The Mom

“Have you guys seen this? I don’t think I’ve ugly cried like that in a while…” read the post on a mom Facebook group I belong to. And so, I clicked on the video, “The Unique Connection”—9.7 million views strong and growing. In it, a group of six blindfolded children ages 3 to 9 try to identify their moms using their senses and intuition alone.

I had several reactions, none of which involved tears:

I hate being manipulated by advertisers

Pandora, the jewelry company, is behind the video. It’s an ad. In subtle close-ups, children feel a mom’s ring and a bracelet. There’s a lingering shot of another ring. A couple of moms are wearing long necklaces. Ponytail Mom is sporting dainty earrings. “All women are unique in shape, personality and heart, and so is the beautiful connection and precious love we saw this day,” reads the copy on YouTube. “Celebrate the woman in your heart.”

[READ: BUY HER SOME JEWELRY! AND THEN YOUR CHILDREN WILL ALWAYS BE ABLE TO PICK HER OUT OF A CROWD SHOULD THEY HAPPEN TO BE WANDERING AROUND ONE BLINDFOLDED!]

Hello, diversity?

No black woman? Nobody plus-size? If one of my kids was blindfolded and tried to identify me, the second they felt my belly flab they’d know. Yeah, capture that on film.

Hello, dads?

Kids certainly have a physical bond with their fathers, too. When my son is sick, the only thing he wants to do is sit on the couch with my husband and mush into his body.

I don’t need a video to remind me that my children intimately know me

I have nursed them, kissed and hugged them with abandon (even while they’re asleep), and endlessly snuggled with them. My kids literally breathe me in when they nestle their heads into my neck, and my son lets out this contented sigh. When my daughter kisses me, sometimes she puts her hands on my cheeks and draws me close, and it blisses me out every time.

Call me cynical for not getting all weepy over the video, as most everyone else seems to do. But the realities of the parent-child bond are far more wondrous and amazing than anything that can be captured in a two-minute video created by an ad agency.

RELATED: The Hilarious Video That Pokes Fun at the (Very Real) Ways Parents Shame Each Other

The Surprising Health Risks of Being a Very Picky Eater

By Dennis ThompsonHealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A kid who is a seriously “picky eater” is also likely to struggle with emotional problems like anxiety and depression, new research suggests.

About 3 percent of kids suffer from severe selective eating, to the extent that they can’t eat out at a restaurant, said lead researcher Nancy Zucker, an eating disorders specialist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

These kids are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or social anxiety, when compared with kids who’ll eat anything, according to findings published online Aug. 3 in the journal Pediatrics.

Even kids who are moderate picky eaters — for example, they only have 10 foods they will reliably eat — are at increased risk for symptoms of anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, although not to the extent that they can be diagnosed with a disorder, Zucker added.

The researchers discovered that kids who eat selectively are unusually sensitive, and that this sensitivity affects their eating and their emotional health.

“They have a stronger sensitivity to the world outside and to how their body feels,” Zucker said. “That sets them up to have more vivid experiences — more intense food experiences, more intense emotional experiences. None of that is pathological, but it could be a vulnerability for later problems.”

These findings should take some of the blame off of the parents, since it’s not just a matter of controlling an unruly child, Zucker said.

In this study, researchers looked at more than 3,400 children ages 2 to nearly 6 who were treated at one of Duke’s pediatric primary care clinics. Of those, over 900 kids were screened by an in-home evaluation, and their parents filled out psychiatric assessment forms and reported on their eating patterns.

About 20 percent of the kids who were screened had some form of selective eating, researchers found. Of those, 3 percent exhibited signs of severe selective eating and 17 percent were moderately picky eaters.

Children who ate within the normal range of childhood likes and dislikes weren’t considered picky eaters. “Kids who disliked broccoli were considered normal,” Zucker said.

For severe picky eaters, eating out is too challenging, Zucker said.

“Their sensitivities to smell and other foods are so extreme that eating around other people and all the different smells at a restaurant are too overwhelming,” she said.

On the other hand, moderate picky eaters have a limited list of foods they like, but they can manage eating out. “He might not be able to order off the menu, but he’s still fine being around food,” Zucker said.

The researchers found that selective eaters also are hypersensitive to smell, noise, visual cues and oral textures. They are more likely to avoid food and to have problems swallowing.

Dr. Andrew Adesman is chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park. He said this study raises important questions about the possibility that “picky eaters may have a different sensory experience of tastes. Further research into variations in sensory experience is warranted.”

