When should I start feeding my baby solids?
Is there anything I can do to prevent them developing allergies?
The answers to these questions were discussed last week in Melbourne at The Centre for Food and Allergy Research summit. The consensus is clear: Start around 6 months, but not before 4. All infants, including those at high risk of allergy, should be given allergenic solid foods including peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat products in the first year of life.
In the past, the recommendation in Australia, Europe and the US has been to delay these forms of solids until after the age of 1 or even 2.
Murdoch Children's Research Institute paediatric gastroenterologist and allergist Professor Katie Allen told the summit: “We used to tell people to avoid peanut, eggs and cow’s milk, and now we’re saying introduction is safe and maybe even be protective.
"People are not introducing the allergenic solids in a timely manner... and that may be increasing and driving the rates of allergy in our community.''
There is no evidence that breastfeeding or hydrolysed milk formula are preventative against allergies. However, Prof Allen said that starting solids is unlikely to interfer with breastfeeding. She said: 'We do believe breastfeeding is best for a baby's healthy start to life, not just for bonding with the mother but IQ and infectious disease rates, so breast is definitely the best way to go.'
SAVE THE DATE: From May 6 to 20, you can donate your unused disposable nappies at our clinic and these nappies will go to mothers in shelters and families in need via The Nappy Collective.
Whether your bubba has outgrown his/her current size, or your child has finished toilet-training (yah!), giving away your unused nappies to a good cause is better than them ending up in landfill.
The nappies get redistributed to over 130 organisations around Australia that support mothers fleeing family violence and families struggling with homelessness, mental illness, drug abuse, and extreme financial hardship. Please share to any parents living in the Heidelberg/Rosanna/Ivanhoe area!
Warning: This post contains illustrations of breast-feeding.
Most new parents have no idea what tongue-tie is. Known as ankyloglossia, it is where the tongue has an extra bit of skin and is unable to touch the roof of the mouth during rest or swallowing. It occurs in 5 % of the population, is more common in males than females, and can run in families.
There are degrees of severity, so some babies are able to attach to the breast and suck well despite a tongue-tie . However, many will have breastfeeding problems (sometimes from birth, sometimes from 2 or 3 weeks) due to poor latch. Here are some of the signs:
In a baby with tongue-tie (right), the tongue is anchored down by the extra skin and can't form a tight seal against the nipple. It also can't perform the smooth, circular action to extract breast milk.
It may contribute to an abnormal tongue-resting posture (low and forward), and an abnormal swallowing pattern (tongue thrust). The entire body will then begin to accommodate to this incorrect tongue-resting posture, contributing to changes in the growth of the face, forward head posture, mouth breathing and sleep apnoea.
If untreated as a baby, it can go on to alter speech. Affected adults and children will often try to speak with a small mouth opening, slowly or softly so that they can pronounce specific consonants.
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, your baby may have a tongue-tie if:
As osteopaths, we can identify any neck or facial asymmetry in babies, treat any symptoms of colic or gastrointestinal discomfort and recommend a referral to a lactation consultant if we suspect a tongue-tie.
Once diagnosed, the tongue-tie is snipped without anaesthetic in a quick procedure. Breastfeeding may improve immediately or it may take 2 weeks for the baby to relearn feeding technique.
A University of Melbourne literature review shows an increasing trend of young adults staying at home well into their adulthood, as well as returning home years later, often with their children in tow.
Associate Professor Cassandra Szoeke and Katherine Burn, from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, analysed 20 studies involving 20 million people worldwide using data from PubMed and PsycInfo and professional archives gathered by the Healthy Women’s Ageing Project.
They found that
The research also showed wealthier parents and those who are still married are more likely to have children living at home for longer, whereas parents in poor health were much less likely to have children living with them, unless the child was a carer.
“Starting university, saving for a house, or getting a new job can encourage people to stay at home longer and of course it’s a beneficial arrangement for them,” Ms Burn says. “Whereas early high school leavers from families with a step-parent tend to leave earlier and are also less likely to come back.”
As for the boomerangs – it’s usually unpleasant, unplanned events like unemployment or divorce that often prompt a return home. They are more likely to be in financial dire straits and sometimes come back with children of their own.
The old-fashioned notion that “empty nest” mothers pine for their departed children as they take flight into adulthood is not entirely true. “Professor Lorraine Dennerstein, founder of the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project, studied this back in the 1990s. She found that an empty nest actually leads to a significant increase in positive mood and wellbeing for parents, but only once the last child has left home,” Associate Professor Szoeke says.
“Even when children do make financial contributions, the parents remain out of pocket,” Ms Burn says. “This can often cause resentment and conflict. The key to success is open communication and defining relationship and household roles early on, Associate Professor Szoeke says.
“Most parents genuinely enjoy spending time with their children and as people get older they can become more socially isolated. We know that loneliness scores are way down when kids come home. And children who leave home later are more likely to have regular contact and provide help to their parents."
“We see negative experiences when roles and expectations mismatch. If you look at cultures where it’s usual to have co-residence of adult children and parents, those conflicts don’t exist," Associate Professor Szoeke says.
Most parents and teachers believe that children and teenagers who are able to stay focused, sit still, and pay attention longer, are likely to do much better in school.
A recent Danish study found that delaying kindergarten enrollment for one year dramatically reduces hyperactivity and inattention when they are 7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been on the rise and affects more boys than girls. Sufferers have a lower level of self-regulation and ability to control impulses and adjust his or her behavior in attaining goals.
The study, The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health, was written by Professor Thomas S. Dee and Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Center for Social Research,
Professor Dee said: "We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11, and it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure."
In Australia, children start their school life at either 5 or 6. Children in Denmark are enrolled in kindergarten the calendar year that they turn 6, which means that those born on December 31 have started kindergarten earlier that year and will be the "babies" of the year, while those who celebrate their birthdays in January will be the oldest in their batch .
The study’s findings also align with other research that has shown an extended period of early childhood play – such as in preschools – yields mental health developmental gains. Both girls and boys benefited equally from delayed kindergarten entry.
In a separate piece of news, 4 Corners looked at 3 young Australians affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This is caused by the mother drinking during pregnancy, and the children experience a devastating range of problems, from lifelong behavioural issues to learning difficulties.
Specialists currently diagnosing and tackling the disorder warn that some children diagnosed with ADHD are actually suffering the effects of foetal alcohol exposure. More than half a million Australians could be affected and there is no known safe threshold of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
"We regard foetal alcohol spectrum disorder as being the driver for ADHD." - Paediatrician on 4 Corners
For more on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, see the FASD website.
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.