Category: Parenting

In this section you will find everything pertaining to the subject of parenting and how to power up the brain health of your child. Whether you are wondering about proper nutrition during pregnancy or how to nurture the microbiome of your toddle, this Parenting section explores all the latest science and information on improving the brain health of your child and stimulating brain development!

Some posts to get you started:
Improved Attention From Your Child? Feed Them This
Formula Feeding and Infant Obesity: Role of the Gut Microbiome

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Asthma and Nature Exposure

According to the CDC, 1 in 12 children in America suffers from asthma. That translates to approximately 6 million children. To be clear, asthma is a serious problem not only because asthmatic attacks can be life-threatening, but in the long-term, asthma has been associated with permanent lung damage.

Treatment of asthma in children typically involves inhalers of one sort or another. There are inhaled steroid medications that help to prevent asthma attacks, and so-called “rescue inhalers” that are utilized when the quick relief of symptoms is required.

But, as so often is the focus of my blogs, I think it’s important to first ask questions related to what may be causing a particular problem, in this case asthma, as opposed to simply focusing on treatments. In other words, how might the idea of preventive medicine factor into this discussion?

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Added Sugars – Not a Good Choice for Infant Nutrition

Who can forget the message of Mary Poppins telling us that “…a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Yes, we humans certainly like our sugar. To be sure, added sugar certainly increases our desire to consume a lot more than the “medicine” described in the song. It’s concerning to consider that of the 1.2 million food products sold in America’s grocery stores, approximately 68% have added sweeteners. This represents an active attempt to hack into our primitive desire for sweet and to alter our food choices moving forward. Continue reading

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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Pesticide Exposure

While pinpointing the actual cause or causes of autism remains elusive, more and more research is indicating that environmental issues may play an important role. To be clear, there are certain genetic markers associated with risk for autism, but the continued increase in incidence of autism spectrum disorder argues clearly against this being a straightforward genetic issue. Likely, various environmental factors interplay with genetic predisposition and ultimately lead to the manifestation of what is diagnosed as representing autism spectrum disorder.

In this video, I review new research that draws an important association between pesticide and herbicide exposure and risk for autism spectrum disorder.

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Implications of the “Alzheimer’s Gene” in Children

The development of highly accurate and widely available genome sequencing technology has put us at a crossroads. Now, more than ever, the divergent views of nature versus nurture confront consumers wishing to be advocates for their own health. As we learn about our genetics it seems quite clear that the deterministic message about our health destiny is ringing loud and clear. More and more, the idea that we are at the mercy of our inheritance seems supported by the advancing understanding and interpretation of our individual genetic profiles.

An important message we have been espousing over the past decade centers on the importance of lifestyle choices, specifically directed to offset disease risk that may well be enhanced by genetics. This ideology centers on the notion of genetic predisposition in contrast to genetic determinism. It is this contrast that opens the door to empowerment and your health destiny.

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Breastfeeding and Infant Weight Gain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a remarkable 40% of Americans aged 20 or over are obese. If we include those who are overweight, the percentage jumps to an astounding 72%! That means that more than two thirds of Americans age 20+ are overweight or actually obese. These statistics are sobering, especially in light of the recently announced report indicating that, for the second year in a row, life expectancy for both American women and men has declined.

When should efforts begin that might be effective in reducing these astounding rates of overweight and obesity? The CDC also reveals that 21% of children (ages 12-19) are obese, with 18.5% obesity in children ages 6 to 11. Perhaps most heart-wrenching is the fact that 14% of 2-5 year olds are obese as well. These statistics would certainly support dietary education and intervention programs very early on.

But, how early should we be starting these educational efforts that can positively impact the incidence of overweight and obesity in Americans? Continue reading

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ADHD Drugs Associated with a Dramatic Increased Risk for Parkinson’s

Estimates indicate that approximately 11% of school-aged children in United States have attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Further, approximately 2/3 of these children are currently being medicated for this diagnosis. The most common medications are essentially stimulants like amphetamines or methylphenidates, including drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.

The areas of the brain that are potentially damaged or disrupted by these medications include the basal ganglia, brain structures that are involved in coordinated movement. The other area that is potentially involved is the cerebellum, which also plays a role in movement. Continue reading

Formula Feeding and Infant Obesity: Role of the Gut Microbiome

Formula Feeding and Infant Obesity: Role of the Gut Microbiome

The advantages of breastfeeding, in comparison to formula feeding, are quite numerous. Breast-fed infants, for example, have remarkably lower risk for various allergic conditions, and there has certainly been some indication that risk of being obese or overweight may be reduced in infants who are breastfed versus those who receive infant formula.

In a new study just published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers followed a fairly large group of children, some of whom were breastfed while others were given infant formula, and determined that those receiving infant formula had a dramatically increased risk for being overweight.

Watch now, to learn more about this interesting study.

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Is There a Link Between Medication Use During Infancy and Allergies in Early Childhood?

As we all know, allergic diseases, particularly in childhood, are becoming more and more common. It’s not just that we are becoming more aware of allergic diseases, think of the frequent announcements on airplanes about peanut allergies, or food allergy questions by the waiter at dinner. No, the reality of the situation is that, by and large, allergies are simply far more common than they used to be.

So, why is this happening? Let’s take a step back and recognize that the intestines, oddly enough, actually play an important role in determining our immune responsiveness. Specifically, we now understand that the gut lining itself actually plays an important role in regulating immune function. Permeability, or leakiness, of the gut lining is associated with alteration in immune function as well as changes to the set point of inflammation. Continue reading