Parents of a severely selective eater should seek out professional help for their child, based on these findings, Zucker said. “That child might not be struggling only with eating that’s causing impairment, but also with other psychiatric diagnoses,” she said.

However, there aren’t many kids who fit this category, Zucker and Adesman noted.

Most of the 17 percent of kids who are moderately picky eaters can be expected to grow out of it, although parents should take steps to help manage their kids’ struggle with food, Zucker said.

For example, to ensure that dinnertime remains a pleasant experience, serve foods that are palatable to the picky eater, and introduce new foods at other times of the day, she recommended.

Also, ignore anyone who advises you your kid will eat whatever you serve once they’re hungry enough, she said.

“None of us who are hungry become more adventurous,” Zucker said. “We become more rigid and set in our ways if we are hungry.”

Finally, don’t be alarmed if your kids tend to choose processed foods over healthier options.

“Processed foods are easier to chew, and they’re very predictable in terms of what they taste like,” Zucker said.

More information

For more on picky eaters, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


How Young is Too Young for an ADHD Diagnosis?

By Tara HaelleHealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Almost a third of U.S. children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were diagnosed before the age of 6, even though there aren’t many valid tests to support diagnosis in children that young, a new federal government report shows.

It’s difficult to determine whether the results show overdiagnosis of ADHD or not, said Joel Nigg, director of the division of psychology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

“Although guidelines and instrumentation for diagnosing preschool children, for example, are weaker, the condition itself is developmental and expected to exist in preschool,” said Nigg, who was not involved in the study. “So, many of those young diagnoses may be valid.”

Symptoms of the common disorder include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, which can affect a child’s ability to learn.

The study was done by Susanna Visser, a researcher at the U.S. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and published in a Sept. 3 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers interviewed nearly 3,000 parents of children ever diagnosed with ADHD and 115 parents of children diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. About half the children with ADHD had been diagnosed before age 7, and 31 percent had been diagnosed before age 6.

Among the children diagnosed before age 6, a parent or other family member was the first one to become concerned about the child’s attention or behavior in three of every four cases, the researchers found.

Just over half the children with ADHD received their diagnosis from a general pediatrician or family doctor. Only a quarter of the children diagnosed before age 6 had seen a psychiatrist for their diagnosis, but children were even less likely to get their diagnosis from a psychiatrist as they grew older.

“One of the most striking things is that most providers are, in fact, trying to follow the guidelines — trying to use rating scales and get information from multiple informants, like teachers, in addition to parents,” Nigg said.

If doctors are using information from teachers in making a diagnosis, that suggests doctors are not making quick decisions in 15 or 30 minutes based only on a parent’s description of their child’s behavior, Nigg added.

Yet overdiagnosis may still be occurring, based on the report, said Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

“Overdiagnosis presents a number of problems, including being improperly labeled as ADHD if, in fact, another behavioral or psychiatric problem is the cause of the symptom,” Fisher said. “This could also lead to overmedication of such children.”

Both Fisher and Nigg suggested it is unwise to rush to a judgment of ADHD if a preschool child seems particularly boisterous or difficult to manage.

“Children are developing rapidly at that age, and many 4-year-olds who seem excessively hyperactive tend to stabilize during the major development shift from 4 to 6 years old,” Nigg said. But he added that the situation can become too severe to wait it out sometimes.

“In cases where the child is unable to learn, unable to participate in group or preschool activities, or where a negative relationship is developing between parent and child, then a professional evaluation and intervention are likely indicated,” Nigg added.

Several options may be available for parents, Fisher said.

“Firstly, parents should look into parenting classes in order to help them manage difficult or unruly behavior,” Fisher said. “Secondly, if there is a family history of ADHD or other childhood behavior disorders, neuropsychological testing should be performed by a qualified professional, including a psychologist, psychiatrist or neurologist.”

A key aspect of an ADHD diagnosis, she added, is that the symptoms occur across multiple settings, such as at home and at school.

“Parents should be wary of an ADHD diagnosis made on the observation of symptoms in only one setting,” Fisher said.

More information

For more on ADHD, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


5 Indisputable Facts About Transgender Kids

Yesterday, President Donald Trump reversed the Obama administration’s 2016 directive for public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. The controversial subject has divided many parents and lawmakers. But one group against the latest guidelines is the American Academy of Pediatrics, a professional membership organization of 66,000 pediatricians.

