Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick-or-Treat caution

Last night, as I returned from trick-or-treat at my parents' house, I thought about all the Halloween hype and the real dangers of the holiday (we spent beggar's night at my parents' house because they had friends and family over for hot dogs and s'mores). In my opinion, parents need not worry much about poisonous candy and boogey-men but rather the simple dangers that are associated with young kids running around in the dark in floor-length costumes. Before your child heads out, ask yourself: What is the likelihood that a driver will see your child if she darts out in the street? Is your child carrying a flashlight? Is your child trick-or-treating in a well-lit area? Is your child wearing roller shoes? Is your child's costume hitting the ground, or is his mask making it hard for him to see where he is going? These concerns are the real concerns of trick-or-treating. I encourage everyone to be extra cautious this time of year as children are running around after dark, wearing dark-colored costumes, and lacking the proper gear (reflectors or a flashlight) for a night-time outing. 
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too sexy Halloween

With Halloween only a day away, many parents are scurrying to find their child a costume for the holiday. But their shopping might prove to be especially challenging as many of the costumes available are too sexy for their young one(s). 
Author and professor Diane Levin recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times about this concern.
Halloween costumes for 7- and 8-year-old girls and even younger have become downright titillating, and for tweens and teens, the vast majority of those sold in stores and on the Internet are unabashedly sexually alluring.
Little girls and their big sisters are being encouraged to get dressed up, in many cases, like child prostitutes. Then, they wander the night judging and being judged by their friends as to how well they meet the provocative standard and begging for candy from strangers.
This is a continuation of what's been going on for quite a while: Halloween costumes are reflecting an increasingly sexualized childhood.

So what is a parent to do?
Simply put, say NO!
Levin put it this way:
Say you go to a store with your 8-year-old and she's trying to get a sexy costume and you're insisting on something more wholesome. It's becoming a battle. You need to stop and ask, "What do you like about that costume?" She may say, "Jenny and Susie all have something like that and they'll think I'm a dork if I don't." And then you say, "But my concern is that that looks like a costume for an older person. It seems we need to find a costume where you feel OK and I feel OK. How about this one -- which looks a little sexy to me but I feel OK with it?"
The idea is to let kids know we're there, we hear them, we're going to influence what they're learning. But we're also going to respect their thinking. So when kids need our help, they're more likely to come to us.
I'm a big fan of this - talk to your child, listen to your child, respect your child, and try to find compromise. Sure, you might end up putting your foot down, but at least have a conversation with your child first. There is a lot both parent and child can learn from these situations, and ultimately, we want our children to be safe and to understand the importance of our concern(s) for them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

School for the Blind Marching Band

On Saturday my husband and I went to a pep rally before a college football game, and featured there was a group of amazing young people, The Ohio State School for the Blind. What is especially exciting about this school is that their marching band has been selected to march in the 2010 Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, California. Yes, folks, I said march. Assisted by sighted marchers, this band consisting of 17 members will be heading cross-country to be the first blind band to march in the legendary parade.
When I first learned of this, I was overcome with emotion. This is about young people doing amazing things, deserving amazing opportunities, and embarking on uncharted territory. You better believe that I will be looking for them on TV as I watch the 2010 parade, and I will be cheering them on from 3000 miles away!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Background TV not good for kids

