Why Children Are More Susceptible To Illness Than Adults?

mom-holding-sick-toddlerChildren’s increased vulnerability to illness may be explained by a key difference in immune cells.

In a recent study, it was discovered that young mice’s immune systems secrete lower levels of the cytokine than in older mice, which is essential for the CD4 T-cell survival during infection.

It is a well-known fact that schools are popular breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, but this cannot be connected with hygiene.

New research using mice shows that because young mice do not have immune systems as efficient as their adult counterparts, the younger ones may be prone to contact a viral infection, and take more time to clear from it.

Mice are often used to study mammals’ biology. Other similar mice studies investigated cancer development or the effect of fasting on longevity. Another example of such research explored the effects of garcinia cambogia extract on adipose cells and how this natural compound influences energy consumption and fat accumulation in cells.

In general, children are more susceptible to environmental risks than adults because of a number of reasons. First, kids are constantly growing and they eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more air than adults do. This is in proportion to their weight.

Also, their central nervous, reproductive, digestive, and immune systems are still in development stage. At some points of their development, contact to environmental toxics can cause permanent damage.

Kids act differently from adults and have diverse patterns of exposure. Little kids crawl on the ground and are greatly exposed to chemicals and dust that accumulate in soils and floors. Children cannot fully control their environment. They are usually oblivious of the risks and incapable of making good choices to shield their health.

The health problems that children have as a result from contact with poor sanitation, contaminated water, indoor smoke, and widespread disease vectors like unsafe waste and chemical disposals, insufficient food supply, and mosquitoes.

Significant improvement in minimizing environmental burden of disease on a worldwide scale can only be accomplished through focusing on the major risk factors, through an integrated approach. A wide-ranging comparative risk assessment advocates a cluster of 8 environmental problems, many of which may correspond in the places where children settle, learn and play.

In addition, children can also be affected by other environmental threats like air pollution, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient water, electronic waste, chemical hazards, injuries, radiation and emerging issues. Global environmental change, endocrine disrupting chemical and early life opportunities are also risks that put children in harm’s way.

In particular, the above study analyzed how CD4 T-cells respond to influenza. These cells play a very important role in the immune system, specifically in the adaptive immune system. They help the other immune cells’ activity by releasing T cell cytokines. This type of cells helps regulate or curb immune responses. CD4 T-cells are important in the activation and growth cytotoxic T cells, as well as in optimizing the bactericidal activity of phagocytes like macrophages.

This study revealed that the immune systems of children may yet ready to produce enough amounts of antibody molecules clear their lungs of influenza virus rapidly as adults. These findings were published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology’s July 2016 issue.

Influenza is a type of viral infection that your nose, lungs and throat. Commonly, it is called the flu, but this is not the same with stomach flu viruses that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The flu is actually more dangerous that the common colds for kids. Every year, thousands of kids get sick with seasonal influenza. In some cases, the illness results in death.

Severe influenza complications are very common in kids under 2 years old. Annually, about 20,000 children below the age of 5 are brought to hospitals because of influenza complications. The flu seasons differ in severity, but, a number of kids die from the flu every single year. In last year’s influenza season, over 130 flu-related pediatric fatalities were reported.

Generally, influenza is easy to treat, but sometimes, its complication can be fatal. Most patients who have flu have mild illness and do not need antiviral drug or other medical care. They can recover in just a week or two.

People who are at high risk of developing this viral infection include young kids under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women, individuals who have weak immune systems, and people who are very obese. Also, residents of nursing homes and those who are suffering from chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and kidney disease are prone to having the flu. According to experts, annual vaccination is the best defense against the flu.

Dr. David E. Verhoeven hopes that by comprehending the major differences in the immune responses of young kids. Dr. Verhoeven, a researcher from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa believes that they may be capable of developing greater ways to boost their immunity to the common pathogens that have the effects on their population. More importantly, the facts may be the factor that health experts may think about new designs of existing vaccines since both the immune systems of kids and adults may respond to them in various ways.

To establish this breakthrough, a team of scientists incorporated 2 groups of mice to replicate the effects of the flu infection in young kids and adults. Group 1 was 21 days old, while the other group was 8 to 10 weeks old. The two groups were infected with flu virus, strain H1N1.

The researchers then analyzed their immune responses to the flu. They discovered that CD4 T-cells in young mice secreted a major antiviral cytokine. It is called interferon gamma, and it is secreted at considerably lower levels than adult CD4 T-cells. The lower levels of interferon gamma cause higher rates of CD4 T-cell death throughout an infection. The young mice were incapable of having a strong enough immune response to eradicate the virus from the lungs until very late because CD4 T-cells are part of the antibody production.

The Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Dr. John Wherry, warns that anyone with young kids must be aware that they are bringing home all different types of germs and infections.

The new data that they have collected are highly valuable because they begin to mark at fundamental immune mechanisms that control differently at young ages that might let setbacks in viral clearance, which could decipher to longer capacity to pass on such infections to new hosts.

Non-Violent Ways to Discipline Children

undisciplined kidsInstilling regulation among kids is the most challenging task for parents. It is natural among kids that they will be restless and will force you to keep all their demands and needs.

However, you have to handle it in a way so that you don’t get rude to them and at the same time can teach them the importance to be disciplined. Well, it must be said that while teaching discipline to the kids, you need to face a power struggle sometime. Still, if you are aware of the processes of handling the entire task smoothly and of course non-violently, you can win easily. Here we will discuss about the most-effective and non-violent ways that help to discipline a kid.

Teacher-disciple relationship

While doing the task we have to remember that we are teacher and they are taught and have to organize the task carefully. Some non-violent options that prove useful in teaching discipline are:

  • Ignoring the problem behavior
  • Paying attention to the kid’s positive qualities
  • Re-examining one’s expectation from the kid
  • Restructuring the environment where the kids grow
  • Using the time-out location procedures
  • Redirecting the kids attention

If his or her behavior is not dangerous you must ignore it and should not scold the kid for that behavior always. You just keep a watch on the kid so that the same thing doesn’t happen again and again. Even from the childhood days, we have to observe the positive qualities in the kids and have to praise it always.

Actually, we have to make them feel that good behavior is praised always and bad habits are not welcome. In order to keep them busy in constructive activities, we have to engage them in interesting and funny tasks to shift their attention from the destructive practices.

Understanding their Capacity

However, it is not a good idea to impose all the responsibilities on the kids, as we have to moderate our behavior towards them as well. That is why it is not good to expect something more from the kids’ capacity. If you force him to deliver something more than what he can, it will prove detrimental.

Disciplining a younger child versus disciplining an elder one is a bit difficult. The option that proves more effective in this regard is restructuring the environment where the child is growing. Often it is seen that environment plays an important role in disciplining a children. If we think that the child cannot adjust with the environment, we must consider restructuring it.

Out of the Time Process

If it still proves difficult to control a child and if the matter goes out of hand, we must think of a bit tough yet safe option. Removing the child to an away and safe timeout location will help in bringing change. Don’t assign any task to the child and let him/her sit there for a few minutes, until he or she gets the permission to go. After sometime when the kid returns, we will find him/her changed, modified and disciplined as well.

For The Pre-School Goers

When kids start visiting a school they get disciplined automatically but prior to sending them to school we have to handle them carefully so that they be disciplined in schools as well. Some non-violent methods for the pre-school goers are:

  • Caring for the kid intensely
  • Understanding their interests
  • Keeping them in company of other disciplined kids
  • To help them play with interesting toys
  • Listening to their problems and finding a worthy solution

Boy or girl: you choose

boy or girlRemember that hopeful young boy saying he wanted seven sons and seven daughters when he grew up? Or that family that had five girls and was longing for a baby boy? Their hopes don’t have to be in vain! They may or may not realize that they do have other options. In the past couple years, planning parenthood has become a step easier. If and when to have children has “safely” been up to parents for about sixty years now, but what to have (as a “safe” idea) has only been around for a couple of years.

Recent studies are showing, though, that at this point, only eight percent of parents would want to use available technology to pre-select their baby’s gender. Research done on United States fertility clinics—half of which are offering the option of choosing the gender of the baby—show that “sex selection” without any medical reason to warrant it was performed in only about nine percent of all embryo screenings last year. The popularity of this procedure is likely to increase, however, as long as parents increasingly see nothing wrong with “toying with nature,” or taking matters into their own hands.

Of course, you know at least one family with four boys or six girls longing for a baby of the other gender? The Millers were one of those families. Parents Shane and Sharla had three boys, and with each birth, Sharla kept hoping for a girl. Wanting a guarantee that her next child would be a girl, Sharla looked into adoption. This was when she stumbled across the website of “The Fertility Institutes,” a site belonging to fertility doctor Jeffrey Steinberg. Through an in vitro fertilization (sound familiar?) technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), Dr. Steinberg could guarantee the gender of the Millers’ baby. This technology was created to discover some embryos with dangerous and possibly lethal genetic diseases. It can also be used to choose the gender of children, not the direction the creator of this technique had in mind.

To Sharla Miller, however, PGD was a dream come true as she wanted a girl after having three boys. In November, Dr. Steinberg fertilized Sharla’s eggs in a lab dish, producing fourteen healthy embryos, seven male and seven female. He took the embryos that he wanted—three of the females—and implanted them into Sharla’s uterus. Nine months after this long, expensive procedure, “Natalie Miller” was born. She had cost the Millers $18,840, but yes, they had their girl.

