Monday, February 21, 2011

C-section puts children at food risk?

This idea has been grumbling on for years. Nobody seems to mention that less healthy women might be more likely to need a Caesarian and that it might be the poorer average maternal health that leads to poorer average child health -- nothing to do with the delivery method

GIVING birth by caesarean section increases the risk of your child suffering from food allergies, an expert has warned.

Pediatric allergy specialist Dr Peter Smith is urging expectant mothers to consider a vaginal delivery because of growing evidence a c-section can "significantly increase the risk of your child suffering from an allergy to cow's milk".

Admissions to hospital emergency departments for allergic reactions have increased by 500 per cent since 1990 in Australia. "It is at epidemic proportions," Dr Smith said of the massive rise in food allergies, likely to be attributed to several causes rather than one.

But symptomatic food allergy was found to occur more frequently in children born by c-section. There has been a 30 per cent growth in caesareans in the past decade in Australia.

"Several studies have shown a difference in the composition of the gastrointestinal flora of children with food allergies compared to those without," Dr Smith said. "When a child moves through the birth canal, they ingest bacteria and become naturally inoculated through a small mouthful of secretions. "The oral ingestion of those healthy bugs is the first bacteria that comes into their system." Dr Smith said that first bacteria entering the body established "the population".

Not only does Australia have one of the highest prevalence of allergic disorders in the developed world, but recent studies have demonstrated a doubling in some conditions such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), eczema and potentially dangerous anaphylaxis. Asthma, hay fever, chronic sinusitis and "other allergy" comprise four of the top 10 most common long-term, self-reported illnesses in young people aged 12-24 in Australia.

Dr Smith said the next best thing to a "natural" birth was to follow birth with breast feeding. "Breast milk contains lots of healthy bugs (probiotics) to promote the growth of healthy bacteria and assist your child's immune system in the first few week's of life," he said.


City life is making us sick, study warns

Pure anecdote, without even a pretence of research

CITY slickers juggling phones, computers and the stresses of modern life are being struck down by a new condition called "urban mental health", an international mental health conference heard yesterday.

In the next few decades it will be the single biggest issue facing those in big cities who may not realise their hectic lifestyles are adding to their stress, which could lead to a mental illness.

Compounding the problem is that many people are living in units on their own and parks and backyards are disappearing, causing people to be cut off from society.

One in five Australians is diagnosed each year with a mental condition of some sort, from anxiety and depression to more serious conditions such as schizophrenia, the conference at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney was told.

Faces in the Street Urban Mental Health Research Institute director Professor Kay Wilhelm said many people were suffering chronic stress and placing themselves at risk. "We've heard there are problems living in the city which are probably becoming more so with stress, pollution etcetera," she said.

"And it's thought that in terms of the social determinants of mental health, one of the underlying factors is being chronically stressed by a whole lot of things.

"Urban mental health is really about the particular mental health issues that have to do with people living in the inner city, it's not really so much the suburbs."

In order to combat urban mental health, town planners and developers are being urged to consider community interaction and encourage meeting spots in their designs.

University of NSW Faculty of Built Environment Associate Professor Susan Thompson said the rise in community gardens was helping to bring people outdoors. "A lot of people in the city live on their own. Others don't have backyards, so they are not out in the garden or interacting with neighbours," she said. "It is about designing cities and letting residents have an input into things that will make them happy."


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