Robert E. Owen, MD
Dr. Robert E. Owen chose the speciality of pediatrics after he realized that his favorite cases were those in which he interacted with children.
The pediatrician still describes himself as “definitely a kid person,” and in his practice at Tanner Clinic Syracuse, he focuses on newborn care, early childhood development, well-child visits, sports medicine, sport physicals and adolescent care.
Dr. Owen, a South Ogden native, began his higher education at Weber State University, where he earned a B.S. in zoology. He completed his M.D. at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and he stayed in Salt Lake City for his residency in pediatrics at Primary Children’s Hospital. He joined Tanner Clinic’s Pediatric Center in 2007.
The board-certified pediatrician is affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Intermountain Pediatrics Society. He is fluent in Spanish.
Dr. Owen, a resident of Syracuse, is married with three children. In his spare time, you’re most likely to find him coaching a son’s soccer team or playing softball. He also enjoys traveling, wood working and family time.
What patients are saying about Dr. Owen
“Dr. Owen is amazing! Glad I never have to worry when it comes to my kids’ health because he always has their interest at best!” — Brecklyn on Facebook, Dec. 11, 2014
“Dr. Owen is a fabulous doctor! I have been searching for a new pediatrician since Dr. Kramer retired. I never thought I could find someone I trusted as much as him. We lucked out stumbling upon Dr. Owen. He is super patient, informative and takes the time to listen. Highly recommend.” — Jenny on Facebook, July 7, 2014
“My kids always ask to go see Dr. Owen even just for a scratch. We love him!” — Angela on Facebook, July 7, 2014
“We just wanted Tanner Clinic to know how truly grateful we are for Dr. Owen’s professionalism and sincerity as a pediatrician. Two years ago, we came to him with a few concerns we had regarding our 5-year-old daughter (that we as parents hoped and even believed were minor), and because of his ability to listen and truly care, we ended up with a diagnosis at Primary Children’s soon after. If not for Dr. Owen, we were told our little girl would have lost the ability to walk. But instead, she underwent two brain surgeries to correct a birth defect and its effects.
“For two years, our four children seemed to be thrown countless medical difficulties, ranging from a newborn with major feeding issues lasting a year, to a daughter with a broken hand, to constant ear infections (ultimately resulting in tube placement for two of my daughters), etc. For those two years, we sat in Dr. Owens office week after week. Not once did he act too busy or hurried to listen. Not once did he dismiss our concerns. Not once did he brush off our concerns as too trivial. In fact, he made us feel, at every single visit, that he genuinely cared, that he trusted my opinions and insights as a mother, that he genuinely wanted to help, and that he took me seriously. . . .
“It seems as though our family has finally been given a break in medical craziness, and in this time we wanted to both thank Dr. Owen and to tell Tanner Clinic how grateful we are for him. Thanks to his knowledge, his ability to listen and his willingness to care, our daughter is running around happily every single day, and all of our children are happy and healthy. Because of Dr. Owen, we will be Tanner Clinic patrons as long as he is there.” — Karen J., via online contact form at tannerclinic.com, May 18, 2014
Lots of Infections Each Year? Answer May Be a Tonsillectomy
“Will removing tonsils help prevent future strep throat?”
That’s a question Dr. Robert Owen, pediatrician at Tanner Clinic Syracuse, is often asked by parents.
And he tells them, “If your child has more than five or six infections in any given year, there’s a likelihood that having their tonsils out would be beneficial.”
Frequent infections is one of two primary reasons children require tonsillectomies, he said. The other is sleep apnea with its loud snoring and obstructed bleeding. “Infection and sleep apnea — those are two reasons you might get your tonsils out,” he said.
Strep throat is one of those “open-up-and-say-ahh” illnesses. The infection enlarges the tonsils, he said, and parents will see a swollen and red palate.
Chances are parents will also see a white coating, which can signify either the bacterial strep infection or a virus.
“That’s a question I get a lot,” Dr. Owen said. “Moms will say, “I saw the white patches on his tonsils, so I figured that meant he had strep.’ But you can see the white patches — as well as red, swollen tonsils — with viral infections as well.”
— Tanner Clinic staff
Painful Strep Throat Is Hard on Kids and Parents, Says Pediatrician
Among the common childhood illnesses, strep pharyngitis — or strep throat — presents a special challenge for many parents.
This bacterial infection hits quickly, within a matter of hours. It causes distress from head to stomach. It’s contagious and moves rapidly through classrooms, neighborhoods and households.
And it hurts, even to talk. Pediatrician Robert Owen has been told by his young patients that strep throat feels like “swallowing needles or glass.”
