Monthly Archives: October 2010

Suggestions for safe trick-or-treating

Before you let your little goblins out of the home for trick-or-treating this year, make sure they’re safe and prepared. Here are some good suggestions for safe trick-or-treating and Halloween safety from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Ensure that any accessories that resemble weapons (such as plastic swords) are flexible and short.
  • Make sure costumes fit properly to avoid trips and falls.
  • Instruct children to follow all traffic rules and stay on the sidewalk.
  • Don’t let children trick-or-treat without an adult or group of other children.
  • Apply reflective tape to costumes and candy bags so drivers are able to see children. Kids also should carry a flashlight.
  • Inspect children’s candy before they eat it to make sure there are no choking or tampering hazards.
  • Put a limit on how much candy your child can eat.
  • Make sure your child understands to enter a home only if he or she knows the owner well.
  • Be sure your child wears a flame-retardant costume.

Halloween Extra Scary When Kids Have Nut Allergies

For most kids, Halloween parties and trick-or-treating can be a mixture of fun and frightening, but for children with a nut allergy, the day can actually be dangerous, warns a doctor. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

This type of allergy “can be a life-or-death situation. Just because a child only had a rash the first time exposed doesn’t mean it won’t be more serious the next time,” Dr. Sean Cahill, an associate professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in a Loyola news release.

“Though having a nut allergy is serious, kids should still be able to have fun. The key is education. Make sure your child knows what he or she can eat,” Cahill added.

He offered the following suggestions for keeping children safe at Halloween parties:

  • Tell the party host about your child’s allergy and provide a list of specific foods that they must avoid.
  • Offer to help the hostess by wiping down all surfaces. It’s surfaces exposed to nuts, not inhaling nut particles, that cause an allergic reaction. In addition, all pans, dishes and serving utensils must be thoroughly cleaned if previously used on dishes prepared with nuts.
  • Bring something to the party that you know your child will enjoy that is safe for them to eat. Check product labels when shopping. If a label says a food has been made on the same machine as products with nuts, don’t buy it. If a label says a food has been made in the same plant as products with nuts, it’s likely safe.

Cahill also offered trick-or-treat safety tips:

  • If you have a younger child, take nut-free candy to neighbors before Halloween and then take your child to those houses on the big night.
  • When your child returns home from trick-or-treating, immediately remove all treats with nuts or those that could cause a reaction. If in doubt, get rid of the candy.
  • If you or anyone else eats a product with nuts, brush your teeth and wash your hands before hugging or kissing a child with a nut allergy.

“A peanut allergy is not limited to peanuts. Some people with a peanut allergy are allergic to numerous types of nuts and seeds, and nut allergies are often seen in kids with other food allergies, like eggs, or in kids with asthma and eczema,” Cahill added.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about food allergies here.

Halloween Chocolate a Serious Threat to Pets

Chocolate Halloween candy may be a treat for children but poses a serious threat to pets, warns an expert. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

Pets who consume chocolate can experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures and even death, said Susan Nelson, a Kansas State University veterinarian. These problems are mainly caused by a substance in chocolate called theobromine.

Different types of chocolate have varying concentrations of theobromine. Baking chocolate contains the most, semisweet and milk chocolate sport a medium amount, and white chocolate has the least, Nelson explained in a university news release.

If your pet consumes a large quantity of chocolate, you should call a veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately, Nelson said.

“Chocolate consumption is a very common problem among pets, dogs especially,” but it can also harm cats, birds, rats and ferrets, Nelson said in the news release. “It is important to recognize that individual reactions vary by pets, but it is best to assume your pet is one of the sensitive ones and not delay in seeking advice from your veterinarian. Be aware of the chocolate sources in your house, and tell any new dog owner about this potential threat to their pet.”

In order to protect pets, she suggests keeping all foods out of their reach and confining pets during family gatherings and parties so that guests don’t feed them.

Anastasha’s In Heaven

For all of us who have been praying diligently for Anastasha and her family, many of our prayers were answered on her and her mother’s birthday, October 26, 2010. And now, there’s one more angel in heaven! Here’s the post from my friend and Anastasha’s daddy, family physician Craig DeLisi, MD:

Our sweet princess was born yesterday at 12:39 PM. I pronounced her earthly death (and heavenly birth) at 1:29 PM.  Her passing was very peaceful.

It was the best labor Tonya has ever had. We saw the Lord answer specific prayer after prayer after prayer. It was remarkable. Tonya said Anastasha was the best birthday present she could have hoped for.

Tonya, the kids and I spent several hours with Anastasha after her death. Yesterday was one of the most profoundly painful and profoundly peaceful days we’ve ever had.

Tonya and I are home. She is recuperating well. She was able to labor completely naturally, which was a blessing and always seems to allow her get better more quickly.

Anastasha’s funeral will be this coming Saturday, Oct 30st at 11 AM at First Baptist Church in Pittsburg, TX. We invite ANY and ALL who would like to come to attend. We would be honored to have anyone who reads this to come celebrate with us.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, we would be blessed if you would consider making a contribution to Harvesters Reaching the Nations, a nonprofit ministry that serves orphans in Sudan. You can learn more about them here. This is a wonderful work of the Lord that our family is blessed to be a part of. Click here to watch an endorsement by Franklin Graham. To donate to this ministry in Anastasha’s honor, you can go here and put Anastasha’s name at the bottom where it says “in honor of”. The money you give will be used not just to bless us, but to advance God’s kingdom in Sudan by caring for and blessing some very precious children, whom we love.

We love you and thank you for praying for us.  More details and pictures to follow in the days ahead.


Here’s the entire series of amazing stories:

Does MSM Work for Hair Loss?

Long-time readers know that I think that the Doctors of Pharmacology who publish the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database have one of the best, if not the best (evidence-based, trustworthy, and medically reliable) internet resources for natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements). This month they’ve sent prescribers a warning about MSM for hair loss.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is best known as a remedy for osteoarthritis. But it’s now showing up in products promoted for hair loss including:

  • TriMedica Pure MSM Shampoo,
  • Hair Loss Support Liquid,
  • Hair Loss Alopecia Shampoo,
  • Sulfur Plus, and many more.

The thinking is that MSM contains sulfur, which is an element important for hair growth. And, some people who try it often say that it works.

But, the NMCD experts tell us prescribers to “explain to patients that there is no reliable scientific evidence that MSM is effective for increasing hair growth.”

If this changes, I’ll let you know. And, in the meantime, it might not hurt to try, but there’s no evidence that it will help.

Dancing in Heels Puts Toes Under Extreme Pressure: Study

Wearing high heels while dancing may add an air of gracefulness to a woman’s moves, but heels also place a great deal of extra pressure on a dancer’s toes, scientists say. Hopefully, this study will help improve the health of your feet and may spur improved designs of high-heeled dance shoes. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

British and Chinese researchers measured the forces exerted on the soles of the feet of six professional dancers. They found that when the study participants danced in their bare feet, the force was spread evenly between heel and toe. Dancing in high heels, however, resulted in more force being transferred to the front of the foot.

The study findings were published in the International Journal of Experimental and Computational Biomechanics.

Dancing in 10-centimeter high heels (about 4 inches) can lead to pressures three times that of the atmosphere being applied to the toes, according to Yaodong Gu, of the Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues.

This increased pressure on the front of the foot can lead to discomfort and a painful condition called plantar fasciitis over an extended period of time, the researchers said. The findings may help improve the design of dance shoes with high heels, the study authors suggested.

“Most published studies have been focused on the effects of high-heeled shoes on normal walking, while research on more intensive locomotion such as dancing is very limited,” the researchers pointed out in a news release from the journal’s publisher.

The American Podiatric Medical Association has more about healthy footwear here.

Note to Psychologists and Counselors: CE Credit for Reading One of My Books

To all of my friends and readers who are psychologists or counselors: I received a note from Mark Durkin, MA, LPC. I don’t know Mark, but he says:

Hello Dr. Larimore,

I just wanted to let you know that I have added your book, His Brain, Her Brain, to my website which provides Continuing Education credit to Christian counselors for reading books. The website is No action is necessary on your part, other than to let other Christian counselors know about receive C.E. credit for reading your book. Thank you for writing in such a clear way the differences between men and women in how they think. This takes pressure off many marriages where both husbands and wives are left scratching their heads about the other! All the best to you in your practice and ministry. God bless you, Mark W. Durkin, Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling, Grace Theological Seminary, 1985. Licensed Professional Counselor with North Carolina, #400, June, 1986. Counselor for Christ Community Church in Huntersville, NC.’

The Blessing of Anastasha Kalil – Part 18 – Birth Day Tomorrow

Craig just sent this note out:

Tonya’s cervix is about 3 cm now. Sometime in the wee hours of this morning (prob around 5) she will take a dose of Cytotec to try to induce labor. We have an induction scheduled at 10 AM. We may be going in sooner depending on how effectively it works.

We were at the same hospital earlier today visiting a friend who just had a C-section. It was really eerie walking past L&D, knowing that just hours from now we will be in that same place and will be experiencing the greatest pain we’ve ever known. I am thankful that our Savior had similar anguish the night before he was crucified, and yet completely trusted His Father (and was without sin).

The “tomorrow” that we have been dreading/fearing/anticipating has finally come. In just hours, it will be our “today”.

Pray that we (Tonya, me and the kids) will trust Him to be the Lord of not only tomorrow, but of TODAY.  Our hearts are heavy, but there is joy as well. Fear, sadness, excitement, relief … all bundled up together.

Pray that our faith would be increased and that we would not fear. We are expecting our God to show Himself mighty to save for all of us tomorrow. He is a GREAT DADDY and so good to us.

Thank you for loving us and walking this broken road with us. We are so blessed by the Bride of Christ … YOU!

Craig and Tonya

Many of us will be praying for you all!

The Blessing of Anastasha Kalil – Part 17 – Birth Day This Week

We have all been following the journey of Anastasha Kalil. Now it appears her life may be very near its end.

For the last four months, we have all been blessed by family physician, Craig DeLisi, who has shared the journey of he and his family as they prepare for the birth and death of their 9th child, Anastasha Kalil. This week the DeLisi family will, more than ever, need our prayers.

Loved ones.

