Natural Help for Infant Colic

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Health

There is no doubt that coping with infant colic causes tremendous distress for parents who have to cope with a suffering baby in obvious pain and hours of daily screaming. There are many suggested ways of dealing with it, but a study in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, provides a simple remedy for these symptoms.

We know that probiotics are hugely helpful in helping adults with digestive problems and it seems that a probiotic, Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown to significantly relieve symptoms of colic when compared to placebo in a double-blind study and this also confirms the findings of a previous study that compared the effect of L reuteri to a frequently prescribed colic medicine, simethicone in 2007.

The researcher must have used earplugs because this study was conducted on 50 breastfed infants who cried for at least three hours per day at the beginning of the study. After giving them L reuteri in a dose of ten billion colony-forming units per day they had at least a 50 percent improvement in crying time – to say nothing of the stress on the parents who must have been almost crying themselves with relief. The treatment group also showed an increase in healthy lactobacilli in the stools and a decrease in E coli, a bacterium associated with colic. Even better, no side effects occurred as a result of the treatment.

Other natural Colic treatments:
Probiotics are a simple solution to treat colic in babies and when combined with other natural solutions can substantially reduce the distressing crying and pain. One very old –fashioned but highly effective method is to swaddle the baby by wrapping them tightly in a blanket – science has got in here too as they tested this in 2006 and found it reduced crying times significantly.

Diet too is important as by eliminating certain items from the diet of breastfeeding mothers it had the knock on effect of reducing crying – but no use if you are bottle feeding. Getting rid of common potential allergenic foods such as cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, and fish also reduced crying in a trial in 2005.

As stress in the mother can be a factor in baby colic it makes sense to tackle that and maybe try out some soothing herbal teas. Ingredients to look for include chamomile, fennel, vervain, liquorice, and lemon balm.

If the colic does not respond to any of these then it may be time to consider other treatments found effective such as cranial osteopathy, which is very gentle, and both homeopathy and acupuncture have seen good results.

Passive Smoking – Still A Real Danger to Children says W.H.O.

December 7, 2010 by  
Filed under At Home, Childrens Health, Health

Smoking is now so restricted, you would think the issue of passive smoking had gone away – but it certainly has not. It causes 1% of all deaths globally – 603,000 a year – of which about 165,000 are in children, according to a study, from the World Health Organization’s Tobacco-Free Initiative in Geneva.

This is the first assessment made of passive smoking’s impact worldwide and is based on data analyses from 192 countries. They found that worldwide, 40% of children, 33% of male non-smokers and 35% of female non-smokers were subjected to passive smoking and the deaths related to that are not insignificant. They estimated that that one year this caused:

• 379,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease
• 165,000 deaths from lower respiratory infections
• 36,900 deaths from asthma
• 21,400 deaths from lung cancer

Almost half (48%) of all passive smoking deaths were in women and more than a quarter (28%) in children, with only 26% in men because research showed that men are more likely to be active smokers themselves.

Most deaths in children caused by passive smoking occurred in low- or middle-income but adult deaths from passive smoking were fairly evenly spread across all countries, irrespective of income. Children suffer heavier exposure to second-hand smoke than any other age-group, and are also the group for which there is strongest evidence of harm from passive smoking.

Although much has been done to cut smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants there is still the problem of smoking in the home, or around children outdoors. There are currently estimated to be around 1.2 billion smokers in the world and they are exposing billions of non-smokers to second-hand smoke. I know giving up can be hard, but if you are spending time around children, please do think about it.

Bisphenol A Link to Dental Treatment Problems

September 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Health, Medical Research & Studies

The danger of BPA is something I have highlighted previously in other newsletters, particularly in relation to children, and now there appears to be yet another cause for concern relating to dental treatment. BPA was originally produced for use as a synthetic hormone in 1936 and today is most commonly used as the building block of polycarbonate plastic for products such as baby bottles and water bottles, epoxy resins (coatings that line food containers), and white dental sealants. It is also an additive in other types of plastic used to make children’s toys.

To date there is extensive scientific literature reporting adverse effects of BPA at doses lower than the current level considered safe by U.S. EPA, a high rate of leaching of BPA from food and beverage containers, and evidence that the median BPA level in humans is higher than the level that causes adverse effects in lab studies.

Children are Most at Risk:

Growing children are particularly at risk to chemicals in their environment because they face greater exposure per pound of body weight and are physiologically more susceptible to them. Children’s exposures begin at conception, as chemicals, including BPA, cross the placenta in a pregnant woman’s body and can affect the embryo or foetus during critical periods of development.

Now there is even greater cause for concern as, according to researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, bisphenol A (BPA) is also released from some plastic resins used in dentistry. They found that this is detectable in the saliva after used during routine dental treatment and among the many risks associated with BPA are changes in behaviour, urinary tract development, and early onset of puberty. Adults of course are not immune either as prostate problems are also associated with BPA.

This study was carried out in the USA where children often have their teeth sealed with a dental resin containing BPA to prevent cavities, and it is often used for fillings. Although they point out that exposure to dental treatment is much less common than children being exposed to BPA in everyday food containers for example it is still a cause for concern. Indeed, they go further and as a further precaution urge that resins containing BPA should not be used on pregnant women.

