The Possibility Of Choosing Gender During Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis

baby feet

Where in vitro fertilization (IVF) is concerned, a new era in childbirth has been emerging.  IVF has enabled individuals who have struggled with fertility to successfully give birth.  Now, with the help of an infertility clinic, individuals can even choose the desired gender of their child.  Individuals who are not familiar with the process of IVF may view gender selection as pioneering or controversial.  However, in infertility clinics, choosing the gender of the baby occurs quite often.  This is only a tiny feature of genetic testing that is possible before a woman even becomes pregnant.

Gender selection is done during the process of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which is also referred to as pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS).  During an IVF procedure, a fertility doctor combines a man’s sperm with a woman’s egg to create embryos.  After a few days, the choice can be made by the potential parents for PGD to be used to screen the embryos for genetic abnormalities.

In essence, PGD is a medical procedure used prior to embryo implantation to assist in identifying any genetic defect that might be present.  The identification of the defects helps to prevent certain disorders or diseases like the BRCA gene from being passed along to the unborn child.  This increases the chances of creating healthier babies.  It also helps in alleviating the worries of potential parents who might be concerned about the future well-being of the child they are hoping to create.  PGD essentially levels the playing field so the extremely high lifetime risks typically associated with ‘IVF babies’ become similar to babies conceived traditionally.

Only unaffected embryos are ultimately implanted into the uterus.  As a result, PGD provides a substitute for chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis or other current post-conception diagnostic procedures.  These post-conception procedures put couples in the potentially painful position of having to terminate the pregnancy if the results are unfavorable.

The screening process involves the embryos being placed under the microscope where a few cells will be delicately removed.  After which, the cells are evaluated to ascertain whether the genetic makeup is normal.  During the process, the doctor closely examines the X and Y chromosomes to determine whether any abnormality is present.  The XY or XX, which is the gender of each embryo, will become obvious at this point in the process.  The doctor will then be able to inform the prospective parents about the healthy and viable embryos.  Also, he or she can inform them about the ones that are male and the ones that are female.

If multiple embryos are normal and both females and males are among them, the fertility doctor will not dictate the ones to be implanted.  If the embryos are free of defects, the gender selection will be left entirely up to the potential parents.  There is also the option of having other healthy embryos frozen for future pregnancies.

In cases where parents already have one or more boys, for example, opting for a girl in the next pregnancy is sometimes referred to as ‘family balancing.’  This is typically viewed favorably and the majority of individuals seem to have no major issues with the practice.  However, first-time parents with no genetic or fertility concerns and engage in gender selection, are viewed a lot less favorably.


The Catch

There is a cost attached to this category of genetic screening.  Depending on the fertility clinic, the amount charged for PGD range between few hundred dollars and a few thousand.  There are clinics that charge a lump sum and others charge for each embryo.  This charge is in addition to the cost of basic IVF, which has an average cost of $12,400.

However, many individuals who are making an investment in IVF are not deterred by the additional cost for gender selection.  There are a number of couples who are willing to do what is takes to get through a successful pregnancy, have a healthy baby and have the added joy of having a baby with a particular gender.


Possible PGD Candidates

The following categories of individuals are possible PGD candidates:


  • Single gene disorder carriers
  • Sex-related genetic disorder carriers
  • Individuals afflicted with chromosomal disorders
  • Women with multiple loss of pregnancy
  • Women 35 years and older
  • Women who have had unsuccessful pregnancies after two or more fertility treatments


Benefits of PGD

Below are a few of what are considered the main benefits of PGD:


  • PGD is carried out before implantation and as such, it enables individuals to determine whether they would like to proceed with the pregnancy.
  • The procedure can analyze over 100 genetic conditions.
  • PGD provides couples, many of whom have struggled with fertility issues for years, with the possibility of having biological children. This might not have been impossible otherwise.
  • It can help potential parents to select the gender of their child.