In my seven months of motherhood, I have spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not I will allow my son to watch TV (movies and videos included), and if so, what limitations will I put on this privilege. Well the time has come for me to get serious about this decision. Just this morning I had my son in my arms, and as he fussed, I switched the TV from the Today show to the Disney Channel. I kid you not, my son was so enthralled in Handy Mandy that within minutes, he had fallen asleep. 
I was somewhat shocked by the effects of one program, but more than shocked, I was feeling guilty. I had used TV to put my child to sleep. And he's only a baby! And though I hate to admit it, this wasn't the first time that I have turned to the TV to entertain my son. 
Because I realize how easy it is to use the TV as a babysitter, child-calmer, and baby-soother, I decided to start thinking seriously about the issue and making some decisions. I imagine that I will allow him to watch some TV, but how much, I am still not sure. I am finding that it is not simply about what he watches. It's equally important that I consider what I am watching when he is present. Not only because of the PG-13 rated content of many shows and commercials, and the link to childhood obesity, but also because of the exposure to constant background noise.
According to a recent study, leaving the TV set on disrupts young children while they are playing and may be detrimental to a child's development. The study found that background TV disrupts the toy play of young children, even when they paid little attention to it; "when the television was on, the children played for significantly shorter periods of time and the time they spent focused on their play was shorter, compared to when the TV was off." According to the study's lead author, "Background TV is potentially a chronic environmental risk factor affecting most American children. Parents should limit their young children's exposure to background television."
Hhm. This complicates things. I not only need to consider limitations to my son's TV exposure but also for mine. And my husband's. Fortunately we only have one TV (and we plan on keeping it that way), but our house is small, and when the TV is on, it nearly fills the entire house with background noise. And I can't help but wonder if the constant background noise is a factor in the attention deficit disorders suffered by so many of our youth.
This recent study leaves me with more to think about as I decide what is best for my son. But more importantly, it leaves me with a challenge. Am I willing to sacrifice my own entertainment for the health and well-being of my son? I hope so (though easier said than done, I am sure).

Monday, October 27, 2008

A board game for parents

This is interesting: Parent Talk, a board game for parents about parenting. Parent Talk encourages communication between partners about how to raise their children. The players move through questions and scenarios that are designed to instigate discussion between family and friends. It's a fun, and hopefully light-hearted, way to get talking about many issues that you and your partner might not have thought about before having children.
Here is an example of one of the questions:
Your backyard is fenced in. Your 3-year-old loves to play outside. You have a lot to do inside. Do you let your child play outside alone?
a. You must be joking.
b. No! She is too young to be unsupervised even for a moment.
c. Only if I can keep an eye on her through the window.
d. Yes, if she has other children with her.
e. None of the above.
How would you answer? Do you know how your partner would answer? And if you and your partner disagree, can you find a compromise?
Parent Talk is a unique way for parents to tackle the many issues that confront parents who simply want to raise happy and healthy children.

Friday, October 24, 2008


The last couple of posts have been way too serious. Invite the kid in you to come out and play!
This is a safe and fun site for kids, too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More on the abortion debate

Alyssa's comment to my previous post prompted me to do more research on the subjects of abortion and Planned Parenthood. I realize that by expressing my frustration and disappointment with Planned Parenthood, I am leaving young women with no other options during their time of confusion, fear, and despair. If they cannot turn to Planned Parenthood, then where can they turn? Unfortunately, the answer is grim.
I tried to put myself in the shoes of a young girl, maybe 15-years-old, who just discovered that she is pregnant. After crying and freaking out, I think that I would start googling. 
So the first thing I googled was "abortion." The top three search results were as follows: Wikipedia,, and Planned Parenthood. Beyond that, there were a couple of other potential resources, but most of the results related to the medical definitions of abortion. 
I realize that Planned Parenthood is the most available, well-known, and reputable option. I think that is why I am so disappointed with them. And I'm disappointed in our society that there isn't a less biased resource available to women. Actually I wish that Planned Parenthood offered young people equal information and resources from both "sides." In other words, what if I am a young girl who believes that abortion is a sin. Who is going to talk me through that while respecting my beliefs? And maybe that's not the role of Planned Parenthood, but then how can they claim that they stand for knowledge, equality and choice? 
I had not heard of, but because they were the number two search result, I decided to check them out. is sponsored by Heritage House, a pro-life, pro-family, Christian organization. The information is strongly pro-life, and the site offers several hotlines and resources for women contemplating abortion. 
As stated by "Our mission is simple. We have brought together quality information on the abortion debate from many different sources and made it available to the world in one abortion megasite. We believe these facts point to an obvious conclusion. You are free to accept or reject this conclusion. We simply ask that whatever you do, do it on the basis of fact."
One of the site's links is to OptionLine. OptionLine offers the opportunity to reach a consultant 24-hours a day via phone, email or instant message. According to OptionLine, available consultants will connect individuals to nearby pregnancy centers that offer the following confidential services:
  • free pregnancy tests and pregnancy information
  • abortion and Morning After Pill information, including procedures and risks
  • medical services, including STD tests
  • early ultrasounds and pregnancy confirmation
  • confidential pregnancy options
  • after Abortion resources including community resources that help with post-abortion concerns
Unfortunately, is not well-known, reputable or user-friendly. The site is poorly constructed and hard to read. I would love to find a balance between Planned Parenthood and - a thriving and approachable resource that truly provides EVERYTHING a young woman needs during such a difficult and potentially life-changing time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Planned Parenthood: Not Recommended.

