Childrens Medical Group of Greenwich
Childrens Medical Group of Greenwich
2015 FLU SHOTS ARE HERE!
Why get the vaccine?
Influenza is a very contagious disease. It is spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions. Children have the highest rates of infection. Infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions are at higher risk of more severe flu.
Who should get the vaccine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends flu shots for all children greater than 6 months old. We, at CMG, especially recommend flu vaccines for children with siblings under 6 months old in the household, infants older than 6 months to 4 years old, children with underlying medical issues including:
• Asthma or other chronic lung disease
• Significant heart disease
• Immunosuppressive disorders or therapy
• Long-term aspirin therapy
• Chronic kidney disease
The vaccine is also required by day-cares and pre-schools in Connecticut.
2 doses are required for 1st time vaccinees between 6 months and 8 years, spread 4 weeks apart.
Who should NOT get the vaccine?
Children with an egg allergy should discuss the vaccine with their allergist. Your child may be able to be vaccinated by the allergist, or the allergist can provide a clearance note.
Children who are moderately, or severely, ill should wait to get their flu vaccine and those with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should discuss whether or not to get the vaccine with your doctor.
Children who have asthma, or close contact with people with compromised immune systems should NOT get the intranasal live vaccine (flu mist), but can safely get the injectable vaccine.
Which Flu vaccine is right for you?
Children who are under 2 years old or have underlying heart, kidney, lung, liver, anemia, or metabolic disease such as diabetes will receive the inactive flu vaccine injection, not the live flu mist.
There are two options this year for children over 2 years old with NO underlying medical condition and/or egg allergy.
• Option #1 is the traditional injection.
• Option #2 is the live intranasal flu mist.
Children should not have a significant degree of nasal congestion when the mist is administered. Both vaccines are preservative free and contain the seasonal and H1N1 flu strains.
What are the risks?
• Mild problems:
• Soreness/redness/swelling where shot was given
•If symptoms occur, they will occur shortly after the shot and last 1-2 days.
• Severe problems:
•Allergic reaction – including difficulty breathing
How long does it take to work?
It takes about 2 weeks after the vaccine is administered to become protected. The flu vaccine does not protect against non-flu viruses.
How do you schedule an appointment?
Please call our office at 203-661-2440 for an appointment.
If your child has a check-up scheduled soon, you do not need to make an appointment just for the vaccine. Your child will get the flu vaccine at the check-up appointment.
Please make sure to sign up on our home page to receive our emails.
A few weeks ago, I had my yearly physical. As part of her history-taking, my doctor asked if I was sexually active with my wife. Then she asked if I was sexually active with anyone other than my wife. She does this every year.
She’s not asking to be intrusive. Nor is she a voyeur. She knows that having multiple sexual partners significantly increases one’s chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Asking about that allows her to see if I’m at risk, and then to address that risk with me.
I’m not offended that she asks me. Asking me is part of what makes her an excellent physician. Doctors are supposed to ask about sensitive things in order to help keep us safe. This is especially true for pediatricians. This kind of exchange is how we engage in prevention, sometimes called anticipatory guidance, and study after study shows it can prevent harm.
Continue reading the main story
Jodi Sandoval’s 14-year-old son, Noah McGuire, was accidentally killed last year with a handgun left accessible by the grandfather of a friend.Bearing Arms: Children and Guns: The Hidden TollSEPT. 28, 2013
interactive Multimedia Feature: Gun Country
When pediatricians ask you about using car seats, they’re trying to prevent injuries. When they ask you about how your baby sleeps, they’re trying to prevent injuries. When they ask you about using bike helmets, they’re trying to prevent injuries. And when they ask you about guns, they’re trying to prevent injuries, too.
Mario Whitehead feeding his niece, Jaylah Giles, at his home in Orlando, Fla., last year. He was paralyzed from the waist down in an accidental shooting earlier in the year. In 2011, more than 11,000 people were killed by firearms in the United States. Credit Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel, via Getty Images
But not, perhaps, everywhere. In Florida, in 2011, a law was signed that made it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they owned a gun. If doctors violate this law, they can be disciplined, leading to fines, citations and even a loss of their license.
A lower court struck down the law in 2012. But last week, a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld it. In their ruling, the judges declared that the law regulates physician conduct “to protect patient privacy and curtail abuses of the physician-patient relationship.” The clear assertion of the judges is that there is no legitimate health reason to be asking about gun ownership.
