Sad news: Happy Meal ban won’t stop kid obesity: The decision of San Francisco city officials Tuesday to crack down on restaurant meals that include free toys unless they meet particular nutritional guidelines is — depending on whom you ask — either taking away a parents’ right to choose what to feed their children, as some msnbc.com readers have commented, or a gift to frazzled parents up against a massive marketing machine. What it most likely isn’t, however, is a solution to the childhood obesity epidemic. [MSNBC]
Dancing school gives children a taste of the elite: The pair are among the latest generation of children engaged in an antiquated rite: dancing school, a tradition upheld by a small number of families from the upper, and now upper-middle, echelons of New York. [New York Times]
Zapping a brain for math’s sake, and other news: Don’t try this at home, but researchers at the University of Oxford say applying an electrical current to the head can improve mathematical ability, depending on the direction of the current, the BBC reports. If you’ve been pregnant, you may have experienced memory loss during that time that some call “baby brain.” In turns out the brain may temporarily shrink up to 8 percent in pregnant women, and then restore to its original size after the child is born – check it out from CBS New York. [Paging Dr. Gupta/CNN]
Disney junior to focus on social values: Move aside, Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. Mothers want preschool television to be more about teaching children social skills and less about pushing clear academic goals — at least that’s what Disney executives say new internal research indicates. [New York Times]
Does adolescent stress lead to mood disorders in adulthood?: “What is especially alarming is that depression in young people is increasing in successive generations. People are suffering from depression earlier in life and more people are getting it. We want to know why and how. We believe that stress is a major contributor.” Researchers are particularly interested in the link between childhood stress and the development of clinical depression and bipolar disorder. His team is evaluating the stress of children who are living in families where one parent is affected by a mood disorder. [Science Daily]
Do babies learn vocabulary from baby media? Study says no: We all want our children to be smart. Why else would parents spend millions of dollars on videos and DVDS designed and marketed specifically for infants and very young children every year? But do they work? NBC’s ‘Today’ show recently suggested that claims from the manufacturers of baby media products may be overblown, and now a new study published in Psychological Science presents empirical evidence that infants who watched an unidentified baby video did not actually learn the words that the video purported to teach. [Medical News Today]
Poor women often gain too many pregnancy pounds: A new study finds that young, low-income women often gain too much weight during pregnancy, raising concerns about the potential long-term impact on their obesity risk.Nearly two-thirds of 427 pregnant women, mostly black or Hispanic, seen at two U.S. medical clinics put on more than the recommended weight during pregnancy. And a year after giving birth, about half had retained at least 10 of their pregnancy pounds. [MSNBC]
Happy Meal ban won’t stop kid obesity: The decision of San Francisco city officials Tuesday to crack down on restaurant meals that include free toys unless they meet particular nutritional guidelines is — depending on whom you ask — either taking away a parents’ right to choose what to feed their children, as some msnbc.com readers have commented, or a gift to frazzled parents up against a massive marketing machine. [MSNBC]
Therapy for women prone to miscarriage questioned: Blood-thinning treatments for pregnant women with an inherited condition that makes them susceptible to blood clots may do more harm than good, Danish researchers report. Their study was designed to investigate the cause of repeat miscarriages in women with hereditary thrombophilia, a tendency to form blood clots, not the safety of particular treatments. Nevertheless, in the course of that work they found little difference between women with or without the known gene mutations that cause thrombophilia, except for a higher likelihood of excessive bleeding during delivery among women carrying the mutations. The researchers attribute that heavy bleeding to the “standard practice” of administering blood thinners to pregnant women with thrombophilia. [MSNBC]
SF supervisors pass ‘Happy Meal’ regulations: City lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation that they hope will force fast-food chains such as McDonald’s to make their children’s meals healthier or stop selling them with toys. [MSNBC]
How to raise the men we’d want to marry: Until I had a son, I thought, well, naturally you want to raise your child — boy or girl — to have a full emotional life. Then I tried to. And I discovered that there’s a big difference between believing a boy should show his feelings freely and actually having a boy who does. [CNN]