We are near the end of Tonya’s pregnancy, very grateful that we have had as much time as we have been given.  If Anastasha does not come on her own (and she might – Tonya has been contracting harder the last 2 days), then we will induce labor this coming Tuesday, Oct 26th.  Not only will that date mark the longest Tonya has carried any of our other children in the womb, but it is also Tonya’s birthday.  She has said from the beginning that she would be incredibly honored to share that day with her daughter if the Lord would allow.

We trust our great God and Father wholeheartedly as we move forward.  We are honored that he called us to be Anastasha’s parents.  We find rest in the fact that He is Good no matter what may come.  If the Lord chooses for her to return to Him, then we will be celebrating God’s goodness with a memorial service next Saturday, Oct 30th at the First Baptist Church here in Pittsburg at 11 AM.

There is not much I haven’t said already.  If you can believe it, I think I am out of words.  But I do want to thank each of you who have journeyed with us, from both near and far.  Please pray for us in the coming days, especially on Tuesday.

Tonya wanted me to leave you all with Mary’s words from the Gospel of Luke when she was told she was going to bear Jesus as her son.  We echo her sentiment.

And Mary said: 
 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47)

With all our love,

Craig and Tonya for the whole darn big crew.

Here’s the entire series of amazing stories:

    Vitamin D Supplements Reduce the Risk of Flu – Especially in Children

    The doctors of pharmacology at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database are reminding us healthcare professions to inform our patients that vitamin D supplements may reduce the chance of getting influenza.

    Vitamin D levels decrease during the winter months, during the time that influenza is prevalent. Studies have also shown that lower serum vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory infections.

    As I’ve told you in a past blog, one research study now shows that school children who take vitamin D have a lower risk of developing the flu.

    Taking vitamin D3 1200 IU daily during the winter reduced the risk of flu by about 42% in children.

    So, the NMCD tells physicians to “explain to parents that this is promising, but preliminary. Advise parents to make sure their kids get adequate vitamin D, usually at least 400 IU/day.”

    For adults, at least until the new Institute of Medicine recommendations come out in November, I’m recommend adults under age 50 take 1000 IU a day and those 50 years of age or older take 2000 IU daily.

    And, as I’ve told you before, I believe having your doctor check you vitamin D level (it’s a simple blood test) is a reasonable thing to consider.

    What am I doing in my practice? Checking a vitamin D level as part of my annual exam. I do this on all adolescents and adults. If the vitamin D level is below 50, I suggest supplementing with vitamin D and rechecking. I give my patients two options:

    1. Take an OTC vitamin D, 2000 IU per day, and recheck the level in 4-6 months, or
    2. Take prescription vitamin D, 50,000 IU per week for 12 weeks and then recheck the level.

    Medicines Poison More Kids Than Chemicals

    Poisonings of children often stem from pills that family members leave out or that are left in a medicine cabinet. Of course, most parents these days are mindful of obvious poisoning risks to their children. They lock up household cleaners and keep chemicals and pesticides well out of the reach of youngsters. Now experts are emphasizing to parents that medications may even be more dangerous. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

    Health experts believe the most prevalent poisoning threat in a person’s household isn’t under the sink or in the garage — but in the medicine cabinet.

    Two of every three pediatric poisonings that result in an emergency room visit are caused by medication overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In fact, the rate of childhood poisonings caused by medication overdoses is double the rate of poisonings from cleaning substances, pesticides, personal care products and other toxic household substances, the CDC reports.

    Medications tend to be more accessible to children than other toxic substances in the home, poison control experts said. And, parents tend to place too much faith in child-resistant caps and other safeguards.

    “Normally what occurs when someone is taking medicine on a chronic basis, they’ll leave it out,” said Jay L. Schauben, a pharmacist and director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Jacksonville, Fla.

    “Any pills left out are within the grasp and reach of a child. Some of the medicine can look like candy. Some of the cough syrups are flavored and taste good. You can sort of see how that would be a disaster waiting to happen.”

    The medications children overdose on most often are the over-the-counter drugs ubiquitous to American households, said Edward Krenzelok, a pharmacist and director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    Nearly 10 percent of all poisonings in children 5 years old or younger involve common analgesics, according to the annual data report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

    “The most common medication anyone’s going to have around the home is a non-prescription pain reliever,” Krenzelok said.

    Ointments and creams, cough and cold remedies, vitamins, antihistamines and products for gastrointestinal distress cause another 21.5 percent of pediatric poisonings.

    Part of the problem, the experts agree, is that people tend to not treat over-the-counter medications as something that could cause harm in young children. “They figure if they didn’t need a prescription or got it from a pharmacist, it must be safe,” Schauben said. “They are more apt to leave it out or have a lot more leeway leaving it on the counter.”

    This can lead to a child overdosing because, for instance, the child comes across medication and figures it’s a treat.

    “A 3-year-old may see two really pretty tablets on a counter and think they are candy, like M&Ms or Skittles,” Krenzelok said.

    Younger children also can be inadvertently poisoned by medications within their reach simply because little kids tend to put things in their mouths.

    “They’re sampling their environment,” Krenzelok said. “They have a lot of hand-to-mouth activity. They constantly put things in their mouths. If you put a pen down and a 16-month-old wanders over, what are they going to do? They’re going to put the pen in their mouth.”

    To protect children, all medications — prescription and over-the-counter — should be kept in a locked cabinet, out of the reach of kids, Schauben said. Avoid keeping any medications on counters or nightstands, even if the drugs are in child-resistant containers.

    “I will tell you very emphatically right now there is no such thing as a childproof container,” Schauben said. “These containers are child-resistant. When they are tested, they are given to children. The bottom line is, can they be kept out of the medication for a certain period of time, not forever. Given enough time, a child will assuredly figure out how to defeat a childproof cap.”

    Don’t keep your medications in a traditional medicine cabinet, either. “When the child is old enough, they can climb up and get into the cabinet,” Schauben said. “The medicine cabinet is the absolute worst place to keep your medications anyway. Drugs need to be kept in a cool, dry place.”

    Parents also should be alert to potential drug poisonings when there are guests in the house.

    “If Aunt Sally comes to visit and brings her medication to your home, is she going to line them up on her cabinet and make them available to your children?” Schauben said. He suggests talking to guests about keeping medications out of kids’ reach, or at least keeping a watchful eye on children during the visit.

    A child who does swallow medication isn’t automatically going to die, Krenzelok and Schauben said. Childhood poisoning fatalities are very low, with just 26 deaths from 1.3 million poisonings in children 5 or younger in 2008, Krenzelok said.

    The best thing parents can do if they suspect medication poisoning, experts say, is to first call the Poison Help hotline: 800-222-1222. That number will connect them to the Poison Control Center nearest them.

    “The only time you want to call 911 first is if the child is unarousable, the child is having difficulty breathing or the child is having convulsions or seizures,” Schauben said.

    Doctors, pharmacists and nurses at the Poison Control Center are experienced in triaging the situation and providing solid advice. Often an expensive and time-consuming trip to the hospital can be avoided with some home health care.

    “More than 95 percent of the time, a child will be able to stay at home,” Krenzelok said. “I don’t think just because a child got into something, the parents should automatically pack them into the car and take them to the emergency room. We can determine who needs to go to an ER or not.”

    More information:

    • The Nemours Foundation has more on childproofing your home here.
    • Learn more about help that’s available from a Poison Control Center here.

    Absent Father Linked to Earlier Periods

    In my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen, I discuss the disturbing phenomena of young girls having their periods at younger and younger ages. Researchers have suggested a number of possible causes, including family stress, in general, and the absence of the biologic father, in specific. Now, comes a new study with findings that add to previous research, but the experts still can’t explain the link. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

    Girls growing up in higher-income homes without a biological father are likely to reach puberty earlier than others, new research finds.

    “In higher-income families, father absence predicted earlier puberty, but it did not in lower-income, father-absent [households],” said study leader Julianna Deardorff.

    “Girls in upper-income households without a father were at least twice as likely to experience early onset of puberty, as demonstrated by breast development,” she said. The researchers defined higher income as $50,000 or more a year.

    Early maturation in girls is linked with emotional and substance use problems and earlier sexual activity. These girls also face a higher risk for breast cancer and other reproductive cancers later in life.

    Previous research has linked absent-father households and earlier puberty, but this study adds more information, said Deardorff, an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley.

    “We were looking at very early signs,” such as breast development and the growth of pubic hair, she said. Other researchers have focused on the start of menstruation without looking at factors such as income and ethnicity, according to background information in the study.

    Girls are reaching puberty earlier in the United States, where the average age of menstruation is about 12 years, Deardorff said. Recent research has found some girls starting to develop breasts as early as age 7 or 8.

    For their study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Deardorff and her colleagues followed 444 girls, aged 6 to 8 at the start, and their mothers.

    They gathered extensive data on factors such as weight, height, stage of breast and pubic hair development, father’s presence and income. Eighty percent of the girls said their fathers did not live with them.

    After two years of follow-up, the researchers saw earlier breast development in higher-income girls in absentee-dad homes across the board, but noted earlier pubic hair growth only in black girls from richer families. Having another male, such as a stepfather, in the home didn’t change the findings.

    They also found, as other researchers have, that higher body-mass index (BMI), a calculation based on height and weight, was also linked with earlier puberty.

    The authors said they can only speculate on the reasons behind the connections. Exposure to more artificial light from TVs or computers is one theory. Other possibilities include weak maternal bonding, assuming a single mother is working long hours, or contact with chemicals that may have estrogenic effects — perhaps hair straighteners in the case of black preteens.

    “It’s possible girls in those homes are exposed to different environmental exposures, for example, toxins,” Deardorff said. They may be exposed more to cosmetics and other personal care products, for instance, and some experts have expressed concerns about what they see as hormone-disrupting chemicals in those products.

    Anthony Bogaert, a professor of community health sciences at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, reported a link between absent fathers and early puberty in boys and girls in in 2005 in the Journal of Adolescence.

    Looking at a national sample, he found that those who had had an absent father at 14 had likely had an early age of puberty. For his study, he defined puberty for girls as the onset of menstruation and for boys, voice change.

    “It is difficult to know why this relationship occurs — for example, stress, genes — so more work needs to be conducted on the exact mechanism underlying it,” he said. This new study is an “interesting” addition to the literature on the topic, he said.

    How can parents in father-absent homes compensate, if at all?

    Until researchers determine the cause of the connection, Bogaert said it’s premature to offer suggestions.

    Deardorff suggested focusing on other links, such as the higher BMI and its association with earlier puberty.

    “Probably one of the primary targets is going to be body weight and physical activity [to maintain a healthy weight],” she said.

    Study: Mental Health Deteriorates With Increased Television

    In many previous blogs I’ve reminded you of the dangers of television exposure to your children and teens. Now, here’s a warning for us adults: a new study has found that watching more than 4 hours of TV a day has an adverse effect on mental well-being. Here are the details from

    The study was conducted by Mark Hamer, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, and research associates Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, and Gita D. Mishra, PhD. It analyzed the association of leisure-time sedentary behavior in adults, measured by television and screen-based entertainment (TVSE) time, and mental health.

    The researchers looked at mental health survey data of 3920 men and women between the ages of 35 and 65 years, from the 2003 Scottish Health Survey. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the mental health component of the 12-Item Short-Form Survey Instrument (MCS-12) were administered to obtain information on current mental health. Self-reported TVSE time, physical activity, and general health were also measured.

    Approximately a quarter of the participants in the study engaged in at least four hours a day of watching screen-based entertainment.

    After adjustment for age, gender, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, fruit and vegetable intake, the researchers found that participants with the highest TVSE level had the highest instances of mental health problems compared with participants in the group with the lowest TVSE level of less than 2 hours per day.

    The report concludes that, while sedentary behavior is known to be an independent risk factor for physical health, mental well-being also deteriorates with more time spent in front of the TV.

    “Sedentary behavior in leisure time is independently associated with poorer mental health scores in a representative population sample,” Dr. Hamer wrote.

    An abstract, with links to the full text of the study, titled “Television- and Screen-Based Activity and Mental Well-Being in Adults” is available here.

    Pre-Run Stretch May Hurt Endurance

    Runners who stretch before a run expended more energy and run shorter distances, according to a new study. Here are the details from WebMD:

    Some runners swear by their pre-run stretch as a sure-fire way to run better and stronger and reduce their risk of injury in the process.

    But according to a new study, distance runners who stretch before a run may not perform as well and may spend more energy than runners who skip the stretch.

    ”Overall, I don’t think it’s worth it to stretch before a run,” researcher Jacob M. Wilson, PhD, assistant professor of exercise science and sport studies at the University of Tampa, tells WebMD. “After a run, if someone is trying to work on flexibility, that’s fine.”

    Although his study was done only on male runners who were young and highly trained, Wilson speculates that the findings would apply to recreational runners and to female runners as well.

    The study was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

    Stretching Before a Run: The Study

    Wilson evaluated 10 runners, all men, who were on average 25 years old. They were in good shape with a low percent of body fat — just under 7%, on average.

    All runners participated in a 60-minute treadmill run on two different days separated by at least one week. One time, they stretched for 16 minutes before running and the other time they just sat quietly for the same time period.

    The pre-run stretches were static — stretching a muscle to the maximum length and holding it — and included all the major muscle groups of the lower body.

    After the stretching or the sitting, the runners did a 30-minute warm-up run, then a 30-minute performance run. Each time, the runners were told to run as far as possible during the performance part, but they couldn’t see distance or speed on the treadmill display panel.

    Without stretching, the runners averaged 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles in the half-hour performance run, Wilson tells WebMD. With stretching, they averaged 5.8 km or 3.6 miles, a difference of 3.4%.While the difference seems small, it could add up during a competitive event.

    “One of the reasons why stretching impairs performance is it probably causes muscle damage,” Wilson says, referring to tiny, micro tears.

    Previous research by others has looked at stretching and the effects on sprinting or vertical jumping, Wilson says. “Ninety percent have found declines in performance.”

    He says that “ours is one of the first to look at stretching and endurance performance, and we saw decrements.”

    Stretching also resulted in a higher number of calories burned. When runners stretched before they ran, they burned 425 calories, on average, during the warm-up run. When they didn’t stretch, they burned 405 calories, on average.

    Stretching and Performance

    Whether to stretch before running or not is ”an individual choice,” says Ryan Lamppa, a spokesman for Running USA, which promotes the growth of the U.S. running industry. He has coached distance runners and is a runner.

    “I know runners of all abilities,” he says. “Some stretch on a regular basis and some don’t. Many, like me, stretch after a run, when the muscles are warm and supple.”

    “This study reinforces what I’ve heard in the sport at the top end: ‘You don’t see a cheetah stretch before the cat goes after [its] prey.'”

    “This [study] is looking at a very select group of people,” says Cathy Fieseler, MD, member of the board of directors of the American Medical Athletic Association and a veteran marathoner and ultra-distance runner. A doctor in Tyler, Texas, she notes that the men studied had a low level of body fat and were regular runners. She says the finding that the pre-run stretch affected performance in high-level athletes is plausible, but she is not sure if the findings would apply to recreational or older runners.

    She wonders, too, if the 16-minute stretching period made the runners more tired than the pre-run session of simply sitting, and if that may have affected performance.

    The research is clear, she says, on another aspect of stretching. “There’s no study that says a pre-run stretch reduces the risk of injury.”

    Her advice for endurance runners? She usually doesn’t recommend a pre-run stretch, but she does see the value of warming up. She tells runners: “Start off easy, do a mile or two. If you are sweating, your muscles are warmed up. Then you can pick up the pace.”

    ”The biggest thing is to start out slow.”

    More Evidence That Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

    Children exposed to high, low levels of thimerosal had similar odds for the disorder as children with no exposure to thimerosal, a new study has found. This should be absolutely no surprise for two reasons: (1) since thimerosal has been removed from virtually all vaccines, there has been an INCREASE (not a decrease) in autism, and (2) no study has found any evidence of an association between thimerosal and autism. Here are the details from this newest study from HealthDay News:

    Infants exposed to the highest levels of thimerosal, a mercury-laden preservative that used to be found in many vaccines, were no more likely to develop autism than infants exposed to only a little thimerosal, new research finds.

    The study offers more reassurance to parents who worry that vaccination raises their children’s risk for autism, the researchers said.

    “Prenatal and early life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal in vaccines or immunoglobulin products does not increase a child’s risk of developing autism,” concluded senior study author Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the immunization safety office at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The study was released in the journal Pediatrics.

    Thimerosal has been used as a preservative in vaccines since the 1930s, according to background information in the article.

    Concerns about the chemical began to crop up in 1999, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that because of the increased number of thimerosal-containing vaccines added to the infant vaccination schedule, infants may be exposed to too much mercury. Thimerosal used to be found in hepatitis B, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccines, among others.

    During the ensuing years, the FDA worked with manufacturers to eliminate thimerosal from vaccines, according to the agency’s Web site. Today, thimerosal has been removed or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated seasonal flu vaccine, according to the FDA. Parents who are concerned about thimerosal can ask for a preservative-free version, DeStefano said.

    And thimerosal wasn’t the only proposed autism-vaccine link. A 1998 paper in The Lancet suggested the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine might trigger autism. The journal later retracted the paper, and numerous studies have refuted any link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

    In February of 2009, a U.S. federal court ruled that there was no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism.

    In the new study, researchers examined medical records and conducted interviews with the mothers of 256 children with an autism spectrum disorder and 752 children matched by birth year who did not have autism. The children were all members of three health care management organizations in California and Massachusetts.

    Researchers also gathered information about the manufacture and lot number of the vaccines that the children received, to determine how much thimerosal they were likely exposed to.

    Children in the highest 10 percent of thimerosal exposure, either prenatally or between infancy and 20 months, were no more likely to have autism, an autism spectrum disorder or autism spectrum disorder with regression than children in the lowest 10 percent of exposure.

    “This study adds to a large body of evidence indicating that early thimerosal exposure through vaccination does not cause autism,” said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for a leading advocacy group, Autism Speaks. Dawson was not involved with the research.

    She urged parents to have their children vaccinated.

    “We encourage parents to have their children vaccinated and to establish a trusting relationship with their child’s pediatrician so they can discuss any concerns they have,” Dawson said.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on thimerosal here.

    Natural Family Planning Method As Effective As Contraceptive Pill According to New Research

    Since the birth control pill has a potential post-fertilization effect (at times causing the unborn child to NOT implant in the uterus or womb and die), men and women who believe that human life begins at conception or fertilization are highly interested in methods of birth control that are NOT abortifacient. In past posts I’ve told you that modern, scientific natural family planning has the advantages of (1) not being abortifacient and (2) being highly effective. But, how does it compare to the birth control pill?

    Now, researchers are reporting a form of natural family planning that uses two indicators to identify the fertile phase in a woman’s menstrual cycle is as effective as the contraceptive pill for avoiding unplanned pregnancies if used correctly, according to a report published online in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction. Here are the details from Science Daily:

    The symptothermal method (STM) is a form of natural family planning (NFP) that enables couples to identify accurately the time of the woman’s fertile phase by measuring her temperature and observing cervical secretions.

    In the largest, prospective study of STM ever published, the researchers found that if the couples then either abstained from sex or used a barrier method during the fertile period, the rate of unplanned pregnancies per year was 0.4% and 0.6% respectively. Out of all the 900 women who took part in the study, including those who had unprotected sex during their fertile period, 1.8 per 100 became unintentionally pregnant.

    The lead author of the report, Petra Frank-Herrmann, assistant professor and managing director of the natural fertility section in the Department of Gynaecological Endocrinology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, said: “For a contraceptive method to be rated as highly efficient as the hormonal pill, there should be less than one pregnancy per 100 women per year when the method is used correctly. The pregnancy rate for women who used the STM method correctly in our study was 0.4%, which can be interpreted as one pregnancy occurring per 250 women per year. Therefore, we maintain that the effectiveness of STM is comparable to the effectiveness of modern contraceptive methods such as oral contraceptives, and is an effective and acceptable method of family planning.”

    A number of fertility awareness based (FAB) methods of family planning have been advocated over the years, but comparisons between different methods and studies of their effectiveness have been limited and hampered by problems such as differences in cultural backgrounds, different ways to measure the effectiveness of a FAB method, different ways of classifying unintended pregnancies and other methodological problems.

    “To be able to make an informed choice when selecting a family planning method, couples need to know the efficacy of a method when used both perfectly and imperfectly,” said Prof Frank-Herrmann. “We believe that this is a significant prospective cohort study that clearly defines STM and perfect and imperfect use, and which defines intended and unintended pregnancies, classifying them according to the couples’ intentions before conception.”