Babies at Risk from Exposure to Bisphenol A in Plastic Feeding Bottles

April 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Childrens Health


The hormonally active substance bisphenol A is contained in many synthetic and packaging materials and can disrupt the body’s endocrine system. It can find its way into the food chain and the human organism and a new study appears to show that babies who are fed with polycarbonate bottles are especially at risk.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is the key element in polycarbonate synthetics and epoxy resins and you will find it in most plastic everyday objects from baby bottles and food packaging to the coating used in food and drink cans and to seal drinking water pipelines and can be harmful even in small doses

BPA acts like the natural hormone estrogen and as an anti-androgen and it can affect sexual development, especially in boys. Based on toxicological studies, the European Food Safety Authority has established a limit for the acceptable daily intake of BPA: currently 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. “However, the limit doesn’t include the studies on the hormonal impact of bisphenol A, which are often difficult to interpret,” says Natalie von Götz, a scientist from the Institute of Chemistry and Bioengineering.

Her studies indicated that babies and infants absorb the most BPA and that those fed using PC bottles are the worst affected. On average they were taking in 0.8 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight via bottles and although this amount is well below the statutory minimum, von Götz says that the latest studies on rats have shown that even low doses can have a harmful impact on their development.

The exposure declines with age, although the study also shows that it depends on the kind of diet or lifestyle you have. If your diet includes a lot of canned food, or ready meals in PC containers reheated n the microwave then you are being exposed to a comparatively higher dosage of BPA.

There is no need to panic, as more research is certainly needed in the packaging field, but keeping an eye on your personal intake would be a good move and if bottle feeding a baby then old fashioned glass and heating milk outside the microwave would seem to be a safer option.

Acupuncture Helps Young Patients with Chronic Illness

February 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Health


There is plenty of evidence to support acupuncture for pain relief, and I personally am a big fan of it after it cured me of pain from a trapped sciatic nerve in my hip, and now doctors at Rush University Medical Center in Illinois but little has been studied for its effects on children.

Rush Children’s Hospital offers both Chinese and Western medicine to patients and this has prompted this new study to analyze and document how acupuncture might help in reducing pain in children and increase quality of life. The children have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses and they are testing acupuncture therapy to help ease the pain and negative side effects like nausea, fatigue, and vomiting caused by such conditions and intensive treatments such as chemotherapy.

Dr. Paul Kent is an oncology expert at the hospital and it is the lack of options for pain management in children that has prompted the study. Research indicates that up to 70 percent of paediatric patients experience pain and those with chronic illnesses often do not have adequate relief or prevention of pain. This is because as many of the solutions for adults such as narcotics and other serious pain medications carry too many risks of serious side effects in children. Dr Kent has no doubt it will be useful from his own experience at the hospital, he said that many children with chronic or acute health issues turn to complementary or integrative approaches after all other conventional treatment options are exhausted and that integrative therapies like acupuncture can be helpful from the onset of disease and can have a tremendously positive influence on a child’s quality of life.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States has published a statement concluding that acupuncture is effective for treating adults for nausea following chemotherapy and for pain after dental surgery. In children, both they and their parents have stated that acupuncture treatments were both helpful and relaxing so the therapy is being offered to patients between the ages of 5-20 years of age.

Those children in the study will receive eight acupuncture treatments at no charge.

The Real Differences Between Teenage Boys and Girls

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, featured, Health


One of most commonly quoted facts about the differences between boys and girls is that the girls do better academically. What’s not so well known is that boys have higher rates of suicide, conduct disorders, emotional disturbance, premature death and juvenile delinquency than girls of their age.

This startling conclusion came from a paper on the “The State of American Boyhood,” published in the Journal ‘Gender’ and based on work done at the University of Alaska. They acknowledged that depression, suicide attempts and eating disorders are common in teenage girls but that the boys problems are more serious.

Young people themselves have negative stereotypes as to why boys do less well, and centre on three themes: young men are lazy, they don’t plan ahead and they are prone to peer pressure. The result is that they get little respect and so have even less enthusiasm for continuing education and low self esteem is made even worse.

Another difference between the sexes in the teens is that overweight girls tend to enter puberty early but overweight boys may begin puberty later than thin boys. Being a bouncy chubby baby is one thing, but when it persists it is setting a pattern for health problems later in life. As rates of obesity among teenagers has nearly tripled since the 1960s, this late development of puberty in boys may well become a cause for concern as it can lead to loss of self esteem with peers and this can increase comfort eating, and obesity, still further.

Safe Headwear for Toddlers

December 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, featured, Health


It is a truly magical moment when a child starts to crawl, but when they start to toddle it can bring up major anxiety and fear as they keep falling down as part of the learning process. Weird name, but the Oopsie is a functional and easy to wear head guard that is designed to protect toddlers from their occasional bumps as they try to maintain their balance.