Almost 20,000 people committed suicide in the United States with firearms in 2011. More than 11,000 were killed by firearms that year, and more than 200 were killed in accidents with guns. In 2009, almost 7,400 children were hospitalized because of injuries related to guns.
Doctors who ask about guns aren’t doing so because they’re nosy. They’re doing so because the vast majority of those deaths and injuries are preventable.
It’s entirely possible to keep a gun in your home safely. But studies show that the majority of people who keep guns in their homes do so in an unlocked space. Few have any kind of trigger locks. More than 10 percent report keeping their guns loaded or near ammunition, in an unlocked area.
That’s often how children get hurt. Few people argue that young children should have access to guns or ammunition. But that’s what’s happening in far too many homes in the United States. Research shows that guns kept in the home are more likely to be involved in accidents, crimes, or suicides than in self-defense.
Continue reading the main story
Jim S. 4 hours ago
Perhaps the doctor, while holding out his hand with index finger extended, his thumb tapping on the joint at the index finger, and…
Ted Pikul 4 hours ago
Re-directing personal frustrations and self-antagonism at politically correct targets isn’t actually the same as solicitude or moral…
David T 5 hours ago
I agree this is a bad law, but the columnist has not accurately described it, and therefore many of the concerns expressed both by him and…
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When I ask patients and parents whether they own guns, if they tell me they do, I immediately follow up with questions about how they are stored. I want to make sure they’re kept apart from ammunition. I want to make sure they’re in a locked box, preferably in a place out of reach of children. Doing so minimizes the risks to children. That’s my goal.
Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
When we, as physicians, ask you if you drink or smoke, it’s not so that we can judge you. It’s so we can discuss health risks with you. When we ask you about domestic violence, it’s not to act like police detectives. It’s so that we can help you make better choices for your health. When we ask you about what you eat or whether you exercise, it’s so we can help you live better and longer. We’re doctors; it’s our job.
Please understand, you can calmly refuse to answer any of these questions. You can tell your doctor you’d rather not discuss this topic. You can choose to lie. You can even just not come to the doctor in the first place. There’s nothing stopping you from preventing us from helping you.
Of course, rejecting discussion of a risk-laden topic isn’t much different from rejecting discussion of what you eat, or what’s physically ailing you. You’re hurting only yourself. What this now-upheld Florida law does is prevent doctors from helping other people, who might want the assistance. Anticipatory guidance is about stopping injuries before they happen. This law, passed in the name of protecting privacy, prevents doctors from practicing good medicine.
Physicians are supposed to cover topics that can make patients uncomfortable. It’s why what you tell your doctor is confidential. Your privacy, your medical records and all your privileged information are still protected by the same laws that have always been there. None of that changed with the Affordable Care Act.
If the courts decide that people have the right never to be asked sensitive questions, they’re interfering with the relationship between doctor and patient. They’re deciding that some health risks are worth minimizing and others are not.
Aaron E. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. He blogs on health research and policy at The Incidental Economist, and you can follow him on Twitter at @aaronecarroll.
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Researchers found they had more severe symptoms, longer recovery times than boys.
By Kathleen Doheny
THURSDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) — Girls who suffer a concussion may have more severe symptoms that last longer compared to boys, according to new research that builds on other studies finding gender differences.
“There have been several studies suggesting there are differences between boys and girls as far as [concussion] symptom reporting and the duration of symptoms,” said Dr. Shayne Fehr, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
In his new study, Fehr also found those differences. He tracked 549 patients, including 235 girls, who sought treatment at a pediatric concussion clinic.
Compared to the boys, the girls reported more severe symptoms and took nearly 22 more days to recover, said Fehr, also an assistant professor of pediatric orthopedics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
He was due to present the findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, held in New Orleans. Studies presented at medical meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
A concussion is any brain injury that disturbs normal functioning. Concussions are typically caused by a jolt or blow to the head, often in collision sports such as hockey or football, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In recent years, experts have advised coaches, players and parents that athletes should not return to play until they are seen by a doctor if a concussion is suspected.
In the new study, Fehr tracked patients aged 10 to 18, all treated between early 2010 and mid-2012. Each patient reported on their symptoms, how severe they were and how long it took from the time of the injury until they were symptom-free.
