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Parenting

Any Benefits From Eating Your Own Placenta?

2:00

Here’s a medical study I never thought I’d read –“Are there health benefits associated with eating your own placenta after giving birth”?

Well…no, according to a research team from Northwestern University in Chicago. In fact, there may be a few health risks associated with ingesting placenta.

As I read the study’s findings, I began to wonder; who thought this was a good idea in the first place?

It turns out that throughout history there have been some cultures in which women ate the placenta after giving birth. It’s called placentophagy.

Some animals are known to also eat their afterbirth.

Apparently its’ also become the thing among a few celebrity mothers. While some believe that fresh placenta provides the most benefits, others elect to make a smoothie or have it dried, processed and made into pills.

However, the question still remains – is there any real benefit from eating placenta whether it’s raw, processed, made into a smoothie or pill, grilled or baked?

Scientists from Northwestern University pored over accumulated research that has been done on the topic.  The bottom line is that they could not find any evidence that there are any health benefits to placentophagy and that there may be unknown risks to mothers and their infants.

"Our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants," study lead author and psychologist Cynthia Coyle said in a Northwestern news release.

In the study, Coyle's team reviewed data from 10 published studies. They found no data to support that eating the placenta -- either raw, cooked or in pill form -- protects against postpartum depression, reduces pain after childbirth, increases a woman's energy, helps with lactation, improves mother-child bonding, replenishes iron in the body, or improves skin elasticity. All touted as reasons many of the celebrity moms chose to give it a try.

The researchers also said that there are no studies examining the risks associated with eating the placenta, which acts as a filter to absorb and protect fetuses from toxins and pollutants.

Coyle noted that "there are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and the dosing is inconsistent. Women really don't know what they are ingesting."

If placentophagy appeals to you, be sure and check with your hospital or birthing center first. Many hospitals dispose of the placenta as bio-hazardous waste along with the other medical waste that occurs during birth (needles, blood, gloves etc.). You’ll most likely have to make arrangements ahead of time or find a more accommodating provider.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20150604/new-moms-gain-no-benefit-from-eating-placenta-studies-show

Your Child

Study: Exercise, Once Again, Improves Kid’s Learning Skills

2:00

While the debate on whether to bring back recess to school curriculums continues across the U.S., a small study from the Netherlands once again shows that adding exercise to a child’s school day can improve their learning skills.

Researchers worked with 500 children in second and third grade, giving half of them traditional lessons while the rest received instruction supplemented with physical activity designed to reinforce math and language lessons.

The approach was a creative and unique way to helping children better comprehend math and spelling.  Instead of taking a recess break – exercise was actually incorporated into the lesson.

After two years, children who got the physically active lessons had significantly higher scores in math and spelling than their peers who didn't exercise during class.

"Previous research showed effects of recess and physical activity breaks," said lead study author Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma, of the University of Gronigen in The Netherlands.

"However, we think that the integration of physical activity into academic lessons will result in bigger effects on academic achievement," Mullender-Wijnsma added in an email to Reuters Heath.

Mullender-Wijnsma and colleagues developed a curriculum that matched typical lessons in academic subject matter but added physical activity as part of instruction. They tested it in 12 elementary schools.

Here’s how it worked.

Lessons involved constant practice and repetition reinforced by body movements. For example, children jumped in place eight times to solve the multiplication problem 2 x 4.

Children in the exercise group received 22 weeks of instruction three times a week during two school years. These lessons were up to 30 minutes long, and evenly split between math and spelling instruction.

During the first year of the study, there wasn’t a great deal of difference found between the students receiving exercise during the class and those that didn’t, when speed was the focus in the math tests.

However, after two years, children who received exercise-based instruction had significantly higher scores on the math speed exams than students who didn't. The difference over two years equated to more than four months of additional learning for the students who had physically active lessons.

When the focus was on lesson comprehension, students receiving exercise outperformed students who did not receive the exercise instruction in both the first and second year. Again, the progress amounted to about four more months of learning.

For spelling, there wasn't a significant difference between the student groups after one year. But by the end of the second year they did have significantly better test scores, once again, adding an additional four more months of learning.

For reading, there wasn’t much difference between the two groups. It's possible that physical activities may be more beneficial to learning that involves repetition, memorization and practice of lessons from previous classes, the researchers conclude.

Researchers did point out that there were limitations that could have impacted the results of the study during the first year. The exercise group received specially trained teachers and individual schools administered the tests.

The research team did not examine why exercise might have helped students do better during tests.