At English-Mandarin public school, high test scores, but also strife: The school is the target of nine city investigations stemming from allegations that it compelled families to pay for after-school instruction, tampered with the city enrollment process, mismanaged its finances and manipulated surveys on parents’ satisfaction with the school. In addition, a series of anonymous, threatening letters directed at the principal and parent leaders prompted the parents association to budget $20,000 for legal assistance and stepped-up security. [New York Times]
Speaking to the identity of Chinese children in U.S.: Abby Newell’s adoptive parents have been preparing for her “birth tour” for years. They have attended Chinese culture camp in Silver Spring, decorated their Fairfax home like a Shanghai apartment and – most important, they say – enrolled Abby in Mandarin classes on the weekend. [Washington Post]
Montgomery County mom takes a poke at her peeps: Last year, out of her house in the Montgomery County town of Kensington, Sullivan launched a blog and a clothing line called Snoburbia to comment on the absurdities of the place she calls home. Though really, it could be Anyplace, USA – so long as Anyplace has elite lacrosse teams and e-mail discussion groups loaded with bragging parents. “Everywhere there are proud overachievers,” Sullivan says, “there is Snoburbia.” [Washington Post]
Kids’ use of electronic media at night linked to problems: More than half of children who use electronic media before bedtime may have mood or learning problems during the day, a preliminary study of 40 young people suggests. The kids in the study, average age 14, were all treated at the JFK Medical Center Sleep Laboratory in Edison, N.J. About 77% had trouble falling asleep; others had daytime sleepiness. [USA Today]
High-calorie beverages still widely available in elementary schools: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture National School Lunch Program has a broad reach, serving meals to more than 31 million students in 2008,” the authors write as background information in the article. However, “different regulations address meals and competitive foods,” such as those found in vending machines and snack bars, in today’s schools and “because children spend many hours in school, changes are needed to make the school environment healthier by limiting the availability of high-calorie beverages.” The Institute of Science and Medicine also recommends that competitive venues like vending machines and snack bars be allowed to sell only bottled water, 100 percent juice and nonfat or 1-percent milk. [Science Daily]
Anti-obesity program for low-income kids shows promise: An approach that attempted to prevent childhood obesity in African-American girls produced beneficial changes in cholesterol, diabetes risk and depressive symptoms but had little effect on youths’ weight, in a trial conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. [Medical News Today]
Protecting a child’s sleep leads to better quality of life: We all know that pulling all-nighters, being overly caffeinated and overly stimulated have become a part of college life, but the reality is that even as school-age children are dealing with these scenarios. In fact, approximately 70 percent of children under the age of 10 have difficulty falling asleep or have sleep problems that diminish their quality of sleep. This means that children are a large part of the 70 million Americans who suffer from sleep deprivation. [Medical News Today]
Parents’ effort key to child’s educational performance: A new study by researchers at the University of Leicester and University of Leeds has concluded that parents’ efforts towards their child’s educational achievement is crucial – playing a more significant role than that of the school or child. [Medical News Today]
IPad opens world to a disabled boy: Owen Cain, seven years old, has suffered from a debilitating motor-neuron disease since infancy. By chance, Owen gravitated toward his nurse’s IPad and instantly was able to use it without complication. This is the first device that has enabled Owen and many others disabled young ones to use actively without assistance. [New York Times]
Pregnancy less likely when dad is over weight: Dr. Zaher Merhi, New York, concluded that among couples using assisted reproductive technology the male’s weight does influence the outcome. Every 5-unit increase in the father’s BMI was associated with a 28 percent decrease in the likelihood of clinical pregnancy. [ABC News]
Train the brain: using neurofeedback to treat ADHD: Neurofeedback is an alternative type of therapy intended to keep the brain calm and focused. Although it is still scientifically unproved, expensive, and time consuming there is growing evidence that it can help. [NPR]
Analyzing eggs and their genetic junk offers clues to fertility: Brown University researchers eventually hope to be able to analyze eggs’ mRNA to determine if it’s normal or abnormal. If something’s askew in a particular egg’s polar body, it could be a biologic clue indicating that egg isn’t likely to successfully fertilize. This could later lead to new forms of contraception and new ways of detecting prime eggs to fertilize. [Time]
Over here at Parents, we’re always looking for ways to save. So, you can imagine our excitement when we heard about Have You Tried This Yet?, Procter & Gamble’s newest “smart shopper” initiative that features a brandSAVER coupon booklet with over $113 in cost-cutting values.
