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your family's health... with Dr Sarah Brewer.

Byline: Dr Sarah Brewer

Q MY four-year-old son can't occupy himself for even the shortest amount of time. He gets upset very quickly and has terrible tantrums. Could he be over-active?

A MANY children are more active than normal and researchers believe that lack of essential fatty acids (EFAs) may play a role, perhaps because they cannot absorb dietary EFAs normally from their intestines, because their EFA requirements are higher than normal, or because their metabolism does not handle EFAs as well as normal. and boys are most usually affected. Evening primrose oil and fish oils can provide important essential fatty acids, and supplements such as Efalex or Eye Q can help. Studies also suggest that concentration and behaviour are improved by lowering the sugar content of the diet, reducing the intake of "junk food", eating a carbohydrate- rich breakfast and giving a supplement to correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The Hyperactive Children's Support Group (Tel: 01903-725182 between 10am-1pm) suggest a nutritional, wholefood diet containing fresh fruit and veg - preferably organic - which excludes as many artificial colourings, flavourings, preservatives and artificial sweeteners as possible. More information is available in the book, Hyperactive Child by Belinda Barnes and Irene Colquhoun (Thorsons pounds 5.99).

Q AFTER the birth of my first child I suffered from post-natal depression (PND). I would really like to try for another child but am worried I might get depressed again.

A AROUND 10 per cent of new mums suffer from post-natal depression which can last from two weeks to as long as a year or more. PND is most common with a first pregnancy, but it can recur with subsequent pregnancies and if you have had it before, your risk of getting it again is increased. In one study, two thirds of women who had previously had PND had some form of recurrence after subsequent pregnancies, although some cases were mild. A third of women who had PND first time would therefore seem not to experience the problem again, so be positive. The cause remains unknown although it is thought to be linked with the changes in hormone levels (eg oestrogen, progesterone, thyroxine) that can occur after giving birth. Stress and the enormous changes in your life as a result of having a baby also play a role. Read Depression After Childbirth by Katharina Dalton, which you can get from your library.

Sarah Brewer is a GP and health writer. Send your problems to Vital, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA or email vital@dailyrecord.co.uk. Sorry, Sarah cannot reply personally.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 10, 2001
Words:426
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