Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Health & Safety' Category

Docs say, energy drinks dangerous for kids

Energy Drinks (Photo copyright KRT) Caffeine-riddled energy drinks may be dangerous for kids and teens, says a new study, published in the American pediatric journal, “Pediatrics,” and announced over the weekend.

The dangers? Heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even death. There have been enough energy drink overdoses that the national Poison Control Center association began tracking cases last fall — and found 677 overdoses between October and December. They’re at 331 so far in 2011.

Some kids drink four or five of these drinks a day, even though a single can has four or five times the caffeine (or caffeine-equivalent, such as guarana) of a single cup of coffee. Scary stuff. The study urged pediatricians to caution their young patients. Read the rest of the story here.

Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011
Under: Health & Safety | 1 Comment »

Food Allergies – and Confusion – on the Rise

Peanut Butter (Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT) There’s no doubt that the rate of peanut and other food allergies among kids and adults is on the rise. Today, 3-5% of the population has milk, eggs, nut or seafood allergies, according to a story in the latest New Yorker – and some allergy specialists are starting to wonder if the advice they’ve believed for so many decades is actually true. Is early exposure really the culprit? Or is it the potential cure? Take a peek at the story and prepare to get more confused…

Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Under: Health & Safety | 2 Comments »

Newest Drug: Fake Bath Salts

Poison shirt (copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Who’d have thought? First came regular old pot. Then salvia, prescription drugs and even Coricidin-abuse. Now comes this warning from the California Poison Control Center’s Dr. Richard Geller. Your teen’s sudden interest in bath salts from the corner store may have nothing to do with cleanliness or rubber duckies.

“Beginning in September, 2010,” says Geller, “US poison control centers began to receive reports of patients ill from the effects of a series of previously unreported drugs of abuse collectively known as “bath salts”. These agents have nothing to do with bathing, and, like the synthetic cannabinoids marketed as ‘spice,’ are marketed as something other than what they really are.”

Poison Control Centers across the U.S. had 236 calls on this topic last year. They’re at 220 to date for 2011, and it’s not even February yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011
Under: Health & Safety | 1 Comment »

Fat Babies? An Obesity Epidemic Among Infants

Childhood Obesity (Illustration from MCT) Fascinating story in this morning’s paper by my colleague, Jessica Yadegaran, about the rising epidemic of obesity among infants. Yup, those dimpled cheeks and chubby thighs have gone far beyond what’s healthy.

“Ten years ago,” Jessica writes, “pediatrician Gary Bean began noticing a trend in his Oakland practice. Babies were increasingly bigger, and they weren’t thinning out by the time they were crawling and walking. Toddlers came to appointments clutching Jack in the Box bags, and when Bean asked parents what else their youngsters ate, they rattled off processed foods.”

Even more troubling, a new national study, published this month, has found that a third of the infants born in the U.S. are already obese or at risk for obesity. Check out the full story here.

Posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | 3 Comments »

Feds release new crib safety standards

Recalled crib It’s no secret that these have been a bad couple of years for baby cribs. Eleven million drop-side cribs have been recalled since 2007, after hundreds of injuries and 32 fatal accidents in which babies became wedged or fell out of their beds. More have died because of faulty hardware. It’s absolutely horrifying. Now, for the first time in 30 years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has released new mandatory safety standards for baby cribs. Details in a sec. But frankly, we’re not sure what this will mean to you. Yes, crib manufacturers must abide by the new regulations. But what will you do about the crib you already have?

The new crib regulations, which go into effect June 2011, will halt the manufacture and sale of traditional drop-side cribs, strengthen mattress supports and hardware, and increase safety testing. By June 2013, cribs in child care facilities, hotels and motels must adhere to the new rules – in other words, by the time your newborn no longer sleeps in a crib anyway, there won’t be unsafe cribs at day care.

Now we’re curious. What will you do with this information right now?

Posted on Monday, December 20th, 2010
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

Eating with Elmo

Food Elmo Eats (Courtesy Sesame Workshop/Richard Termine)
C may be for cookie, but Elmo wants you and your kids eating something considerably healthier than that. The “Sesame Street” gang has put together a program called “Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget,” for the 15% of U.S. households in dire need of basic good nutrition due to financial reasons. The kit, which includes a video featuring Elmo and the gang, plus a group of new puppets (pictured above), is free. Click here for more details.

Posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

Unhappy Meals

Happy meals (Lexington Herald-Leader illustr)There will be no more cartoon figurines, roly cars and playful gizmos in unhealthy happy meals. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors just passed a ban on free toys in fast food kids’ meals that have too many calories, sodium or fat. And it was passed  on the first read, by an 8-3 majority, which renders the vote, we’re told, veto-proof. The ban begins Dec. 1, 2011. Santa Clara County’ enacted a similar ban last spring.

So, how many happy meals does this render unhappy? More than a billion kiddie meals are sold every year. Not all of them are dietary land mines, but … OK, yeah, most of them are. You want fries with that?

The ban affects kiddie meals that top out at more than 600 calories, or have more than 640 mg sodium, or get more than 35% of their calories from fat (exceptions are made for peanut butter, eggs and reduced-fat cheese). (You can read the full edited text here.)  The news came in moments ago from Corporate Accountability International, a grassroots watchdog organization and one of the bill’s supporters.

Posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

More Recalls: 40,000 Cribs

Drop-Side Cribs Recalled Letting your baby sleep in a box on the floor is beginning to sound like a good idea. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission just recalled another slew of baby cribs, including 34,000 Heritage Collection 3-in-1 drop-side cribs, sold at Kmart; 3,200 Ethan Allen drop-side cribs; and 3,400 Angel Line and Longwood Forest Drop-Side Cribs (pictured). The danger lies in the drop-side rail detaching from the crib – either due to improper assembly or normal wear-and-tear – and the baby getting dangerously wedged or falling out altogether.

There have been at least 17 cases involving Heritage cribs, including three in which babies were bruised or incurred scrapes to the neck, back and legs after becoming entrapped. There have also been at least five incidents involving Ethan Allen cribs, including one in which a baby became entrapped, two in which the babies fell out and two more that resulted in mild injuries.

If you’re worried about the safety of your crib – and you should be, because CPSC, which has received reports of at least 30 crib-related deaths and hundreds of injuries, calls cribs “a leading cause of nursery product-related deaths” – check out “Safe Sleep for Babies.” It’s a new crib safety video narrated by Joan Lunden and released by CPSC and three child safety groups at NewYork Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

TOY RECALL: Lacerating Bathtub Subs

Recalled toy sub by Munchkin Oh. My. God. And we thought exploding aromatherapy toys were extreme. Munchkin Inc. and the federal Consumer Product Safety people just recalled 34,000 bathtub subs (pictured) because the intake valve for the little water pump that propels the submarine can – well, here, we’ll let them explain: “The intake valve on the bottom of the submarine toy can suck up loose skin, posing (a) laceration hazard to children. CPSC and the company are aware of 19 incidents of lacerations to boys’ genital area. One of the incidents required medical attention.”  Ouch. More details here.

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

TOY RECALL: Aromatherapy Kits

Recalled aromatherapy spa for kids When we hear the words “spa” and “aromatherapy” we don’t usually associate them with kids … or explosions … or blasting projectiles. Sadly, now we do. The federal Consumer Product Safety people and Jakks Pacific just re-announced their recall of 516,000
Spa Factory Aromatherapy Fountain
and Bath Benefits Kits. The product was recalled way back in January 2009, after the manufacturer discovered that the little jars were prone to explode, due to a buildup of carbon dioxide inside. But since then there have been even more injuries – and they’ve also found that the mixture of water with “bath bombs” makes citric acid. To quote the recall notice: “This acid can get into consumers’ eyes when the jars explode, posing a risk of eye irritation.” Lovely.

In all, there have been 100 reports of exploding jars and 26 cases resulted in kids getting hurt, with injuries ranging from eye and skin irritation to one eye injury from a “projectile jar lid.”

The Spa Fantasy kits ($13-$50) were sold at Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and other stores from August 2008 through August 2010. Need more details? Get ’em here.

Posted on Monday, October 18th, 2010
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »