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Health Tips
Stay healthy by reading wellness advice from our top specialists.

Psychological and sometimes, physical problems in children go unspoken, though they tend to yield a significant impact on the well-being of a child. In the 21st century, to have a carefree childhood may not be the privilege of every child. This is why it is important for parents to handle a sticky situation where the child may have experienced an unhappy incident and was unable to cope with it. So, here are five ways to handle some of the most common traumas in childhood.

Family Fights
If your child is traumatized by fights in the family, he may have an emotional outburst more often than not and lash out at other kids or find it difficult to make friends. The child may find it difficult to focus on a certain task at hand and find it difficult to calm down. On the other hand, the child may become meek and quiet and be more observant than talkative, doing exactly what he is told. He may find it cathartic to make everyone around him feel nice and secure.

You can resolve this situation by being compassionate and kind. Irrespective of your child’s behaviour, try to be calm and supportive. Getting your child to talk will help you to rewire the brain.

Death in the Family especially at Home
If someone in the home has died and if such an event traumatizes the child, he may seem withdrawn, reclusive, worried and anxious. He may have an unbalanced eating pattern and they may seesaw between emotions such as being quiet one moment and being agitated the next. Most children do not understand death and they assume that the person or animal that has died will spurt back to life sometime or another.

If your child has questions to ask, respond to them honestly and in a way that he understands. Checking a few days later if the child has any more questions to ask will be a responsible gesture. If your child is holding himself responsible for the death, tell him that everyone’s body gets sick sometimes and when the medicines do not work, the person may die.

One of the most common traits that children exhibit from broken homes is visiting the absent parent. He may behave dramatically when he is with the parent with custody but behave well with the parent he visits. Sometimes, it may take weeks for the child to calm down at home. Child custody disputes tend to make things a lot worse because kids tend to interpret it as being taken away from their parent who loves them by the other.

Try not to discuss the details of separation with your child, but do let them know that you are available to them always. If the child does not express any feelings or ask questions, you may give a simple explanation.

In children, accidents can cause complex reactions. Children may withdraw, experience a decrease in appetite or go through repeated nightmares. In certain extreme cases, the children may also develop a response to places that remind them of the tragedy.

The only way you can talk it out with your child to rectify the trauma that accidents cause is by discussing the event with them when they are ready. Doing so will offer them closure, helping them to refer to the event as something that had happened earlier and that the child is now safe. Disaster updates, as well as news reports, can make certain images to prop up in the mind. You need to help them dissociate from the imagery and detach from the event so that you can reinforce that they are safe.

Emotional Unavailability

This is the most common type of trauma that most children of the modern-age face. The pressure of not having both the parents around can mean that the parents are least concerned to the child. When children are left alone to make sense of their everyday experiences and emotions, they tend to lack inputs from responsible and reasonable adults. It is important for kids to be at the perusal of important tips and inputs from adults because it helps children to self-soothe and makes sense of relationships and the expectations that people have from them.

It is as simple as it sounds and so long as you avoid trying, you may not really be able to be the responsible parents that you want to be. So, take time every day to talk to your child. Communication is very important in helping your child to build an emotional connection with the world around.

Pregnant women are advised ample rest and there’s a good reason for it. In fact, pregnant women undergo constant blood pressure check up so that the doctor can monitor the pressure levels throughout pregnancy. Developing high blood pressure during pregnancy is not always harmful but it could also lead to several complications. “These days high BP during late pregnancies is very common. There is also a high possibility that women have hypertension as a pre-existing condition,” says Dr Anjali Talwalkar, obstetrics and gynecology, Kohinoor Hospital.

These are some of the symptoms that you need to watch out for:

Typically, most women develop high BP during the seventh month, usually after 20 or 24 weeks. This is the time that women need to be careful and lead as healthy a life as possible. “Some of the effects include protein loss in urine, which could lead to kidney damage. At the same time fluid retention (which is very common) can lead to swollen feet,” she adds. High BP could also lead to pre-eclampsia.

According to Dr Bilsi Mittal, MS (obstetrics and gynaecology), Wockhardt Hospital, “Pregnant women should watch out for symptoms like too much weight gain, blurring of vision, turbidity of urine, severe headaches.”

Here’s what high BP means for your growing baby:

Due to the increased pressure, it directly affects the placenta. “This makes the blood vessels shrink leading to reduced blood flow for your baby. The baby can also experience severe intrauterine growth retardation,” says Talwalkar.

She adds, “Accidental haemohrage is also a complication that women should be aware of. This causes the placenta to separate from the uterus and leads to bleeding.”

High BP can be a dangerous condition because sometimes it can also lead to termination of pregnancy. “This situation is rare but occurs if the pregnant woman’s BP doesn’t come under control with treatment,” says Dr Mittal.

So, what are some of the precautionary measures?

Controlling blood pressure is very important. “It is important for mothers-to-be to ensure that they opt for early detection, which helps in better prognosis. Be regular for antenatal visits. Always follow a low salt diet and continue regular intake of calcium and iron tablets,” says Dr Mittal. Most importantly, a mother-to-be should be supported at home and at work places to help her sail through the pregnancy smoothly.

One among every 10 parents blame “contaminated” meals from restaurants as the leading cause behind food-borne illnesses in their children, a survey has revealed.

While just one third of parents said their children got sick from spoiled or contaminated food eaten at home, a whopping 68 per cent named restaurants as the most common source, according to the “National Poll on Children’s Health” led by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The poll also reported that only 25 per cent of people check health inspection ratings before dining out.