    The researchers selected data from a cohort of 900 women who were part of a much larger study of 1,599 women using STM, which was conducted by the German Natural Family Planning study centre between 1985 and 2005. The 900 women provided data on 17,638 cycles to Prof Frank-Herrmann and her colleagues.

    STM identifies the beginning and end of a woman’s fertile period using two measurements (body temperature and cervical secretions) in order to have a double-check system. The first fertile day is when the woman first identifies either:

    1. first appearance or change of appearance of cervical secretion, or
    2. the sixth day of the cycle. After 12 cycles, this second guideline is replaced by a calculation that subtracts seven days from the earliest day to show a temperature rise in the preceding 12 cycles, in order to identify the first fertile day.

    The woman is then in her fertile period. The fertile phase ends after the woman has identified:

    1. the evening of the third day after the cervical secretion peak day, and
    2. the evening when the woman measures the third higher temperature reading, with all three being higher than the previous six readings and the last one being 0.2 degrees C higher than the previous six.

    Prof Frank-Herrmann said: “The women or couples who want to learn the method have to buy a book, or attend an NFP course, or get some teaching by a qualified NFP teacher. Learning STM is usually no problem. There are precise rules that work. However, in contrast to the oral contraceptive pill or other family planning methods, STM needs more engagement and time to learn it.”

    Every month the women in the study sent charts to the researchers that showed their cycles, their observations of temperature and cervical secretions, and that recorded their sexual behaviour and family planning intentions for the next cycle.

    Of the 900 women, 322 used only STM and 509 women used STM with occasional barriers during the fertile time.

    Sixty-nine women did not document their sexual behaviour. Out of the women who documented their sexual behaviour and abstained from sex during their fertile period (“perfect use”) the unintended pregnancy rate was 0.4 per 100 women and 13 cycles [this assumes a woman has 13 cycles in a year], and 0.6 for women who used STM plus a barrier if they had sex during their fertile period.

    For cycles in which couples had unprotected sex during the fertile phase, the pregnancy rates rose to 7.5 per 100 women and 13 cycles.

    The drop-out rate from using STM for reasons such as dissatisfaction or difficulties with the method was 9.2 per 100 women and 13 cycles, and compared well with the drop-out rates from other methods of family planning, which can be as high as 30%, although direct comparisons are difficult due to methodological problems. “This demonstrates a fairly good acceptability for this particular FAB method,” said Prof Frank-Herrmann.

    The authors were surprised by the relatively low rate of unintended pregnancies (7.5%) among women who had unprotected sex during their fertile period. “If people are trying for pregnancy you expect a pregnancy rate of 28% per cycle,” said Prof Frank-Herrmann. “Therefore, we think that some of the couples were practising conscious, intelligent risk-taking, and were having no unprotected sex during the few highly fertile days, but had unprotected intercourse on the days at the margins of the fertile time when the risk of pregnancy was lower.”

    Some studies have suggested that women’s libido is higher during their fertile period, and this could be one of the reasons why NFP methods traditionally have had a reputation for being less effective than other methods of family planning.

    However, Prof Frank-Herrmann said: “There are studies that suggest that this is only the case for a small proportion of women, and that, in fact, women also identify other parts of their cycle with increased sexual desire. Most women who use FAB do not find this a problem. It’s possible that the increased libido may be one of the reasons that some of the couples in our study used a barrier, such as a condom, in the fertile phase.

    “This is the first time that a large, prospective STM database has been established with sufficient detailed information on sexual behaviour. It enables the true method effectiveness for STM to be calculated and we found this was 0.4% per year when there was no intercourse during the fertile phase. The user-effectiveness of STM, in other words the total number of unintended pregnancies that were due to both method and user failure, was 1.8% after 13 cycles of use, and this compares very well with results from other European studies of FAB methods of family planning. The markedly good user-effectiveness rate may be explained partly by the motivation of the couples and their teachers who agreed to participate in the study,” she concluded.

    Keep Health in Mind When Planning School Day Menus For Your Kids

    As a parent preparing for your child’s school day, it may be helpful to remember that healthy meals and snacks are essential for learning. Here are some helpful tips from the experts at HealthDay News:

    “Parents can make the school day easier for their children by providing nutritious and yummy breakfasts, lunches and snacks that promote optimal learning. Everyone is in a rush in the morning, but it only takes a few minutes on Sunday to plan healthy meals to fuel your child’s week,” Karin Richards, director of the Exercise Science and Wellness Management program, and director of Health Sciences at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, said in a university news release.

    Richards offered the following advice for parents as they plan breakfast, lunch and snacks for their school-age children:

    • Include at least three types of foods into each meal, making sure to include some type of protein and complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bagels or pasta. The complex carbohydrates will provide energy while the protein will satisfy your child’s appetite for a longer period of time.
    • Bring your child to the market with you and let him or her choose one fruit or vegetable each week. Encourage kids to try new and interesting produce such as kiwi, papaya and edamame.
    • Monitor portion size. Three to four ounces of meat (about the size of your palm) is plenty. Adjust the amount based on your child’s age and activity level.
    • Add more vegetables into your child’s diet, even if you have to sneak them in. For example, try zucchini bread, veggies with low-fat dip, or shred carrots into tomato sauce and soups.
    • For beverages, suggest no-fat milk or water. If you child prefers juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice.

    Many types of standard lunch fare are packed with calories and fat. But there are healthier alternatives that can make for a more nutritious lunch. The Nemours Foundation suggests these healthier lunch options:

    • Turkey and other low-fat deli meats.
    • Whole grain bread — instead of white — spread with mustard or light mayo.
    • Vegetables and dip, air-popped popcorn, and trail mix or baked potato chips, in place of fried potato chips.
    • Fresh fruit or packaged fruit in natural juices, instead of syrup.
    • Yogurt or a homemade fruit-filled muffin, in place of packaged cakes or cookies.
    • No-fat milk or water, in place of sodas or sugary fruit drinks.

    For More information From The Nemours Foundation About Children And Healthy Eating click here.

    Study finds later abortions linked to mental health risks, women pressured

    A new study finds the later a woman has an abortion the more likely it is that she faces mental health risks and is under pressure from a partner or others to have an abortion she may not otherwise want. Women getting later abortions also are more likely to be ambivalent about having an abortion. Here are the details from

    The results came from an online survey of 374 women who answered a detailed questionnaire about the circumstances leading to their abortions, their previous mental health history, history of physical or sexual abuse and emotional state following abortion.

    Although small, the study, published in the Journal of Pregnancy by Dr. Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, is the first to compare the experiences of women having early abortions compared to women having later abortions (in the second or third trimester).

    The study found:

    • women after 13 weeks of pregnancy were more likely to report that their partner desired the pregnancy (22.4 percent of women who had later abortions vs. 10.3 percent of women who had early abortions) and
    • that they were pressured by someone other than their partner to abort (47.8 percent vs. 30.5 percent).

    The women having later abortions were more likely to report:

    • that their partner didn’t know about the abortion (23.9 percent vs. 12.5 percent),
    • that they had left their partner before the abortion (28.3 percent vs. 15.6 percent) and
    • that physical health concerns were a factor in having the abortion (29.8 percent vs. 14.7 percent).

    Ambivalence about the abortion, unwanted abortion, and poor pre-abortion counseling were also commonly reported in the late-term abortion group, according to the Elliot Institute, an abortion research group that pointed to the study.

    Nearly 40 percent of women in the survey said they desired the pregnancy and only 30 percent said both they and their partner supported the abortion, while less than 14 percent said they received adequate pre-abortion counseling or information on alternatives or physical and emotional risks.

    “In general, these results are indicative of more ambivalence and conflict surrounding the decision and the likelihood of less stable partner relationships among women who obtain later abortions,” the authors wrote.

    “Logically, women who are unsure about how to proceed with an unplanned pregnancy are more likely to put off the decision to abort, perhaps hoping their circumstances will improve and enable them to carry to term.”

    Meanwhile, the Elliot Institute noted a survey of American and Russian women who had abortions, published in the Medical Science Monitor in 2004, found that 64 percent of the American respondents reported feeling pressured to abort, while more than half said they felt rushed or uncertain about the decision and more than 80 percent reported receiving inadequate counseling beforehand.

    The new study also found high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms for women having both early and late abortions, with 52 percent of the early abortion group and 67 percent of the late term abortion group meeting the American Psychological Association’s criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD).

    One possible cause may be a high number of women having unwanted abortions due to the reactions of those around them, the authors said.

    “Concern regarding reactions of others to having a child” was the mostly frequently cited reason for abortion for both early (69.1 percent) and late (62 percent) abortions; however, they wrote, many women likely had abortions “despite ambivalence or actually desiring to continue the pregnancy.”

    Feelings of ambivalence or having an unwanted abortion are known risk factors for psychological problems after abortion.

    When it came to differences between the late and early abortion groups, women having later abortions were more likely to report having disturbing dreams, reliving the abortion, having trouble sleeping and experiencing intrusion, a PTSD symptom that involves having recurring memories, flashbacks or hyperactivity when confronted with reminders of the trauma.

    The 2004 Medical Science Monitor survey found that 65 percent of American women who had abortions reported experiencing symptoms of PTSD, which they attributed to their abortions. Other studies have also linked abortion to increased rates of depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders and other mental health problems.

    The authors said that their new study is best viewed as a “pilot” study on which to base future research on the psychological impact of late-term abortion, and called for more counseling and support for women undergoing later abortions.

    Other peer-reviewed studies have linked abortion to increased risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, sleep disorders and more. Recent studies have also linked abortion to higher rates of death from heart disease, which investigators believe may be a long term effect of elevated rates of anxiety and depression.

    Related web site: Elliot Institute

    The Blessing of Anastasha Kalil – Part 16 – Day of Life 242

    We have all been following the journey of Anastasha Kalil. Now it appears her life may be very near its end.

    Tonya is 36 weeks pregnant today. That is further along than she carried Amalyah, Cale, or Caius. We both assumed that Anastasha would have been born by now, but the Lord apparently has other plans. We are at 2 cm and holding. So we wait…

    Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been particularly drawn to read about how Jesus himself handled trial and suffering. What did His emotions look like? Was He stoic or emotionless? Did he stand above the emotional roller coaster that many people experience during trials? How did He relate to His Father during these trials? I know He did not sin in these times, so I am particularly curious what the range of His emotions were.

    • “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them.
    • “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came into this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
    • “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

    In these three accounts, it mentions that Jesus was “troubled”. All three times this phrase is translated from the Greek word “tarasso“. A Greek dictionary translates this word as “to disturb, disquiet in body or spirit, to make anxious”.

    Hmmm, so our Lord was disturbed and maybe somewhat anxious? It does seem like He was in each account, especially in Gethsemane.

    What a wonderfully human emotion that the Creator of all things Himself experienced. I am so thankful that we have a God who is not some distant deity, who set the world in motion and then watched history unfold from afar. Instead we have a God who took on our humanity WITH US, and as a result, can empathize with us perfectly in any given trial.

    “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

    It is almost blasphemous to compare what we are feeling right now to how our Lord felt in the garden the night before his betrayal and crucifixion. But Tonya and I do most certainly feel “tarasso“. It isn’t purely fear, because we trust in God’s sovereignty. It isn’t purely doubt, because we have faith in His goodness and love. And it isn’t completely disturbed because we do have peace. But our hearts are heavy for what lies ahead. And so was Jesus’.

    It is also important, though, to look at how he responded to his distress in the garden…

    “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

    He acknowledged God’s unlimited power, knowing He can do all things, including deliver Him from that trial. He told God the desire of His own heart. But, and this is the clincher, He willfully submitted His will to that of His loving Father because He trusted that His Abba knew what was best.

    That pretty much sums up where we are right now – believing … asking … submitting … trusting …

    We are learning even more now to let God be our “God of the present moment”. Living in “tomorrow” is painful and doesn’t come with the grace that “today” does. However, I am so thankful that God, Who sees the end of a thing from its beginning, is already in our tomorrow (and the next day, and the next day…). That gives us peace.

    So please pray for us that we won’t be consumed about how this will all end.

    • How will we handle her death if it comes?
    • How will the children handle it?
    • Will the funeral honor the Lord?

    So many unknowns. We don’t have the grace for these things because we aren’t there yet. But today? Yes, we have the grace for today.

    With God’s help, we can get up today and make it through until “tomorrow” becomes the next “today”. Pray that we will live in each moment with Him.

    This will almost certainly be the last note I send before our precious Anastasha comes.

    Craig and Tonya

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

    Here’s the entire series of amazing stories:

    Many Americans Don’t Even Know They’re Fat

    A recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll found that 30 percent of overweight Americans mistakenly think they’re normal size. Do you think you’re normal weight, overweight, or obese? you might be surprised. You can find out for sure here. In the meantime, here are the details from HealthDay News:

    Many Americans have skewed perceptions when it comes to their weight, often believing they are thinner than they really are, even when the scales are shouting otherwise, a new poll finds.

    As part of the Harris Interactive/HealthDay survey, respondents were asked to provide their height and weight, from which pollsters calculated their body-mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height. Respondents were then asked which category of weight they thought they fell into.

    Thirty percent of those in the “overweight” class believed they were actually normal size, while 70 percent of those classified as obese felt they were simply overweight. Among the heaviest group, the morbidly obese, almost 60 percent pegged themselves as obese, while another 39 percent considered themselves merely overweight.

    These findings may help to explain why overweight and obesity rates in the United States continue to go up, experts say.

    “While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual BMI, for many people they are not, and this may be where part of the problem lies,” said Regina Corso, vice president of Harris Poll Solutions. “If they do not recognize the problem or don’t recognize the severity of the problem, they are less likely to do something about it.”

    And that means that obesity may be becoming the new norm, raising the specter of increasing rates of health threats such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

    “I think too many people are unsure of what they should actually weigh,” said Keri Gans, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “For many, they have grown up in a culture were most people are overweight and that is the norm, or they have been surrounded by too many celebrities and fashion in the media and think very thin is the norm.”

    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 percent of adults aged 20 and older are obese, and 34 percent are overweight. Among children, 18 percent of teens aged 12 to 19 are obese, 20 percent of children aged 6 to 11 are obese, as are 10 percent of kids aged 2 to 5.

    Most respondents to the poll who felt they were heavier than they should be blamed sloth, rather than poor eating habits, for their predicament.

    “In the mindset of most Americans, they’re not looking at this as a food problem as much as an exercise problem,” Corso said.

    According to the poll, 52 percent of overweight people and 75 percent of both the obese and morbidly obese felt they didn’t exercise enough.

    “We’re seeing the couch potato stigma [syndrome],” Corso said. “Three out of five Americans overall are saying they don’t exercise as much as they should.”

    Added Gans: “It is sad that 59 percent of people who responded know they should be getting more exercise but yet aren’t. Maybe they set the bar too high and forget that simply walking counts as exercise.”

    Food appeared to be a lesser culprit than lack of exercise in people’s minds, with 36 percent of overweight respondents, 48 percent of obese respondents and 27 percent of those morbidly obese feeling they ate more than they “should in general.”

    A third of overweight people, 55 percent of obese people and 59 percent of morbidly obese people felt they ate too much of the wrong types of food.

    As for weight-loss interventions, the respondents deemed surgery the most effective method, followed by prescription drugs, then drugs and diet-food supplements obtained over-the-counter.

    About half felt that procedures such as gastric bypass and stomach stapling were either very or fairly effective in helping people shrink their girth. Faith in these remedies seemed similar, regardless of the respondents’ weight.

    “Americans like the quick fix and that’s what they think the surgery is even though there are so many other things” that work, Corso said. “And so many people reverse their own surgery. These numbers are staggering.”

    Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, noted that “when [Dr. Everett Coop, surgeon general in the 1980s] wrote ‘Shape Up America,’ he said the biggest health problem facing America was not AIDS, not cancer, it’s obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Since then … we’ve seen nothing but a rise in obesity despite all of these efforts that have gone on now since the 1980s.”

    “The American public knows this but it’s hard and it’s something that they’re not quite ready to do,” Corso added. “This wake-up call still isn’t ringing as loudly as it could.”

    The poll included 2,418 adults (aged 18 and over) who were surveyed online between Aug. 17 and 19.

    More information

    • Read more about the poll methodology and findings at Harris Interactive here.
    • To check your BMI, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute here.

    Sleep-Deprived Teens Eat More Fat, Study Finds

    In my best-sellilng book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat (currently on sale for $1.99 here), I discuss how a good night’s sleep reduces the risk of obesity in children.


    Now, out comes yet another study showing that those children who get less than eight hours a night are at significant risk for obesity. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

    Teens who sleep less than eight hours a night are more likely to eat a high-fat diet that puts them at risk for obesity and the many health problems connected with it, new research shows.

    The study, published in the journal Sleep, found that these sleep-deprived teens consumed 2.2 percent more calories from fat, and ate more snacks than those who slept eight hours or more a night. They also ate more total calories.

    “There’s been a lot of research over the last five years implicating insufficient sleep with obesity,” said study author Dr. Susan Redline, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

    “Some experimental studies on sleep deprivation in controlled laboratory environments show a craving for fatty foods among the participants” who got less sleep, she said.

    Redline, a professor of medicine with the school’s division of sleep medicine, said sleep-deprived teens may suffer from metabolic disturbances that have been linked to obesity and insulin resistance in other research with shift workers whose sleep was also irregular.

    Metabolism is the body’s process for turning calories into energy. Lack of sleep can affect metabolism by changing the level of appetite-regulating hormones like leptin and ghrelin, setting the stage for poor eating habits, Redline explained.

    In addition to being a possible cause of metabolic problems, fewer hours of sleep provided teens with “more opportunities to eat,” Redline said.

    Teens need about nine hours of sleep every night to feel rested and alert the next day, but few teens get that amount, experts said.

    “I almost never see anyone who is sleeping more than seven hours a night,” said Dr. Paula Elbirt, an associate professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Insufficient sleep among teens is “the rule, not the exception,” she said.

    Elbirt said the “adolescent lifestyle” encourages teens to stay up late. Socializing on cell phones and computers, playing video games and watching television keep teens awake into the middle of the night, she said, noting that daily stress may be an underlying reason for staying up late.

    Elbirt said that while the “prevailing view is that a calorie is a calorie,” there is some evidence that calories from fat are more likely to be metabolized into more stored fat. Also, the more fat you eat, the more you crave, she said.

    Teens are also “phase-delayed” according to the study, meaning that their circadian rhythm is shifted in a way that makes them alert at night and sleepy in the morning, eating into the night hours.

    And because school starts early for most teens, they tend not to get the sleep they need, experts said.

    “All of us have a clock system inside us and it keeps 24-hour time,” said Dr. Kenneth P. Wright Jr., an associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. “In adolescence, this system changes, and it drives a lot of our behaviors, like when we sleep.”

    Wright, at the school’s Center for Neuroscience, likened adolescents to people “on the East Coast, living on a West Coast time” clock.

    The study measured the hours slept of 240 teens for five to seven consecutive 24-hour periods on weekdays. The teens wore wrist meters measuring their movements to determine wakefulness and sleep. They were interviewed twice within 24 hours of eating about what foods they ate, the amount they ate, and when and where.

    Teens who slept less than eight hours a night consumed, on average, 1,968 calories a day. Those who slept eight hours or more averaged 1,723 calories a day. The teens slept a little less than an average of eight hours a night. Only 34 percent of the participants slept eight hours or more.

    Wright cited the study’s “strong methodology,” calling it a “step forward” in examining the relationship between lack of sleep and obesity.

    “When we think of adolescents and lack of sleep, we think of drowsy driving, and learning is impaired, but this study also shows that there are real health consequences for teens,” said Wright. “It supports the notion that sleep is important for our health.”

    To Not Sleep, Perchance to Shorten Your Life

    In past blogs, I’ve discussed the studies showing that if you chronically have a poor night’s sleep or you are chronically sleep deprived, that will result in a wide variety of poor health outcomes. Now comes a study showing that insomniac men are more likely to die earlier. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

    Shortchanging yourself on sleep could shave years off your life if you’re a man.

    So claims a new study that found men who reported having insomnia or who slept for short periods of time were much more likely to die over a 14-year period.

    “Insomnia has potentially very severe side effects,” said study co-author and sleep researcher Edward Bixler. “It needs to be treated, and more effort needs to be put into sorting out better treatments.”

