Family Life

The latest health and wellbeing news for mums, dads and kids

Nurture beats nature in child obesity

According to research by experts at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), a family’s lifestyle – rather than their genes – are primarily responsible for kids being overweight.

Looking at families with both biological and adopted children, the researchers found that adopted children have a 21 percent higher chance of being overweight when both their adoptive parents are overweight too. And because these children don’t have the same genes as their adopted parents, their weight problems are far more likely to be a result of their family lifestyle.

In comparison, children with two biological and overweight parents are 27 percent more likely to be overweight – which means their risk is only slightly higher than if they’d been adopted.

Screen time boosts blood pressure risk

Children who spend more than two hours a day in front of a screen have a 30 percent higher risk of having high blood pressure, say European researchers. And doing less than an hour of physical activity a day increases the risk by 50 percent.

Writing in the International Journal of Cardiology, the researchers conclude: “The figures are worrying, given that sedentary behaviours are common in infancy and subsequently, later in life”.

  • Children aged between five and 18 years should do at least an hour of physical activity every day, says the NHS

Good reasons to quit

Children exposed to cigarette smoke from one or both parents while they’re in the womb may have a higher risk of developing diabetes as adults, say experts writing in the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.  Meanwhile, a separate animal-based study published in the Journal of Endocrinology suggests smoking while breastfeeding could put children at risk of obesity later in life.

Alcohol in pregnancy update

Experts have issued new recommendations on drinking alcohol during the pregnancy, advising women not to drink within the first three months of while trying to conceive.

“For women planning a family, it is advisable not to drink during this time,” says Philippa Marsden, chair of the RCOG’s Patient Information Committee. “Either partner drinking heavily can make it more difficult to conceive.

“During early pregnancy, the safest approach is to abstain from alcohol and after the first trimester keep within the recommended amounts if you do decide to have an alcohol drink. The same applies for women who decide to breastfeed.”

  • If you have questions or concerns about alcohol in pregnancy, talk to your midwife, GP or health visitor.

Turn it down for your ear’s sake

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk of permanently damaging their hearing by listening to too much music at too high a volume. The WHO blames audio players, concerts and bars.

And now, it’s advising people to listen to music for no more than an hour a day to protect their hearing. However, even an hour may be too long if you listen to music that’s too loud.

Early babies grow out of asthma

Babies born prematurely are thought to be more likely to develop asthma early in their lives. However, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests they grow out of it, and suffer no more lung conditions as adults than anybody else.

Naps spoil toddler’s sleep

Children aged two and older who take naps during the day may not sleep as well at night as those who avoid naps, say experts writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. The researchers claim that by the time a child reaches two years  old, they should be getting most  of their sleep at night.

New rules for mums-to-be and flying

New patient information published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) will be of interest to mums-to-be planning a holiday this summer. Flying isn’t harmful to a woman or her baby if she’s having a straightforward pregnancy, it claims, with the safest time to fly being before 37 weeks (or 32 weeks if she’s carrying twins).

  • Some airlines don’t allow pregnant women to fly earlier than the 37-week deadline, so always check with your airline before travelling.