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Daily Dose

Track Your Family's Heart Health

1.00 to read

It is the end of Heart Health Month and I found a great way to help everyone with their healthy eating initiative.  Supertracker can help “plan, analyze and track” you and your family’s diet as well as physical activity.  Just go to www.choosemyplate.gov and click on SUPERTRACKER.   

As we all know, the desire to keep our families healthy is what all parents really want.  It is just sometimes overwhelming as to where to start and how to make simple changes.  This website has incorporated the original My Pyramid Tracker and My Pyramid Menu Planner as well, which were taken down in 2012. 

Go to the website and take a look at how user friendly it is!  The website has all sorts of information on nutrition as well as easy ideas for making simple changes in a recipe or ingredients to make it healthier.  This is not just about counting calories, but rather about portion control and little changes to a meal that may make a big difference. 

The site is interactive and can help parents decide what portions are age appropriate for their children based on age and activity level. Even a younger child can start to look at plates and get ideas about portion size. (Even healthy meals should have portion control). 

Since we just finished talking about healthy eating and exercise, thought this was the perfect ending or rather beginning to some lifestyle changes to keep all of us “heart healthy”.  Keep up the good work!

Your Child

Is Sleepwalking Inherited?

1:45

If you walk in your sleep, there’s a good chance that your child may do the same.

A recent Canadian study found that children of two sleepwalking parents have more than a 60 percent chance of developing the same condition.  For children of one sleepwalking parent, the odds were about 47 percent they too would be sleepwalkers.

"These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors," the Canadian study authors wrote. "Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately."

It’s not uncommon for children to walk in their sleep when they are young, but they typically stop by the time they reach adolescents.  It usually happens when someone is going from the deep stage of sleep to the lighter stage. The sleepwalker can't respond during the event and usually doesn't remember it. In some cases, he may talk and not make sense. Sleepwalking can also start later in life according to researchers.

Sleep terrors are another condition that typically affects only children. They can be very disturbing for a parent to witness. A child may scream out during sleep and is intensely fearful.

In the new study, Dr. Jacques Montplaisir, of Hospital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal, and colleagues examined connections between these conditions in parents and adults. They looked at almost 2,000 kids born in Quebec from 1997 to 1998.

The researchers found that 56 percent of the children (aged 1.5 to 13 years) had sleep terrors. Younger children were more likely to have sleep terrors, the study noted. Sleepwalking, meanwhile, affected 29 percent of kids aged 2.5 to 13 years. Sleepwalking was less common in the youngest kids, according to the study.

The odds of sleepwalking grew, depending on whether one or both parents were sleepwalkers. Only 23 percent of kids whose parents didn't sleepwalk developed the disorder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no specific treatment for sleepwalking.  Creating a safe sleep environment is critical to preventing injury during sleepwalking episodes. For example, if your child sleepwalks, don’t let him or her sleep in a bunk bed. Also, remove any sharp or breakable objects from the area near the bed, install gates on stairways, and lock the doors and windows in your home.

The study was published in the May edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

Sources: Randy Dotinga, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150504/sleepwalking-parents-likely-to-have-sleepwalking-kids

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/sleepwalking

 

 

 

Your Teen

Teens Join Parents in E-Cigarette Concerns

2:00

While much has been written about the connection between teen e-cigarette use and increased tobacco use, little has been said about teens and their views on the topic. A new U.S. poll ask teens about their opinions on whether e-cigarettes should basically have the same type of government controls as other tobacco products.

The poll found that many teens share the same health concerns about e-cigarettes that their parents do.

"We found overwhelming public support of state efforts to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.

More than 75 percent of teens aged 13 to 18 and parents believe e-cigarette use should be restricted in public areas and that the devices should carry health warnings and be taxed like regular cigarettes, according to the national survey conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. The hospital is part of the Ann Arbor-based university system.

The poll also noted that 81 percent of teens and 84 percent of parents believe that allowing minors to use e-cigarettes will encourage them to use other tobacco products.

