Tag Archives: News

Really Useful (or Interesting) Websites (January 2009)

The selection is shorter this month, I’m afraid – we’ve been recovering from the holidays and multiple illnesses in our household and I’m afraid my energy just gave out.  Still, I did find some sites that I thought were worth sharing!

  • Online Book Club for Readers – I was looking for a book club that I could take part in without set meetings, since I have a job and two young children.  I need something I can take part in whenever I have the time – and this fits.  I am now participating; we’ll see how it goes.
  • Dear Reader – this enables you to join online book clubs through libraries and also allows you to participate in forums.   There are publisher-sponsored clubs, recipes, and a blog.  I highly recommend taking a look!
  • Project Gutenberg – this is a fantastic site.  If you want to read a classic, but don’t have it in your home and don’t want to run to the library (or they don’t have it), check this site.  It could very well be online.  There are 0ver 27,000 books to read here, online, for free.  You can also look into helping add to the catalog.  Go check it out!
  • Presidential Trivia – this is a collection of links to other sites with information and tidbits about the presidents, including our current president.  Check it out; you are almost guaranteed to learn something surprising about at least one of the presidents.  Did you know that, despite Barak Obama being our 44th president, there have only been 43 presidents?  Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms and is counted as our 22nd and 24th president.
  • Headlinespot – I’ve been looking for a collection of links to news sites; I feel like I visit the same few sites over and over again and the variety of news articles and information hasn’t been what I would have hoped.  This is a great selection of links.  There are divisions such as Must-See Sites, Weather, Television, News Photos, and Sports.
  • Being Thrifty – This is a blog with some interesting links to freebies, as well as other blogs.  I found the freebies pretty interesting, and the commentary on “trashy garage sales” amusing.  I’m sure I’ll be going back – and I’m sure I’ll be checking out her other blogs; the author is hoping to write full time in the near future!
  • Tipnut – I started out looking at tips for saving money in the kitchen and moved on.  This is a fabulous site.  I love it and I’m subscribing!  There are DIY tips, crafts, cleaning tips and so much more.  I love it – and I love the story behind it (I really identify with having tips and needing a way to organize them!).  Go check it out!  There’s something there for everyone, I have no doubt!
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Cold Drugs and Children

According to the Washington Post on January 29, 2008 (article here), more than 7000 children per year get rushed to emergency rooms due to adverse reactions to cough/cold medicines. According to the article, most of the problems occur in children ages 2-5, who got into the medicine on their own.

The researchers based their conclusions on information from a “nationally representative sample of 63 emergency rooms in 2004 and 2005.” This is coming as the FDA considers whether to further restrict the use of these products. The issues are the risks involved and the possibility that the products simply aren’t effective in young children.

Pediatricians are arguing that the drugs are not effective in young children and pose too great a risk to continue to allow their usage; the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, an industry group, says that the report shows that the problem really lies in parents giving incorrect dosages or failing to make sure the medicine is out of the reach of children. Last year, the industry voluntarily withdrew all products marketed for children under the age of two, but insisted that the products were safe for children older than 2.

The CDC said that last year at least “1500 children younger than 2 had complications in 2004 and 2005 from the products, and an FDA review noted dozens of cases of convulsions, heart problems, trouble breathing, neurological complications and other reactions, including at least 123 deaths.”

In terms of this most recent information, the researchers identified 301 cases between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2005. “Cold and cough drugs account for 5.7 percent of all medicine-related visits to the emergency room by children younger than 12. The cases did include prescription and OTC products, but researchers said that most of them involved nonprescription products.

Nearly 80 percent of the cases in the ages 2-5 involved situations in which children got into the medicine without their parents’ knowledge.

Basically, the researchers recommended several steps to make the products safer and reduce the risk. Examples include: encouraging parents to put the medicines out of the reach of children, to encourage them to keep them capped, designing better child-proof containers, and also avoiding the use of colors that make products appealing to children.

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Ok, what I really want to know here is this: are the products effective or not? I can certainly take care of keeping the products out of the reach of my children and make sure the caps are on good, but I don’t want to use them if they aren’t going to help!

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What is wrong with people?

There are just days when I cannot bear to read the news. Today is one of them. Two stories I found are Woman on Trial in Baby’s Microwave Death (from The Washington Post) and Somerset, PA, man accused of assaulting 11-day-old infant (from the Times Leader).

Yes, the first story is exactly what the headline describes. Wow. It just leaves me speechless. The woman (27) apparently confessed to it, saying, “I killed my baby” and the baby “fit right in” the microwave. Her defense attorney claims that other people had access to the baby, that she was drunk to the point of being on the edge of blacking out when the baby died, and also questions the reliability of science to determine what effect microwaves have on humans.

In the other story, a 31-year-old man has been charged with assault on the 11-day-old infant after it was discovered that the baby’s arm, leg, skull, and nose had been fractured. It seems that the injuries occurred when the man attacked the baby’s grandmother (the suspect’s girlfriend, apparently) while she was holding the baby – he beat her and the baby at the same time. What a charming individual.

It is days like this that I really wonder about the future of our society. How do people like this come to be? I’m aware of the “cycle of abuse”. I’m aware that alcohol alters people’s behavior significantly. I know these things, just like I know that people can have trouble coping with crying babies, sleep deprivation, and the like. But there is help available! Frequently family will help. If not family, churches can sometimes help out and there are some community/county/city programs that can help. It is a matter of reaching out, of asking someone around you for help.

