Are you overfeeding your child?

Is your child eating too much?
Is your child eating too much?

Watch our video as we explore the potentially long term health implications of overfeeding your child, as new research shows the majority of toddlers are being offered much more food than they should be, with many regularly being given adult sized portions


A majority of parents are unwittingly giving their toddlers too much food, putting them at risk of obesity, according to new research from leading health and nutrition experts the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF).

The survey of 1000 UK mums and dads revealed that 79% of parents routinely offer portions bigger than the recommended size range for pre-schoolers when serving popular meals, such as spaghetti bolognaise, drinks and treats.

The survey involved parents looking at images of portion sizes and revealed that over one in ten parents usually serve their child close to an adult-size portion of spaghetti bolognaise or cheese sandwiches.

In response to the survey findings the ITF, supported by 4Children, Family Lives and the Pre-school Learning Alliance, is launching the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign. The campaign aims to encourage all families to rethink how much is on the plates of their young children, and is calling for guidance on appropriate portion sizes for families of young children to be a key public health strategy in the fight against obesity.

So just how much should you be feeding your child and should there be more specific guidelines to help parents figure out how much is too much?

Watch our video where we ask mums their thoughts on the issue as well as hearing expert advice from paediatric dietitian, Judy More and child and clinical psychologist, Gill Harris.

Healthy Diets
Healthy Diets




Hirschsprung’s disease – what are the signs and symptoms of Aganglionosis

Hirschsprung’s disease – what are the signs and symptoms of Aganglionosis
Hirschsprung’s disease – what are the signs and symptoms of Aganglionosis

Introduction

Hirschsprung’s disease is a rare condition that causes poo to become stuck in the bowels. It mainly affects babies and young children.

Normally, the bowel continuously squeezes and relaxes to push poo along, a process controlled by your nervous system.

In Hirschsprung’s disease, the nerves that control this movement are missing from a section at the end of the bowel, which means poo can build up and form a blockage.

This can cause severe constipation, and occasionally lead to a serious bowel infection called enterocolitis if it’s not identified and treated early on.

However, the condition is usually picked up soon after birth and treated with surgery as soon as possible.

This page covers:

Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease

When to get medical advice

How Hirschsprung’s disease is diagnosed

What causes Hirschsprung’s disease?

Treatments for Hirschsprung’s disease

Outlook for Hirschsprung’s disease

Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease

Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease are usually noticeable from soon after a baby is born, although occasionally they’re not obvious until a child is a year or two old.

Signs of the condition in a baby include:

  • failing to pass meconium within 48 hours – the dark, tar-like poo that healthy babies pass soon after being born
  • a swollen belly
  • vomiting green fluid (bile)

Signs in older infants and children include:

  • a swollen belly and a tummy ache
  • persistent constipation that doesn’t get better with the usual treatments
  • not feeding well or gaining much weight

If your child develops a bowel infection (enterocolitis), they may also have a high temperature (fever) and watery, foul-smelling diarrhoea.

When to get medical advice

Visit your GP if your child develops the symptoms described above. Hirschsprung’s disease can be serious if left untreated, so it’s important to get help as soon as possible.




If your GP suspects the condition, they will refer you to hospital for tests to confirm the diagnosis.

How Hirschsprung’s disease is diagnosed

Your child’s tummy will usually be examined and sometimes a rectal examination may be carried out. This is where a doctor or nurse inserts a finger into the back passage (rectum) to feel for abnormalities.

If Hirschsprung’s disease is suspected, an X-ray can be done to show a blockage and bulge in the bowel.

The diagnosis can be confirmed by doing a rectal biopsy, which involves inserting a small instrument into your child’s bottom to remove a tiny sample of the affected bowel.

This is then examined under the microscope to see if the nerve cells are missing.

What causes Hirschsprung’s disease?

The muscles of the bowel are controlled by nerve cells called ganglion cells. In Hirschsprung’s disease, these ganglion cells are missing from a section at the end of bowel, extending up from the anus, the opening in the bottom that poo passes through.

For some reason, the cells didn’t develop in that area when the baby was growing in the womb. It’s not clear why this happens, but it’s not thought to be caused by anything the mother did while she was pregnant.

A number of genes are associated with Hirschsprung’s disease and it does sometimes run in families. If you’ve had a child with it before, you’re more likely to have another child with it.

The condition is occasionally part of a wider genetic condition, such as Down’s syndrome, but most cases aren’t.

Treatments for Hirschsprung’s disease

All children with Hirschsprung’s disease will need surgery.

As they wait for surgery, they may need to:

  • stop having milk feeds and instead be given fluids directly into a vein
  • have a tube passed through their nose and into their stomach to drain away any fluid and air collecting in it
  • have regular bowel washouts, where a thin tube is inserted into their bottom and warm salt water is used to soften and flush out the trapped stools
  • take antibiotics if they have enterocolitis

Your child may need to stay in hospital during this time, or you may be able to look after them at home. Your doctor will advise you about this.