 Sara Benjamin Neelon, of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues write in an accompanying editorial that it’s not clear whether these types of classes would work in countries where the population is larger, more diverse and students come from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

"However, the take-home message for parents and teachers is that physically active lessons may be a novel way to increase physical activity and improve academic performance – at the same time," Benjamin Neelon said by email.

More and more studies show that exercise appears to help the brain function better in children and adults. Whether all U.S. school administrations will see adding recess or exercise back into school curriculums is anybody’s guess, but according to science – it sure couldn’t hurt and might even help students develop stronger learning skills.

The study was published in the online journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-children-fitness-learning-idUSKCN0VX26V

Your Baby

Chubby Baby = Obese Child?

2.00 to read

“Look at those cute little rolls of fat and chubby cheeks.” “It’s just baby-fat, he’ll grow out of it.” Common comments when people see a chubby baby. But, what was once thought of as a well-fed and healthy infant might prove to be just the opposite.

Researchers say they’ve found a way to determine if a rapid growing baby will become obese later in life. A new study says that if your baby has passed two key milestones, on a doctor’s growth chart by the age of two, then he or she has double the risk of being obese by the age of 5.  Rapid growers were also more likely to be obese at age 10, and infants whose chart numbers climbed that much during their first 6 months faced the greatest risks.

Children who grew more slowly were less likely to be obese by the same age.

That kind of rapid growth should be a red flag to doctors, and a sign to parents that babies might be overfed or spending too much time in strollers and not enough crawling around, said pediatrician Dr. Elsie Taveras, the study's lead author and an obesity researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Contrary to the idea that chubby babies are the picture of health, the study bolsters evidence that "bigger is not better" in infants, she said.

In an online article on healthland.time.com Dr. Michelle Lampl, director of Emory University's Center for the Study of Human Health, expressed concerns.

“It’s a bad idea that could backfire in the long run,” said Lampl.

"It reads like a very handy rule and sounds like it would be very useful _ and that's my concern," Lampl said. The guide would be easy to use to justify feeding infants less and to unfairly label them as fat. It could also prompt feeding patterns that could lead to obesity later, she said.

Lampl noted that many infants studied crossed at least two key points on growth charts; yet only 12 percent were obese at age 5 and slightly more at age 10. Nationally, about 10 percent of preschool-aged children are obese, versus about 19 percent of those aged 6 to 11.

Taveras said the rapid growth shown in the study should be used to raise awareness and not to put babies on a diet.

The study involved 45,000 infants and children younger than age 11 who had routine growth measurements during doctor checkups in the Boston area from 1980 through 2008.

Growth charts help pediatricians plot weight, length in babies and height in older kids in relation to other children their same age and sex. Pediatricians sometimes combine an infant's measures to calculate weight-for-length _ the equivalent of body-mass index, or BMI, a height-to-weight ratio used in older children and adults.

The charts are organized into percentiles. For example, infants at the 75th percentile for weight are heavier than 75 percent of their peers.

An infant whose weight-for-length jumped from the 19th percentile at 1 month to the 77th at 6 months crossed three major percentiles _ the 25th, 50th and 75th _ and would be at risk for obesity later in childhood, the authors said.

Larger infants were most at risk for obesity later on, but even smaller babies whose growth crossed at least two percentiles were at greater risk than those who grew more slowly.

About 40 percent of infants crossed at least two percentiles by age 6 months. An analysis of more than one-third of the study children found that 64 percent grew that rapidly by age 2.

Dr. Joanna Lewis, a pediatrician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., said she supports the idea that infancy is not too young to start thinking about obesity.

Still, she emphasized that rapid growth in infancy doesn't mean babies are doomed to become obese. "It's not a life sentence," and there are steps parents can take to keep their babies at a healthy weight without restrictive diets, she said.

Lewis said many of her patients are large babies whose parents feed them juice or solid food despite guidelines recommending nothing but breast milk or formula in the first six months.

"The study reinforces what we try to tell parents already: Delay starting solids and don't put juice in a bottle," Lewis said.

Daily Dose

Can Probiotics Boost Immunity?

I have had some travel time in the car so that gave me an opportunity to catch up on my journal reading. I found an interesting article from Pediatrics, August 2009.I have had some travel time in the car so that gave me an opportunity to catch up on my journal reading. I found an interesting article from Pediatrics, August 2009.

