Thanks for joining me today. I started a series of pedcasts that I call, Interesting Conversations w/ Parents a few years ago when I realized that the parents of my patients frequently bring up subjects that I either had never heard of or know very little about. Well, here is my latest installment to that series. More fascinating topics all brought to me by some of the most informed and interesting parents on the planet. Let’s get started shall we?
Topic #1-Treating Irritable Bowel Disease with peppermint oil
Irritable bowel is an amazingly common recurring condition in both children and adults. It is characterized by recurrent attacks of abdominal discomfort, often with bloating and gas that are frequently accompanied by either diarrhea or constipation. We have all seen the commercials for those very expensive medications to mitigate irritable bowel symptoms. Gastroenterologist believe that the symptoms are caused by erratic movement of intestinal contents that is “triggered” by overly sensitive nerves controlling the flow of gastric contents though a child’s intestines. I think experts have increasingly recognized as well that worry, sadness, and fear are important ingredients in producing the symptoms of irritable bowel. We have talked about this before in previous pedcasts. https://www.docsmo.com/stomachaches-worried-about-the-wrong-organ-pedcast/ So, the subject of irritable bowel came up the other day in the office. I was talking to the parents of a 12-year-old young woman at her checkup who suffers from this condition, and they told me about a product that has really helped her manage her condition. The product is actually an over the counter medical food. You’ve heard of medical foods I hope; foods that can mitigate or even cure medical conditions. This medical food is called IB guard and this family was convinced that it has really helped their child. IB guard consists of highly purified peppermint oil that is triple coated into microspheres so it can pass through the stomach unchanged and be released deep in the small intestines where the irritable nerves are thought to be causing this child’s symptoms. There is certainly high quality science that shows that IB guard can relieve many of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. And, fortunately, side effects seem to be minimal. The manufacturer suggests its use in children eight years and older. A little pricey, but well worth the price if these capsules can help your child or one you know abort the frequent attacks of irritable bowel. IB Guard seems to me to be a nice compliment to the other traditional treatments for irritable bowel syndrome such as a whole food diet rich in fiber, lots of water, probiotics, and attentions to triggers both dietary and emotional. I love it and will be recommending it often.
Topic #2-Re-vibe, a device for teaching self-control to children
We all know how common ADHD is in today’s world. It is estimated that the incidence in most countries is about 5% or 1 in 20 children. In fact, I am pretty sure that if I were growing up in today’s world, I would have gotten the ADHD label myself. My parents were always telling me to sit still and stop fidgeting. In fact, my father went as far as offering me $5, the equivalent to $41 in today’s money, if I could sit for one minute and not move. Sit completely still except for blinking and breathing for just one minute. Sadly, I never got that $5. Yes, I would probably be an ADHD kid if I were growing up in 2017. Maybe that’s why I enjoy seeing children with ADHD so much.
Anyway, we could talk about why the diagnosis of ADHD is more prevalent today for a very long time, but the reality is that many parents are faced with their child not being able to sustain age appropriate attention in school. This is a very big problem for both the child and his or her family. These parents are confronted with very difficult choices that force them to make difficult decisions. Medicating a child with a stimulant medication is a big step so if there were another non-drug approach that could manage their inattention, I am sure many parents and children would jump at that option. Which brings me to a device that a parent of an eight-year-old young man introduced me to. The device is called Re-vibe and I have linked a short video by its inventor to describe how it works. The Re-vibe is a wrist worn device that vibrates periodically to remind the child to stay on task at school. Each vibration is supposed to remind the child to ask themselves if they are paying attention to whatever they are supposed to be doing at that moment. This is a way of bringing them back on task, something that their brains have trouble doing since they are so distractible. Unfortunately, I could not find any evidence that these devices are effective other than a very small study done by the company that created the Re-vibe. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, just that there isn’t any evidence of effectiveness. If a $99 wrist band that nags a child all day can get them perform better in school and doesn’t make them too anxious, I’m all for it. For parents who give this try, I would love to hear your feedback. Remember, Portable Practical Pediatrics is not only a podcast but also blog. Your comments are welcome and easy to provide at www.docsmo.com
Topic #3-Does radiation from routers interference with sleep?
Ok, this next story I find fascinating. One day I was discussing a toddler’s poor sleep patterns when his dad told me that he was sure that the microwave radiation that was being emitted by the family’s router, which happened to be located under this toddler’s crib, was interfering with the child’s sleep. Why the router was under the child’s crib I don’t know but this dad was sure it was having a negative effect on his son when the router was so close to him. He claimed that his toddler had great difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep if he was near the router but as soon as his dad moved the router away from the child, his child’s sleep normalized. Could this be true I wondered? I know there has been lots of discussion and worry for decades about the effects of microwave/radio frequency radiation on the health of children but router’s interfering with sleep. Is there any evidence of this? Is this really something parents need to worry about?
Well, after doing some research, I think the short answer is yes if you want to err on the side of caution. Of course the manufacturers of devices that emit radio frequency/microwave radiation will point to the fact that there is very little evidence of harm. This is true, however, it might take decades to see the negative effects of this type of radiation on children. And we are not talking about a small health effect, we are talking brain tumors. Whether routers can interfere with sleep I cannot say from my reading, but the idea is not inconceivable. If you are interested in playing it on the cautious side as I think you should be, take a few minutes to read this nice article in Parent’s magazine, written by Sandra Gordon, and originally published in 2015. She suggests you limit your children’s exposure to radio frequency radiation by doing the following: only letting them use a cell phone in the speaker or airplane mode especially when they are under 12 years of age, keeping them at least 8 inches from a routers and other emitters of radiation, never allowing them to use a laptop sitting on their lap, and that if they watch a video on your cell phone or pad, that it be downloaded first and not streamed from the internet as they watch. All reasonable suggestions in my mind. Doesn’t hurt to play it safe.
Summary and Conclusions:
So let’s sum up what we have learned from these interesting topics parents have initiated recently:
-If your child suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, a trial of the medical food called IB Guard, an OTC product, might be of great help in managing their symptoms.
-If you have a child who has ADHD or is just very distractible and having trouble finishing tasks, a device called a Re-vibe might be worth a try. A little pricey but possibly well worth the cost.
-And finally, children are being exposed increasingly to radio frequency/microwave radiation through cell phones, cordless devices, and yes, routers. Parents need to learn about and limit their children’s exposure to this type of radiation. Whether the radio frequency/microwave radiation from a router or any other radio frequency device can interfere with sleep as the dad of one of my patients believed I am not sure, but he did bring up an interesting subject that really all parents need to be thinking about.
Well that wraps up another edition of Portable Practical Pediatrics. If you enjoy learning and exploring child health topics with pedcasts, please take a moment to write a short review on iTunes or my Facebook page, DocSmo.com. By doing so, you are helping other parents find my show. I appreciate your support. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, your pedcast host, hoping you will not be wary, the next time you want to ask your pediatrician a query. Until next time.