Surgery

Most children will have the “pull-through” operation, where the affected section of bowel is removed and the remaining healthy sections of bowel are joined together. This will usually be done when they’re around three months old.

If your child isn’t well enough to have this procedure – for example, because they have enterocolitis or a severe blockage – they may have it in two stages.

A few days after birth, the surgeon will divert the bowel through a temporary opening (stoma) made in the tummy. This procedure is called a colostomy formation.

Stools will pass directly out of the opening into a pouch worn on your child’s body until they’re well enough to have another procedure to remove the affected section of bowel, close the opening, and join the healthy sections of bowel together. This is usually done at around three months of age.

These procedures can be done using either:

  • laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery – this involves inserting surgical instruments through tiny cuts
  • open surgery – where a larger cut is made in your child’s tummy

Speak to your surgeon about the best option for your child.

Risks of surgery

No surgery is risk-free. There’s a small chance of:

  • bleeding during or after the operation
  • the bowel becoming infected (enterocolitis)
  • bowel contents leaking into the body, which could lead to serious infection (peritonitis) if not treated quickly
  • the bowel becoming narrowed or blocked again, requiring further surgery

Recovery from surgery

Your child will probably need to stay in hospital for a few days after surgery. They’ll be given pain-relieving medicine to make them comfortable and fluids into a vein until they can manage food.

No special diet is needed once you get home, but it’s important they drink plenty of fluids as they recover.

Your child should recover well and their bowels should function normally after surgery.

At first they’ll probably have a sore bottom when they poo. It can help to leave their bottom open to the air whenever possible, and use baby oil to gently clean their bottom as well as nappy cream after each change.

Call your doctor immediately if your child develops problems such as a swollen belly, fever, or foul-smelling diarrhoea.

Outlook for Hirschsprung’s disease

Most children are able to pass stools normally and have a normal functioning bowel after surgery, although they may take a bit longer to toilet train.

Some may experience persistent constipation and need to follow a high-fibre diet and take laxatives. Your doctor will advise about this treatment.

A small number of children have problems controlling their bowels (bowel incontinence), which can last until they’re a teenager and be very distressing.

Speak to your GP if this is a problem. You can also read advice about soiling in children.

Children’s Mental Health Disorders – A Journey for Parents and Children

Watch this video from the CDC meet two families and hear about their experiences living with ADHD and Tourette Syndrome.

More information can be found here National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD).

Boys Playing in the Leaves
Boys Playing in the Leaves

How much salt do babies and children need?

How much salt do babies and children need?
How much salt do babies and children need?


 

How much salt do babies and children need?

Babies and children only need a very small amount of salt in their diet. However, because salt is added to a lot of the food you buy, such as bread, baked beans, and even biscuits, it is easy to have too much.

The maximum recommended amount of salt for babies and children is:

  • up to 12 months – less than 1g of salt a day (less than 0.4g sodium)
  • 1 to 3 years – 2g of salt a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years – 3g of salt a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years – 5g of salt a day (2g sodium)
  • 11 years and over – 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Babies who are breastfed get the right amount of salt through breast milk. Infant formula contains a similar amount of salt to breast milk.

When you start introducing solid foods, remember not to add salt to the foods you give to your baby, because their kidneys cannot cope with it. You should also avoid giving your baby ready-made foods that are not made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals, because they can also be high in salt.

Lots of foods produced for children can be quite high in salt, so it’s important to check the nutritional information before you buy. The salt content is usually given as figures for sodium. As a rough guide, food containing more than 0.6g of sodium per 100g is considered to be high in salt. You can work out the amount of salt in foods by multiplying the amount of sodium by 2.5. For example, 1g of sodium per 100g is the same as 2.5g salt per 100g.

You can reduce the amount of salt your child has by avoiding salty snacks, such as crisps and biscuits, and swapping them for low-salt snacks instead. Try healthy options such as dried fruit, raw vegetable sticks and chopped fruit to keep things varied.

Making sure your child doesn’t eat too much salt means you’re also helping to ensure that they don’t develop a taste for salty food, which makes them less likely to eat too much salt as an adult.

Further information:

Summary

Information on how much salt your baby or child requires.

Categories:

  • Food and diet
    • Children and healthy eating
    • Salt and sugar, fibre and fats
  • Children’s health
    • 0-2 years
    • 3-6 years
    • 7-12 years

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

The Anatomy of a Special Needs Child

As many regular readers will have noticed special needs gets quite a bit of coverage oc children with special needs.

Not surprising given I’m the father of a son on the autism spectrum.

But, of course, it is not the only game in town.

This was why I am so please to share this graphic with you which introduces other types of common special needs in children.

They include arthritis, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis among others.


Anatomy of a Special Needs Child Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics