Parents, please take note of your child’s sleeping habit as researchers have now found that children who sleep less tend to eat more which increases risk of obesity and related health problems later in life.
The study found that 16 month-old children who slept for less than 10 hours a day consumed around 10 percent more calories on average than children who slept for more than 13 hours.
“The key message here is that shorter sleeping children may prone to consume too many calories,” said Abi Fisher of the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London.
This is the first study that directly links sleep to energy intake in children under age three.
In the study that involved 1,303 British families, researchers monitored sleep when children were 16 months old and diet at 21 months old.
While the exact causes remain unclear, the regulation of appetite hormones may become disrupted by shorter sleeping patterns, the study suggested.
The brain continues growing for 2-3 years after birth, for which thyroid hormones are critical. If a newborn’s thyroid doesn’t work normally for any reason – not formed properly (called dysgenesis) or cannot function properly (dyshormonogenesis), then the brain and body do not get enough hormone (hypothyroidism) and cannot grow normally.
In womb, the mother’s thyroid hormones may help, but after birth the deficiency is disastrous, causing loss of 5 IQ points every month of life. The result – permanent mental retardation! Some health tips from Dr Anju Virmani can come in handy for little kids.
On World Thyroid Day, IANSlife spoke to Dr Anju Virmani, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, with over three decades of experience to know more about thyroid disorder in children.
She says: “The difficulty is the baby usually seems normal at birth; by the time problems are noticed, the irreversible damage can be quite severe. Every single baby must have a TSH test at birth.”
“If hypothyroidism occurs in older children, the ill effects are easier to reverse if detected in time. Hypothyroidism stunts brain development, physical growth, and puberty. In the most severe form – a cretin – is a short, dull, slow, heavy child, with a pale puffy face, hoarse voice, doughy skin, tired and lethargic; maybe constipated, maybe with a neck swelling. Usually all the signs and symptoms are not present – it has to be suspected and tested for. Children with autoimmune diseases like diabetes and wheat allergy are more prone to hypothyroidism, and need regular testing,” Dr Virmani points out.
She adds: “Hyperthyroidism, rare in children, is the opposite. The child is hungry but losing weight, hot, sweaty, irritable, hyperactive, anxious, unable to concentrate; with prominent eyes. Diagnosing is easy, but the treatment is more complicated. Hyper or hypo, school performance suffers.”
So, what are the take-home messages? She replies: “Please remember that everyone deserves a thyroid test at birth, with early treatment if needed. In older children and adolescents, if there are any suggestive symptoms as briefly listed above, think of the thyroid – easy to test for, easy to diagnose, easy to treat! Why be a cretin?” (IANS)
Nutrition is a key actor in your little one’s development, whether physical or cognitive, and can complement contributions from genetic and environmental – physical and psychosocial- factors.
A balanced diet comprising carbohydrates, proteins and fat along with vitamins and minerals is essential for optimal growth. Dr Suresh Birajdar, Neonatologist and Pediatrician at Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar lists certain key food items that could drive and support a child’s development.
Proteins are the key drivers of a child’s growth and development. They are also an important ingredient of antibodies – an infection fighting protein. In addition, the amino acids derived from proteins play a critical role in repair of tissues, synthesis of neurotransmitters as well as hormones. Proteins are obtained from plants as well as animal sources. Both sources are equally effective. Choices could be made from pulses, legumes, dairy products (milk/cheese or paneer), eggs and animal proteins.
Fats are very important for brain development. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids are healthier than saturated or trans fatty acids. Major sources of healthy fats are vegetable oil (soya/olive/sunflower) and fish oil. It is the right quantity as well the way oil is consumed that matters more than a brand or source. Oil used for deep frying is less likely to contribute to development than sprays or oil used for light cooking. In addition, wholegrains and other cereals have natural oils in their husks/brans that are very healthy.
Iron plays an important role in formation of hemoglobin. Deficiency of iron can result in anemia that in turn can alter learning and memory processes. Iron rich foods include vegetables such as spinach, peas, broccoli, nuts, raisins and legumes (chickpeas, lentils). The animal sources of iron include liver, salmon, eggs etc. A child needs to consume the correct portions of these sources to maximize absorption of iron from the stomach.
Iodine is a trace element essential for synthesis of thyroid hormone – an important hormone for brain development in infants. In addition, thyroid hormone also regulates protein synthesis. Naturally, iodine can be found in abundant quantities in a variety of seafoods. Dairy products also contain small proportions of iodine. However in countries like India where iodine deficiency is endemic, the best source of iodine is through regular consumption of iodized salt.
B group of vitamins are required as cofactors for various metabolic processes and enzymes in the body. These processes help in overall growth as well as development in children. Folic acid is especially significant in pregnancy for fetal brain development. In addition, Folic acid is required for the synthesis of DNA in many cells. Also helps in prevention of certain anemia. Green leafy vegetables as well as fresh fruits such as oranges, apples etc are great sources of vitamins. Boiling and deep frying can result in significant loss of these vitamins. Therefore, fruit and vegetables are best eaten raw or lightly sauteed. Whole Grains with their husks are abundant in some B Group of vitamins. (IANS)
At present, homes are doubling up as schools, offices and fitness centers, if not more. With cancelled vacations and a deep desire to travel, ‘homecations’ might be the new way to unwind for the summers, turning your garden or backyard into a holiday destination.
As per a new poll from Zillow, 38 percent of respondents plan to spend more time at home this summer compared to years past as a result of COVID-19. A ‘homecation’, which is a vacation at home, allows families to make memories and hold onto some summer traditions, without the health, safety and financial concerns that may now come with a traditional vacation.
For a fun homecation, try putting up tents in the backyard, read adventure novels under a lantern-light, add on a singing spree around a small bonfire if your space and weather permit it. You could also make delicious sandwiches and summer coolers for a brunch picnic, and play board games, delve into family legends, or just take a nap. Days can also pass by playing in a kids’ pool and filming fun moments. For something simpler, just dim the lights and tune into a movie your family likes.
You can also recreate the atmosphere of a city or region you would like to go to, cook local meals, put some local songs, and visit some city destinations virtually.
Tips to make the most out of your homecation:
Turn off your phone and set an out-of-office notification. Let your colleagues know that you’re taking time off, even if you’re not leaving your property. Extra credit if the message is a creative one.
Knock out any household chores ahead of time so they’re not a distraction. It’s hard to unwind if you’re staring at a mountain of dirty laundry.
Save the screen time. Give everyone’s eyes a break from video calls and online work, and instead pick up a good book, play a game or get outside.
Plan something special you’ll look forward to. Is backyard camping too rustic for you? Plan an at-home DIY spa day or a dinner alfresco on your porch with take-out from a favorite restaurant. Invite friends or family over via video call or in a safe, socially-distanced visit.
Take pictures. Like any other vacation, make sure to take lots of photos and post your pictures on social media, if you are into that. One day, you may look back on this moment in history and wish you had family photos to document how you spent your time at home. (IANS)