All Posts tagged kids

Fruit & Veg may not help allergy

Eating more fruits and vegetables may not protect children from developing allergies, according to a large Swedish study that questions earlier hints of benefit. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which are thought to reduce airway inflammation. So recent studies reporting less asthma, wheezing and hay fever among children who consumed more produce appeared to make sense.

But not all research has found that link, and the studies that did may have had a surprising flaw, said Helen Rosenlund of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, who led the new study. She said some proteins in fruits like apples and pears resemble the pollen parts that trigger hay fever, meaning that kids might react to both. In other words, existing allergies may have caused them to eat around the produce, rather than the other way around. “This could confuse research findings,” explained Rosenlund, “falsely suggesting that diets with fewer fruits and vegetables result in more allergic disease.”

To find out if this was the case, Rosenlund and her colleagues looked at data on nearly 2,500 eight-year-olds who had participated since birth in a larger Swedish study. Based on blood tests and questionnaires filled out by parents, the researchers found that seven percent of the children had asthma. The rates of hay fever and skin rashes were more than twice as high. The average child ate between one and two servings of fruit, and between two and three servings of vegetables each day.

At first glance, some produce did seem helpful: Kids with the biggest appetite for fruit had less than two-thirds the odds of developing hay fever than those who ate the least amount. Apples, pears and carrots appeared to be particularly helpful, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, but there was no such link for vegetables overall. However, it turned out that half the children with hay fever were sensitive to birch tree pollen, one of the pollens known to resemble the proteins in apples and carrots. And sure enough, after the team repeated their analysis excluding the 122 kids with food-related allergy symptoms, the hay fever link disappeared as well. “Fruits do not seem to offer protection against allergic if diet modifications are considered,” say Rosenlund.

The researchers say more studies are needed, particularly in other parts of the world that may have a different variety of allergy triggers, or allergens. And they advise those studies should not forget to look at how allergies might influence what participants eat. “Studying diet it is not so easy when it comes to the relation with allergic disease,” Rosenlund said, “because it is such a complex disease pattern.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/g3DpI7 The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, online January 10, 2011.

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Food allergies and ADHD

A controversial new Dutch study may have found a link between food allergies and ADHD. However, many experts are dismissing the findings. The study found that in children with ADHD, putting them on a restrictive diet to eliminate possible, previously unknown food allergies or sensitivities decreased hyperactivity for 64% of them. “There is a longstanding, somewhat inconsistent story about diet and ADHD,” said Jan Buitelaar, the lead author of the Dutch study and a psychiatrist at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. “On the one hand, people think it’s sugar that’s the trigger, others think that food coloring could be causing ADHD. Our approach was quite different. We went [with] the idea that food may give some kind of allergic or hyperactivity reaction to the brain.”

There have been previous studies in this field, but they were limited. “This has long been viewed as a kind of a controversial approach,” Buitelaar said. “When we started the research, I was skeptical, but the results convinced me.”

In the study, of the 41 kids who completed the elimination diet, 32 saw decreased symptoms. When certain foods thought to be “triggers” for each child were reintroduced, most of the children relapsed. Among 50 kids given a “control” diet that was just a standard, healthy diet for children, no significant changes were noted. Given these findings, Buitelaar recommended that the elimination diet become part of standard of care for children with ADHD. However, while pediatricians acknowledge some effectiveness, they were against the elimination diet as part of the care for children with ADHD.

“People seem to think that dietary modification is essentially ‘free,’ but it is difficult, socially disruptive, and presents the risk for nutritional deficiency,” said Dr. Michael Daines, a pediatric allergist-immunologist at the University of Arizona. Though Daines is willing to work with families who want to try an elimination diet for treating ADHD, he feels it will only have an effect if the child is having a true food allergy or intolerance.

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Caffeine consumption common in kids

Even young children appear to be consuming more caffeine, so much so that caffeine could be contributing to sleep problems in primary school children, researchers found. Three-quarters of children ages 5 to 12 consumed caffeine on an average day in a survey of parents at routine clinic visits by William J. Warzak, PhD, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues. The more caffeine children consumed, the fewer hours they slept on average (P=0.02), the researchers reported online in the Journal of Pediatrics, although not drawing a causal link. The average intake was two or three times higher than the 22- to 23-mg daily average reported nearly a decade ago, they noted.

