Less sleep linked to more teen sports injuries
Figuring out what's best for your kid's mental and physical health is the toughest challenge you face as a parent. But we're here to help -- with some new research and common sense guidelines to get you through.
Less sleep equals more sports injuries: You know your teen needs rest in order to perform his best in the classroom. But did you know skimping on sleep may actually result in getting hurt on the playing field? According to new information presented at the recent American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference, teen athletes who sleep eight hours or more a night are 68 percent less likely to get injured than those who regularly sleep less. The thinking is that lack of sleep can impact not only cognitive skills but also fine-motor skills, making a sleepy athlete a more injury-prone one.
Fighting off the flu: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released the somber news that a child is this flu season's first victim. This comes on the heels of the agency's recent study which found that even kids without any underlying health conditions can have serious complications from contracting the flu. In fact, according to the study, 43 percent of kids who died from the flu were perfectly healthy beforehand. The message: Don't panic, but do get your kids - and yourself - to the doctor for flu shots soon. The CDC recommends vaccinations for all kids older than six months and for pregnant women, too.
The latest on the organic debate: In light of the continuing controversy over whether organic produce and meats are better (and worth the extra cash), the American Academy of Pediatrics has weighed in with their own recommendations for confused parents. The upshot: The organization says the most important thing for kids is to eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products -- organic or otherwise. But they do raise something of a red flag about kids' exposure to pesticides in produce and drug-resistant bacteria from livestock. The group calls for more research on the effects of such exposure on kids and suggests, in the meantime, that parents buy organic selectively. For example, certain conventional fruits and vegetables have low levels of pesticides, but for those with the highest levels, it may pay to go organic.
Stress and fast food connection: Before you hit the fast-food drive-through, stop and take a few deep breaths. A new study found that parents who perceive themselves as having more stress feed their kids more fast food. Not surprisingly, they were also more likely to have kids who are obese. Not to say these parents (and all parents!)aren't under a lot of stress, but the interesting thing about the study is that the parents' perceived levels of stress played more of a role in their food choices than the actual number of stressors they were experiencing. The solution: Start working on stress reduction techniques -- such as meditation, yoga or even just a few minutes of focused breathing -- to help you cope better, no matter how much stress life tosses your way.
Bad energy: In the wake of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed last week against Monster Energy by the parents of a girl who died after reportedly consuming two 24-ounce cans of the drink, experts are warning parents these drinks aren't good for kids. Not only do many contain at least as much sugar as a can of soda, they are also loaded with more caffeine than kids should consume. The combination of all that caffeine, plus other compounds such as guarana, taurine and ginseng found in many of these drinks, can have a potentially harmful effect of causing the heart rate to speed up but slowing down the blood flow to the heart.
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