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Kids

The Ritalin Effect (ADHD)

The Ritalin Effect (ADHD)

This week is ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) awareness week. Ritalin (methylphenidate) has become a regular treatment for hyperactivity across America and the U.K.  Ritalin’s popularity amongst doctors has increased to such an extent that one in seven American children under the age of 18 is regularly taking a medication like Ritalin to treat their ADHD. But what do we know about the effects of Ritalin for ADHD? In the UK, sales of Ritalin are on the increase year on year. Recent figures show that prescriptions for Ritalin have increased from 158,000 in 1999, to 661,463 in 2010. Children as young as 3 years are taking this powerful stimulant. These statistics are worrying, considering that many long side effects have yet to be discovered. General and common side effects that are associated with this type of medicines are sleep disturbances, nervousness, night terrors, skin problems, anxiety, irritability and dependence. These medicines can also cause growth retardation in children. Lethal side effects such as suicidal thoughts and psychosis become more common when children take prolonged and high doses of these medications. Tragically, there have been a number of deaths related to children, especially boys, taking Ritalin. The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) has seen a worrying trend as its members are noting Ritalin dosages continue to increase. A statement from the AEP said, “The benefits of psycho-stimulant medication are not sustainable over the long term, necessitating stronger and stronger dosages,’ it said, adding that it was becoming, “common practice for children to be prescribed stronger dosages than recommended in the morning as a “kick-start” so medication lasts the school day”. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that Ritalin should not be prescribed to pre-school children. However, health experts are seeing this ruling being widely ignored across the country. The British Psychological Society (BPS), through Peter Kinderman issued a statement saying that children are being prescribed medication as a quick fix rather than being given a full assessment. “These assessments and psychological therapies may take longer and cost more but ultimately are better in the long run”, said Peter Kinderman. There have been many studies that question the effectiveness of Ritalin and similar drugs. Studies show that placebo treatments...

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Back to School Supplements for Children

Back to School Supplements for Children

The start of the school term is usually when colds, coughs and tummy bugs hit their peak for children.  Natural remedies can play a vital role in maintaining and boosting a child’s immune system. Nurseries and schools are full of bugs that usually get passed around the class. Natural supplements for children can help to strengthen their natural defences to these bugs. Vitamin supplements, alongside a healthy balanced diet (full of fresh fruit and vegetables) and plenty of rest can keep your child fit and healthy during term time. With extra classes, perpetual birthday parties and homework, many kids have a busy schedule, so it is important they stay healthy and don’t “burn out”. A good quality multi vitamin is a good starting point for maintaining a healthy immune system.  Children’s vitamin supplements usually contain vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc. Lamberts, Seven Seas and Viridian produce good quality multivitamin supplements for children. These should be given as advised by the manufacturer or pharmacist. Probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are beneficial bacteria that are normally present in the digestive tract. They defend the body against viruses and infections that we are constantly exposed to. Probiotics support the immune system by lining the intestinal wall with beneficial bacteria, which prevents the absorption of harmful bacteria and viruses into the body. These beneficial bacteria “crowd out” the bad bacteria and help to maintain a healthy immune system. As the digestive tract plays a major role in boosting the immune system, it is very important to maintain a healthy balance of probiotics in the gut. These supplements can easily be hidden in yoghurts and juices as they are usually prepared as a powder or capsule. Optibac and Biocare manufacture good quality probiotic supplements for kids. Essential Fatty Acids are also important in supporting the immune system of your child. This can be given in the form of chewable capsules or liquids that are tailored for young children. Omega 3 essential fatty acids contain two essential nutrients, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Whilst they are both important for health, DHA is more important for concentration as this essential nutrient is predominantly found in the brain. Low...

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Does fast food really increase the risk of Asthma?

Does fast food really increase the risk of Asthma?

There have been many different findings recently, but does fast food really increase the risk of asthma? Regular servings of fast food could be causing a rise in the number of cases of asthma, eczema and rhinitis (persistent colds) in children. A study published in Thorax has found that children who have three or more servings of junk food are at a higher risk. The findings of this study could have a major impact on the health of many teenagers. Fast food could also be making their symptoms more severe. The researchers based their findings on data from more than 319,000 13-14 year olds from 51 countries and more than 181,000 6-7 year olds from 31 countries. The teenagers and the children’s parents were asked about any illnesses such as asthma (wheeze); rhinoconjunctivitis (which produces a runny or blocked nose accompanied by itchy and watery eyes); and eczema; and their weekly diet. The results found that three or more servings of fast food such as burgers and chips increased the risk of asthma by 39 per cent in teenagers and by 27 per cent in younger children. The study also found that fruit had a protective action in both age groups. Eating three of more weekly servings of fruit reduced symptom severity by 11% in younger children and by 14% in teenagers. The results of this large study provide further evidence of the harm that regular consumption of fast can do. This is not to say that you should never eat fast food, but it should be limited to once a week. Aside from the benefits of fruit that have been reported in this study, they provide a whole spectrum of vitamins and immune boosting properties that children...

