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What would be the best present for a child? Something that can entertain him for days on end, provide lessons in unforgettable affection, get him moving around, develop his sense of responsibility… and that also has a positive impact on his health. It is certainly not a new game on his smartphone, nor is it an interactive doll or an electronic skateboard. But what about a present that gets hungry, thirsty and sleepy, that is totally and utterly faithful and, what’s more, loves nothing better than a mess? According to the specialists in behavior, the contact that children have with pets -–not only dogs, it must be pointed out – contributes hugely to their social development, since it allows them to learn how to express affection and to deal with the rules of co-existence. Even smaller children quickly notice that they should not interfere when their pet is eating and that they have to respect the animal when it is exhausted and needing to rest and does not want to play any longer. There is also plenty of evidence of the benefit of this co-existence on the physical health of children. Although there is an association between animals and childhood allergies, research proves that if children are exposed from early on to a pet, they will have less chance of developing not only allergic reactions to hairs but also to pollen, dust and other inhalable allergens. A recent American study, published in an important Pediatric journal, the JAMA PEDIATRICS, noticed a 13% drop in asthma developing in children who live with dogs in the first year of their lives. The presence of an animal at home also improves the immunity of the child’s organism, lowering the frequency of colds as well as headaches and gastric problems, according to the specialists. The available studies show that contact with a pet increases the levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody found in mucous that prevents viruses and bacteria from proliferating. Another scientific study stated that ill children get better more quickly when they have contact with a dog or cat or the like. It is not by chance that, currently, plenty of teams of volunteers all over the world visit pediatric hospitals accompanied by “therapeutic dogs", and the results are excellent. Dogs at home: the responsibilities It all seems to make a lot of sense, but, thinking also of the animal’s well-being, some practical considerations must be made. Animals live for around 13 to 18 years, and during this time demand a lot of attention from the owners. They have to have periodic injections, be de-wormed and vaccinated -–for the safety of the children -, have food and fresh water readily available, go out for walks regularly and stay in a safe place when the family is away. For a child to grow up happily with this companion, the parents must ask themselves, first and foremost, if they are up to taking on so much care. However willing they are to share some of the responsibilities with their children – like changing the water, feeding and brushing the pets, etc., it is the adults who end up with most of the duties. Think about these practical questions and talk with the pediatrician about them.Learn More
Early detection is a strategy in medicine that allows the identification of a particular health problem at a time when there are still no symptoms. The screening of breast cancer with periodic mammography has precisely this objective, that is, to detect the tumor in its initial stage, when it is still a few millimeters small and is palpable neither to the patient nor to the doctor. Although receiving a diagnosis of cancer is still hard news, breast cancer, when diagnosed early, has a more than 90% chance of cure. The treatment tends to be more conservative, which means removal of only one part of the breast, the so-called quadrantectomy, combined with the use of radiation therapy and hormonal blockade. In addition, breast reconstruction is possible. Don’t leave it for later Despite the advances, the mortality rate for the disease remains high. Brazil recorded 15,403 deaths from breast cancer in 2015, according to the National Cancer Institute. It happens that, in the great majority of fatal cases, the diagnosis is late. Due to lack of access to medical services, ignorance, neglect of their own health or even fear of what can be found, many women discover the disease at a time when it is more evident and therefore more advanced. At this stage, not only is the treatment more radical, with more invasive surgery and chemotherapy, but there is also more chance that the cancer cells migrate to other organs. Breast Cancer Awareness Month just proposes awareness raising so that women never postpone this periodic commitment to their health. To get more information, seek your doctor and have the periodic examinations indicated, so that if you have to face breast cancer, you can do so at an advantage. Go to your gynecologist or mastologist and make an appointment for your screening exams as soon as possible.Learn More
In the Renaissance, obesity was synonymous with wealth. Those who were fat had access to good food and did not need to work. In the 18th century, however, the idea that fat was not just corpulence, but a disorder, began to gain ground. In the following century, the condition came to be considered morbid and associated with health problems. More than 200 years later, this link has become stronger and is really concerning due to the obesity epidemic that has been established all over the world. In Brazil alone, 18.9% of the population is obese and 54% of people are overweight, according to the Surveillance System for Risk and Protective Factors for Chronic Diseases by Telephone Survey (Vigitel), published by the Ministry of Health in May 2018. The concern is justified because, among other damages, being overweight leads the person to become intolerant to insulin, the hormone responsible for putting glucose into the cells. Without treatment, this intolerance turns into type 2 diabetes, which, by damaging the blood vessels, fosters the occurrence of cardiovascular problems. In parallel, obesity is associated with elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in the circulation, which predisposes the formation of fat plaques in the arteries, increases the risk of a stroke, and also causes hypertension, which also damages the circulatory system. All this creates a real time bomb in the body. More recently, it has been alleged that the condition helps on the onset of cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 13 types of malignant tumors are related to excess body fat, among the most frequent ones in the world population, such as breast cancer, bowel cancer and stomach cancer. Anti-obesity strategies Of course, encouraging physical activity and healthy eating, with more wholegrain food and fruits, needs to be a constant flag, but a piece of information from Vigitel data calls our attention. According to research, obesity has a higher prevalence among young people aged 18 to 24 years, a group in which it increased by an important 110% between 2007 and 2017. It turns out that children are growing up obese and taking this condition into adult life. Data from WHO accounted for 124 million obese people globally in 2016 and another 213 million overweight ones in the 5 to 19 age group. Prevention, therefore, should come from the cradle - literally. Studies indicate that the longer a child is breastfed, the lower the chance of the child gaining too much weight in the pre-school phase. Similarly, researchers point out that the broad access to fruits and vegetables in one’s childhood is related to a healthier body construction, with less fat and more lean mass, i.e., muscles and bones. At the other end, frequent consumption of sugary drinks and juice in early childhood contributes heavily to obesity, according to numerous cases of scientific evidence. Even natural fruit juice is to blame and should be released, very sparingly, only after the age of 1 and should be limited even among teenagers – and what to say about soft drinks. Instead of fruit juice, experts recommend the fruit itself. Here are more tips on how to fight childhood obesity. Being happy with your weight - Pay attention to your child’s signs of hunger and satiety so as not to feed them excessively, especially in the early years. - Do not use food as a reward (for example, eating chocolate) or punishment (eating broccoli). This can lead to eating disorders in adult life. - Serve meals at regular times and keep in the habit of eating with your family. - Serve colorful and varied dishes to offer the little ones all the food groups. - Take your children to the food market to get to know and taste new fruits and vegetables. - Turn off (TV, tablet and cell phone) screens during meals so that your children pay attention to their food. - Prepare snacks with the least amount of industrialized items (prepare them with homemade cake and biscuits, vegetables and fruits, healthy sandwiches). - Limit video game play time and put kids to play outside and exercise. Pediatrician associations recommend one hour of physical activity a day. - Lastly, watch for the sleep of the little ones. Studies show that not enough sleep can lead to obesity. Finding out if your weight is adequateThe parameters indicated to evaluate the nutritional status of people between 20 and 59 include the body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. The result of the BMI calculation should be analyzed according to the classification below, as defined by the World Health Organization. For children and adolescents, the evaluation involves other parameters besides BMI. In this case, talk to your pediatrician. BMI Rating BMI Rating < 18,5 Low weight ≥ 18,5 and < 25 Adequate weight ≥ 25 and < 30 Overweight ≥ 30 ObesityLearn More