Monthly Archives: February 2007

Baby bottle bummer follow-up

Oh, it’s all clicking together now. I saw a baby bottle line at Whole Foods the last time I was there, but didn’t have the time to go check it out. I just got a letter from BornFree baby bottles, who said they have bisphenol A free bottles. I looked at their website and yes, they are sold at Whole Foods.

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Baby bottle bummer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAs if parents who feed their babies from bottles don’t have enough to worry about, what with either having to deal with the torture joy of pumping or being afraid of being judged for using formula.

Environment California analyzed the five most popular brands of baby bottles on the market: Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber, and Playtex. ALL FIVE were found to leach a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxin called bisphenol A in doses they considered “dangerous levels found to cause harm in numerous laboratory animal studies.”

The report goes on to say:

“Scientists have linked very low doses of bisphenol A exposure to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity, among other problems.”

Yikes! I used Playtex Nursers with my sons. If you go to the website, they mention that the chemical is more likely to leach with washing or heating to high temperature. Although I feel guilty, environmentally wise, that the Nursers were disposable, I wonder if they would be less likely to leach since they are only used once? They are also NOT made of hard clear plastic, which many websites link to bisphenol A. I cannot say that they are bisphenol A free, however.

Baby Safe Direct has information about Solvay Polythenylsulfone (PPSU) Baby Bottles, which they claim are safer. You can always try glass bottles if you are less clumsy than me, and your baby isn’t throwing the bottles across the room yet.

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It’s in the water

toothbrushNo parental paranoia column would be complete without a regular freak out about what’s in the water. I mean, we drink it, we bathe in it, we grow our food with it and we wash our clothes in it.

Last week I reported on the rocket fuel contaminant in our nation’s water supply. Let’s talk about a compound that is a little more commonly known: fluoride.

Many critics argue that the benefits of putting fluoride on the teeth do not apply to drinking water with fluoride, which barely touches the teeth. Now there is mounting evidence that fluoridated water can actually be dangerous, and may even be linked to cancer.

The National Academy of Sciences National Research Council has recommended that the EPA immediately lower its safe consumption levels for fluoride. The American Dental Association is now recommending fluoride-free water for powdered infant formula, and only after recommending breastfeeding for all infants, and ready-to-feed formula next.

“The damage to teeth caused by severe enamel fluorosis is a toxic effect that is consistent with prevailing risk assessment definitions of adverse health effects,” the committee reported in its press release. “A majority of the committee also concluded that people who consume water containing that much fluoride over a lifetime are likely at increased risk for bone fractures.”

As scary as increased risk of bone fractures and toxic fluorosis may be, the scariest health risk that may be linked to fluoride consumption is the one that may have been covered up by Dr. Chester Douglass, the chairman of Oral Health Policy and epidemiology at Harvard Dental School.

There is a joint Harvard and federal investigation into whether the money given to him by the Colgate company may have persuaded Dr. Douglass to lie about the strong association between drinking fluoridated water and a rare type of bone cancer in boys. Dr. Elise Bassin led the study, published in the official journal of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention. The research indicates that teenaged boys who drink fluoridated water have five times the risk of a type of bone cancer than boys who drink unfluoridated water.

I wish I could afford a full house filtration system. Dang.

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Who loves a label?

I am bugged by an article promoting Moms Rising, an organization I love. Don’t get me wrong, I love that they get any and all press they can.

But, they pegged us! We are now “postfeminist”.

Read this quote:

“A generation of mothers who are largely perceived as postfeminist in every way, from sex to economic discrimination, has begun a consciousness-raising that is almost old-fashioned were it not for the technology involved. Raised to believe that girls could accomplish anything, these women have reached parenthood, only to find they face many of the same pay, equity, and work-family balance issues that were being fought over decades before…. For the women who are fired up about workplace inequalities, there is an easy way to fight back, without even leaving the house…. ‘For women, I know we want to lead more meaningful lives and make a difference, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed,’ she said. ‘But MomsRising makes it feel manageable. Plus, it creates a community, which is really fun.’”

Doesn’t postfeminism mean feminism is over or unnecessary? If so, why is it that articles on feminism (or postfeminism, in this case) always end up in the New York Times Style section? Doesn’t that imply that we still got a long way to go?

If you need any convincing, look at the big beautiful now-in-color picture at the top of the page. The one with postfeminist mom looking determinedly and slightly angrily off in the distance…straight at an emaciated model showing lots of bony cleavage.

