Ultrasound can help reveal autism risk
We all think our kids are gorgeous, but when it comes to their weight it can be downright dangerous to view them with blinders on. According to a new survey, only 15 percent of American parents said they thought their kids were overweight -- but national statistics of 32 percent beg to differ. So keep believing that your kids are perfect, but their health depends on not turning a blind eye to their weight problems.
In other news:
Ultrasound can help reveal autism risk: Early diagnosis of autism -- and the corresponding early intervention -- can help improve kids’ outcomes. And while previous research has shown an increased risk of autism among low-birth-weight babies, a new study may help explain why. Those babies who showed enlarged ventricles (cavities in the brain that store spinal fluid) on an ultrasound soon after birth were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with autism later in life. While the causes of this disorder are still not well understood, this research could provide clues to underlying brain issues that may be involved in the development of autism.
Kids don't outgrow bullying effects?: It’s been assumed that no matter how painful it may seem at the time, being bullied is a fleeting childhood episode that kids move past. Well, maybe not. The results of a new study indicate that adults who were childhood victims of bullying are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression. The researchers analyzed data from over a thousand children, following them from preteens to adults. Interestingly, not only did those who were bullied suffer long-term mental health effects, but so did those who were bullies themselves.
Mom's weight linked to baby's heart disease risk: According to a new study, babies born to overweight or obese moms already show the first signs of future heart disease at birth. The study included 23 women and found that those who were overweight or obese all had babies with thickened aortas, a known risk factor for later heart disease and stroke. The higher the mom’s weight, the more thickening of the aorta the baby had -- regardless of baby’s own birth weight. Let that be added incentive to slim down before getting pregnant (and to not pack on unnecessary pounds during those nine months).
The perils of perfection: As parents, we all strive to do our best for our children. But new research reveals that when we take this perfectionistic approach to parenting too far, our children may suffer. A study found that parents who focus too much attention on getting everything “just right” and worrying about the negative consequences of their child’s mistakes may raise kids who are more perfectionistic and suffer from more anxiety.
Make healthy food look good: Rather than trying to force healthy choices, literally, down kids’ throats, a new study suggests that school cafeterias just need to make the foods look appealing and easy to grab. After a few simple cafeteria makeovers including displaying fresh fruit in nice bowls next to the register and placing fruit juice boxes next to the ice cream, researchers found that students were 16 percent more likely to eat a whole fruit serving and 10 percent more likely to eat a serving of veggies.
Doing good could make kids feel better: Giving back isn’t just good for the people you’re helping, it’s actually good for your heart and mental health, too. A new study has found that the same holds true for adolescents. Two groups of 10th graders were studied -- one volunteered one hour a week for 10 weeks; the other was told they were wait-listed to volunteer. At the end of the study, the kids who’d been volunteering had lower levels of inflammation and cholesterol (both indicators of heart health), and greater increases in empathy, than the wait-listed group.
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