- Pregnancy & Childbirth
- Attachment Parenting
- Family Nutrition
- Family Wellness
U.S. INFANT FORMULA CONTAINS IMPORTANT NEW INGREDIENT
For many years we have known that two healthy fats found in breast milk, DHA and ARA, are very important building blocks for brain growth and development and vision development. These fats have been in formulas all over the world for years, but formula makers did not include them in U.S. formulas. Now that has changed. These two fats are now found in one brand made by Mead Johnson Nutritionals. You will see the can easily labeled with these two new ingredients. All other formulas will be quick to follow.
Dr. Sears comments: Let me first say that, even with these two ingredients, formula is still nowhere even close to breast milk. Do not wean your infant early, and don't decide not to breastfeed at all, thinking that now formula is almost just as good. True, these two fats are extremely important, and I am very glad that they are now being added to formulas so that infants who formula-feed can now benefit from them. The first formula to add the ingredients is a cow's milk-based formula, so you should only switch to it if your child is already on a cow's milk formula. If you are using soy, or another specialized formula, you should continue doing so, and add the DHA yourself. Don't worry, all formulas should soon have these ingredients.
For more information on DHA, click here.
For information on how to add DHA to formula, click here.
PROBIOTICS DURING PREGNANCY AND BREASTFEEDING MAY LOWER CHILD'S RISK OF ECZEMA
A study in Finland of 62 mothers showed that those who took probiotics (commonly known as acidophilus) had twice as much anti-inflammatory transforming growth factor Beta-2 in their breast milk than women who did not take probiotics. In addition, the infants whose mom's took the probiotics were 66 percent less likely to develop eczema during the first two years of life.
For a complete discussion on eczema, click here.
To view Dr. Sears' webcast documentary on probiotics, you can click here or click on the banner, "Boosting Your Child's Immune System Through Nutrition" at the bottom of our homepage.
VACUUMING INCREASES CAT ALLERGENS IN AIR
A new study measured the amount of cat dander (dead skin cells from cats that are responsible for allergies in humans) in the air after vacuuming. The results showed that dander levels increased 3 to 5 times after vacuuming. Older vacuum cleaners were tested, as well as several newer, "allergy proof" models, including a HEPA filter vacuum, a cyclone vacuum, and a water reservoir vacuum. There was no difference in cat dander levels between the older and newer vacuums.
Dr. Sears comments: one important thing to realize is that the increase in cat dander in the air only occurred for a time after vacuuming. It was not determined if frequent vacuuming decreases cat dander overall, or how long the dander levels remain higher in the air. Take home note - if you are allergic, but can't get rid of you cat, then wear a dust mask while vacuuming to minimize your exposure. Click here for a complete discussion on allergies.
ALLERGY SUFFERERS MAY ALSO HAVE SLEEP DEPRIVATION
A new study evaluated 14 adults who suffer from seasonal nasal allergies. The study subjects were found to have 40 percent more "micro-arousals", brief interruptions in sleep without completely waking up, during their peak allergy season versus their off season. This left them feeling more sluggish and fatigued in the daytime during allergy season. Researchers state that now they have to study whether or not treating these allergies at night decreases the number of micro-arousals and improves daytime quality of life.
COMPACT EXTENDED-CAB PICKUP TRUCKS RISKY FOR CHILDREN
A survey of 11,000 children injured in car accidents revealed that children riding in a compact pickup truck with an extended cab were 3 times more likely to be injured than kids in other cars. If they were riding in the back seat, they were 5 times more likely to be injured. This was only found to be true for COMPACT pickups with extended cabs, not full-sized pickups with extended cabs. There were several reasons for the increased injuries: these small back seats fold down, the rear compartment is small and poorly padded, so children are more likely to be injured from being bounced around, there are lap belts only, not shoulder belts. Furthermore, since these small back seats are not considered to be regular seats, they are not required to undergo safety testing.
Dr. Sears comments: Hopefully the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will pay attention to this. Until they are safer, kids should either not ride in these pickups, or should ride in the front seat if there is no other choice. The manufacturers of these pickups even recommend that children ride in the front seat.