There is some amount of controversy surrounding gender selection.  It primarily stems from the view that the elimination of embryos, solely based on gender, is unethical.  Fertility doctors who carry out PGD procedures solely for the purpose of choosing a particular gender are also widely viewed as unethical.  Additionally, if this practice becomes prevalent, it could result in lopsided populations and sexist preferences.  Therefore, individuals who are interested in having PGD should make sure the chosen infertility treatment center is highly reputable.  A reputable infertility clinic primarily uses PGD to screen for genetic defects.  Knowledge of the gender and subsequent gender selection should be merely byproducts of the health-screening process.


Other PGD Concerns

Below are some issues considered to be concerns or drawbacks of PGD:


  • PGD helps in reducing the chances of a child being conceived with a genetic disorder. However, the risk cannot be completely eliminated. In some instances, further testing is required to determine whether a genetic abnormality has surfaced during pregnancy.
  • It is the belief of many individuals that life starts at conception. As such, they view the act of destroying an embryo as the destruction of a human being.
  • Even though genetically present, a number of diseases generate symptoms only when carriers get to middle age. Therefore, the probability of the development of the disorder should be discussed, in detail, with your fertility doctor.


Advancements in technology have made it possible for the genetics of embryos to be known way ahead of implantation.  Therefore, a number of individuals find the practice to be unfathomable in this day and age.  However, the additional cost for the PGD procedure could be a hindrance to some prospective parents.  This is exacerbated by the fact that no health insurance provider currently provides coverage for PGD.  In addition, a large number of insurance providers do not cover in vitro fertilization procedures.  Many are hoping that there will be positive changes in the future where health insurance coverage is concerned.  After all, PGD enables fertility doctors to play a vital role in creating healthier babies; ultimately, this will save money on treatment and testing.

It is important to note that PGD is not a replacement for recommended prenatal testing.  Speak with your doctor regarding your options if you have an interest in PGD.  You can also direct your questions and concerns to a fertility specialist or a genetic counselor.

Tips on Finding Cheap Car Insurance for Seniors in Virginia

happy old manThough we often take them for granted, we rely on our vehicles a great deal. They allow us to get to the jobs where we earn the money to support ourselves and our families, as well as to the stores to get essential food and supplies. In addition to these critical tasks, our cars also help us to enjoy our free time, enabling us to travel far and near, whether it be to a beach, state park, arcade, movie theater, or a friend’s house. Clearly, our vehicles are indispensable and because of this, we need the protection of good car insurance to safeguard ourselves from the devastating effects of any damage our automobiles might sustain or incur.

Virginia’s Car Insurance Laws

State law in Virginia requires that drivers have at least liability and uninsured motorist coverage. However, this basic insurance may not be enough to provide peace of mind and true financial protection in case of an accident.  Additionally, if you have acquired a loan to pay for your car, your lender is likely to require a more robust car insurance plan.  If you don’t have a loan, and like most of us, are searching for cheap car insurance in Virginia to save money, you may be tempted to buy the minimal coverage and take your chances. However, unless you have an old car with little value, this may be an unwise decision. The easiest way to determine if this minimal level of auto insurance is enough, ask yourself a simple question: could I afford to fix or replace this car if it was totaled in an accident? If the answer is no, you will want to consider paying the few extra dollars a month for more advanced coverage.

More advanced coverage may consist of a combination of collision, comprehensive, medical/loss of income, and transportation components. Generally, collision insurance covers damage incurred in a crash, while comprehensive covers damage not caused by a crash, such as theft, vandalism, or fire. Medical/loss of income coverage can provide money if you are injured and cannot work due to a car accident. Finally, transportation coverage can help you cover the cost of travel while your car is being repaired, such as expenses related to rental cars. Of course, each company has slightly different definitions of what is covered under each of these categories, so make sure you read the fine print and ask an agent to clarify any questions you have before purchasing a policy.