Abortion has and always will be a hot topic surrounded by an enormous amount of debate, and I am extremely hesitant as I consider leaving this post knowing that the word alone is enough to fire people up. But I have a thing or two to say regarding this issue, so at the risk of stirring the pot, here I go.
The abortion debate is making headlines in my state of Ohio as the Ohio Supreme Court is called to determine whether or not Planned Parenthood systematically ignored evidence of abuse against girls who visited Planned Parenthood's 37 Ohio clinics for abortions. These allegations stem from a 2004 case when "a 14-year-old girl showed up at a Cincinnati abortion clinic accompanied by a 21-year-old who was not her relative." The 14-year-old went to a Planned Parenthood clinic with her 21-year-old soccer coach who had impregnated her. The girl identified him as her step-brother, and she gave the clinic her coach's number saying it was her father's. The coach used his credit card to pay for the abortion. The coach was later convicted of seven counts of sexual battery.
The fact that Planned Parenthood fell for the ruse suggests that its staff and doctors are willing to overlook evidence of abuse. Planned Parenthood approved the child for the abortion overlooking several red flags that should have caused them to suspect statutory rape.
I'm not going to further discuss this issue because it disgusts me to no end. But the story did spark a desire in me to better understand the parent consent laws in my state (they vary from state to state).
In the State of Ohio, a minor must receive parental consent in order to receive an abortion. It's very hard for me to believe that this consent can be given over the phone, but as in the case cited above, it happens - wow. 
While researching this issue, I came across a resource developed by Planned Parenthood for teens: I really want to support a resource that offers teens sex education because I believe that talking with our kids about sex is important. But Planned Parenthood's site rubs me the wrong way. They throw out phrases such as, "the best way to protect yourself is to get a prescription from a health center or private health care provider before an accident happens," and "most women, in the long-term, experience feelings of relief after they have an abortion." Um, excuse me? The best way to protect yourself is called ABSTINENCE. Who are these yahoos? I'm not a proponent of abstinence-only education, but let's get real here, it is the only surefire way to avoid STD's and pregnancy. Geesh. And what about this "relief after an abortion" b.s.? Sure, I imagine that there is an element of relief that many women experience, but the women that I know who have had an abortion struggle continuously with that decision. And by continuously, I mean they have struggled for YEARS.
I wish that I could support Planned Parenthood's efforts, but I'm so disappointed by their pro-abortion and pro-sex philosophies. Sure, they can argue that they present facts and education, but anyone who has a brain can see that what they present is hardly unbiased. 
I want to believe that Planned Parenthood offers young women with everything that they need during such a difficult time: facts, counseling, prayer, resources, love, support, truth. But sadly, my research leads me to believe that they don't. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't believe everything you hear as Halloween draws near.

October 31st is approaching which means it is almost time for us to send our children out collecting treats only to make them dump everything onto the living room floor so that we can sort through it all. Throw out any candy that appears partially opened, and most certainly dispose of anything that has been repackaged or hand-baked! Oh, and take test bites of each individual candy in case someone buried a razor blade in one of them. 
Every year, I receive Watch-Out! emails from friends and family that basically say the same thing - bad people want to poison and hurt your children so don't let them eat any candy that resembles x,y, or z. 
Sure enough, I received my first Watch-Out! email this morning.
This particular email claimed that the local sheriff's office is urging parents to be suspect of a drug called Strawberry Quick. The "alert" was printed on professional letterhead, and it contained information about a form of crystal meth that looks and smells like strawberry candy. There was even a link to a Fox News article that covered the dangers of this drug. 
I am always suspect of these emails, and thanks to a colleague of mine, I have discovered Let me make one thing clear: is not the absolute when it comes to uncovering the truth about suspicious information and rumor. simply investigates seemingly harmless rumors and attempts to set the record straight.
In the case of Straweberry Quick, Snopes validates that some drug dealers sell crystal meth that is colored and coincidentally resembles Pop Rocks, but Snopes argues that this drug is not flavored in order to market the drug to children. Snopes backs up this information by uncovering the layers of updates and email examples that have been floating around in cyberspace attempting to freak out parents everywhere.
Let me be clear, there is always the possibility that some bad man could candy-coat crystal meth and drop it in your child's trick-or-treat bucket. But the reality is that there are more "bad" people who instigate a seemingly harmless email chain of false information than there are "bad" people who are really going to seriously harm your child. Some immature and computer savvy teenager probably thinks it's funny to send out a spooky email in order to ruffle a few feathers. 
Again is not the end-all-be-all. But it is a good place to start when you are wondering if maybe someone is trying to get a rise out of the public during an already eerie time of year.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mighty Mommy

Whenever I have a grammar question, the first website that I turn to is always Grammar Girl. Hosted by Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl tackles grammar and writing in a way that is accurate, witty and funny. Her grammar tips are "quick and dirty," and her claim-to-fame is her "Quick and Dirty Tips" podcasts. 
In addition to grammar galore, her site features quick and dirty parenting tips from The Mighty Mommy. Each week, host CJ Feierabend shares her practical parenting advice in short podcasts. Feierabend offers tips from diapering to taking family photos. In addition to downloading the podcasts, one can read the entire episode transcripts online. 
Mighty Mommy is a great resource for moms-on-the-go who could use parenting advice (can't we all?) but don't spend a lot of time reading online. Simply download the podcasts and listen to them when you are squeezing in a morning jog or driving across town to pick up the kids.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mommy Einstein

According to an article in The Sun, Babies aid mothers' brains. Though many moms-to-be report suffering from "baby brain" (forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, etc.), experts now believe that when baby is born, mom's intelligence soars. The study performed tests on rats that showed mom rats became braver and faster once becoming a mommy. Experts believe that during pregnancy, mom's brain is rewiring to cope with motherhood, and it is when baby is born that mom receives her IQ boost.
But scientifically proven or not, mom's have a remarkable ability to successfully juggle meal planning, house cleaning, baby rearing, schedule planning, spouse maintaining, and the list goes on - moms certainly don't need a rat to tell them that they are brilliant!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Veggies and Fruit and Nutrition, Oh my!

In conjunction with a grant from Ohio Action for Healthy Kids, a local elementary school initiated a "Take a Taste" program which gives children a chance to sample different fruits and vegetables. The monthly program offers elementary school children a taste of healthy foods that they might not typically find in an ordinary snack pack. The goal is to increase nutrition in young people by exposing them to a variety of nutritious foods. School is a great lab for this program because healthy kids equates to more on-task, alert, and energized students. What a wonderful and fun way to invest in a child's healthy and education!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teens, Text, Talk, Drive

UPDATE: To see related post by same author, please check out BlogMommas.