“Contaminated food can make both kids and adults sick. For young children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, this kind of illness can present a greater risk of serious complications,” said Gary L. Freed from University of Michigan.

He explained that virus Hepatitis A is being increasingly passed on through unwashed hands, causing food contamination and, thus, recommends vaccination for one-year-old children.

Other places where eating made children sick included school (21 per cent), friend’s house (14 per cent) or at a potluck (11 per cent), the report stated.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), about one in every 10 people around the world falls ill due to food-borne disease each year. Of those 600 million people, almost 420,000 die as a result.

Food-borne illnesses are most often caused by toxins, parasites, viruses and bacteria — such as salmonella and E. coli. It can occur when germs, either certain bacteria or viruses, contaminate food or drinks, according to the report.

Once contaminated food enters the body, some germs release toxins that can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and sometimes fever or muscle aches.

“Simple precautions, like checking restaurant inspections and following food safety rules when cooking and storing food, can help keep your family safe,” Freed said.

Children who get less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age are at a higher risk of developing obesity, a study has found. Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK found that children and adolescents who regularly sleep less than others of the same age gain more weight when they grow older and are more likely to become overweight or obese. “Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes which is also on the increase in children. The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future obesity,” said Michelle Miller, from Warwick Medical School. The study published in the journal Sleep reviewed the results of 42 population studies of infants, children and adolescents aged 0 to 18 years which included a total of 75,499 participants.

Their average sleep duration was assessed through a variety of methods, from questionnaires to wearable technology. The participants were grouped into two classifications: short sleeper and regular sleepers. Short sleepers were defined as having less sleep than the reference category for their age. This was based on the most recent guidelines in the US which recommends that infants (4 to 11 months) get between 12-15 hours of nightly sleep, that toddlers (1-2 years) get 11-14 hours of sleep, children in pre-school (3-5 years) get 10-13 hours and school aged children (6-13 years) between 9 and 11 hours. Teenagers (14-17 years) are advised to get 8-10 hours.

Participants were followed up for a median period of three years and changes in BMI and incidences of overweight and/or obesity were recorded over time. At all ages short sleepers gained more weight and overall were 58 per cent more likely to become overweight or obese. “The results showed a consistent relationship across all ages indicating that the increased risk is present in both younger and older children. The study also reinforces the concept that sleep deprivation is an important risk factor for obesity, detectable very early on in life,” said Miller. “By appraising world literature we were able to demonstrate that, despite some variation between studies, there is a strikingly consistent overall prospective association between short sleep and obesity,” said Francesco Cappuccio from University of Warwick.

“This study builds on our previous analysis of cross-sectional data published in 2008. The importance of the latest approach is that only prospective longitudinal studies were included, demonstrating that short sleep precedes the development of obesity in later years, strongly suggesting causality,” said Cappuccio.

Besides smoking and drinking alcohol, parents’ health including obesity and poor diet can have “profound implications” for the growth, development and long-term health of their children before their conception, says a series of studies published in the journal Lancet.

The findings showed that smoking, high alcohol and caffeine intake, diet, obesity, and malnutrition in either or both parents, potentially increases a child’s lifelong risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, immune and neurological diseases.

The research emphasises the need for greater awareness of preconception health and improved guidance, with a greater focus on diet and nutrition to improve the health of future generations.

“Research is now showing that our gametes and early embryos are sensitive to a variety of environmental conditions including poor parental diet. These effects can change the process of development, affecting growth, metabolism, and health of offspring, so makes the case for both parents to have a healthy lifestyle well before conception and pregnancy,” said Tom Fleming, Professor at the University of Southampton.

Maternal obesity is thought to enhance levels of inflammation and hormones, which can directly alter the development of the egg and embryo. This, in turn, boosts the odds of chronic disease later in life.

In men, being obese leads to poor sperm quality, quantity, and motility associated with many of the same conditions.

“The preconception period is a critical time when parental health — including weight, metabolism and diet — can influence the risk of future chronic disease in children, and we must now re-examine public health policy to help reduce this risk,” said Judith Stephenson, Professor from the University College of London.

“While the current focus on risk factors such as smoking and excess alcohol intake is important, we also need new drives to prepare nutritionally for pregnancy in both parents,” Stephenson added.

The results were based in part on two new analyses of women of reproductive age – 18 to 42 – in the UK and Australia.

The team also found that women are often not “nutritionally prepared” for pregnancy. Some 96 per cent of the women, for example, had iron and folate intakes below the recommended levels, 14.8 milligrams and 400 micrograms per day, respectively.

Adjusting diet after a pregnancy has begun is often not good enough to fundamentally improve child health, the researchers said.

They propose that behaviour change interventions, supplementation, and fortification starting in adolescence, by schools could help young adults prepare for healthy parenthood in the future.

Dr. Pramod Bharambe
Dr. Pramod Bharambe
DHMS, Family Physician Homeopath, 30 yrs, Pune
Dr. Abhay Singh
Dr. Abhay Singh
MBBS, Family Physician, 2 yrs, South Delhi
Dr. Aradhana Patkar
Dr. Aradhana Patkar
Specialist, Gynaecologist Infertility Specialist, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Anjali Awate
Dr. Anjali Awate
BAMS, Ayurveda Panchakarma, 9 yrs, Pune
Dr. Anjanikumar Malempati
Dr. Anjanikumar Malempati
MBBS, ENT Specialist, 10 yrs, Pune