This month's postings, July 2008
Got a hang-up?
If not, better get one soon! Our state's new "hands free" cell phone law goes into effect July 1. Busy moms and dads: Keep both hands on the wheel (Ha! And pass the Goldfish crackers how?) or face a $101 fine. And - yes! - no texting while driving, either. This is a secondary enforcement law, meaning, you won't be ticketed for it unless you've been pulled over for something else.
Also going into effect this month: the great summer weight gain. Studies show that 5- and 6-year-olds tend to pack on the pounds during summer, when those school gym classes aren't offered. Researchers found that the kids' body mass indexes (BMIs) increased more than twice as much during summer break than during the school year. Once they get back to school, that growth slows again. So bust out the Slip ‘n Slide and get those monsters moving!
Train and gain
While we're on the subject: Get those tween girls moving, too! New research shows girls who exercise regularly, beginning around age 12, are less likely to develop breast cancer when they're older. And we're talking modest exercise here: just about three and a half hours a week of running or 13 hours a week of walking.
Flip-flop weather is upon us! And so are hideous foot problems, if you're unlucky (or really in love with those thongs). A new report finds a growing concern among foot doctors that we floppers are hurting our feet. Flip-flops offer no arch support and very little cushioning, and force us to walk funny (yes, you!). Wear ‘em too much and you could have sore feet, heels and legs, hammer toes - and even get squashed toes from clumsy friends. If you must, flop in moderation, and spring for a style that has a little arch support.
Health-conscious parents, beware: One of the most popular organic baby formulas contains cane sugar. Sure, baby likey the sweeter taste of Similac Organic formula, but that cane sugar (or sucrose) can cause tooth decay, doctors say. It also can give babies a preference for sweets; maybe even cause them to overeat! Europe's ban on sucrose-sweetened formulas goes into effect next year.
Props for pedes
For the 16th year running, Seattle's Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center ranks among the nation's top children's hospitals. This year, U.S. News & World Report ranks Children's eighth in the nation for pediatric care - that's up one spot from last year. Children's also ranks fifth in cancer care, among other achievements. Congratulations to a beacon of hope and health for kids all over our region!
- Kristen Dobson
Courts + Capitol Watch
Voting for kids
Did your elected officials stand up for kids this year? An annual report that tracks state legislators - and their record on kid-friendly issues - is out.
The Children's Alliance is a statewide child-advocacy organization. This year's CA scorecard tracks votes on seven key bills that affect families, including the "toxic toys" bill. Find out who has a perfect score (PM Superhero Rep. Ruth Kagi, we see you!) and who is ranked dead last. You can link to the full report on our Web site in the "Voice It" section, or visit the Children's Alliance for more at www.childrensalliance.org.
Here's an easy way to clear out old, unused chemicals you've got in your garage or (locked) under the sink. Visit www.earth911.org, type in the items you'd like to unload (batteries? paint?) and your ZIP code, and you'll get a list of approved drop sites.
For the EPA's list of possibly hazardous chems you might have around, visit our Web site under "Voice It!" Visit www.idealbite.com for simple green-living tips.
You know you can trim that carbon footprint by eating local, but unless you frequent farmers' markets, it's not always obvious what's local right now. Enter Epicurious' new Web site, a great interactive map that shows you what's in season and where, and even offers recipes! Link to it on our Web site under "Voice It!"
Want to green up your kids' lives? I mean, really green ‘em? Here's a seriously thorough book that aims to shield kids from every conceivable environmental toxin. Growing Up Green: Baby and Child Care by Deirdre Imus is the second in the "Green This!" series. It covers everything from preparing for pregnancy, to pets, to adolescents and offers ways to avoid chemicals and other bad stuff your kids could come across. $15.95; Simon & Schuster.