    Female insomniacs could be suffering the same fate, but the researchers only followed them for 10 years and researchers didn’t notice any significant difference in mortality rates.

    Previous research has looked at sleep’s effects on life span, but the new study is unique because it takes into account both people’s perceptions about how much sleep they’re getting (which can be wrong) and the actual amount of sleep they got in a laboratory.

    Bixler and his colleagues recruited more than 1,700 people from central Pennsylvania and followed the men (average age 50) for 14 years and the women (average age 47) for a decade. The participants answered questions and spent a night in a sleep laboratory.

    The researchers report their findings in the journal Sleep.

    About a fifth of the men died during the study period, while 5 percent of the women did. The difference may be because women live longer than men and the study followed women for a shorter period, said Bixler, a professor of psychiatry at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

    Even after adjusting their statistics so they wouldn’t be thrown off by factors such as the prevalence of sleep apnea, the researchers found that self-described male insomniacs who slept fewer than six hours in the sleep lab were several times more likely to die during the 14-year period compared to “good sleepers.”

    Among men, about 9 percent of “good sleepers” died during the study period, compared to more than half — 51 percent — of insomniacs with short sleep duration.

    Of all the people in the study, 8 percent of women and 4 percent of men both reported insomnia and had trouble getting much sleep in the lab.

    Why might sleep problems shorten lives? Some evidence suggests they may contribute to clogged arteries or disrupt the immune system, said Dr. B. Tucker Woodson, chief of the division of sleep medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

    The study doesn’t definitively prove that poor sleep will directly cause a man to die earlier; there could be other factors at play.

    As for women, they aren’t in the clear, Bixler said. Since they live longer, it may take a study of a longer duration to figure out whether they suffer from a similar effect, he noted.

    And there’s another complicating factor, said J. Todd Arnedt, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Michigan. While he said the study was “well-conducted,” the men appear to have been sicker than the women, potentially throwing off the results.

    Here are some of my other blogs on sleep:

    Susan Boyle: Docs Told Mum to Abort Me

    Barb and I are fans of the international singing phenomenon Susan Boyle, who has just revealed in a new autobiography that doctors had told her mother to abort her, because they thought the pregnancy was risky Here are the details from Edinburg, Scotland:

    Boyle soared to stardom in April 2009 after appearing on the UK television program, Britain’s Got Talent, when the plain-looking Scotswoman shocked audiences with a powerful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

    But the 49-year-old native of Blackburn, a village in West Lothian, Scotland would never have dreamed the dream of singing on the international stage, if her mother had agreed to abort her on the advice of doctors.

    In her autobiography, The Woman I Was Born To Be, Boyle reveals that doctors recommended a “termination” to Bridget Boyle, who already was a mother of eight children, because they feared physical complications.

    Boyle reveals that her mother rejected this advice as “unthinkable” since she was a “devout Catholic.”

    When Boyle was born by emergency c-section, doctors did not tell her mother the usual “Congratulations, Mrs. Boyle! A beautiful baby girl.” Boyle wrote that doctors took a dismissive view of her life – especially when they suspected brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

    “‘It’s probably best to accept Susan will never be anything,” Boyle recounted the doctors telling her mother. “‘Susan will never come to anything so don’t expect too much of her.’”

    “I’m sure they had the best of intentions,” Boyle continued, “but I don’t think they should have said that, because nobody can foretell the future.”

    “What they didn’t know was that I am a bit of a fighter, and I’ve been trying all my life to prove them wrong.”

    Boyle released her first album “I Dreamed a Dream” on November 23, 2009, and quickly sold 9 million copies in six weeks, making it the number one selling album for that year. The Guinness Book of World Records also recognized Boyle as the number one female artist in the UK with the fastest selling debut album.

    In recent years, a number of popular icons have revealed that they had mothers who were faced with the choice to abort or give birth.

    Andrea Bocelli, Italian pop, opera, and classical singer, revealed to the world this year that doctors recommended abortion to his mother after she experienced an attack of appendicitis, making it likely that her son would be born with a disability. Bocelli is completely blind.

    Bocelli said he hoped that the story of his brave mother “could encourage many mothers that find themselves in difficult situations in those moments when life is complicated, but want to save the life of their baby.” (see coverage)

    In the United States, college football star Tim Tebow (now back-up quarterback for the Denver Broncos) revealed that doctors recommended abortion to his mother after she became sick in the Philippines.

    Tebow’s story was featured in a brief 30-second ad spot purchased for the Super Bowl. According to one study, 92.6 million Americans watched the ad. Of those who identified themselves as supportive of abortion, four percent said they were led to “personally reconsider [their] opinion about abortion” after watching Tebow and his mother Pam tell their story in the ad. (see coverage)

    A preview of Boyle’s autobiography The Woman I Was Born To Be is available here.

    See related coverage:

    Andrea Bocelli Confirms: He’s Not Merely Anti-Abortion, he’s “For Life”

    Famed Blind Singer Andrea Boccelli Reveals, He Was Almost Aborted

    Gentle Tebow Ad Has Big Impact

    How to Create a Spoiled Brat: 9 Parenting No-Nos

    Kids need to know their parents love them. But some moms and dads think that the way to show love is to accept children’s bad behavior. And that can turn even good kids into spoiled brats, says parenting guru Nancy Samalin, New York City-based author of “Loving without Spoiling” and other books on parenting. Here are Nancy’s nine parenting no-nos from a report on CBS News:

    1) Mistake: Always “Rescuing” Your Child

    Are you a “helicopter parent,” always hovering overhead to make sure your child does things right – and swooping in at the first sign of trouble? Big mistake. Kids need to experience disappointment. They need to know what it’s like to struggle with a problem. If it’s a matter of protecting your child’s safety or health, by all means step in. But if your child oversleeps or leaves his lunch at home, let him/her suffer the consequences.

    2) Mistake: Trying to Keep Your Child from Feeling Unhappy

    As long as they don’t persist, sadness, frustration, and other negative emotions won’t hurt your child. Sometimes they teach vital lessons about behavior. Your job as a parent isn’t to make sure your child never suffers disappointment. A disappointed child is not an unloved child.

    3) Mistake: Saying No – But Not Really Meaning It

    Kids need to know that when you say no, you mean it. No backtalk, no arguing. Otherwise you give the message that things are always negotiable – and that encourages kids to become manipulative. So when you say no, stick to your guns. Don’t give lengthy explanations or aplopgize. Just move on.

    4) Mistake: Offering “Bribes”

    Kids should do what they’re supposed to do without being bribed by their parents. Offering bribes for cleaning up a room, making the bed, tooth-brushing, etc., makes you look weak – and encourages them to expect rewards for everything they do.

    5) Mistake: Always Putting Your Child First

    Your child should know that the marital relationship sometimes takes priority. There’s nothing wrong with setting aside some time together with your spouse even if your kid objects. For example, if you and your spouse have a “date” every Thursday night and your child hates being left out, take the time anyway.

    6) Mistake: Indulging the “Gimmes”

    Most kids have a bottomless pit of things they want. But what do they really need? Not a great deal beyond your love and your time. Think twice before giving them more “stuff.”

    7) Mistake: Tolerating Rudeness

    No matter how angry or upset your child becomes, he/she should not be allowed to be rude or discourteous. Teach your child from a very early age – as soon as he/she is able to talk – to say please, thank you, and excuse me. Make it clear that it’s never okay to name-call, curse, or insult others.

    8) Mistake: Giving In to Whining

    Parents who give in when their kids whine, pout, or throw tantrums produce whiny kids. No way around it. Make sure your child knows you will not change your mind just because he/she makes a fuss. Even if your child says, “I hate you,” don’t take it personally.

    9) Mistake: Making Excuses for Your Child

    Kids should be held accountable for their actions. Otherwise, they have a hard time learning that in the “real world” there are consequences for bad or inconsiderate behavior. For example, if your child forgets to thank his aunt for a gift, don’t tell her that “he just has so much work to do that he probably just forgot.”

    I discuss these and other parenting mistakes in my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child. Although I don’t have any more copies, you can still find it online.

    Friendly Bacteria (Probiotics) Help Calm Colicky Babies and May Help Constipated Babies

    Italian researchers have published a study that may offer some hopeful news for parents of colicky babies: a daily dose of “good” bacteria may help their child to cry less. Here are some details from Reuters Health:

    After three weeks of treatment with probiotic bacteria, babies cried for an average of about a half-hour a day, while infants who received a placebo were still crying for an hour and a half daily. At the study’s outset, babies in both groups were crying for five to six hours a day.

    The cause of colic, traditionally defined as inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day, on at least three days in a week and lasting for at least three weeks, isn’t clear. It affects up to 28 percent of babies under three months of age, according to lead author Dr. Francisco Savino of Regina Margherita Children Hospital in Turin, Italy.

    Causes are “most likely multifactorial,” Savino noted in an e-mail to Reuters Health, and may include social and psychological factors, as well as allergies to certain foods, including cow’s milk. He added that recent research suggests that babies with colic have an abnormal balance of bacteria in their guts.

    Savino and his team had previously tested the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri against simethicone, the anti-gas remedy found in over-the-counter medications such as Gas-X, and found L. reuteri was much more effective in improving colicky symptoms.

    Another group of Italian researchers published a study last month that found L. reuteri was more helpful than placebo for treating constipation in babies.

    In the current study, published in Pediatrics and funded by BioGaia AB of Stockholm (a company that makes probiotic infant drops for babies, among other products containing L. reuteri), the researchers compared the “good bacteria” to placebo.

    Parents gave their babies five drops of the active probiotic, a suspension of freeze-dried L. reuteri in oil, or a placebo consisting of the same oil minus the bacteria, once a day a half-hour before feeding the baby in the morning.

    All of the infants were exclusively breastfed and mothers were asked to abstain from drinking cow’s milk during the three week test. The study was double-blind, meaning neither the patients nor the researchers knew whether a participating baby was receiving active treatment or placebo.

    At the beginning of the study, the 25 babies in the probiotic group were crying for 370 minutes a day, on average, compared to 300 minutes for the 21 babies in the placebo group, which wasn’t a statistically significant difference, meaning it could have been due to chance.

    On day 21, babies in the probiotic group averaged 35 minutes of crying a day, compared to 90 minutes for the placebo babies.