E-cigarettes can come in candy-like flavors, sometimes enticing adolescents that may not have considered tobacco use before.  In this poll, more teens (71%) than adults (64%) believed that the candy and fruit flavored e-cigarettes should be banned.  About half of the teens and parents said that think it is too easy for minors to purchase e-cigarettes.

Fourteen percent of parents and 9 percent of teens said they have tried or currently use e-cigarettes, and 42 percent of teens said they know other teens that have used e-cigarettes.

All U.S. states except Michigan and Pennsylvania restrict e-cigarette sales to minors.

"Just as we are seeing declines in smoking of conventional cigarettes, there has been rapid growth in use of electronic cigarettes among youth. Our poll indicates that both parents and teens agree that e-cigarettes pose several concerns," Davis said.

"We found overwhelming public support of state efforts to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors," he added.

Although teens in this survey believe e-cigarettes should be regulated, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use among middle and high school students tripled between 2013 and 2014.

As e-cigarette use becomes more popular, it seems that teens and parents may be getting in sync on this topic.

"Some people may be surprised that teenagers' views are remarkably consistent with what parents think about e-cigarettes," Davis said. "The strong level of agreement between parents and teens suggests that both groups are concerned about the health hazards of e-cigarettes."

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/tobacco-and-kids-health-news-662/teens-and-parents-share-e-cigarette-concerns-survey-705275.html

Your Child

Does a Full Moon Make Kids Hyper?

1:30

There are lots of strange things associated with a full moon such as werewolves come out, it causes lunacy, blue moons are actually colored blue and a full moon makes kids more hyper than usual.

A new study actually looked at whether a full moon has any impact on children’s behavior and found that they do sleep a little less, but only by a few minutes.

The study failed to find a link between the occurrence of the full moon and kids' activity levels, debunking the myth that kids are more hyper during a full moon.

The study "provides solid evidence … that the associations between moon phases and children's sleep duration/activity behaviors are not meaningful from a public health standpoint," the researchers, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada, wrote in the March 24 issue of the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.

The idea that the moon effects people’s behavior goes back to ancient times, but studies have found no evidence that that is true.

In the new study, researchers analyzed information from more than 5,800 children, ages 9 to 11, from 12 countries around the world (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, India, Kenya, Portugal, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Unlike much of the previous research on children's sleep, the new study did not rely on parents or the kids themselves to report how much sleep the children got. Instead, the children wore accelerometers — which are devices similar to fitness trackers that record body movement and can be used to monitor sleep — 24 hours a day, for at least seven days.

Results showed that children's activity levels — including the amount of time they spent doing high- and low-intensity activity, and their sedentary time — were about the same during a full moon and new moon (the phase of the moon when it is not visible from Earth).

However, children's sleep time was about 5 minutes shorter on nights with a full moon, compared to nights with a new moon. This is about 1 percent of children's total sleep time, the study said. From a health standpoint, such a small effect "is unlikely to be important," the researchers said.

Why children got a bit less sleep on nights with a full moon wasn’t clear. One reason could be the brightness of the moon during that time.

The study was conducted over a short time and did not track the children for a full month. The finding does not prove that the full moon causes children to sleep for shorter periods, the researchers said.

Future studies are needed "to determine if the human biology is in any way synchronized with the lunar cycle," or if the full moon has a greater influence on certain groups of people, the researchers said. "Whether there is science behind the myth or not, the moon mystery will continue to fascinate civilizations in the years to come."

Story source: Rachel Rettner, http://www.livescience.com/54433-full-moon-children-sleep.html

Daily Dose

Gassy Baby? No Problem!

1:30 to read

So you are home from the hospital with your newborn baby and suddenly you realize that the babies you see on TV never cry -  but your newborn is not reading the same script.  All babies have some fussy times, and this is especially true of a newborn in the first few months of life.  While a “typical” baby cries for a total of  3-4 hours a day, there are other babies that seem to be more difficult.  

 

Besides praying for an easy baby it seems to be luck of the draw and you don’t get to pick your baby’s temperament. In many of the cases of an “irritable” infant parents point to the fact that their baby acts uncomfortable and will frequently pass gas or draw up their legs or arch their backs as if something “hurts”.   

 

Your newborn’s tummy and intestines are just as “new” as they are and early on it may be more difficult for some babies to digest breast milk or formula.  In this case pediatricians often try to make changes in a breast feeding mother’s diet (taking out dairy), or changing a formula to a lactose free formula to see if that helps a baby to be more comfortable and less fussy. There are also “elemental formulas” that may be tried for extremely fussy babies. Discuss this with your own pediatrician.

 

Little tummies do make a lot of gas (you hear those toots all of the time) and I often recommend a trial of Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops® which contain simethicone (to help break up gas bubbles). These drops are especially made for infants and do not contain any alcohol, preservatives or dyes.  You can try using the gas drops after your baby has been fed as well as at bed time. 

 

Colic is defined as crying that occurs in an infant for at least 3 hours a day, for 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks.  Colic typically “rears its angry head” after a baby is 3 -4 weeks of age.  For those irritable, colicky babies (I had one and you will know) I also like to try Little Remedies Gripe Water which is made with ginger and fennel, herbs that have been shown to help relax the  smooth muscle of the intestine.  Again, these drops do not contain any alcohol….which is very important. 

 

I also recommend swaddling and a pacifier for “non- nutritive” sucking to help calm a crying baby.  Many babies also like being on their tummies (tummy time is important developmentally as well) when they are fussy, and you can even massage their backs as well. Remember, even if tempted,  NEVER let your baby sleep on their tummy, even if you are in the room!! Backs to sleep only.

 

Babies also seem to like motion to calm them so holding your baby and rocking or swaying may help decrease crying. A walk in the stroller is sometimes another great way to get a fussy baby to settle down. Fresh air is good for both parent and child!

 

Your Baby

Spit-Cleaning Your Infant’s Binky

1.45 to read

Have you ever sucked on your baby’s pacifier to clean it? Many parents have. Babies drop their binkies all the time and if you’re in a hurry or just figure a little spit-cleaning won’t hurt, you’re more likely to stick it in your own mouth and give it a quick once over.

A new study out of Sweden says the spit-cleaning technique may actually help your infant avoid eczema and asthma.

“It was surprising that the effect was so strong,” says pediatric allergist Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study involved 136 infants who used a pacifier in their first 6 months. 65 of the infants had parents that reported sucking the pacifier to clean it. In those children, both eczema and asthma were strongly reduced when they were examined at 18 months of age. At 36 months of age, the protective effect remained for eczema but not for asthma.

Scientists didn’t know why the sucking on the baby’s pacifier acted as a protector or whether it was filtering out germs. The technique didn’t have any impact on respiratory illness, meaning that the babies were not more likely to get a cold or the flu from their parents. Common sense would dictate that if you have a cold or the flu or any other contagious condition, then it’s not a good idea to suck on your baby’s binky. Otherwise, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

Why is sucking on your infant’s pacifier possibly helpful in preventing asthma or eczema in your child? Scientists hypothesize that tiny organisms in the saliva of the parents may be why. Parent’s saliva introduces gut micoflora that live in the digestive tract of the baby. “We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema,” says Hesselmar. “When parents suck on the pacifier, they are transferring microflora to the child.”

Many pediatricians and family doctors are concerned that children are being “excessively cleaned” into illness. With anti-bacterial soaps and swipes being used on everything, and kids not allowed to get dirty, their immune system isn’t getting the workout it needs to help fight off common illnesses. The bacterial microorganisms provided in the parent’s saliva might help stimulate the baby’s immune system.

“The most exciting result was the eczema,” says Christine Johnson, chair of the public health department at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. “I’m a bit more skeptical about the asthma findings because asthma is hard to measure before a child is five or six years old.”

