The Skinny on Childhood MS

Childhood Obesity imageAs we’ve previously reported, childhood obesity is on the increase. Cases have more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children and adolescents aged 6–18 years in the United States who are obese is now estimated to be >18%.

Childhood obesity can cause a number of health complications including diabeteshypertension, high cholesterolasthma  and emotional problems.  This is deeply troubling in and of itself, but now there’s a new cause for concern.

A new study has found that obese children and teenage girls may be more at risk for developing the chronic, debilitating central nervous system disorder – multiple sclerosis (MS).

Kaiser Permanente researchers studied 75 children aged 2 to 18 with pediatric MS, and compared them to more than 900,000 kids without the disease. Fifty percent of the kids with MS were overweight or obese, compared to 36% of the children who didn’t have the disease.

The study also found that the risk of developing multiple sclerosis was one-and-a-half times higher for overweight girls, almost two times higher for moderately obese girls and four times higher for extremely obese girls.

Mary Rensel, MD, who treats pediatric MS patients at Cleveland Clinic offers an explanation for the increased risk. “Fat increases the inflammation in the body. Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune condition where the immune system is set too high. If there’s too much inflammation, it can increase the risk of having a disorder associated with inflammation – like MS.”

Childhood-Obesity-Linked-to-Multiple-SclerosisLead author, Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena  “Even though pediatric MS remains rare, our study suggests that parents or caregivers of obese teenagers should pay attention to symptoms such as tingling and numbness or limb weakness, and bring them to a doctor’s attention,”

The researchers also stress that parents of overweight or obese children should play an active role in controlling their kids’ weight by getting them into the habits of eating healthy and getting enough exercise.

Dr. Rensel agrees, saying, “The good news is now we know. We can educate parents and patients of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to decrease the chance of having consequences of being overweight.”

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Oh S**t! – Don’t Try This At Home

In the mood for a little DIY this weekend?  Paint the bathroom…put up a few shelves…perform a poop transplant???

Regular Word on Health readers will recall that last year we brought you news of a successful, yet controversial, new treatment for inflammatory bowel disease – fecal microbiota transplantation. While we remembered to warn you of the “yuck factor” associated with this post, we never thought to add the caution “don’t try this at home.”

Seems we should have.

Lately, stories about the success of at-home fecal transplants have been spreading virally, or should we say bacterially, across the internet!  Stranger still, some respected science writers  and researchers have expressed support for the procedure. People are literally buzzing about the possibilities.

Dr. Lawrence Brandt, head of gastroenterology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, says that he receives several emails a week from people begging for fecal transplants. While they used to come only from people suffering from bowel disease, now he’s getting requests from people who are hoping to beat diabetes, autism, asthma, MS and obesity too.

As it’s not clear whether gut bacteria can help with any of these complaints, many doctors are unwilling or unable to help.

And that’s why, it seems, patients are now doing it themselves.

Chris Gorski is one such person prepared to take this drastic step. Last year, his daughter developed a gut infection that caused severe and chronic diarrhea. Despite antibiotics, she still has symptoms and now Gorski worries that the infection will destroy the lining of her intestines and affect her for the rest of her life.  Armed with what he’s read on the internet, and a burning desire to help his daughter, he’s decided to collect some of his own stool, strain it, and then squirt it into her body using colonoscopy instruments.

He hopes that his “good bacteria” will become established in the girl’s body and repair her gastrointestinal tract.

Gorski’s plan may sound gross, but he argues that what he’s doing is revolutionary. In an age when probiotics, are being extolled for their beneficial qualities, he says his solution is just an extension of living medicine.

Do you think this is a good idea, or how shall we say it, just a crappy one?!?  Let us know what you think.