With this basic overview in mind, you are ready to start shopping for auto insurance. It is always advisable to acquire quotes from several different agencies in order to get the best price. Many companies offer quotes over the internet or phone. You can also visit local offices if you prefer to negotiate in person. Regardless of which route you choose, make sure any companies you engage with are reputable and have a history of paying out claims in a timely manner. In the unfortunate case that you do suffer an accident or other damage, you do not want to be waiting for months on end because you decided to go for the cheap car insurance with no track record of customer service.

old driver

How Your Driving Record Affects Your Premium

Since prices are personalized for each person based on driving record, demographic statistics, and location, it is hard to pinpoint the best place in Virginia to get auto insurance. However, there are a few strategies you can do to get the best coverage at the lowest price. First, consider bundling; if you have any other type of insurance, call your current provider to see if they offer auto insurance. Many companies will offer discounts for individuals who hold more than one policy with them. Second, ask about discounts, especially if you have a good driving record. Most established companies will offer discounts or rebates for those with a solid history of driving safely. Third, if money is tight and you need cheap car insurance but do not want to sacrifice more advanced levels of coverage, inquire about higher deductibles (the amount you pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in if an accident occurs) or lower coverage levels. Though not ideal, such plans are often much more affordable on a month-to-month basis, yet still provide financial security in case of major damage.

Ultimately, buying auto insurance is a very personal decision; the option that is best for your neighbor, sister, or best friend might be completely wrong for you. While it may seem like a daunting and time-consuming process, it is worth the effort to do your research and put in the due diligence necessary to ensure you are getting optimal coverage at a price you can afford.

Tips On Finding A Great Infertility Doctor

happy mother and child

Selecting an infertility specialist is an extremely essential decision, which must be diligently considered. However, there is an abundance of fertility treatment centers around Phoenix AZ, many of which vociferously promote their methods and facilities, claiming high success rates. As such, couples facing infertility issues are often overwhelmed with the process of choosing among infertility doctors. Below are a few tips on finding a remarkable infertility specialist:

Avoid Infertility Treatment Centers with Only Part-time Doctors

Many treatment centers only have part-time doctors. This could significantly affect the time available to provide services to patients. Without divided loyalty, full-time doctors are typically more focused and better equipped to provide the best possible care. This will foster a higher likelihood of conception.

Additionally, with part-time doctors, the same specialist is often not guaranteed at each appointment. Infertility is an extremely personal issue; therefore, establishing a level of comfort with one doctor is vital.

Avoid Infertility Clinics with Questionable Facilities and Equipment

There are infertility treatment centers that use outdated, low-quality equipment to treat patients. These facilities increase the risk of patients becoming infected. The facility should be sterile and the equipment pieces must be properly serviced or upgraded over time. This significantly increases the chances of conception.

Take Careful Note of the Services Offered

Pay close attention to the list of services offered. Embryo freezing facilities are among the hallmarks of an outstanding treatment center. A center without a freezing facility should not be considered. The more institutions and individuals involved, the greater the risk of contamination or the unauthorized and unethical distribution of your eggs.

Your chances of conceiving in a bad treatment facility are next to impossible. Additionally, you run the real risk of compromising your health. You could also end up losing lots of money, time and energy. Finding the right infertility doctors and treatment center will make for a much smoother journey towards expanding your family.

womans egg

Steps Involved in the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Process

IVF has helped a number of couples, who have exhausted all other methods of fertilization, to start their own family. The procedure involves the removal of one or more eggs by a doctor. The eggs are taken from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm in an embryology lab.

1. Induction of Ovulation

Prior to and throughout the process of in vitro fertilization, your ovaries will be monitored by the infertility specialist. Monitoring is necessary to determine the timing of the egg release. He or she will ensure the ovaries are producing eggs. Among other procedures, checks will be made to ascertain whether hormone levels are normal.

At this point, most women are given hormones or fertility medicines to stimulate egg production in the ovaries. Having multiple eggs available for fertilization will amplify the chances of conception.

2. Retrieval of Egg

At this stage of the process, patients are given pain medication to decrease any discomfort that might surface. The upper vaginal wall is then accessed by a thin needle. After which, a vaginal ultrasound is used to remove fluid from the follicles via a gentle suction technique. Right after the follicle has been acquired, the follicular fluid is isolated from the egg (oocyte). The egg is then placed in a nutrient media containing culture dish and safely relocated to an incubator.

