Aetna Latest Healthy Living News Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna en Aetna Latest Healthy Living News Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna TYPO3 - get.content.right Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500 Report: More Children Have Eczema Growing numbers of U.S. children are being diagnosed with eczema, a new report says. The report...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Eczema can make a child miserable. The itchy, red rash comes and goes --and comes back again. It affects 10% of children in the United States. Most of them start having it when they are less than 5 years old, so it can be a problem throughout childhood. When we think of skin problems, we usually think of dermatologists. But it turns out that general pediatricians handle most of the care of eczema. That's fine, because in general the care is pretty straightforward. But general pediatricians aren't dermatologists. So the American Academy of Pediatrics has just released a clinical report with the most up-to-date information and advice about eczema. This report will be useful for parents as well as pediatricians. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Eczema can look different in different children. It can be bumpy or scaly, with small or big patches. The amount of redness also varies. Dry skin usually occurs along with it. In little children, eczema tends to be in the inside of the elbows and behind the knees. In teenagers, it's more common on the hands and feet.
  • Not only is eczema common (and itchy), it also can affect the quality of life for both children and their families. Children with severe eczema tend to have fewer friends and take part in fewer group activities. Parents spend a lot of time caring for their child's skin. When they must deal with nighttime itching, they often get less rest.
  • Food allergies are more common in children with eczema. But the food allergies don't cause the eczema. So unless a child has had a clear reaction to a food, or has a medical test that clearly shows an allergy, parents shouldn't put their children with eczema on special diets.
  • Treating eczema in young children is especially important. Research suggests that treating eczema may help prevent other kinds of allergic disorders, such as asthma.
What Changes Can I Make Now? There are four important parts of treatment (and prevention):
  1. Take good care of the skin.  It's important not to bathe a child with eczema too much, as this dries out the skin. How often a child should be bathed depends on the child's skin. Discuss this with the doctor. However often you do it, the baths should be short and lukewarm, not hot. The soap should be mild, without perfume. The most important maintenance, though, is using an ointment-type moisturizer all over the body at least once a day. Twice or more each day is even better.
  2. Use creams and ointments to stop the inflammation. Steroids are the most commonly used kind, and they are very effective. It's important not to overuse them, though. That can lead to thinning of the skin and other side effects. Talk to your doctor about the best regimen for your child.
  3. Control the itch. When kids itch, it makes eczema worse. Moisturizing helps sometimes. Medicines can make a difference, too. Your doctor can help you choose the best medicine for your child.
  4. Prevent and treat any skin infections. Skin infections are common in people with eczema, and they, too, can make things worse. It’s important to call the doctor anytime the redness of eczema increases or you see new crusting or drainage. Diluted bleach baths (putting a little bit of bleach in a big tub of water) a couple of times a week can help kill germs and keep the skin healthier.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? I hope that the information in this clinical report will help pediatricians and parents understand eczema better, and make children with eczema happier and healthier.]]>
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500
Study: 23% in High School Use Tobacco About 23% of U.S. high school students use some form of tobacco, new survey data show. And about...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? It has been 50 years since the first "Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health" was published. U.S. adults and youth are not smoking nearly as often now. That is the good news. The bad news is that more than 5 million of today's children and teens will still die early from a smoking-related illness. Why? The use of other tobacco products has gone up. There are many forms of tobacco, including:
  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Pipes
  • Bidis
  • Kreteks
  • Hookah
  • Snus
  • Dissolvable tobacco
  • E-cigarettes, a new product containing a nicotine extract
It's also very easy for teens to be exposed to tobacco. We still see people smoking around town, on billboards, on TV and in movies, magazines and newspapers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported new data about tobacco use in middle school (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12). The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published the data. More than 18,400 students took the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey. They were asked about using tobacco at least once (ever) and using tobacco at least once in the past 30 days (current). The study also looked at how many students used one or more tobacco products. This CDC study found students using all types of tobacco products. In middle school, almost 1 in 5 students had ever used tobacco. More than 1 in 20 reported current use of any tobacco product. Compared with middle school students, high school students were more likely to try tobacco.
  • Almost 1 in 2 reported having ever tried a tobacco product.
  • More than 1 in 5 reported current use of any tobacco product.
  • More than 1 in 3 reported having ever tried 2 or more tobacco products.
  • More than 1 in 10 reported current use of 2 or more tobacco products.
