Autism rates in the United States rose by 30% between 2008 and 2010, and by 120% between 2000 and 2010, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 68 8-year-old children had been diagnosed with autism by 2010, up from 1 in 88 two years earlier, says the report. These are staggering statistics, compared to the 1 in thousands ratio of American children who had been diagnosed as autistic in 1970.
The study, published online in late March, 2014, found that five times as many boys as girls are being diagnosed with autism. The CDC estimates that 1 in 42 boys has autism, and 1 in 189 girls. Caucasian children are diagnosed most frequently, followed by Hispanics, then African-Americans. The average age at which children are diagnosed has fallen, but remains above age 4 (diagnosis is possible by age 2).
It’s common knowledge that people’s life expectancies in developed countries have increased in the last 50 years, as science has uncovered new ways to prevent, treat and cure illnesses. But a study has found that people who were obese or overweight as teenagers are not living longer than similar people did five-plus decades ago.
The life expectancy of an American born in 2011 was 78.7 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the average lifespan has increased by more than 10 years since 1950. But the death rate for people in the study who had been obese or overweight as teens did not show improvement during that time.
A study published in the April, 2014 print edition of the journal Pediatrics found that September is the worst month for asthma attacks for children who suffer from the condition.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel did a retrospective, population-based study where medical records for a period of five years were reviewed, for more than 900,000 children between the ages of 2 and 15. These children had all received primary medical care between 2005 and 2009; close to 9 percent had been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. About half of the asthmatic children were between 2 and 5; just under one-quarter were between 6 and 9, and just more than one-quarter were between 10 and 15.
Doctors believe that we are in the middle of asthma and allergy epidemics, as the numbers of children and adults who suffer from these conditions continue to grow, with no concrete explanations for the increases. Asthma is now the leading chronic (or ongoing) illness in children. More than 1 in 10 American kids now have asthma. While it can start at any age, most children have had their first symptoms by age 5.
The causes of asthma appear to be varied. While the condition is a mystery to many doctors, some health professionals believe that more children are getting asthma nowadays because they’re being more exposed to air pollution and other toxic chemicals.
Plus: 25 Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Cancer in Children
Earlier this year, the American Cancer Society published its yearly report, “Cancer Facts & Figures.” For the first time, the report included a special section on statistics about the prevalence of childhood and adolescent cancers. The separate section may be indicative of the fact that cases of childhood cancer continue to rise in the United States, despite much progress. According to the report, approximately 15,780 new cases of childhood cancer will be diagnosed in 2014, and 1,960 patients 19 and younger will die from this disease.
Current cancer rates among youths are 19 cases per 100,000 children. About one in 530 young adults aged 20 to 39 is a childhood cancer survivor.
With all the sugar and toxic chemicals in sodas, we should be pleased to know that children are drinking fewer caffeinated sodas these days. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that children, teens and young adults have decreased their caffeinated-soda consumption considerably: in 1999, 62 percent of kids to young adults named caffeinated sodas as their main source of caffeine. By 2010, that number had decreased to 38 percent.
But there is bad news: youths are now consuming more energy drinks and coffee than they were in 1999, with coffee consumption more than doubling since then.
For parents who opt out of school-meal programs and prefer to prepare their kids’ lunches, the following are useful tips, plus some healthy, quick and easy lunch ideas.
Choose Your Bread Carefully!
A good lunch sandwich starts with good bread. Unless you bake your own bread (and most of us don’t), good bread choices at most supermarkets are unfortunately few and far between. A bread may have a wonderfully soft texture and even taste great … but the first thing you should look at before deciding whether to buy it is the ingredients label.
Most people think of heart disease as something that only middle-aged or older folks have to worry about. But long-term studies from the last several decades have shown that heart disease sometimes begins in childhood. Therefore, preventing heart disease later in life begins with eating a healthy diet and developing healthy habits in childhood.
Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is more commonly called heart disease. In truth, CAD can develop into heart disease. CAD is the development of plaques on the walls of arteries that feed the heart muscle. As more plaque is deposited, blood and oxygen flow to the heart are restricted, which can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks later on.
In January, 2014, General Mills foods announced that it would no longer use genetically modified organisms (GMO’S) to make its original cereal, Cheerios. While Cheerios has never contained GMO oats, the company will now use non-GMO cane sugar, instead of GM beet sugar.
Growing numbers of consumers and advocacy groups are raising concerns about the safety of using genetically altered crops in our food supply; consumer pressure is behind the decision by General Mills.