DEBATE OVER WHEN TO START TAKING KIDS TO THE DENTIST
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents take their kids to the dentist starting at age 3. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, on the other hand, recommends the first visit to be before age 1. The reason for this is to educate parents on proper dental hygiene and to identify early those kids that may be at higher risk of cavities or other dental problems. A recent study by pediatric dentists in Iowa followed kids from birth to age three. The survey revealed that only 2 percent of infants had seen a dentist by age 1, 11percent by age 2, and 31percent by age three. Fluoride treatments were also very rarely given to infants - only 4 percent of two-year-olds. 40 percent of three-year-olds got fluoride treatments.
Dr. Sears comments: In past years, my standard recommendation had been to start seeing a dentist at age 5. Several years ago, I changed it to age 3. I am not sure that visits before age three would be worth the money and trouble. Toddlers will most often be too uncooperative for the dentist to provide a thorough exam. I generally examine teeth very closely during the toddler years, and I will send a toddler to the dentist if I see a problem.
For a full discussion on caring for little teeth, click here.
SCREENING FOR VISION PROBLEMS IN PRESCHOOLERS IMPORTANT
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourages pediatricians to closely examine the eyes of infants and preschoolers for a condition called "lazy eye", a condition that affects 1 to 4 percent of kids and can lead to permanent vision problems if not found and corrected early enough. A new screening tool, called photoscreening, uses cameras or video to get an up close picture of the child's eyes to check for this condition. The Academy is considering using this tool in addition to physical examination of the eyes.
Dr. Sears comments: I agree that careful screening for this condition is very important. If I detect any slight problem with the eyes of a toddler or preschooler, I send them to an eye doctor. Because some toddlers are uncooperative with exams, photoscreening would indeed by useful. However, many pediatricians may be unable to purchase expensive equipment to take the pictures, and busy offices will find it difficult to take pictures of squirmy little toddlers. Here is what I suggest - parents could use their own camera to take close-up pictures of their kids faces. There are two requirements for this - the child must be looking straight into the lens, and the child must HAVE "red eye" in the final photo. You WANT the child's eyes to show up red in the picture, so set the camera to use regular flash mode, NOT the mode that prevents red eye. Bring these pictures into your 2, 3 and 4 year check-ups. Your doctor may find them useful.
MAKERS OF CLARITIN SEEKING OVER-THE-COUNTER APPROVAL
The patent for Claritin, a popular prescription allergy medication, expires in December 2002. Generic forms of the medication would then be allowed to compete. Generic manufacturers are asking that their form of the drug be approved directly for over-the-counter use. The makers of Claritin are therefore seeking approval for their brand-name drug to be used over-the-counter, which would prevent generic production of the drug until Claritin's over-the-counter patent expires, allowing the company to continue making a large profit from the medication.
Dr. Sears comments: I agree that Claritin is definitely safe enough to be used over-the-counter. Many manufacturers have sought this type of approval for other safe medications when their prescription patent is running out. This is nothing new.
WARNINGS ABOUT IMPROPER USE OF CONTACT LENSES
A review of research literature regarding contact lenses has prompted a Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist to issue some warnings. Wearing the lenses other than as directed, such as not cleaning them properly, wearing them longer than indicated, and not removing them when they cause mild redness and irritation, can lead to long-term eye damage. Such damage includes scratches on the surface of the eye (the cornea) that can lead to ulcers or infections that can rarely lead to blindness. Over the long term, improper practices can thin the cornea and warp the cornea's shape. What is not known is whether or not these long-term cornea changes cause eventual problems with vision. These changes can also occur, even with proper use of contacts. Often the warped cornea will revert back its normal shape when contacts are discontinued, but not always. The doctor urged people to clean their lenses regularly and properly, removed them when they are irritating, have a pair of glasses handy, and see an eye doctor regularly.
Dr. Sears comments: I have worn contacts for many years. When I was younger, I didn't always follow the directions properly, so this news concerns me. I recommend using contacts exactly as directed.
OBESITY CREATES MORE HEALTH PROBLEMS THAN SMOKING
A new study revealed that significantly overweight people have 36 percent higher health care costs and pay 77 percent more on medications than people in good health. Obese people suffer more from problems such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, strokes, and certain cancers, and that these health problems occur 40 percent more often than in smokers and problem drinkers. The study found that the increased medical costs for smokers was only 21 percent and 28 percent for excessive drinkers. Obesity rates have doubled in the past 10 years, while smoking is on the decline. The Surgeon General reports that one-quarter of Americans are significantly obese, and over half are at least partly overweight. Another recent study has also shown that 25 percent of obese children have a pre-diabetic condition that will lead to Type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
Dr. Sears comments: this truly is an epidemic in America. Click here to check out my LEAN program and read how you can lead a healthier life. You owe it to your children and your grandchildren.
GLUE-SNIFFING IS PREVALENT AMOUNG TEENS
A new research survey has revealed that 9 percent of U.S. 8th graders are regularly sniffing glue or other household substances to get a high, and that 25 percent report they have done it at least once. Around 120 U.S. teenagers have died and thousand have suffered brain, heart and other injuries in the past five years from inhaling "harmless" substances, including paint thinners, nail polish removers, and canned whipped cream.
Dr. Sears comments: Talk to your kids. Do not have the attitude that it can't happen to you; that your kids wouldn't do this. I am sure the families whose children have died from this thought the same thing. Sit down with your kids today and tell them of these dangers.
STUDY CLAIMS DAYCARE DECREASES RISK OF ALLERGIES LATER
A recent study showed that kids who attended daycare from early on have less allergy antibodies in their blood, when tested at age two, than their stay-at-home counterparts. However, other results in the study conflict with this finding. Kids who had more respiratory tract infections (much higher in day-care kids) also had more problems with wheezing at age 2 and 3 years, not less. The incidence of asthma at age four was similar in the two groups of kids.
Dr. Sears comments: My opinion of all the research in this area is that day-care attendance leads to more health problems during childhood, not less. It is unclear what effect day-care attendance has on allergies.
EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING FOR SIX MONTHS SHOWN TO INCREASE IQ BY AN AVERAGE OF 11 POINTS AT AGE 5 YEARS
A new study conducted in Norway and Sweden (countries where exclusive breastfeeding is continued longer than in the U.S.), along with researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, examined 450 full-term (not premature) infants and got some very interesting results:
Dr. Sears comments: More and more studies are confirming what many of us have long known. But compared to many countries around the world, the U.S. is still way behind. The most recent studies show that only 16 percent of U.S. infants are exclusively breastfed for six months. This is scary. Hopefully now that the AAP recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, more doctors will encourage their patients to do just that.
Graco SnugRide child car seats recalled - the detachable base or seat may be missing the metal hooks that secure the seat to the base. This may cause the car seat to fly out during a collision. Go to www.GracoBaby.com or call 1800-664-5246 for information.
Dr. Sears comments: Car seats with a detachable base, although convenient, seem to be recalled more than any other type of car seat.
SMOKING AND ALCOHOL DURING PREGNANCY LINKED TO ADHD
A new study of 500 kids showed that if a mom smoked during pregnancy, the child had twice the risk of having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than the kids of non-smoking moms. If mom drank alcohol, the risk was 2.5 times higher than kids not exposed to alcohol en utero.
TV WATCHING LINKED TO VIOLENT BEHAVIOR
The results of a 17-year study showed that the amount of TV watched during childhood has an impact on violence in the young adult years. One specific result was that 14-year-old boys who watch more than 3 hours of TV each day were twice as likely to commit a violent assault or engage in a violent fight by the age of 22, verses boys who watch less than 1 hour of TV each day. Similar, but not as dramatic, results were seen for girls.
Dr. Sears comments: This is not very surprising. Try to re-direct your kids into reading, playing outside, or getting to know the neighborhood kids. Keeping a child inside all day will likely lead to more TV watching.
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