June 20, 2016

In the literature and simple tricks:

1) First foods - Historically, mothers were taught to start with rice cereal or oatmeal. Current evidence recommends neither. We recommend starting solids at 6 months of age and using foods like sweet potatoes, avocado, squash and other vegetables.

Rice cereal is now well proven to be contaminated with the metal arsenic which is poisonous in elevated concentrations and likely not good at any level. In a study from the Journal JAMA Pediatrics April 2016, Karagas and colleagues showed that infants that consumed rice cereal had elevated levels of arsenic in their urine.

Avoid rice in infants and use it in moderation in all children older than 12 months.

2) How to avoid the irritatingly common "swimmer's ear"? I like to teach parents that getting the infection is predicated upon having water in the ear canal to support the growth of Pseudomonas bacteria. This bacterium causes an infection that leads to inflammation of the ear canal that is excruciatingly painful for the child.

Avoiding the illness is always preferable to treating it. The best method is to remove the water after swimming by tilting the head from side to side to remove excess water. Then introduce a paper towel sheet end rolled up into a needle into the ear on the floor of the canal and wick away the water before the bacterium can grow. There is no risk of ear drum damage because the paper towel is soft and gentle. If you do happen to touch the drum, it will be mildly uncomfortable and the child will pull away.

If an ear infection develops, the ear will hurt when you push the ear lobe forward where it meets the head. Prescription based ear drops work rapidly and effectively (with little to no side effect risk) to treat an infection whereas herbals are less effective in my experience.

3) Breastfeeding and Kawasaki Disease (KD)- from Pediatrics this June, T. Yorifuji looked at the effect of breastfeeding on preventing the immune dysregulation disease known as KD which is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in developed countries. They studied 37,630 children until the age of 30 months. They found that those children that were breastfed had a significant reduction in the incidence of KD.

This is yet another in a long string of articles demonstrating that breastfeeding will prevent diseases of all types. We now know of benefits in prevention of allergic disease, autoimmune disease and infectious disease.

We need to support mothers that decide to breastfeed!

Dr. M