Archive for the ‘ Child Health ’ Category

Childhood Trauma Could Lead to Type 1 Diabetes

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Diabetes consultationEvery year, more than 15,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), but health professionals and scientists don’t have many answers about the causes and prevention methods for this autoimmune disease. Experts do believe that genetics and environmental triggers are factors in the development of type 1 diabetes, and that diet and exercise are not.

A recent study suggests that experiencing traumatic life events during childhood can increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes later in life.

Researchers in Sweden examined more than 10,000 children between the ages of 2 and 14 who had not been diagnosed with T1D. Parents filled out questionnaires that measured their assessment of serious life events (death or illness in the family, conflicts, and divorce), parenting stress, parental worries, and parental social support.

Results indicated that kids who had experienced a serious life event during their first 14 years of life were nearly three times more likely to develop T1D than those who had not.

The authors of the study concluded that a possible link between stress and diabetes is an imbalance in the immune system. This imbalance could cause an autoimmune reaction against beta cells that produce the insulin necessary to regulate blood sugar. Other possible links between serious life experiences and the development of T1D do exist, and more research is needed to pinpoint when this type of psychological stress alters the autoimmune system.

“As experience of stressful life events cannot be avoided, children and their parents should get adequate support to cope with these events to avoid their consequences, which could include medical issues,” recommended the study’s authors.

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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

Online App Helps Kids With Diabetes Eat Safely
Online App Helps Kids With Diabetes Eat Safely
Online App Helps Kids With Diabetes Eat Safely

Image: Child learning about diabetes via Shutterstock

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Family Stress Might Be Making Girls More Obese Than Boys

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Couple arguing in front of kids, boy and girlIn hopes of preventing childhood obesity, researchers are collecting data to pinpoint every potential reason why children are becoming overweight.

The latest study from the University of Houston focuses on family stressors and if they’re linked with children become obese by the time they’re 18 years old.

The study, published in this month’s issue of Preventive Medicine, concentrated on three main family stress points: family disruption, financial stress, and poor maternal health. The data of nearly 5,000 adolescents born between 1975 and 1990 was collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

Based on the data, there was a noticeable gender difference when it came to how kids responded to stress. For girls, they were most likely to become overweight or obese by 18 if they experienced family disruption and financial stress throughout childhood, reports Daphne Hernandez, lead author and assistant professor at the University of Houston. For boys, the only family stressor that related to their weight problems was poor maternal health.

Related: Could Your Preschooler Be at Risk for Obesity?

Focusing on more than calorie intake and physical activity may be the key to combatting the impact of family stress. Dr. Hernandez believes that many school programs that fight obesity, like the federally-funded Head Start program, are only producing short-term results. “Developing strategies to help with family stressors during childhood may help children maintain healthy weight into adulthood,” she said.

And, even worse, calling girls “fat” might make them more obese. Other research has also shown that a shocking number of parents don’t even realize their child is overweight. So as a parent, the first and possibly most important step is to be conscious and proactive about your child’s weight–and avoid using the word “fat.”

Plus: Sign up for our daily newsletters to keep up with the latest news on child health and development.

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

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Couple arguing in front of kids via Shutterstock

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Another Reason Why Buying Breast Milk Online Is Not Safe

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Milk in bottleThere is no disputing that the benefits of feeding an infant breast milk are huge, but not all mothers are able to produce enough milk to feed their newborns. This has caused many mothers (approximately 55,000!) to turn to the internet to purchase milk from other nursing moms.

However, new research conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital has proved that this is a potentially harmful decision.

Researchers found that what was being advertised as pure human milk wasn’t at all. “We found that one in every 10 samples of breast milk purchased over the Internet had significant amounts of cow’s milk added,” said Sarah A. Keim, Ph.D., lead author of the study and principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s. This is especially dangerous for infants under 12 months who lack the ability to digest cow’s milk properly, and for breastfeeding kids who may have a milk allergy or dairy intolerance.

“We don’t know for sure why cow’s milk was in the milk that we purchased, but because this milk was sold by the ounce sellers may have had an incentive to add cow’s milk or formula to boost the volume,” Keim told Parents.com. It’s likely that some sellers are profit-driven as breast milk is typically sold for $1-$2 per ounce.