In addition to reporting more severe symptoms, girls took an average of 56 days to be symptom-free. In comparison, the boys took 34 days. Overall, the time to recovery was 44 days when boys and girls were pooled.
That duration of symptoms, Fehr said, is much longer than what people commonly think. “Commonly you hear that seven to 10 days [for recovery] is average,” he said.
Fehr did not find age to be linked with severity of symptoms. Most of the injuries — 76 percent — were sports-related, with football accounting for 22 percent of the concussions.
The top five reported symptoms were headache, trouble concentrating, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound and dizziness. Boys and girls, in general, reported the same types of symptoms, Fehr said, but the girls reported more severity and for a longer time period.
“This confirms what has been reported before,” said Dr. John Kuluz, director of traumatic brain injury and neurorehabilitation at Miami Children’s Hospital, who reviewed the findings.
While he said the 44-day recovery seems lengthy, he added that it probably reflects the boys and girls studied. They all went to a concussion clinic, so their injuries may have been more severe.
What’s not known, Fehr said, is why the differences exist and whether they are related to more reporting of symptoms right after the injury by girls or if girls are truly more significantly affected.
“I wouldn’t treat girls any differently than boys,” he said.
For both genders, it’s important to be seen by a doctor and not return to play prematurely, which can be dangerous or even fatal, according to the AAP. Anyone with a history of concussion is at higher risk for another injury.
To learn more about concussions, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics..
SOURCES: Shayne Fehr, M.D., board certified pediatric sports medicine specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and assistant professor of pediatric orthopedics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; John Kuluz, M.D., director of traumatic brain injury and neurorehabilitation, Miami Children’s Hospital; presentation, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting, Apr. 5-9, 2014, New Orleans
Peanuts and milk consumed during pregnancy reduced asthma and allergy in children
A team of researchers recently found that milk, wheat and peanuts eaten during pregnancy were associated with decreased rates of asthma and allergy in children.
Supinda Bunyavanich, MD, MPH, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York led this research team.
Between 1999 and 2002, 1,277 mother-child pairs were recruited into the study. The pregnant mothers were interviewed and answered questionnaires when 10 weeks pregnant and again at 26 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Child health information was gathered at 6 months of age, 1 year and every year after. Data collected around 8 years of age was called the mid-childhood data.
The pregnant mothers completed diet surveys at the first and second trimester visits.
The researchers scored the amount the women ate, and consumption that was at least 68 percent more than average was called higher consumption.
Analysis of the data found that higher consumption of peanuts by pregnant women in their first trimester was associated with a 47 percent decreased odds of peanut allergic reactions in mid-childhood.
Higher consumption of milk in the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with a 17 percent decrease in chance of mid-childhood asthma.
In the second trimester, higher wheat consumption was associated with a 36 percent decrease in the odds of allergic skin reactions in mid-childhood.
The authors noted that their study was unique in that, “We found no other studies that examined maternal diet before 25 weeks, with most assessing diet for the last month or last trimester of pregnancy only.”
The association between a pregnant mother’s diet and asthma and allergy in her children is still controversial, but Dr. Bunyavanich and team concluded, “Our findings suggest potential benefits to including peanut, milk and wheat in the maternal diet during pregnancy.”
This study was published in the February issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Grants from the National Institutes of Health funded the research.
The researchers disclosed potential conflicts of interest for receiving research support from the National Institutes of Health and Phadia Thermo Fisher. One of the study’s authors has received royalties from Springer Humana Press and UpToDate, Inc.
Pediatricians’ group says retail-based clinics are not ideal for providing regular, permanent care for kids’ health issues.
The AAP policy statement opposes the use of retail-based clinics for kids’ regular health care
Pediatricians say their expertise and the medical home should be the standard of care
There are just over 1,600 retail-based clinics in 39 states and the District of Columbia
Families often turn to retail-based health clinics such as CVS’ MinuteClinic, Walgreens’ Healthcare Clinic or Kroger’s The Little Clinic when a child is sick or needs shots. But the nation’s largest group of pediatricians opposes such facilities for children’s primary care, saying they do not provide the high-quality, coordinated preventive health care kids need.
