Friday, May 15, 2015

Cancer From Soda?

A new report from Johns Hopkins University found that dark sodas may contain a carcinogenic compound known as 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MEI.  The agent is known to cause cancer, and researchers found that a single 12 ounces may contain as much as 353 micrograms of 4-MEI.  Though the FDA has no official guidelines on what is considered safe, California passed a law requiring any product with 29 micrograms or more to carry a cancer warning.

Click here for more health and medical information.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bits of Wisdom:

What it means to be free
“Freedom ultimately means the right of other people to do things that you do not approve of. Nazis were free to be Nazis under Hitler. It is only when you are able to do things that other people don't approve that you are free.”
- Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writing the The Las Vegas Review Journal (12-5-08)

Importance of Parental Acceptance
“A child needs to see a parent in the most positive light possible, even if you have to cushion the blows - just because you know better. ...Every child wants – needs - to feel loved by both parents; that is the way a human being comes to know that he is lovable, worthy of inhaling and exhaling, of walking the face of the Earth.”
- Hara Estroff Marano, responding to a letter about why a child would continually seek the affection and attention of an abusive and neglectful mother, in Psychology Today (April 2008)

Letting your guard down
“When a situation feels dangerous to you, it's probably more safe than you know; when a situation feels safe, that is precisely when you should feel on guard.”
- Tom Vanderbilt in ‘Traffic: Why we Drive the Way We Do’

Cell Phones & Driving
“In 2004, a young woman, distracted by her cellphone, ran a red light and killed my 12-year-old son, Joe. The driver, a good person, was on the phone with her church, where she volunteered with kids Joe's age. I am convinced if she knew of the danger, or if there was a law in place, she would not have been using her phone while driving and my son would be alive today."
-David Teater, writing in USA Today (7-29-09)

Marital Partnership
“We expect one person to give us what an entire community used to-family life and stability and economic support and be a trusted confidant and a passionate lover and experience adventure with the same person.”
- Esther Perel, a couples and family therapist in New York City, writing on unrealistic ideals that get many couples into trouble, in USA Today (7-1-08)

Monday, April 20, 2015

E-cigaret Danger to Teens

E-cigarets have surged in popularity over recent years.  Largely because people assume them to be a safe alternative to cigarets. Yet a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine casts serious doubts on the claim: it found that e-cigaret vapor often contains formaldehyde levels that are up to 15 times greater than that found in traditional cigarets.

"It has the potential to distribute deeply into the lungs and collect there," say lead researcher David Peyton, nor are e-cigs likely to help you stop smoking.  Since they deliver such high concentrations of nicotine, it's very easy for people to become addicted.

This may help explain the sky-rocking use of e-cigarets among young people, many of whom try "vaping" at a party or from a friend who smokes.  E-cigs have an added technological lure to them, making them seem interesting, and potentially driving many more kids to experiment.

According to a new report from the CDC, the percentage of teens using these cigarets tripled between 2014 and 2014.  Overall, the study found that 13.4% of high school students used e-cigarets in 2014, up from 4.5% in 2013 and just 1.5% in 2011.  Use by middle-schoolers increased from 1.1% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014.  Since 90% of addicted smokers first started in adolescence, have a frank talk with you child about smoking -- no matter what form it takes.

Learn more about teen life issues.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Missing Kids Found Chilling Out in Front of a TV

In Johnston, Iowa, the frantic search for two young boys that were reported missing on Tuesday ended when the youngsters were found . . . watching TV by themselves in a neighbor's house.  The kids admitted they had let themselves in through an unlocked back door.  If only all missing child stories could end like this -- with parents being the ones wanting to strangle the child.

For tips on child abduction prevention visit

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Carbon Monoxide Kills Family

A lack of power may have led to the deaths of seven children from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Police discovered the bodies of Eric Todd, 36, along with his seven children on April 6, 2015, all dead of apparent Carbon Monoxide poisoning.  Police found a gas generator in the kitchen that had run out of fuel.  The two boys and five girls ranged in ages from 6 to 13, and appeared to have died in their sleep.

Let this be a reminder to everyone else: make sure your home has carbon monoxide detectors, since this orderless invisible gas kills between 400 and 500 people each year.  You can find additional tips on protecting your family from this threat in our section on carbon monoxide poisoning in our online child safety book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Police Stalk Free Range Kids

Danielle & Sasha Meitiv, a free range parent who had previously made headlines when the came under CPS scrutiny for letting their two kids, ages 6 and 10, walk through the park alone are back in the news again.  Several weeks ago the state had ruled them responsible  for "unsubstaniated child neglect" in the original incident.  On Sunday afternoon Montongomery County Police found the kids at the park again and turned them over to CPS.  Apparently, when the police aren't busy engaging in target practice with unarmed black men, they have nothing better to do than stalk children in the park to make sure that free range parents aren't letting their youngsters have any fun independent of adult supervision.  After being held prisoner for 1/2 a day, the children were released to their parents at 10:30 pm that night.

We'll say it once again: by harassing and traumatizing children for doing what we all did just a couple of decades ago, the Montgomery County Human Services Department has shown themselves to be a group of sociopath child molesters who care nothing about the actual welfare of children. (Read our previous article on free range parenting, which discusses this case, and read our previous blog post in January.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tainted Breast Milk

A study by Sara Keim published in the April 6th issues of Pediatrics found that 10 out of 102 breast milk samples that were purchased online contained 10% or more cow's milk, potentially putting lactose intolerant infants at risk.  The samples analyzed came from several sites, including the Breast, Eats on Feets, and Human Milk 4 Human Babies.  In a previous study using the same samples (all purchased in 2012), Sara and her teem at Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Center in Columbus found 75% of samples were contaminated with virus or bacteria. (This isn't necessarily as alarming as it sounds; people in general harbor bacteria and viruses so any time you have a human fluid packaged and shipped by humans, it's bound to contain bacteria from time to time.)

The researchers used a molecular test to determine the amount of cow's milk, which suggested a notable number of the sellers intentionally added cows milk or infant formula to the breast milk. An online donor is a complete unknown, and it is hard to determine if the sellers would be entirely honest about their product. This illustrates the need for parents to be cautious about their supplier, especially if your baby has cow milk allergy.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Man Made Earthquakes

Gas extraction can trigger earthquakes, a fact firmly established since 1993. In the province of Groningen, an area of the Netherlands, rich in gas resources, but inhabited by many who are poor, residents are coming face to face with this unfortunate reality.

Whenever resources are extracted from the earth, the land will slowly cave in.  But since the ground doesn’t give way at the same speed, tension builds up in fault lines and leads to earthquakes.  In places where fracking occurs, this can also add to the stress, since it involves blasting high pressure water into the ground to shatter plates of rock to release the gas or oil trapped within, which further destabilizes fault lines.

Though gas drilling related earthquakes are typically minor in magnitude, (usually no more than a 2 or 3 on the Richter scale), they can cause significant damage when they happen so often.  Last year, residents in Groningen where hit with 84 earthquakes.  A resident states that “we know exactly when a new earthquake starts.  First there is a distant rumbling, then everything starts shaking.  It always ends with the house making a scary creaking sound, as if we’re on a ship.” 1

People are seeing cracks on the floors, walls, and foundations of their house.  Homes throughout the region have collapsed or been declared uninhabitable, and those that that are still structurally sound cannot sell.  More than 33 thousand claims of damage to homes have been filed since 2012, and an additional 50 thousand properties are expected to need repair in the future.

This area saw a 3.6 in magnitude quake in 2012 that shook residents.  A recent report from the Dutch government says that while gas companies have been minimizing the danger of earthquakes, these tremors are expected to grow in intensity, and quakes of a magnitude 5 or more are possible if production continues at it’s current rate.  “It showed us that official institutions have been lying to us, as they always told us such heavy quakes would never be possible,” says one resident.  Its a lesson in profit politics that we should all pay attention to.

You may say, that this is far away.  Why worry?  The same is happening here.  Oklahoma, where earhquakes were unheard of 25 years ago, has had 1,702 earthquakes in the past year.  The cause is believed to be wastewater injection wells which are pumping fracking fluid back into the ground to dispose of it.  USGS researchers have said reactivated faults in Oklahoma could be capable of causing large seismic events. The research was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.  Over the past six years, the rate of 3.0 magnitude and higher earthquakes in Oklahoma has been 300 times higher than in previous decades.

1. Emile Kossn, “Midtown Terrorized by Tremors,” USA Today, 2/19/2015, p. 5A
2. Paul Monies, "New earthquake Hazard Maps in Development for Oklahoma," The Oklahoman, 3/19/2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BPA And Your Blood Pressure

Most of you are aware of the concerns over the plastic additive Bisphenol-A.  (If  not, read our information on BPA) Adding to the mix of cautionary reports, a new study has found that eating food from BPA lined aluminum cans can cause your systolic blood pressure to spike 4.5 points.  Aluminum canned goods are lined with a plastic coating which contains BPA. This is meant to keep aluminum from leaching into the food.  But this causes BPA to leech into the food instead.  Your best bet? Eat fresh veggies whenever possible, and try to limit the consumption of canned and other plastic lines goods.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Peanuts For Babies

I'm sure you've heard the recent new reports.  Researchers are now proposing feeding peanuts to babies.  This comes form a new study published on February 23rd, 2015, in the New England Journal of  Medicine which adds to the growing evidence that it’s not just Ok, but actually healthful to give young children peanuts to protect against future allergies.

In the study, babies that were regularly fed small amounts of peanuts in their infancy for at least 4 years cut their risk of future peanut allergy by 81 percent compared to kids who avoided peanuts.  The authors still caution that the first few times you give a baby peanuts should be in a pediatricians office under a Doctors supervision just in case your child happens to be severely allergic.

But this is good news for kids, and will perhaps stop the growing numbers of children who develop peanut allergies.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Free Range Parenting; Good or Bad

In the past few weeks, there have been several cases in which families who follow free range parenting (a philosophy that believes in allowing children the freedom to explore and develop autonomy) have found themselves in potential legal trouble for giving their children some leeway to explore.  In one case, a South Carolina mom was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old to play alone at the park.  In Maryland, a couple was reported for allowing their children to freely roam the neighborhood. And just recently another mother found herself dealing with a police officer when she let her kids out alone. “All we did was let our kids go to the park,” she says, adding that CPS threatened her by saying that if she didn’t sign a parenting plan agreeing to keep the kids under direct supervision at all times, “we’re going to take the kids.”

Life is full of relative risk, and absolute safety is an illusion. While an unsupervised child is certainly more vulnerable to being picked up by a predator should one be lurking nearby, these type of high profile abductions are also extremely rare.  Too put things in perspective, the choice to put your child inside a car is  is hundreds or even thousands of times more likely to lead to their demise.  So should CPS also investigate parents and threaten to snatch their children away when they drive their kids to school? 

Risk from life cannot be eliminated.  Everything in life has potential benefits and potential risks, but if you try to eliminate risk by constraining a child, you also forgo it’s benefits.  And many people don’t realize that these days just as many young children are dying from obesity related medical complications as are meeting their doom in the type of nightmarish incident parents dread, and the obesity epidemic is at least partially related to parents promoting lifestyles that keep kids restricted and immobile.

Research tends to support the idea of  free range parenting.  Kids get more exorcise, they play more  creatively, and they develop more competence and better social skills.  The literature on overprotective parenting is not so supportive.  Overprotected children exhibit higher rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and frustration.  They tend to struggle a lot more with adversity in life.  They aren’t as happy and develop more psychological disorders.  So the fact that the CPS bureaucracy is now aiming their weapons at families who are arguably doing everything right is more than a little concerning.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Is Your Password Doing It's Job?

Lately there have been many news reports of stolen data, usually stolen from a large store, or even a bank.  So you may need to change your passwords more frequently than you would like.  But despite all the warnings about the importance of passwords, and all the security breaches that have happened, research by SplashData reveals that “123456” was the most common password in 2014.  This was followed by “password.”  “12345” was in third place, with “12345678” and “qwerty” rounded up the top spots.  Also on the list of common passwords were “baseball,”  “dragon,” and “football.” The data for this analysis was compiled from more than 3.3 million that were leaked on the internet last year.

If you’re password is one of  these, or of a similar nature, let us reassure you that the time it takes to fix a potential mess of stolen information will vastly outweigh the time needed to memorize a secure password. So tisk, tisk, if you have a password that even a preschooler could crack.

Did you know that any idiot with a couple hundred bucks on their hands can purchase software that hacks passwords by repeatedly trying different combinations of common phrases, numbers, phone numbers, and words from the dictionary.  For maximum security, your password should have both letters and numbers, and any actual words or names should be misspelled or have numbers substituting for letters.  So get busy and keep yourself as safe as you can.  Make your password do it's job.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kids Left In Car While Dad Keeps Court Date

A 38-year-old-man is facing child endangerment charges in Newton, Massachusetts, after police say he left his 3 children  inside a car on a cold January afternoon for more than an hour while he was in court.  The children were ages five, three, and 9 months.(USA Today 1/16/2015, p. 9A) According to the police, witnesses called in the report around 4pm.

While this was certainly a poor decision on the man's part, it’s also a perfect example of how society can create it’s own messes and can set people up to fail.  Low income parents are often faced with the prospect of getting arrested for not going to court and have no access to a child sitter or perhaps funds to pay one.  This causes them to do drastic things.  It’s unfortunate that we’ll now spend thousands more of time and  money condemning this man than it would have taken to offer him assistance.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nannies: Why it May Matter Who Your Friends Are

Posted on November 18, 2012 by Rachael | in Nannies

In many jobs, who you have as friends isn’t something that’s really important to your boss. But like with government and high profile jobs, many nanny employers do care about what you do and who you associate with. While it may seem unfair that an employer judges you by your associations, for many parents, knowing as much about a caregiver as possible helps to them to make informed and educated hiring and managing decisions.

When it comes to evaluating a nanny’s character and judgment,(which is unquestionably important in evaluating nannies), the type of people a nanny spends her time with can provide insight into those both of those qualities. Nanny employers typically care about four main things when it comes to who their nanny keeps company with: they care if there is a safety risk to their children, a security risk to their children, a security risk to their property, and a risk of their children being influenced negatively.

A safety risk to their children. 
It’s only natural and necessary for parents to be concerned about their children’s safety. A nanny who hangs around with individuals who have poor judgment, are unstable, or who have a history of criminal problems can be concerning to a parent. This is especially true if a nanny is in an abusive domestic relationship. Parents may be concerned that the nanny’s abusive partner may show up at the home, either uninvited or not, or that the nanny may be persuaded to assist a friend in trouble during her on duty hours, taking her focus off of the children.

A security risk to their children. 
Nanny employers may also be concerned about the security of their children, especially if the family is wealthy or is a high profile family. Parents may feel that the more people who know the nanny cares for their children, the greater their children’s security risk is. A parent may be paranoid that if the nanny has shady friends, they may have less than genuine motives for getting to know the family, the children’s schedule and classified family information.

A security risk to their property.
For live-in nannies especially, the prospect of having visitors is appealing. However, if the parents aren’t confident that the nanny’s pals are people of integrity, she may be concerned with them coming to the home. Fears of thievery, snooping or property destruction may cause some concern.

A risk of their children being influenced negatively. 
Most parents, whether nanny employers or not, want to shelter their young children from drugs, violence and swearing. If a nanny has friends who engage in drugs or violent behavior, or who curse like a trucker, the parents likely won’t want those friends coming around. Since individuals with common interests and hobbies tend to stick together, a nanny employer may discern that the nanny has similar character traits as those she spends her time with.

While the majority of nannies are straightedge individuals who are responsible, competent and caring, these same qualities that make them great child caregivers can make them susceptible to caring for other individuals who need help. Some nannies feel that who they spend their time with off the clock has no bearing on how they do their job, but nanny employers may feel differently. Nannies are hired to serve as role models to the children in their care and to provide their charges with high quality, attentive childcare. During their workday, nannies are forced to make judgment calls on everything from what playground slide is appropriate to go down to what size a toddler’s grapes should be cut into.

For many parents, knowing that a nanny consistently makes good judgment calls is vital to developing a trusting relationship. While a nanny may be put-off that an employer cares about or questions her associations, nannies must respect that the well-being of the children is a priority and anything that could jeopardize that priority is best discovered by the parents.

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