Do Babies Need to Eat Meat?

A federal committee’s recommendations for what babies and toddlers should eat highlight growing concerns about nutrient deficiencies and later obesity. But advice that youngsters eat a significant amount of meat is spurring a backlash from advocates of plant-based diets.

The recommendations encourage parents to feed their children more whole grains—and fewer refined ones—along with fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and no added sugar. They also suggest that babies and toddlers eat meat as well as poultry, seafood and eggs to meet the needs for critical nutrients for growth and development, particularly iron, zinc and choline.

The advice is part of a process of revising the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It’s the first time the guidelines will include recommendations for kids under two. Dietary recommendations are a fractious topic right now, with debates over the impact of carbohydrates, meat and many other foods.

The goal of the committee’s recommendations for babies and toddlers is to lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating, says Kathryn Dewey, professor emerita in the department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, who chaired the birth to 24 months subcommittee. “If we can establish those healthier patterns right away, it will get them used to eating these types of foods,” says Sharon M. Donovan, professor of nutrition and health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a member of the committee.

The committee, which was composed of 20 academics and doctors, released its recommendations in July. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services will review them and issue final guidelines by the end of the year. The dietary guidelines have a wide impact: They shape school lunch programs, mold state and local health-promotion efforts, and influence what food companies produce.

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The baby and toddler recommendations have drawn some criticism. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit organization that advocates plant-based diets, disagreed with the committee’s emphasis on animal products. “There isn’t scientific evidence to suggest somehow infants would be better off consuming meat, seafood, eggs and dairy,” says Susan Levin, a registered dietitian and the organization’s director of nutrition education. She says that infants and toddlers can get iron, for example, from foods like fortified cereals, spinach and lentils.

For adults, federal recommendations suggest eating less red meat—a diet high in red meat has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. The baby/toddler committee decided that developmental needs for kids younger than two are different, says Ronald Kleinman, chief of the department of pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a member of the federal committee. “The most important message is that we eat somewhat differently at each life stage,” he said.

The recommendations reflect a shift in how doctors think about feeding babies who are ready to move beyond breast milk or formula alone, says Dr. Kleinman. Before “it was a

A Bit of Mom’s Poop Might Boost Health of C-Section Babies: Study | Health News

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

THURSDAY, Oct. 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Delivering by cesarean section deprives babies from receiving mom’s beneficial bacteria during the journey through the birth canal. Now researchers are studying an innovative way to counter that: Feeding newborns breast milk fortified with their mother’s poop.

There is, indeed, a yuck factor, the scientists acknowledge. But they also stress that the tactic, still under study, is done through a carefully controlled, hygienic process. And mothers seem to be all for it.

The research, described in the Oct. 1 issue of Cell, is part of a growing interest in the microbiome — the vast collection of bacteria and other microbes that naturally dwell in and on the body.

Studies in recent years have been revealing just how important those bugs are to the body’s normal processes — from metabolism to immune defenses to brain function.

And there’s evidence that the way a baby is delivered could have critical effects on the composition of the early-life microbiome.

Vaginal childbirth exposes newborns to the beneficial microbes in the birth canal, but C-sections bypass that process. In turn, studies have found that babies born by cesarean tend to have different microbiomes than babies born vaginally.

Those differences can be seen out to one year of age, said Dr. Martin Blaser, a professor and chairman of the human microbiome at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J.

“Things do normalize, but for a while the microbiome is abnormal,” said Blaser, who was not involved in the new study.

Children born by C-section tend to have higher risks for conditions like asthma, allergies, obesity and type 1 diabetes, Blaser said. And it’s thought that the early-life microbiome may play a role, by affecting immune system and metabolic development.

In a small 2016 study, Blaser’s colleague and wife, Maria Dominguez-Bello, tested a way to “restore” a more-normal microbiome to C-section babies: swabbing them with their mothers’ vaginal fluids right after birth.

It seemed to work. One month later, the swabbed infants had microbial communities that were more similar to vaginally delivered babies’ than to those of other C-section babies.

The new study took a different route to restoring the microbiome: diluting a mother’s fecal sample in breast milk, and feeding it to her infant shortly after birth.

Seven women provided the samples three weeks before undergoing a planned C-section. All were carefully screened for viruses like hepatitis and HIV, and the fecal samples were tested for a range of bacterial infections and parasites, according to co-senior researcher Dr. Sture Andersson.

The breast milk was the mother’s own, or retrieved from a donor-milk bank.

“This should only be performed under rigorously controlled conditions,” stressed Andersson, of the Pediatric Research Center at the University of Helsinki.

