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Helping your child to maintain optimum health

Posted on Sep 14, 2012 by Guest Writer

Many American parents begin to plan for their child's long-term future even before their baby is born.  They pick decorations for the nursery and decide on a name; they may even establish a college fund and begin saving.  Another important form of planning is subtler; it consists largely of parents educating themselves about essential preventative measures they can take to help their child to stay healthy throughout its childhood and beyond.

The obesity epidemic

Doctors estimate that more than 15% of American children are obese.  Carrying excess weight places children at increased risk of several serious health conditions including; type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea, in which airways are obstructed, causing blood oxygen levels to drop.  Children who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to have problems with bedwetting, fatigue, and concentrating when in school. 

Childhood obesity can also lead to disorders of the skeletal system that affect normal growth; there are even studies indicating that being overweight may influence a child's chance of developing cancer, liver disease, and kidney problems. 

Parents therefore need to put some thought into establishing a healthy diet for their children.  Limiting fats and sweets is essential, but so is implementing a balanced diet that contains sufficient amounts of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and lean cuts of meat.  Children, of course, can be quite fussy in their eating preferences.  Parents can deal with this by offering a range of healthy choices, allowing children to decide, for example, if they would rather have carrots, squash, or peas with dinner. 

Promoting an active lifestyle for your child

Eating a healthy diet is crucial to a child's development, but in order to maximize the benefits it is essential to combine balanced nutrition with an active lifestyle.  Experts recommend that children and young people should spend at least 60 minutes a day engaged in moderate exercise in order to strengthen muscles, support cardio-vascular health and maintain a healthy weight.  In practical terms this means that parents should carefully monitor how much time their child is spending on sedentary activities such as watching the TV or playing on games consoles.  If they demonstrate more of an inclination to stay indoors, encourage them to go out with friends, play sport or ride their bikes – all of which provide excellent opportunities for physical exercise.

Cord blood banking

As well as the preventative effects of eating well and exercise on disease, measures to protect health can also be undertaken at the time a baby is born.  The stem cells present in umbilical cord blood can be saved for future use.  Such cells can be instrumental in the treatment of many conditions, including immune system disorders, diseases of the blood or bone marrow, and metabolic problems.  Various types of cancer and anemia are among the 80 diseases currently being treated with cord blood stem cells.

Parents who decide to save newborn stem cells will need to choose between public cord blood banking and its private counterpart.  In a public bank, the stem cells in umbilical cord blood are available to any patient in need as well as medical researchers.  A private cord blood bank reserves those stem cells for the use of authorized persons only; typically these are limited to family members.

Whatever options parents take to safeguard their children's health, it is always recommended that they consult a registered pediatrician for answers to any medical questions or concerns.





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