleagues has ensured that the content is reliable and up to date with current practice in paediatrics.

This project was led by students who have already graduated, but had the insight to hand the baton to the ones that came after them, who then saw it to completion. It is my hope that coming generations of health sciences students will use this manual, but will also take the responsibility of updating it to keep up with new ways of learning and the development of new knowledge in the field of paediatrics and child health.

Those who have had the opportunity of being properly trained to look after children will know the great joy of looking after these little ones and the satisfaction of making a real investment in the future of our society. May this effort give to all future generations of health sciences students access to such joy and satisfaction.

Rudzani Muloiwa

Professor and Head of Department, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital & Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of Cape Town


The Paeds in a Pinch study guide is a novel approach to teaching and learning. To the editors’ knowledge, on the African continent (and even globally) there is no other published, open access learning resource for medical students written by medical students. This is aside from the fact that the information shared in the guide has been vetted by experts in several paediatric fields. It covers 17 core paediatric topics and is written in a concise and engaging manner, keeping the prospective reader (the busy medical student) in mind. It also includes numerous openly licensed and public domain images to further illustrate the authors’ points and hold the reader’s attention.


The idea for Paeds in a Pinch was developed by a group of students and doctors in 2017/2018. Their aim was to have students write a guide on paediatric topics for students that is easy to understand and engaging. This resource is to be used by final-year medical students when learning about the ever exciting but oft neglected discipline of paediatrics. In short, they wanted to write a guide which students will find useful, succinct and relevant.

The project was co-ordinated by Dr Lehlohonolo Ntlatlapo. When he graduated in 2018, he approached UCT PaedSoc to help complete the project. In 2019, Christine Ile took over the role of co-ordinator and, with the help of Prof. Carol Hlela, Prof. Rannakoe Lehloenya and Prof. Muloiwa, was able to complete the guide in 2021.

32 students and 16 paediatricians (or specialists with a special interest in paediatrics) came together to make this project a reality. The guide has 17 chapters which cover the basics of common paediatric conditions and should whet the appetite of medical students so that they go on to further explore the topics discussed. The guide covers the following topics:

It is our hope that this free, open access resource will be used by students in South Africa and across the continent.


There have been so many other people who helped make this study guide possible.

To the student authors and artists, thank you for sacrificing the little free time you have and freely offering your talents to make this guide a reality. You have once again shown that this generation of young people are willing and able to give more than anyone thought possible.

Thank you to Prof. Rudzani Muloiwa who was instrumental in the completion of the guide. Thank you for offering yourself as liaison between the students and the doctors, for encouraging your colleagues to work with us and endorsing our project. Thank you also to Dr Shamiel Salie for your counsel and guidance. We truly appreciate all of the help and support that you both gave.

Thank you to each consultant advisor for giving us your expert opinions and your willingness to take on this project despite your busy schedules and the tight deadlines.

Many thanks to the staff at UCT Libraries for all of your hard work in making this book appear as professional as it does and for guiding us through the publication process. A special thank you to Ms Jill Claassen (scholarly communications and communications manager at UCT Libraries) for your advice and support through the journey of publication.

Lastly, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to our families who have encouraged, counselled, consoled, strategised and rejoiced with and for us. It is not sufficient, but we say a heartfelt thank you.

Table of Contents

Dedication i
Foreword ii
Abstract iii
About the Book iv
Acknowledgements v
Chapter 1: Genetics and Congenital Anomalies 1-16
Chapter 2: Disorders of Development 17-34
Chapter 3: Endocrine Disorders 35-51
Chapter 4: Feeding and Fluid Management 52-65
Chapter 5: Nutritional Disorders 66-78
Chapter 6: Gastrointestinal Disorders 79-109
Chapter 7: Cardiovascular Diseases 110-127
Chapter 8: Respiratory Disorders 128-152
Chapter 9: Infectious Diseases 153-189
Chapter 10: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 190-211
Chapter 11: Neurological Disorders 212-237
Chapter 12: Musculoskeletal Disorders 238-255
Chapter 13: Dermatological Conditions 256-285
Chapter 14: Allergology 286-301
Chapter 15: Haematological and Oncological Conditions 302-329
Chapter 16: Poisonings 330-343
Chapter 17: Renal Disorders 344-365
About the Editors 366
References 367-379