This month's postings, June 2009

Hand sanitizerLoveless bug
Getting any lately? Hugs, I mean, and kisses — the two latest victims of the swine flu outbreak. About one in 10 Americans have stopped hugging and kissing close friends and relatives because they’re worried about catching the nasty bug, also called H1N1 flu. Handshakes are on the downslide, too; one in 10 now say “no touchy!” The study, by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that about two-thirds of Americans are also taking steps — such as extra hand-washing and using sanitizers — to ward off swine flu.

Sick sucks
If you get the flu — swine or otherwise — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should not stop breast-feeding. Sick moms (or moms who think they’ve been exposed to the flu) still provide important antibodies to their babies via their breast milk. You’re more likely to boost your baby’s immune system than get him sick.

Got milk?
If you do, here’s great news for you, but you gotta hang in there for it: If you breast-feed for longer than a year, you could reap major health benefits later in life. A new study in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that long-haul breast-feeders — those who go longer than a year — are 10 percent to 15 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease after menopause. This is a huge study — nearly 160,000 moms now in their 60s — and worth a look. One theory: Breast-feeding produces a surge in oxytocin (the love hormone!), which may help protect the heart.

Really down time
From the bitter-irony files: Women who suffer from depression before childbirth are more likely to be kept up at night by their babies. University of Michigan researchers say those babies take longer to fall asleep, sleep for shorter periods and even take shorter naps than those whose moms aren’t depressed, and researchers suspect that may be because of fetal exposure to the stress hormone cortisol. Talk about kicking a woman when she’s down! Moms (and all women), speak up when you’re down! Help is out there. Start by calling 1-888-404-7763 or visit Speak Up.

The motherload
Here’s a sobering fact: The average mom spends more time cooking than cuddling — and four times as much time washing dishes as showering! That’s according to a new survey by Frigidaire, which hopes you’ll solve these problems with a few of its appliances. Still, the data is fascinating and could provide ammo for exhausted moms who want a little help around the house. You can read more at My Motherload.

Tipsy TV
We’re getting word of another danger of television: It hurts when it falls on top of your child! Seriously, the number of children injured by tipped-over TV sets and other furniture has grown by 40 percent in the past 17 years. A study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital (in Columbus, Ohio) finds that nearly 15,000 children get squished to some degree every year by falling furniture — most younger than the age of 7, and most hurt by televisions. Parents, strap ‘em down (the TVs, not the kids) and don’t keep the remote on top of the TV (kids will climb to get it!).

Cereal offenders
Ice cream for breakfast? I think not! CheerioBut a study by Consumer Reports points out that many breakfast cereals — even those that are labeled “healthy” — have as much sugar as a serving of ice cream, and some are as much as 50 percent sugar. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks? Might as well put a doughnut in that bowl! Some cereals that keep the sugar under control go nuts on the salt. The four most healthy breakfast cereals, according to CR? Cheerios, Kix, Life and Honey Nut Cheerios (in that order). Cheerio!

—Kristen Russell Dobson

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