Last week I published a post discussing Ford's MyKey programmable computer chip which allows parents to limit their teen driver's speed. I like the idea, and I said that I would like it even more if it somehow disrupted the teen driver's cell phone signal so that he/she could not talk or text while driving. 
Well ask and you shall receive! This morning I read an article about a device that would do just that.
Nationwide Insurance Co. has teamed up with Aegis Mobility, and they hope to offer a service next year that "informs a caller or texter that the intended recipient is driving and can't be reached at the moment. Meanwhile, the driver would be oblivious to the call and free to focus on driving."
DriveAssist is a downloadable software that uses motion-sensing technologies to determine when someone is driving (the service can be disabled if the user is a passenger). With DriveAssist, callers can leave a voice mail, send an emergency alert, have the call connected when the driver is done, or even find out where the driver is located. The software offers flexibility by allowing the driver to make 911 calls and allow some numbers to always come through.
So far no cell-phone carriers have signed on to provide the service, but Aegis is hoping to launch DriveAssist next year. Though the price will depend on the provider, it is expected to cost between $10 and $20 a month (a bit pricey, if you ask me).
What a great way to insure that your son or daughter is faced with one less distraction while on the road.
For more information, check out this video.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Drive through flu shots

Often I roll my eyes at our culture's demand for convenience. I could literally spend the entire day in my car - not getting out once - and still accomplish A LOT. A productive yet staionary day could look like this: drive through for coffee, drive through the bank, drive through the pharmacy, drive through for lunch, drive through the dry cleaners, drive through for a daiquiri (only in Louisiana), drive through the library book drop-off, and pick up dinner curb-side. Whether it's our increasing "drive" for cramming more into our already over-scheduled day or just sheer laziness, America has found a way to make almost everything quicker and more convenient.
And in an effort to stay active and have real interactions with human beings, I try and avoid the drive-through whenever I can (but it's so darn easy to simply drive through when I need a diet coke). 
But there is a drive-through initiative that I can support: drive through flu shots! That is one cause that really is better when made easier!
Face it, no one wants to get their flu shot. Sure they want to be healthy and stay healthy, but a needle in the arm? No thanks. So in an effort to make this less-than-desirable task easier, many groups have worked towards making this less of a hassle and more of a convenience.
Most of us have been to the grocery store when it's announced that flu shots are available near the pharmacy, but now there isn't even a need to get out of your car!  
I first heard about this in my own community. Our county's health board is offering flu shots for a minimal fee at a nearby park. All they ask is that you wear short-sleeves so that your shot can be administered with your window rolled down as you remain seated in your car. Can you believe this? 
I then googled "drive through flu shots," and found that this is a nationwide trend. "Clinics" are popping up all around the country. Many of these clinics offer free shots to individuals on Medicare and Medicaid stating that no one will be turned away for the inability to pay. Wow - how awesome. Efficient and cost-effective! 
If you are interested in driving through for your flu shot, I encourage you to google "drive through flu shots" and the name of your city. 
Because I would feel guilty if I wasn't completely honest, I must admit that I never get a flu shot. I might get a cold a couple of times a year, but that's about it. I have my reasons for not getting the shot, but I'm not a physician, so this certainly isn't my recommendation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommend that most people get a flu shot, especially people over 50, children ages 6 months and older, and women who are pregnant. For a complete list of Who Should Get Vaccinated and Who Should Not Be Vaccinated, check out the CDC's website
I should also note that there is now a nasal-spray flu vaccine available and is approved for use in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant. To my knowledge, FluMist is not available at drive-through clinics, and usually FluMist is only offered per request at your doctor's office.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vitamin D & Kids

A recent report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doubling the amount of vitamin D consumption for infants, children and adolescents. It recommends that all children receive 400 IU of vitamin D a day. 
According to the AAP's website: "adequate vitamin D throughout childhood may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In adults, new evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a role in the immune system and may help prevent infections, autoimmune diseases, cancer and diabetes." Additionally, it is recommended that children receive daily supplements of vitamin D as most children do not get enough vitamin D through diet alone.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Children & Cars

A nearby community suffered a great loss over the weekend when a young boy was struck and killed by a driver in a parking lot. The tragedy occurred during a morning of sports games at a local sports field. The young boy (4-years-old) was leaving a youth league football game with his family (his father is a coach) when he was struck by a pickup truck that was driving in the crowded parking lot. The boy was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead. 
This incident is especially concerning because of the environment in which it occured. I would hope that drivers in a youth field parking lot would be especially cautious knowing how many children are running around. I would also hope that drivers would be driving slowly so that if an accident did occur, the impact would be minimal. And this little guy was with his family, meaning that his parents were present, and I imagine that other adults were nearby when the accident happened.
But this tragedy demonstrates that you can never be too careful. These things happen so quickly, and I imagine that the many cars and people in the parking lot had something to do with the likelihood of this accident. 
There is a national organization that aims to prevent accidents like this. Kids and Cars' mission is "to assure no child dies or is injured in a non-traffic, motor vehicle related event." They believe that these types of accidents are preventable, and they offer valuable resources geared toward preventing a child from being injured or killed. They offer specific resources including information regarding the following topics:
  • Backed Over by Vehicle (Backovers)
  • Hit By Vehicle Moving Forward (Frontovers)
  • Car Theft With Child In Vehicle
  • Children Left in Vehicle (Heat Stroke Or Hyperthermia)
  • Incidents Involving Power Windows
  • Vehicle Set in Motion by a Child
  • Underage Drivers
I urge everyone to peruse the Kids and Cars website - these incidents truly are easily preventable.
*I realize that some of the above statements might seem blameful, and I realize that this incident was merely an accident. I only point out that the situation appeared to be harmless because it helps us to understand how even "safe" situations can have unexpected and serious concerns.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cold meds update

Less than a week after the FDA reported that they saw little evidence that over-the-counter cold medications work in children under 6-years-old (but fearing that parents would give kids adult medicines if the products were taken off store shelves), drug companies conceded that children under four should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold remedies. Pediatricians have asked that the drug companies take this one step further by ceasing all marketing of these medications to children under six.
According to an article Tuesday in the AP, drug companies stated that this warning, along with a warning to parents to not give children antihistamines to make them sleepy, will appear on the medications' labels this cold season.
The AP article offered these additional tips for giving cough and cold medicine to children (source: Consumer Healthcare Products Association):

Parents should never:
  • Give adult medicines to a child.
  • Give two or more medicines with the same ingredients at the same time.
  • Give antihistamines to make a child sleepy.
Parents should:
  • Give the exact recommended dose, using the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Keep OTC medicines out of sight and out of reach.
  • Consult their doctor if they have any questions.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Learning from dad

I am constantly having conversations with moms who feel guilty. Guilty that they didn't spend enough time with one of their children. Guilty that they didn't get the laundry and cooking and cleaning done that day. It truly amazes me that moms constantly judge themselves when, let's face it, moms are accomplishing a crazy amount more than anyone gives them credit for.
But how often do you hear a dad express these same feelings of guilt? Not often. Men are definitely wired differently than women, and there might be a few things that women can learn from them regarding this cloud of guilt. offered these three suggestions:
  • Dads don't try to do it all. Men don't attempt to work full-time, be the primary caregiver to the kids, cook dinner, maintain the home, socialize with their friends and make time for their spouse. They just don't carry those expectations for themselves, plain and simple.
  • Dads don't feel guilty when they take time for themselves. Men seem to constantly be looking for ways to squeeze in a round of golf or a poker night with their buddies. And when these opportunities arise, they don't think twice about having some me-time.
  • Dads don't blame themselves for everything. When his little one hits another kid at playgroup, dad doesn't analyze his parenting and blame himself for this otherwise normal childhood occurrence. 
So how can us moms be more like the dads? Well, try not to check EVERYTHING off your list everyday. Sure, it's important to get things accomplished, but what's the big deal if you leave one or two things unchecked? And indulge in me-time when you have time (and if you don't have time, make time!). The more refreshed you are, the better off you are as a mom. And finally, embrace what are normal childhood situations. Just accept the fact that your child is going to do something embarrassing and outlandish; it's just a fact of life and not a result of your parenting skills.
Don't get me wrong, I do it too. I read a friend's blog or listen to a friend's story, and I think to myself, "ugh - how is she doing it all?" But just when I think I'm less than superior, I check in with my fatherhood-is-treating-me-well-husband and he reminds me that he hasn't picked up a broom in months and that round of golf he played on Saturday felt great. And when I ask him if he feels the slightest bit of guilt when our son has a 45-minute meltdown before bedtime, he gives me this quizzical look and asks, "why would I feel guilty?"