    Seven days into the study, 20 of the babies in the probiotic group had showed a response to treatment (defined as a 50 percent or greater reduction in crying time), compared to 8 of the placebo group; at 14 days, 24 of the probiotic babies and 13 of the placebo babies had responded; and at 21 days, 24 of the probiotic group had responded to treatment, compared to 15 of the placebo group.

    The researchers also tested stool samples from the infants before and after treatment and confirmed an increase in the probiotic bacteria among the infants given the supplement; these babies also showed a reduction in the amount of Escherichia coli in their stool and less ammonia.

    Theories about the causes of colic include the possibility that an overabundance of E. coli in the intestines of colicky babies could produce excess gas.

    The authors speculate that the probiotic might help babies by improving their gut function and calming intestinal nerves. They also note that the considerable decrease in crying time among the babies who received the placebo might be attributable to the mothers’ milk-free diet or just growing out of the colicky stage, as most babies eventually do, during the study period.

    After a pediatrician has examined a colicky child to rule out any underlying cause of disease and address any feeding problems, “our results suggest a potential role of L. reuteri as a new safe therapeutic approach to infantile colic,” Savino said.

    Now, a caution about natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) sold in the U.S. Since these are unregulated substances, it can often be difficult to locate product that is both safe and effective.

    For example, when tested probiotics, here’s what they found: selected thirteen probiotic products sold in the U.S. and/or Canada.

    Some products only listed the amount of organisms that were viable when the product was manufactured and not through the expiration date.

    This labeling practice is not typically employed with other types of supplements and can mislead consumers when a diminished amount is actually in the product at time of use.

    One of the products selected by (Kashi Vive) did not list any amount of organisms.

    Among the products selected by, only two (Advocare Probiotic Restore and Udo’s Choice Adult Formula) were found to accurately list the number of cells that were viable at the time they were tested.

    Other products were found to contain as little as 7% to 58% of the amount listed on their labels.

    The actual amount of viable probiotic cells in a daily serving ranged from over ten billion to less than one hundred million — more than a 10,000% difference – highlighting the need to carefully evaluated probiotics. However, most products yielded at least one billion organisms, an amount that may still provide some benefit.

    Unfortunately, the product tested in both of these studies, from BioGaia AB of Stockholm, has not yet been tested by

    Nevertheless, I think it would be a reasonable product to try.

    Omega-Enhanced Margarines a Heart-Saver? Or Not?

    They taste like butter and offer a boost of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but these omega-enhanced margarines may NOT actually help your heart, according to new research from the Netherlands. Now, before you read the details, this study examined only older patients (age 60 – 80) living in the Netherlands and thus may not be applicable to the general United States population or to younger people as our diets, lifestyles, and risk factors differ. That said, this new study of almost 5,000 patients who had previously had a heart attack, eating a daily serving of omega-3 charged margarine had NO effect on the likelihood of a second heart attack. In other words, it didn’t help or hurt. So, what should you do? Here are the details from ABC News:

    Margarines containing different types of omega-3 fatty acids were tested, one with EPA-DHA, one with ALA and another with both, were tested against a placebo, omega-free margarine.

    Patients ranged from age 60 to 80 and were already on medicine to control their blood pressure and cholesterol. After more than three years on this margarine meal-plan, researchers saw no association between eating omega-supplemented margarine and a reduced risk of second cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke.

    Previous research shows that giving an EPA-DHA supplement to patients with cardiovascular disease reduces their chance of dying from the disease by as much as 20 percent, authors note in the study, but supplementing with margarine didn’t seem to cut it.

    This doesn’t mean that those at cardiovascular risk should give up on getting extra Omega-3 fatty acids or pass on margarine, experts say. It’s just about getting the right amount of good fats from the right places.

    Omega Enhancement – Myths Busted

    Peanut butter, margarine, cheese, baby food, even eggs – you name it and manufacturers are pumping omega-3 supplements into it. But is eating these omega enhanced items actually healthy for your heart?

    This study would suggest no, but experts say that it’s not where you get your EPA-DHA omega 3’s, it’s how much you get and how it fits into your diet.

    One of the reasons that the Netherlands study may not have seen a benefit was that the dose of omega-3 fatty acid was too low. Researchers were shooting for a daily intake of 400 mg of EPA-DHA and 2 g of ALA, but past research suggests that a therapeutic dose is closer to 850 mg of combined EPA-DHA per day.

    Don’t Pass on Omega-3s

    “I recommend that all of my cardiac patients [with] significant coronary artery disease&take EPA/DHA at a dose of 800-1000 per day. To get this dose, most require a supplement, either one, two or three capsules of an over the counter supplement depending on the concentration,” says Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention at John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute.

    Similarly, Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute at University of California, San Francisco, recommends a fish oil supplement that contains one gram of combined EPA-DHA per day.

    On the other hand, the dose given by the study’s EPA-DHA margarine was roughly similar to that provided by two servings of fish a week, the current recommended amount for heart health, so the dose received by subjects was not insignificant, says Alice Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University.

    Another potential reason that the margarine seemed to have no effect is that the patients had been heart attack-free for a couple to several years, which means they were already at relatively low risk of another heart attack, says Lavie. Given the lower risk, it might be hard to gauge the effects.

    What’s more, these results can only speak to the effects of a modest supplementation of omega-3s for patients who, like the subjects, have had a previous heart attack and are now being rigorously treated for heart disease, experts point out.

    “These results don’t say anything about what omega-3 fatty acids could do for prevention [of a heart attack] or for someone whose heart disease is not as well managed,” says Lichtenstein.

    Fish Still Best Bet and Margarine Over Butter

    Research on the heart-protective benefits of omega-3 supplements remains inconsistent, though some studies show benefit and these supplements are often suggested to patients with heart disease.

    Research on the consumption of fish on the other hand, has shown a strong connection between a diet rich in fish and a decreased risk of heart disease and cardiovascular complications such as heart attack or stroke, experts say.

    “Every time we try to isolate a nutrient and supplement it we get disappointed,” says Lichtenstein, “but we consistently see results with those who eat fish on a regular basis.”

    One shouldn’t “make a conclusion that fish aren’t important. In general, those who consume fish versus [those who don’t] seem to have less coronary heart disease,” agrees Dr. Robert Eckel, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

    That said, if eating fish a few times a week is hard for you to do, supplements are still advised, Lavie adds, because “very few people eat enough fish.”

    Similarly, when choosing something to spread on your bread, margarine is still a better choice than butter, doctors say, as long as it is low in saturated fat and trans fatty acids. Though Ornish says if you can trade the margarine for olive or canola oil, even better.

    Soybean and canola oil contain ALA and have lower saturated fats than other oils, even olive oil, notes Lichtenstein, so these are a good fat to have in moderation.

    Breastfeeding May Lower Moms’ Diabetes Risk

    Most of us are aware of the many, many benefits to the baby when the mom chooses to breastfeed … especially when mom exclusively breastfeeds for at least six months. But, did you know that there are benefits for the breastfeeding mom? And, it’s not just psychological. Here’s a study showing that breastfeeding your baby for only one month may help prevent diabetes in the mom in the future — and this may be especially helpful information for moms with gestational diabetes, as they are more likely to develop diabetes later in life. Here are the details from WebMD:

    Breastfeeding for a month or longer appears to reduce a woman’s risk of getting diabetes later in life, according to a new study.

    The breastfeeding and diabetes link has been reported in other studies, according to researcher Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    Her study lends more credence to the link, she says. “Moms who had ever breastfed were much less likely to develop diabetes,” Schwarz tells WebMD. ”Moms who had never breastfed had almost twice the risk of developing diabetes as moms who had.”

    The study is published in The American Journal of Medicine. It was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

    Breastfeeding and Diabetes: A Closer Look

    Schwarz and colleagues looked at data gathered for another study on risk factors for incontinence, evaluating information given for that study on breastfeeding practices and whether the women later developed diabetes. The women were ages 40 to 78 and all members of a large health maintenance organization in California.

    The researchers evaluated data on 2,233 women. Of those, 405 were not mothers, 1,125 were mothers who breastfed for at least a month, and 703 were mothers who had never breastfed.

    The risk of getting a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for women who breastfed all their children for a month or longer was similar to that of women who had not given birth.

    But mothers who had never breastfed were nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as women who had never given birth.

    Moms who never exclusively breastfed were about 1.4 times as likely to develop diabetes as women who breastfed exclusively for one to three months, Schwarz found.

    Later in life, here is the breakdown of who developed diabetes:

    • 17.5% of the women who hadn’t given birth.
    • 17% of the women who breastfed all their children for a month or longer.
    • 20.3% of those who breastfed, but not all children for a month or longer.
    • 26.7% of moms who didn’t breastfeed.

    Overweight and obesity were common among the participants, with 68% having a body mass index of 25 or more, considered outside the healthy weight range.

    The link held, Schwarz says, even after controlling for factors such as weight, physical activity, and family history of diabetes.

    While one month of breastfeeding appears to make a difference, Schwarz says even longer is better. “Previous studies have shown the longer the mom breastfeeds, the more benefit for your body.”

    Many experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continuing [supplemented by food] for a year,” she says. “Clearly it’s hard for moms to always negotiate breastfeeding given the constraints of their work environment,” she tells WebMD.

    Breastfeeding and Diabetes: Explaining the Link

    The diabetes-breastfeeding link is probably explained by belly fat, Schwarz says. Moms who don’t breastfeed, as they get older, may have more belly fat, she says, as breastfeeding helps new mothers take off weight. “Belly fat increases the risk of diabetes as you get older.”

    Some research has shown that breastfeeding may increase sensitivity to insulin, in turn reducing diabetes risk. But that may be short-term — while the breastfeeding is occurring, Schwarz says. “The real problem may be the belly fat.”

    Second Opinion

    The finding that breastfeeding lowers the risk of diabetes later isn’t surprising at all, says Kimberly D. Gregory, MD, MPH, vice-chair of Women’s Healthcare Quality and Performance Improvement at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, who reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

    She often counsels women who get gestational diabetes (occurring during pregnancy) that they are at risk for later getting type 2 diabetes and suggests they breastfeed.

    The new findings, Gregory tells WebMD, will probably inspire her to add to the advice she gives moms-to-be about the benefits of breastfeeding. She often focuses on the benefits to the baby during that discussion, says Gregory, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California Los Angeles School of Public Health.