“This is about taking care of our youth,” says Lynn Hunt, MD, FAAP, chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Wellness.

Transgender children who do not feel comfortable entering a bathroom often refrain from going at all, she explains to Health—which, in addition to being stressful, can increase risk of urinary tract infections. “These are children who are extremely vulnerable, especially in school, which is such a big part of their lives.”

Here, five facts about transgender children that you should know, regardless of where you stand on this debate.

RELATED: What You Can Learn About Being True to Yourself From Caitlyn Jenner

It's unclear how many children identify as transgender

According to data from a 2014 government survey, about 1.3 million American adults identify as transgender. But it’s unclear how many children identify with a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Dr. Hunt explains that because it’s up to individual states to determine whether or not to include questions about gender identity in their surveys, there is a lack of data on the topic.

Local surveys from Massachusetts (in 2006) and Wisconsin (in 2015) found that of students polled, a respective 1.6% and 1.5% consider themselves transgender. The New York Times reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not planning on adding a question about gender identity to its adolescent health survey until after 2019, meaning it could be years until we have better nationwide data about transgender youths.

The transition process is different for everyone

Transitioning is a very personal process and can take years. “The age that somebody understands themselves is quite variable,” says Dr. Hunt. Some children may be able to express that they identify with a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth by age two or three, she says. But for other children, it can take longer, especially if they don’t feel empowered to express their feelings.

“Children are smart, and may suppress something they think is divisive,” Dr. Hunt says. 

They're more likely to experience harassment—and severe long-term consequences

Studies show transgender children are more likely to be anxious and depressed, and whether or not they feel supported in their gender identity may play a role in their well-being. Last year, researchers analyzed data from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and found that 63% of transgender patients ages 12 to 22 had a history of being bullied. And a 2016 study of about 250 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens published in the American Journal of Public Health found that LGBT youths who suffered harassment went on to experience lasting mental health damage, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We were struck by how severe [harassment] was for some of these kids who were getting highly victimized over their four years of high school,” said study author Brian Mustanski in a news release. “If that’s your experience for several years of high school, you can imagine how scarring that would be.”

RELATED: 15 Inspiring Things Celebrities Have Said About Dealing With Anxiety

They have increased suicide risk

Transgender children and teens are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, often due to bullying and transphobia in their communities. The same Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study found that 30% of transgender youths who visited the medical center had a history of at least one suicide attempt, while almost 42% reported a history of self-injury.

Attempted suicide rates were higher—46.5%—among transgender university and college students in a 2016 study of more than 6,000 transgender adults published in The Journal of Homosexuality. And those rates spiked even more for students who were denied use of bathrooms (60.5%) and campus housing (60.6%) that corresponded to their gender identity.

An accepting environment helps

Research tells us that transgender children fare better in communities that support them. “Negative outcomes are not a given,” says Dr. Hunt. “Family and school support can make a difference.” 

In a 2016 study in the journal Pediatrics, transgender children who socially transitioned (meaning they have changed their gender expression, choosing to go by a different name and pronouns and possibly also altering their clothing and hairstyle) and felt supported in their identities had normal levels of depression and only slightly elevated levels of anxiety compared to kids whose gender identity corresponded to their birth sex. 

Supportive environments also lower attempted suicide rates. Research on transgender adults from 2015 identified factors that appeared to help protect transgender persons from suicidal thoughts, including social support, self-acceptance, and being able to live according to their gender identity.

U.S. Childhood Cancers Vary by Sex, Region

MONDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) — A sweeping government study of childhood cancers has found numerous differences in cancer types depending on a child’s age, sex, race and where he or she lives in the United States.

White children had the highest incidence of all cancers, the researchers found, and youngsters in the Northeast were diagnosed with cancer more often than children in other parts of the country.

The study also found that boys were more likely to have a pediatric malignancy than girls, and that adolescents are more likely to have cancer than are younger children.

“We looked at the childhood cancer incidence rate from 2001 through 2003, and further looked at the data by age, sex, ethnicity and U.S. census region,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Jun Li, an epidemic intelligence office for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

“We identified 36,446 cases of childhood cancer during these three years, which is about 166 per every million,” he said.

Li said the information for the study, which represents more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, came from 39 National Program of Cancer Registries and five Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) databases.

