Pesticides Now Linked to ADHD (In Addition to Autism)

Pesticides farmerLittle is known about what causes ADHD, one of the most common childhood disorders, but scientists believe both genetics (though no gene has been found yet) and the environment are factors.

Now a new study from various universities has found evidence for an environmental cause. According to the study, a specific pesticide (called deltamethrin) that’s often used on home lawns, vegetable crops, gardens, and golf courses, may increase the risk of ADHD.

Researchers conducted experiments on mice, exposing them to the pesticide while they were in utero and then through lactation. Results revealed that the mice showed symptoms related to ADHD, including impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, and dysfunctional brain signals. And even when traces of the pesticide could no longer be detected as the mice reached adulthood, the ADHD-like behaviors still existed.

In particular, male mice showed more symptoms of ADHD than female mice, which correlates with studies on humans that boys are (four times) more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder. The researchers also analyzed certain health data (including urine samples) from over 2,000 kids and teens — and discovered that kids were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD if they had a higher pesticide level in their urine.

Even though the pesticide is usually considered less toxic than others, there is now more concern about exposing any of it to kids and pregnant women — especially because prenatal exposure to pesticides has also been linked to autism.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Understanding Treatment Plans for ADHD
Understanding Treatment Plans for ADHD
Understanding Treatment Plans for ADHD

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Should Schools Ban Unvaccinated Kids?

forbid children signOne family’s story might give you a different and more personal perspective on a continually debated issue: vaccines.

For the past four and a half years, Carl Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have had to do something that no parent ever wants to do—watch their 6-year-old son, Rhett, battle leukemia. And after finishing numerous rounds of chemotherapy treatment, doctors say Rhett is in remission.

But now another battle has begun— the battle to keep Rhett as healthy as possible, despite being unvaccinated. Rhett cannot be vaccinated until his immune system is strong enough, which could take months. And if Rhett contracts a disease, he is at a higher risk for complications and even death.

While Rhett can rely on the power of herd immunity, it’s not guaranteed when he lives in Marin County, California, which has the highest rate of children in the Bay Area who have been opted out of immunizations. In fact, Rhett’s elementary school has a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate, which is nearly three times more than the statewide average.

In light of the current measles’ outbreak on the west coast, Carl is speaking up for his son — by requesting that his elementary school bans all unvaccinated students, except for those who, like his son, cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. “It’s very emotional for me,” he told NPR. “If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that’s your responsibility, that’s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then…your action has harmed my child.”

And Rhett is not alone in having a weakened immune system. According to oncologist Dr. Robert Goldsby, “there are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area who are going through cancer therapy, and it’s not fair to them.”

However, at this time, Marin County doesn’t have any confirmed or suspected cases of measles, so no immediate action can be made without approval from county health officers. However, “if the outbreak progresses and we start seeing more and more cases, then this is a step we might want to consider,” said Matt Willis, Marin County’s health officer.

We want to hear from you—let us know what you think! Is Carl Krawitt’s request to ban students fair? Or do you think it goes too far?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

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The AAP Says Medical Marijuana Is ONLY Okay For…

Medical marijuanaLegalizing marijuana across the U.S. is still an ongoing debate, and the American Academy of Pedatrics continues to oppose using it for medical (and recreational) reasons. However, the AAP is updating their policy and making a new exception: supporting marijuana only for “compassionate use in children with debilitating or life-limiting diseases.”

No official studies have been published before on how marijuana (medical or recreational) affect children, but limited research on adults have shown that prolonged use can have negative affects on: memory, concentration, motor control, coordination, sound judgment, psychological health, and lung health.

But because research into the long-term pros and cons of marijuana use will take time, the AAP now recognizes that children with extreme cases of illness “may benefit from cannabinoids,” or the chemicals in marijuana that can help suppress pain and nausea.

However, “while cannabinoids may have potential as a therapy for a number of medical conditions, dispensing marijuana raises concerns regarding purity, dosing and formulation, all of which are of heightened importance in children,” says William P. Adelman, M.D., an author of the updated policy.

The AAP also included recommendations for protecting kids and teens who live in states that legalized marijuana, such as having federal and state governments focus more on the impact of marijuana on children, stricter rules on limiting marijuana access and marketing, and child-proof packaging.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor

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Is a Cure for Peanut Allergies in Sight?

peanut allergiesSome hopeful news for parents of kids with peanut allergies: A new Australian study found that a daily dose of peanut protein taken with a probiotic was successful in treating nut allergies in children.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital Institute in Melbourne, Australia gave 60 kids with peanut allergies a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein, or a placebo. Researchers reported that over 80 percent of the children who received the probiotic with gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein—a technique known as oral immunotherapy—were able to tolerate nuts at the end of the study. And even more surprising: the kids were able to include them in their diet without adverse reactions two to five weeks after the treatment ended.

So what does this mean for children suffering from mild to life-threatening peanut allergies right now? “This is a wonderful, small study that holds a lot of exciting avenues for future research and applications, but we can’t necessary take these results and run with them just yet,” says David Stukus, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “The biggest drawbacks are that it’s a small study and only tests kids’ reactions to peanuts a few weeks after the conclusion of the study, so we don’t know what would happen if they ate nuts a few months or years down the road.”

Dr. Stukus also cautions that, as in all other studies with oral immunotherapy for food allergies, there was a very high rate of allergic reactions in patients who underwent the therapy. “Almost 50 percent of these kids had some sort of reaction, including anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening—this is not a safe procedure to do on your own. It requires supervision from a physician or a team of medical professions, and can only be done under the right circumstances.” So if your child has a peanut allergy, speak to your allergist about how this development might help your family down the road.

Maria-Nicole Marino is an Assistant Editor at Parents who covers kids’ health. She’s a proud Syracuse University alum with a not-so-secret love of kickboxing. Her cubicle currently houses two yoga balls and a bike. #healtheditorproblems

Food Allergies: Helping Your Child Cope
Food Allergies: Helping Your Child Cope
Food Allergies: Helping Your Child Cope

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Can You Steer Your Kids Toward College…Starting in Pre-K?

Learning StudentA new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that parents who have long-term expectations that their child will attend college are likely to raise children who will have academic success, as early as pre-K.

Researchers at UCLA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discovered that a child’s readiness for kindergarten depended on a few factors other than preschool attendance, such as “families’ behaviors, attitudes, and values,” reports PsychCentral.

Data was collected from 6,600 children who were born in 2001. Each child was given standardized tests to assess them both psychologically and academically. Parents were also interviewed four times prior to their children entering kindergarten, about family dynamics, routines, and plans for preschool. Socioeconomic factors (like parents’ jobs, educational level, and income) were also considered in how it affected a child’s academic trajectory.

Test results showed that kids with the highest scores were also likely to have higher parental expectations to attend college (96 percent). Kids with the lowest scores only had 57 percent of parental expectations. Also, kids were more likely to succeed in school, especially in math and reading, if parents continued to play a strong role in sharing their expectations (which might be a good thing in light of the Common Core).

Although the majority of parents who expected their child to earn a college degree belonged to higher socioeconomic groups, early support was the most important factor. “Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” said Neal Halfon, M.D., the study’s senior author.

If you’re able to increase your child’s chance of accomplishment simply by setting positive and attainable expectations for your child, why not get a head start? And with free community college becoming a possibility, a college degree will become even more attainable for families of all economic backgrounds.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

Image: Learning Child via Shutterstock

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