Monday, August 5th, 2013
Half of American new mothers now breastfeed their newborns for the recommended period of at least six months, according to data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More from Today.com:
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It’s a big increase from just 35 percent in 2000 and is good news for babies and moms alike, as breastfeeding boosts the immune system, may lower the risk of obesity and is even linked with higher intelligence.
“This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborns get nothing but breastmilk until they are six months old. The AAP recommends that mothers continue to breastfeed, along with giving other food, after six months for at least a year or even longer “as mutually desired by mother and infant.”
Studies show that babies given nothing but breastmilk for the first four months of life have a 72 percent lower risk of severe pneumonia and other lower respiratory tract infections for their first year. If moms stop breastfeeding between four and six months, their babies have four times the risk of pneumonia compared to moms who breastfeed for a year or longer.
Breastmilk contains the nutrients that a newborn baby needs and also transfers disease-fighting antibodies from mother to baby – something that’s very important for the first few months before an infant can be vaccinated. There’s also a growing body of evidence that beneficial bacteria, and perhaps also viruses and fungi, from a mother’s milk and skin can affect her baby’s health.
AAP, breast milk, breastfeeding, cancer, CDC, intelligence, newborns, nutrition, obesity | Categories:
Child Health, Parents News Now, Trends
Monday, July 22nd, 2013
Some 30,000 Boy Scouts and 7,000 leaders gathered July 15 in West Virginia for the annual National Scouts Jamboree, and for the second time in the event’s history, each of them was subject to a body mass index (BMI) cutoff that was designed to prohibit obese or unhealthily overweight people from participating in the event. The standard, organizers say, is in place to protect the health and safety of participants, as the Jamboree is packed with physical activities ranging from hiking to rock climbing.
“This policy is not meant to keep anyone out at all, and it’s just to make sure that they’re safe,” Boy Scouts of America’s public relations director Deron Smith told CNN. “We offer thousands of summer camp experiences (that) do not have this requirement.”
But Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician, told CNN, “Any organization can make their own rules, but as a pediatrician I feel like we should be promoting physical activity for everybody, be as inclusive as possible, and only exclude from activity if there’s a physical threat to their health,” she said.
Boys whose BMI is slightly lower than 40, but who are still considered obese for their height can be admitted to the Jamboree, but they are subject to additional health scrutiny, including a personal health recommendation from a health care provider.
Image: Scout campsite, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Children whose parents administer discipline in the form of slapping, shoving, or pushing may be more likely to become obese or suffer other emotional and physical health problems later in life. Reuters has more:
“This is one study that adds to a growing area of research that all has consistent findings that physical punishment is associated with negative mental and now physical (health) outcomes,” said Tracie Afifi, who led the study at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Last year, she and her colleagues published findings linking hitting and slapping in childhood to a higher risk of depression and anxiety later in life (see Reuters Health story of July 2, 2013 here: reut.rs/Mo1MXm.)
For the current report, they re-analyzed data collected in 2004 and 2005 by United States Census interviewers, who surveyed more than 34,000 adults across the country.
Participants were asked whether their parents or other adults at home pushed, slapped, grabbed, shoved or hit them for punishment as a child. They also reported their current health conditions.
About 1,300 people reported being physically punished at least “sometimes” without more extreme physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Compared to people who weren’t punished physically as children, they were more likely to have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition.
Specifically, those participants were 25 percent more likely to have arthritis and 28 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease – though the second finding could have been due to chance, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.
More people who had been punished physically were obese: about 31 percent, versus 26 percent of those with no history of physical punishment.
Image: Angry parent and child, via Shutterstock
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Friday, June 14th, 2013
The chemical compound bisphenol-a (BPA), which is found in plastics and many food containers, has been linked with childhood obesity in girls, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE. BPA has long been associated with health problems in boys and men, including prostate issues, but this study calls the compound a major environmental culprit in obesity among young girls. More from CNN:
[Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California,] and colleagues studied 1,326 school-age children in Shanghai, China, and measured BPA levels in their urine. In girls ages 9 to 12, higher BPA urine levels were associated with a doubled risk of obesity. And as BPA urine levels increased, so did the girls’ obesity risk – measured using their weight in reference to weight distribution in the population.
But strikingly, only girls in this age group were affected, the research showed. Neither girls outside of the 9-12 age range nor boys experienced a risk of being overweight or obese, even with high levels of BPA in their urine.
“Girls seem to be more sensitive to environmental impact, and we don’t know exactly why,” said Li, the lead study author.
Researchers do know BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical. It enters the body and mimics estrogen, the main hormone involved in female development.
When BPA acts like estrogen in young girls, it may accelerate the onset of puberty and cause weight gain – thus earning its “endocrine-disrupting” title.
“It is biologically plausible that BPA interferes with your normal hormone process – then your body gets screwed up,” said Li.
In March, a study reported a link between BPA and childhood asthma, and last year, the FDA banned BPA from all baby bottles and sippy cups.
Image: Overweight girl, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
A boy who is diagnosed during childhood with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has a greater risk of developing obesity as an adult, twice the risk of a child without ADHD, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. The findings are, at first glance, counter-intuitive because children with ADHD are known for being active–overly so. But the study identifies a number of factors that contribute to the elevated obesity risk. More from NBC News:
These findings, published in Pediatrics, may be surprising to parents because drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall used to treat ADHD can suppress appetite, said Dr. F. Xavier Castellanos, the study co-author and a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University.
“It’s not uncommon for kids treated with ADHD medications to be fairly thin,” Castellanos said. Because parents often worry that thinner boys won’t grow as tall, “sometimes [they] will encourage their boys to eat more.”
Instead, to help avert weight problems down the road, parents should be alert to poor eating habits. “If anything, you have to pay attention to how many times they’re having fast food, how many times they’re having fried food, whether they’re getting meals supersized,” Castellanos said.
The study comes at a time when ADHD rates are rising. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that ADHD is the most common mental health issue in children ages 3-17, with nearly 7 percent of kids receiving a diagnosis.
The NYU researchers followed 222 boys — 111 with ADHD and 111 without, for an average of 33 years — hoping to better understand the disorder’s effects on the brain. The boys with ADHD, all from middle-class, white families, were diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 12.
Decades later, when some of the men returned for brain scans, many of the now 40-something adults who had ADHD as children had gained so much weight they barely fit into the fMRI machine, Castellanos said.
Image: Boy eating, via Shutterstock
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