Parental control

So what do you think of this idea: Device will help parents limit teen drivers?
Apparently, Ford Motor Co. is rolling out a new feature called "MyKey" on many of its 2010 models. MyKey, a programmable computer chip in the car's key, is designed for parents who want to limit their teen drivers to 80 mph. Additionally, the computer chip allows the parent to limit the system's volume and to enable a function that sounds continuous alerts if the driver doesn't wear a seat belt.
Ford's director of electronic and electrical systems engineering put it this way, "Our message to parents is, hey, we are providing you some conditions to give your new drivers that may allow you to feel a little more comfortable in giving them the car more often."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "more than 5,000 U.S. teens die each year in car crashes. The rate of crashes, fatal and nonfatal, per mile driven for 16-year-old drivers is almost 10 times the rate for drivers ages 30 to 59."
I like this "MyKey" idea. I would like it even more if it somehow disrupted the teen driver's cell phone signal so that he/she could not talk or text while driving. And so that I could still talk to my son even with his cell phone disengaged, allow the parent hands-free audio access into the vehicle so that I could still get ahold of my child to tell him things like, "don't forget, curfew's 11:00pm," or "if you stop by that party then you can kiss Homecoming goodbye." Not to worry, I have fifteen years before my child(ren) will be driving so there is plenty of time for the invention of these nifty enhancements. In the meantime, I am going to pray that I do not become that crazy, overbearing, always-nagging, helicopter parent that I so loathe.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SIDS update

This month the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published a study suggesting that using a fan while a baby is sleeping appears to significantly cut the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. 
According to the study, fan use during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in SIDS risk. The reduction in SIDS risk seemed more pronounced in adverse sleep environments. For example, fan use in warmer room temperatures was associated with a greater reduction in SIDS risk compared with cooler room temperatures. The study concluded that fan use may be an effective intervention for further decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.
According to the study's lead researcher, Dr. De-Kun Li,  fan use increases air movement in a baby's bedroom that could protect babies from re-breathing carbon dioxide. "If parents want to take an extra measure, they should consider using a fan," he said. But he stressed that using a fan isn't a substitute for placing babies on their backs to sleep.
The frightening thing about SIDS is that there is no known cause, only known risk factors.
The risk factors include: 
  • Tummy or side sleeping
  • Soft sleep surfaces 
  • Loose bedding
  • Overheating
  • Smoking (both mothers who smoke during pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke)
  • Bed sharing
  • Preterm and low birth weight infants
I commend researchers and advocates for working so diligently to better understand this syndrome which is the leading cause of death in children under one year old. Thanks to their efforts, the SIDS incidence has decreased drastically from 1980, when out of 1000 live births, 1.5 babies died, to now, out of 1000 live births, only 0.5 die from SIDS. That is a tremendous and successful effort for which I am truly grateful.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Child Health Day

Today is the 80th annual Child Health Day, a health awareness day initiated by the Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Child Health Day's tagline is Eat Healthy & Be Active for a Healthy Future
As part of the initiative, the surgeon general asks everyone to take this pledge because "a healthy future is our gift to our children":
I pledge to:
Be a role model by making healthy choices for myself.
Help children be physically active through everyday play and participation in sports.
Support children's healthy eating habits.

