This month's postings, March 2009

Shell game
The recent peanut-recall nightmare could be a breaking point for the Food and Drug Administration. Lawmakers want to know why the FDA didn’t act quickly to prevent potentially tainted products from spreading to 43 states. They’re considering a bill that would create a separate “food safety administration” to tighten up holes in the regulatory system. At least eight people have died from salmonella poisoning, and hundreds have been sickened. The recall affects more than 1,500 products; for a complete list, visit the FDA Web site.

A bitter pill?
Those yummy gummy vitamins are all the rage in some homes, but are they really necessary? A new study finds that most kids who take daily vitamin supplements probably don’t need them. University of California-Davis Children’s Hospital researchers found that about 37 percent of kids who are in excellent health take vitamins; only 28 percent of those in fair or poor health do. Cost could be an issue — at about $15 a bottle, those pills can add up. Should your tot pop ‘em? Maybe, if he’s not getting 400 units of vitamin D a day — that’s four 8-ounce glasses of milk!

Vitamin TV
urns out, too much tube time is depressing, though not in the way you might think. Harvard researchers have discovered a link between watching a lot of TV as a teenager and the odds of becoming depressed as adults. This is crazy-scary: The study showed that each additional hour of watching TV per day boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8 percent! Could it be those tube taters were already prone to depression? Scientists think it’s more likely that all that TV time robbed teens of sleep and other self-esteem-building activities. One other sobering thought: This study was completed in 2002, before the “reality TV” invasion. Just imagine.

Um … reassuring?
MySpace is no place for sex offenders! The social networking site says it’s just identified and blocked 90,000 convicted sex offenders from using the site. A MySpace spokesman says he’s proud of his company’s big crackdown, using state-of-the-art technology, and he hopes Facebook follows suit. I just keep thinking, “Gaaaaah! Ninety-thousand?”
Talk to your kids, talk to your kids!

HopscotchOr better yet …
… unplug ‘em and throw ‘em outside! A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds that kids who have recess every day behave better — and learn more — than those who don’t. Just 15 minutes of fresh air and playground goofiness was enough to boost the performance of third-graders in the huge study. Yet, according to researchers, the “No Child Left Behind” Act is forcing some schools to cut recess to allow more time for reading and math.


Play with us!
O Wine
We love all of our “babies” here at ParentMap, but I’ll spill the beans and tell you that most of us PM divas have a secret favorite: our annual Parents’ Night Out. What’s not to like? Wine from “O” Wines, nibbles, a little shopping (last year? Shoes and earrings!), cool (free) swag bags, and then a rousing and inspiring panel discussion about parenting pressures. This year’s topic: “Slow Parenting in a Slow Economy.” Take a night off and join us on Tuesday, March 24 at the Seattle Children’s Theater. Tickets are now available.

—Kristen Russell Dobson


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