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Your Child

Getting Into the Swing of Summer Safety

2:00

As we wave goodbye to another school year, we say hello to summer.

Today marks the first official day of summer with a special event that hasn’t occurred for nearly 70 years. Tonight there will be a rare summer solstice full moon.

What a unique opportunity to round up the kids and do a little stargazing and moon watching this evening!

Getting into the swing of summer often includes fun activities like swimming, boating, biking, camping and other outdoor activities, but it also requires more attentiveness from parents and caregivers.

The more laissez-faire days give kids a chance to relax from school routines, but can also put them at a higher risk for accidents and injuries. It’s always a good idea to brush up on your summer safety tips.

Summer means high temperatures. In certain parts of the country, temperatures can be well over a hundred degrees. That’s not likely to keep kids indoors all day, and they really shouldn’t be if they are generally healthy.

Outdoor play is good for kids, but you may need to get them out in the mornings and later in the evening when temps aren’t quite so high. Before sending kids out to play, make sure they always wear shoes to protect feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters, and wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns and harmful ultra-violet rays.

While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4 and it is the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Prevent accidents and injuries with these tips to ensure your family’s safety:

Pool Safety:

•       Teach children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.

•       Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.

•       Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above ground pools.

•       Never leave a child unattended in or near water.

•       Make sure your child knows how to swim, starting at a young age.

•       Teach children to stay away from drains.

•       Make sure any pool or spa you’re child gets in has a safety compliant drain cover. Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain can even trap an adult.

•       Know how to perform CPR on a child and an adult. Often, bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CPR can help save a life.  CPR classes are available through many hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross.

•       Keep a cell phone nearby in case of an emergency, but don’t let it distract you from overseeing the children.

•       Know your child’s limits. Watch out for the "too's" — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.

•       Watch for kids diving above other kids. Make sure the area is clear when a child dives from a diving board.

•       Keep an eye on the weather. Make sure kids are out of the pool or lake if bad weather approaches. Take the fun inside till it’s clear.

•       Make sure that the water is clean – polluted water can make a child very sick.

Boating and water skiing safety:

Boating and water skiing can be great fun, but requires a lot of supervision.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 71 percent of all boating fatalities are caused from drowning, 85 percent of which are a result of not wearing a life jacket. Here is what you can do to enjoy the water safely:

•       Always have children wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.

•       Educate yourself. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.

•       Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.

•       Never consume alcohol when out on the waters with your child. Impaired judgment is often the cause of the most critical accidents and injuries.

Lawn Mower safety:

While not considered a typical summer “fun” activity, many severe accidents occur to small children riding on lawn mowers with a parent or grandparent.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental amputations. The Academy cautions that the speed of a typical lawn mower blade can send dirt and bacteria deep into a wound, creating a high risk for severe infection. To avoid accidents involving lawn mowers, keep these tips in mind:

•       Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when it is not in use. They should never be permitted to walk beside, in front of or behind a moving mower.

•       Children under 6 years of age should be kept inside the home while mowing.

•       Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower and at least 16 years of age before operating a riding lawn mower.

Fire and fireworks safety:

Summer often involves grilling, campfires and fireworks. All of these activities are standard fair for a lot of families. A few simple safety tips can help prevent injuries.

•       Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.

•       Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby whenever there is a burning fire.

•       Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.

•       Never let children ignite fireworks or play alone with them. Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can burn users and bystanders.

•       Attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.

These tips cover a few of the most common summer activities. We’ll continue with more summer safety tips in future articles. Welcome to summer fun and don’t forget to catch that awesome full moon tonight!

Story sources: http://dbqkidsguide.com/get-into-the-swing-of-summer-safety/

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Parenting

Is Your Child Becoming an Emotional Eater?

2:00

You may be tempted to appease your child with food after a fall or tears for short-term relief, but this could actually set your child up for long-term unhealthy eating patterns.

What happens is that children begin to identify eating with self-comforting or relieving boredom instead of nutrition or eating when they’re actually hungry.

