Helping children grow, Better

Helping children grow, Better

Can regular exercise help your child grow taller in height?

Childhood Growth is a very complex process that depends on many factors. There are many good habits and lifestyle practices that can help parents promote childhood growth. Exercise is one of them . It helps growth by a variety of means.

Exercise promotes bone health

Among other things like genetics, nutrition, and general health, bone health is very important for childhood growth. Bones are the framework of the body . It is the size of a child's bones that determines how tall and strong a child is going to be. 

 

The bones of a growing child are metabolically very active living structures. There are many physical and chemical processes happening in the bone all the time. Most of the processes are related to the balance between two types of active bone cells; 

 

1. Bone forming cells known as osteoblasts 

         These cells create new bone almost all the time

 

2. Bone dissolving cells known as osteoclasts

     These cells remove the old bone almost all the time

 

As a result, the child’s bones are constantly self-renewing themselves. If the activity of bone-forming cells is more then the bone-dissolving cells, then the body grows in size and the child becomes taller and stronger. An easy way to understand this is as follows;

    Think of the bone structure as a  bank account (bone bank account????????). As in a bank, multiple activities are happening all the time, similarly in the bone, some bone is constantly being "deposited' in the bone bank and some bone is constantly being 'withdrawn' all the time. If thetotal deposit is more than the withdrawal, the bank account has more money. So in the case of bone bank account, it means more bone mass!! A stronger and a longer bone!! 

 

       Scientific studies over the years have proved that if the mechanical load (pressure) on the growth plate of the growing bone increases,  it leads to increased activity of the bone forming cells and hence it promotes bone growth. Also such bones are stronger as compared to the bones on which the mechanical load is less. Routine physical exercise in children provides this much needed mechanical load to the bones.  Hence repeated activity in childhood lead to stronger healthier and longer bones. Although all exercises are beneficial to some extent, the best ones are those that put weight on the bones like running, brisk walking, jumping, skipping, swimming and games like soccer, badminton basketball and tennis. 

 

Exercise promotes Growth Hormone Secretion in Children

 

Exercise has also been shown to increase the levels of growth hormone in the body. This appears to be a response by nature to the different energy needs of the body during exercise and to repair the tissues after exercise. Some studies also point out to an increase in the active form of growth hormone during and after exercise.

     Growth hormone is the central hormone needed for children to grow. Hence the benefits of regular exercise on growth.

 

Exercise Improves Metabolism & Appetite 

 

Exercise and physical routine physical activity improve the body’s metabolism. Improve metabolism means that the routine chemical and physical processes happening inside the body happen with greater efficiency and better results. Exercise improves appetite and if given the right kind of food helps in healthy growth. Exercise improves insulin balance in the body so children who exercise regularly do not have as much craving for harmful high-carbohydrate foods as much as sedentary children have.

 

Exercise improves Quality of sleep

 

 

Exercise has also been shown to improve the quality of sleep. It has been shown in research that sleep quality impacts growth in children. that in turn contributes to the better growth and general health.

So we see here that among the many benefits of exercise, growth is an important one. Regular physical activity should be a part of the child's routine and the entire family should support the children in this regard. It is not necessary to go to a gym or participate in organized games or classes, what is necessary is that children should play as much as possible and wherever its possible and safe to play. Just avoid sitting for long periods and indulging in sedentary habits. 

 

    HAPPY GROWING...

Is Your Child Really Underweight...?

Weight gain is a universal concern. All parents want their kids to be healthy and an appropriate weight is very reassuring to most parents because  this means that their kid is growing & developing in a healthy way. However there are many misconceptions in the society regarding weight of infants and toddlers .  Concerns about childhood weight gain are a very common cause of consultation in my Growth Clinic.

Are you worried?

If you are worried that there is something abnormal and your child is not gaining weight, stop thinking and  first evaluate whether  in reality the weight is less or not.

 

                       Normal weigh at different ages for Indian Children

  BOYS GIRLS
6 months 6.5-10 kg 6-9 kg
1 year 8-12 kg 7-11 kg
18 months 9-13 kg 8-13 kg
2 years 10-15 kg 9-15 kg

 

In further doubtful cases , for a thorough evaluation only weight doesn’t give the complete picture and other parameters like weight for height have to be plotted on a Growth Chart and assessed that can be done by a
 Growth Specialist

So is your Child Really Underweight?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your child actually falls in the underweight category, evaluation is needed. In a child who is otherwise not having any medical problems and doesn’t need medications very often, the underweight situation is usually due to a lack of adequate calorie intake. Ensuring adequate food intake is the first step and often the only step needed to bring your child in the normal weight bracket for his/her age.