In an update to its 2006 policy statement, released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that retail-based clinics (RBCs) are “an inappropriate source of primary care for pediatric patients, as they fragment medical care and are detrimental to the medical home concept of longitudinal and coordinated care.” A medical home refers to a central provider who coordinates a child’s medical care.
Although the basic message and stand from the academy have not changed since the 2006 statement, “the number of clinics has grown and they are used much more,” says pediatrician James Laughlin, lead author of the statement and medical director for pediatrics at IU Health in Bloomington, Ind.
“If these entities are going to take care of children, there should be certain standards adhered to in terms of communicating back to the pediatrician or having some sort of relationship with a pediatrician locally so that a child can be referred back to their pediatrician for ongoing care.”
Continuity of care is of particular concern because a child may be seen in a clinic earlier in the day, but if a related situation arises late in the evening or during a clinic’s off-hours, “they traditionally don’t have any kind of after-hours availability,” says Laughlin, adding that AAP encourages its members to provide accessible hours and locations as part of a medical home.
Filling a gap when a child’s pediatrician is unavailable is a primary service provided by the clinics, says Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenience Care Association, the trade group representing the clinics.
“They are a more convenient option for parents with sick children rather than the alternative, which is often waiting for an appointment while the child is sick or spending hours in a high-cost emergency room for a minor pediatric complaint.”
Unlike free-standing urgent care clinics, RBCs are located within stores, almost exclusively use nurse practitioners or physician assistants to provide care, and offer a limited range of services.
Currently, there are just over 1,600 RBCs in 39 states and the District of Columbia that have served more than 20 million consumers to date including children, according to Hansen-Turton.
About 20% of the patients seen at MinuteClinic are children, says Andrew Sussman, president of the largest chain of retail-based medical clinics in the U.S. with 815 clinics in 28 states and the District of Columbia. It expects to add 150 new clinics this year.
“MinuteClinic adheres to the principles (the AAP) outlines,” says Sussman, a physician who previously practiced internal medicine. “We are very supportive of the medical home and the important role that the pediatrician plays, and we really see ourselves as complementary and supportive of that role.”
He notes, for example that it uses evidence-based guidelines when determining what care to provide, automatically provides parents of pediatric patients with a list of pediatrician referrals if they don’t have a medical home, and, with the parent’s permission, sends a note about the care it provided back to the family pediatrician.
“Increasingly that’s done electronically,” says Sussman, adding that it has official clinical affiliations with 30 major health systems across the country, including UCLA Health, Cleveland Clinic and Emory Healthcare.
“We agree that the pediatrician should be the quarterback of the team, but we also think there’s an important role for walk-in-care that’s low cost and evidence-based,” he says.
Finances are addressed in the AAP statement, which notes the importance of the medical home in ensuring “that pediatricians and other primary care physicians receive adequate compensation for the continuous, coordinated, and comprehensive health care that they provide.”
“It’s important to recognize the expertise of pediatricians, because that’s what they do 100% of the time,” says Laughlin. “I think there are instances where it is reasonable to use a retail-based clinic, such as if you’re traveling or if you have a time crunch and you feel like that’s where you need to go to get immediate care. But make sure that the information from that visit gets transmitted back to your pediatrician because the medical home is the optimal standard of care for pediatric patients,” he says.
BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 1 (UPI) — For 10 percent of the time U.S. drivers are behind the wheel their eyes are off the road due to eating, reaching for the phone or texting, researchers say.
Study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said the risks of distracted driving were greatest for newly licensed teen drivers, who were substantially more likely than adults to be involved in a crash or near miss while texting or engaging in tasks secondary to driving.
Simons-Morton collaborated with first author Sheila G. Klauer, Feng Guo, Suzie E. Lee and Tom A. Dingus; all of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg, and Marie Claude Ouimet now at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada.
The researchers found experienced adults were more than twice as likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a cell phone as when they did not dial and drive, but did not have an increased risk while engaging in other tasks secondary to driving.
However, the study found distracted driving substantially increased the risks for new drivers. Compared to when they were not involved in secondary tasks, novice teen drivers were:
— Eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing.
— Seven to eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object.
— Almost four times more likely when texting, and three times more likely when eating.
Talking on a cell phone did not increase risk among the adult or teenage drivers. However, because talking on a cell phone is preceded by reaching for the phone and answering or dialing — which increase risk greatly — the study authors concluded that their results provide support for licensing programs that restrict electronic device use, particularly among novice drivers. They also stressed the need for education about the danger of distracted driving.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Peanut allergy oral immunotherapy therapy successful in new study of children in the UK
January 29, 2014 / Author: Morgan Jones / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh
(dailyRx News) For parents of children with peanut allergies, the thought of their child accidentally eating a peanut can cause big concerns. But what if children could become tolerant to small amounts of peanuts?
That’s the hope behind a new study that examined oral immunotherapy in children with peanut allergies.
This study found that after receiving increasing exposure to peanut protein over 26 weeks, over half of participants were able to tolerate the equivalent of around five peanuts a day.
“Talk to your children about their allergies.”
According to the study’s authors, led by Andrew Clark, MD, of the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, peanut allergies are becoming increasingly common and are the most common cause of severe allergic reactions to food.
“Small studies suggest peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) might be effective in the treatment of peanut allergy,” wrote Dr. Clark and colleagues. In immunotherapy, the patient is exposed to increasing amounts of an allergen over time, with the aim of improving the immune system’s tolerance to the substance.
The researchers identified 99 participants at a clinical research facility in Cambridge between January 2010 and March 2013. Participants were all peanut allergy patients between the ages of 7 and 16 (average age was 12.4 years) without a major chronic illness.
These participants were divided into two treatment groups.
During the first phase of the study, which lasted 26 weeks, one group received OIT in the form of daily doses of peanut protein flour mixed into food. Doses were gradually increased up to 800 milligrams (mg) per day.
The other participants, the control group, practiced peanut avoidance — the main method currently available for managing a peanut allergy.
Dr. Clark and colleagues wanted to see if participants were able to achieve “desensitization” to peanuts, which was defined here as having no reaction during a food test. The food test gave participants a total dose of 1,400 mg of peanut protein, an amount equal to around 10 peanuts.
The researchers also measured how many participants could withstand ingesting 800 mg of peanut protein (around about five peanuts) each day for up to 26 weeks.
After the first phase of the study, 62 percent of the OIT group (24 out of 39 patients) achieved desensitization during the 1,400 mg peanut food test, compared to 0 percent of the 46 participants in the control group. Of the OIT group, 84 percent were able to ingest 800 mg of peanut protein a day.
During the second phase of the study, the participants in the control group underwent the OIT treatment.
After receiving the treatment, 54 percent of the original control group tolerated the 1,400 mg peanut challenge and 91 percent were able to ingest 800 mg of peanut protein.
Dr. Clark and colleagues reported that most of the side effects seen were mild. Itching of the mouth was seen after 6.3 percent of all peanut protein doses, and was experienced by 81 participants.
Some gastrointestinal symptoms were also seen, with abdominal pain occurring after 2.59 percent of all doses in 54 patients and nausea after 2.21 percent of all doses in 31 patients. No serious side effects were seen.
In a news release, Dr. Clark explained what these results could potentially mean for families of children with peanut allergies.
“This treatment allowed children with all severities of peanut allergy to eat large quantities of peanuts, well above the levels found in contaminated snacks and meals, freeing them and their parents from the fear of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction,” said Dr. Clark. “The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically.”
However, it is important to note that further research among wider populations of patients with peanut allergies is needed. The study’s authors stressed that OIT for peanut allergies should not be attempted in non-specialist settings.
In an interview with dailyRx News, John Oppenheimer, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), highlighted that the only treatment option currently available for peanut allergies is avoidance of peanuts and epinephrine shots if accidental consumption of peanuts causes anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction affecting the whole body.
“Unfortunately, studies have demonstrated that a significant number of peanut allergic patients unknowingly ingest peanuts, despite attempted avoidance with resultant allergic reactions that can culminate in severe anaphylaxis and even death,” explained Dr. Oppenheimer. “It is of no surprise that peanut allergic patients can have significant impediment of quality of life as a result of this illness.”
Dr. Oppenheimer said that this and other recent studies bring “a glimmer of hope” to the situation, but further research is needed, and that the treatment used in this study was not without the potential for side effects.
Dr. Oppenheimer also pointed out that this treatment shows desensitization, but not complete tolerance to peanuts. “Although this appears a subtle difference, it is really a very important one,” said Dr. Oppenheimer.