Hesselmar also urges moms to lick the baby’s pacifier if their child was delivered by C-section. Vaginal delivered babies receive quite a bit of microbes during delivery. C-section babies can be more prone to allergies. “If they are using a pacifier and those parents think it’s OK to suck on the pacifier, then yes, I would recommend it,” Hesselmar says.

Some parents may find the idea of picking up a pacifier that’s fallen on the floor and putting it in their mouth kind of disgusting. That’s fine, there’s no need to worry about it. If the idea doesn’t bother you, all the better says Hesselmar, “I haven’t heard of anyone getting ill from it,” he says. “There isn’t much bacteria on the floor.”

Source: Barbara Mantel, http://www.today.com/moms/why-it-may-be-ok-spit-clean-your-babys-binkie-6C9773378

Parenting

Flour with Added Folic Acid Is Reducing Birth Defects

2:00

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is known to help prevent certain types of birth defects in newborns. In January 1998, the FDA added a requirement that folic acid be added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour. These fortified foods include most enriched breads, flours, corn meals, rice, noodles, macaroni, and other grain products.

Since then, a new report shows that serious birth defects have fallen 35 percent. While that is certainly wonderful news, a 2014 study found that as many as 25 percent of American women are still not receiving even the minimum amount of recommended folic acid from either their diet or through supplements.

Women who don't get enough folic acid have an elevated risk of giving birth to a child with conditions called neural tube defects, the best known of which is spina bifida, which often causes paralysis.

Health experts began recommending that women of childbearing age take folic acid in 1992 because studies showed that taking 400 micrograms a day could reduce spina bifida and related birth defects by up to 70%.

Doctors now recommend that women who are considering having children start taking folic acid before trying to get pregnant. Since some pregnancies are not necessarily planned, many doctors recommend that women of childbearing age take a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid.

The benefits of folic acid have been researched for quite some time and since food producers began adding folic acid to grains, that simple step has prevented more than 1,300 babies a year from being born with spina bifida or related conditions, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authors of the new study found that Hispanic women are more likely to have a baby with spina bifida or a similar birth defect.

That's partly because the "masa harina" corn flour used in tortillas and other Hispanic foods isn't fortified with folic acid, the study says. The March of Dimes has petitioned the FDA to require that folic acid be added to corn flour. Adding folic acid to corn flour would prevent another 40 cases of spina bifida or related conditions each year, the report says.

"Even with fortification, there will be some women that do not get the recommended amount of folic acid every day," says Candice Burns Hoffmann, of the CDC's National Centers for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "We still have more work to do."

If you’re considering having a baby, talk to your doctor before becoming pregnant about the benefits of folic acid and how much you may need.

Sources: Liz Szabo, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/15/folic-acid-birth-defects/21784019/

http://www.spinabifidaassociation.org

Your Baby

Breastfeeding May Improve Infant’s Dental Development.

2:00

Infants that breastfeed exclusively or predominately for their first three to six months of life are less likely to develop any kind of dental misalignment later on according to a new study.

The researchers, led by Karen Peres at the University of Adelaide in Australia, tracked just over 1,300 children for five years, including how much they breast-fed at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old.

The children were also monitored for pacifier use.  About forty percent used a pacifier daily for four years.

When the children were 5, the researchers determined which of them had various types of misaligned teeth or jaw conditions, including open bite, cross bite, overbite or a moderate to severe misalignment.

The risk of overbite was one-third lower for those who exclusively breast-fed for three to six months compared to those who didn't, the findings showed. If they breast-fed at least six months or more, the risk of overbite dropped by 44 percent.

Similarly, children who exclusively breast-fed for three months to six months were 41 percent less likely to have moderate to severe misalignment of the teeth. Breast-feeding six months or longer reduced their risk by 72 percent.

The reason breastfeeding might offer protection from dental misalignments is the way it works an infant’s jaws. Breastfeeding involves coordinated tongue and jaw movements that support the normal development of teeth and facial muscles.

Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, agrees that it’s the jaw movement.

"Breast-feeding requires the use of jaw muscles more so than bottle-feeding, so the mechanics of breast-feeding stimulate muscle tone in the jaw," Fisher said.

