I am pregnant again, and I’ve decided not to breast-feed, as I found it very physically uncomfortable. But my husband is pressuring me to do it, as he hears it’s better for the baby to breast-feed. My mother didn’t breast-feed me, and I turned out just fine! Is it better to breast-feed, or can I just use a good formula?
— Signed, To breast-feed or not breast-feed
Kerry says: Yes, breast-feeding can make a difference and is superior in several ways. For one, breast milk boosts immunity and therefore, helps your baby resist certain ailments such as stomach problems, allergies, asthma and ear infections.
Breast-feeding also decreases the mother’s chance of breast cancer and developing diabetes. Breast-feeding helps to build strong bones, too. It also helps shed unwanted pregnancy weight gain. Lastly, it increases bonding between the mother and infant. Therefore, as long as it’s not due to any medical reason, I suggest you breast-feed for at least six months.
Jacqueline says: I agree with Kerry, however, breast-feeding isn’t right for everyone, and infant formula is an acceptable alternative.
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My son is super hyperactive. His teacher complains that he can’t sit still and concentrate, and he is distracting the other students. He is rambunctious at home, so my husband and I encourage him to run around and play outside, which seems to help. My sister recently told me she thinks he might have ADHD. What are the symptoms, and is it curable?
— Signed, Mother of a bouncing ball
Kerry says: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) presents itself as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, distraction and inattention in children. Your child should be evaluated by a psychologist. You can breathe easy, however, because treatment — which should combine the use of medication and behavioral therapy — is very effective for children who have ADHD.
Jacqueline says: Don’t forget, treatment also includes your loving patience and support!
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My daughter is now in the 10th grade. Something has gotten into her. I’ve noticed she never laughs anymore, she sleeps in after school, she stopped running, and is not interested in food like she used to be. Moreover, her grades have gone down. When I try to talk to her about it, she says she’s fine. How can I tell if my child is depressed?
— Signed, Worried mom
Jacqueline says: Children and teenagers can be depressed; it is not just a grown-up’s illness. Signs of depression include frequent sadness or crying; decreased interest in activities, or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities; low energy; social isolation; poor communication; frequent complaints of not feeling well; often absent from school; poor grades; poor concentration; and change in eating or sleeping patterns, to name a few.
It sounds like your daughter has at least four of the above symptoms. I would talk to her doctor and get a referral to a mental health provider right away.
Kerry says: Has she had a drug test? Nonetheless, I suggest that she take Jacqueline’s advice and have her evaluated by a mental health provider to be assessed for depression right away. She can feel back to her old self again with therapy and, if necessary, medication.
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Last week, I took my baby in for his immunization shots, and now I’m worried sick that he might be autistic! Now I’m watching him like a hawk, concerned with every move he makes that it’s a sign of autism. Did I make the right choice by giving him his shots? Should I be this worried?
— Signed, Fretting that I made the wrong decision
Jacqueline says: The ongoing debate between autism and immunizations seems to never end! Scientific evidence does not suggest that the mumps, measles and rubella vaccines cause autism, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md. That said, some groups claim that a certain type of mercury, called preservative thimerosal, is found in certain vaccines and may be responsible for autism. That said, there is no evidence to date that vaccines cause autism. So stop your fretting.
Kerry says: The signs of autism include the inability to communicate verbally and non-verbally, relate to others and the world around them, and to think and behave flexibly. If you aren’t detecting these signs, you shouldn’t worry yourself.
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