Helping Your Child Develop a Healthy Microbiome

Microbiome research is a new and quickly growing field. We still know very little about the microbiome in general and how it develops in children in particular. There has been some recent research that suggests that babies born vaginally have different microbiomes compared to babies born via caesarean section (C-section). This article will mainly focus on ways to promote microbiome development in children, specifying when there is good research evidence (such as breastfeeding) and when we don’t yet have enough research evidence (such as fecal matter transfers and vaginal seeding procedures).

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Children and Athletes at Play on Toxic Turf and Playgrounds

Is your child playing on rubber instead of grass at the playground? The use of human-made surfaces on playgrounds has increased dramatically over the years. Developed during the 1960s primarily for athletic fields, these artificial surfaces were also part of a strategy to provide children with more opportunities for outdoor physical activity, particularly in the inner city where outdoor playgrounds were scarce.The first artificial turf (marketed as “Chemgrass”) was made of plastic, yet looked a lot like natural grass.

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Young Children and Screen Time (TV, Computers, etc.)

Very young children have nothing to gain and lots to lose from spending time in front of screens, instead of playing and interacting with friends and loved ones. Even when the TV is simply on in the background, infants and toddlers lose out. For older children (two and up), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit screen time to 1-2 hours a day, and keep televisions in common areas — never in a child’s bedroom. TiVo, DVRs and other devices are terrific tools for parents, allowing them to record shows for children that can be seen by them at an hour that’s right for your family’s sleep schedule and without commercials!

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