3. Fertilization Process

Fertilizing the egg is the next stage of the IVF process. The sperm sample, from either your significant other or a donor, is then secured. The most active of the sperm will be placed in a special chamber and combined with the egg. The sperm is sometimes injected directly into the egg. The ‘mixture’ is then placed in the incubator and observed to ensure the healthy development of the embryo.

4. Transfer and Implantation of the Embryo

The final phase of the IVF process is the transfer of the embryo. To start, the embryos are scrutinized to determine the healthiest ones to implant. To facilitate this transfer, the vagina is penetrated by a speculum and the embryos are transferred by way of a tiny plastic tube. The tube goes through the cervix and enters the uterine cavity. Following the completion of the IVF process, approximately 24 hours of bed rest is typically recommended.

A few weeks following the IVF process, you will be able to find out whether the process was successful. A pregnancy test will be able to determine this. A number of women become pregnant after the process. However, there are others who fail to conceive. The average couple could undergo between 2 and 3 attempts before becoming pregnant.

Doing Your Homework On Spine Surgery

When it comes to getting the best medical care, you always want to make sure you have the absolute best and most experienced medical professionals taking care of you. This is true whether you’re looking for a basic checkup or going in for a serious life-changing surgery. Spine surgery is one of the most series operations out there and you don’t want to go into it with an inexperienced surgeon or one without a stellar reputation to encourage you about their skill.

Finding recommendations can be next to impossible because of the confidentiality of medical records that regular individuals have a right to. That means that you might not be able to get a long list of recommendations, but by asking around to find out about the doctors who are available for spine surgery or the particular specialists who are trained to handle the specific type of surgery that you need you might find some names based on past reputation. It’s as close to an “Angie’s List for surgeons” as you can get.

Know What Surgery You Need

One of the first things to understand is that there are many different types of back surgeries out there. Depending on your specific injury or need, you might be looking for a spinal surgeon who specializes in any of these following types of back surgery.

Spinal Fusion

If spinal fusion sounds familiar, it’s probably because this specific form of back surgery is by far and away the most common for back pain. In this procedure, vertebrae or joined (or fused) together to restrict movement and stretching. This might give a slight limitation on movement but it also keeps from too much movement, which often causes slipped disks and other issues. The biggest risk is an incomplete fuse, which would require more surgery to fix.

Foraminotomy Surgery

When looking at foraminotomy, the surgeon carefully cuts away bits of bone on the vertebrae to offer more room to relieve pressure on the nerves. This can give some degree of stability for some spinal issues and if the spine is in good shape but the nerves tend to swell or pinch, causing pain, this is one way of offering a level of relief.


This type of surgery is what’s taking place when you hear about someone getting bone spurs removed from their spine, small slivers of weak or damaged bone, or even taking care of problem ligaments around the spinal column. Not as common as spinal fusion, but still a spine surgery that does come up relatively often.


A discectomy is done with the specific intention of correcting one particular disc in the back that is frequently slipping or sliding out of place. This can be a huge problem and when properly done this can be a relatively low impact surgery to help resolve that problem.

These different surgeries don’t even consider the difference between posterior versus anterior lumbar work. After all, where the spine is damaged or having issue can make all the difference when it comes to the procedure being done.

Getting an experienced surgeon is great, but no two back surgeries are exactly the same. When you have the ability to get a surgeon who has a lot of experience with the very specific type of surgical procedure you need done, then you’ll be in the best possible shape for recovery.

Finding the Right Veterinarian

ellie and iMy dog Ellie has been by my side for the last six years and I want nothing but the best pet care for her. She has lived a happy and healthy life and I intend for it to stay that way. It is very important for every pet owner to find a reliable veterinarian and in Richmond there are plenty of them. The hardest part is to find an animal hospital that is right for you. Below are some tips for finding a great animal care specialist in your area which I will expand on later in this article.