Of the high school students who use any tobacco product, more than 9 out of 10 are smokers. They use burnable products like cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipes. These are the most common products used. They also cause the most tobacco-related disease and death in the United States. Most youth who use tobacco think they will be able to stop using tobacco in the near future. This turns out not to be true. Many will keep using tobacco well into adulthood. Plus, youths who report use of 2 or more tobacco products are at higher risk for developing nicotine dependence. What Changes Can I Make Now? Tobacco use is still too high overall. As a parent, you can help prevent your child from smoking and using other tobacco products. Teens who complete high school without ever smoking are much less likely to become smokers in adulthood. Talk with your children about tobacco at an early age. Remember that many kids start smoking in middle school.
  • Explain that smoking is very dangerous and unhealthy.
  • Tell them how addicting it is.
  • Point out that tobacco smoke
    • Smells bad
    • Causes bad breath
    • Turns teeth and fingernails yellow
    • Makes clothes and hair smell
    • Causes wrinkles
    • Leaves you with a hacking cough
    • Leaves you with less energy for sports and other fun activities
Follow these tips to keep your child smoke-free.
  • Be a role model. Set a good example for your child by not smoking. Parents who smoke are more likely to have children who smoke.
  • If you are a smoker, quit now. The earlier you stop smoking, the less likely your child is to become a smoker. You can also talk to your child about how hard it is to quit.
  • Have a smoke-free policy in your home and car. Make sure all events that your child attends are smoke-free.
  • Role-play with your teens to prepare them for dealing with pressure from friends to try tobacco.
  • Don't forget to talk about the other forms of tobacco. These include cigars, hookah and chewing tobacco. Make sure your child knows that they can be just as dangerous and addicting as cigarettes.
  • Mention that smoking is expensive. You can compare the cost of smoking with video games, clothes or other items that are important to your child.
  • Warn your child about the influence of tobacco companies. Children should not be fooled by how cool smoking looks in movies, TV, magazines and other media.
If you catch your child smoking, take it seriously. The best way to prevent your child from becoming a lifetime smoker is to stop it right away.
  • Be supportive. Try not to get angry.
  • Find out why your child started smoking in the first place. Talk about what changes can be made in her life that will help her to stop smoking.
  • Help your teen quit. Call the toll-free quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW and visit the teen smoking website of the National Cancer Institute.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? More work is needed to monitor and prevent the use of all forms of tobacco among youth. Expect your pediatrician to counsel you and your children on the risks of tobacco use. Programs to discourage children from ever trying to smoke can help protect them from any tobacco use and nicotine dependence. Parents also need to teach their teens about the problems linked with tobacco use.]]>
Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500
Study Cites Poison Risk from Detergent 'Pods' In the last 2 years, more than 700 young children needed hospital care after exposure to laundry...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Do you use laundry detergent "pods"? Pods are little packets of concentrated detergent. In many homes, they have replaced liquid detergent for washing machines. It seems young children like laundry detergent pods. The pods are colorful. Children think they are candy and try to eat them. This harms young children, as swallowing any cleaning product can. The chemicals inside these pods can also get onto skin or into eyes, causing more problems. A new study shows us the details about children exposed to laundry detergent pods. Researchers studied data on poisonings collected by a large national call system. The journal Pediatrics published the study. The study covered 2012-2013. During those 2 years, there were 17,230 calls about laundry detergent pod exposures in children younger than 6. Here are some of the key findings:
  • The most common reason for exposure was "unintentional" (not on purpose).
  • About 3 out of 4 children were under the age of 3.
  • About 4 out of 5 exposures involved eating the detergent.
  • In nearly half of the cases, the pods were always left out or where the child could see them.
  • Almost 1 in 20 children needed a hospital stay for treatment.
  • About 1 in 12 children had a moderate or major medical outcome, such as being put on a respirator. There was even 1 death.
The researchers note that poisoning from pods has become a serious problem. The pods may work well, but children are exposed to them way too often. Even worse, the pods seem to be more toxic to children than regular laundry detergents. What Changes Can I Make Now? Remember that most poisonings occur at home. Children are at highest risk of accidental poisonings at home because they are:
  • Naturally curious
  • Attracted to the colors, scents and labels of products
  • Often putting things in their mouths to learn about them
  • Always exploring the world around them
  • Doing what they see adults do to be just like them
Always be prepared in case a poisoning happens in your home. Put the national toll-free number for the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) in everyone's cellphone. Put it next to every telephone you have in your home, too. Make sure all babysitters and caregivers know where to find this number. The laundry detergent in pods is very strong and can be toxic. A small amount can cause serious breathing concerns, stomach problems or eye pain. To keep your child safe from laundry detergent pods, follow these tips:
  • Never let your children play with the pods. They dissolve very fast. They can melt even faster with water, wet hands or saliva. 
  • Seal the container that stores the pods. Place the container in a locked cabinet after each use. Make sure the container is out of your child's reach.
  • Follow the warnings and directions on the product label.
Review our 'Childproof Your Home' tool on this website. This tool shares many important ideas on how best to protect young children from poisonings inside and outside your home. In addition, keep these tips in mind to prevent poisonings:
  • Never leave young children alone. Remember that it takes only a second for a child to be poisoned.
  • Watch children extra carefully at someone else's home. Assume that the house is not poison-proofed.
  • Never call medicine "candy."
  • Do not take any medicine in front of children.
  • Use child-resistant locks on all cabinets and doors in your home that hold chemicals and medicines.
  • Keep purses and diaper bags out of children's reach.
  • Store household products and medicines in their original containers. These containers often include first-aid information.
  • Remember that child-resistant containers are not childproof. Store all chemicals and all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? More study also is needed to understand why the pods are so toxic to children. A less toxic form might be possible with a change in the chemicals or the strength of ingredients in each pod. We don't know for sure, but it appears that the colorful, candy-like design of laundry detergent pods catches the eye of young children. Product packaging should change, so children do not think the pods are something to eat. All laundry detergent pods should carry a label that warns about the danger of exposure. With more educational efforts, you can expect increased public awareness of the danger of these pods.]]>
Mon, 10 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500
Pregnancy Diabetes May Affect Daughter's Weight Daughters of women with high blood sugar during pregnancy may be more likely to become overweight...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? High blood sugar in a pregnant woman greatly increases the chance that she will develop diabetes later in life. It also increases the risk of a premature (early) delivery and having a very large newborn. There's another important risk. In this study, the daughters of women who had high blood sugar during pregnancy had a much greater chance of becoming overweight or obese early in life than the daughters of women with normal blood sugar in pregnancy. This was true even for daughters whose weights were normal at birth. This is not the first study to show the risk of a higher body mass index (BMI) in children of women who had high blood sugar during pregnancy. These researchers went beyond just looking at BMI. They also looked at the percentage of body fat and the waist-to-height ratios of the daughters. A high waist-to-height ratio indicates you likely have more belly fat. Doctors call it visceral fat. It's the most dangerous type of fat. This type of fat has been linked with a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease. In this study, women's blood sugar levels during pregnancy just needed to be higher than normal to increase their daughters' risk of weight gain. The pregnant women did not need to carry a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. The researchers did identify which daughters had the greatest chance of becoming overweight or obese. They were born to women who were overweight or obese themselves before pregnancy and had gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is very common today. Close to 10% of pregnant women develop it. That's why pregnant women are routinely tested for gestational diabetes. The test usually is done between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Women are tested sooner if they:
  • Have had gestational diabetes in the past
  • Have symptoms that suggest high blood sugar, such as excessive urination, thirst and dry mouth
For the gestational diabetes test, the pregnant woman drinks a sugar solution. Blood is drawn one hour later. A blood sugar level of 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher suggests gestational diabetes. What Changes Can I Make Now? Compared with men, women have an extra motivation to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Excess weight may affect not only their health but also the health of their children. If you are overweight, it's best to lose the weight before you get pregnant.  But once you are pregnant, forget the old saying "eat for two." Women who have a normal body weight at the start of pregnancy should consume 300 extra calories per day. But for overweight and obese women, this is probably too much. Underweight women should eat more. The recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy depends on your weight before you got pregnant. The Institute of Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend these goals:
  • For underweight women, gain 28 to 40 pounds.
  • For women of average weight, gain 25 to 35 pounds.
  • For overweight women, gain 15 to 25 pounds.
  • For obese women, gain about 15 pounds.
Ideally, weight gain during pregnancy should be gradual. Most of the gain should occur during the second half of pregnancy. Women who have diabetes or pre-diabetes before a planned pregnancy need to keep their blood sugar as close to normal as possible. If blood sugar levels rise during pregnancy, getting them under control is more important than the amount of weight gain. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? This study was done just on daughters. It's likely that sons of pregnant women with high blood sugars would also have a greater chance of having more body fat. You can expect a future study to provide us with the answer.]]>
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:37:00 -0400
Seeing Film Violence May 'Desensitize' Parents As they watch more violence or sex in movies, parents may be less bothered by it and more likely...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Do you check what a movie is rated before letting your child watch it? The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rates movies. This system is intended to give useful information to parents about the movie content.
  • General Audiences (G): Anyone can see the movie.
  • Parental Guidance Suggested (PG): Some parts of the movie may not be right for young children to see.
  • Parents Strongly Cautioned (PG-13): Some parts of the movie may not be right for children under 13 to see.
  • Restricted (R): Children under 17 must be with an adult.
Over the years, this system appears to have changed. Rating decisions seem to be made sometimes by chance. The ratings do vary a lot. The amount of violence and sex in movies that can be seen by younger children has gone up. Parents also seem less worried about their children seeing these risky behaviors in movies. How come? A new study in the journal Pediatrics might help explain these trends. Researchers wanted to know if parents have a less emotional reaction to the violence and sex in movies when they see them more often. This is called being "desensitized" -- the more they see it, the less it bothers them. To test this idea, 1,000 parents of children and teens, ages 6 to 17, were asked to watch 6 movie clips in a row. The clips showed violence or sex from popular movies. For each clip, they were asked:
  • The youngest age they thought was OK for a child to see the movie
  • If they would let their own child watch the movie
The more clips parents watched, the more they thought the scenes were OK for children to see.
  • The youngest age they thought was OK for a teen to watch violent or sex scenes dropped from 17 to 14.
  • Parents became more willing to let their own children watch each movie.
Parents also were less bothered by:
  • Violence if they had watched more movies in the last week
  • Violence and sex if they had already seen the movies from which the clips were taken
So is all PG-13 content acceptable for teens? This study suggests that movie ratings probably are not so clear or strict. Many parents may be quicker to accept these ratings if they are desensitized to violence and sex themselves. The parents hired by the MPAA to help decide movie ratings also are probably desensitized to violence and sex, the researchers say. After all, these parents watch hundreds of movies a year. What Changes Can I Make Now? Risky behaviors in movies can affect your child more than you might think. For example, a large body of research has linked watching lots of violence with more aggressive behavior in children. Or if characters engage in sex, teens may see it as exciting and something they want to try. It is your job to make sure your child is watching movies and using other media that are right for his or her age. Be sure to follow these tips:
  • Work to understand the social and emotional development of your child or teen.
  • Know all the different types of media your child uses and sees every day.
  • Insist on a good balance among your child's activities.
  • Make a family plan for movies to watch and safe ways to use all technology.
  • Limit how much time your child spends seeing movies, watching TV and surfing the Internet.
  • Talk often with your child about the dangers of violence, sex and other risky behaviors seen in movies or through technology.
  • Do not rely on movie ratings.
    • Learn more about the movie to decide what is right for your child to see.
    • Know that there may not be any difference in the amount of violence and sex shown in movies rated PG-13 rather than R.
    • Do not watch movies or TV shows you do not think are OK for your child in front of him or her.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? The increasing amount of violence and sex in popular movies is cause for concern. More research is needed on the effect of violence and other risky behaviors in movies on children's future behavior. Parents should make their own informed decisions on what movies their children watch. We also need to take a new look at the movie ratings system. It does not appear to be so effective in protecting youth from being exposed to problem content that could have a negative effect on their health. Future studies should explore potential improvements to the system. These could include:
  • Ways to prevent desensitization in movie raters
  • The effect of recruiting more parents to participate in the rating system
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Calm Family Meals Linked with Normal Weight Research has linked family meals with a lower risk of childhood obesity. A new study suggests that...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? For a while, we’ve known that family meals can help kids eat healthier and perhaps help them reach (and stay at) a healthier weight. But researchers in Minnesota wanted to know what aspects of a family meal made a difference. Is it enough to just sit family members down together? Or is there more to the story? So they studied 120 children and their parents (mostly mothers). They videotaped mealtimes. The researchers also interviewed the families and had them fill out questionnaires. They looked at various characteristics of the mealtime, and also at how family members interacted with each other. Then they looked to see if there were any links between these characteristics and interactions and whether or not the children were overweight. Here's what they found:
  • Children whose families had warm, positive interactions during meals were less likely to be overweight.
  • When interactions were negative, or when there wasn't much interaction at all, children were more likely to be overweight.
The study had some other interesting findings. For example, some other aspects of family meals were linked with a greater risk of overweight in children. These included:
  • Shorter meals
  • Eating somewhere other than the kitchen or dining room
  • Having the TV on
  • Lecturing kids about food or eating
  • Negative comments about food or eating
What Changes Can I Make Now? As I said, we already knew that family meals are a good idea. Of course, they help with nutrition. They can also help kids in school and help teens stay out of trouble. So all of us should listen to the message of this study. The results of this study suggest some advice for parents:
  • Eat family meals. They don't have to be elaborate three-course meals. A bowl of spaghetti and a bowl of salad are just fine. If anything, the message of this study is that while serving healthy food is important, how everyone behaves together during the meal is just as important (maybe more so). And while longer is better, meals don't have to be very long. About 20 minutes is fine, and that should be manageable for most families. (Hey, everyone has to eat anyway.)
  • Talk to each other during meals. The authors suggest something as simple as having everyone talk about the high and low points of their day.
  • As much as you can, try to keep the mood of the meal positive. As tempting as it can be to get snappish at the end of the day, try not to do that. Enjoy each other.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? While childhood obesity rates have been leveling off recently, they are still too high. What is especially worrisome is that obesity does its damage to the body over time. When it starts in childhood, the child is getting a head start on that damage. That's why anything we can do to fight childhood obesity is great news -- especially when it's a simple, practical thing like having a pleasant family dinner. I hope that people will listen to the advice of this study. And I hope there will be more studies that help us to help children get healthy and stay healthy.]]>
Mon, 13 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Teens and Parents Like School-Based Health Centers School-based health centers make good medical homes for teens, a new survey finds. Researchers... What is the Doctor's Reaction? Does the school where you live have a doctor’s office? This is called a school-based health center (SBHC). It may be very helpful because it:
  • Lets students take care of an illness at school
  • Offers important services for good health, like checkups, sports physicals, vaccinations, nutrition advice, mental health care and sexual health care
  • May be the only way some students can get medical care
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at how SBHCs are being used by teens. They also wanted to know if a SBHC could be a "medical home" from the points of view of both teens and parents. The researchers asked about 500 teens who had at least 1 visit to a SBHC to complete a survey. They also surveyed about 500 parents of a teen who had been seen before at a SBHC. The researchers wanted to know: 1. The reasons that the teens visited the SBHC The top three reasons were:
  • Illness (78%)
  • Vaccines (69%)
  • Sex education (63%).
2.  The reasons that parents enrolled their teen in the SBHC More than half of the parents said that they liked that:
  • Many services are provided
  • Their child wouldn't have to miss school
  • They wouldn't have to miss work
  • The SBHC doesn't require insurance
  • There is no charge for the visit (no co-pay)
3. Whether they felt the SBHC could be a "medical home"
  • 3 out of 4 teens felt the SBHC was like a medical home.
  • Most parents (83%) trusted the SBHC to take good care of their child.
  • Most parents (82%) were happy with how the SBHC gave information to other doctors.
4. Whether the SBHC was the main source of medical care for the teen
  • About 1 in 3 teens used the SBHC as a regular source of care. These teens were more likely to have no insurance. Their parents also cared about mental health services.
It seems a SBHC could be a medical home from the points of view of teens and parents. A SBHC plays an important role in communities with limited access to medical care. It is especially important for teens that do not have a regular medical home. What Changes Can I Make Now? All children and teens should have a medical home. It can be at a doctor's office, hospital clinic, or community health center. It is possible SBHC could be a medical home in the future. A medical home is much more than a building with doctors. It means that your pediatric team:
  • Follows your child over time, as she gets older
  • Respects the culture and traditions of your family
  • Has a trusting relationship with you and your child
  • Meets the medical and non-medical needs of your child and family
  • Gives advice on vaccines, growth, development, diet, safety, parenting and more
  • Knows the health history of your child and family
  • Listens to the worries and needs of your child and family
  • Develops a care plan with you and your child
  • Connects you with specialized doctors, if needed
  • Knows programs in the community that may help meet your family's needs
  • Is always available to help when your child is sick
To make the most of your child's medical home visits:
  • Write down (and ask) all questions you have before you go.
  • Talk about your worries.
  • Let the doctor know what is most important to you and your child.
  • Check the next steps that you and your child should take after the visit.
  • Ask about community programs that may help your family.
Your teen may go to a school with a SBHC. He or she can still have a different medical home.
  • Make sure the SBHC will share information about the visit with your medical home. The medical home knows your child best and needs to keep all of her health information up-to-date.
  • Try to avoid going to a SBHC just for immunizations or sports physicals. Your doctor uses your office visits to give advice and talk about other issues or concerns.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? You can expect coordinated, high quality continuity of care to be the top priority for all children in a medical home. This is where he or she will be:
  • Followed over many years
  • Have 24/7 care available
  • Reach the best possible health outcomes
SBHCs will go on playing an important role. This is most true in communities where there is limited access to health care. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the School-Based Health Alliance have suggested that SBHCs could become certified as medical homes. This process reportedly is being explored by some SBHCs.]]>
Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:55:00 -0400
Timing of 1st Gluten Not Linked to Celiac Risk Children have the same risk of developing celiac disease regardless of when they start eating...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Reported new cases of celiac disease have increased dramatically in recent years. Recent estimates suggest that it affects up to 1 in 130 people in the United States. But it is not clear whether the disease is becoming more common or is just recognized more often. Celiac disease develops because of an abnormal immune reaction in the intestine to gluten. This is a protein found in many grains.  Symptoms include:
  • Stomach pain or bloating
  • Diarrhea or excess gas
  • Delayed growth (in children) or weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Bone or joint pain
  • An itchy or painful rash
  • Depression or irritability
  • Neurological problems, such as poor balance or seizures
The cause of celiac disease is unknown. At least part of the cause is genetic. However, not everyone with a family history or certain high-risk genes develops the disease.  Past research has suggested that feeding gluten to babies for the first time between ages 4 and 6 months might reduce their risk of celiac disease. Two studies published today examine the effect on risk when gluten is introduced at different times. The first study enrolled more than 900 children. They were at high risk for developing celiac disease based on genetic testing and family history. At 4 to 6 months of age, half were randomly assigned to receive gluten in their daily diet. The others received a placebo. After 6 months of age, gluten was gradually added to the diets of both groups. Here's what the study found:
  • About 5% of the high-risk children developed celiac disease by age 3. The rates were similar in those consuming gluten (5.9%) or not consuming gluten (4.5%) at 4 to 6 months of age.
  • The development of antibodies linked with celiac disease was similar in the gluten group (7%) and the gluten-free group (5.7%).
  • Results were similar whether or not the babies were breastfed.
The second study examined different timing for introducing gluten to high-risk babies. However, the results were similar. Gluten was added to babies' diets at age 6 months or 12 months. This timing made no difference in whether they developed celiac disease by age 5. The children did tend to develop it later if they had been introduced to gluten later (at 12 months). These results are disappointing. But they are unlikely to end speculation about whether there is a way to introduce gluten to infants that will reduce the risk of celiac disease. The number of children developing celiac disease in these studies was rather small. A larger study might have come to a different conclusion. It's also possible that introducing gluten earlier than 4 months or later than 12 months might be helpful. Still, the findings provide little support for the idea that there is an ideal timeframe for when infants should begin eating foods that contain gluten. What Changes Can I Make Now? Unfortunately, there is no well-established way to prevent celiac disease. As a result, all you can do is to see your doctor if you have symptoms of celiac disease and follow a celiac diet if you have the disease. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's important -- and challenging -- to remove gluten from your diet. Some foods you should avoid include:
  • Foods containing wheat, rye, barley or oats, including many cereals, breads, cookies, baked goods and pastas
  • Canned soups
  • Dairy products (such as ice cream or yogurt) that have fillers or additives
  • Prepared or processed meats
  • Beer, whiskey or gin
Foods that can be part of a gluten-free diet include:
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Nuts
  • Fresh fish, poultry or meat
  • Vegetables without sauces or additives
  • Wine
  • Plain yogurt and cheeses that are free of additives or fillers
Be sure to read food labels carefully. At restaurants, ask your server about gluten-free menu items. Maintaining a gluten-free diet is not easy. But it has become easier than in the past. Awareness is increasing and food labels are clearer. You also can find more gluten-free options now than ever before. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Interest in celiac disease is high. Researchers are hard at work trying to identify the trigger or triggers that cause the immune system to react badly to gluten. You can expect to hear about the results of that research in the years to come. Given the dramatic increase in new cases of the disease, the search is on for the reasons. From this latest research, it appears that introducing gluten to babies at a particular time isn't one of them.]]>
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0400