This article seemed very timely given that we are into an early flu season with H1N1 already being prevalent throughout most of the country and more colds and influenza on the way this winter. This study was done in China and looked at 326 healthy children ages, three to five years old who were in a childcare center. This was a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind study in which there were three groups of children. The first group received probiotics as lactobacillus acidophilus alone, another group received lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifodbacterium, while the third group received placebo. All of these were given as a powder mixed with four ounces of milk, twice daily (So they were getting dairy too). Surprisingly, significantly fewer children in the two probiotic groups than in the placebo group had episodes of fever, cough and runny nose, as reported by both parents and day care providers.  In addition, significantly fewer children in the probiotic groups received antibiotics. The three groups did have similar numbers of physicians visits, but mean days absent from day care were significantly lower in the probiotic group than in the placebo group. There were no notable adverse effects noted in the children taking the probiotic mixtures. Now, the mechanism as to how the probiotics worked is not clear, but probiotics are being studied for their general immune enhancing effects. At the very least this is an interesting study, and hopefully there will be more studies done to see if these results can be duplicated in other trials in the U.S. With that being said, I am going to start reading some more about probiotics and also buying a few probiotics to take this winter. I can’t see that prophylactic probiotics to prevent cold and flu symptoms can hurt, and along with good hand washing and my flu vaccine I hope to stay healthy this winter. More to come about probiotics as more studies are released, I am happy to be a volunteer! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Baby

Preventing Peanut Allergies with Peanuts

1:45

As the number of U.S. children with peanut allergies continues to grow, researchers are looking for ways to help these youngsters overcome or manage their allergy better.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now endorsing a recommendation that infants at high risk of peanut allergies be given foods containing peanuts before their first birthday.

How can you tell if your infant might be at risk for developing a peanut allergy?  Children are considered at high risk if they've had a previous allergic reaction to eggs or experienced a severe eczema skin rash. Allergy tests are recommended before exposing at-risk infants to peanut-containing foods.

An earlier published allergy study found that exposure to peanuts in infancy seemed to help build tolerance -- contrary to conventional thinking that peanuts should be avoided until children are older.

Here’s how the study was conducted.  Researchers in Britain followed 640 babies, 4 months to 11 months old, who were considered at high risk of developing peanut allergies. One group avoided peanuts; the others ate a small amount of peanut protein or peanut butter every week. After five years, the group that ate peanut products had 81 percent fewer peanut allergies than the group that didn't.

"There is now scientific evidence," the AAP says, "that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of 'high-risk' infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age) in countries where peanut allergy is prevalent because delaying the introduction of peanut can be associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy."

The advice comes in a consensus statement that the American Academy of Pediatrics helped prepare and endorsed in June along with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and major allergy groups from Canada, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. The recommendations are meant to serve as interim guidance until more extensive guidelines can be prepared for release next year, the consensus statement said.

While getting the exact percentage of children with peanut allergies is difficult, peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that four out of ten children suffer from a food allergy. It also notes that hospitalizations resulting from severe attacks have been increasing.

Severe cases can cause an allergic child to experience anaphylactic shock, a potentially life-threatening reaction that disrupts breathing and causes a precipitous drop in blood pressure.

Parents who are interested in the idea of treating peanut allergies with peanuts should not attempt to do this themselves. Children, particularly infants, should only be treated under the care of their pediatrician or pediatric allergist.

The AAP’s recommendation on treating peanut allergies with small doses of peanut protein will be published in the August 31 edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-advice-for-parents-on-peanut-allergies/

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db10.htm

Daily Dose

Kids & Cellphones

1:30 to read

There is a new study out from the National Toxicology Program in which rats were exposed to radio frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years beginning in utero.  They compared these rats to those that were not exposed and interestingly some of the male rats developed tumors in their hearts and brains and the controls did not.

I am writing about this as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age and for not having a home phone. While it is too early to say if this study has any bearing on humans and obviously the exposure was heavier than normal, this may serve as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age. It may also help to bring “land lines” back into the home. 

Call me old school, but I continue to believe and counsel patients, having a home phone is still important.  Without a home phone how can you call your child when you are away and they may be home with a babysitter….and not depend on the caregivers cell phone?  I also think that some children may be ready to stay at home for 30 min to an hour at a time while their parents go to the store, or pick up a sibling from school etc. before they are ready for a cell phone. By having a home phone the child has a means of contacting their parents, neighbors or emergency personnel and don’t risk losing a cell phone or any of the other numerous issues associated with owning a cell phone.