I have two children now, two young children.  As I look at their small, beautiful faces, I cannot imagine losing control of myself to the point of hurting them.  I have been terribly tired, sleep-deprived, and completely without privacy for any longer time than that required for a shower, but I still cannot imagine it.  Yes, I get angry, particularly when I’m overtired, but I can step away.  I get out with friends from time to time.  When the grandparents visit, my husband and I go out and leave the children with the grandparents.

Of course, in some cases there are other underlying issues. For example, in the microwave story, the prosecutor says that the woman and her boyfriend had argued over whether they had been faithful to each other. She didn’t want her boyfriend to know whether he was the father because he had said he would leave her if he was not. What happened to admitting to a mistake, breaking up, and moving on? What happened to being faithful? If you don’t want to lose your boyfriend, wouldn’t it make sense to be faithful? Seems so easy to me.

These things make me so sick. Add these to the stories of teachers seducing children, either ones that they teach or others that they know and you have to wonder what happened to society. Yes, I know these things probably happened before the advent of television and they are just getting more publicity, but that doesn’t comfort me.

How can anyone other than a thirteen-year-old be attracted to a person of that age? I know that when I WAS 13, I didn’t like 13-year-olds.  Why, why, why would someone be attracted to a child?  I just don’t understand at all.  I suppose that I should be grateful for that.

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The FDA and Cold Medicines for Children – Part II

According to a Washington Post article today, here (for now), federal officials are now recommending that “consult your physician” be dropped from guidelines on boxes of cold/cough medicine for children under two.  These medicines, in many cases, simply should not be given to young children.  “The preliminary recommendation, from Food and Drug Administration safety officials would apply to decongestant use in children under 2 and antihistimines in those younger than 6, according to agency documents released Friday.”

More than 350 pages of documents were released on Friday.  They are part of a broad investigation into whether roughly 800 medicines (yes, 800) are safe and effective in treating children’s colds and coughs.  Many of those medicines are popular and widely used.

“An FDA review of side-effect records filed with the agency between 1969 and September 2006, found 54 reports of deaths in children associated with decongestant medicines made with pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine or ephedrine. It also found 69 reports of deaths associated with antihistamine medicines containing diphenhydramine, brompheniramine or chlorpheniramine.”  In addition, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report also found more than 1500 toddlers and babies wound up in ERs in a two-year period as a result of the medicines.

The Consumer Healthcare Products  Association (represents makers of OTC medicines)  is backing the recommendation that these products not be given to young children and in terms of antihistamines, they recommend that a warning be added that the medicines not be used to sedate children.

How sad is it that you have to add a warning about that?  And really, do they think that the types of people that would use it for that purpose would care whether there is a warning on the box or not?  It seems to me that the only purpose for that warning is for legal purposes for themselves.  I admit that I’ve wondered about how effective these medicines have been on my two-year-old, but he’s rarely (thank goodness) sick so it hasn’t come up much.  He has taken an antihistimine occasionally, on the recommendation of his doctor, so I wonder about that part of the article as well.  I’m going to have to talk to his doctor about this next time I go in (or rather, next time WE go in).

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A Comforting Thought for Busy People: Short Bouts of Exercise Are Helpful Too

According to an article in the Washington Post on August 14 (here), a new study finds that “even low amounts of weekly physical activity can reduce blood pressure and improve overall fitness in adults.” This was a 12-week study that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. It involved 106 healthy but sedentary people between the ages of 40 to 60. What they found was that even the group that did 30 minutes of brisk walking only three days a week also had significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and waist and hip girth, along with the group that did the exercise five days a week. The group that maintained their normal, sedentary lifestyle made no such improvements.

What a comforting thought. I’ve been trying to take better care of myself by exercising more often, flossing daily, taking my vitamins, eating more fruits and vegetables, and so on. But there are just days when I cannot fit my exercise in. I suppose it makes sense to think that some exercise is better than none, but it is nice to have it confirmed that there are visible and measurable improvements to be made even by moderate exercise. According to the article, “even slimming a few centimeters off hip and waist circumference and gaining a slight reduction in blood pressure is enough to reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”

Now, I know that I can work in 30 minutes of exercise three times a week at least, even if I can’t work in 5 times a week. That relieves some of the pressure of trying to fit everything into my week, and I hope it will relieve some of the guilt. I think that feeling guilty about letting other things overtake my exercise time is one reason I tend to quit exercising after a certain length of time.

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Filed under Health, Women's health

FDA Warning About Cough Syrup and Toddlers

In the Washington Post on Thursday, there was an article (here) stating that the FDA has issued a warning to parents to NEVER give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children younger than 2 without a doctor’s approval. Apparently, the effectiveness of such medicines has not been proven and there is a distinct risk of overdose or dosage to the point of heart problems and other serious side effects.

Now, the medicines typically already indicate the age range of use, including the notice not to use on children younger than 2 without a doctor’s advice. So what now? It is really sad that people apparently just ignore the notices. If the age limits and warnings already on the medicine do not give parents pause, what will?

The only thing mentioned in the article is possibly barring direct marketing of the products for use in young children. I wonder how much of an effect that would have; I don’t really remember seeing advertisements for these medicines regularly. I guess I’ll have to go back and take a look at some of my magazines. I just don’t think that that is enough. Perhaps they should consider a section in childbirth classes, parenting classes, handouts at OB/GYN offices, and the like.

The FDA is convening a panel of experts in October to review the use of cold medicines in young children. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what comes out of it.

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