I’ve got to say, I have the some of the best-informed patients and parents on the planet. I am constantly learning about new and interesting things in the world of pediatrics, health, and nutrition from them. Because of their insights, that I started my series, “Interesting Conversations with Parents”, to bring you a little bit of their wisdom. Here is a Doc Smo pearl for you; enjoying a good conversation is more about listening than about talking. In that vein, I am going to share a few of these recent conversations. Let’s get started, shall we?
Topic #1-Concussion bands:
Have you heard of these things. I hadn’t until a mom brought the subject up the other day during a checkup. Manufacturers of these headbands claim that they may help prevent serious head injuries and concussions. They seem to be all the rage among soccer players, especially female soccer players. In fact, some soccer teams have started requiring that their players wear them as a protective device, just like helmets for other sports. Unfortunately, my reading tells me that, to date, there is no proof that these bands protect athletes from concussions. Lots of claims but very little proof to date. Common sense would tell us that any protection is better than no protection though however, right? Stay tuned for more information on the concussion bands.
Topic #2-Baby Skin Care:
The second topic of today is one that comes up very frequently these days, the topic of oils for baby’s skin. Do they need them? And if so, which is the best type to use. I’m sure you are probably aware that the incidence of eczema among children has increased in the past 25 years and the mainstay of eczema treatment is avoiding irritants to the skin and moisturizers to enhance a baby’s natural skin barrier. But which moisturizer is the best for young babies? Mothers today are drawn to using “Natural oils” like coconut or olive oil on their babies rather than the commercially prepared products of the past. I think these mothers are thinking that if you can eat an emollient, that are likely to be safe. Good thinking and another example of food as medicine, a theme that permeates healthcare today. I think these moms also believe that there is very little chance of unintended side effects of food medicines like we so often eventually see in other products like sunscreens and insect repellants. To me that line of reasoning really makes sense. I have this conversation often with the parents of my pediatric patients so it is interesting that the other day my friend and dermatologist, Dr. Sue Primmer, sent me a link to an article from one of her dermatology journals talking about this very subject. Dermatologist are beginning to believe that natural oils like coconut and olive oil may actually be harmful to the surface barrier of a baby’s skin. That’s not what my experience tells me. I am actually a fan of very little bathing, very little soap use on babies, and only using oils when their skin begins to show signs of dryness. And that hot water that we love to bath in, I think it is our biggest enemy. I routinely ask mothers who have babies with great skin what their skin care routine is and you know what they say the most, “I do very little”; very infrequent bathing, very little soap, and tepid water baths.
Topic #3-A2 Milk:
I am sure that if you are listening to a health and wellness blog that you have heard some of the chatter in the media about the controversy about how cow’s milk consumption is for babies and children may not be such a great thing. Some experts think that cow’s milk dairy consumption is absolutely essential for the health of children and others believe it is the root of many chronic disease processes like atherosclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and some forms of cancers. According to the anti-cow’s milk advocates, it is the casein protein in milk that causes the negative health effects they believe milk has. I’ve told you how sophisticated and informed the parents of my patients are. They never seem to let me down! While having a conversation the other day about casein protein in cow’s milk, a mother started telling me about A2 milk. I had never heard of A2 milk. She explained to me that the A1 milk is the standard type of cow’s milk that contains the casein that is in most cows’ milk we buy. She went on to tell me that there are cow’s, mostly in Australia and New Zealand that produce a slightly different type of casein with one different amino acid in its structure. They call this A2 milk. It is totally natural, not bioengineered or genetically modified. Advocates of this type of milk claim that the negative health effects of A1 milk are not seen with A2 milk and there is some evidence to this effect. Who funded this research and the strength of the evidence is up for debate but I have included a little of it in my Smo notes. I guess time will tell us if this is all hype or really something. I’m skeptical but I was grateful to this mom for telling me about A2 milk.
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- Article about concussion bands for HS female soccer players
- Florida Institute of technology Head Injury Research Project opinion about sports headbands.
- Article from Dermatology News discussing whether natural oils disrupt a baby’s epidermal skin barrier.
- Article from Indian Medical journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reviewing data of human health problems from A1 milk