A home phone also gives children an opportunity to learn how to answer a phone and begin “screening” phone calls for the family and to learn phone etiquette….which is not always taught when parents are answering the cell and handing it off to their child.  What about the days when we were taught to say “Hello, Hubbard residence” when answering the phone?  Or having your mother sit by your side while you called a friend’s house and started off the conversation with, “may I please speak to…Sally?”. Phone etiquette was such an important part of every child’s life.

Once your child does have a cell phone it also seems that they may spend more time isolated from the family when on the phone….and may spend longer amounts of time on the phone than when the phone was in the family kitchen. Even my grown children often go outside to take their cell phone call….wonder what they are talking about, me?  I digress….

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that parents should limit the use of cell phones by children and teens. A cell phone is not a toy and emits radiation.  Keeping this source of radiation away from our children for as long as possible seems prudent while more research continues…and this study just gives parents a bit more ammunition when their 6 year old starts off with, “everyone else has a cell phone…when can I have one?”.  

 

Your Child

Low Pollen Levels Can Trigger Asthma

2.00 to read

Asthma in children has been on the increase since the 80s and the current estimated number of American children with asthma is between 6 and 9 million. It is the leading cause of chronic illness in kids under 18 years old. If your child is sensitive to pollen, a new study suggests that even low levels can increase the chances of an asthma attack. . 

Yale and Brown University researchers tracked more than 400 children with asthma, as well as the daily pollen levels near each child's home, over the course of five years. Researchers found that there was a 37% increase in respiratory symptoms in children who were sensitive to pollen- even though pollen levels were very low- and they were taking daily medications to control their asthma.

“In some respects, it's common sense that if a child is asthmatic and allergic to pollen, when they're exposed to pollen, they would bear some risk of asthmatic symptoms," said lead author Curt DellaValle, of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

"The biggest thing, though, is seeing these effects even with the lowest levels of pollen," he told Reuters Health. "It leads us to believe that parents of these asthmatic children should be aware that even when pollen levels are low, their children will experience asthmatic symptoms."

The study also revealed data that surprised researchers. Pollen-sensitive kids that were part of the study had fewer symptoms when ragweed – a major irritant- was at high levels. DellaValle said it may mean that the children's parents reacted to high pollen reports and took extra precautions.

"It suggested that they modified their children's behavior by keeping them inside, in air conditioning or by using air filters," DellaValle said.

Here’s how the study worked:

DellaValle's team recruited 430 children with asthma between the ages of four and 12 in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts between 2000 and 2003. Each kid's mother kept a calendar tracking her child's asthma symptoms and use of asthma medications. The researchers also tested the children's blood for sensitivity to pollens from trees, grass and weeds.

To get a better picture of realistic pollen exposures, every year during the Northeast's pollen season -- generally from late March to early October -- the researchers used a model to analyze the amount of pollen within 1.2 miles of each child's home. They also tracked daily and seasonal weather, foliage, when pollen seasons began and ended and peak pollen periods.

Among kids with sensitivities to particular types of pollen, even small amounts in the air could trigger asthma symptoms.

Children not on maintenance medication who were sensitive to grass pollen, for example, wheezed, coughed and had trouble breathing and other nighttime symptoms when they were exposed to more than two grains per cubic meter of grass pollen.

Kids on daily maintenance therapy and sensitive to weed pollen could have similar symptoms and a need for rescue medication at pollen levels above six to nine grains per cubic meter.

Among the kids sensitive to weed pollen, low-level exposures raised their risk of symptoms by 37 percent. That compared to a 23 percent rise in risk during the highest weed-pollen periods -- hinting that kids may have stayed indoors when pollen levels were known to be high, the researchers note.

Pollen levels were not tied to an increase in asthma symptoms in kids without allergies to specific pollens.

Parents with asthmatic children often follow pollen reports and adjust their children’s outdoor activity accordingly. This study shows that even low levels of pollen can affect a sensitive child’s breathing and general health.

Although there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed with proper prevention and treatment. There is often a genetic compound.

Asthma symptoms can be mild or severe, and many children’s symptoms become worse at night.

Symptoms may include:

- Frequent, intermittent coughing.

- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling.

- Shortness of breath.

- Chest congestion or tightness.

- Chest pain, particularly in younger children.

- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.

- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu.

- Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection.

- Trouble breathing that may limit play or exercise.

- Fatigue, which can be caused by poor sleep.

