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Child Coughs Like Man, Cries Like Baby

A toddler smiling and clapping hands.

It began as a persistent cough and turned into a strange adventure for a mother, a pediatrician and a pulmonologist.

Annie Childs, mother of 18-month-old Jermaine, noted a month-long cough that began after she streamed new rap music. “It was crazy. I finally picked up that Jermaine would cough when I turned up the volume on my music. I didn’t know if it was an allergy or what. He was coughing like a man,” reports Childs.

“He didn’t have a fever or a rash, so I tried a few home remedies. When that didn’t work, I went to the pediatrician, Dr. Jamie Palmer,” says Childs.

Dr. Palmer thought Jermaine may have had an allergy. “It sounded like it could be a reactive airway problem. But associated with rap music?” said Dr. Palmer, “I had my doubts.”

When the cough persisted, Dr. Palmer sent Jermaine straight to a pediatric pulmonologist.

Mitchell Longjeans, D.O. pulmonologist at Cupola Lung Clinic in Bronchi, AL, found an interesting correlation. “I examined Jermaine, and I was trying to distract him by tapping my feet. That’s when I heard the cough sound. I began to pick up on the answer. Jermaine is trying to rap!”

How can you go from coughing to rapping? Dr. Longjeans explains the connection. “Cough can sound like “ahem, ahem” or a hacking sound. Jermaine makes an Ahuh, Uh, Ahuh, Uh sound. In other words, Jermaine was trying to beatbox. When I stopped tapping my foot, he started crying.”

According to the dictionary, beatbox is making the sound of a drum machine with one’s voice.

“In my 15 years in practice, I have never seen a case of pediatric beatbox syndrome. But I guess if you practice medicine long enough, it’s bound to surface,” surmised Dr. Longjeans. For more about exceptional toddlers in medicine, see Doctor Refuses to Round Unless Pushed in Stroller.




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