Looking to help their customers make informed purchasing decisions, P&G launched this program to showcase their favorite and most innovative new products from brands we buy every day—Tide, Charmin, Cover Girl, and many more—at parent-happy prices.
Keep your eyes peeled for the coupon book in this Sunday’s newspaper—looks like Halloween just got a little bit sweeter!
For a list of participating brands, check out P&G online.
Want more money-saving ideas and tips from Parents? Check out these related stories:
Dealing with tricky halloween requests: Gone are the days of pumpkin and bee costumes. Now, the bloodier the disguise, the better. And your kids would much rather trick-or-treat sans parents. Manage your cool ghoul-without being a witch. [CNN]
Orphaned baby found alive in storm drain after Indonesia tsunami: Meanwhile, 800 miles away on Indonesia’s main island of Java, a volcano that killed 33 people this week erupted five more times Friday, sending searing clouds of ash cascading down its slopes. The baby plucked from a storm drain was among dozens of injured survivors languishing in one sorely strapped hospital. [MSNBC]
Costume mishaps put the ‘Ow!’ in Halloween: In the past five years, at least 226 people have suffered costume-related injuries, according to reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. At least five people died. [MSNBC]
Last week, the New York Times ran an article, “Toddlers’ Favorite Toy: The iPhone,” that caused quite a stir on the parenting front: Many parents saw the beneficial aspects of letting their little ones play with their phones (especially while traveling), but others were horrified by the notion of introducing kids to technology at such a young age.
Take a look at what some of your fellow parents had to say, and then take our poll to show us where you stand!
“I think it’s ok for a child to play with an iPhone or an iTouch on occasion. Limiting use just like we would limit access to television is up to the parents. A variety of stimuli are good for us and especially helpful on long trips!” – Liza
“I really don’t know what this world is coming to—all I know is my grandson would rather play with the box that a toy comes in instead of the toy. We as parents and grandparents need a [reality] check on what is important, and buying expensive gadgets for children is just setting them up to be young adults who [need] to have everything up to date.” – Jean Griffith
“My 4-year-old spends a lot of time waiting at her siblings’ ball practices. I am amazed at how she can entertain herself with nothing at all. The only time she ever asks to play with my phone is when she is tired out and doesn’t feel like entertaining herself. I see nothing wrong with that. Our kids need to have balance and, yes, that does include the tech world these days.” – Shellie Marquize
“I have an autistic child whose uses a computer, cell phone, a remote control and other electronics very well. He knows all the programs, the menu, the buttons, and so on. Now he wants an iPad. I think the iPad will be very useful and educational, especially for children with a learning disability. The screen is pretty big and the pictures are very easy to see. The content is vast covering colors, numbers, shapes, and animals–all familiar objects that they just love!” – Iraida
“Recently, while waiting for stitches in the [hospital] emergency room, we were relieved to have our iPhone. We were able to download some free and inexpensive games to take our 4-year-old’s attention off his terrible boo-boo and the extremely long wait. I can say it saved a lot of headache in an environment not meant for preschoolers.” – Lisl
“While an iPhone can be entertaining during long waits, it would be better for young children to take a more active role in entertaining themselves. Books, crayons, or small toys that encourage creativity and imagination would be a better choice. We’re giving our 13-year-old son a “plain cell phone” for Christmas…he’s one of the few kids in his grade who doesn’t own his own phone. We take two 18 hour car trips each year with our 4 kids, no DVD or handheld electronics. Just books and music on CDs and whatever else the kids want to bring. We have a great time! I think giving our children too much technology too early will backfire in terms of their creativity, physical activity, materialism, and attention span (rates of ADHD are much higher in young children exposed to 3 hours of screen time per day).” –Pam