Almost all children, teens, and adults may engage in emotional eating at one time or another.

Hunger associated with emotional eating comes on quickly and feels urgent. It's often triggered by a specific event or mood. It's not like typical physical hunger, which gradually builds and is a result of an empty stomach. Physical hunger can be satisfied by a number of different foods, but cravings usually involve particular foods. Examples might be ice cream or candy after a fight with a friend or a tough day at school.

Why is emotional eating unhealthy? Emotional eating isn’t really about hunger or nutrition; it’s about filling an emotional need. It can lead to overeating and over time, lead to extra weight gain or obesity. It also sets up a pattern of handling uncomfortable situations by eating instead of by learning how to solve social and psychological problems.

There are lots of reasons kids may seek out food for comfort such as:

  • Anger
  • Boredom
  • Change
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Resentment
  • Stress

Even positive emotions such as excitement and happiness can result in emotional eating once it becomes a go-to as a reward. 

If you notice signs of emotional eating in your child, talk to him or her about your concerns. Be gentle. Stay positive. Helping your child might be as simple as having a warm and loving conversation.

Help your child develop a healthy response to his or her problems, such as focusing on solutions. Encourage your child to talk about the emotions that trigger his or her emotional eating. Brainstorm other ways to deal with those emotions. For example, your child could exercise or become involved in sports when he or she feels stressed out, or call a friend when he or she is bored.

Emotional eating can be learned, so your influence as a parent or primary caregiver is one key to prevention. Be sure to model healthy eating habits for your child. Also, avoid using food to celebrate occasions or to reward your child for good behavior. Instead, use verbal praise and give other types of rewards (for example, stickers for a young child or a fun activity with an older child).

There are signs you can look for in children to let you know if your child is an emotional eater. They are:

  • Eating in response to emotions or situations, not to satisfy hunger
  • Feeling an urgent need to eat
  • Craving a specific food or type of food
  • Eating a larger amount of food than usual
  • Eating at unusual times of day (for example, late at night)
  • Gaining excess weight
  • Feeling embarrassed or guilty about eating
  • "Sneaking" food during high-stress times
  • Hiding empty containers of food

A recent study from Norway found that kids offered food for comfort at ages 4 and 6 displayed more emotional eating at ages 8 and 10.

Also, the researchers found signs that kids who felt more easily comforted by food were fed more by parents for that purpose.

Emotional eating typically starts early in life but can really begin at any age; it seems like an easy fix for anxiety at the time, but can lead to health problems if not brought under control.

Story source: https://familydoctor.org/emotional-eating-in-children-and-teens/

Your Child

School Kids Benefit From Mindfulness Programs

2:00

Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. A new study says that adding a mindfulness based stress reduction program to middle schools may help reduce kid’s stress and trauma.  

"High-quality structured mindfulness programs have the potential to really improve students' lives in ways that I think can be really meaningful over the life course," said lead author Dr. Erica Sibinga of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Children in many U.S. cities are at an increased risk of stresses and traumas due to the effects of community drug use, violence, multigenerational poverty, limited education and economic opportunities, Sibinga and her colleagues write in the journal Pediatrics.

 The study involved 300 students, in grades five through eight, at two Baltimore public schools. Children were randomly selected for either a twelve - week mindfulness based stress reduction program or health classes to take during the school day.

Nearly all the students were from low-income families and African-American.

The mindfulness program contained material about meditation, yoga and the mind, body connection; practice of those techniques; and group discussion.

The program helped the children be aware of their response to what was happening to them at the time.

"It allows them to not only know what is happening, but to stop and take three breaths and figure out how they want to respond to what is happening the present moment," Sibinga told Reuters Health.

By the end of the program, children in the mindfulness program had lower levels of general health problems, depression, recurrent thoughts about negative experiences and other symptoms of stress and trauma compared to the children enrolled in the health classes only.

Sibinga said the differences would be enough for the students to notice in their day-to-day lives.

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to the research, like children missing some classes and possibly being exposed to mindfulness practices outside the sessions.