Eight- to 12-year-olds in Warzak's study averaged 109 mg of caffeine — the equivalent of nearly three 12-oz cans of soda each day. But even the 52 mg of caffeine consumed by 5- to 7-year-olds on an typical day was well above the level known to have a physiologic effect on adults, the researchers noted. “There's really no role for caffeine in kids,” Marcie Schneider, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, emphasized in commenting on the study. “We know that caffeine raises your blood pressure, raises your heart rate, and can be addictive.” Unlike older teens who are likely drinking coffee to wake up in the mornings for school, the assumption is that younger kids are getting most of their caffeine from soda, noted Schneider, who serves as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.

She urged pediatricians to raise parents' awareness of the issue, perhaps as part of the yearly checkup. “We routinely ask kids what they're eating and drinking,” “It may be something that is worth pediatricians pointing out to parents that this kid does not need caffeine in their life partially because it does some things that are negative.”

Warzak's group surveyed parents of 228 children seen at an urban outpatient pediatric clinic during routine visits about the children's average daily consumption of drinks and snacks with an emphasis on caffeine-containing items. None of the children had a known sleep disorder or medical condition that might cause bedwetting. Illustrated depictions were provided to help parents accurately estimate serving sizes.

Nearly all of the caffeine intake was consumed through beverages. Few children got a meaningful amount of caffeine from food. “Caffeine's diuretic properties have encouraged behavioral health practitioners to eliminate caffeine from the diet of children with enuresis,” the researchers noted. However, they found that intake didn't correlate with the number of nights a child wet the bed (P=0.49). Overall, enuresis was actually less likely in children who consumed caffeine.

The researchers cautioned that interpretation of these results may be complicated by cultural differences in reporting children's behavioral health concerns and that their study could not draw any causal conclusions. Schneider also noted the use of parental reports and the relatively small sample as limitations. Although the findings offered no support for removing caffeine from children's diets on the basis of bedwetting, Warzak's group concluded in the paper that “given the potential effects of caffeine on childhood behavior, a screen of caffeine consumption might be beneficial when evaluating childhood behavioral health concerns.”

Source: Warzak WJ, et al “Caffeine consumption in young children” J Pediatr 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.11.022.

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“Good” bacteria helps kids with irritable bowel syndrome

Good bacteria
About 10 to 15 percent of children experience recurrent abdominal pain, the researchers said. The pain can be due to irritable bowel syndrome — which is usually relieved by defecation — or can be “functional abdominal pain,” which is not explained by another disease. While LGG has been tested before in children with abdominal pain, the studies were small and showed mixed results. The new study, which involved 141 children with irritable bowel syndrome or functional abdominal pain, was conducted in Italy between 2004 and 2008. Researchers gave the kids either the probiotic or a placebo for eight weeks. Neither the doctors nor the patients were aware which treatment they received.

Following the treatment, the patients were followed up for another 8 weeks. During the treatment and follow-up, the severity and frequency of abdominal pain decreased for both groups, but the probiotic group experienced a more drastic reduction. For instance, after 12 weeks, patients who took the probiotic reported experiencing, on average, 1.1 episodes of pain per week, compared with 3.7 weekly episodes before the treatment. Those who took the placebo reported experiencing 2.2 pain episodes per week, compared with 3.5 episodes initially.

And a greater percentage of parents of children who took the probiotic reported that their children experienced a decline in pain,compared with those whose kids took the placebo. Among kids who took the probiotic, it was mostly children with irritable bowel syndrome who showed improvements, the researchers said.

Why does it work?
The results suggest LGG may be specifically beneficial for those with irritable bowel syndrome, the researchers said. It's possible that children with irritable bowel syndrome have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in their guts, which contributes to the pain, and the probiotics relieves pain by restoring the proper balance, Francavilla said. Probiotics have also been suggested to reduce inflammation in the gut, as well as stimulate the release of analgesic substances that relieve pain. The researchers noted they cannot be sure whether the beneficial effects will last for more than a few weeks after treatment is stopped.

The results were published in the journal Pediatrics.

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Picky Eating: Its not just for kids

As an example of a picky eater who would not be classified as having an eating disorder, Marcus referenced a woman who spoke on a radio program recently. The woman declared herself “the pickiest eater I've ever met” and explained that the thought of eating any cooked vegetable made her sick, though she didn't mind them raw.

“That is not a disorder,” said Marcus. “She has plenty of other foods to choose from and it's not affecting her health or well-being.”

In her practice at Western Psych, Marcus doesn't see many adults that she would classify as having such a disorder. “I think people don't identify themselves as having an eating disorder and it hasn't been considered an eating disorder,” she said. “They don't come to us.”

At Duke, Zucker encounters adult picky eaters mainly as the parents of children that she is treating for picky eating or other eating disorders.

Adults who are picky tend to like bland foods that are comfortable and colorless, said Marcus, such as plain pasta or french fries.

In both children and adults, picky eating can be caused by “food neophobia,” otherwise known as the fear of new foods, by sensory sensitivity to particular textures, or by traumatic experiences such as forced eating.

Still, the vast universe of picky eaters is poorly defined, Zucker said.

“It's been a pretty poorly operationalized construct — what it means to be a picky eater,” she said. “There's a lot of different definitions floating around. What we'll find is a huge continuum — we all have food quirks.”

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Some Kids Say Cartoon Endorsed Foods Taste Better

Do foods sold with cartoon characters on the package taste better? In a Yale study, children preferred cartoon-endorsed foods to identical products in different packages.
Forty New Haven, Conn., four- to six-year olds participated in the study. They tried two samples of three different snack foods—graham crackers, fruit snacks, and carrots. Unbeknownst to the children, products within each group were identical foods in different packaging.

When asked which of each sample tasted better, more than half of the children chose the snacks in cartoon-endorsed packaging. This number jumped to about 85 percent when asked which snacks they preferred.

Christina Roberto, a post-graduate student at Yale University and lead author of the study, says this is no accident. Companies use cartoons to push kids to choose their products. Seems innocent enough, right? Wrong. One of the major concerns is when companies use characters to promote junk food rather than health food, which can lead to weight problems and poorer nutrition.

“The food industry spends $1.6 billion on youth-targeted marketing and, of that, 13 percent is dedicated to character licensing and cross-promoting,” Roberto said. “For the most part, these foods are of poor nutritional quality.”

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School Lunch

What should a parent do when a child only wants to buy school lunch and it isn't healthy, or a child is bored with the lunches you pack from home? And really, does one meal a day make a difference? Yes. When kids get used to eating high fat food, this can form a long-term habit (fat does taste good). The time to set permanent healthy behavior is early and reinforcing during school is no exception.

Depending on the age of your child, have her help plan lunch or even prepare part of it. This can be done just once or twice a week to get your child involved.

Remember that children love to get out and play and sometimes will eat very little so they can have more time on the school playground. Packing a snack for early or late recess may be a good idea (peanuts and cashews are full of fiber and protein). Don't be upset with them if their lunch is only half consumed. She is just a social butterfly. Offer sliced peaches and plain yogurt when she gets home. Make a fruit smoothie with your son using frozen fruit, vanilla yogurt, and milk.

Talk to your child about the lunch program and help him choose a healthy option. Although it is quite convenient not to pack a lunch, try a bag lunch at least two times a week. For older kids this can help your budget as kids who can go off campus can spend a lot on lunch (of questionable nutritional value).

Healthy things to pack:

  • Edamame (soybean) or sugar snap peas (good source of protein)
  • Cube cheese and offer it on a toothpick
  • Trail mix (nuts, dried cranberries stick pretzels)
  • Sliced mango, kiwi, or apples (use orange juice to help prevent browning)
  • Vanilla yogurt with raspberries and granola or nuts on top (place it in a small plastic container (use an ice pack to keep it cold)
  • Use leftover chicken from dinner last night and make a sandwich vs. processed sandwich meat which is high in sodium (salt)
  • Use a cookie cutter to shape sandwiches into hearts, flowers, etc (young kids love to eat fun-shaped sandwiches)
  • Open faced bagel with cream cheese and a face (use raisin for the eyes, a cashew for the nose etc.)
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich – apples will work too.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese in a tortilla
  • Use a thermos in the cold months and fill it up with soup or pasta with a little bit of chicken broth for added taste
  • Cereal. Just make sure it is high in fiber (5 grams) and low in sugar (under 10 grams). Provide a container with a top and a spoon; your child can add the milk provided at school.

This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visitwww.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools. Available in English and Spanish.

Copyright ©2009 Nourish Interactive – All Rights Reserved.

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Get Your Kids Involved

This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visitwww.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools.  Available in English and Spanish.

Copyright ©2009 Nourish Interactive – All Rights Reserved.