The initiative cites that 1 in 6 U.S. children between 2 and 19 is overweight (that is roughly 12.5 million children or 17 percent). Overweight children are at greater risk for many serious health problems including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. 
The Child Health Day website is packed with resources, information, and relevant links. I am especially fond of the site's resources pertaining to community involvement. Too many times people turn a blind eye to issues related to children because they do not have children of their own (I have heard, all too often, individuals in my community say, "I'm not voting in favor of that school levy because I don't have any children"). But I believe that we should all be invested in the next generation regardless.
Here are a few of my favorite community involvement suggestions:
  • Increase the "Walkability" of your community. I live in a community full of bike paths, parks, and green space (roughly one acre of park space for every 40 residents). In addition to backyards and sidewalks, there is a bounty of run-around space.
  • Increase the number of places people can get healthy food they can afford. I love this idea but I know how difficult it is. Fast-food is convenient and cheap, but it often lacks nutrition. One idea is to host a farmer's market in your community. I think every community should have a farmer's market. My community does not offer a farmer's market, and I think that is ridiculously unbalanced considering my community is resourceful, loaded with "green space," and surrounded by farm land. But don't worry, I have contacted my city's community services department regarding my concern and disappointment.
  • Build and keep up community recreation areas. My community has a beautiful recreation facility, and I am grateful to its investors for the development and maintenance of the facility. A rec facility is one of the best investments that a community can make as it offers a place for physical activity, recreation and community involvement AND it can be a source of income for the community if the facility has space for performances and workshops.
I encourage everyone to take a minute to consider the health and well-being of a child. You will be giving a gift not only to the next generation but to generations to come.

FDA for Kids

Yesterday I was putzing around the Food and Drug Administration's website when I found their Kids' Home Page. The kids' web page lacks upmh and appears dated, but it does offer some great information for children and adults.  
Allow me to highlight a few of my favorite links from the site:
  • Food Safety Quiz - Questions about properly handling raw chicken, defrosting meat, and packing a lunch (the quiz only contains five questions - it could use more substance)
  • Pet ownership information including Are You Ready to Own a Dog & Provide a Safe Home for Your Pet - Both resources are good starting points for a child who wants a pet, but I think both pages need to be beefed up a bit.
  • FDA in the News - Offers brief statements about different FDA news stories relevant to children
Overall, the information provided on the kids site is informative, but the FDA might invite a considerable amount of additional traffic if they invested in making the site "cool." It could use better graphics and a more interactive layout. I believe that an FDA kids site is important because the FDA is a key player in our child's health and well-being. In the meantime, allow your child to check out the current site, and encourage him/her to send feedback to the FDA's webmaster about the website. Kids know what they want in a web page; let their voice be heard.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cold meds: Still no answer.

The Food and Drug Administration is still not ready to ban cough and cold medicines for young children, according to a hearing on Thursday. Their biggest concern is that a ban on children's medication might result in parents giving adult medication to their children.
The head of the FDA's Office of New Drugs stated, "we do not want to do something that we think will have a positive impact, only to have an unintended negative. That could be an even worse situation." But many pediatricians are urging the FDA to take action as cold season is right around the corner.
The FDA did make a statement earlier this year warning against giving over-the-counter cold medicines to children younger than 2. Yet the agency is currently seeking more advice and research (particularly studies involving children) before making a finite decision on the children's medication. In general, the concern is not low doses of the medication but the risk from unintentional overdoses.
In the meantime, most doctors recommend rest and plenty of fluids to cure the common cold, even in children. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Read for the Record

Today is Jumpstart's Read for the Record Day. The campaign is designed to "bring attention to the importance of early education." Jumpstart encourages children and adults to read the same book on the same day with a goal of making early education a priority while breaking a world record for the largest shared reading experience.
Today's Read for the Record book is Don Freeman's 1968 children's book, Corduroy. In addition to recruiting adults and children to read Corduroy, Jumpstart is also asking for donations in order to put books into the hands of at-risk preschool children.
Jumpstart works "toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed." Jumpstart believes that every child has the potential to succeed academically, and with the involvement of a caring adult, children can reach their potential. Jumpstart brings together at-risk preschoolers and caring adults to build literacy skills.
Take a moment to read with a child today, and log your participation at Jumpstart's Read for the Record website.