While Sibinga acknowledged that she couldn’t say if the program would have the same results in other student populations, she suspected there would be benefits.

The next step is to look at how to spread the program to other schools, and look at how the program may work, she said.

"It doesn’t get us off the hook of trying to reduce the sources of trauma in our urban life," she said. But the study suggests adding structured mindfulness programs in urban settings would be beneficial, she added.

Some private schools in the U.S. have already implemented mindfulness classes in their school programs and have reported positive effects such as fewer behavioral problems and an increased ability to focus during class on school work.

Sources: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-mindfulness-stress-school-idUSKBN0U12MY20151218

 

Your Child

Physical Activity Improves Kids Brain Power!

1:30

Kids who enjoy lots of physical activity are doing more than just having fun; they’re improving their brain structure, brain function and academic prowess according to new consensus statement published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

A group of 24 researchers from the United States, Canada and Europe examined the latest scientific and medical research on the benefits of exercise in kids, ages 6 to 18 years old.

Experts from a variety of disciplines evaluated the values of all kinds of exercise, including recess, physical education classes, youth sports leagues and old-fashioned outdoor play.

The researchers noted that:

•       Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children's and young people's brain development and function as well as their intellect

•       A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess

•       A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance

•       Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance

•       Time taken away from lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades

In terms of the physiological benefits of exercise, the Statement says that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness "are strong predictors" of the risk of developing heart disease and type2 diabetes in later life, and that vigorous exercise in childhood helps to keep these risk factors in check.

Even low intensity exercise will help improve kids’ heart health and their metabolism.

But the positive effects of exercise are not restricted to physical health, says the Statement. Regular physical activity can help develop important life skills, and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing. And it may play a role in strengthening /fostering relationships with peers, parents, and coaches.

Just as importantly, activities that take account of culture and context can promote social inclusion for those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation, skill levels and physical capacity.

Incorporating physical activity into every aspect of school life and providing protected public spaces, such as bike lanes, parks and playgrounds "are both effective strategies for providing equitable access to, and enhancing physical activity for, children and youth," says the Statement.

For many kids right now, summer vacation is in full gear. With longer daylight hours and relaxed schedules, opportunities for more adventurous types of exercise are numerous. Swimming, hiking, biking, camping, water skiing, sports – you name it – all add to the overall mental and physical health of our children. Now’s a good time to start and stay active!

Story source: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-06-physical-boosts-kids-brain-power.html

Parenting

Winter at Home: Managing Dry Indoor Heat

1:45

Once winter starts settling in, the home furnaces are cranked on, followed by itchy skin, upset sinuses and cracked lips. What fun.

It’s also when the home is sealed tight, trying to prevent heat loss.

While some areas of the country are still experiencing warmer weather, many are feeling the effects of old man winter.

Dry winter air leeches moisture, leaving your family’s skin as dry and cracked as a salt flat and sinuses as parched as the Sahara in summer. Adults and kids may wake up with a bit of a bloody nose as well.

You also start noticing static electricity while brushing your hair or petting the family pet.  Clothes start acting funny as well, sticking to you like saran wrap. It’s literally shocking.

Here are a few tips to help you combat dry indoor air, preserve the moisture in your family’s skin and nasal passages, and avoid pet-induced static shocks this winter.

In the winter, the cold air that seeps into your home from the outside has a lower humidity -- meaning that it carries very little moisture. You crank up the heat inside your house, which adds warmth but doesn't increase the amount of moisture in the air.

Because wintertime humidity is so low, what little moisture that is around is quickly sucked up into the air. Moisture also evaporates from your body, leaving your skin, nose, and throat parched.

One way to combat all this dry air is using a humidifier. Running a humidifier in your home will add moisture to dry, heated air. The moist air will help keep your skin, mouth,  and nose lubricated, and helps prevent those nasty static shocks. Your goal is to aim for a comfortable home humidity level of between 30% and 50%. Don't crank up the humidifier higher than that, though, or you could develop another problem – mold, fungi, dust mites,  and other tiny critters. Make sure to keep your humidifier clean so that it doesn't send dust and germs spewing into your house.

