Archive for the ‘ Trends ’ Category

Baby Circumcision Complications Rare

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Babies who are circumcised rarely have medical complications, though older kids who undergo the procedure are more likely to have issues, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.  More from Reuters:

Previous research found wide variations in the rates of complications following male circumcisions. Those studies were often small and based on patients from a single hospital.

For the new study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers used data from U.S. insurance claims for babies younger than one year old, children between ages one year and nine years and older children 10 years and older. The findings do not include children who underwent ritual circumcisions in a non-medical setting.

Overall, the researchers had data on more than 1.4 million circumcised males. The vast majority were newborns.

“This is what we found about the risks of circumcision,” said Charbel El Bcheraoui, the study’s lead author from the University of Washington in Seattle. “It’s low overall, but it increases with age at circumcision.”

About 0.4 percent of boys experienced circumcision complications when the procedure was performed within the first year of life. The risk increased about 20-fold among boys between one year and nine years of age. It was 10-fold higher among males 10 years old and older, compared with infants.

“What we assume is it’s probably because between one and 10 years of age is the age when caring after procedure is the most complicated,” Bcheraoui said.

Circumcision, or removing the foreskin from the penis, is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys and is also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.

The wider U.S. population adopted the practice due to potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of urinary tract infections in infants and cutting the risk of sexually transmitted disease later in life, including HIV.

But the practice has been the focus of heated debate, including efforts to ban it in San Francisco and Germany. The rate of circumcisions performed on newborns in U.S. hospitals has dropped over the last three decades.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its recommendations in 2012 to say the benefits of male circumcision justify families having access to the procedure if they choose.

According to the JAMA Pediatrics study, about 0.5 percent of the procedures ended with some type of adverse event regardless of age, but the rates for specific complications varied.

Damage to the urethra occurred in about 0.8 per 1 million circumcisions. Leaving behind too much foreskin occurred in about 702 per 1 million circumcisions.

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U.S. Kids Spend Less Time on Pleasure Reading

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

American children still read for pleasure, according to a new report, but not very often and not very well.  Reuters has more:

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, published the report, which brings together information from several national studies and databases.

“It raises an alarm,” said Vicky Rideout, the lead author of the report. “We’re witnessing a really large drop in reading among teenagers and the pace of that drop is getting faster and faster.”

The report found that the percentage of nine-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week had dropped from 81 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2013, based on government studies. There were even larger decreases among older children.

A large portion rarely read for pleasure. About a third of 13-year-olds and almost half of 17-year-olds reported in one study that they read for pleasure less than twice a year.

Of those who read or are read to, children tend to spend on average between 30 minutes and an hour daily with that activity, the report found. Older children and teenagers tend to read for pleasure for an equally long time each day.

Rideout cautioned that there may be difference in how people encounter text and the included studies may not take into account stories read online or on social media.

The report also found that many young children are struggling with literacy. Only about one-third of fourth grade students are “proficient” in reading and another one-third scored below “basic” reading skills.

Despite the large percentage of children with below-basic reading skills, reading scores among young children have improved since the 1970s, according to one test that measures reading ability.

The reading scores among 17-year-olds, however, remained relatively unchanged since the 1970s.

About 46 percent of white children are considered “proficient” in reading, compared with 18 percent of black children and 20 percent of Hispanic kids.

Those gaps remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years, according to the report.

“To go 20 years with no progress in that area is shameful,” Rideout said.

Help make reading fun with this free “Animal Antics” reading worksheet!

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Girl reading, via Shutterstock

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Fake Breast Milk in Development in China

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Chinese researchers are apparently working on developing a synthetic breast milk based on the actual chemical makeup of real human breast milk, as Newser reports:

China’s government is spending $1.6 million to make its own breast milk. The goal is an artificial version of the milk of Chinese moms—a project that involves studying the real stuff to develop what China Daily calls a “breast milk database.”

Existing baby formula in the country adheres to World Health Organization ingredient standards, but it might not be quite right for China’s infant population, Chinese researchers have said.

China is the world’s biggest baby formula market, with parents spending $15 billion on it last year, Quartz notes. As of last year, only 28% of infants in the country were breastfed, compared to 40% globally, per a Wall Street Journal report. The new effort follows a formula crisis in 2008 that saw thousands of babies poisoned.

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More Women Having Kids After Age 35

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

The number of American women who are having kids after age 35 continues to rise, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  More from Time.com:

The average age of women at their first birth has also risen over the past 4 decades, and since 2000, 46 states and DC have experienced a rise in the first-birth rate for women over 35.

“We are definitely seeing this in our practices,” says Dr. Rebecca Starck, chair of the department of regional obstetrics and gynecology at Cleveland Clinic. Given what we know about the risks associated with pregnancy at later ages, should we be worried?

“A healthy 40 year old can have a much less risky pregnancy than a healthy 28 year old,” says Starck, especially if she prepares her body for pregnancy with healthy food and exercise. Once pregnant, eating well, gaining the right amount of weight and abstaining from harmful behaviors like smoking also make a big difference.

The new report also shows that first time older mothers are generally more educated and more likely to have more resources like higher incomes than women of the youngest reproductive ages.

But the over-35 set still tend to face more risks and complications. For instance, the risks of having a child with a genetic disorder rise after 40, says Starck. It’s still very likely the baby will be healthy and won’t have a chromosome problem, she adds, but the risk does go up proportionally with age.

Are you ready to get pregnant? Now’s the time to maximize your fertility! Take our quiz to see if you’re doing all the right moves to get pregnant.

Trying to Conceive: Your Ovulation Calendar
Trying to Conceive: Your Ovulation Calendar
Trying to Conceive: Your Ovulation Calendar

Image: Mother and baby, via Shutterstock

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Kellogg Will Drop ‘All Natural’ from Some Products

Monday, May 12th, 2014

The food producer Kellogg Co has announced its plan to drop the labels “All Natural” and “100 Percent Natural” from some of its Kashi and Bear Naked branded products, in the wake of a class action fraud lawsuit.  More from Reuters:

The settlement by the world’s No. 1 maker of breakfast cereal marks the latest such outcome in a recent wave of litigation challenging nutrition claims in food labeling.

Several lawsuits merged into a single case in 2011 accused Kellogg of deceiving consumers by labeling products as “All Natural” when they contained ingredients such as pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate or hexane-processed soy oil.

The settlement must be approved by a federal judge in San Diego overseeing the case before the suit is dismissed. It was submitted in court last week and contained no admission of false or misleading labeling by Kellogg.

In a statement on Thursday, company spokeswoman Kris Charles said Kellogg’s Kashi and Bear Naked lines “provide comprehensive information about our foods to enable people to make well-informed choices.”

“We stand behind our advertising and labeling practices,” she said. “We will comply with the terms of the settlement agreement by the end of the year and will continue to ensure our foods meet our high quality and nutrition standards, while delivering the great taste people expect.”

Under the proposed settlement, Kellogg will drop the terms “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” from labeling and advertising for Kashi products containing certain ingredients challenged in the litigation.

Similarly, the terms “100% Natural” and “100% Pure and Natural” will be removed from certain Bear Naked products.

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