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Wet wipes out!

A new research study shows that baby wet wipes are likely to trigger childhood food allergies that may impact children’s quality of life. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (April), reveals that a mix of environmental and genetic factors triggers food allergies in children. These factors include genes that alter skin absorbency; infant cleansing wipes that leave soap on skin and skin exposure to allergens in dust and food. The study found that the soap in wet wipes, when not rinsed off, makes babies vulnerable to allergy-causing chemicals.

Joan Cook-Mills, lead researcher and professor of allergy-immunology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, USA, suggests parents make changes in the home environment to prevent children from developing food allergies. “Reduce your baby’s skin exposure to food allergens by washing your hands before handling the baby. And limit use of infant wipes that leave soap on the skin. Rinse soap off with water like we used to do years ago,” says Cook-Mills.


Ads influence child food choices

Children who recognise logos of popular fast-food chains are more likely to prefer junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages over traditional and home cooked meals, says a study conducted by the University of Maryland and published in the Journal of Children and Media (March). The researchers investigated the links between marketing and media exposure and the preference for international food brands and beverages among children in India, Pakistan, Brazil, China, Nigeria and Russia. 

Children who easily identified the logos of international food and beverage brands such as McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca-Cola, are more likely to request and prefer the processed foods and beverages marketed by international corporations, reveals the study. “Our findings draw attention to the insidious and pervasive nature of marketing and how it impacts children’s health,” says Dina Borzekowski, principal investigator and professor at University of Maryland. The researchers say that understanding the reach of global and international marketing and its impact on food preferences could help shape public health policies to reverse trends of growing childhood obesity.


Caffeine and child obesity

Pregnant women who drink moderate to high amounts of coffee (or caffeine in any form) put their child at risk of gaining excess weight in early childhood, says a study published in the online BMJ Open Journal (April). The study, conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, examined 51,000 mothers and their infants between 2002 and 2008. It found that caffeine consumption (coffee and tea, soft/energy drinks, chocolate, sandwich spreads, desserts, cakes and sweets) by expectant mothers can prompt her child to gain weight. A foetus exposed to “any caffeine level” inside the womb could be overweight in the first three or five years of her life, says the study. 

“High maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is related to excess growth from infancy and obesity later in childhood. The results support current recommendations to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy to less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. It is important that pregnant women are aware that caffeine isn’t present only in coffee. Caffeinated soda drinks can contribute considerable amounts of caffeine,” says lead study author Dr. Eleni Papadopoulou of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.


Plastic particles found in bottled water

Plastic particles contaminate bottled water sold around the world, indicates a recent study conducted by the State University of New York in Fredonia. Researchers tested more than 250 bottles of water sold under 11 different brand names in nine countries including India. Plastic bits were found in 93 of every 100 bottles tested. “We found (plastic) in bottle after bottle and brand after brand. It’s not about pointing fingers at particular brands; it’s really showing that it is everywhere, that plastic has become such a pervasive material in our society, and it’s pervading water — all of the products that we consume at a very basic level. Many of these particles are small enough to be transported through our bodies and end up in our organs,” says Sherri Mason, lead researcher, and a chemist at the State University of New York.  

Last year, Prof Mason found plastic particles in samples of tap water and other researchers have spotted them in seafood, beer, sea salt and even air.