Posts Tagged ‘
Friday, September 7th, 2012
Women have long-relied on cranberry juice to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). A new study suggests that certain types of cranberry juice may do the same for kids, Reuters reports.
The small study, published in the Journal of Urology, involved kids who’d had at least two UTIs in the last year. Researchers asked them to drink either a cranberry juice that contained high levels of proanthocyanidins (PACs), compounds that appear to fight the bacteria behind UTIs, or a cranberry-free juice.
Over the next year, kids who drank cranberry juice had UTIs at a rate of 0.4 per child, compared with 1.15 in the comparison group.
The power of cranberries against UTIs “was initially regarded as an old wives’ tale,” said Dr. Hiep Nguyen of Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study.
But Nguyen said he now often recommends cranberry—either juice or supplements—when kids have recurrent UTIs.
“It can be a great alternative to prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics,” Nguyen said.
That doesn’t mean cranberry is the cure-all. If a child has frequent UTIs, Nguyen said, antibiotics may be necessary to “break the cycle.”
Not all cranberry juice has a high PAC content, and researchers didn’t give specifics about brands. Nguyen warned against brands with too much sugar, and against drinking too much. From Reuters:
“Pure cranberry juice often doesn’t taste so good,” [Nguyen] noted. So manufacturers often mix it with something more palatable, like apple juice, or add a lot of sugar.
Cranberry juice mixed with other juices would likely have lower PAC levels. If there’s added sugar, that means calories; drinking a lot of sugary juice can also cause diarrhea in kids.
“We do worry about the sugar content,” Nguyen said.
Image: Cranberry juice via Shutterstock.
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
It’s often the worst part of colds in little ones: the cough that keeps them (and their parents) up at night. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics builds the evidence that honey can help.
The small study involved 300 children ages 1 to 5, none of whom had asthma or pneumonia, the Washington Post reports. All had been coughing an average of three days due to a cold. Researchers randomly assigned them one of three types of honey or a date syrup placebo, and gave the kids 10 mg about a half hour before bed. Parents later completed a survey about their child’s cough. From the Washington Post:
Comparing the night the children took honey or the placebo with the previous night, coughing was less frequent and less severe, on average, for all the children, whether they got honey or the placebo. Their sleep improved, too, as did their parents’. However, as measured on a 20-point scale that considered all symptoms, improvement was greater among children who had taken honey.
Experts warn that over-the-counter cold and cough remedies can have dangerous side effects in young children, making honey a handy tool. But the researchers did stress that honey should never be given to children younger than 1 year because of the risk of botulism.
Image: Honey pot via Shutterstock.
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
A study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, which we reported here yesterday, says that sleep experts don’t have scientific evidence to back up current sleep recommendations for kids.
But since the study appeared, some sleep experts have spoken up to say they disagree strongly with those findings.
Judith Owens, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington and author of Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens, told NPR’s Shots blog yesterday that current sleep recommendations are indeed research-based. Owens believes that the researchers behind the Pediatrics article “left out multiple studies. It ends up looking like they picked and chose studies that suited their agenda.”
For example, she says, there’s “very solid data showing that teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep a night.” Other studies show that kids’ thinking and behavior improve when they get extended sleep.
Which sleep advice should parents follow? Owens says she trusts the sleep recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, which you can find here. The foundation says children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours. Here’s more from Owens from the NPR blog:
“We always [say] that there are clues to make sure that your child is getting enough sleep. For instance: Your child wakes up spontaneously at the time they’re supposed to wake up. They’re alert in the morning.
Granted, there are things we don’t know. But this is information that I think we can confidently pass on to parents.”
Image: Sleepy boy waking up via Shutterstock.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Does your child sleep enough? Here are two little-known facts: Kids haven’t been getting the expert-recommended amount of shut-eye for 100 years. And scientists don’t know exactly how much sleep children really need.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked back over sleep advice for children from 1897 to 2009, and found 32 different sets of official recommendations in that period. The researchers also looked at how much kids actually slept, and found that they consistently got an average of 37 minutes less than the recommended amount.
But almost none of the sleep advice was based on research. “After 100 years, we still don’t have meaningful evidence for these recommendations,” Lisa Anne Matricciani of the University of South Australia, lead author of the study, told the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s more from the Los Angeles Times:
[T]he researchers could find only one case for which the expert guidelines were rooted in medical evidence of a need for a particular amount of sleep. That was a 1926 study that measured the actual sleep of 500 kids between the ages of 6 and 15 who were deemed “healthy.” Other than that, it seems that experts simply looked at the amount of sleep children around them were getting and figured that they really needed a little bit more, the authors wrote.
The current advice from the National Sleep Foundation is that children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours. But a 2006 sleep survey found that about 45 percent of kids ages 11 to 17 get less than eight hours of sleep a night. Any parent who has dealt with a cranky, sleep-deprived child knows that’s not nearly enough.
Research also shows that it’s unwise to let kids skimp: Lack of sleep for children is linked to problems such as obesity, learning difficulties, and aggressive behavior.
Image: Sleepy boy in classroom via Shutterstock.