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A Healthy Start to School

A Healthy Start to School

With the school year about to start, this is a time of adjustment for many families. It’s time to get back into the daily routine of early starts, homework and early nights (hopefully). The re-opening of school again is also the sign that summer is coming to an end, with autumn fast approaching. So having a healthy start to school makes a great difference to children. Whilst many kids have enjoyed their summer and generally been fit and healthy, the autumn term is usually when colds, coughs and tummy bugs hit their peak. Children tend to pick up all sorts of bugs from classmates and sick days can cause disruption for working parents. There are certain measures that you can take to help minimise this risk. A good diet, regular exercise and certain immune boosting supplements can help to keep your child fit and healthy, and maintain good concentration in class. It goes with question that a nutritious breakfast is the ideal way to start the day. A breakfast containing protein and complex carbohydrates can help to improve concentration, by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Several studies have found that high protein breakfasts resulted in improved IQ scores in children. You should avoid sugary cereals which are also full of salt and processed carbohydrates which can cause drowsiness. Healthy cereals such as muesli which contain nuts and seeds increase protein intake and help to keep your child alert. These healthy cereals and complex carbohydrates such as porridge help to release sugar slowly throughout the morning, without causing sugar highs and lows. Nuts and seeds provide protein and omega 3 essential oils, which also help with concentration. An alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast is a fruit smoothie, with the addition of blended nuts and seeds and yoghurt. You can make these at home using any fruits in virtually any combination of your choice. Yoghurt also provides probiotics which help to maintain and support a healthy immune system, so your child can ward off colds and coughs. Colourful vegetables such as peppers, courgettes, red cabbage, tomatoes and avocados have been found to improve children’s IQ scores. These foods also provide good levels of vitamin C...

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Kids Wing Chun Academy

Kids Wing Chun Academy is a school that is based on teaching children of all ages discipline, good behaviour, respect as well as instilling self confidence and the skills of self defence. We recently had the oportunity to interview Sifu Jude Hudson.       1) How did you first get involved in Wing Chun (Martial Arts)? Brief History My brother told me about two men sparring, one was blind folded the other was not. when he asked why one of the men was blind folded he was told that it balanced the session as the other man was blind. We found a traditional Wing Chun school and started our journey; that was over 20 years ago.   2) What inspired you to create KWCA? The son of a close friend of mine had been badly beaten up at a party and this had affected me. I knew that I could help people like that to make sure that something like that would never happen again to them. At that time however, I was running a company and could not. A number of years later, I left that company and decided that I would invest everything my wife and I had into starting a school that would help children gain confidence, belief, and self defence skills using Wing Chun. I wanted to work with children as I could get to them early  to make life changes in their lives. Helping children to deal with confrontation and bullies, and  coupling this with a value system that promotes the right behaviour.   3) What are the benefits for children to get involved in Wing Chun?  Wing Chun is specifically designed to help build confidence and self belief through it’s unbelievable hand skills when taught a system correctly. Wing Chun is the antidote to protect themselves in all situations.   4) What’s different about Kids Wing Chun Academy?  Kids Wing Chun Academy focuses on teaching traditional Wing Chun at a younger age. We focus on imparting skills that will transition children from age 4 to 14 to 40. We have had a number of children that have left other schools to train with us. These students realised the hard way that what they...

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Magnesium Rich Foods for Children’s Bone Health

Magnesium Rich Foods for Children’s Bone Health

Milk has long been the staple drink to help kids with the growth of bones.  Parents are encouraged to give their children enough milk and other calcium rich foods such as cheese and yoghurt, but new research has found that other non calcium based foods may be important too, such as magnesium rich foods. Foods that are rich in magnesium such as pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate, lentils, bananas and almonds are also important in building strong healthy bones. Magnesium is essential in improving the absorption of calcium in the body. Magnesium is the more important mineral for bone health. The ideal ratio of magnesium to calcium is 2:1. Magnesium is well known for its ability to improve bone health in adults but little research has been done on young children. This study was conducted on 63 healthy children between 4 and 8 years. The children were not taking any multivitamins or minerals prior to the study. The children kept food diaries throughout the research. Calcium and magnesium levels were measured twice during overnight hospital stay. The children’s calcium and magnesium levels were measured using stable isotopes. Urine was collected for 72 hours, from which the researchers could measure how much calcium and magnesium was absorbed in the body. The researchers measured bone mineral content and density using total body dual-energy x-ray absorptionetry. The results showed that the amount of magnesium consumed and absorbed was important in the bone strength. Calcium was however not significantly associated with total bone mineral quality or density. The researchers concluded that it is important for children to have a balanced and healthy diet that includes both calcium and...

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Natural Health Supplements for ADHD

Natural Health Supplements for ADHD

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a behavioural disorder that is characterised by symptoms such as hyperactivity, a short attention span, restlessness, being easily distracted, constant fidgeting and impulsiveness. These symptoms can also lead to sleep problems and learning difficulties. ADHD is normally diagnosed between the ages of 3 to 7 years. The symptoms may start at an early age, but they become more noticeable when a child starts school or nursery. It is a fairly common complaint in the UK, affecting 3 to 9% of school children and young people. The conventional management of ADHD is to prescribe strong medications such as Methylphenidate and Dexamfetamine, which stimulate the CNS (central nervous system). This will result in altering the balance of the neurotransmitters in the brain and could possibly lead to health problems in later life. The long term side effects of these drugs are not yet known, but these medicines are usually given long term. This is by no means a permanent solution to this condition, but just a means to keep the child in a “calm state”. These medications have a number of side effects such as sleep disturbances, depression, confusion, gastro-intestinal symptoms and growth retardation. These medicines are also addictive and children can become dependent on them. ADHD requires a full consultation with a qualified complementary health practitioner, but there are some very effective natural supplements that can have very dramatic results. These supplements can be taken by young children and extremely safe. Current research is highlighting that deficiencies in certain essential fatty acids can contribute to behavioural disorders such as ADHD. Omega 3 contains two essential nutrients, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Whilst they are both important for health, DHA is more important for concentration as this essential nutrient is predominantly found in the brain. Low levels of DHA have been linked with behavioural and learning and learning problems in children. Recent studies have highlighted that EPA is very effective in reducing problems with attention and perception that are associated with ADHD. This shows that both DHA and EPA are very important for the health of the brain. Flax seed oil is a rich source of Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty...

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Can playing in sunshine help prevent Eczema

Researchers claim that playing in the sunshine reduces the risk of children developing eczema and food allergies. Children living in areas with lower levels of sunlight have a greater risk of developing food allergies and eczema, compared with those living in areas with higher UV light. read on to find out more about if playing in sunshine can help prevent eczema… The researchers used data from an Australian study and analysed rates of food allergies, eczema and asthma variation throughout the country. Australia provides an ideal place to conduct a study such as this, as there is a large variation in climate, day length and sun strength throughout the country. The results found that on average children in the south were twice as likely to suffer with eczema, than children living in northern Australia.  Sunlight is very important for our general health as it provides the optimal source of vitamin D. Dr Nick Osborne, who led the researchers at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, said that the investigation provided further evidence of the association between food allergies and where you live. This report provides further weight behind the belief that children should be encouraged to play outdoors in the sun. This has many other health benefits such as preventing childhood obesity and improving mental...

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One in Four Toddlers Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

Latest research has found that one in four toddlers in the UK are lacking in vitamin D. This vitamin D deficiency can lead to various illnesses and health conditions such as weak bones and in severe cases rickets disease. A more concerning statistic was that more than half of healthcare professionals are also unaware of these guidelines. This indicates that the health authorities may not be getting the message across. These guidelines would suggest that the NHS (National Health Service) would provide vitamin D supplements to all toddlers. These findings were described as a major health issue by Dr Benjamin Jacobs, consultant pediatrician at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The research revealed that 74 per cent of parents knew nothing about vitamin D guidelines. These guidelines recommend that all children under the age of five should be given vitamin D supplements. Dr Jacobs told BBC Breakfast, “We see about one case of rickets a month in our hospital, but that’s the very severe end of the disease. “There are many other children who have less severe problems – muscle weakness, delay in walking, bone pains – and research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of Vitamin D.” Rickets disease is a rare disease that affects bone development in children. This disease can soften bones and lead to bone deformities. Rickets is believed to be a disease of another age, although doctors are now seeing more and more cases. The disease was all but eradicatedby the 1940’s with the use of vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is naturally formed in our bodies in response to sunlight. It is also found in oily fish such as salmon,sardines, herring and mackerel. Vitamin D is also found in milk, eggs, porridge, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and vegetable oils. By the 1950’s, there was a concern that children were getting too much vitamin D in their food and with supplements. Due to this fear, unlike other countries, vitamin D supplements were stopped in the UK. “It’s really only over the past 10 years orso that I’ve noticed children with Vitamin D deficiency. And still I would say today, the majority of doctors, health visitors, midwives,...