 
 
I shall discuss the common issues in young child feeding and the common problems parents face while feeding tiny tots in subsequent blog posts. So watch this space .
 

 

In case you have any specific worries and queries, please feel free to write in the comments section. We ll try to address them. 

Happy Growing .....:)

 

What Is Childhood Diabetes?

Childhood diabetes (also known as Type 1 Diabetes) is a medical condition in which the body cannot produce insulin. Insulin is needed by the body to convert sugar glucose) into energy for body cells. Without energy body cells cannot work. Hence without insulin our body starves to death. 

 

It is important to note that everyone is insulin dependent. No one can survive without insulin. People without diabetes make insulin in their pancreas.Children with diabetes need to inject insulin inside their body.

 

Why does the body stop producing insulin??

It is believed that in children with type one diabetes the bodies own immune system attacks and kills the beta cells in the pancreas which are responsible to make insulin. Without insulin the body cannot control blood sugar and the children suffer from dangerously high levels of blood sugars which is known as hyperglycaemia. Long standing uncontrolled hyperglycaemia is responsible for most of  the complications of diabetes. 

In this series of articles on Childhood diabetes,I shall explain the basic facts and concepts that everyone in the society should know about childhood diabetes and also I shall answer the questionsparents often ask in my clinic. Stay tumed for more articles ( every 15 days).

Doctor, why did my child get diabetes?

The foremost question of parent asks is, " why....."

 

The diagnosis of childhood diabetes is a big shock to the family. Along with the huge mountain of sadness comes a big responsibility, and with it comes a question ”Doctor, why did it happen to my child”??........

While  there are several proposed theories about the reasons for Childhood DIabtes, a single best answer could be “We don't exactly know”. Scientific research is progressing rapidly to know the reasons and we may understand them better in the future.

" Is it genetic?No one in our family has it...."

Most children will develop diabetes do not have a family member with similar disease but it is important to note that the risk of Type 1 diabetes increases if you have a family member with Type 1 diabetes. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, if an immediate relative (parent, brother, sister, son or daughter) has type 1 diabetes, your risk of developing type 1 diabetes is about 10 to 20 times the risk of the general population (normally a 1% risk). If one child in a family has type 1 diabetes, their siblings have about a 1 in 10 risk of developing it by age 50. Interestingly, a child from a father with type 1 diabetes has about a 10% chance of developing it, while a child with a mother with type 1 diabetes has about a 4% risk of developing it if the mother was 25 or younger at birth, and a 1% risk of developing it if the mother was older than 25 at birth (consistent with the general population risk).

"Is there an environmental cause?"

Only genetics cannot explain all cases of childhood diabetes .One or more environmental triggers is required to cause disease . This has been proved in studies with identical twins. If one of the twins has type 1 diabetes , then the other twin is affected with diabetes in only half the cases. So even if both of them have the same genes only half of them  share  the disease. If the cause was purely genetic both the twins should always have type 1 diabetes if one of them has it. Also, research from the UK shows that people who migrate from a country where type 1 diabetes is rare to a country where it is more common have an increased ichance of getting the disease, implying that genetics alone does not tell the whole story .This proves that environment plays a very important role in causing type one diabetes.

One possible cause is a viral infection. Many viruses can cause infections in children and several of them maybe  involved in causing diabetes. Cox Sackie B virus has emerged as a major candidate that could be responsible. The child's body develops antibodies to fight the viral infection.But in children predisposed to developing Diabetes,  after killing the virus the body continues its aggressive activity and may mistakenly kill beta cells of the pancreas because some parts of the body of the beta-cell look like the virus body-shell. 

Other possible environmental triggers under research could be pesticides, food preservatives , plastics, synthetic polymers etc. The role of these substances is postulated and is being actively researched. We may get conclusive evidence in the future regarding some agents responsible for causing diabetes.

Does over-eating or eating too much sugar cause childhood diabetes??

Did the candy and the ice-cream cause it? 

Excessive intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates , overeating and obesity is a recognised risk factor  for adult onset diabetes which is also known as Type 2 diabetes. Similar conclusion cannot be drawn for childhood diabetes. Both overweight and thin children can get childhood  diabetes . Healthy eating practices prevent obesity and reduce the risks of developing adult onset diabetes (Type 2 diabetes) once the child grows up.

So there is no single answer on why a child gets diabetes. There is usually nothing wrong that parents or the child have done that has caused this sad problem, and unfortunately there seems to be nothing much anyone can practically do to prevent Type 1 Diabetes.