Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Legislation that would ban adults from smoking in cars where children in car seats are riding, nicknamed the “Little Lungs” bill, is under consideration in Massachusetts. The website Wicked Local has the story:
Rep. Paul Heroux, a freshman representative from Attleboro, wants to make it illegal to smoke with children in the car, citing health risks from secondhand smoke. Heroux said the proposed law could be enforced in a manner similar to the law banning texting while driving.
“If an officer sees it, you are busted,” Heroux said after testifying Tuesday on his legislation (H 1984), dubbed “an act to protect little lungs” and cosponsored by Reps. Mary Keefe, D-Worcester; Thomas Sannicandro, D-Ashland; and Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge.
Any driver or passenger who violates the law would be subject to a $100 fine. Police officers would not be able to search or inspect a motor vehicle, or its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because the vehicle was pulled over for the smoking violation, according to the legislation, which would apply to vehicles including children who are required to be secured by a child passenger restraint.
Heroux acknowledged his proposal would not be easy to enforce but said he hopes it would make smokers think twice before lighting up with children in the car.
Heroux also said a smoking ban when children are in the car would raise awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which led the Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney to pass a 2004 law banning smoking in most workplaces.
Image: Cigarettes and pacifier, via Shutterstock
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Monday, May 13th, 2013
The number one killer of young athletes is not concussion- or head injury-related, a group of youth sports safety advocates announced at a recent conference in Washington, DC. Instead, sudden cardiac arrest, typically brought on by a pre-existing, detectable condition that could have been treated, is the culprit in most sports-related deaths. Another lethal threat is heat stroke, which is considered to be completely preventable. The New York Times reports on the findings, and how safety advocates are trying to raise awareness of these risks:
Concussions are receiving attention nationwide, but death from a blow to the head is exceedingly rare. In contrast, a young athlete dies from a cardiac incident once every three days in the United States, researchers say. In hot months like August, heat stroke often causes the death of a young athlete every other day on average.
“Concussion victims almost always get a second chance,” said Laura Friend, an attendee at the Washington summit whose 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, died of sudden cardiac arrest while swimming at a Texas community pool in 2004. “When your heart fails from something that could have been treated — which happens all the time — you don’t have another chance. As someone told me, sudden cardiac arrest is not rare; surviving it is.”
Heat stroke, also known as exertional heat illness, has been a focus of sports safety advocates because of simple, common-sense preventive measures, like introducing gradual levels of exercise at the beginning of a sports season in hot temperatures.
“When my son died, people treated it as a freak thing,” said Rhonda Fincher, whose 13-year-old son, Kendrick, died in 1995 from heat stroke sustained during a season-opening football practice in northwestern Arkansas. “The ignorance was unacceptable because, unfortunately, it is not infrequent. And we should all know that.
“No healthy child should be sent off to a routine practice and die from it.”
Leaders of youth sports acknowledge that concussions have long been overlooked and that the injury deserves a period of heightened awareness, especially because of the potential for long-term consequences. But as the focus of the February conference organized by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests, there is a mounting worry that more hazardous health concerns are being disregarded because of the intense emphasis on brain injuries.
A sudden heart-related death is “so incredibly tragic and stunning that people aren’t comfortable putting it into the everyday conversation,” said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, the president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.
“I do wish, to some extent, it was something people talked more about,” Drezner added, “because we are getting to a place where we could prevent many of these deaths.”
Image: Girl with soccer ball, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 10th, 2013
Merida, the spunky, wild-haired heroine of the Disney film “Brave,” is set to become Disney’s 11th official princess on May 11. But a makeover of her look has moms and fans incensed and disappointed that Merida’s new appearance puts her in line with stereotypical princess and distances her from what many moms considered to be her status as the first feminist princess. More from The Huffington Post:
For parents who have been frustrated by the messages Disney princesses send to young girls (look pretty, find your prince, live happily ever after), introducing a character like Merida seemed to be a step in a good direction. As HuffPost blogger Kristen Howerton wrote when the film was first released, “‘Brave’ may be considered by many to be the first feminist princess movie. Merida does not pine for a prince to come to her rescue, and solves her own problems without the aid of a suitor.” The character was independent, hada realistic body type, and succeeded sans prince charming. Unsurprisingly, messing with that by giving her a new look is causing an uproar.
A Mighty Girl, a female empowerment website, has launched a petition on Change.org to convince Disney to leave Merida alone. Clearly, she has a loyal fanbase — the petition has almost 19,000 signatures.
The letter on Change.org reads, in part:
“The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.”So far, there has been an outpouring of agreement. Peggy Orenstein, the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter who is often at the forefront of discussions about how princess culture affects young girls, thinks Merida’s makeover sends a terrible message: “In the end, it wasn’t about being brave after all. It was about being pretty,” Orenstein writes on her personal blog.
Image: Merida’s new look (left) and her original appearance (right), via The Huffington Post
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Thursday, May 9th, 2013
The top baby names of 2012 were released Thursday by the Social Security Administration, with Sophia and Jacob earning top rankings for the second year in a row.
Here are the top 10 names for each gender. Check out Parents.com’s In Name Only blog for analysis of the meanings of the top names, as well as what the changes in the list say about parents’ priorities and values.
Image: Baby name tag, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
A study conducted by the international organization Save the Children has found that more than 1 million children around the world die the same day they are born, with the U.S. having the highest number of birth-day deaths in the industrialized world.
The 2013 State of the World’s Mothers report focuses in on newborn health and the theme “Surviving the First Day.” A new Birth Day Risk Index ranks 186 countries by the chances a baby will die on the first day of life.
The United States is a riskier place to be born than 68 other countries, according to the new analysis conducted by Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
In the industrialized world, the United States has 60 percent of all first-day deaths, but only 38 percent of live births. Approximately 11,300 U.S. babies died on the first day of life in 2011, the report says. Some U.S. counties have first-day death rates common in the developing world, where 98 percent of all first-day deaths occur.
“It’s hard to imagine the depth of one mother’s pain in losing her baby the very day she gives birth, let alone a million times over,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children in a statement. “Yet, this report is full of hope. It shows there is a growing movement to save newborn lives and growing evidence that we can do it—saving up to 75 percent of them with no intensive care whatsoever.”
Since 1990, overall child mortality has dropped dramatically around the world, from 12 million annual deaths to less than 7 million. But the report shows that lack of global attention on newborns has translated into a much slower decline in newborn mortality. In sub-Saharan Africa, as many newborns die now as two decades ago.
Globally, a rising share of child deaths—43 percent—now occur in the newborn period, or first month of life. The new report finds that more than a third of newborn deaths, or 15 percent of all child deaths, occur on the same day—the first.
The three leading causes of newborn death are prematurity, birth complications and severe infections. Among wealthier countries, higher U.S. rates of prematurity contribute to higher newborn mortality. Whether in the United States or the developing world, the poorest mothers are more likely to lose a newborn baby, the report finds.
Image: Sad doctor, via Shutterstock
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