It was designed by a doting Dad who was concerned when his son took regular falls while learning to walk and couldn’t find anything suitable to protect his head. He produced the Oopsie with a non-toxic EVA foam filling to absorb shock and cushion impact to the forehead, temples and skull soft spots.

It is easy to put on and simple to fasten the Velcro attached to the 2 pieces and is adjustable for different head sizes – obviously! Research has proved that toddlers are happy to wear it and the polyester and cotton cover comes in various covers and can be hand or gentle machine washed.

It would be an ideal present for an adventurous youngster, or rather their parents, and it costs £19.99. Stockists, and more information, from Baby Bumper or call 01373 301220.

Helping Children to De-stress

December 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Health


I find it quite ‘dis-stressing’ that so many children are suffering in this way but, according to a recent survey by the NSPCC, 1 in 3 school children are stressed.

They are suffering from two main issues: school itself and loneliness with not enough close contact with friends and family. Kids lives today are full of noise, activity and, sadly, pressure from their parents, their school and their peers. Bullying is one factor, but simply being overwhelmed by the demands put on them is also to blame.

You can see the results physically with problems like poor sleep patterns, irritability and over sensitivity, bed wetting, headaches, stomach aches and more and more we are seeing mental and emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, nervousness, anger and temper tantrums.

That’s all very well, as one of my great teachers used to say – understanding is the booby prize, it‘s what you do to solve it that matters. These have to revolve around helping to develop greater confidence, self belief and a more positive attitude towards themselves. There are many ways to do it, and finding a hobby that engages them is one way forward and certainly physical activity like sports and games are very helpful. What parents may not have considered is trying something like a special CD aimed at helping children relax

Marneta Viegas is founder of Relax Kids and has written 2 books of children’s visualisations and produced a range of children’s relaxation CDs for concentration, anger management, anxiety and worry, self-esteem and bedtime and are set to relaxing music.

Relaxation is vital for children’s health and well being with just a few minutes a day helping young children feel calm and focused and ready to face their day. It can also help with sleep problems as it decreases muscle tension, slows the rate of breathing and reduces blood pressure. If your child is having problems concentrating then some relaxation techniques will help with that as it can improve their listening skills. This means they are able to listen and assimilate information, so giving them better problem-solving abilities.

Adults and children alike have their creativity and imagination blocked when they are stressed and by encouraging children to relax and take their minds away from their current situation and go on an imaginary journey they get a stronger sense of self-esteem and a feeling of self worth as they start to see their strengths and qualities in the quiet space of relaxation.

If you would like to try some of the relaxation tips out with children, or stressed adults, here are some simple ones to start with:

1 Lying on the back with hand on the stomach. Breathe in and feel the stomach rise, and breathe out and feel it fall back. Just concentrate on breathing in and out slowly to help let go and feel calm and quiet.

2 Again, lying on your back, or sitting in a chair, tense and relax the muscles of the body in groups, starting at the feet and moving up to the head to help feel calm and relaxed.

3 Visualisation can also help by closing the eyes and imagining floating on a cloud or lying on a boat and floating down the river or lying in warm sunshine and feeling the warmth in their body or imagine that they are sinking gently into soft sand.

If you would like to know more about this work, please visit

Health Bite for Adults:

Just to remind you, that adults too can benefit from relaxation and meditation techniques. A $3.8 million study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the US has reported that ) patients with coronary heart disease who practiced meditation had a nearly 50 percent lower rate of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to a matched group that didn’t meditate.

We already knew that meditation has been proved to reduce blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, but this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice reduces the incidence of heart attacks, strokes and improves longevity.


Teenage Girls Obesity and MS Link

November 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health


Teenage girls are often obsessed with weight, and a lot of emphasis naturally has been put on the fight against anorexia and false body image. However, the reverse is also flagging up a problem as recent research has shown that girls who were obese at age 18 faced double the risk of developing multiple sclerosis as adults.

The study is part of a very long running research project by the Nurses’ Health Study in the USA and found a much higher relative risk of MS among those girls who had a body mass index value of 30 or more at age 18. They have speculated that it could be related to inadequate levels of vitamin D or the systemic inflammation that is also associated with obesity. Those who are obese are often found to have very low levels of vitamin D.

Interestingly being overweight in childhood did not carry a similar risk, it was the weight as they reached 18-20 that was significant so it’s worth keeping an eye on teenage girls weight as they reach mid teens, if they will let you.

Home births as safe as hospital delivery


Women who give birth at home do not have any higher rate of complications or death than women who give birth in a hospital. This research was carried out in the Netherlands where one-third of women choose to give birth at home, due to a government encouragement of the policy.

Because the Netherlands has one of the highest rates in Europe of infant death during or just after birth, some researchers have suggested that home births might be unsafe, but when researchers examined data from 530,000 births attended by midwives, they found no difference in the risk of mother or infant death between home births and hospital births.

The study looked only at low-risk women, defined as those going into labour with no known complications, and did not include hospital births attended by a doctor rather than a midwife.

The researchers found that a full one-third of women who began their birth at home eventually had to be transferred to a hospital but in such cases neither the mother nor infant was at any higher risk of dying than in any of the other births in the study.

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