Similar to the swabbing study, this one found that internally delivering moms’ microbes seemed to affect development of the newborns’ microbiome. At the age of 3 months, the babies’ microbial makeup looked more like that of

A virus and bacteria may ‘team up’ to harm babies’ brains

A newly discovered bacteria may be working with a common virus to cause a serious brain condition in infants in Uganda, according to a new study.

This brain disorder, called hydrocephalus, involves an abnormal buildup of fluid in the cavities of the brain and is the most common reason for brain surgery in young children, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Every year, about 400,000 new cases of hydrocephalus are diagnosed in children worldwide, and the condition remains a major burden in low- and middle-income countries, according to the study published today (Sept. 30) in the journal Science Translational Medicine

About half of those hydrocephalus cases happen after a prior infection and are known as “post-infectious hydrocephalus,” according to the study. But until now, scientists didn’t know what microbes were infecting infants, and identifying those pathogens is key to preventing the condition, according to the authors.

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For nearly 20 years, a small hospital in Uganda called the CURE Children’s hospital has been treating thousands of cases of hydrocephalus in children.

“Hydrocephalus is the most common childhood neurosurgical condition that we see in the population that we serve,” one of the lead authors Dr. Edith Mbabazi-Kabachelor, director of research, CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda said in a statement. If left untreated in children younger than 2 years of age, hydrocephalus will increase head size, leading to brain damage; the majority of those children will die, and the others will be left with physical or cognitive disabilities, she added. 

So a group of international researchers set out to understand what could be causing this brain condition.

“Thirteen years ago, while visiting Uganda and seeing a stream of kids with hydrocephalus after infection I asked the doctors, ‘What is the biggest problem you have that you can’t solve?'” one of the senior authors Steven J. Schiff, Brush Chair professor of engineering and professor of engineering science and mechanics, neurosurgery and physics at Penn State, said in the statement. “‘Why don’t you figure out what makes these kids sick?’ was the reply.”

CT brain scans of infants with hydrocephalus show differences in the brains of those with post-infectious hydrocephalus (PIH), non-postinfectious hydrocephalus (NPIH), infection with the bacteria Paenibacillus (Paeni) or infection with the virus cytomegalovirus (CMV).

CT brain scans of infants with hydrocephalus show differences in the brains of those with post-infectious hydrocephalus (PIH), non-post-infectious hydrocephalus (NPIH), infection with the bacteria Paenibacillus (Paeni) or infection with the virus cytomegalovirus (CMV). (Image credit: J.N. Paulson et al., Science Translational Medicine (2020))

Schiff and his team analyzed blood and cerebrospinal fluid from 100 infants under 3 months old being treated at the CURE Children’s hospital for hydrocephalus — 64 of them developed the condition after an infection (doctors knew they had been infected because the babies either had severe illness, seizures or brain imaging showed signs of a prior infection) and 36 without a prior infection (brain images and other tests showed another issue causing the condition such as tumors or cysts).

They sent these samples to two different labs for DNA and RNA sequencing to look for possible traces of genetic material from bacteria, viruses

Approximately 40 percent of babies born with sickle cell disease in Texas are in Houston

There are about 180 babies born with sickle cell disease in Texas each year, and approximately 40 percent (70 children) are born in Houston.

The Houston Health Department said in a press release that of the estimated 100,000 Americans living with the condition, approximately 7,000 are Texans, and Houston has more diagnoses than in any other region.

Sickle cell disease is a rare genetic blood condition that ultimately causes organ damage, including severe episodes of pain that can last up to a week and can result in multiple hospitalizations throughout a lifetime.

Kennedy Cooper is one of the estimated 1,500 children in Houston living with the disease. In a blog post for Texas Children’s Hospital, Cooper shared her journey, recalling moments where she felt ashamed to take medicine in front of friends and had to miss out on activities she loves because of her condition.

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“It’s not really fun to take medicine in front of friends at sleepovers,” she shared. “I’ve tried countless techniques to avoid this, including sneaking my medicine bag into the bathroom while others were distracted or waiting until everyone was sleeping to take my medicine. I’ve also had to turn down invitations to countless pool parties because the pool temperature was usually never warm enough for me.”

She’s able to shrug if off most of the time, “but sometimes you just can’t help but notice how different you are from everybody else,” she said.

Dr. Titilope Fasipe, chair of the Houston Sickle Cell Collaborative, is also a sickle cell patient. She was diagnosed at age 1, and wants every child to know that they can still lead a long, fulfilling life.

“I’m one of the ones who made it to adulthood and I’m happy, but I’m also respectful of the fact that so many more did not, and that’s part of what pushes me at times,” she said, as reported by KPRC Click2Houston’s Haley Hernandez.