And this is not the first time mothers have been warned against purchasing breast milk over the internet. In 2013, Keim and her team found that 75 percent of breast milk samples that had been bought online contained high levels of bacteria that could make an infant ill.

The only way to avoid contaminated, and possibly dangerous, breast milk, is to not purchase it at all. Mothers who are having trouble breastfeeding or pumping should seek the advice of a medical professional. “They should work closely with their pediatrician to come up with a plan for feeding their baby that meets their unique needs, in terms of how well they are growing, and if there are any medical conditions or allergies,” said Dr. Keim. “For mothers who want to breastfeed, early and high quality lactation support can be very helpful for many women in addressing problems that come up.”

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

Buying Breast Milk Online: What You Need to Know
Buying Breast Milk Online: What You Need to Know
Buying Breast Milk Online: What You Need to Know

Image: Bottle with milk via Shutterstock

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Are You in Denial About Your Child’s Weight Gain?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Overweight boyWe’ve all heard it before: obesity is a problem worldwide, especially in the United States and especially among children. If an individual is already overweight as a child, they are at a much greater risk for premature mortality and diseases—like type 2 diabetes and heart disease—as adults.

When a child is struggling with their weight, parents can face the problem early and avoid greater problems in the future. But what if parents don’t recognize the problem in the first place? New research suggests that many parents don’t even realize when their child is overweight.

The research, published in the British Journal of General Practice, examined 2,976 families with children ages 4-5 and 10-11. The children were divided into three categories based on their Body Mass Index (BMI): normal, overweight (above the 85th percentile), and obese (above the 95th percentile). Parents were also asked which BMI category they believed their child fit into.

The findings were startling. “Of the 369 kids who were very overweight, only four parents thought they were,” reports Forbes. “When the researchers analyzed the numbers further, they saw that for a given child with a BMI in the 98th percentile [obese], a whopping 80 percent of parents would say that the child was normal weight.”

It’s important to note that BMI is not a diagnostic tool for weight because it does not account for muscle mass; in order to come to a definitive conclusion for obesity, further tests should be performed by a doctor.

But if a parent is in denial about their child’s weight, it’s likely that their attitudes will be passed onto their children — who will also have a skewed perception of their own weight, which may encourage unhealthy eating habits and necessary interventions.

Take Our Quiz: Is Your Child at Risk of Being Overweight?

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

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: Overweight child via Shutterstock

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Letting Kids Sip Alcohol May Lead to Heavy Teen Drinking

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Girl grabbing alcoholAllowing your child to sip a glass of Chardonnay at the next family gathering may not be as harmless as you once thought. The latest research suggests that children who are allowed occasional tastes of alcohol are more likely to start drinking once they’re in high school.

Research was collected from 561 Rhode Island students who were periodically surveyed over three years, beginning in sixth grade (approximately 11 years old). At the start 26 percent of the children said they had sipped alcohol, and that it was commonly provided to them by a parent. And about 40 percent of kids were first introduced to wine while 35 percent were introduced to beer.

The study, which was conducted by Brown University and published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, concluded that children who had sipped alcohol by sixth grade were five times more likely than their peers to consume a full alcoholic drink in ninth grade, and four times more likely to have binged on alcohol or been drunk. Surprisingly, even when variables like problematic child behavior or a parent’s heavy drinking habits were controlled, the same patterns still existed.

The US has one of the highest binge drinking rates in the world, while Europe has a more casual, social attitude toward drinking. Experts usually chalk this difference up to cultural differences, but these findings clearly dispute the European-based beliefs that introducing alcohol in a calm, family setting at a young age will lessen the forbidden-but-tempting nature of alcohol later on.

Professor David J. Hanson, who has researched alcohol-consumption behaviors for over 40 years, told TODAY, “It isn’t the fact that alcohol went down their gullet [that caused teen drinking]. It’s what meaning the alcohol has to them and what their expectations are about it. These are really important things.”

If you do let your kid sample your drink in the future, avoid being too lenient about experimentation, which can lead to mixed messages and confusion. Instead, deliver very clear and consistent messages about alcohol by asserting that kids follow the rules for drinking legally at age 21.

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

How to Talk to Kids About Alcohol
How to Talk to Kids About Alcohol
How to Talk to Kids About Alcohol

Image: Girl grabbing alcohol via Shutterstock

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