How to decrease added sugar in your child’s diet

Dr. Lauren Raimer-GoodmanSugar is sneaky.  There are plenty of foods out there that we think of as healthy that have added sugar.  Unfortunately we don’t know exactly how much added sugar there is, as companies are not required to make a distinction between natural and processed or added sugars on nutrition labels. They also don’t have to tell you what percent of the recommended daily value of added sugar their product contains.  (fortunately the FDA has proprosed changing this – if the proposed changes can make it through the legislative process).

There is a lot in the news these days about the negative health effects of added sugar.  Notably, increased sugar intake adds to the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and many other health issues we would rather our children not have to experience. Continue reading

Child Cancer Awareness Month — Part one

Dr. Sally Robinson

Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping Kids Healthy

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that one in every 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer? The next three articles will discuss cancer and its treatment.

The word “cancer” certainly strikes a scary and emotional note in our hearts, and when attached to the word “childhood” it can be especially frightening. However, as with many things we fear, we can be empowered by understanding. This week we explain just exactly what “cancer” really is.

Every part of the body (the brain, liver, heart, bones, fingernails, muscles, and so on) is made up of hundreds of millions of microscopic cells that are specialized for that particular organ. These cells follow a very complex and highly organized instruction set from their DNA to multiply, grow, and eventually die and become replaced throughout our entire lifetimes. Occasionally, however, the instruction set becomes damaged as it is copied into newly formed cells. Usually our bodies can recognize cells with damaged DNA and repairs or destroys them. But sometimes when the instruction to “stop multiplying” is damaged, cells can multiply and grow out of control faster than our bodies can repair the damage. This is how cancer begins. Continue reading

Back to school tips: How to handle a bully

Dr. Sally Robinson

Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping Kids Healthy

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Back to School Tips discusses bullying. Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet or through mobile devices like cellphones.
When your child is bullied the Academy suggests the following:

• Look the bully in the eye

• Stand tall and stay calm

• Walk away

•Teach your child how to speak in a firm voice. Continue reading

The Myopia pandemic

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

You’ve probably heard of pandemics — the plague, influenza, HIV — but you might not have seen coverage of the growing myopia pandemic. Before you consider bathing in sanitizer, you should know that myopia isn’t contagious. Another word for it is nearsightedness.

Myopia is a condition in which close objects are seen clearly but distant objects are blurred due to the elongation of the eye or too much curvature of the cornea. This causes light entering the eye to focus in front of the retina rather than on it. Myopia is different from hyperopia, which is the kind of nearsightedness that comes from growing older. In fact, the myopia pandemic is primarily affecting young people.

It currently affects 90 percent of the young adults in China, although 60 years ago it was 10-20 percent. In the United States and Europe it affects about half of all young adults, double what it was 50 years ago. Seoul has the highest incidence: 96.5 percent of young people in South Korea’s capital have myopia. An estimated 2.5 billion people will experience myopia by 2020. Continue reading

How to prevent backpack-related injuries

Dr. Sally Robinson

Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping Children Healthy

The American Academy of Pediatrics made the following recommendations about backpack safety in 2014.
Backpacks are great for kids to carry items back and forth from school to home, but backpacks that weigh more than 15 percent of your child’s body weight may cause health problems for your child. Neck, shoulder and back pain may develop from carrying a heavy backpack everyday.

The spine is made of 33 bones (called vertebrae) that have disks in between them that act as natural shock absorbers. A child carrying an unusually heavy backpack leans their head and chest forward to compensate for the weight of the pack, which puts stress on the back and neck. If your child uses only one strap to carry their backpack, the spine’s natural shock absorption ability is reduced because only one side is carrying the weight and your child will end up leaning to one side to make up for the extra weight in the pack.

When choosing a backpack check to make sure that it has two wide, padded straps that fit over your child’s shoulders, a padded waist or chest belt that will distribute weight more evenly across the body, multiple compartments to distribute weight, and does not have a width greater than the child’s chest. Continue reading

Salads: Simple is best

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Often when I called my dad to see how he was doing, he’d start with saying, “I’m making a salad.” He died at 92 and taught me the value of how enjoying a salad regularly is a truly healthy habit. Eating salads is an easy way to get close to our daily goal of 5 to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables. A half-cup of salad is pretty small so a typical lunch or dinner salad can garner 2 to 3 servings of veggies.

