Author Archive

Want Smarter Kids? Don’t Feed Them Fast Food!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Hungry boy looking at burgerWe all knew fast food (even without trans fat) is bad for you, but a new study now offers a significant link between that fast food being detrimental to kids’ education, reports ScienceDaily.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom,” said Kelly Purtell, lead author of the study.

The study, published online in Clinical Pediatrics, tracked 11,740 students starting in fifth grade and then again in eighth grade. Data was collected between 1998-1999 by the National Center for Educational Statistics and sorted by various researchers at Ohio State University.

Kids were asked about their fast food consumption in fifth grade only, and then tested on reading, math, and science in both grades. Researchers discovered that kids who ate fast food either every day or four to six times a week in fifth grade showed significantly lower improvement in all three subjects by the time they were in eighth grade. There was a 20 percent difference between kids who ate a lot of fast food and kids who didn’t.

And kids who ate fast food one to three times a week also tested lower in math, compared to kids who didn’t eat any fast food.

Although more research will have to be conducted, the research shows the importance of encouraging healthy eating habits in kids from an early age. Parents don’t have to ban fast food from kids’ diets, but whenever possible, they should provide foods high in vitamins and nutrients and low in sugar and fat, to help improve kids’ achievements in school.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Hungry boy looking at burger via Shutterstock

 

Add a Comment

Kids Exposed to Mom’s Depression More Likely to Become Delinquents

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Sad woman sitting alone silhouetteIt’s almost a rite of passage for kids to rebel as they get older, but a new study published online in Pediatrics reveals a reason why some kids can go beyond general misbehavior.

HealthDay reports that young kids with depressed mothers were more likely to smoke, use drugs and alcohol, and engage in violence during their early teens. In fact, children exposed to depression from ages “6 to 10 [were] actually more strongly associated with those risky health behaviors,” said Ian Colman, co-author of the study.

Research for the study was conducted in Canada and started in 1994, with 2,900 pairs of moms and children (ages 2-5) being analyzed. Moms were given a questionnaire to fill out every two years, with questions about their own lives, plus their partners’ and children’s lives. When the kids reached age 10, they were given their own questionnaires to fill out, until they reached age 16 or 17. Their questions focused on substance use, stealing, carrying weapons, fighting, being approached by police, sex, suicide attempts, and other delinquent behaviors.

Data from the decade-long results revealed that 4 percent of the mothers who were depressed were more likely to have troubled teens. Researchers noted that these troubled teens were 1.4 times more to drink, 2 times more likely to smoke, and 3 times more like to use drugs than teens who did not have depressed mothers.

While this study does not prove that a mother’s depression definitely leads to delinquency, as many other factors (such as genetics, parenting styles, and family environments) can affect a child’s development. The study also did not focus on how a father’s depression may affect kids, but Colman believes there is likely a similar correlation between the two factors.

Parents, especially mothers, who are experiencing depression should still get help from a trained medical professional to help alleviate the stress of parenting.

Postpartum Depression:
Postpartum Depression:
Postpartum Depression: "I couldn't even talk... without crying."

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

Image: Sad woman sitting alone silhouette via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates May Cause Lower IQs in Children

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Pregnant women belliesDon’t be surprised if “phthalates-free” labels become more important than ever. A new study released by the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City has linked the harmful chemicals to a decrease in children’s IQ, reports HealthDay News. The study was published yesterday in the science journal PLOS ONE.

The study centered on 328 mothers and children from low-income backgrounds in New York City. Researchers analyzed how the exposure to five types of phthalates during the third trimester of each woman’s pregnancy affected her children’s IQ at 7-years-old. Each woman’s urine was measured for chemicals during pregnancy, and later on, each school-age child was given an IQ test.

Results showed that children whose mothers had the highest exposure to two phthalates (DnBP and DiBP) had IQs that were at least 7 points lower than children whose mothers had lower exposure to the chemicals. The three other phthalates (BBP, DEHP, and DEP) did not seem to have any significant affects on children’s intellect.

Phthalates are chemicals that are commonly added to plastics as stabilizers. “Depending on the specific phthalate, they are used to make plastic flexible, as adhesive and as additives to cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products, as several ‘hold’ scents,” says Pam Factor-Litvak, Ph.D., the study’s author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. According to the CPSC, paints and inks can contain phthalates. CBSNews adds that the two specific phthalates, DnBP and DiBP, can also be found in products like “vinyl upholstery, shower curtains, plastic food containers, raincoats, dryer sheets…”

Even though this study is not conclusive that pthalates are the definite cause of low intellectual development, the results add to the ongoing belief that exposure to phthalates can have toxic negative long-term affects. Other research studies have shown that phthalates can disrupt hormones, cause physical defects (cleft palates and skeletal malformations), increase asthma, and lead to insulin resistance, reports CBSNews.

Manufacturers are not obligated to include labels that point out their products contain phthalates, but Congress permanently bans three types of phthalates (BBP, DEHP, DBP) from being used in amounts greater than 0.1 percent in children’s toys and children’s products related to feeding, sleeping, sucking, and teething. Three other phthalates (DINP, DIDP, DnOP) are also banned from children’s products on an interim basis. “While these regulatory actions were taken to protect young children, there have been no regulatory actions to protect the developing fetus in utero, which is often the time of greatest susceptibility,” Dr. Factor-Litvak noted.

Avoiding all phthalates is impossible, but it is possible to reduce your exposure to them. Dr. Factor-Litvak suggests that food never be microwaved in plastic containers and that scented products (such as personal care and cleaning products) never be used. Also, “avoid use of plastics labeled as #3, #6 and #7 as these contain phthalates as well as BPA (bisphenol A), and store food in glass rather than plastic containers as much as possible,” she adds.

Hair Dye and Nail Polish During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Hair Dye and Nail Polish During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Hair Dye and Nail Polish During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

Baby products that don’t contain phthalates:

 

Image: Group of pregnant bellies via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

The Year After Newtown: 100 Children Have Died in Unintentional Gun Shootings

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Gun on a wooden tableThere’s no doubt that the discussion about gun control and gun violence has increased since the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown two years ago.

A new study (“Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths“) just released by Everytown for Gun Safety reveals that between December 2012 and December 2013 at least 100 kids (younger than 14 years old) across the nation have died as a result of accidental shootings. Toddlers (ages 2 to 4) were more likely to die from self-inflicted shooting while school-age kids (ages 12 to 14) were more likely to die from a peer shooting.

The Huffington Post reports:

Unintentional shootings of children occurred most often in places familiar to those who were killed. Eighty-four percent of victims were killed in their home, the home of a friend, or the family car, according to the study. In 76 percent of the cases, the gun belonged to a parent or other family member.The killings occurred more often in small towns and rural areas than in cities. They occurred in 35 states.

The findings from Everytown came from an extensive review of news stories and subscription services in the 12 months following the December 2012 shooting in at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six school employees. Researchers with the group followed up with law enforcement officials in cases where there was any ambiguity. If it remained unclear whether the shooting was accidental, the researchers did not count it.

As a percentage of total victims of gun violence, children who are unintentionally killed is quite small. But the 100 shootings over the course of the year averages out to almost two per week.

Part of the problem, Everytown argues, is poor education about the dangers of firearms and how to safely store them. The group advocates “well-tailored child safety” laws, including those “imposing criminal liability” for irresponsible gun storage. The report cites Florida’s “Child Access Prevention” law as one to emulate.

Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing Gun Violence

 

Image: 9 mm gun on wooden table via Shutterstock

Add a Comment