Results of the study are published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Three cancers accounted for about 60 percent of all childhood cancers. Leukemias were the most common childhood malignancy, affecting just over 26 percent of youngsters with cancer. Central nervous system tumors, such as brain tumors, were the next most common type of pediatric cancer, affecting about 17.6 percent of children with the illness. Lymphomas affected about 14.6 percent of kids with cancer, according to the study.

Overall, boys were more likely to develop cancer than girls. The incidence rate for boys was 174 per million, while the incidence rate for girls was 157 per million. The type of cancer each sex commonly developed also varied. Boys were more likely to have lymphoid leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, hepatoblastoma, osteosarcomas, and more. Girls were more likely to develop kidney cancers, thyroid cancers and malignant melanomas.

The cancer incidence rates for those between 15 and 19 were 210 per million, while the incidence rate in children 14 and under was about 151 per million.

White children were the most likely to have cancer, with an incidence rate of 173 per million. The rate for black children was 118 per million, 131 per million for Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 164 per million for Hispanics. American Indians and Alaska Natives had the lowest rates, with 97 per million.

Geography appeared to make a difference as well. Kids in the Northeastern part of the country are most likely to develop cancer, with an incidence rate of 179 per million. In the Midwest, the rate was 166 per million; in the South, it was 159 per million; and in the West, it was 165 per million. Interestingly, the study also reported that the Northeast, despite having the highest cancer rate, also has the lowest death rate from pediatric cancers.

Li said the researchers weren’t able to identify the reasons for the differences in this study, but he believes the data will lay the groundwork for future research. Knowing these differences may help other scientists target their research, he added.

“This is an interesting study, but as a practicing oncologist, I won’t be advising families any differently. And, as a father of three sons, I wouldn’t have any added concern as a parent living in the Northeast,” said Dr. Adam Levy, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist, and director of pediatric neuro-oncology at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.

“My fear is that people may over-interpret this study, and parents really don’t need added anxiety. We’re still talking about very rare pediatric cancers and mild differences. Mostly, this gives epidemiological researchers clues. Parents don’t need to become overly worried by this,” concluded Levy.

More information

Learn more about childhood cancers from the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Jun Li, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., epidemic intelligence officer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Adam Levy, M.D., pediatric hematologist/oncologist, and director, pediatric neuro-oncology, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, New York City; June 2008 Pediatrics

By Serena GordonHealthDay ReporterLast Updated: June 02, 2008

Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

No More Nuggets! New Ways to Deal With Picky Eaters

By Frances Largeman-Roth, RDLast weekend I attended the first New York City Wine and Food Festival. After eating my way through the grand tasting, sampling braised short ribs and caviar-topped deviled eggs, I focused my attention on something far more wholesome and important: how to feed our kids.

This topic has recently taken on a new significance for me because I’m expecting my first child next spring. As a food-loving dietitian, my hopes are for a child with an adventurous palate and gusto for good, healthy food. But I could just as easily end up with a child who eats mac ‘n’ cheese at every meal.

So I was keen to hear top food and nutrition experts speak at Beyond Chicken Nuggets: How to Raise a Healthy Eater. On the panel: Alice Waters, queen of the organic food movement and founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.; Rachael Ray, head of her own food media empire; Jessica Seinfeld, wife of Jerry and author of the much-criticized and best-selling cookbook Deceptively Delicious; Leann Birch, a Penn State professor of human development and the author of many key studies on eating behaviors in young kids; and Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and a godsend to many new parents. The discussion was moderated by Tara Parker-Pope, the Well columnist for The New York Times.

Here are some key things that parents should stop doing.

1. Don’t bribe your kids to eat their veggies. Whether it’s TV time or dessert, a bribe may work for the short-term, but Dr. Birch’s studies show that when kids are “paid off” to eat certain foods, they will ultimately develop a dislike for those foods. So what are you supposed to do? Offer the veggies, fruit, brown rice, etc., but don’t force your kids to eat them. And set a good example (little kids actually will emulate their parents) by eating the healthy stuff yourself.2. Don’t put cookies on a pedestal. When treats like cookies and snack cakes are kept in tantalizing jars, or up on shelves, those goodies become much more appealing to kids. That’s not to say that you should leave your 3-year-old with a bag of Oreos, but just don’t turn them into the holy grail. And if you don’t want to have temptations like that in your house, buy treats you don’t have to limit, like fresh fruit and fig cookies.3. Don’t limit your child’s diet to “kid food.” Offering your kids a steady diet of pizza, chicken nuggets, butter-covered noodles, and fish sticks will ultimately lead to a child who only eats those tan foods. At family mealtime, Alice Waters discourages feeding kids separate foods from adults. While finding time to dine together can be a challenge, especially as kids get older, several studies point to its benefits (higher grades, less drug use, etc.). Waters suggests finding time during the week to dine together, even if it’s at breakfast.

