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 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:37:00 -0400 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
Outbreak of Severe Virus Now in 22 States At least 160 cases of a sometimes severe virus have been confirmed in 22 states, U.S. health...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? If you haven't started taking hand-washing really seriously, now's the time to start -- especially if you have children with asthma. It's been all over the news: a bad virus sweeping the country that is landing hundreds of children in the hospital. The virus that is being blamed is called enterovirus D68. Enteroviruses are very common. Every year, especially in the summer and fall, they cause 10 million to 15 million infections. The vast majority of these illnesses are mild -- colds, rashes, vomiting, low-grade fever, mouth sores. But sometimes, as is the case with this particular strain, they can be more serious. We don't entirely understand why this strain is causing so much trouble -- or why it is particularly affecting children. It may be simply that children haven't lived as long as adults. This means they have had less time to build up immunity to enteroviruses in general. Whatever the reason, it's clear that enterovirus D68 does cause more trouble for children, especially those with asthma. This illness can cause cold symptoms that then lead to trouble breathing. Sometimes affected children need oxygen. Many of the children who get sick enough to end up in the hospital have asthma. Not only do they get sick from the virus, it causes their asthma to act up. As of the end of last week, there were 160 confirmed cases in 22 states. There are almost certainly many more than 160 cases, and the virus is likely in more than 22 states. Special tests need to be done to know for sure what exact virus is making children sick. These are tests that doctors don't always do on sick children. The tests that confirm it is enterovirus D68, as opposed to another kind of enterovirus, can be done in only a small number of laboratories. This can take a long time. What Changes Can I Make Now? As I said above, the best thing you can do is wash your hands. Enterovirus D68 doesn't get spread through the air. It's spread through contact with body fluids like saliva and nasal secretions (snot). Washing your hands regularly can help decrease the chance of catching all sorts of illnesses, including this one. It's also a good idea to:
  • Stay away from sick people to the extent possible
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Regularly wipe down common surfaces, such as doorknobs
  • Avoid sharing cups and utensils
  • Teach children to cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of the elbow instead of the hand
Since we are in flu season, these are great things to do anyway. If you have a child with asthma, it's really important that he or she take all medicines as prescribed, especially "controller" medicines. These are the ones that are meant to prevent symptoms. Very often, families get a bit lax with those over the summer, when many children with asthma get better. Families figure the controller medicines aren't needed, and they stop them. If that was the case in your family, start those medicines up again. They could make all the difference if your child catches this virus. It's also important to be watchful of any child who gets a cold. Chances are it's just a cold, and nothing serious. But look out for any trouble breathing. Children who have trouble breathing may:
  • Cough very often
  • Breathe fast or heavy
  • Have trouble talking
  • Look pale
If you notice any of this, bring your child to get medical attention right away. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? I hope that this virus will pass as we move out of fall. I also hope that, with increased awareness, people will take the best steps to prevent this illness and get children the care they need quickly.  But when we move out of fall, we will still be in flu season. So even if the news says that enterovirus D68 isn't as big a threat anymore, keep up with the hand-washing and other suggestions.  Get your flu shot, too. Winter is a bad time for viruses. The habits you learn for preventing enterovirus D68 can go a long waytoward keeping you and your family as healthy as possible.]]>
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:19:00 -0400
Study: Kids Get Double Antibiotics Needed Doctors prescribe antibiotics twice as often as needed for children with common respiratory...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Lots of people think an antibiotic is needed for every infection a child gets. Not true. These drugs work only against bacteria, not other germs. Children get lots of acute respiratory tract infections every year. Five common infections involve the:
  • Ears (otitis media)
  • Sinuses (sinusitis)
  • Lungs (bronchitis)
  • Nose (upper respiratory infection, known as URI)
  • Throat (pharyngitis)
Viruses cause many of these infections. Antibiotics are not needed. Yet, they are still commonly prescribed. Each year, about 32 million doctor visits for breathing problems lead to antibiotic prescriptions. A study in the journal Pediatrics looked at how often bacteria cause these 5 common childhood infections. The answer was found in various studies done from 2000 to 2011. These 5 common infections occurred in 525 of 1,000 children each year. Of those who had these infections, bacteria were found in:
  • 65% of ear infections
  • 20% of throat infections
  • 78% of sinus infections
Researchers could not determine how often bacteria caused nose or lung infections. Then the researchers looked at a national survey about doctor visits by children less than 19 years between 2000 and 2010. During the 10 years of doctor visits studied, antibiotics were prescribed for these 5 infections 52% to 62% of the time. An antibiotic was prescribed for:
  • 86% of ear infections
  • 57% of throat infections
  • 89% of sinus infections
  • 24% of nose infections
  • 72% of lung infections
Some of these 5 infections are more common than others. For some, treatment guidelines recommend that many or all patients receive no antibiotics. So researchers calculated that overall doctors should have prescribed antibiotics 27% of the time for these 5 infections. Instead, they were prescribed more than twice as often (57%). The researchers found that about 11.4 million needless antibiotic prescriptions are written every year. It is not easy to separate bacterial and viral illnesses. Doctors should consider the findings from this study in making a decision to prescribe an antibiotic. What Changes Can I Make Now? When your child is sick, an antibiotic may not be the answer. Taking an antibiotic when it is not needed can do more harm than good. It may cause side effects. It also can increase your child's risk of getting an infection that is resistant to the antibiotic. That means the antibiotic will not work. Remember that antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses. These include:
  • Colds
  • Influenza (the flu)
  • Runny noses
  • Most sore throats
  • Most coughs
  • Most bronchitis (chest cold)
  • Most sinus infections
  • Some ear infections
Giving antibiotics will not make these infections go away any faster. They also will not help your child feel better. Luckily, these illnesses usually get better on their own within a week or so. If the doctor does not prescribe antibiotics, this does not mean your child is not sick. Talk with your doctor about ways to help your child feel better. She may recommend:
  • Plenty of rest
  • Lots of fluids
  • A cool-mist vaporizer in the child's bedroom
  • Saline (salt-water) nose drops to relieve stuffiness
  • Over-the-counter medicines, as directed
If your child has an infection the doctor believes is caused by bacteria, she may need an antibiotic. Give your child only the antibiotic that the doctor prescribes.
  • Do not skip any doses.
  • Finish the whole treatment, even if your child is feeling better.
  • Do not save any antibiotics to give the next time your child is sick.
  • Do not use one child's antibiotic for a sibling or friend.
  • Throw away unused antibiotics.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Parents and doctors will work together to use antibiotics correctly. Parents should not always think taking one of these drugs is the answer. Your doctor also will suggest ways to help your child feel better without antibiotics. Antibiotics should be prescribed only when they are really needed. Doctors follow specific guidelines. They keep the following ideas in mind when deciding to use an antibiotic:
  • Whether or not bacteria are very likely to be causing the infection
  • The benefits and harms of using an antibiotic
  • Which antibiotic is the right one to use
  • Which is the right dose and the shortest period of time needed
Doctors also may discuss watch-and-wait strategies with you. This will help ensure that your child is taking the antibiotic for its intended use. Expect your child's doctor to remind you to give antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed.]]>
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Infant Feeding and Long-Term Health Breastfeeding leads to fewer ear, throat and sinus infections. But it doesn't lead to fewer colds,... What Is the Doctor's Reaction?
When it comes to feeding babies, there's lots of advice out there. What's particularly difficult about the advice, too, is that it's often given in a very "you must do this" matter of fact way. As if not doing it that way, could cause your baby irreparable harm. To make matters worse, the advice tends to vary -- even among doctors. Part of the reason for this is that while we think we know a lot about infant nutrition, what we often don't have is the long-term results of our advice. That's why a collection of studies just released in the journal Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is so interesting. The studies all relate to the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this study, they followed mothers and infants from the end of pregnancy through 12 months. In a follow-up, they checked in with them at age 6. Here are some of the findings of the studies:
  • Prolonged breastfeeding (several months) and delaying solid foods led to fewer ear, throat and sinus infections -- but had no effect on colds, lung infections or urinary infections.
  • Prolonged breastfeeding and delaying solids didn't change whether or not children were likely to have food allergies.
  • Breastfeeding doesn't actually help mothers lose their pregnancy weight faster -- unless they were obese during pregnancy, in which case it does make a difference.
  • Breast-fed babies have slightly healthier diets later in childhood: they are more likely to drink water (instead of juices or soda) and eat more fruits and vegetables. However, they are just as likely to eat sweets and snacks as children who were bottle-fed.
  • Giving sugar-sweetened beverages in infancy doubled the risk of obesity -- and doubles the chance that children will still be drinking them at age 6, which sets them up for future obesity.
  • If babies don't eat many fruits and vegetables, they are less likely to eat them when they are 6 years old. It wasn't possible to tell if this was a preference (the kids didn't like fruits and vegetables) vs. a family diet (the kids weren't served fruits and vegetables).
  • If babies were bottle-fed (either with formula or pumped breast milk), their mothers were more likely to try to get them to finish their food when they were 6 years old -- such as wanting them to eat all the food on their plate.
What Changes Can I Make Now? The bottom line is that good -- and bad -- eating habits start early. It really isn't so much a matter of breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, although breastfeeding can be very healthy for babies. It's more about getting children on the right track for healthy eating, right from the start. For instance:
  • Don't give children juices or sugar-sweetened beverages. They don't need them -- and they can be unhealthy. It's one habit to simply never start.
  • Start giving fruits and vegetables when children are babies, and not just in the baby food in jars. It's a health habit that can make all the difference. We should all eat five servings a day; if babies are eating that from the get-go, it's much less likely to be a struggle later.
  • Don't make children finish their food, whether it's a bottle of formula or the food on their plate. Let them listen to their own hunger cues. This can help prevent future obesity.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Obesity is at staggeringly high rates in both adults and children. Studies like these can help us understand what we can do to prevent obesity. Hopefully people will listen to this advice -- and hopefully there will be more studies to help us make the best, healthiest decisions for our children.]]>
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 00:00:00 -0400