Fasipe said we need more research and treatments for “this devastating disease that affects so many people in our community.”

If you want to learn more about the disease, the sickle cell collaborative and health department will host their 2020 Sickle Cell Advocacy Summit on October 8.

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Study: Giving babies wheat very early may prevent celiac disease

Childhood risk for developing the allergic/autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease might be eliminated if infants were exposed to gluten as early as 4 months of age, new British research suggests.

The observation is based on work with 1,300 infants. Half were exposed to solid foods — including wheat protein — at an age that conflicts with current breastfeeding guidelines. Among those who were, none developed celiac disease.

“It was a surprise,” said study author Dr. Gideon Lack. “But if this study is correct, it would indicate that in order to prevent the development of celiac disease, we would need to introduce significant quantities of wheat into a baby’s diet as of 4 months of life.”

But the finding is not the final word on the subject, cautioned Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at King’s College London.

“This is one study with a relatively small number of patients,” he said. “And, therefore, it cannot be regarded as conclusive, and clearly demands further study and investigation.”

Celiac disease is an inflammatory condition where consuming gluten damages the small intestine. It can cause poor absorption of nutrients.

“In some ways it’s an allergic disease inasmuch as it is triggered by eating gluten, which is a major wheat constituent, although it’s also present in barley and rye,” Lack said. “And in other ways it is an autoimmune disease, in that the body launches an immune response, and that response becomes redirected against the lining of the small intestine.”

About 1% of the population is affected, he added. In children, celiac disease it can go undiagnosed for many years, leading to poor growth and malnutrition. In adults, it can cause bone-thinning, fatigue and in rare cases, colon cancer.

Celiac patients can manage by avoiding gluten altogether. But there is no known way to prevent the onset of celiac disease. Current guidelines stipulate that celiac risk is not affected by the age at which one is first exposed to gluten.

But Lack and his colleagues put that wisdom to the test during a broad investigation that examined food allergy risk as a whole, rather than celiac disease, specifically.

The team focused on 1,300 English and Welsh infants who were enrolled in a food study between 2009 and 2012.

All had been exclusively breastfed until 13 weeks of age. After that, half continued to be exclusively breastfed through their sixth month. The other half was also exposed to potentially allergy-provoking foods.

Those foods included cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame, cod fish and wheat. The team aimed to include about 4 grams of wheat protein per week, which contains about 3 grams of gluten.

By age 3, there were seven cases of celiac disease among the breastfeeding group, but zero among the group that was exposed to wheat early.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.K. government all urge parents to breastfeed exclusively for six months, giving babies no additional foods or fluids unless medically

When do babies start holding up their heads? Timeline

Head control gives a baby more autonomy and more of a chance to explore the world on their own terms.

During the first month of life, most babies gain some head control and can briefly hold up their heads while lying on their bellies.

By the time a baby is 4 months old, they likely have significant head control and can hold their head steady without support for longer periods.

This article explores how a baby develops head control, how to help, and what precautions to take.

For a baby, controlling the movement of the head and neck requires average development, practice, and coordination.

However, every baby is different, and the timing of developmental stages naturally varies. Below, find a general timeline of head control.

Early head control

In the first weeks of life, babies begin responding more to their environments.

Some babies try to lift their heads or even hold them upright for short periods during this time. Others do not.

At 1 month, most babies bob their heads when they are held upright. They cannot comfortably hold up their heads without support.

During tummy time

By 2 months, most babies can lift their heads upright when they are lying on their bellies.

At first, this may only happen for a few seconds, but with practice, a baby can hold their head up for longer, moving it from side to side to take in interesting sights.

Some other head control milestones that may occur at this age include:

  • When lying on their back, a baby may be able to lift their head so it is aligned with their belly button.
  • Most of the time, the baby will position their head so that they are looking to one side or the other.
  • When someone helps the baby roll over, the baby may be able to move their head into the right position during the roll.
  • When raised into a sitting position, the baby will not be able to support their head — but they may be able to lift their head when they are reclined at about 15 degrees from a fully upright position.

By 3 months, most babies can lift their heads and upper bodies during tummy time. They may push up with their forearms so that they can look around.

In an upright position

At around 4 months, most babies can control their heads in an upright position. This may happen when raising the baby into a supported sitting position or when lifting the baby without supporting their head.

The baby may also move their head from side to side. Some other head control milestones at 4 months include:

  • When lying on their back, the baby should usually hold their head so they are looking straight up rather than pointing their face toward either side.
  • When rolling over with help, the baby may use their upper arms and legs to support their body. They may also begin rolling over on their own.
  • When lifted into a sitting position,