Sinuses often take a beating during the winter. Cold, dry air pulls moisture from your mouth, and nose, leaving your nasal passages dried out and your throat dry. Dry nostrils are more likely to crack and give you a nosebleed.

Why do kids and adults get sick more often during the winter months? Because your nose needs gooey mucus to trap viruses and other icky invaders before they can get you sick, dry nostrils can also make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu. That's especially a problem in winter, when bacteria and viruses can tend to linger longer in the dry air after someone coughs or sneezes.

When you turn up the thermostat in your home, your heating system kicks up clouds of dust, pollen, and other allergens that can inflame your sinuses. Cold, dry air plus those allergens can also irritate your airways. For some kids with asthma, cold and dry air can lead to a narrowing of breathing passages and trigger an attack.

One way to help add moisture back is by keeping hydrated. Keep your skin and mouth moist by drinking water throughout the day. Don’t like water? Try putting in a little tea or juice to add flavor. It’s a little easier to drink more water in the summer, because …well… you’re sweating more, triggering a thirst attack. It takes a little more effort in the winter to keep hydrated but the pay-off is just as valuable.

You may also find yours or little ones fingers developing cracks and dealing with dry itchy skin in the winter because cold air sucks out the skin’s moisture. While it’s tempting, taking hot showers can worsen dry, itchy skin by removing the natural layer of oil that preserves and protects the skin's moisture. Something we seem to have plenty of in the summer.

To help your skin out, shorten your shower time. Make sure that your child’s bath water or shower is warm, but not hot and he or she is using a gentle soap. Fifteen minutes should be the maximum time spent in the shower and even shorter if you’re clean sooner.

Alas, don’t forget to put a moisturizer on your child or have some available for your older kids. A thick oil-based moisturizer is best. The oil in the product will lock moisture into the skin and keep it from drying out. Moisturizers come in different forms, but ointments will provide the most protection for dry skin.  Make sure to apply moisturizing sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 to exposed skin before going outside. Also apply a lip balm or petroleum jelly to protect against chapped lips. Help keep the nasal passageways moist by using saltwater (saline) drops or rubbing a little petroleum jelly into each nostril gently with a cotton swab.

There are some advantages to winter – you can dress in layers (you can only take so much off in the summer), walking is easier than when you’re dripping sweat and snow covered trees have a certain mystique and beauty to them. Other than that, winter is pretty brutal to our skin and nasal passages- but we can fight back by keeping hydrated, using creams to soften our skin and adding more moisture to the air while we hunker down; cozy and warm with our family indoors.

Story source: Lisa Bernstein, MD, http://www.webmd.com/women/home-health-and-safety-9/dry-indoor-air?page=2

Your Child

Study: Bedtime Routine Offers Kids Many Benefits

1:45

If your child doesn’t have a nightly bedtime routine, he or she is missing out on a tremendous amount of health and behavioral benefits according to a new study. And you’re not alone.

A multinational study consisting of over 10,000 mothers from 14 counties reported that less than 50 percent of their infants, toddlers and preschoolers had a regular bedtime routine every night.

Researchers determined that the participant’s children who did have a regular bedtime routine benefitted on many levels. The study found that children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night waking, and increased sleep duration. Children with a bedtime routine every night slept for an average of more than an hour longer per night than children who never had a bedtime routine. Institution of a regular bedtime routine also was associated with decreased sleep problems and daytime behavior problems, as perceived by mothers.


“Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do,” said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, positive bedtime routines involve the institution of a set sequence of pleasurable and calming activities preceding a child’s bedtime. The goal is to establish a behavioral chain leading up to sleep onset. Activities may include giving your child a soothing bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.

“It’s important that parents create a consistent sleep schedule, relaxing bedtime routine and soothing sleep environment to help their child achieve healthy sleep,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.