The distressing strep throat itself is by far the best-known symptom, but the bacteria can also cause high fever, headache, body aches and stomach aches. You may also see ear infections, skin infections, pneumonia, anal infections and meningitis, said Dr. Owen.
Untreated strep can cause rheumatic fever and a kidney disease known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
Infection spreads through saliva
Strep comes and goes in spurts through the school year — including the summer months of year-round school, says the Tanner Clinic Syracuse physician. The bacteria spreads through oral secretions, which makes youngsters susceptible as they share ChapStick, water bottles or silverware — “basically anything that’s touched to your mouth and might be transferred to someone else,” said Dr. Owen.
Symptoms of strep throat generally appear two to five days after exposure, said Dr. Owen. The illness has an unusually rapid onset; within a period of just a few hours a child will complain of not feeling well. Strep infection nearly always arrives with a high fever, especially in school-aged children, he said. “But in my experience, younger kids tend to complain just as much that their stomach is hurting and they have a headache.”
What you may not see are coughing or congestion. Those symptoms are more closely associated with the viral infections that Dr. Owen said can mimic strep throat. Viruses, added Dr. Owen, “are usually more gradual in onset than strep and fevers don’t tend to be quite as high.”
Here are other common questions Dr. Owen is asked about strep throat:
Will a strep infection heal on its own?
DR. OWEN: “Strep infections will heal on their own usually within four to seven days. Unfortunately, in young kids there’s an association with rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, both of which are complications related to having an untreated strep infection. While it’s true that most strep infections will go away on their own without treatment, the risks of developing the complications are higher if you don’t treat. So it is recommended to treat all strep infections.”
How do you test for strep?
DR. OWEN: “We do two forms of testing, which is pretty universal. There’s a rapid strep test, which takes about 10 minutes and is 85% to 90% accurate. Any child who tests negative on the rapid strep test has a second test sent in for a culture, which is the more definitive test. But, unfortunately, it takes 24 to 48 hours to process.
“If a child comes in and has an initial test that’s negative and he appears to have a viral infection, usually we’ll hold off on antibiotics, let the second test run and have the child come back before actually starting an antibiotic. Typically, a school-aged child with a sore throat and fever will almost always have a strep test done to make sure it’s not strep.”
When should I bring in my child if I suspect strep?
DR. OWEN: “Most often, we see parents bring in kids on the second or third day — earlier if the child has had a known exposure, such as someone in their class has strep. Typically moms will watch for two days or so and if the fever persists and the symptoms seem to be getting worse, that’s when they’ll bring the child in. It’s not wrong to bring them in earlier — if you diagnose strep earlier and treat it earlier you decrease that risk of spreading it.”
Are there negative consequences if I wait to bring in my child or end up waiting 48 hours for the more definitive test?
DR. OWEN: “The data say that if the infection is treated within about 10 days of onset, you don’t see complications like rheumatic fever. Waiting the extra two days to confirm the diagnosis does not increase the risk of having the complications. … If you know the child has strep, and even though they seem to be improving, you still should bring them in to avoid those possible complications.”
What is the treatment for a strep infection?
DR. OWEN: “Strep is universally sensitive to penicillin, so we treat most people with amoxicillin first because it’s inexpensive and well-tolerated. A typical antibiotic course for strep pharyngitis is seven to 10 days. You should always finish the complete treatment that the doctor prescribes.
“Oftentimes, I’ll have moms saying, ‘He had strep last time and this (viral infection) seems just like it. Can’t we treat it the same?’ I try to be very consistent and I have to say, ‘Let’s wait for the testing to come back.’ (Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics.) That way you avoid an unnecessary exposure to antibiotics, the cost related to the medicine, the risk of having an allergic reaction or some other negative effect like stomach pain or diarrhea you can get just from using medicines.”
How long is the recovery period?
DR. OWEN: “Children are contagious probably as soon as their symptoms start; they’re also contagious until they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. Before returning to school or work, you need to be on antibiotics and your fever gone for 24 hours.
“It’s important to rest when you’re recovering and to stay hydrated. We encourage a lot of clear fluids and to avoid foods that might cause pain or discomfort, hard foods, or foods that are scratchy or extra spicy. We use Tylenol and Motrin for fever control and pain control. Rest until you feel like you’ve recovered.”
What can I do as a parent to reduce the possibility of my child coming down with strep?
DR. OWEN: “Kids are going to have childhood illnesses and kids are going to be sick — it’s a part of being a kid. So parents shouldn’t try to avoid everything because they’ll make themselves crazy following everyone around with Clorox wipes. However, it’s important to teach kids not to share water bottles and to wash their hands after using the restroom and to practice those normal hygiene things.”