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Too Much TV for Your Child Could Lead to Cardiovascular Disease

Narrowing their blood vessels one cartoon at a time?

One of my main sources of mothering guilt is how much time my daughter spends watching television.

Mama needs a shower? Go watch Dora, sweetheart. Toddler tantrum time? Come sit here with mama and we’ll watch Bubble Guppies.

I don’t pop pills, I don’t drink during the day, it’s the TV that is my motherhood crutch.

It doesn’t surprise me that TV has an adverse affect on mental health, but physical health as well?  Maybe.  A new study says I’m probably aiding and abetting in the narrowing of my daughter’s blood vessels, one episode of Dora at a time.

Scientists in Australia studied 1,492 6-year-olds randomly selected from 34 schools in Sydney. The children’s parents completed questionnaires asking how much time their children spent in physical activities and how much time they spent in front of a TV or computer. Then the researchers examined the children’s eyes.

The children who spend more time in front of television and computer screens and less in outdoor physical activity have narrower blood vessels in their eyes. In adults, constricted blood vessels in the eyes have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The results for physical activity were similar: the eyes of children who exercised the least had the narrowest blood vessels. The reason is unclear.

“We don’t know what it means in children,” said Dr. Paul Mitchell, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Sydney and lead author of the study. “We have to follow them for much longer.”

The study was published on Thursday in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

I’m actually embarrassed to say how much television my daughter watches each day. What about you? If you show me yours I’ll show you mine!

Image: flickr.com/MoritzPeterson

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