4. Don’t give up! So you’ve offered your son broccoli five times and each time he refuses to try it. Don’t worry—you may need to offer up that broccoli or those carrots between 15-18 times before your kid will try it! Sounds kind of crazy, but it’s true. Again, don’t force them to eat it, but encourage them to try it, letting them know they have the option of spitting it out. In her household, Jessica Seinfeld has a “lick it” rule. The kids have to at least lick a food before deciding they don’t like it. Either way, keep offering up those peas!

Next page: Words of wisdom from the experts

Here’s a nugget from each of the experts that you can try at home with your own kids.

Alice Waters: Don’t assume that kids won’t eat healthy or “different” foods. Set the table—even if it’s only one day a week—and enjoy a meal together.

Rachael Ray: Make it fun! Create a “Good Food Fund” with loose change you find in the couch and elsewhere, and use that money to add to your food budget to buy special things.

Jessica Seinfeld: Go mini. Kids don’t need huge treats, so try making tiny muffins, cupcakes, and other bite-size treats. And, of course, she suggests sneaking squash puree into pancakes.

Leann Birch: Start offering a variety of foods early on, when kids are most receptive (around 15 months). And be a good role model by eating an array of healthy foods yourself.

Harvey Karp: Decrease juice and soda, decrease the amount of TV your kids watch, and increase family exercise! Try to make small changes daily, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything right.

There you have it. These ideas may not be enough to turn around an incredibly fussy eater, but it won’t hurt to try. Oh, and if you’re pregnant like me, the best thing to do is eat a wide variety of foods while you’re expecting. Turns out a baby is already getting used to what you’re eating by way of the amniotic fluid. So it never really is too early to start.

(PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO)

Study: Sleep Problems, ADHD Can Go Hand in Hand

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By Anne HardingWEDNESDAY, March 4, 2009 (Health.com) — Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sleep less, spend less time in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, and have a harder time falling asleep than youngsters without attention problems, according to new research published this week in the journal Sleep.

Experts say that making an extra effort to ensure a child gets enough sleep, such as being relatively strict about bedtimes, could help reduce his or her symptoms. “Be a detective, and look for what specifically is going on,” says Judith Owens, MD, who directs the pediatric sleep clinic and the ADHD clinic at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, and was not involved in the new study. “It’s really important to try to uncover what the underlying issue is.”

However, parents should not expect better sleep to be a “miracle cure,” says Dr. Owens. The sleep problems are not considered to be a cause of ADHD, though they may add to a child’s attention problems or difficulty with school; about 25% to 50% of children and adolescents with ADHD are thought to have difficulty sleeping.

In the new study, Reut Gruber, PhD, of McGill University in Montreal and her colleagues used portable polysomnography machines (which are usually only used in sleep labs) to monitor children at home as they slept in their own beds.

They looked at 15 children, 7 to 11 years old, diagnosed with ADHD and 23 children without the disorder, tracking how long it took them to fall asleep, how long they slept, and how much time they spent in each stage of sleep. Parents also filled out questionnaires on whether their child had sleep problems, such as anxiety about falling asleep and daytime sleepiness. None of the children were taking ADHD medication at the time of the study.

Next page: Kids with ADHD can be chronically sleep deprived

Overall, the kids with ADHD slept about a half-hour less, on average, and spent 15 fewer minutes in REM sleep. The control group spent about 19% of their sleep time in the REM stage, compared to about 17% for the ADHD group. The children with ADHD also took longer to fall asleep, were more anxious about sleep, and less likely to get enough sleep.

While REM is popularly thought of as the dream stage of sleep, it’s not absolutely clear why this sleep stage is important, Dr. Gruber notes. One possibility is that it has something to do with how our brains process information, she adds, but “we cannot be very certain about it.”

The researchers plan to look at other factors, such as circadian rhythm or changes in brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine (which are known to play a role in sleep, attention, and arousal) that may link ADHD and sleep.

Children are different and the solution to their sleep problems can vary, says Dr. Gruber. “I don’t think at this point we can come with one recommendation that will address all of their needs.”