Tips for Finding a Great Animal Hospital:

  • Look for one that provides emergency pet care
  • Make sure that vet has great online and offline reviews
  • Check for references and follow up with them
  • Ensure that their medical equipment is up to date
  • If part of the BBB, review their profile
  • Do they offer a wide range of services and procedures
  • Do they handle animal dental care and cleanings
  • Do they welcome you in with a big smile and accommodate your needs


Does the Animal Hospital Provide Emergency Care

You don’t want to be stuck taking your pet to an emergency care unit that you’ve never been to before. It’s best to find a veterinary clinic that can accommodate regular check ups as well as emergency appointments which can pop up unknowingly. This will be more comfortable for both you and your pet. It will also allow more time to get your little lovely into the care that they need quickly.


Search for Reviews

Whether it’s coming from a friend, acquaintance, or online, reviews can be your saving grace for finding the vet clinic that’s right for you and your loved one. I make sure to search everywhere. I will search through Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and the BBB before I even consider visiting the clinic in person. I will then ask around with friends and get some insight from them while also reaching out in facebook to see what people on their think about great local Richmond veterinarians. Three that I continually see surfacing are Fan Veterinary Clinic, Wellesley Animal Hospital, and the Churchill Animal Hospital.


Checking for References

When you have found a few potential companies that seem to be a good fit then you can start calling and asking for references. Make sure to call these references and ask them all the questions or concerns that you may have with the vet office. Some example questions would be:

  • Are you always welcomed kindly?
  • Do you feel satisfied every time you leave?
  • Does your pet feel comfortable there?
  • Are they organized?
  • Do they diagnose the problem properly every time?

Make sure to ask as many questions as you feel needed.


Up to Date Veterinary Equipment

Having new and up to date equipment is always the best idea. This can be a sign of a successful animal hospital that has the funds to keep up with the times and the technologies that follow. Their procedures can be done more precisely and efficiently allowing for better outcomes especially if your pet has to undergo any surgeries.


Are Many Services Offered?

Make sure that the veterinarian is capable to do everything your pet needs. If they aren’t able to follow through with the necessary procedures then you will have to seek help elsewhere which can be troublesome with time sensitive problems.


Animal Dental Care

Having the ability to perform dental care is also a plus. Dogs and cats teeth are just like humans teeth and should be brushed everyday. They can experience the same gum disease and tooth decay and infections just the same. Finding a Vet in Richmond that can provide these services is a great convenience.

How They Welcome You and Your Pet

The first thing everyone notices when they walk into a business is the greeting or the welcoming feeling when you enter. If you walk into a business and the receptionist looks tired, angry, or overwhelmed it acts in deterring clientele from wanting to continue business. This is also true on how the physical environment is set up. A customer may be turned off if the office is cluttered or dirty. These are some things you should take note of when you visit your local vet clinics. You just have to go there in person to get a feel.


Put It All Together

When you get all the information you need pick the best Richmond animal hospitals and take your pet inside to get a feel for the place. It is then up to you to decide which spot is best for your furry family.

Male Infertility Info for All Ages

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says that men are the sole cause of infertility in 40% of all infertile couples in the US. Globally, one in every 20 men has some form of infertility, according to data published by Andrology Australia, a male reproductive health center based at Monash University, Australia. With that in mind, here is some more information about male infertility and the treatment options available:

 old man infront of bridge

Sperm Blockage and Hormonal Imbalances

A paper published by the American Urological Association states that about 10 to 15% of all infertile men suffer from azoospermia (a complete lack of sperm). This problem is usually caused by either blockage that prevents proper movement of sperms or by hormonal imbalances. Such blockages could occur due to abnormal development of tubes that carry sperms, unintentional scarring/injury during surgery, an inherited condition or an infection. On the other hand, hormonal imbalances are widely associated with the adrenal, hypothalamus, pituitary or the thyroid gland, according to the Mayo Clinic.


According to a report published by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute, low sperm count is one of the leading causes of male infertility. The main cause of low sperm count in men is a condition known as varicocele, which is the enlargement of the spermatic veins that drain blood from the testicles to the abdomen. About 40% of men with a low sperm count suffer from this problem.