Researchers found that consistency was an important factor in helping children sleep well

“For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep,” said Mindell. “It’s like other healthy practices:  Doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best.”

Mothers participated in the study by completing a validated, online questionnaire that included specific questions about their child’s daytime and nighttime sleep patterns, bedtime routines and behavior. The questionnaire was translated into each language and back-translated to check for accuracy.

“The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal,” said Mindell.  “It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of a young child in the United States, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference.”

Sleep deprivation is becoming an all too common problem with today’s children and adults. The earlier a good sleep routine can be established and practiced, the better for a child in the long run.

Study results are published in the May issue of the journal Sleep.

Source: http://www.healthcanal.com/disorders-conditions/sleep/63298-study-shows-that-children-sleep-better-when-they-have-a-nightly-bedtime-routine.html

Your Baby

FDA Recommends Limits on Arsenic in Rice Baby Food

1:45

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday proposed new limits for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal, an effort to reduce the leading source of arsenic exposure for babies.

The draft guidance to industry would cap the inorganic arsenic at 100 parts per billion, a level that most infant rice cereals already meet, or are close to meeting, the agency said.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is less toxic. But inorganic arsenic may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period of time. Rice is thought to have arsenic in higher levels than most other foods because it is grown in water on the ground, optimal conditions for the contaminant to be absorbed.

Babies' consumption of rice, which is primarily through rice cereal, is about three times greater than that of adults, according to the FDA. Most people consume the highest amount of rice, relative to their weights, at about 8 months of age.

The proposed limit is based on testing of rice and non-rice products, as well as a 2016 FDA risk assessment on the association between exposure to inorganic arsenic and adverse pregnancy outcomes and neurological effects in early life.

The agency said that inorganic arsenic exposure can result in a child's decreased performance on certain developmental tests.

The agency tested 76 samples of infant rice cereal from retail stores and found that nearly half met the agency's proposed limit of 100 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic. More than three-quarters of the samples had levels at or below 110 parts per billion.

The agency advised parents to feed their babies iron-fortified cereals; they can include oat, barley and other grains. It also urged pregnant women to consume a variety of foods, including grains, such as wheat, oats and barley. The FDA also noted that cooking rice in excess water - six to 10 parts water to one part rice - can reduce a significant part of the inorganic arsenic.

Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, said that Consumer Reports was pleased by the FDA's proposal, which he said was close to the level proposed by the group three years ago. But he said the organization remains concerned that other rice-based products consumed by children and adults don't have any such standards. "This is particularly true of children's ready-to-eat cereals," he said, urging the FDA to set levels for these other products.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed limits for 90 days.

Story source: Laurie McGinley, http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-infant-rice-cereal-inorganic-arsenic-20160402-story.html

 

Your Child

Are Hand Sanitizers Are Making Kids Sick?

2:00

Hand sanitizer is available just about everywhere you go, especially during the flu and cold season.  I’ve used it myself to wipe down grocery cart handles and while visiting friends and family members in the hospital. Schools have also become very conscientious about spreading germs and many have sanitizer dispensers in classrooms and halls. Lots of families make sure that sanitizers are available in the home to help keep bacteria and viruses at bay.

While gel hand sanitizers are convenient, they are also contributing to a rise in kids getting sick after ingesting the products, according to a new government report.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers tracked illnesses from 2011 to 2014 for children aged 12 and under. The investigators believe some kids in the higher age range may be drinking sanitizers because of the products' high alcohol content.

"Older children [aged 6-12 years] were more likely to report intentional ingestion and to have adverse health effects and worse outcomes than were younger children, suggesting that older children might be deliberately misusing or abusing alcohol hand sanitizers," wrote the team led by Dr. Cynthia Santos, of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.

Typical hand sanitizers contain 60 to 90 percent ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, as well as scents that children might find appealing.

"Recent reports have identified serious consequences" with ingesting hand sanitizers, the CDC team said. These include breathing difficulties, excessive acid buildup in tissues, and even coma.

