NZ Woman's Weekly

Healthy children

Healthy children

Scientists are constantly coming up with new ways we can help with various aspects of our children’s health. Here are some of their latest findings.

1. Fresh air approach
Children who spend more time outside are less likely to suffer from short-sightedness, or myopia. A new study has backed up existing evidence that the amount of daylight kids are exposed to has a bearing on their vision. Researchers in Taiwan checked the eyesight of youngsters at two schools – one that made kids play outside at break-time, and another that let them stay indoors. They found the kids who were sent outside were far less likely to become short-sighted. The researchers don’t know why exactly, but they suspect it has something to do with the brain chemical dopamine. Higher levels of dopamine are associated with a lower risk of myopia.

2. Feeding time
Children who eat the same food as their parents are far more likely to have healthy diets. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that eating adult meals is the most important factor in determining whether a child will have a healthy diet. When kids eat on their own, they are more likely to have easy foods like pizza and chips, which are full of calories and have fewer nutrients. There’s also evidence that children who eat separately from their parents are more prone to deficiencies in vitamin D, zinc and iron because they’re not getting enough good food.

3. Spitting image
Parents who “clean” their babies’ dummies by sucking on them could help protect their child from asthma and eczema. Researchers believe the transfer of microbes in parents’ saliva to the baby can increase the good bacteria in a baby’s digestive system and boost their immunity. In a new Swedish study that followed nearly 200 children for three years from birth, 65 parents said they “cleaned their baby’s dummy by sucking on it themselves”. Their children were 63% less likely to develop asthma and eczema than children of parents who cleaned dummies the conventional way.

4 Give them nuts
Scientific research at Baylor College Of Medicine in Texas found that foods high in magnesium may be just as important in building strong bones as those containing calcium. The study showed that the amounts of magnesium children consumed was a good indication of their bone mineral content and density. Almonds are a great source of magnesium, along with pumpkin seeds, salmon, oats and dark chocolate.

5. Fit club
A study by Columbia University in New York asked 1300 teenagers how much they exercised and whether they had been in fights or were involved with gangs. The results showed girls who were active on a regular basis had a much lower risk of behaving violently.

6. Suck it and see
Newborns who suck on a dummy are less likely to die from cot death, according to Australian research. Scientists at the Monash Institute of Medical Research say Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may be due to the failure of a baby to revive itself after it stops breathing, or if it experiences a dramatic fall in blood pressure. Sucking on
a dummy can help, as it is thought to improve a baby’s ability to regulate its heartbeat. Researchers found babies who had dummies had more variation in their heart rate, which is a sign that their cardiac system was responding to changes in blood pressure.

Fun in the sun : Playing outside has been linked to kids having better eyesight.

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