Undescended Testicles

In some cases, one or both testicles may fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotal sac during fetal development. Men with this testicular condition tend to suffer from fertility problems.

Celiac Disease

The Mayo Clinic states that celiac disease can reduce fertility in men. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder caused by gluten sensitivity. In some cases, men with celiac disease experience improved fertility after adopting a gluten-free diet.

Infections and Diseases

Some infections and diseases can cause testicular atrophy leading to low or total infertility. These include gonorrhea, HIV, epididymitis, syphilis, tuberculosis, typhoid, mumps, smallpox, chlamydia and brucellosis. A genetic condition called Klinefelter’s Syndrome is also associated with male infertility. It causes males to develop enlarged breasts and peanut-sized testicles.

Diet and Lifestyle Choices

Health and lifestyle choices such as the use of illegal drugs, smoking cigarettes, obesity, alcohol abuse and stress can cause male infertility.

 old man smiliing

Treatment Options

Men suffering from infertility problems should see a fertility specialist. At a fertility treatment center, patients typically undergo a thorough evaluation of their medical history to preclude underlying factors unrelated to infertility. In addition, an infertility specialist may subject a patient to a physical examination as well as require the patient to undergo sperm penetration tests, testicular biopsy, scrotal ultrasound, genetic tests, hormone tests, transrectal ultrasound, semen analysis, post-ejaculation urinalysis, and STI tests. This diagnostic process enables the  infertility doctor to prescribe the right medication or offer the patient proper advice on lifestyle/diet changes. It is also worth noting that at an infertility treatment center, an infertility doctor can surgically open blocked spermatic vessels or reverse vasectomies. Besides medications and surgery, a fertility doctor at a fertility clinic can use assisted reproductive technology (ART) to help couples conceive. ART involves extracting sperms surgically or via normal ejaculation and then inserting the same into the female genital tract.


The most common causes of infertility in men include celiac disease, infections, varicocele, sperm blockage and hormonal imbalances, undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) as well as diet and lifestyle choices. If you are suffering from any of these infertility problems, you should visit an infertility clinic today.The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says that men are the sole cause of infertility in 40% of all infertile couples in the US. Globally, one in every 20 men has some form of infertility, according to data published by Andrology Australia, a male reproductive health center based at Monash University, Australia. With that in mind, here is some more information about male infertility and the treatment options available:



The Many Benefits Of In-Home Senior Care Services

grandmotherPlacing a loved one in senior care is a distressing transition; a complete change from independence to dependence. Many seniors only need a few months of help to recover from surgery and could otherwise remain independent for many years afterward. Others simply find it less traumatic to ease into full-time care by taking this transitional step first. Senior care services come in many forms: here is an overview of what that might look like for a senior citizen in your life and why families should consider senior home care before a big move into full-time assisted living.


The Life You Know


Moving to a place where meals are cooked and cleaning is taken care of makes sense when a person’s range of movement is limited, pain is debilitating, or mental ability is not what it used to be. That is the cold hard truth, but what about truth for the senior in question? His home is important to him and to give it up is tough. It is unfair to rush the process when there is another answer.


Moreover, many elderly individuals will do just fine once an injury heals or will maintain a higher level of overall mental and physical health just by staying in the home they love. This is a sanctuary; a place where happy memories reside. Change is hard for anyone, but at an advanced age change becomes even harder. There is a way to put off that transition indefinitely, though, and it can be an affordable option.


Types of Senior Home Care


This is the in-between choice: a way of providing help without taking over a person’s entire world. Senior assistance can be as limited or as far-reaching as clients wish it to be while still allowing an elderly person to stay in her own home, perhaps with a spouse who needs a trained person with plenty of energy to help him look after an aging and much-loved partner.


Senior care services, like, include companionship, shopping, scrapbooking, and cleaning. There are nursing options, bathing support, cooking, and letter reading or writing services. Anything which reduces the stress of an ordinary task either by giving someone a helping hand or taking over a particular job (making the bed, doing the laundry) is a form of senior assistance.