If your child experiences any of the above symptoms, make sure he or she is seen by a pediatrician or family doctor. 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/01/us-pollen-levels-idUSTRE7B02HG...

http://www.mayoclinic.com

Your Child

Kids Allowed to Sip Alcohol Get Mixed Message

1:30

Letting your little one have an occasional sip of alcohol may be sending him or her the wrong message suggests a new report. 

According to the study, children that are allowed to sporadically sip alcohol as youngsters are more likely to start drinking by the time they are in high school.

Researchers followed 561 middle school students in Rhode Island for about three years. At the start of sixth grade (about age 11), nearly 30 percent of the students said they'd had at least one sip of alcohol.

The alcohol was provided in most cases by parents and given at parties or special occasions.

By ninth grade, 26 percent of those who'd had sips of alcohol at a younger age said they'd had at least one full alcoholic drink, compared with less than 6 percent of those who didn't get sips of alcohol when younger.

The researchers also found that 9 percent of the sippers had gotten drunk or engaged in binge drinking by ninth grade, compared with just under 2 percent of the non-sippers.

The study’s lead researcher Kristina Jackson, of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, in Providence, Rhode Island, said the findings don’t prove that sips of alcohol at a young age absolutely leads to teen drinking.

"We're not trying to say whether it's 'OK' or 'not OK' for parents to allow this," Jackson said in a journal news release.

She noted that some parents believe that introducing children to alcohol at home teaches them about responsible drinking and reduces the appeal of alcohol.

"Our study provides evidence to the contrary," Jackson said.

Giving sips of alcohol to young children may send them a "mixed message," she suggested.

"At that age, some kids may have difficulty understanding the difference between a sip of wine and having a full beer," Jackson said.

For the study, Jackson’s team tried to account for other factors that might contribute to underage drinking such as parent’s drinking habits and any family history of alcoholism as well as the kid’s tendency to be impulsive or a high-risk taker.

Jackson says that there was still a connection between the early sipping and drinking by high school age.

She also stressed that parents who have already given their child sips of wine or beer shouldn’t be alarmed, but should think about sending their child a clear message about alcohol use and abuse.

The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20150331/letting-kids-sip-alcohol-may-send-wrong-message

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-kids-alcohol-earlier.html

Your Teen

Cheerleading: Fewer Sports Injuries, But More Severe

2:00

Cheerleading used to be relatively simple sideline endeavor, but not any more. Today it can be a competitive sport, daring and sometimes dangerous.

It typically rates low in overall sports related injuries according to a recently published study, but because of the changing nature of cheerleading and how injuries are reported – whether as a sport or a nonathletic extracurricular activity- the ratings could change.

Researchers noted that while cheerleading may be more dangerous now than in the past, it still gets kids up and moving.

"Anecdotally, it's pretty clear to most people over the past few decades that cheerleading has shifted from a sideline activity to a competitive sport itself. This may have resulted in an increase in injury," said study author Dustin Currie, a doctoral student in epidemiology at Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

"We only have five years of data ... but I don't know whether to say it's better for cheerleading to not become a more competitive sport," he added. "If it's getting more children to participate in athletics, it's probably a net positive."

About 400,000 students in the United States participate in high school cheerleading each year, including more than 123,000 involved in competitive "spirit squads" that incorporate stunts, pyramids, tosses and jumps, according to the U.S. National Federation of State High School Associations.

But states classify cheerleading in various ways, with some defining it as a sport and others lumping it with other nonathletic extracurricular activities, Currie said.

The distinction is important because defining it as a sport requires stricter rules regarding practice location and other safety measures, as well as coaching certification requirements, he said.

The new study found that while overall injury rates are low for cheerleading, the injuries that do occur are more severe.

Researchers discovered that concussions were the most common cheerleading injury, involving 31 percent of all injuries. However, concussion rates were significantly lower in cheerleading that all other sports combined as well as other girl sports.

More than half of cheerleading injuries occurred during stunts, with pyramid formations constituting 16 percent and tumbling accounting for 9 percent. Most stunt- and pyramid-related concussions resulted from contact with another person, most commonly their elbow, the study said.

Currie said one way to potentially reduce cheerleading injuries would be for all states to change the classification of cheerleading to a sport and recognize that the "vast majority of high school cheerleaders are athletes" requiring the support of athletic trainers and other appropriate medical staff.

"States need to think about it in terms of cheerleaders being athletes, as they are now, rather than some recreational activity on the sidelines," he said.

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/concussions-news-733/as-cheerleading-becomes-more-competitive-concussions-top-list-of-injuries-study-says-706029.html

 

 

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

When should you get your flu shot?

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