Open bite, overbite and moderate to severe misalignment were generally less common overall among the children who mostly or exclusively breast-fed. Children who mostly breast-fed but also used pacifiers, however, were slightly more likely to have one of these misalignment issues, the study found.

"Pacifiers are used for non-nutritive sucking but when overused, they can put pressure on the developing jaw and lead to more problems in older children with malocclusion [teeth/jaw misalignment]," Fisher said.

Parents oftentimes depend on the pacifier to help babies relax and self-soothe. The key is moderation of use.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents consider using a pacifier for an infant's first six months because pacifiers are associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"Most infants need to suck for comfort or non-nutritive sucking," Fisher said. "Pacifiers can be helpful in the newborn period and even help reduce incidents of SIDS in infants who sleep with them."

Instead, parents should simply limit pacifier use, she said. In addition, pacifiers are not needed past the first six to 12 months, Fisher said, so parents can begin weaning after that time.

Like most studies, the results did not prove cause and effect, but an association.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20150615/breast-feeding-may-have-dental-benefits-study-suggests

Your Child

Kid’s Allergies Linked to Depression and Anxiety

2:00

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 percent of U.S. children suffer from allergies. It is the third most common chronic disease in kids under the age of 18.

A new study suggests that children who have allergies at an early age are more likely to have problems with anxiety and depression than those that do not.

One reason may be that children with allergies tend to keep their troubles to themselves or  “internalize” them.

“I think the surprising finding for us was that allergic rhinitis has the strongest association with abnormal anxiety/depression/internalizing scores compared to other allergic diseases,” said lead author Dr. Maya K. Nanda of the division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rhinitis is more commonly called “hay fever” and includes symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

The researchers studied 546 children who had skin tests and exams at age one, two, three, four and seven and whose parents completed behavioral assessments at age seven. They looked for signs of sneezing and itchy eyes, wheezing or skin inflammation related to allergies.

Parents answered 160 questions about their child’s behaviors and emotions, including how often they seemed worried, nervous, fearful, or sad.

Researchers found that the four-year–old children with hay fever symptoms or persistent wheezing tended to have higher depressive or anxiety scores than others at age seven.

The more allergies a child had, the higher the anxiety and depression scores.

“This study can't prove causation. It only describes a significant association between these disorders, however we have hypotheses on why these diseases are associated,” Nanda told Reuters Health by email.

Another reason for the association may be that children with allergic diseases may be at increased risk for abnormal internalizing scores due to an underlying biological mechanism, or because they modify their behavior in response to the allergies, she said.

Other studies support the idea that that a biologic mechanism involving allergy antibodies trigger production of other substances that affect the parts of the brain that control emotions.

In a 2005 study, Teodor T. Postolache, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the mood and anxiety program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that peaks of tree pollen increased with levels of suicide in women.

Postolache says allergic rhinitis is known to cause specialized cells in the nose to release cytokines, a kind of inflammatory protein. Animal and human studies alike suggest that cytokines can affect brain function, triggering sadness, malaise, poor concentration, and increased sleepiness.

The new study took race, gender and other factors into account, “so the strong association between allergic disease and internalizing disorder we found is definitely present,” Nanda said.

The severity of mental health symptoms varied in this study. Some children had anxiety and depression that needs treatment, while others were at risk and required monitoring, she said.

“We think this study calls for better screening by pediatricians, allergists, and parents of children with allergic disease,” Nanda said. “Too often in my clinic I see allergic children with clinical anxiety (or) depressive symptoms; however, they are receiving no care for these conditions.”

“We don't know how treatment for allergic diseases may effect or change the risk for internalizing disorders and we hope to study this in the future,” Nanda said.

Experts hope that if parents know that allergies may contribute to their child’s mood or behavior, they will be more likely to keep a closer eye on their child for signs of depression or anxiety and seek treatment if necessary.

The study was presented in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-kids-allergies-depression-idUSKBN0UC1TW20151230

David Freeman, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/allergies-depression

 

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