Next page: How you can help children sleep better

However, tried-and-true good sleep habits—such as setting a regular bedtime and enforcing it, having a bedtime routine that involves some quiet time before lights out, banning afternoon caffeine, and so on—may be enough for some families, Dr. Owens said, although it won’t necessarily be easy. “In a lot of these families the ADHD apple doesn’t fall far from the ADHD tree,” she said. “A lot of these households are very chaotic and kids don’t even have a bedtime.”

Other possibilities include adjusting a child’s medication to avoid an out-of-control period before bedtime, using relaxation techniques to help a child with bedtime-related anxiety prepare for sleep, or even giving a child light therapy to reset his or her circadian clock, says Dr. Gruber. Many researchers now believe that children with ADHD may have a “phase shift” that makes them feel ready to go to bed later at night than their peers, which makes it even more difficult to get up in the morning.

To find a doctor with the training to address sleep issues in children, Dr. Gruber recommends contacting the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which offers a list of accredited sleep centers by location and certifies physicians in sleep medicine.

While the jury’s still out on whether improvements in sleep will translate to increased focus during the day, it will likely result in fewer signs of sleep deprivation—which can look a lot like ADHD.

“Every parent will tell you when their child doesn’t sleep they’re irritable and moody and inattentive,” says Mark Stein, PhD, the director of the ADHD Clinical Research Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in Dr. Gruber’s study. “If they’re not getting adequate sleep or they’re not getting adequate REM sleep, that’s going to translate to how they’re going to function in school the next day.”

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds De La Recherche en Sante funded the study.


Related Links:Slideshow: Celebrities With ADHDMyths and Misconceptions About ADHDQuiz: Could You Have Adult ADHD?What If My Child Shows Signs of ADHD?

7 Low

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By Denise MannTHURSDAY, May 7, 2009 (Health.com) — This Mother’s Day, skip the flowers and forget the chocolate (unless it’s dark)! Give your mom something she really needs—the gift of good health.

No, you don’t have to buy her a treadmill. There are many other things you can do to give your mom a boost in terms of her physical (or mental) well-being. Most moms will truly appreciate that your Mother’s Day gift is aimed at keeping her happy, healthy, and in your life for a long time.

In case you are drawing a blank, we came up with a list of healthy—and relatively inexpensive—gift ideas for every mom.

1. Give the gift of (your) time and support at the doctor’s office. “Offer to be your mom’s health buddy,” says Philadelphia-based women’s health expert Marie Savard, MD, author of several books, including Ask Dr. Marie: Straight Talk and Reassuring Answers to Your Most Private Questions. “Promise to be there for any and all doctor’s visits whether a mammogram or routine appointment,” she says. “Most moms always say ‘don’t bother,’ but another set of eyes and ears is always a good idea at a doctor’s visit.” The best part? This one is free.

2. Give the gift of healthy eating. Rather than an expensive, artery-clogging brunch, you can spring for a visit with the nutritionist and follow it with a healthy meal. “Mother’s Day is a great reason to get your mom to see a nutritionist,” says Dana Greene, RD, a nutritionist in private practice in Boston.

“Nutritionists can really tailor their advice to whatever issues mom is having with her diet, including losing weight or learning how to eat to reduce her risk of certain diseases such as breast cancer or osteoporosis,” Greene says. “An appointment lasts about an hour and is relatively inexpensive. Take mom out for a healthy brunch afterward and watch her put all she learned into practice.”

Greene also suggests subscribing to a healthy-cooking magazine to keep your mom in the healthy-eating mindset all year. Dr. Savard adds: “Make and freeze healthy foods in individual containers for your mom.” She suggests making healthy versions of your mother’s fave foods.

3. Give the gift of organization. Instead of making a photo album of family snapshots (although that’s nice too), make your mom a folder containing all of her medical records, Dr. Savard says. “Put a folder together of test results and vital information so it is all in one place,” she says. Make sure to include a list of all of her medications and what times she takes them. “Having all this information in one place could end up saving your mom’s life.”

4. Give the gift or a good night’s sleep. Adequate sleep is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as other health conditions. “Buy your mom satin sheets, a new mattress, a mattress cover, or a luxurious pillow to encourage better sleep,” Dr. Savard says. “We know that restorative sleep is critical to our immune system and heart health.” For new mothers, offer to watch the baby while she takes a nap. This will also allow you to spend quality time with the kids, so “it’s a win-win,” she says.

5. Give the gift of healthful goodies. Instead of a gourmet gift basket filled with cheese and crackers or sweets, make your own healthy gift basket for your mom, suggests Dr. Savard. Not sure what to put in it? Start with a multivitamin, calcium supplements, and vitamin D supplements. “If you know your mom is trying to get more fiber, put some fiber supplements in the basket too,” she says. “A pedometer, some arm weights, and maybe a tape measure can also be part of this gift,” Dr. Savard says. A tape measure can help mom measure her waist size, which is a known risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.

6. Give the gift that keeps on giving. Accessory and gift companies such as Presents for Purpose allow you to pay it forward this Mother’s Day by picking gifts in which 10% of the proceeds benefit a charity of your choice. “This year we are all trying to conserve money, so why not have your funds go further with a gift that gives back,” says company founder Alayna Kassan. Gift givers can choose from bathrobes, cosmetics bags, scented candles, and a plethora of other items—many of which are “green”—and then choose a meaningful charity from a list. “When your mom gets the gift, she will be notified that it will benefit the chosen charity,” Kassan says. “We have a few breast cancer charities on the site and they all do well on Mother’s Day.”

7. Give the gift of chocolate—if you must. “If you are a traditionalist and you must give chocolate, choose dark chocolate,” Greene says. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which can mop up the damaging free radicals known to play a role in heart disease and other illnesses, as long as you choose types with less sugar and fewer calories. “This way you can satisfy her sweet tooth and benefit her heart,” she says.

As Movies Portray Fewer Smokers, Are Fewer Real

(Getty Images)

By Denise MannTUESDAY, June 2, 2009 (Health.com) — Blockbuster movies are less likely to portray smokers than they have in the past, according to a new study. What’s more, this decline in on-screen smoking may have occurred in tandem with a drop in the number of adolescents who have lit up in real life.

While the study can’t prove that one is related to the other, the findings would seem to support what critics have long said: Smoking by glamorous (or even not-so-glamorous) people on the silver screen is like free advertising for cigarettes.

A second study, also published in a letter in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that the portrayal of gun use has slightly declined in children’s movies as well.

“Reducing smoking in movies probably helped to reduce rates of smoking in kids,” says study author James D. Sargent, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and the codirector of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, both in Lebanon, N.H. “We are on the right track aiming at movies, yet half of movies still contain smoking and more work needs to be done.”

About one-third to one-half of adolescents who begin smoking may do so because they see smoking in the movies, some research suggests, and the tobacco industry has spent big bucks in the past to make sure cigarettes appeared in popular movies, according to Smoke Free Movies, a University of California San Francisco project. For years, public health groups have encouraged the movie industry to voluntarily reduce depictions of smoking.

Next page: Smoking drops among 8th graders

Their efforts may have paid off, at least in younger teens. In the study, researchers looked at smoking scenes in the top 25 highest-grossing movies from 1990 through 2007. Each time a movie character handled or used tobacco, or even when tobacco was seen in the background, it was considered a smoking scene.

In 1990, there were about 3.5 smoking scenes per box-office hit. By contrast, there were only 0.23 instances of smoking in the highest-grossing films of 2007. At the same time, there was a corresponding decrease among eighth graders who smoked. Smoking peaked in 1996 with 21% of eighth graders saying they had used cigarettes (defined as having smoked in the previous 30-day period) and dropped to 7.1% in 2007, the study showed. Overall, smoking in eighth graders decreased by an average of 1.3 percentage points each year.

“It’s great to see smoking on the decline; it’s the leading preventable cause of death, and most of those who take up the habit nowadays do so as teens,” says Jeff Stier, the associate director of the American Council on Science and Health, a New York City–based group that publicizes the health risks of smoking.

However, the picture in older teens is more complicated. About 27% of children in grades 9 through 12 smoked cigarettes in 1991, and that increased to 36% in 1997. There was a steep decline after that, hitting about 22% in 2003. Since then, teen smoking has plateaued or only declined slightly, and 20% of U.S. high school students were cigarette smokers in 2007—approximately 19% of females and 21% of males.

In the second study, researchers looked at gun violence in G- and PG-rated films that were marketed to children from 2003 to 2007. Firearms are commonly seen in children’s movies, but there was a decrease in the number of characters handling guns in that time period, when compared to data from a similar study conducted from 1995 to 2002.