These days, making a salad is easier than ever. Pre-washed, pre-cut, packaged spinach, romaine lettuce, mixed greens, arugula, kale, radicchio/endive, collards, mustard greens, and others shave long eclipsed the boring and low nutrient iceberg lettuce most of us remember from childhood. This was perhaps drizzled
Thousand Island dressing or these days Ranch, currently the most popular U.S. dressing. Unfortunately it is relatively high in fats, carbs, and other unhealthy ingredients compared to simpler dressings like vinaigrettes which we will discuss next week.

Remember that the darker, leafy greens are chock full of health-essential fiber, phyto-oxidants, B vitamins, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids, and are tastier by a long shot than common iceberg lettuce. Continue reading

The many genes of autism

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

In the past decade, autism has garnered a lot of media attention. Lately much of the focus has been on finding the cause. Much is still a mystery, despite confirming that vaccines and parenting are not responsible. Now a new study of twins has given us another clue, revealing that the influence of genetics on the development of autism may be between 56 and 95 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 68 children have autism, a neurodegenerative disorder that exists on a spectrum, meaning its symptoms and their severity varies tremendously. A hallmark feature of autism is impaired social interaction, noticeable even in babies. Those with autism find it difficult to interpret what others are thinking or feeling because they miss the social clues most take for granted. Other symptoms can include repetitive movements such as spinning or rocking, speech delays and self-destructive behaviors. Children with autism can also have a variety of other conditions including epilepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. Continue reading

A body in motion

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

In high school physics class, I learned from Sir Isaac Newton that a body in motion will stay in motion. The opposite is true and it is called inertia. The other day in clinic, I went in to see Dylan, a 12 year old. He didn’t look up or say hi to me as I came into the room as he was intently working his thumbs on a handheld device. His mother told him to be polite and say hello. He raised his head briefly, said, “Hi,” then back to the gaming thing. She shrugged apologetically and helplessly. I won’t dwell on how we should socialize the digital generation to learn polite human interaction, though it is quite relevant to bodies in motion.

Dylan’s complaint was a minor one and he basically came in needing a school excuse. It could have been a 5 to 10 minute visit but I noticed he was a bit chunky. In fact, his BMI at 29 was close to the obese range. At mom’s request, we ran a urine and blood test to make sure he wasn’t diabetic. He wasn’t, fortunately, at least not yet.

I asked Dylan what kinds of sports or other activities he liked to do. Mom motioned to me with both thumbs moving rapidly to mime the reality of his activity. Continue reading

You’re more like your mother than you know

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

While the benefits of breast feeding have been well-documented, scientists were surprised to learn of another one: breast milk contains a mother’s stem cells that become a part of different organs of the baby’s body.

Breast feeding protects infants against infections early in life and reduces their risk of juvenile diabetes, heart disease and cancer as children. It also helps mothers lose weight after giving birth and lowers their risk of osteoporosis and uterine and ovarian cancer.

In addition, seven years ago scientists discovered the presence of mammary stem cells in breast milk. The mammary gland is unique in its ability to go through different stages in anticipation of producing milk, then a period of milk secretion followed by a return to the non-lactating state. All of this can occur as many times as necessary. This massive restructuring of the breast suggested the presence of stem cells. Continue reading

MIND your diet for brain health

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

With increasing frequency, I have the unenviable task of informing a patient or their family members that they have dementia. Often, the patient themselves has not realized that they have problems other than occasional attention lapses, even though family members have observed major behavioral and memory problems.

Perhaps nothing creates so much anxiety among those of us who are growing older than the loss of our higher mental functions. The old term, senility, or even kindly tolerance of eccentric age-related forgetfulness has been overshadowed by the specter of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. These are among the leading causes of death in the elderly and contribute to loss of function, dignity as well as adding tremendous stress on families. I understand the challenges of these conditions from professional, personal, and family experiences.

Like most areas of medicine, prevention is the preferred way of approaching chronic problems. A recent study by Dr. Martha Morris of Rush University’s Internal Medicine and Nutrition departments in Chicago and published in the journal, Alzheimer’s and Dementia in March 2015, has garnered national media attention. Entitled “MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s disease,” this is one of the few prospective studies on neuroprotection and dementia prevention. In this study, the MIND diet was the active intervention in more than 900 participants 58 to 98 years old. The researchers followed these subjects for an average of 4.5 years and found that moderate adherence to the MIND diet may decrease Alzheimer’s disease risk. Continue reading