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Lunches that kids will like

Ever wonder what happens to that nice, balanced lunch you packed for your child to take to school? Does it get eaten or traded or even tossed in the bin? Parents want kids to eat nutritious lunches, while kids want lunches that are fun and great-tasting. Never fear— you can improve the odds that your kids will eat what you pack and like it, too! Try these lunch-packing strategies:

Think variety. Try to include something from most of the Food Pyramid food groups in every lunch. Rotate choices to promote variety and prevent boredom. This also helps to ensure that lunch will provide about one-third of a child's daily nutrient needs.

Send what kids like. Ask your child to make a list of his/her favorite lunch ingredients from each Food Pyramid food group. Then use this list to create his/her lunch menus. Better yet, get him/her involved in the shopping and packing.

Break out of the peanut butter rut. Experiment with some new fillings for sandwiches, like low-fat lunchmeats, cheeses, grilled veggies or chicken, tuna and egg salad (see “Keep lunches safe” section below). And try using different types of breads, such as bagels, rolls, pita pockets, English muffins, raisin bread or waffles (use whole-grain varieties whenever you can). If your child is devoted to peanut butter, jazz it up with sliced bananas or apples, raisins, shredded carrots or granola.

Go beyond sandwiches. The options are endless. Send pasta salad made with fun-shaped, colored pastas. Make a pizza or quesadilla on a tortilla or pita round. Or roll meat and cheese slices in a flour tortilla to make a pinwheel sandwich. Leftovers are great too—like spaghetti, a chicken leg or a hearty soup, to name a few.

Got milk? Look for individual milk boxes at the grocery store. Milk tastes best when it is ice cold, so freeze the milk the night before, and by lunchtime it will be thawed, but chilled. Mini-cheese wedges, cheese cubes and cheese sticks are kid favorites, too. Yogurt and pudding cups make a nutritious dessert.

Play up the produce. Baby carrots, celery sticks, sweet pepper slices, cherry tomatoes and other crunchy veggies are great for dipping in low-fat ranch dressing, salsa or hummus (chickpea dip). Slice apples, pears or other fruits for dipping in low-fat vanilla or lemon yogurt. Make fruit kebabs with fresh fruit chunks on straws. Or send single-serve cups of fruit, apple sauce or dried fruits.

Pack some pizzazz. Kids love fun and surprises in their lunch. Be creative with shapes, colors, and themes. For example, pack a round meal—a bagel with veggie cream cheese, an orange, carrot rounds and jelly beans. Or cut sandwiches into puzzle pieces. Have a “red lunch” day with spaghetti, red grapes, strawberry milk and red fruit leather. Make a backward lunch with a sandwich made with the meat and cheese on the outside and a note written in reverse telling the child to eat dessert first. Throw in an extra touch with a love note, joke or comic strip.

Keep lunches safe. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use an insulated lunch box or small cooler. Include an ice pack or frozen bottle of water, juice or yogurt to help keep things cold. Use a Thermos™ to keep soups, casseroles or chili hot.

For more kid-friendly meal ideas speak to Nastaran.

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Kids and Type 2 Diabetes

 

Type 2 Diabetes in Kids: Symptoms and Risk Factors

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or can't properly use the insulin that it produces. When the body can't respond normally to insulin, glucose builds up in the blood.

Type 2 diabetes sometimes is difficult to detect in children because symptoms may be mild or absent. However, symptoms still play a key role in diagnosing type 2 diabetes in children. These symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, tiredness or lack of energy, and acanthans nigricans (darkening of the skin between the fingers and toes and near the shoulder blades). If your child displays one of these symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she has type 2 diabetes, but a visit to the doctor is a good idea.

According to the ADA, risk factors for type 2 diabetes in children include

  • Being overweight—as many as 80 percent of children are overweight when diagnosed
  • Being older than 10 years of age and in middle-to-late puberty (although some children with type 2 diabetes are younger)
  • Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Being a member of certain racial/ethnic groups 

Being Overweight: A Risk Your Family Can Avoid

The recent increase in type 2 diabetes among children parallels the rising number of overweight children. For that reason, some experts believe that being overweight is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes in children. In a way, that's good news because being overweight is the one risk factor you and your family can take charge of.

A physically active lifestyle and good eating habits are central to preventing weight problems. If your child is already overweight, ask your child's doctor or Nastaran for advice on the best treatment plan.

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