- Pregnancy & Childbirth
- Attachment Parenting
- Family Nutrition
- Family Wellness
LESS THAN HALF OF KIDS WEAR BIKE HELMETS
A recent survey revealed that less than half of kids age 8 to 12 wear helmets when riding a bike, and only one-third wear them while in-line skating or riding scooters. One-quarter of kids don't wear them because they "aren't cool" and one-quarter claim their parents don't make them wear one. During the 1990's, half of bicycle-related hospitalizations were due to brain injuries. Regular helmet use can cut the risk of brain injury by 88%.
Dr. Sears comments: This is a no-brainer. Parents should require their kids to wear helmets for bike riding, skateboarding, "scootering", and skating.
NEW CDC GUIDELINES FOR KIDS' SUN PROTECTION IN SCHOOLS
The CDC released guidelines urging U.S. schools to take measures to reduce sun exposure, thereby reducing the risk of skin cancer later in life. Such measures include limiting outside time during mid day, encouraging kids to wear hats, apply sunscreen, and providing shaded eating areas.
Dr. Sears comments: Let's help our kids grow up with healthier skin, and prevent skin cancer later in life. The head and neck is the most common place for skin cancer, and wearing a hat can dramatically reduce this risk. Click here for a discussion on sun protection.
BREASTFEEDING FOR 6 MONTHS DECREASES INFECTION RISK A recent study showed that babies who breastfeed for 4 months compared to babies who were breastfed for 6 months have a fourfold decrease in pneumonia risk and a twofold decrease in the risk of chronic ear infections.
BREASTFEEDING FOR 9 MONTHS SHOWN TO INCREASE IQ IN ADULTHOOD
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that breastfeeding for nine months or more increased adult IQ by around 6 points. Many studies have shown this benefit for children, but this is the first to show a higher IQ extending into adulthood.
Dr. Sears comments: Two more studies to show that breast is best, and the longer you nurse your baby, the healthier and smarter he or she can be. Click here to read about all the benefits of breastfeeding.
MOST PEOPLE STILL FASTING LONGER THAN NECESSARY BEFORE SURGERY A recent survey revealed that most doctors are advising patients to refrain from eating much longer than necessary before surgery. In 1999, the American Society of Anesthesiology revised their guidelines to allow people to eat and drink closer to their surgery. The guidelines include no heavy meals 8 hours before surgery, but a light snack is ok 6 hours before, and clear liquids (coffee, tea, juice, soda, water) is ok 2 hours before surgery.
Dr. Sears comments: Breastfeeding mothers have always had a difficult time keeping their infant off the breast for 4 to 6 hours before the infant's surgery. Now there are established medical guidelines that can make this already stressful time easier. Breast milk is considered a clear liquid, and the current guidelines and research show that breastfed infants can safely nurse as close as 2 hours before surgery.
BREASTFEEDING SHOWN TO REDUCE RISK OF CELIAC DISEASE
A recent study involving 1800 children showed that infants who were still breastfeeding when gluten-containing foods (wheat, rye and barley) were introduced had a 40% lower incidence of celiac disease (a chronic intestinal condition). The risk was even lower for infants who continued to breastfeed for a while after these foods were introduced.
Dr. Sears comments: It is thought that breast milk may help prevent the body from reacting or becoming allergic to the gluten protein in wheat, rye, and barley foods. Another good reason to keep breastfeeding long after solids are started.
VAGINAL DELIVERY AFTER PREVIOUS C-SECTION RISKS
A recent study in the UK of over 300,000 births revealed that attempting a vaginal delivery after a woman has had a C-section with a previous baby (termed Vaginal Birth After C-section, or VBAC) is riskier than having a repeat C-section. The study included 15,000 women who attempted a VBAC and 9000 women who elected for repeat C-section. The study found that the risk of the baby dying within 4 weeks after a VBAC delivery was 1 in 800 births, 11 times higher than the risk of death after a planned repeat C-section, where there was only 1 death in the 9000 full-term C-sections. One-third of infant deaths after VBACs were due to the uterus rupturing during labor, one-third due to lack of oxygen from complications, and one-third due to other causes. The infant death rate was also 3 times higher in VBACs than in women who had repeat vaginal deliveries.
Dr. Sears comments: Researchers in this study pointed out that the overall risk of infant death during a VBAC is very small, and VBAC is a legitimate choice for uncomplicated pregnancies. But the risk of death is simply less when a planned repeat C-section is done. They also point out the risks and drawbacks of having a C-section.
CDC REPORTS 7% OF U.S. CHILDREN DIAGNOSED WITH ADHD
A survey of 8600 families in 1998 revealed that 7% of U.S. kids age 6 to 11 were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Half of these also had a learning disability (LD). Boys were 3 times as likely to have ADHD than girls, and twice as likely to have ADHD and LD.
Dr. Sears comments: This makes ADHD one of the most prevalent chronic conditions among children. It is a concern, and hopefully a cause will be found that will help parents decrease the risk of ADHD. Click here for a full discussion on ADHD.
EATING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES CAN LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
An Oxford medical study of 700 adults showed that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day for 6 months would reduce the incidence of high blood pressure in the general population by 17%. It would also reduce coronary artery disease by 6% and strokes by 15%. During the study, the group that ate fruits and vegetables showed increased blood levels of antioxidants (substances that fight cancer, infections, and heart disease) before the study.
Dr. Sears comments: It is nice to see a reputable institution like Oxford confirm what many people already know - eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day can prevent heart disease and many other chronic conditions. Click here to read more about how to get enough fruits and veggies in your diet.
PROBIOTICS SHOWN TO HELP INFANTS RECOVER FROM DIARRHEA INFECTIONS FASTER
A study of 70 infants age 6 months to 3 years who were hospitalized for severe diarrhea showed that those who were given Lactobacillus (a "good" bacterium that is normally found in the intestines and helps regulate intestinal function) during their hospital stay recovered faster and left the hospital sooner.
Dr. Sears comments: It has been a long-standing practice to feed infants and children the "BRAT" diet (Banana, Rice, Apple sauce, and Toast) to help with diarrhea. Now there is more that can be done. Lactobacillus can be found in powder, liquid, or capsule form at any vitamin store. This healthy bacterium can also help boost the immune system. Click here to read more about treating diarrhea. You can also click here on "Boost Your Child's Immune System Through Nutrition" on our home page to view Dr. Sears's Webcast on the benefits of probiotics.