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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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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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The Critical Role of Early Life Decisions in Creating the Microbiome

In Brain Maker, I dedicated a lot of space to exploring how we initially form our microbiome, the collection of more than 100 trillion organisms that live within our intestines. Certainly early life experiences are critical in the creation of what is now a looked upon as representing a new “organ” within the human body. As you will recall, I talked about how important it is for children to be born through the vaginal birth canal, if that is not medically precluded, and, also, I emphasized how fundamentally critical it is that children breastfeed, from the perspective of creating the best, most health-preserving, microbiome possible.

In a new report from researchers in Sweden, Dynamics and Stabilization of the Human Gut Microbiome During the First Year of Life, researchers evaluated gut microbiomes of 98 mothers and their infants during the first year of life. Continue reading

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From Birth to (Micro)Biome

It’s well-documented that children begin building a microbiome that influences the state of their health from the moment of birth, which is why a choice such as method of delivery (C-section vs. vaginal) is so important.

Breastfeeding is equally important for building your child’s microbiome AND brain. Did you know breast milk is nature’s richest source of DHA? Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding in this video.

How Inflammation Affects the Developing Brain

I have posted several blogs relating the fundamental role of inflammation to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Indeed, this is one of the central themes of Grain Brain.

That said, we’ve also got to take a look at the role of inflammation in the developing brain because the same damaging effects of the chemical mediators of inflammation in the adult might well lead to issues in the delicate brains of infants and young children.

In a new study just published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, researchers looked at several parameters in infants including the frequency of febrile illnesses, as well as blood markers of increased inflammation including IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-4 which is thought to indicate reduction of inflammation.

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DHA Supplementation during pregnancy, nursing

Why Breastfeeding Mothers Should Take DHA

It is estimated that in America today more than 6 million of our school-aged children have been given a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. What’s even more disturbing is the revelation that close to 70% of these children are taking potentially dangerous, mind-altering medications to help them pay attention.

As it turns out, research shows that if mothers take even a low dosage of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA during the first few months of breastfeeding, there is a significant increase in the ability of their children to pay attention when they are examined as they enter school. Research shows that when children receive breast milk from mothers who were taking a single, 200mg capsule of DHA, attention scores were much better when compared to the children of non-supplemented mothers when attention tests were administered at age 5 years. Other studies have clearly confirmed that the level of DHA in breast milk increases as much as 2-fold following mother’s supplementation.

These findings lend further support for the understanding that supplementation of DHA is important not just during pregnancy, but while nursing as well.