Of 125 G- and PG-rated movies from 2003 to 2007, 27% included characters with firearms. Of these, 99% were adults, one was a child, and 90% were male. More than half of those characters with weapons were police officers, security guards, or other members of law enforcement, and 36% were criminals. Twenty-seven of these characters shot their weapons, with 59% aiming at a human. The movies rarely showed the consequences of gunfire, according to the research team led by Jon Eric Tongren, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta.

Next page: Should there be an automatic R-rating for movies with smoking?

Victor C. Strasburger, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, in Albuquerque, N.M., would like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to give an automatic R-rating to movies that show smoking or violence. The MPAA is the primary group responsible for rating films in the United States.

Witnessing smoking scenes in movies may be the leading factor associated with smoking initiation among youth, Dr. Strasburger writes in a JAMA editorial.

“[The MPAA] should have a pediatrician and child psychologist on board to help with ratings,” Dr. Strasburger says. “They don’t rate heavily enough for violence. Violence in mainstream movies is out of control and Hollywood needs to accept more responsibility.”

If the movie industry reigned in the violence, “I think there would be a decrease in violence in society,” says Dr. Strasburger. “It’s not just guns—it is interpersonal violence. So the average 4-year-old boy learns very early that it is OK to punch somebody out if he disagrees because that is what he sees in movies.”

However, Stier urges caution “about assuming that there’s a clear, causal connection between movie smoking and real-life smoking—the two might well rise and fall together simply because of broader societal trends stigmatizing or valorizing cigarettes.”

Some studies that have shown a connection between movie smoking and behavior were “recall” studies in which smokers were more likely to say they remembered seeing a lot of smoking in movies. But then, people who like doing something may be more likely to recall its depiction, Stier says.

“I wouldn’t want to see a belief in strict, causal connection here lead to a law banning smoking in films,” he explains. “But the more people choose to avoid or quit the habit, and the less artists choose to glorify it, the better.”

Stanton Glantz, PhD, the UCSF professor who launched Smoke Free Movies, says that the “important thing about this paper is that it is more evidence that smoking in the movies causes kids to smoke.”

His group’s data suggest that smoking in movies peaked three years ago and has declined by 30% since then, although he says there’s plenty of room for improvement. “The fact that movie smoking remains high is one reason youth smoking did not drop more,” he says.

Both the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association Alliance recently said that movies with smoking should be R-rated, due to the link to youth smoking.

Dr. Strasburger says that parents should know that even G- and PG-rated movies may portray drugs or violence, and PG-13 and R-rated movies may have an abundance of violence, sex, or drug use. “Go to see movies with your kids and talk about the content,” he suggests. The same vigilance should be applied to TV shows and video games, he adds.

If you want to know what movies do or do not portray smoking, check out this list of films (including current releases and DVDs) provided by Smoke Free Movies.

*Article updated 6/3/2009 to add information provided by Dr. Glantz.


Related Links:Motivate to Lose: 4 Tips for Sticking to Your DietQuitting Smoking Can Help Halt HeartburnMy Smoker’s Cough Turned Out to Be Emphysema5 Celebrities Who Had (or Are at Risk of) the Lung Disease COPD

Women Addicted to Pregnancy, How Photos of Cake Keep You Slim, and Why Your Dog Could Give You Food Poisoning

Advertisers craft TV commercials and billboards that make our mouths water even when we’re not hungry. But a recent study found that such temptations, like pictures of chocolate cake, might actually help us make healthier choices. [New Scientist]

Turns out the woman who was reportedly pregnant with 12 babies was making it all up. But the media frenzy she and other high-profile moms have been causing lately is leading many to wonder: Are these women addicted to pregnancy? [NY Daily News]

We’ve got the skinny on keeping our food safe in the kitchen and at all our summer picnics, but we never would have guessed that other harmless behaviors—like bringing home a new puppy!—raise our risk of food poisoning! [U.S. News & World Report]

Mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia typically strike in adults or older teens. Although it is extremely rare, child-onset schizophrenia is often much more severe. Here, the chilling story of a 6-year-old’s struggle with schizophrenia that’s tearing her family apart. [LA Times]

We could eat from the summer farmers’ market forever, but maybe you’re getting tired of plain old cherries and watermelon. If your healthy diet could use a little pizzazz, try one of the world’s 10 strangest fruits. [DivineCaroline]


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