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Vitamin D can reduce the risk of mental illness in children

Vitamin D can reduce the risk of mental illness in children

Are your children getting enough sunshine? A new study has found that children with low levels of the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D, are more likely to suffer with depression in later life. Children who had the highest levels of this vitamin were found to have a 10 per cent lower risk of developing mental illness. The Daily Mail has reported the Children of the 90’s research project, which was carried out at the University of Bristol. The researchers analysed vitamin D levels in more than 2,700 children at the age of nine, and they were followed up at the age of 13. The results found that those children with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to demonstrate signs of depression. Children who had higher levels of vitamin Dwere less likely to show signs of depression throughout their teenage years. This study also found that the specific type of vitamin D that you take is very important. The two types of vitamin Dthat were investigated were, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3(colecaliciferol). The study found that the D3 form had the strongestanti-depressant link. Vitamin D is naturally formed in our bodies in response to sunlight. It is also found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. Vitamin D is also found in milk, eggs, porridge, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and vegetable...

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Childhood Obesity… and what we should be doing about it!

Childhood Obesity… and what we should be doing about it!

New figures have revealed that one in three children is overweight when they leave primary school at the age of 11. These new statistics are very alarming, especially as a fifth of these children are classified as clinically obese. This is quite a scary rise in childhood obesity. Health experts have warned that many of these children will remain overweight for the rest of their lives. This will result in a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses such as arthritis. These NHS figures also reveal that the number of 10 and 11 year olds who are classed as overweight has increased by 10 per cent in just over four years. There is a major concern among health professionals that the Government is not taking this epidemic seriously. Although, experts have warned that many of these children will remain obese through to adulthood, this condition can be reversed. The “cure” requires a combination of eating less, eating healthy and exercising. This may sound very simple, but even adopting one of these tips will result in weight loss. Eating less will result in less calories being consumed. Again, this may sound too simplistic, but this does work. Cutting portion sizes and including more fruit and vegetables will result in weight loss. You should also make sure that your child drinks enough water. Hunger is often misinterpreted for thirst. Drinking water will also keep your child hydrated more alert. Why not substitute water for sugary fizzy drinks and juices? These drinks contain a lot of sugar which adds to the calorie count and ultimately weight gain. Exercise is a big issue with many children. Most children do not exercise enough. A big reason for this is the lack of after school clubs, and safety in parks and sports grounds. Team sports are a great way of getting children to communicate and stay healthy. Exercise can also be done at home, without any equipment. Exercises such as jumping squats, lunges and star jumps can easily be done at home. We hope you found our  childhood obesity article useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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Homeopathy for Temper Tantrums

Homeopathy for Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums or outbursts of anger, shouting, screaming and crying are unfortunately common occurrences for many young children.  There are many reasons why children may throw temper tantrums, and these situations need to be addressed before giving any remedies. However it is sometimes possible to seek help in homeopathy for temper tantrums. Teaching children how to behave through adequate parenting and behavioural techniques should be the first line of treatment. Unfortunately, this does not always solve the problem. Temper tantrums are not always a sign of poor parenting. Children may have deeper emotional disturbances, either from emotional or physical trauma. Children who have tantrums may be frustrated, bored or not mentally stimulated. Emotional stress during pregnancy can also have an impact on your child. This can manifest itself in the form of tantrums or outburst of anger early in childhood. Other factors that can cause temper tantrums are tensions within the family, lack of attention, jealousy or if clear disciplinary boundaries have not been set. Tantrums are common with the arrival of a new sibling, as there is naturally a shift in the amount of attention that the child receives. Other possible causes of tantrums are food intolerances and teething. If you suspect your child may have a food intolerance please consult your GP or nutritionist. Please refer to the article Homeopathy for Teething for help with treating teething. The following homeopathic remedies should be given in the 30c potency twice a day for up to one week. If the tantrums still persist after this time your child may require constitutional treatment to get to the root of the problem. This requires a full consultation with a qualified homeopath. Chamomilla. This remedy is for children who are extremely oversensitive and want to be carried and held. The child moans because s/he cannot have what they want. The child wants many things which they then refuse. It may seem like nothing satisfies them. Chamomilla is the main remedy for teething and colic. The child is only calmed when being carried and held. This remedy is for tantrums that are mainly at night. Cina is a homeopathic remedy for children who are very cross. They do not want be touched or...

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