While many grateful families have showered their praise on the PGD procedure, a lot of people are concerned that with this technique, science is crossing a line that should not be crossed. “If couples can request a baby boy or a baby girl,” writes Claudia Kalb, in her “Brave New Babies” article in the health section of Newsweek, “what’s next on the slippery slope of modern reproductive medicine? Eye color? Height? Intelligence?”

In most countries it is illegal to use embryo selection in order to choose the sex of your child, but not so in the United States where it is legal and not even regulated. Dr. Mark Hughes, founder of PGD, is especially concerned. He said that if you have the technical ability to do something, doesn’t mean you have to it. Other fertility specialists are divided over the issue.

Not only are scientists playing with life in lab dishes, but also what happened to God choosing what children couples should have? When this question was brought up to Sharla Miller, she insisted that she did not feel like she or the doctors were playing God. She said it is like any other medical procedure.

But diseases and illnesses have always been recognized as problems needing treatment—children are a gift from God! Doesn’t God know far better than man whether boys or girls would be better for each couple, and aren’t they a blessing regardless of their gender? Many people are saying they simply “feel uncomfortable” with PGD, and would rather leave the gender of their baby “up to chance,” but it’s really more serious than that. By paying thousands of dollars to get the kind of baby that we want, we are denying God’s wisdom of what is best for us.

Recruiting Today’s Youth to Technology Fields

girls and scienceScience, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers are fun, creative, innovative…and pay pretty well too. How do we get that message to pre-college students so they consider careers in STEM? How do we excite students, girls in particular, to explore how they can change the world and make it a better place through a STEM career? Through messaging, engaging experiences, role models and education, we can make a difference.


The National Academy of Engineering’s recent study, “Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving the Public Understanding of Engineering”, provides great insights into what motivates and interests pre-college students about technical fields. The research found that youth today have little understanding of what engineering is all about – engineers help people, but not directly, and are disconnected from people.

The good news is that less than 15 percent of the youth surveyed described engineers as nerdy or boring. Youth want well-paying jobs that make a difference and they believe engineering is a good career choice…just not for them.

We must change the language we use to describe our STEM professions. We must stop reinforcing the images of “nerdy and boring” when defining STEM careers if we want to recruit more students and especially more diverse students. We need to stop focusing on math and science as the required inputs – students know they must do well in math and science and we don’t need to emphasize it like we tend to do – and focus on the outputs, career opportunities and how STEM professionals make a difference in the world.

As engineers (and other STEM professionals), we create, innovate, imagine, discover, design, innovate and contribute. We are creative problem solvers, essential to the health, happiness and safety of our world’s citizens. We shape the future.

We must also change the images we use to describe our STEM professions. Girls are drawn to images of people, not things. We must stop creating images of the things of our professions – gears, gadgets, bridges, computers, cell phones, cars, etc. We must create the images of our profession using people – people communicating or collaborating using computers or cell phones or gadgets, people impacting the world using technology, people creating and innovating.

Engaging Experiences and Role Models

Engaging, hands-on STEM experiences where students can successfully design and create provide students the opportunity to gain confidence in their skills and allow them to consider the possibilities of pursuing STEM careers. Providing students opportunities to design and create and succeed – with role models, mentors close to their age and of the same gender, and experiences connected to real-world issues with an impact on society – can encourage both male and female students to consider STEM careers.

“Successful” engaging experiences are critical. Research has shown that how girls classify their success and failures is important in their career choice. Girls are more likely to attribute their successes to hard work (”I worked hard to successfully write that computer program.”) while they attribute their failures to their personal lack of ability (”My program didn’t work. I am no good at engineering.”).

Boys, on the other hand, attribute their successes to ability (”My computer program worked. I am good at writing programs.”) while attributing failures to external forces or lack of effort (”My program didn’t work. The professor didn’t give us good instructions.”). For girls in particular, providing role models who can share their experiences, show their career path, counter the “lack of ability” internal argument and generate excitement about their contribution to our world will open the eyes of our youth into the possibilities of a career in STEM.

Successful engaging experiences can take many forms and best practices abound in the research and published proceedings of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Team-based experiences, one-time short activities, long-term involved designs, faculty-led experiences, student-led activities – all are successful if they engage the student in the design and creation experience, provide a challenge, integrate the effective messaging, relate to real-world and societal impact, and allow for success in some form.


As a profession, we must continue to educate the community about careers in STEM and the impact STEM has on our everyday lives and the health, happiness and security of our world. We must educate our teachers and counselors on the requirements for our profession and the benefits our profession provides to us as individuals and to our society. We must educate our coworkers and peers on the effective messaging research and encourage a changing of our language. And we must continually educate ourselves on the issues that impact the career choices of girls and the research and best practices in STEM field recruitment.