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Pediatric Experts Voice Concern Over Feeding Children Rice

A recent consensus statement written by international pediatric nutrition experts has recommended that infants and young children avoid rice-based drinks.  This is due to the fact that some types of rice contain large concentrations of inorganic arsenic, a first-level carcinogen.  There is no safe level of intake, because any exposure is risky.  The longer the exposure to inorganic arsenic, the more toxic its effects.

The newly published report reminds us that rice and derived products such as starch, flour and syrup are used to fortify different foods, including drinks, purees, and snacks.  These are foods often fed to infants and young children.  Since most of the inorganic arsenic in rice is concentrated in the outer bran layers, the report also highlights that potentially, the most harmful type of exposure is that which comes from products manufactured from brown rice.  

To reduce the harmful effects from arsenic exposure in rice-based foods, experts recommend the following:

No “window of opportunity” for celiac disease prevention

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I’m often asked whether there is any way to prevent a child from developing celiac disease. Based on what I knew regarding how food allergies develop, I used to counsel families that there might be a “window of opportunity”, between four and six months, when it’s possible to introduce grains and other gluten-containing foods that could potentially “teach” the immune system to tolerate gluten and thus lower the risk of developing celiac disease.

However, my “window theory” recently got thrown out the window when the results of two important scientific studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Can food allergies be undiagnosed?

With food allergies on the rise in the past several years, you probably know at least one person who is allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, or seafood. Individuals with a food allergy typically experience symptoms every time they eat a particular food. These symptoms range from relatively mild like hives and swelling to more severe such as coughing, vomiting, or loss of consciousness.

Unfortunately, there are no approved treatments for food allergies today. Individuals cope by avoiding the food and having proper medications nearby in case of an allergic reaction. As most children eventually outgrow some food allergies, it’s important to get tested for an accurate diagnosis.

To diagnose a food allergy, allergy specialists usually ...

7 benefits of eating together as a family

Regular family meals are good for children and for the family as a whole! Here's why:

1. Eating together encourages family togetherness
  • Positive family mealtimes help family members maintain relationships and feel a sense of belonging
  • When children can count on regular time with a parent or adults, they feel loved, safe and secure
  • Children set roots for a lifetime as they experience their family’s values and traditions

2. Eating together fosters happy, well-adjusted kids
  • Kids can feel accepted by their family and may not need to seek approval from the wrong crowd
  • Adolescents are less likely to be depressed and generally have a better self- esteem
  • Adolescents are less likely to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, illegal drugs or alcohol

3. Eating together helps kids do better in school
  • Listening to grownups at the table exposes children to new works which helps them read better
  • Table talk gives youth a safe place to express their ideas. They ....

How to prevent food poisoning

Many of us are aware of the recent nationwide recall of peaches and other fruit due to the potential of bacterial contamination.  Although thankfully, no illnesses have been reported so far, I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh our knowledge about ways to avoid food borne illness or food poisoning.

 
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food poisoning affects approximately 1 in 6 Americans every year. Often it results in relatively mild symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting that resolve within a day or so. However, food poisoning can also lead to more dangerous and even deadly outcomes, which is why food safety is so important! 
 
So how should we protect our family from food borne illness?   It’s pretty easy!  Just remember 4 basic steps:  clean, separate, cook and chill!

Kids and lactose intolerance

Do you wonder if your child might have “lactose intolerance”?    Have you ever thought of removing dairy from your child’s diet?  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, here are a few things to remember when it comes to lactose intolerance in kids:

  • Lactose is broken down by lactase.

While lactose is the carbohydrate (sugar) found in milk, lactase is the enzyme that digests the sugar. This enzyme is found in the lining of the small intestine, breaks down lactose into simpler molecules that are easier to absorb.  When there isn’t enough lactase, the sugar isn’t properly absorbed, which leads to the symptoms of “intolerance”, which include gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea.

  • True lactose intolerance is rare in young children.

Although children as young as infants can “transiently” have less lactase in their digestive tracts (most often, this happens for a week or two after an infection), lactase production remains ...

Gluten intolerance or low FODMAPs?

Despite test results that show no evidence of their children having neither any detectable allergies to wheat nor any signs of celiac disease, many parents choose to have their children follow a gluten-free diet.  This is because of convincing stories of how gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) seems to cause their kids to have belly aches, nausea, bloating and a variety of other symptoms.  

For years, this was hard to explain without a scientific explanation.   Gastroenterologists like me had a hard time supporting families who wanted to follow gluten free diets, without a good “medical reason”.  Then, in 2011, researchers from Australia conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, rechallenge trial in nearly 3 dozen patients (none of whom had celiac disease or wheat allergy), all of whom described worsening symptoms when unknowingly ingesting small amounts of gluten.  The results of this study described a condition termed, “Non-celiac gluten intolerance”.    It was after reading this landmark study that many physicians, including myself, began to validate parents’ concerns about gluten being the culprit behind their children’s gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

But then in 2013, just as word of non-celiac gluten intolerance was gaining popularity amongst physicians like me, the exact same group of researchers from Australia published a follow-up study on a similar set of about 3 dozen patients.  The findings of this 2nd study showed that instead...

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