Busting Four Myths about Raising Healthy Children
By: Maureen McDonnell, RN
Cow’s Milk is Mandatory: Of course children need calcium and other essential nutrients for proper growth and development. However, consuming milk from another animal is not necessarily the best way to get it, and basically we are the only species who seeks nourishment from another animal’s milk. Although the American Dairy Council has done a great job convincing us that milk is necessary for health (via their well-funded celebrity-mustache ad campaign), there are some problems associated with milk that parents should be aware of. Testing on non- organic milk has revealed that it often contains unhealthy levels of antibiotics, growth hormones and other toxic chemicals (1). Milk is also a top allergen for a subset of children often contributing to eczema and or causing excess mucus production (which in turn may lead to sinus and/or recurrent ear infections requiring multiple courses of antibiotics.) After a year (or sometimes two) of breastfeeding, savvy parents are investigating other sources of nutrients to support optimal growth and development. When specifically seeking sources of calcium to replace cow’s milk, collards and other greens (such as kale, turnips and spinach) have as much or more calcium by the cup than milk. Sesame seeds or sesame seed butter (called Tahini) is another good source, as are almonds, dry beans, wild salmon, sardines and rhubarb. For an extensive list of calcium rich foods go to http://www.iofbonehealth.org/
All ear infections should be treated with antibiotics: Because viruses are often a culprit in many ear infections (and viruses do not respond to antibiotic treatment), both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians now recommend not using antibiotics in mild cases of acute otitis media (2). Many parents have found great success in using supportive treatments for kids fighting infections by doing some or all of the following: eliminating sugar, dairy and processed food, adding therapeutic doses of Vitamin C, using the herb Echinacea (I like this in tincture form and give 10 drops every few hours if child is not allergic to ragweed), using warm garlic oil drops in the ear, offering homemade chicken soup and other clear broths and taking the child for chiropractic adjustments.
All fevers should be treated aggressively: It can be scary when our child develops a fever, and of course any fever over 100.4 in an infant under 8 weeks of age requires immediate medical attention. However, in light of what we know are the positive aspects of fever, our automatic impulse to reach for Tylenol or other temperature-lowering drugs may warrant reconsideration. Fever has two main functions: it stimulates the immune system and it creates an inhospitable environment for nasty germs (they can’t live in high temperatures.) There are always those situations requiring fever lowering interventions, however as explained by Dr. David Berger, MD, a holistic pediatrician, there are a few good reasons for letting a fever run its course and many nutritional approaches for supporting a child’s natural ability to fight infection. A good overview can be found on Dr. Berger’s website: http://www.wholisticpeds.com/uploads/firstsignsofillness%202012.pdf.
Fully vaccinating a child is the only way to protect them against infections: Although the concept seems sound and I’m sure well- intentioned, it’s just not that simple. Vaccines, with all their additives and adjuvants (aluminum, formaldehyde, propylene glycol and in the case of most flu vaccines; mercury)) can be quite problematic for a subset of vulnerable children. The idea that all children (even if they were born premature, had a low birth weight and/or a family history of health problems) can tolerate the same number of vaccines, on the same schedule is ludicrous. The US now specifies that 26 vaccines be given in the first year of life; that’s more than any other country in the world. Interestingly, we also have one of the highest infant mortality rates (we rank 34th) and the highest incidence of autism (3). Protecting our children from infection is of paramount importance. A whole-food organic diet, herbs, supplements, fresh air and exercise are all ways to support their immune systems. An individualized vaccine schedule may also have its place. However, giving 36-45 vaccines to all children before the age of 5 during a time when the incidence of autism, asthma, childhood cancers, allergies and ADHD are skyrocketing should trigger an in-depth investigation and reexamination of this questionable policy.
Maureen H. McDonnell, RN Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet
Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer
Azzouz, A et al, Simultaneous determination of 20 pharmacologically active substances in cow’s milk, goat’s milk and human breast milk by gas chromoatography-mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 May 11;59(9):5125-32. Epub 2011 Apr 15.
Infectious Diseases Society of America (2006, November 6). Most Ear Infections Host Both Bacteria And Viruses, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2006/11/061106164651.htm
A Positive Association found between Autism Prevalence and Childhood Vaccination uptake across the US Population, Delong G, J Toxicol Environ HealthA. 2011 Jan: 74(14):903-16