When aiming to keep your kids healthy or addressing problems of excess weight, the snacks that you feed your children are more important than many parents realize. It’s not enough to work at feeding kids healthy meals, only to let them munch on candy bars, candies or store-bought cookies and Hawaiian Punch after they get home from school. And kids are usually pretty hungry when they arrive home.
The best strategy for a parent is to keep in the house healthy foods that are quick and easy to eat. Kids will eat whatever is handy, tasty and ready to be eaten. It is just as easy to pick up a basketful of whole, natural foods at the grocery store as it is to get junky, unhealthy foods. But in the long run, making good food choices will go a long way towards insuring that your kids are healthy, so, healthy foods are the only kind of food you should have inside your home.
A review of global studies measuring fitness levels among children found that today’s kids have become progressively less fit than children from the last previous decades. The studies, which examined the fitness levels of 25 million youths, found that modern kids can’t run as fast or as far as kids from as recently as a decade ago.
The study, which was led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia, reviewed 50 previous studies on running fitness, a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance. The children were aged 9 to 17 and were from 28 countries; the studies had been done between 1964 and 2010; 20 million children were from Asia.
A new study has found that losing as little as one hour of sleep a night is associated with higher blood pressure in pre-teens and teenagers. Frequent or ongoing sleep loss, which can result in higher blood pressure, could put sleep-deprived youths at greater risk for cardiovascular disease in later years.
Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong recruited 143 children ages 10 to 18, who had participated in an earlier study on sleep apnea. The participants were healthy, neither overweight nor obese, and they did not have sleep apnea. (Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by interrupted or shallow breathing when a person is sleeping; the disorder has been linked to higher blood pressure.)
How to Prevent Overuse Injuries in Your Young Child or Teenager
The benefits of participating in sports for school-age children are almost too many to count: sports help keep children healthy, trim, away from drugs; they help children develop social skills, discipline, a sense of fair play, self-esteem, and so on.
You are a mom who understands that we are what we eat; you want to be sure that your children eat healthy, fresh, wholesome foods. Because these foods do not have toxic, artificial preservatives or non-nutritious fillers in them, you know that many of them spoil much faster.
A tummy ache, or worse, can happen in a snap, if the food has excess bacteria — and bacteria can multiply very quickly when the food isn’t kept cold enough or hot enough.
A new study found that when it comes to getting through to young people, you may be better off focusing on the positive, rather than using scare tactics.
If you’re a parent, you may at times get frustrated by how hard it is to get your children to listen to you when you warn them about the dangers of smoking, drinking alcohol, speeding when driving, or whatever the possible danger is.
The study, done at University College London in England, involved participants between 9 and 26 years old, who were asked to estimate their risk of suffering certain bad events, like being in a car accident or getting lung disease (from smoking). They were then told the actual statistics for those events.
A growing number of studies shows that vitamin D is an important tool for preventing ear infections in young children. Vitamin D, found naturally in some foods and in enriched foods, and made by the skin when exposed to sunlight, is used by our immune systems to fight disease — the vitamin D receptor (VDR) is present in many types of cells that the immune system manufactures when it’s under attack by invading microbes.
Ear infections are very common among babies and younger children; because they have the potential to damage a child’s hearing when they’re untreated or when they’re recurrent, it is essential for parents and caregivers to take all steps possible to avoid them.
We’ve all heard the warnings: soda pop is bad for us. Many studies have linked moderate-to-heavy soda-drinking to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal cancers and other serious illnesses. Even light soda-drinking (defined as 2 or more sodas a week) was found in one study to be linked to pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and hardest-to-cure cancers. Diet sodas are also bad; they have been linked to even more disease than regular sodas, by some estimates; which makes sense, since they have an even greater number of toxic chemicals than regular sodas.
The fact is, for those of us who aim to eat natural diets and be conscientious consumers, sodas are a complete no-no. The ingredients are more times than not a long assortment of artificial chemicals and preservatives that don’t belong in anyone’s body — least of all, a child’s.
Before we knew it, summertime was over, and it was time for our kids to go back to school. We may no longer be able to fix elaborate breakfasts before the kids rush to school; but there are certainly plenty of breakfast choices that are healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare.
We all know by now that eating breakfast is important, as it fuels our bodies and minds for the day ahead. But what kind of breakfasts are nutritious and healthy?
Peer pressure being as strong as it is in the teenage years, a lot of adolescent girls and boys may want to head outdoors as the weather heats up and get a suntan. But with all that we now know about excessive sun exposure and skin cancers, some fans of tanning may opt instead to use tanning beds to achieve a golden glow.
But are tanning beds any safer? Scientific opinion runs the gamut.