    But with the new research, she says, she may expand on that discussion. “I think it would make me say, ‘Oh by the way, breastfeeding would also help you lose your weight faster and could possibly decrease your likelihood of becoming diabetic later in life.”

    Medicine Errors Harming Children. What Can A Parent Do?

    Australian researchers are claiming that many parents are incapable of giving their children the correct dose of liquid medicines. Using household spoons to measure them out could mean a potentially dangerous overdose, they say. And, children under five are at the highest risk of accidental overdose.

    The study, presented at a medical meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, tested 97 adults and found:

    • 61% measured the wrong dose,
    • 17% measured an overdose, and
    • 44% did not give enough.

    Ouch! All the more reason for parents to follow my advice to always use an oral syringe to administer any medication to a child. These oral syringes are readily available at your pharmacy and very inexpensive. Here are some additional details from the BBC:

    Dr Rebekah Moles, from the University of Sydney, recruited 97 people visiting day-care centres catering for under-fives from the city. Of these, 53 were mothers, seven were fathers and the rest were day care staff. The researchers quizzed the adults on a number of scenarios, asking them what they would do next.

    For example they told the parent that their youngest child felt hot and irritable, but was still drinking, eating and playing.

    Common over-the-counter medicines were made available, together with a selection of spoons and other dosing devices, and the volunteers chose at what point they would use a medicine, and measured out the dose themselves.

    Dr Moles said: “Taking all the scenarios together, 61% of the participants would have given an incorrect dose, and only 75% were able to measure accurately what dose they intended to give.” In total, 17% measured out an overdose of the drug, and 44% did not give enough.

    “We found that 7% would give a medicine without taking their child’s temperature, and 46% would give medicine when the temperature was less than 38 degrees.” In total, only 14% managed the scenario correctly.

    Dr Moles said that almost half of the 119,000 calls received by the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre, which handles emergency calls from across Australia, concerned accidental overdose in children, with 15% needing hospitalization. The vast majority of the calls about children involved under-fives, she said.

    Presenting her findings at the annual conference of the International Pharmaceutical Federation in Lisbon, she said: “We were surprised and concerned to find that some people thought that medicines must be safe because you can buy them without prescription.

    “For example, one parent said to us that if Panadol (an acetaminophen-like painkiller) is available over-the-counter, administering a double dose couldn’t do any harm.” She said: “There is an urgent need to review the use of children’s over-the-counter medicines by parents. “We are following up this research by using mystery shoppers to visit pharmacies and see what advice they are given when presenting similar scenarios.”

    Neal Patel from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, said that it was important for parents to give their child the correct dose. He said: “If parents are unsure about dosing for children they should always consult the packaging information or seek advice from their local pharmacist.”

    “Medicines are always supplied in child-proof containers and parents can also help prevent accidental overdose by always keeping medicines out of the sight and reach of children”

    Margaret Peycke, from the National Pharmacy Association, said: “Whether you are in Australia or the UK, medicines that are available to buy are safe if used correctly but there are some risks if they are not. “The medicine should be administered carefully using the spoon or measuring device supplied, to ensure the child does not receive more or less than the recommended dose.

    “Household spoons should not be used as a substitute as they do not measure amounts accurately unlike ones that come with the medicine.”

    Research at John Moores University in Liverpool, also to be presented at a conference this week, concluded that it was feasible to produce “mini-tablets”, small enough for a younger child to swallow.

    Can Calcium Supplements Cause Heart Attacks?

    Calcium supplements are coming under scrutiny due to concerns that they might increase heart attacks. A new study shows that patients over 40 who take 500 mg/day or more of calcium have an increased risk of heart attack.

    And, the theory is plausible as too much calcium might lead to vascular calcification and atherosclerosis.

    But it is WAY, WAY, WAY  too soon to jump to any conclusions for at least a couple of reasons:

    • The analysis only looked at people taking calcium supplements alone.
    • It doesn’t address the role of dietary calcium or taking vitamin D along with calcium. Especially since some research suggests that taking calcium plus vitamin D does not significantly affect coronary artery calcification.

    The Doctors of Pharmacology at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database tell prescribers this:

    Continue to advise people to use calcium supplements if needed, but not to exceed recommended amounts.

    Advise patients to consider their TOTAL calcium intake from supplements PLUS foods. Recommend aiming for calcium 1000 mg/day for adults under 50 and 1200 mg/day for adults over 50. Many people get about half this amount in their diet.

    To this I add, if you’re going to take a calcium supplement (and, I do), then be sure to take it with vitamin D (and consider having your doctor test your vitamin D level).

    To figure out dietary calcium intake, I have my patients count 300 mg/day from NON-dairy foods plus 300 mg/cup of milk, fortified orange juice, etc.

    I also recommend vitamin D (based upon the new guidelines from Osteoporosis Canada) 1000 IU/day for adults under age of 50 and up to 2000 IU/day for adults over 50, to maintain adequate levels and help prevent fractures. I recommend using vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) because it’s more active, but vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is also fine for increasing vitamin D levels. And, I do not recommend sunlight exposure for increasing vitamin D levels. You can read my reasons here.

    Keep in mind, as I’ve told you before, the Institute of Medicine will come out with new calcium and vitamin D recommendations later this fall.

    The Blessing of Anastasha Kalil – Part 15 – Day of Life 235

    Many of us have been following, week by week, the life of Anastasha. She is unborn, but carries the  terminal diagnosis of anencephaly. She continues to grow and prosper in her mom’s womb, but the end of her pregnancy and, barring a miracle, the end of her life. Here’s the latest update from her fahter, family physician Craig DeLisi”

    We’ve decided on a middle name for our littlest princess. Kalil (Kah-LEEL) is a Hebrew name that means “complete”.

    We’ve known of and liked this name for over a decade, but it seemed fitting to go with Anastasha (Greek name for “resurrection”) since she will be made “complete” at the “resurrection.”

    Since our last email, we’ve been blessed to have some special events for our daughter.

    The first one was an evening of prayer and worship with some friends locally. It was very sweet and intimate time for us to cry out to the Lord for strength and mercy.

    We were very blessed by the love of the Body of Christ, manifested by our dear friends who attended. Most of the women who attended have lost children themselves, including one who gave birth do a daughter with anencephaly just over one year ago.

    The second event we attended was a baby shower last week given by some very special young women.

    “Living Alternatives” is a home for young women who have a crisis pregnancy and have decided to carry their child instead of having an abortion. These brave young women have followed our story and wanted to do something tangible to bless us, so they invited Tonya and I down to their home near Tyler, TX.

    We were so blessed to meet them and share our story with them. They showered us with gifts, as well as with love and prayer. We were indeed very blessed and so thankful that they each have chosen to give their child a chance at life.

    Tonya is 35 weeks pregnant now. We had Caius at 35 weeks and 5 days gestation. So based on our history, we assume Anastasha is coming soon. Especially since Tonya has been contracting very regularly, but hasn’t gone into labor yet.

    Anastasha is doing well, growing and active in the womb. She is head down, engaged and ready to come out and meet us. We both assume she’ll be born within the next 2 weeks.

    As it gets closer, it is clearly a bittersweet time. There is increasing joy and excitement in our hearts for the time to meet her and be with her. But there is sadness not knowing how long we’ll have with her. We know that however long it is, whether minutes or years, it won’t seem like long enough.

    As our journey nears its pinnacle, we are learning by necessity to trust more in our Heavenly Father.

    Tonya and I were talking today about the fact that in this life we struggle much LESS with trusting God with the “big” things – life, death, illness, jobs, etc. But where we really struggle is in trusting Him in the “little” details.

    We are both control freaks (what a mirage that is!), and like to know the details before they happen. Even with Anastasha’s life, we ultimately trust Him in “what” He decides. But the “how” is stressful to us.

    • Will she be born alive?
    • How long will we have?
    • What will we do with the kids during labor?
    • Who will come visit and when?

    None of these are big details in the grand scheme, but the cumulative effect is to cause us angst. And this is mostly because of our disbelief and lack of trust, which is sin.

    Would you please pray for us that we would TRUST more? And, here are some other things that we would really appreciate prayer for in the coming days:

    • Against anxiety/fear,
    • Preparation for our children’s’ hearts for what lies ahead,
    • For a healthy ending for Tonya’s body for this pregnancy (and for the contractions to settle down until it is really labor time),
    • That we can hold Anastasha in our arms while she is still alive,

    Many of you might be wondering if we are resigned to the fact that Anastasha will die. I can say truthfully that I have been praying more earnestly for Anastasha’s miraculous healing more in the last 2 weeks then probably I have cumulatively the rest of the pregnancy.

    Do we believe God CAN heal her? Oh yes, with ALL our heart we do.

    Do we believe with certainty that He WILL? No, we don’t because we don’t presume to know His specific will and plan in this situation.

    But we do have HOPE. However, our hope is not in a specific outcome (in this case, her healing), but our “hope is in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:18).

    As much as we desire her earthly healing, it is secondary to our desire that Jesus Christ would be glorified and magnified in Anastasha’s life … by whatever means.

    That is the prayer we have for all of our children, and we know it is a dangerous prayer. He may be most glorified by her miraculous healing and long life to show the world His power and mercy. Or He may be most glorified in her short life and death to show the world His great love and her great worth despite her frailty and brevity. We don’t know, but we do trust Him … deeply.

    Thank you for your prayer and support. We need it now more than ever.

    Craig and Tonya for the DeLisi crew

    18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
    19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.
    20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
    he is our help and our shield.
    21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
    22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
    even as we put our hope in you.
    But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, 

    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

    to deliver them from death

    and keep them alive in famine.

    We wait in hope for the LORD;

    he is our help and our shield.

    In him our hearts rejoice,

    for we trust in his holy name.

    May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,

    even as we put our hope in you.

    Psalm 33:18-22

    PS. When Anastasha is born, Tonya and I know that some of you may want to show us love in the form of flowers or gifts. And we are thankful for that. But we would be SO GREATLY BLESSED if you would consider instead making a donation to the orphanage and school that I have visited in Sudan several times.

    Harvesters Reaching the Nations is an awesome ministry of which I am honored to serve on the Board of Trustees (click here to watch an endorsement by Franklin Graham).

    To give, you can go to here and put Anastasha’s name at the bottom where it says “in honor of”.

    The money you give will be used not just to bless us, but to advance God’s kingdom in Sudan by caring for and blessing some very precious children.

    Here’s the entire series of amazing stories: