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As obesity creeps into preschools, and hypertension and type II diabetes become pediatric problems for the very first time, the case for starting preventive health care in the cradle has become too compelling to keep ignoring - Heidi Murkoff


image by: Victor

Diabetes is one of the most common causes of blindness and along with hypertension is the most common cause of kidney failure worldwide.

One of the more promising areas is the controversial field of stem cell transplantation. When you see the words 'stem cell' you might reasonably expect to read some debate about the ethical appropriateness of using stem cells from discarded fetuses for research.

This emotional issue has dominated the dialog regarding stem cell usage for the past decade. However, here's a fascinating component that doesn't receive much press. Stem cells don't just exist in the embryo. There are stem cells in the adult body as well and these 'adult stem cells' are necessary for tissue regeneration throughout life.

Think of skin growing back after an injury, lost blood being replaced and so on. Plus, adult stem cells seem to be more flexible than we originally understood them to be. Up until recently it was thought that adult stem cells could only reproduce the tissue specific to the organ they came from. However, recent studies have shown that adult stem cells can differentiate into different tissue types. For example: Neural stem cells have been induced to create blood and skeletal muscle and bone marrow cells can create muscle and liver cells.

So, actually there is a bright light in the stem cell arena these days, i.e., using adult stem cells not just for research but as a therapy to treat a variety of medical conditions including diabetes that up until now, did not have many treatment options.

<p.We need to accept the fact that a new age in medicine has arrived and we need to embrace and support it while at the same time developing our own responsible, well-informed, position on the ethics and morals involved with stem cells. Adult stem cells hold enormous potential in the treatment of disease, but more importantly they do not carry the burden of controversy that has surrounded embryonic stem cells for well over two decades.

But what is even more alarming, diabetes is a growing health concern worldwide among children. In the United States 7.8% of children and young adults have been diagnosed and that number is expected to double over the next 25 years. One of the major reasons is the enormous surge in obesity, especially childhood obesity which isn’t just a problem, it’s an epidemic and the statistics are alarming.

If we do nothing, we will be the first generation of parents to outlive our kids. According to the American Diabetes Association, “just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, produces a 58% reduction in diabetes”.