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Dr. Matthew Baral advocates that optimal health starts at childhood, with proper nutrition and preventive medical care to avert many early childhood illnesses, conditions and behavioral disorders.

November 8, 2005
In 1960, only four percent of children in the U.S. were obese. Today that number has quadrupled. This information was presented in a speech made by Dr. Lester M. Crawford before the FTC/DHHS (Dept. of Health & Human Services), Acting Commission of Food and Drugs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To say it raises alarm regarding the state of health of many American children today is an understatement. According to Dr. Crawford's statistics, this means nine million obese children are developing potential risk factors for chronic illnesses that may reduce the length and quality of their lives. These children have higher chances of developing high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. Diabetes itself is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood.

Another health concern is Asthma. Asthma afflicts more than nine percent of the nation's children, or nearly five million youngsters. It is the leading cause of student absenteeism in the United States.*

These eye-opening statistics cover only a fraction of the number of prominent childhood health concerns today, but the list goes on and on.

Dr. Matthew Baral is a Naturopathic Physician with the College and Pediatric Supervising Physician at the Medical Center, applying his experience and expertise in providing natural and complementary therapies and treatments to children and adolescents. At the Medical Center, patients can get quality, general, primary medical care, but the focus of this naturopathic community is to also address nutritional needs and preventive medical care to help thwart development of many youth-related illnesses and disorders.

Dr. Baral advocates that optimal health starts at childhood, with proper nutrition and preventive medical care to avert many early childhood illnesses, such as asthma and diabetes, as well as other conditions such as obesity, ear infections, eczema, and behavioral disorders.

Problems can sometimes occur early-on once solid foods are introduced into the diet. Some children develop allergies and other adverse effects when ingesting certain foods or additives. At the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center, Dr. Baral works to identify food substances, additives and other environmental factors that may be contributing to illness and disorders in his young patients, and implementing naturopathic therapies to address and successfully treat same.

In addition to creating healthy digestive systems in children, through proper nutrition and allergy free food programs, Baral supports regular physical exercise for maximum benefits. "Spend less time in front of the TV and more time outdoors," says Dr. Baral. "Especially in Arizona, parents should be able to create outdoor interests for their children." Additionally, he suggests children should eat an equal balance between carbohydrates and proteins, small frequent meals and healthier snacks.

"Specific care for asthma would require a number of nutrients for children," says Baral. "These kids seem to be deficient in antioxidant vitamins, particularly selenium, zinc and Vitamins A and C. They are under greater oxidative stress." Supplements for a condition such as eczema might include essential fatty acids and probiotics." (Probiotics generally refers to dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria and yeasts.")

Dr. Baral was drawn to pediatrics because of the high success rate of healing children through natural treatments. "Pediatrics seems to be one of the most dynamic and exciting areas of naturopathic medicine," he says. "Children respond so much more quickly than adults to natural treatments, Their Vital Force is strong and new. They don't have the years of sedentary lifestyle and abuse to their bodies that many adults have."

Naturopathic pediatric care includes helping parents give their children the healthiest possible start in life. At Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Ariz. and its Medical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., a strong emphasis has been placed on preventative and nutritional therapies to support optimal and ongoing pediatric health. With dedicated and skillful Naturopathic Physicians like Matthew Baral, the bar continues to be raised in the practice of pediatric healthcare.

*Excerpt from National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) PR released 7/22/05, New School Policy Guide to Help Manage Children's Asthma Issued.

Matthew Baral, N.D., received his medical degree from Bastyr. He is Professor of Pediatrics and Nutrition in the didactic portion of the medical program at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Baral also serves as Medical Director of the Hamilton Elementary School Clinic, a free pediatric clinic for the medically underserved, and provides supervision to student clinicians on pediatric rotations at the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center. He has worked in conjunction with pediatricians in both the Seattle and Phoenix areas, applying natural therapeutics to children and adolescents. Dr. Baral is currently working on studies in Autism, heavy metal toxicity and gastrointestinal disorders at Southwest College Research Institute. He is a member of the Arizona branch of "Action for Healthy Kids"; serves on the Education Committee of the Holistic Pediatric Association; and is co-authoring a book on pediatric integrative medicine.

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