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Getting Children Off to a Good Start

Getting Children Off to a Good StartWe asked Rebekah Paddy, Naturopath, Medical Herbalist & Director of Mother-Well Holistic Health in Auckland, for some natural health advice on getting children off to the best start health-wise, and what role good digestion and gut health play in keeping kids healthy.

1. Does the way a baby is born increase their risk of allergies?
Yes. When a babies are born vaginally they get inoculated with their mother's beneficial bacteria, which support their own flora production. Studies have shown that babies born by C-section (or premature babies and those needing antibiotic therapy as a newborn) are at higher risk of allergies. NZ rates for C-section births are currently around one-third of all babies born. (World Health Organisation's recommended target is between 10% and 15% of births). This could well be one of the reasons NZ allergy rates are so high.

2. Are there common symptoms which show an allergy or intolerance could be present in children?
Yes. Although of course everyone is different, there are some common signs a child is suffering from allergies. Some of these are eczema, asthma, skin rashes, continually runny nose, lethargy, frequent "sore tummy", constant dark circles under eyes, head banging, challenging behaviour such as defiance, difficulty going to sleep and night waking.

3.Do probiotics have a place in allergy treatment?
Yes. Beneficial bacteria are very helpful to re-balance a skewed immune system to a less 'reactive' or 'allergic' state. Therefore the use of probiotics post antibiotic use by both children and breastfeeding mothers is recommended. Studies have shown that certain strains of flora, such as Rhamnosus LGG, have value in reducing the incidence of atopic allergies such as eczema.

4. Do I need to keep my house sterile to reduce risks of allergies and illness?
No, in fact evidence indicates that we are too fanatical about germs now. Studies show that children born to larger families and households where there are cats and dogs present have lower rates of allergies. New Zealand research has also shown that babies who were born in a farming environment, and therefore exposed prenatally (before birth) to farm animals, were more protected against childhood asthma, hay fever and eczema...

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Issue: Spring 2015