Get the lead out
We’ve got great new lead laws, sure, but will they keep store shelves free of lead for your holiday shopping? Experts warn that even though tough new standards require testing starting this month, that’s not soon enough to keep unsafe products from lurking on store shelves. Retailers won’t have to start following the new lead standards until Feb. 10, 2009. As for those nasty phthalates — used in plastics and rubber (hello? teethers!) — they’ll be banned in toys and other goodies for little kids, too — by early 2009. The good news? Your fave baby store is no doubt pickier than ever before about what it stocks. Check the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Web site for a complete list of lead recalls (search for “lead recalls” — that’s with the quotation marks). Be wary of used toys, and always follow age recommendations.
Here’s some cool news for moms-to-be: Getting a flu shot can actually protect your unborn baby! A study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that moms can pass immunity through the womb — a twofer! Only about 15 percent of pregnant women get a flu shot, even though it’s recommended. The flu shot is the only one left that contains traces of thimerosal; study after study has found no link between this preservative and autism, but if you’re concerned, talk to your doctor. The CDC says that the benefits of a flu shot for pregnant women far outweigh concerns of a “theoretical risk from thimerosal exposure.” Oh, and no wimping out and getting the flu nasal spray! It uses a live flu virus — not good for pregnant women or new babies.
Science has finally caught up with what parents and preschool teachers already know: Food allergies in kids are definitely on the rise. Some wonder whether greater awareness or testing is responsible for the big increase in kids diagnosed with an allergy. A new CDC study says the increase is real, but experts don’t know why. The number of kids with food allergies has gone up 18 percent in the past decade; now, about 4 percent of kids have ‘em. Experts say breastfeeding for the first four months of a baby’s life can reduce the risks.
Got your attention? Drop that bag o’ Tings and listen up: Speed-eating is worse for you than you think! Oh, sure, you’re busy, but taking the time to eat more slowly can dramatically reduce your chances of becoming fat. Japanese researchers studied thousands of men and women and found that those who eat quickly until they’re full are three times more likely to become overweight. The study, from the British Medical Journal, shows that eating quickly and until full has “a supra-additive effect on overweight.” Meaning, it ain’t worth it!
Move it, move it!
Here’s the other side of that story: New government health guidelines recommend that pregnant women get at least two and a half hours of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity” per week. Keepin’ it moving can help reduce complications of pregnancy — and even shorten labor. Plus, it makes mommies happier (endorphins: bring ‘em!). Be sure to check with your doctor if you’re not already the moving type, and stick with low-impact moves, such as walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates.
Local hero live
Big, happy high fives to local special-needs advocate Larry Davis, who’s just launched a new radio show for the parents of special-needs kids. You can hear “The Advocate: Special Children, Special Needs” on KWJZ-FM (98.9), KKNW-AM (1150) and streamed live on www.1150kknw.com every Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. It’s a 60-minute radio talk show designed to offer tools and guidance to build advocacy strategies for kids dealing with ADD/ADHD, autism and a wide range of learning disabilities. Check him out at www.specialeducationadvocacy.org. Go, Larry, go!
Feeling crabby? Take a few swats at this cranky little crustacean! With gentle rattle and squeak noises, the Tiny Love Baby Crab rattle is designed for ages 1 month and older. We have crab rattles to give away! To enter, email your mailing address to us at firstname.lastname@example.org by Dec. 1; be sure to put “rattle” in the subject line.