The New York Times had an interesting story the other day, chronicling the increasingly early age at which kids are entering puberty. There are the usual contributors cited for the lower age, including higher BMIs and exposure to environmental chemicals (xeno-estrogens such as BPA,) but the child’s stress reactivity is also listed as a factor.
In a study published in 2011, Bruce Ellis, a professor of Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona, and his colleagues showed that children who are most reactive to stress — kids whose pulse, respiratory rate and cortisol levels fluctuate most in response to environmental challenges — entered puberty earliest.
“Evolutionary psychology offers a theory: A stressful childhood inclines a body toward early reproduction; if life is hard, best to mature young.”
Last week we posted a story about how the infant experience of repeat cortisol-inducing tools parents use, such as “cry it out” and spanking, can lay the foundations for a stress-reactive child.
This new evidence of the role stress reactivity plays in future health lends further reason to refuse these arbitrary cortisol-inducing parenting practices, in favor of gentle parenting.
Source: New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/magazine/puberty-before-age-10-a-new-normal.html?pagewanted=4&_r=1&ref=science)
Antibiotics may be linked to the onset of asthma, according to UBC research:
“The team found that mice treated with vancomycin as pups were not only more susceptible to asthma but also ended up with a “strikingly reduced” number of t-reg cells, which are key players in the immune system. Finlay says a reduction in t-reg cells pushed the immune system into a “more allergic mode.” …
Meanwhile, the findings add to mounting evidence about the importance of “microbiota” — the diverse and huge collection of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that have lived in and on humans over the eons.
“The message it (the study) drives home is the whole idea that you do need your microbiota to develop normally,” says Finlay, explaining how the microorganisms children encounter early in life help stimulate and shape the immune system. “There is a reason kids are crawling around the floor hoovering everything up.”
He and his colleagues say microbes play a big role throughout life — such a big part that some researchers have taken to describing people as highly complex human-bacteria hybrids or “super organisms.” Bacterial cells living in and on a healthy human body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10.
“We are discovering that a disruption of these bugs is associated with a number of chronic health conditions”
This new research will hopefully have an effect on our culture’s over-perscription of antibiotics :
Ouellette says the University of British Columbia findings underscore that antibiotics should be used judiciously: “Giving antibiotics to young children, which disturb their normal bacterial flora, should not be taken lightly.”