Friday, January 20th, 2012
As many as 15 percent of parents who struggle to make ends meet add water to their babies’ formula, using “formula stretching” to get more out of their infant food purchases, a new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics has found.
The study followed Cincinnati families who qualify for federal food assistance and free formula through a program called WIC. MSNBC.com reports that the assistance isn’t enough for many families:
Even though the majority of parents were receiving help through foods stamps and WIC, many did not have enough food to feed their families. In fact, some 65 percent of families ran out of WIC-supplied infant formula most months. And the result, in many cases, was that parents diluted or cut back on formula for their infants.
This kind of formula stretching may have consequences for the infants, Beck said.
“There will be a subset of children who will have what is called ‘failure to thrive,’” Beck explained. “More often, though, the ramifications of this tend to be less visible — problems with cognition and behavior. In some it may lead to obesity later in life.”
While some might point to breast feeding as a solution, not every mom is in the position to do this for her child. In some jobs it’s virtually impossible to express milk during the day when a mom is away from her baby.
“Clearly, we encourage and actively support breastfeeding,” Beck said. “The reality is that a relatively low percentage of our patients breastfeed by the time they reach us. If they do, we continue to encourage it and have a breastfeeding clinic if they need it. Although they likely wouldn’t require formula, we need to do education and a nutritional assessment for mom. Also, as the first year progresses, even fewer families continue to nurse.”
Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
CNN.com, is reporting on child poverty rates in America, which have steadily increased since the economic recession began. The past decade has seen an 18 percent increase in the number of children living in poverty. The recession brought 2.4 million children under the poverty line, and 31 million children now live in families who live below the federal poverty line of $43,512 for a family of four.
The findings come from a report by the national non-profit organization the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose National Kids Count program tracks data on child well-being across the country. From CNN:
“Kids have really been hit hard by the current crisis,” said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation, who added that there was a striking increase in the number of children and families that had never before experienced poverty.
Speer said that even as lawmakers at the state and federal level focus on budget cuts, organizations like hers do not want to see programs that help the poor, from childcare subsidies and health coverage to the Earned Income Tax Credit, slashed.
“We can’t forget about children as we make decisions in the fiscal crisis,” Speer said. “We can’t cut the programs thinking that eventually we can put money right back into them because … childhood is a very short time.”
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Hunger and malnourishment are on the rise among children in five American cities, but mostly in Boston, a new hospital study reports. The Boston Medical Center (BMC) has seen a marked increase in underweight and undernourished children, The Boston Globe reports:
Before the economy soured in 2007, 12 percent of youngsters age 3 and under whose families were randomly surveyed in the hospital’s emergency department were significantly underweight. In 2010, that percentage jumped to 18 percent, and the tide does not appear to be abating, said Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at BMC.
“Food is costing more, and dollars don’t stretch as far,’’ Sandel said. “It’s hard to maintain a diet that is healthy.’’
Pediatricians at hospitals in four other cities – Baltimore; Little Rock, Ark.; Minneapolis; and Philadelphia – also reported increases in the ranks of malnourished, hungry youngsters in their emergency rooms since 2008. But Boston’s increases were more dramatic, said Sandel, a lead investigator with Children’s HealthWatch, a network of researchers who track children’s health. Researchers said higher housing and heating costs in Massachusetts probably exacerbated the state’s surge.
The emergency room survey found a similarly striking increase in the percentage of families with children who reported they did not have enough food each month, from 18 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010.
The article reported that BMC has also noted a 58 percent increase in the past 5 years in the number of severely underweight babies referred to the hospital’s intensive infant nutrition program called The Grow Clinic. The clinic’s current patient load is similar to typical figures from developing countries.