Are Overprotective Moms Hurting Kids’ Health?

Moms who are overprotective of their children–especially in the arena of avoiding risks in physical activity–may actually be increasing their kids’ risk of health problems, specifically obesity.  A longitudinal study conducted by Australian researchers found that moms who are overprotective tend to limit physical activity for their kids, and by age 10 or 11, the kids are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

The data came from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which followed more than 2,500 children from ages 4 to 11.  They used a measure called the Protectiveness Parenting Scale to rank parents’ degrees of protectiveness in three main areas:

  • How difficult a parent finds it to be separated from their child
  • How much they try to protect their child from problems or difficulties
  • How difficult it is for them to relinquish control of their child’s environment as they get older.

As the Science Network of Western Australia reports, moms who scored moderately high on the scale were 13 percent more likely to have overweight or obese kids; moms who scored high on the scale were 27 percent more likely.  More from the Science Network:

“However, we only found this pattern once kids reached the age of about 10-11 years.”

“This could be to do with the amount of independence and physical activity that kids get.”

“At 10–11 years some kids will be allowed to walk or ride to school on their own, or with friends, or participate in sport… others will be driven around and have greater restrictions.”

“So while some kids have many options for physical activity, kids with an overprotective parent might miss out, [which] could explain why we found higher rates of overweight and obesity.”

They also found higher protective scores across mothers from greater socioeconomic and environmental disadvantage, which Ms Hancock says is understandable.

“If they’re living in areas with increased traffic congestion, or in neighbourhoods that are less safe, then we need to remember that… it isn’t as simple as saying ‘let your kids be more active’ if the opportunities aren’t there.”

What is your parenting style?

Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting

Image: Mom and child holding hands, via Shutterstock

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Uh-Oh! Mild Concussions Can Have Lasting Effects

concussionA new long-term study published in the journal Neurology has revealed some sobering news for anyone who’s concerned about concussions. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that even mild concussions can have a lasting effect on thinking and memory. More from HealthDay News:

By comparing brain imaging studies and thinking tests between healthy people and those with relatively minor concussions, the researchers found that the recovery of thinking skills can take a long time. Minor concussions can be caused by events such as falling off a bike, being in a slow-speed car crash or being hit in a fist-fight.

Initially, those with concussions had thinking and memory test scores that were 25 percent lower than those in healthy people. One year after injury, however, while the scores for those with and without concussions were similar, those who had had brain injuries still had evidence of brain damage on imaging tests, with clear signs of continued disruption to key brain cells.

The study is one more piece of evidence that proves the need for increased awareness of—and study of—concussion injuries—especially because, as one of the study’s authors noted, almost all traumatic brain injuries fall in the “mild to moderate” category. And parents, especially, need to be vigilant about the signs and symptoms of concussion, which can include (but aren’t limited to) headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and changes in vision.

Read more about kids and concussions.

Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns

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Good News! 3 Out of 4 Kids Eat Fruits, Veggies Daily

Consider it an old wives’ tale that kids turn their noses up at fruits and veggies. The Centers for Disease Control just released the results of a health survey, that shows that more than 75 percent of kids eat fruit daily, while a whopping 92 percent got at least one helping of veggies every day.

While those results are a sign that kids at least get some plant-based nutrients in their diet, the study didn’t assess how many servings of each kids received (children should get at least a cup of each per day, and a variety), and also didn’t differentiate highly between veggies. (Meaning that it’s likely that at least some of that veggie consumption came in the form of the kid favorite, French fries.)

The study also found that younger kids (between ages 2 and 5) often ate more fruit than teens (only 6 of 10 teens ate fruit, compared to 90 percent of preschoolers). The numbers were closer for veggies (is it the fry factor?): 93 percent of kids ages 2 to 11 ate veggies, while 90 percent of teens did.

While more study needs to be done to determine if kids are reaching their recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies, doctors recommend upping kids’ portions by making all snacks fruits and veggies, and including produce at every meal.

Tell us: How do you do at giving you and your child the recommended daily allowances of fruits and veggies? Find out if you’re feeding your toddler right with our quiz.

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: girl with oranges by gorillaimages/Shutterstock.com

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Babies’ Brains Gear Up to Speak Way Before First Word

Even if your baby isn’t speaking yet, her brain is developing speech skills—and you’re helping the process along whenever you talk around her. It turns out that babies age 7- to 12-months have stimulation in the brain whenever other people in the room are talking, according to a new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. The infants were monitored using a brain scanning technique.

Most babies are only babbling at that age and don’t start talking until after they turn one. However, areas of their brains are already planning and coordinating for those first words. They’re preparing how to talk back even if they aren’t actually saying anything coherent. More from HealthDay News:

“Hearing us talk exercises the action areas of infants’ brains, going beyond what we thought happens when we talk to them. Infants’ brains are preparing them to act on the world by practicing how to speak before they actually say a word,” Patricia Kuhl, author of the study and co-director of the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a university news release.

Use our milestone tracker to record Baby’s first words, first steps, and much more!

Baby's First Year
Baby's First Year
Baby's First Year

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Sleep-Related Death and Babies: Risk Factors Vary by Age, Study Finds

Sleeping BabyHow safe is your baby’s sleep?

A new study examined the biggest sleep risks for babies under 1 year of age and found that younger and older infants faced different risk factors for sleep-related deaths. In the study, which was published online today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed more than 8,000 sleep-related infant deaths from 24 states between 2004 and 2012. Of those deaths, the study found that for infants up to 4 months of age, the biggest risk factor for sleep-related death was bed-sharing with either a parent or pet. In fact, in roughly 74 percent of the cases studied, the infants had been bed-sharing at the time of their death. About 50 percent of those cases happened when the child was sleeping in an adult bed or on a person.

But for infants ages 4 months to 1 year, the largest risk factor associated with death was different: rolling into objects, including blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and bumpers, during sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their care providers, but not in the same bed. The crib or bassinet should be within arm’s reach, free of any loose items, including toys and soft bedding, and covered with a fitted sheet.

Despite those safe-sleep recommendations, a whopping 73 percents of the 4,500 respondents in a recent American Baby magazine survey admitted they placed at least one item the crib with their baby.

Baby Care Basics: What is SIDS?
Baby Care Basics: What is SIDS?
Baby Care Basics: What is SIDS?

Babyproofing Your Home: Crib
Babyproofing Your Home: Crib
Babyproofing Your Home: Crib

Image: close-up portrait of a sleeping baby via Shutterstock

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