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And the booby prize goes to…us. Again.

In case you had any doubt before, UNICEF just rated the United States the LOWEST out of 21 wealthy industrialized countries in health and safety of its children. We were ranked above only Great Britain overall for the welfare of our children.

According to one of the authors of the report, the United States fares so poorly “because of greater economic inequality and poor levels of public support for families.”

I am so sick of living in a country where we don’t think twice about corporate welfare, excessive military funding, and tax cuts for the rich, and our children and families are suffering every day. Even though my husband is a public school teacher, we can’t afford the cost to be on their family medical plan. So, we bought a cheaper one, which we struggle and scrape to pay for every month. And you know what? I am thinking of canceling it an just paying for catastrophic care. I can’t afford the deductible when I need to go in anyway. I have at least four things I can think of that I would go see a doctor for if I had the money. Hope they don’t get worse.

If you were wondering what was wrong with support of families in America, or wanted to know what people are trying to do about it, please visit Moms Rising, home of The Motherhood Manifesto.

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Indulgence…..mmmmmmm

greek yogurt I shouldn’t go to the grocery store hungry. Shouldn’t shouldn’t shouldn’t.

Along with an extra high grocery bill, I got some yummy and healthy indulgences. I am a firm believer you can eat healthy and still eat delicious, if you are open minded and like to try new things. I had heard of Greek yogurt, but hadn’t tried it. I was in the hippie subsection of my local grocery store, and I saw this lovely Fage Greek yogurt with honey.

It is creamy and velvetty, has live probiotic cultures, and is sweetened only with the honey you add from a fun side compartment. Mmmmmm, mmmmmmm!

See, I’m not all doom and gloom!

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More about lead in lunchboxes


I first reported about lead in soft vinyl lunchboxes more than a year ago. (The linked post is a moved copy of the original from late last summer.)

Now, based on an Freedom of Information Act request by the Associated Press (yes, because we apparently need to rely on a private news agency to protect our children by suing for information), we are finding out that the Children Please Suck Contaminants Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) manipulated their results and testing methods in order to produce results that showed lead in non-hazardous levels.

Their initially testing showed much higher levels of lead, some way above safety levels. Even the FDA blanched at their original results and decided to send a warning to the manufacturers.

If you would like to check your child’s lunchbox, order a lead test kit today. Or, throw it out and go with a cloth bag.

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Something imporant to care about, Vol. 3

This topic qualifies as more than just paranoia. Sexual offenses against our children, no matter their age, is probably one of the greatest fears of many parents. And I feel like I failed my first test.

I have had this fantastic website, the Family Watchdog, forwarded to me a few times by family and friends. If you enter in any address, they will show you a map of sexual offenders’ homes and workplaces with icons on a map. If you click on the icon, you can see a mug shot of the offender, and find out more about their conviction.

The first time I did it, I found a few offenders a few miles away or more. I live on the edge of a highly populated area. I was actually pretty happy with how far I was from the closest offender.

The next time it was forwarded to me, I did another search. I clicked on the icon for my house, and brought up a mug shot. There is an offender who lives so close to my home, it looks like his icon is inside our little house icon. He lives .03 miles away. Two houses down.

I have stared as his picture. I glare at his red BMW every time I walk my son to the bus stop. He made the first appearance outside of his house in six months last week to play with a new puppy in the front yard. He lives with his girlfriend, has a pet, and never leaves the house. He probably works over the internet, like me.

*Shudder*

I have examined his conviction: “Use Internet to solicit/attempt solicit etc. a child for sex/lewdness etc; F.S. 847.0135(3) (PRINCIPAL).” I assume that means he used the internet to try to meet up with a child for sex. I don’t know if it was a male or a female child, which is pure selfishness on my part to want to know. I have two boys. My roommate has a girl. There are many more children, boys and girls of all ages on the block. I don’t know how old the child was. Probably older than my oldest, who is seven, and only goes on Neopets on the internet, and that is supervised. But, my kids are getting older every day.

I talked to my neighbor who lives in the house in between. I told him what I found, and asked him to tell me if he ever saw anything suspicious. I fretted about what to say to my older son. I ended up saying nothing other than the same general comments on his private parts being his own, and to tell me if anyone wanted to touch them. I dreamed up letters I could put in the mailboxes on the street, DVDs I would order to show my sons, but I did nothing.