In desensitization, the patients need to keep continued and uninterrupted exposure to small amounts of peanuts to continue to maintain their state of desensitization.
“In other words, present OIT regimens provide protection only with uninterrupted use; however, with discontinuation, the patient is often left as sensitive to the food as when they began the protocol,” said Dr. Oppenheimer. “Certainly further research is needed, but this study provides us optimism.”
This study was published January 28 in The Lancet.
A recent leveling of obesity rates in the United States isn’t due to the bad economy, but the result of better eating habits that Americans began to adopt about 10 years ago, a new report says.
Some experts have suggested that people are less likely to become obese today because tough economic times are forcing them to eat less. Instead, it appears that long-term efforts to educate Americans about healthy eating habits and food choices are paying off, according to the new study.
“We found U.S. consumers changed their eating and food-purchasing habits significantly beginning in 2003, when the economy was robust, and continued these habits to the present,” study first author Shu Wen Ng, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a university news release.
The researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 13,400 children and nearly 10,800 adults between 2003 and 2011, as well as data from more than 57,000 households with children and nearly 109,000 households without children.
The investigators found that calorie intake decreased more among children than among adults, according to the study, which was published online this month in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“These changes in food habits persist independent of economic conditions linked with the Great Recession or food prices,” Ng said in the news release.
Further investigation revealed that recent economic problems did not have much impact on calorie intake, the researchers said.
Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, said this research is significant.
“We found the largest declines were among households with children,” Popkin said. “However, these declines did not occur uniformly. There were no significant declines in caloric intake observed among adolescents (12 to 18 years), black children and those whose parents did not complete high school.”
Popkin said this finding suggests that certain groups of people are still either “unable or unwilling to make these dietary changes.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about healthy weight.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, Jan. 23, 2014
A lack of adequate sleep, having parents with high body mass index (BMI), and having their eating habits restricted for weight control purposes are the three most significant risk factors when it comes to childhood obesity for preschoolers, according to researchers from the University of Illinois.
“We looked at 22 variables that had previously been identified as predictors of child obesity, and the three that emerged as strong predictors did so even as we took into account the influence of the other 19,” said Brent McBride, director of the university’s Child Development Laboratory. “Their strong showing gives us confidence that these are the most important risk factors to address.”
“What’s exciting here is that these risk factors are malleable and provide a road map for developing interventions that can lead to a possible reduction in children’s weight status,” he added. “We should focus on convincing parents to improve their own health status, to change the food environment of the home so that healthy foods are readily available and unhealthy foods are not, and to encourage an early bedtime.”
McBride and his colleagues collected data from a survey distributed to over 300 children and their parents, each of whom were recruited from east-central Illinois. Their findings were based on the first round of data collected when the youngsters were two years old, and a paper detailing their work was published last October in the journal Childhood Obesity.
The study authors reported a vast array of information regarding the subjects, including the healthy history of both the parents and the children, as well as eating practices. Furthermore, research assistants also visited the homes of each subject, checked their height and weight, and subjected the information to statistical analysis. Based on the results of that analysis, the investigators were able to come up with several recommendations for families.
According to Illinois nutritional sciences graduate student Dipti Dev, parents should understand that they tend to pass their food preferences onto their children, and that those tastes are often firmly established during the preschool years. Food environments that cause moms and dads to be overweight or obese will likely have the same impact on young sons and daughters.
“Similarly, if you are a sedentary adult, you may be passing on a preference for television watching and computer games instead of playing chasing games with your preschooler or playing in the park,” she added, also warning that restricting access to some foods will only make cravings for those items increase.
“If kids have never had a chance to eat potato chips regularly, they may overeat them when the food appears at a friend’s picnic,” McBride said. He added that it is essential to change the food environment in the house, making sure that fruits, vegetables and other healthy options are available when junk foods are not.
In addition, McBride said that parents need to remember that it will take multiple exposures to a certain type of food before he or she will try it and acquire a taste for it. Kids will need to be offered some foods several times, and they will also have to see their parents partaking of those products as well.
“Don’t use food to comfort your children when they are hurt or disappointed, do allow your preschoolers to select their foods as bowls are passed at family-style meals (no pre-plating at the counter – it discourages self-regulation), and encourage all your children to be thoughtful about what they are eating,” the university added.
The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program funded the study.