So, what’s going on with kids and hand sanitizers? The researchers said that answer might depend on the age of the child. Most of these exposures may have been accidental, with 91 percent occurring in kids, aged 5 and under. But about 6,200 incidents affected kids aged 6 to 12, and these have a much higher odds of being intentional ingestions, the research showed.

Santos noted that ingestion of alcohol sanitizers was also associated with worse symptoms in kids.

While vomiting and eye irritation were the most common symptoms, much more serious events were also recorded, including five cases of coma and three cases involving seizures, Santos' group said.

What’s influencing this change? According to the CDC team, in recent years many schools have installed gel hand sanitizer dispensers, or requested that children bring their own hand sanitizer gels to school.

Santos' group pointed to "a study examining Texas poison center data from 2000 to 2011 [that] found that, among 385 adolescents who ingested hand sanitizer, 35 percent of ingestions occurred at school.

The CDC team noted that "hand washing with soap and water is the recommended method of hand hygiene in non-health care settings" such as the home and school. Hand washing is a safe, effective germ-killer, they said, without the risks to children that can come with hand sanitizers.

If hand sanitizers must be used, the researchers said adult supervision and proper storage -- away from children's reach when not in use -- could help lower poisoning risks.

Hand sanitizers play a role in making sure that germs aren’t spread or for a quick cleanup when water and soap aren’t available, but as with most chemicals, they need to be kept out of the mouths of young children. Older kids may not understand the dangers of ingesting products with alcohol listed as an ingredient. What may seem like a lark could put them in a coma. A discussion about drinking alcohol and the facts about the different types of alcohol – such as ethanol or isopropyl alcohol – may save them from a trip to the ER.

The report was published in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality.

Story source: E.J. Mundell, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/poisons-health-news-537/rising-number-of-kids-ill-from-drinking-hand-sanitizers-cdc-720300.html

 

 

Your Child

Sweet Potatoes May Help Prevent Diarrhea in Children

1:45

Orange sweet potatoes get high approval ratings from many pediatricians and family doctors because they offer a lot of health benefits and they taste good, so kids are more likely to eat them.

Recent research suggests they may also be helpful in reducing the cases of diarrhea in some young children by more than 50 percent.

Erick Boy, head of nutrition at HarvestPlus, said that the body converts the beta-carotene in the sweet potatoes to vitamin A the same day the food is eaten. That vitamin A is then used in the outer lining of the human gut, forming a barrier against different types of bacteria. Boy further explained that the gut uses surplus vitamin A from time to time to replace worn-out cells with healthy ones.

The researchers claimed that if a child below age 5 has consumed orange sweet potatoes in the past week, then the chances were 42 percent less that child would suffer from diarrhea. In children below age 3, the likelihood of developing the condition reduced by 52 percent.

Regular consumption of orange sweet potatoes also helps decrease the duration of diarrhea, the researchers claimed. The team observed that the duration was reduced by 10 percent among 5-year-olds and 25 percent in 3-year-olds.

This could be extremely helpful in countries like Africa, where 40 percent of the children are vitamin A deficient. This increases their risk of diseases such as diarrhea, which is one of the leading causes of mortality in children, taking more than 350,000 lives of children under five in Africa every year.

Vitamin A deficiency is rare n America, however, diarrhea in U.S. children is fairly common; typically related to viral infections or tainted food sources.

Sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and can be baked as fries or tater-tots, veggie muffins, made into soup, and mashed like regular potatoes. Many kids like their orange color and sweet taste. Besides being high in vitamin A, they contain vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin and are high in carotenoids. They are lower in calories than white potatoes – but a little higher in sugar.

For as sweet as they are, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index (which means they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream).

The study was published in the journal World Development.

Sources: Guneet Bhatia,  http://www.universityherald.com/articles/20051/20150615/sweet-potatoes-may-reduce-diarrhea-in-children.htm#ixzz3djHgM93e

 

 

 

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

No tech summer: enjoy the outdoors!

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