When we were on our way home from the bus stop last week, he pointed out the house with the red BMW out front, and said, “A bad man lives there.” I tried not to show the terror in my eyes.

“How do you know?” I asked quickly.

“Oh, Luis’s mom told us to watch out, that a bad man lived there.”

Luis’s mom. Luis’s mom who I underestimate constantly, who barely speaks English, is the one who prepared my son against this sexual offender. I was frozen with fear, fear of saying the wrong thing, of having to explain rape and molestation to a seven year old. So, I didn’t tell him or any of his friends or their parents about the threat in the neighborhood. I am glad Luis’s mom stepped up.

I hope all of our children’s first and every experience with sex are voluntary and wonderful.

Here are some more websites that parents and kids may find useful:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence &emdash; External Links Page &emdash; includes many hotlines and regional resources

http://www.ncadv.org/resources/ExternalLinks_68.html

Safer Child, Inc.- Help with an Abusive Situation – Hotlines for rape, child abuse, domestic abuse

http://www.saferchild.org/domestic.htm

Nemours Foundation &emdash; KidsHealth &emdash; Dealing with problems: Rape

http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/rape_what_to_do.html

Nemours Foundation &emdash; KidsHealth &emdash; Internet safety

http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/safety/safebasics/internet_safety.html

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The power of suggestion


My boys never cease to amaze me. Even though I am convinced that they are both special little brilliant geniuses, I still underestimate them all the time.

I found a version of some older software for toddlers that S used to love playing. When I first put Z in front of it, I figured he would be hitting the keyboard randomly for a while, and it would be forever before he started pointing and clicking the mouse, and even longer before he actually understood that it corresponded to something on the screen in front of him.

Well, he was pointing, clicking and dragging within about 2 days.

The other thing I underestimated was the ability of Z to be influenced by what he was looking at on a screen. When he pointed and clicked on the number seven, seven apples popped up and he said “Caco!” (his word for apple&emdash;it actually is short for avocado&emdash;long story). He ran to the refrigerator, grabbed himself an apple, and proceeded to eat it. Ten minutes later, a similar situation happened with bananas showing up in the game. He chirped ” ‘nana!”, jumped up, and insisted on eating a banana.

Luckily, he doesn’t watch much TV, and what he does watch has few commercials. But, the power of image to be converted instantly into want and then action made my head spin. And, of course, it made me paranoid about what future effects advertising will have on his mind and on his waistline.

I found a good site from PBS called Don’t Buy It. This site is geared more towards kids S’s age (7 �) than Z’s age (2). I will try it out on his older brother first. But, who knows, he may be ready for it. I may just be underestimating him again.

Photo credit: anissat at www.sxc.hu

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Seafood IS brainfood

Yet another source verifies that women should NOT skip eating seafood while pregnant. The Lancet printed a study of data collected in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The study was designed to see if seafood consumption during pregnancy affected children’s neurological development, including their scores on behavioral and intelligence testing. The results speak for themselves:

“After adjustment, maternal seafood intake during pregnancy of less than 340 g per week was associated with increased risk of their children being in the lowest quartile for verbal intelligence quotient (IQ) (no seafood consumption, odds ratio [OR] 1�48, 95% CI 1�16&emdash;1�90; some, 1�09, 0�92&emdash;1�29; overall trend, p=0�004), compared with mothers who consumed more than 340 g per week. Low maternal seafood intake was also associated with increased risk of suboptimum outcomes for prosocial behaviour, fine motor, communication, and social development scores. For each outcome measure, the lower the intake of seafood during pregnancy, the higher the risk of suboptimum developmental outcome.”

In other words, children born to moms with the lowest seafood consumption during pregnancy had the worst outcomes in all areas: behavioral, intelligence, motor skills, everything. The authors of the study come to a similar conclusion as an earlier study by the Harvard School of Public Health, saying that warnings against fish intake for pregnant women do more harm than good.

I love it when the scientific evidence agrees with my opinion and my palate, and we are encouraged to eat something healthy and delicious rather than told it’s scary. I hate it when women are given conflicting information, and I am sure there are women who avoided seafood while they were pregnant thinking they were doing best by their children-to-be, and now feel frustrated and guilty about one more thing.

I am sure there will still be many articles and websites that still mistakenly warn pregnant women to stay away from seafood. (Just like articles on weight loss that say to limit nuts. *twitch twitch*) Here’s to hoping some of these women do some fact checking of their own.

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