Ask Dr. Rachna Pande

My 2-year-old son loves watching cartoons on TV so much. However, people keep telling me that if I don’t regulate this behaviour it could affect my child’s intellectual growth in future. How true is this and does this behaviour pose any other health risks?

My two-year-old is addicted to TV

Dear Doctor,

My 2-year-old son loves watching cartoons on TV so much. However, people keep telling me that if I don’t regulate this behaviour it could affect my child’s intellectual growth in future. How true is this and does this behaviour pose any other health risks?



Dear Johnny,

It is not wise to allow a toddler to watch T.V. in excess, and even with moderation it is not good for a 2-year-old child.

At this age, growth just starts for a child. He grows physically as well as mentally. Watching T.V. all the time would tend to blunt his intellect. It is a passive entertainment, which is hardly stimulating for the brain/intellect in any way.

Bright lights of the T.V., harm the vision and eyes, more so when it is watched from close. In a small child, it will be difficult to assess, as he will not be able to realize or tell about visual impairment. Continuous sounds from the T.V. can be damaging for the ears and balancing system of the growing child. It can blunt hearing, cause tinnitus(buzzing sounds, which do not exist) and cause giddiness. Such a small child will not be able to realize these problems and even express them.

Watching T.V. for long hours is a known risk factor for childhood obesity, It is a known risk factor for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases in later life. A child watching T.V. for long hours or involved in electronic entertainment is said to be cut off from reality and is unable to form real human relations. Mentally he would feel isolated. Therefore it is advisable to nip this habit in the bud.


I produce little breast milk 

Dear Doctor,

I gave birth recently but I am having trouble breast feeding my child because of low breast milk production. What causes one to produce little breast milk? What foods or natural means can I adopt to stimulate breast milk?



Dear Sharon,

Low breast milk production can be due to several reasons. If it is the first delivery, the new Mother is very apprehensive. Due to this stress itself, milk production can be affected. If the baby is not breast fed as soon as possible after birth, milk production could be less. Because milk production is boosted, when the baby starts suckling on the breasts. Infrequent breast feeding as happens if the mother is very busy with other affairs also diminishes the milk production. At times the baby may not be properly latched on to the breast, hence unable to suck, which reduces milk production. Inadequate consumption of fluids can also affect breast milk production. Stress due to any reason can affect milk production.

Milk production could be reduced due to hormonal disorders like those of thyroid or pituitary gland. Anti cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine and some other drugs reduce breast milk production as adverse effect. Alcohol is known to disrupt hormonal balance and reduce breast milk production.

To ensure that adequate amount of breast milk is produced, try feeding the baby as soon as possible after delivery. Feed him as frequently as possible, because that helps to stimulate milk production. Check that the baby is latched properly to the breast to enable it to suck properly. It is also advisable to drink some fluid like water or tea, before nursing. Some herbs like fenugreek, turmeric, e.t.c. are known to stimulate breast milk production. Avoid alcohol in any form.

Be relaxed and stress free. . If there is any doubt or these measures do not help, it is advisable to get tested and treated for any hormonal disorder.


I forget things easily

Dear Doctor,

I am 55 years old and I work as a manager at a local firm. However, I am getting worried because I often forget small things such as where I have kept personal items. Could this be a pointer to a bigger health problem? How can I correct this condition?



Dear Nimrod,

Fifty years is young if one regards the life span of people, in major parts of the world today.

Forgetfulness could be due to many reasons. Commonly one tends to forget small things, when under stress. When the mind is preoccupied with many things to do as happens with overwork, the individual will tend to forget things. Forgetfulness can also be under influence of alcohol and other intoxicating substances. Not sleeping properly, lack of sleep, jet lag after travel, any sickness can also make one be forgetful. In these situations, as one gets relaxed, memory will also improve.

Among pathological causes, forgetfulness can be due to senile dementia. As one grows older, brain substance may shrink, resulting in loss of memory. Lacunar infarcts, i.e. occlusion of small blood vessels in deeper parts of brain may manifest only as memory loss. One may lose memory due to stroke and forgetfulness may exist along with paralysis of one or more body parts and loss of speech. Alcohol and tobacco have direct damaging effect on the brain substance and can cause senile dementia early. Alzheimer’s disease occurs due to shrinkage of brain substance with advancing age and may manifest as forgetfulness in early stages.

Forgetfulness due to a stroke or lacunar infarcts can improve with suitable treatment. But usually conditions like senile dementia tend to be irreversible. These conditions can be prevented by some simple measures. Around middle years of life, one should try doing some mind stimulating activities which helps brain substance to be activated and prevent its shrinkage. Learning a new language, solving cross word puzzles, teaching known skills to younger generation, are some of such measures. One can maintain a diary and at the end of the day try to note down all he has done during that day. This would help him in recalling all he has done during the day and help keep memory sharp. Yoga and meditation, help one to remain relaxed and mind calm and stress free. This would prevent memory loss. Eating a balanced nutritious diet is useful. Alcohol and tobacco should be avoided.


Are there foods that can delay onset of cancer?

Dear Doctor,

Are there any foods that can delay the onset of cancer or reverse it when it has already infected a person?



Dear Mbaraga,

The precise cause of many cancers is known, like smoking, exposure to asbestos, e.t.c. is linked to lung cancer. Alcohol is known to damage the liver and cause liver cancer. But for many the cause is unknown and only the possible risk factors have been identified.

Cancer occurs when there is abnormal multiplication of cells of any part of body. It is said to be due to chronic irritation of that part. Free oxygen radicals are released in the body due to various metabolic processes going on in the cells. These free oxygen radicals are known to damage the cells and are also implicated in causing cancer.

Foods that are anti oxidants, i.e. prevent release of these free oxygen radicals, help to prevent cancer.

Onion, carrots, garlic, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, fruits like orange, guava, Kiwi, lemon, nuts, tea in moderation, are some of such foods that have antioxidant properties and help prevent cancer.. Alcohol and tobacco should be avoided for preventing cancer. However if somebody already has cancer, definite treatment would only help in progression. However these foods would help in improving quality of life, in somebody suffering from cancer.

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