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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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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

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The Importance of Fish Oil and Probiotics in Pregnancy

Food allergies, and a specific skin condition called eczema, are rapidly increasing in the youth population. Now, in what may be the largest study of its kind ever performed, researchers are studying a woman’s diet during pregnancy, as well as duration of breast-feeding post-birth, to assess a child’s susceptibility to allergies, as well as risk for conditions like eczema and autoimmune disorders. British investigators, evaluating over 1.5 million people, have come up with some very compelling information.

The research is what’s called a meta-analysis, meaning that it is review of previous studies (over 400 in this case) involving over 1.5 million people, and dating as far back as 1946. The researchers discovered that there was a weak, but nonetheless demonstrable, relationship between breast-feeding and reduced risk of eczema during infancy, as well as reduced risk for type I diabetes. In addition, probiotics seemed to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to cow’s milk.

The data, however, was much more supportive of the relationship between taking a probiotic supplement while 36 – 38 weeks pregnant, and during the first 3 to 6 months of breast-feeding, and risk for childhood eczema. In fact, in those women taking probiotics, risk for eczema in their child was reduced by 22%. The scientist noted that most of the probiotics contained a bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Continue reading

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Improved Attention From Your Child? Feed Them This.

With more than 6.5 million American children being diagnosed with ADHD, and close to 70% of them being medicated, it sure makes sense that we should consider how lifestyle factors, including diet, may affect a child’s ability to pay attention in school.

Certainly, DHA is important, as research has demonstrated significant improvement in focus in children with higher levels of this omega-3 fat. Continue reading

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Autism and Gut Bacteria – Hope Moving Forward

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is continuing to increase in the United States. Current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that the prevalence of autism currently stands at 1 in 68 children, with incidence rates of 1 in every 42 boys and 1 in every 189 girls.

Without question, it’s been very difficult to try to determine what may be causing this virtual epidemic to be worsening over time. Over the past five years, researchers have been focusing their efforts in an attempt to relate risk for autism to events occurring not in the brain, but in the gut. Continue reading

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Probiotics for Childhood Ear Infections

Kids get a lot of ear infections. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 80% of children will experience at least one event of an acute ear infection, technically called acute otitis media (AOM).

Often, as a consequence of AOM, kids will continue to have ear problems called secretary otitis media (SOM), characterized by persistent fluid in the middle ear cavity. This may occur on both sides, and is the reason some children ultimately have ear tubes inserted, to drain the fluid.

In a recent study, medical researchers in Italy explored the effectiveness of oral administration of a probiotic in a group of 22 children between the ages of 3 and 9 years, with a history of recurrent ear infections. The treatment group received a daily dose of a single strain probiotic, Streptococcus salivarius K12. Continue reading

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DHA Improves Sleep in Children

Sleep disorders in the pediatric population are common, occurring in as much as 30-40% of children. When children don’t sleep well, it sets the stage for a variety of other problems including poor general health, fatigue, declining school performance, depression, behavioral issues and weight gain.

A new study reveals an intriguing finding that explains not only what causes some children to struggle with sleep, but more importantly, what might well provide a safe remedy for the problem.

British researchers publishing in the Journal of Sleep Research evaluated the sleep patterns of 395 children aged 7-9 years. In addition, they performed a blood analysis on these children to measure their levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Continue reading