In most instances, roles are filled for a few hours a few days weekly or every day. As such, the cost of assistance is much lower than that of full-time residence in a seniors’ care facility.


Choosing the Right Supports


When someone reaches an advanced age or is suffering from an illness which reduces his capacity to function fully, a social worker will come into the home and meet with him and close family members to decide what needs will have to be met and how best to meet them. Tax allowances and funding for senior support in the home should make the financial burden easier to meet. Health care agencies recognize the importance of home-based care and both in terms of their costs (it’s cheaper than being housed in hospital or a care home) and emotional benefits to the client. You don’t need to wait for social services either: take this step independently, with a spouse, or with the help of mature children.


A team is best suited to making this decision, however, because loved ones should vet individuals or service providers to ensure they are licensed, experienced, and loving. These people should be provided through accredited, insured businesses where training is provided and employees are carefully screened. Even if someone passes every test, the client and his or her family should make sure the individual is a good fit personality-wise with their beloved parent.

Motivating Your Child to Be Physically Active

children exerciseWith childhood obesity continuing to be a problem in America, it’s important for parents to acknowledge the need for their children to achieve an adequate level of exercise.

Childhood obesity often continues into adulthood — bringing with it high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and numerous other health issues. In 2012, 17% of children and teens aged 2-19 years were obese. That’s 12.7 million children facing a number of physical and psychological health problems in the future, if not already.

Though a variety of factors contribute to this problem, such as lack of access to grocery stores and community recreational areas for lower income families, an increase in physical activity is a simple and feasible way for children to prevent obesity and weight-related issues. As children over the past couple decades have continued to spend more and more time sitting idly in front of TV, computer, and cell phone screens instead of actively playing outside, it’s up to parents to encourage their young ones to exercise. For more information on how to ensure that your child is getting enough physical activity to prevent avoidable health problems in the future, here are the “what,” “why,” and “how” of childhood exercise:


While toddlers and preschoolers don’t have a prescribed amount of daily activity, they should be playing actively several times each day. Children who fall between the ages of 6 and 17 should be physically active for 60 minutes every day — and this can include walking to and from school, playing sports, or actively playing during recess or at home. Exercise should be appropriate for the child’s age; for example, don’t expect your 6-year-old to accompany you on your 3-mile jog. Instead, consider throwing a frisbee outside for a while.


Decreasing the risk of childhood obesity is only one benefit of regular physical activity. For younger children and babies, exercising regularly encourages healthy growth and development. For preschoolers and up, physical activity helps to build self-esteem and social skills, and maintain good health as well. Turning regular physical activity into a way of life ensures strong muscles and bones, improved balance and coordination, increased cognitive ability, and even the prevention of certain kinds of cancer. There are a multitude of reasons to motivate your child (and the rest of your family) to get some sort of exercise every day.


Many young children have already developed a routine of coming home from school and sitting in front of the television or computer for several hours. It’s not always easy to break this routine and motivate your child to get moving. Instead of just telling your child to go outside and play, try to get involved in their physical activity. Join them by going on a bike ride through the neighborhood together or playing basketball after dinner. Being a role model for your child will show them that you value healthy exercise, and being active with them will provide you with some priceless quality time together.

Additionally, if your child is particularly averse to being more physically active, you might find it easier to break up the recommended 60 minutes of exercise into pieces. For example: 10 minutes spent walking to school, 20 spent running around during recess, 10 minutes walking home from school, and 20 minutes of play in the afternoon or evening. Make sure your child has access to toys at home such as basketballs and jump ropes to help motivate exercise. You may also want to check with your child’s preschool or elementary school to see how they encourage exercise during the day. For example, this Independence MO day care center incorporates daily lesson plans into outdoor physical activity.


Lack of exercise is only one contributing factor to childhood obesity, but it is a factor that can be easily prevented in many cases by parents taking an initiative to encourage their children to be more active. Limiting time spent in front of the television and computer to 1 to 2 hours each day and making time for exercise will help to reduce the risk of obesity and many other health issues. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore — make it fun!