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New Research ’ Category
Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Don’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.
Baby products that don’t contain phthalates:
Image: Group of pregnant bellies via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Can birth weight affect your child’s future academic performance? A new large-scale study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University says yes.
According to a news release:
The research suggests that babies who weigh more at birth have higher test scores from third through eighth grade. The relationship is apparent even among twins; heavier-born twins have higher average test scores in third through eighth grade than their lighter-born twin.
Even the advantage of attending a higher quality school was not enough to compensate for the disadvantage of a lower birth rate, according to the study. The low birth-rate advantage held up across the board for all children — regardless of race, socioeconomic status, enrichment experiences provided by parents, maternal education and a host of other factors.
Researchers merged birth data and school records of all children born in Florida between 1992 and 2002 — that’s more than 1.3 million kids — to reach these conclusions. However, in an article in The New York Times, study co-author David N. Figlio said this is most likely the first of many more studies that will be conducted on this subject, mentioning that weight may just be “a proxy for other aspects of fetal health that more time in the womb would not improve.”
It’s also important to note that babies born at a higher birth weight can also often be, depending on their weight, at an increased risk for a number of other health complications. And birth weight is definitely not the end all, be all for your child’s success in school—take a look at these 15 ways you can boost your child’s success in school.
Photo of little girl courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
The way you talk to your baby may affect what he remembers, new research suggests.
According to a study published in Infant Behavior and Development, researchers at Brigham Young University have determined that babies are more likely to remember things when they’re paired with positive associations rather than negative ones.
According to a news release, researchers monitored the babies’ eye movements and how long they looked at a test image.
The babies were set in front of a flat paneled monitor in a closed off partition and then exposed to a person on screen speaking to them with either a happy, neutral or angry voice. Immediately following the emotional exposure, they were shown a geometric shape.
To test their memory, the researchers did follow-up tests 5 minutes later and again one day later. In the follow-up test, babies were shown two side-by-side geometric shapes: a brand new one, and the original one from the study.
The researchers found that by recording both the amount of time babies looked at each image and how many times they looked from one image to another, the babies who had images paired with negative voices couldn’t remember the shape, but when the shapes were paired with a pleasant voice they could remember significantly more.
“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” lead author of the study Ross Flom said in the news release. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”
Babies’ memories start to develop as soon as they’re born. Follow more tips to boost your baby’s memory during her first year.
Photo of a happy baby courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, November 24th, 2014
For the roughly 10 percent of U.S. children who have been diagnosed with eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, a topical skin treatment is the best way to manage the chronic condition, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests.
While many parents have feared treating their children with topical steroid creams, the AAP reports that they are safe and can be the most effective way to improve quality of life for children who are suffering.
A news release from the AAP states:
Treating atopic dermatitis is important because of the tremendous impact it has on the quality of life of children and their families. Managing the condition can include an action plan for families that includes recommendations on frequency of bathing, prescription medications, moisturizers and antihistamines.
An article published in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month posed the question, “Are You Bathing Your Baby Too Much?” While a number of factors can potentially lead to developing eczema, like genetics, environmental factors like how often your child is bathed can also play a role. The AAP currently recommends bathing your baby three times a week or less, however a study conducted by the market-research firm Mintel Group found that households reported using baby shampoos and bathing products closer to five times a week, according the WSJ.
Several studies as mentioned in Pediatrics have reported that eczema diagnoses among children are on the rise over the past several years, with 65 to 95 percent of eczema cases being diagnosed in children ages 1 to 5 years old.
Does your child have eczema? Read about this mom’s experience with her son’s severe eczema, and be sure to consult your healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding your child’s condition and treatment procedures.
Photo of baby with eczema courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Friday, November 21st, 2014
Taking antibiotics during your second or third trimester may lead to your child’s likelihood to develop obesity, new research shows.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity evaluated 436 mother and child pairs and followed the children until they were 7 years old.
The study reports that kids who were exposed to antibiotics during the second or third trimester had an 84 percent higher chance of obesity compared to those who weren’t exposed during the second or third trimesters, after adjusting for several variables.
The study did not look into what kinds of antibiotics the women took. And it’s important to note that while some infections can get better on their own, others require antibiotic treatment to heal—and avoiding treatment could cause even more harm to the mother and developing child.
“The current findings in and of themselves shouldn’t change clinical practice,” Noel T. Mueller, the study’s lead author told The New York Times. “If they hold up in other prospective studies, then they should be part of the equation when considering antibiotic usage. There are many legitimate uses for antibiotics during pregnancy.”
Remember: If you’re pregnant and think you might need to take an antibiotic, always consult your healthcare provider and ask her about any questions or concerns you might have. You can read more about antibiotics and pregnancy here.
Photo of pregnant woman taking pills courtesy of Shutterstock
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