Six Major Health Concerns for Parents of Growing Children
1. Irreversible Damage to Eye Development a Principle Cause of Myopia
The damage to young eyes caused by eye fatigue and oxidative stress is considered by many specialists to be the main reason for increased rates of children developing myopia (near sightedness) worldwide. In fact, a recent survey found that myopia rates in the US had grown in the last 30 years from 25% in to 42% . While another study found rates of myopia in Asian children can be as high as 90%!
Eye fatigue (or eye strain) is caused by intense use of the eyes. Reading, writing or using digital devices (like TV, smart phones or video games) can all cause this problem. Common symptoms include irritated, sore or inflamed eyes with difficulty focusing. These are frequently accompanied by pain and stiffness through the neck, back, shoulders, head and arms.
Eyes suffering from fatigue are also at risk of oxidative damage from an accumulation of free radicals in the eye area. Free radicals oxidize (take electrons from) nearby cellular structures, disrupting their function and behavior. This can cause severe cell damage that leads to eye health problems including temporary or permanent myopia.
2. Frequent Illness During Cold and Flu Season
Every day children are exposed to different germs and bugs that can make them sick or unwell. It is estimated children catch 6-8 colds per year while adults catch 2-4. Children are more susceptible to these conditions because they have not built up the same resistances as adults and they spend a lot of time with other children, who may be sick, during school.
Combining the figures for colds with a bout or two of the Flu per year and it becomes clear that children often spend a lot of thier time being miserable with illness. This also becomes an expensive problem for parents who take time off work to care for their kids (especially if they're not receiving paid leave)
3. Breathing Troubles with Asthma
Asthma is a common, but potentially dangerous, problem that affects breathing in many children. It is caused by over inflammation of airways in response to various stimuli such as pollution, tobacco smoke, dust and pets. This inflammation causes the airways to swell and narrow. Because it is possible for many things to irritate a child's airways, parents are limited in methods of asthma prevention outside of using medicine.
According to the American Lung Association, asthma affects 7.1 million children under the age of 18 and is one of the most common chronic disorders in childhood. It is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15, with an estimated 4.1 million children suffering from an attack or episode in 2011.
4. Inattentive and Unfocussed Minds
With so many distraction for children today (internet, social media, cartoons, cell phones and video games), it's tough for kids to keep focused. In a recent survey of children's teachers, 87% said new technologies were creating "an easily distracted generation with short attention spans". While another study found the average attention span for people has dropped in the last 10 years from 12 minutes to just 5!
Lack of attention can make it difficult for kids to focus in the classroom and stick to the task at hand. Eventually, this may hurt children's grades and overall educational development.
5. Childhood Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease
Obesity in young people is continually becoming more and more worrisome. This has largly stemmed from the increased consumption of highly processed 'convenience' foods and decreasing amounts of physical activity (in favor of other activities like TV, the internet and computer games). In fact, the Obesity rates of Amercian children and adolescents have, in the last 30 years, increased two and three fold respectively!
Obesity can have both immediate and long term effects on children's health and well-being. Immediate effects can include: a higher risk of developing diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleeping troubles and poor self esteem. Longer term, obese children are more likely to be obese in adulthood which puts them at risk of serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
6. Poor Child Gut Health Affecting Future Quality of Life
'Healthy gut, healthy life' is the theme many specialists are promoting today. The gut health of children influences their well-being in a number of ways including: weight management, heart health, brain behavior and disease prevention. Unfortunately, factors such as food, stress, pollution, disease and medications can negatively affect the integrity of the gut lining and the 100 trillion+ bacteria living there. This makes it difficult for parents to effectivley manage and maintain thier child's gut health.
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