Kids’ Health Advisory Alert

Reader take note: Newest news is posted at the top of this pile.
 
Epidemic outbreaks of hand foot mouth disease are occurring in China and some countries in Southeast Asia right now. A few cases have just been detected in Japan (see article below) Hand foot mouth disease spreads quickest in the hoikuens and yochiens in Japan (and elsewhere), so be on the alert for symptoms if your kids go to one. There was a huge epidemic in 1972-73 in Japan.

Sasebo reports 11 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease By Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes Pacific Edition, Friday, May 30, 2008

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan Eleven cases of hand, foot and mouth disease have been diagnosed at Sasebo medical clinic in recent days, according to base health officials.
The contagious virus most often is contracted by infants and children. It is not usually fatal but it can cause fever, sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters.
There is no cure for the virus and sickness can last more than a week.
HFMD symptoms began turning up among patients last week, the base announced.
A health advisory was issued Tuesday with suggestions that could curb the spread of the disease.
Hand-washing and sanitizing infected areas are the best defense, said Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Taylor, officer in charge of the Branch Health Clinic in Sasebo.
“HFMD is a mild disease and nearly all patients recover without medical treatment in seven to 10 days,” Taylor said.
Because there is no cure, treatment is based on the symptoms, she said.
The disease begins with a mild fever, poor appetite, malaise and frequently a sore throat, according to Taylor.
“One or two days after the fever begins, painful sores develop in the mouth,” Taylor said.
The sores begin as small red spots that blister and often become ulcers, she said.
The skin rash develops over one to two days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash does not itch and it is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also appear on the buttocks, Taylor said.
HFMD is “moderately” contagious and spreads through direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons, Taylor said.
A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness, she said.
All adults and children should practice good hygiene by washing hands often, especially after changing baby diapers, Taylor said.
Also, any surfaces that come in contact with infected discharges or fluids should be washed with a diluted chlorine bleach solution, she said.
It also might help to keep children with blisters on their mouths or lesions on their hands away from group settings, Taylor said.
“Outbreaks in child care facilities occur most often in the summer and fall months and usually coincide with an increased number of cases in the community,” she said.

What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness of infants and children. It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters. HFMD begins with a mild fever, poor appetite, malaise (“feeling sick”), and frequently a sore throat. One or 2 days after the fever begins, painful sores develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks. The skin rash develops over 1 to 2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash does not itch, and it is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also appear on the buttocks. A person with HFMD may have only the rash or the mouth ulcers.

What causes HFMD?
Viruses from the group called enteroviruses cause HFMD. The most common cause is coxsackievirus A16; sometimes, HFMD is caused by enterovirus 71 or other enteroviruses. The enterovirus group includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses and other enteroviruses.
Is HFMD serious?
Usually not. HFMD caused by coxsackievirus A16 infection is a mild disease and nearly all patients recover without medical treatment in 7 to 10 days. Complications are uncommon. Rarely, the patient with coxsackievirus A16 infection may also develop “aseptic” or viral meningitis, in which the person has fever, headache, stiff neck, or back pain, and may need to be hospitalized for a few days. Another cause of HFMD, EV71 may also cause viral meningitis and, rarely, more serious diseases, such as encephalitis, or a poliomyelitis-like paralysis. EV71 encephalitis may be fatal. Cases of fatal encephalitis occurred during outbreaks of HFMD in Malaysia in 1997 and in Taiwan in 1998.
Is HFMD contagious?
Yes, HFMD is moderately contagious. Infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons. A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness. HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals.
How soon will someone become ill after getting infected? The usual period from infection to onset of symptoms (“incubation period”) is 3 to 7 days. Fever is often the first symptom of HFMD.
Who is at risk for HFMD?
HFMD occurs mainly in children under 10 years old, but may also occur in adults too. Everyone is at risk of infection, but not everyone who is infected becomes ill. Infants, children, and adolescents are more likely to be susceptible to infection and illness from these viruses, because they are less likely than adults to have antibodies and be immune from previous exposures to them. Infection results in immunity to the specific virus, but a second episode may occur following infection with a different member of the enterovirus group.
What are the risks to pregnant women exposed to children with HFMD? Because enteroviruses, including those causing HFMD, are very common, pregnant women are frequently exposed to them, especially during summer and fall months. As for any other adults, the risk of infection is higher for pregnant women who do not have antibodies from earlier exposures to these viruses, and who are exposed to young children – the primary spreaders of enteroviruses. Most enterovirus infections during pregnancy cause mild or no illness in the mother. Although the available information is limited, currently there is no clear evidence that maternal enteroviral infection causes adverse outcomes of pregnancy such as abortion, stillbirth, or congenital defects. However, mothers infected shortly before delivery may pass the virus to the newborn. Babies born to mothers who have symptoms of enteroviral illness around the time of delivery are more likely to be infected. Most newborns infected with an enterovirus have mild illness, but, in rare cases, they may develop an overwhelming infection of many organs, including liver and heart, and die from the infection. The risk of this severe illness in newborns is higher during the first two weeks of life. Strict adherence to generally recommended good hygienic practices by the pregnant woman (see “Can HFMD be prevented?” below) may help to decrease the risk of infection during pregnancy and around the time of delivery.
How is HFMD treated?
No specific treatment is available for this or other enterovirus infections. Symptomatic treatment is given to provide relief from fever, aches, or pain from the mouth ulcers.
Can HFMD be prevented?
Specific prevention for HFMD or other non-polio enterovirus infections is not available, but the risk of infection can be lowered by good hygienic practices. Preventive measures include frequent handwashing, especially after diaper changes (see “Handwashing” in: An Ounce of Prevention: Keeps the Germs Away), cleaning of contaminated surfaces and soiled items first with soap and water, and then disinfecting them by diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach (made by mixing approximately ?cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. (See more about cleaning and disinfecting in general in CDC’s Prevention Resources). Avoidance of close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with children with HFMD may also help to reduce of the risk of infection to caregivers.

Previous alerts below
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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008

 

Study warns of measles epidemic as cases surge
Compiled from Kyodo, staff reports
Evidence is growing that Japan could be hit by a full-blown measles epidemic this spring like the one in 2007 that caused hundreds of schools to shut down for months due to the highly contagious disease.

Measles infections are actually on pace to dwarf the number of cases reported in 2007, according to a new tally of all measles patients across Japan released Friday by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

According to the study, the first of this kind, 145 measles infections were reported by medical institutions in the two-week period ending Jan. 13. Kanagawa Prefecture topped the list with 44, followed by Hokkaido with 22, Fukuoka with 16, Tokyo with 13 and Akita with 10. Teens accounted for 44 percent of all patients.

The figures point to another epidemic, considering that only 286 people above age 15 had been infected by last May 20 in the institute’s previous tally, which it said was the second-highest number since 2001.

Although the institute has a week by week tally of all measles cases reported in 2007, it told The Japan Times that it hasn’t yet totaled the numbers. As a result, no official tally for total measles cases reported in 2007 exists.

Japan, however, suffers 100,000 to 200,000 measles infections annually, the institute estimates, which puts it far behind the West, which has virtually eradicated the disease.

The peak season for measles is from April to June, and the institute is encouraging people without immunity to get vaccinated.

The initial symptoms of measles resemble a cold, but victims later develop a high fever and small red spots on their bodies two to four days later. The virus can also cause pneumonia or encephalitis, and dozens of people in Japan die from the disease yearly.

Until last year, Japan did not have an accurate picture of its measles patients as two different groups were involved in the record-keeping, which varied according to whether patients were under 15 or 15 and above.

The health ministry has introduced a more vigorous tracking system this year after last year’s epidemic forced hundreds of schools and universities to shut down over two months.

Leaves of the BRACKEN FERN, commonly eaten Japan in soups or tempura, especially the young shoots, are nothing to fiddle with. Two carcinogens, one of which imitates the effects of radiation poisoning. Individual plants may also produce cyanide compounds. Symptoms: Acute poisoning from these ferns is unlikely; their effect is cumulative, and eventually produces a variety of internal cancers. Repeated ingestions significantly increase the likelihood of developing disease; in Japan, where BRACKEN FERN FIDDLEHEADS are traditionally consumed as food, scientists attribute the high incidence of stomach cancer to the popularity of this risky vegetable. Accidental consumption of bracken fiddleheads, which look very similar to those of the OSTRICH FERN (Matteucia struthiopteris). The Ostrich Fern is the only species that is edible, NOT carcinogenic, and therefore the only one of which you can really regard as frondly. Commercially grown & harvested fiddleheads are all OSTRICH FERN and therefore safe, but fancier wild fiddleheads should exercise great caution so as to avoid gathering dangerous species. Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008 Researchers link lack of sleep with obesity in children Kyodo News
A study tracking children over several years indicates that lack of sleep at a young age can lead to obesity as they get older.

According to the study, more children who had less than nine hours of sleep when they were 3 years old, compared with those who had more than 10 hours, became obese when they reached junior high and high school.

Among the academics involved in the study were Michikazu Sekine, an associate professor of public health at the University of Toyama, and Sadanobu Kagamimori, a professor of public health.

The study was launched in fiscal 1989 and targeted about 10,000 babies born that year. They discovered that relatively shorter sleep periods contributed to many of the children becoming obese.

Lack of exercise and an enriched diet are believed to be contributing factors to obesity in children. In the 1970s, the percentage of obese children was about 3 percent, but the figure has increased to more than 10 percent during and since the 1990s.

The babies in the study were all born in Toyama Prefecture and represented 1 percent of Japan’s total that year. The children were assessed every three years until they became high school students.

The study is regarded as unusual because of its long duration and has gained attention as the “Toyama study.”

It found that many 3-year-old children who had less than nine hours of sleep had become obese by the time they entered junior high and high school. By the time they reached junior high, the rate of obesity was 1.6 times more than among those who had more than 10 hours of sleep at age 3.

The study indicates that sleep deficiency in young children is linked to them becoming obese even if lack of exercise as a primary factor is excluded.

It also substantiates the importance of getting enough sleep on a daily basis. The professors compared changes in the hours of sleep among first-graders and fourth-graders.

Those who had more than eight hours of sleep every day were least likely to become obese, while 30 percent to 40 percent of the obese children were among those who had less than eight hours of sleep.

The saying “What youth is used to, age remembers” appears to apply to the children in the study. There was a tendency among some fourth-graders to go to sleep early, showing a habit obtained while they were 3 years old. Conversely, those who went to sleep late continued to do so.

Sekine said sleep affects the development of a child’s mind, body and health through growth hormones and autonomic nerves.

Nevertheless, lack of sleep cannot be cited as the only cause of obesity. The first-graders in the study were asked such questions as whether their father and mother were overweight, whether they skipped breakfast, ate snacks once or twice a day, exercised, watched television for more than two hours, and had less than eight hours of sleep.

The professors gave one point for every affirmative answer. They learned that first-graders scoring zero stayed at 5 percent in the obesity rate when they advanced to fourth grade. Those scoring more than 4 points in the first grade rose to 22 percent in the obesity rate, indicating that many factors contribute to obesity.

Child obesity can lead to adult illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

PET-LOVERS ALERT! According to research conducted by a team from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology which conducts research on infectious diseases, 40 percent of turtles and 606.1% of lizards sold at pet shops had the salmonella bacteria. Specialists warn that children are at the highest risk of contracting these germs because the tend to play wiht these animals for a long tiem and are not as resistant to germs as adults. When a 6-year old girl and a 1-year-old girl in Chiba Prefecture were infected in 2005 with a serious case of salmonellosis caused by a pet-red-eared slider, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry issued a warning. The year before, a baby contracted salmonella from an iguana, also in the same prefecture. 12 species of the 26 species of imported rodents were found to carry leptospira–which can cause fever, jaundice, and inflammation of the kidneys. In a study, 33% had staphylococcus aureus bacteria and many from Asia carried salmonella. Many rodents from the Amercias carry giardia, a parasitic worm. Dogs, cats and monkeys may spread serious infectious diseases too but are usually regulated by import inspections under the Rabies Prevention Law and Infectious Diseases Law. Source: Daily Yomiuri, Wednesday May 31 2006

Honey Works on Kids’ Coughs Posted Dec 4, 07 7:07 AM CST in Science & Health Most Covered

 

Honey Works on Kids' Coughs
Source: Associated Press

(newser) – Parents looking for an alternative to cold medicines for their young kids might consider a sweet solution—honey. A new study suggests that a commonly available dark variety soothes children’s coughs and helps them sleep better, the Houston Chronicle reports. The study comes in the wake of the FDA’s recommendation last month that children under 6 not be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. “Honey is a cheap and effective treatment,” said the lead researcher in the study, published in JAMA. “It’s kind of amazing that something so simple could be an answer.” Researchers said buckwheat honey worked best. They speculated that its sweetness causes salivation that coats the throat. The study, funded by the National Honey Board, noted that honey should not be given to children under 1.  

Source: Houston Chronicle

Are your children exposed to unnecessary cancer risks? Washington Post article excerpted here and words in brackets mine.

“We’ve been fighting the war on cancer for almost four decades now, since President Richard M. Nixon officially launched it in 1971. It’s time to admit that our efforts have often targeted the wrong enemies and used the wrong weapons….the struggle basically ignores most of the things known to cause cancer, such as tobacco, radiation, sunlight, benzene, asbestos, solvents, and some drugs and hormones. Even now, modern cancer-causing agents such as gasoline exhaust, pesticides and other air pollutants are simply deemed the inevitable price of progress.

They’re not. Scientists understand that most cancer is not born but made. Although identical twins start life with amazingly similar genetic material, as adults they do not develop the same cancers. As with most of us, where they live and work and the habits that they develop do more to determine their health than their genes do. Americans in their 20s today carry around in their bodies levels of some chemicals that can impair their ability to produce healthy children — and increase the chances that those children will develop cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Working Group have confirmed that American children are being born with dozens of chemicals in their bodies that did not exist just two decades earlier, including toxic flame retardants from fabrics. A new study by Barbara Cohn and other scientists at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, Calif., finds that girls exposed to elevated levels of the pesticide DDT before age 14 are five times more likely to develop breast cancer when they reach middle age.

Yes, the war has had some important successes: Cancer deaths in the United States are finally dropping, chiefly because of badly belated (and still poorly supported) efforts to curb smoking, reductions in the levels of some pollutants and significant advances in the control of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate and cervix. But new cases of cancer not linked to smoking or aging are on the rise, such as cancer in children and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people older than 55. And according to the CDC, cancer is the No. 2 cause of death for children and middle-age people, second only to accidents.

Consider one irony of oncology: Many of the agents that can so effectively rout cancer early in life, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can also increase the risks of falling prey to other forms of the disease later on. According to a study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, one out of every three girls treated with radiation before age 16 to arrest Hodgkin’s disease — a cancer of the lymphatic system that often occurs in young people — will develop breast cancer by age 40. Of course, many cancers in children and young adults might have been avoided in the first place without earlier exposure to cancer-causing agents.

We also need to weigh the downsides of the way we use radiation today to find problems in the healthy public, especially the young. A consensus statement from the American College of Radiology notes that “the current annual collective dose estimate from medical exposure in the United States has been calculated as roughly equivalent to the total worldwide collective dose generated by the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl.”

Most parents (and many emergency-medicine physicians) don’t know that a single CT scan of a child’s head can deliver the same radioactive dose as that in 200 to 6,000 chest X-rays. Some pediatric experts recommend that CT scans of children be restricted to medical emergencies and kept at doses as low as reasonably possible. Even so, according to the American College of Radiology, the use of CT scans has jumped tenfold in the past decade — a change that stems from the profitability and growth of “defensive medicine,” and one that has not resulted in any improvement in our overall health that I can discern.

Unlike Italy, Ireland, France, Albania, Argentina, Uruguay and many other countries, the United States has failed to ban smoking in public spaces nationwide. Unlike European children, American kids [and Japanese kids] are exposed to small levels of known carcinogens in their food, air, shampoos, bubble baths and skin creams — such as the clear, colorless liquid known as “1, 4-dioxane,” a common contaminant that causes cancer in animals and has been banned from cosmetics by the European Union…

In fact, our growing dependence on many unstudied modern conveniences makes us the subjects of vast, uncontrolled experiments to which none of us ever consents. Consider cellphones, whose long-term health consequences could prove disastrous. Experimental findings show that cellphone radiation damages living cells and can penetrate the skull. Widely publicized research on cellphone use in the early 1990s indicates that the phones are safe, but those studies did not include any children and excluded all business users. While exposure levels are much lower on newer phones, the effects of gadgets that have increasingly become part of our children’s lives remain unstudied.

That’s unwise. Recent reports from Sweden and France, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reveal that adults who have used cellphones for 10 years or more have twice as much brain cancer on the side of their heads most frequently exposed to the phone. [what about Japan where every kid seems to own one?] The Swiss and Chinese governments have set official exposure limits for cellphone microwave emissions that are 500 times lower than those the United States mandates. In Bangalore, India, it is illegal to sell a cellphone to a child younger than 16. As a basic precaution, people should use the phones with earpieces or speakers, and young children should not use them at all — consistent with warnings recently issued by the German and British governments. Because brain cancer can take 10 years or longer to develop, national statistics cannot be expected to show the health impact of today’s skyrocketing cellphone use. But we shouldn’t wait for the cases to roll in before acting.

No matter how much our efforts to treat cancer may advance, the best way to reduce cancer’s toll is to keep people from getting it. We need to join the rest of the industrialized world by issuing a national ban on asbestos and forbidding smoking in the workplace and other public spaces. We must reduce the hazards faced by those working to build our homes, transport our goods and make the products we consume. We should restrict CT scans of children to medical emergencies, limit the use of diagnostic radiation in general, ban young children from using cellphones and keep the rest of us from using tanning beds. And we must recognize that pollutants do not need passports. Controlling cancer, like controlling global warming, can take place only on an international scale. We can — and must — do better.

Read the full article at the Source: Off Target in the War Against Cancer Washington Post

Eyecare J kids are the most myopic kids in the world. A,C, E and foods high in antioxidants, and particularly carotenoids are known to be important for eye health. Omega fish fats are thought recently to be important for retina health. Read this article about Children’s eye health and what foods or supplements might help their eye sight. “I can tell you that bilberry extract over 160 mg per day, and fresh blueberries are two things you can do that are wonderful for the health of your eyes. Also Ginkgo Biloba extract and zinc can help halt the loss of vision. As always, diet plays a critical role, so you must increase your consumption of legumes, yellow vegetables, blueberries, cherries and foods rich in vitamins E and C. You should be taking a vitamin supplement of A, C, and E and Zinc every single day. In addition, beta-carotene is the best thing to take for your eyes and carrots are full of it. It is believed that macular degeneration and dystrophy are caused by free radical damage similar to what causes cataracts.” — advice from Karen the herbalist; Workshops and courses on improving eye sight always use the 3D image pictures as exercises that will improve your eye muscle’s function and flexibility. Look at these images for a couple minutes at periodic intervals in between reading and computer use. Buy these 3D books or cut out the weekly one from your Daily Yomiuri or Yomiuri Shimbun subscription. And of course, teach kids to use hats to keep harmful ultraviolet rays out of their eyes.

Brightly lit classrooms ‘hamper ability of pupils to concentrate’ By Richard Garner, Education Editor, Independent (UK): 06 September 2007

Forget all the talk about poor teaching standards or a “dumbing down” of the school curriculum and exams. The real reason why Britain’s schoolchildren are not making as much progress as they could in state schools is because their classrooms are too bright.

A paper to be presented today to the British Educational Research Association conference warns that classrooms that are too light can cause headaches for pupils, making it less easy to concentrate in class.

Mark Winterbottom, a researcher from the University of Cambridge, will tell the conference – held at the University of London’s Institute of Education – that “misguided policy decisions” over the kind of lighting used in classrooms were hampering the drive to improve standards.

One offender is the “whiteboard” installed in most classrooms which, until now, has been considered the most innovative resource to stimulate pupils’ interest installed for decades. Dr Winterbottom will argue that the whiteboards, which are usually mounted on a wall at the front of the class, help direct light in the classroom into pupils’ eyes. “Wherever possible, such boards should be tilted so that such reflected glare is directed towards the ceiling,” he will say.

Dr Winterbottom will argue that the main offender is the kind of fluorescent lighting installed in more than 80 per cent of classrooms (100Hz lights with 100 vibrations per second are most commonly used). These, his research indicates, create an imperceptible flicker that can cause visual discomfort and make it more difficult to read properly.

Dr Winterbottom and his co-researcher, Professor Arnold Wilkins from Essex University, studied the effect of lighting in 90 classrooms and concluded that, in addition to tilting the whiteboards, local education authorities should replace the 100Hz lights with high-frequency 32Hz fluorescent lights, which are used in 20 per cent of classrooms. These, the duo will argue, did not cause discomfort, used less energy and had lower long-term running costs.

The study revealed that almost nine out of 10 classrooms were too bright.

Do your kids eat breakfast? Thursday, May 17, 2007 Read this Report raises alarm about kids’ diet Kyodo News

Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s elementary and junior high school students eat breakfast without their parents.

According to research by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the percentage of first- to third-grade elementary school students who eat breakfast alone or only with siblings was 40.9 percent in 2005, up sharply from 27.4 percent in 1993.

For fourth- to sixth-graders it was 40.3 percent, up 7.7 points from 1993, and for junior high school it was 42.5 percent students, up 0.4 point.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association published the most comprehensive review to date of why kids and teenagers should eat breakfast. The article surveyed the results of 47 research papers published since 1970 and reported triumphantly that breakfast-eating seems to “improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance.” Kids who eat early in the day also tend to be better off in terms of overall nutrition and are possibly less likely to be obese.

But the jury is still out on whether sleep-deprived teenagers who are too cranky and who aren’t hungry in the mornings should eat breakfasts… read this article.

Over-sanitizing your kids’ environment may not be the best thing for them, according a Newsweek article, read the full version “Caution: Killing Germs May Be Hazardous to your Health” here. “most researchers now believe that our supersanitized world exacts a unique price in allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases, most of which were unknown to our ancestors. Sachs warns that many people drew precisely the wrong conclusion from this, that contracting a lot of diseases in childhood is somehow beneficial. What we need is more exposure to the good microbes, and the job of medicine in the years to come will be sorting out the good microbes from the bad.”Modern sanitation is a good thing, and pavement is a good thing,” says Sachs, “but they keep kids at a distance from microbes.” The effect is to tip the immune system in the direction of overreaction, either to outside stimuli or even to the body’s own cells. If the former, the result is allergies or asthma. Sachs writes that “children who receive antibiotics in the first year of life have more than double the rate of allergies and asthma in later childhood.” But if the immune system turns on the body itself, you see irritable bowel syndrome, lupus or multiple sclerosis, among the many autoimmune diseases that were virtually unknown to our ancestors but are increasingly common in the developed world. That is the modern understanding of the “Hygiene Hypothesis,” first formulated by David Strachan in 1989. In Strachan’s original version, which has unfortunately lodged in the minds of many parents, actual childhood illness was believed to exert a protective effect. There was a brief vogue for intentionally exposing youngsters to disease. But researchers now believe the key is exposure to a wide range of harmless germs, such as might be found in a playground or a park.”

The bug that is currently causing concern in the US, and all over Asian cities right now, is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA you can see posters about this bug posted at pediatrician clinics. A must-see is the “Get the dirt on school germsvideo on school as a breeding ground for germs: Read “Best way to fight the bacteria is to wash your hands” and also “12 germiest places in your life”

TIME TO KILL Tokyo sanctions an extended cull of Taiji dolphins Japan Times Source Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007

Dolphin meat is “included in school meals, and though the government knows full well it is toxic ・up to 87 times the permitted level of methyl mercury was found in a joint Japanese/New Zealand 2005 academic study of samples bought from shops (see JT, Nov.1, 2006)

PCB-like toxin in breast milk, scientists warn Kyodo News
A toxic substance similar to the pollutant polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, has been found in the breast milk of Japanese women, according to a group of Japan-based scientists.
On Tuesday, the group announced at a session of the ongoing international conference Dioxin 2007 in Tokyo its discovery of polychlorinated/brominated coplanar biphenyls, or Co-PXBs, in mothers’ milk. The contaminants are thought linked to the eating of fish. The group is urging authorities to add Co-PXBs to a list of toxic substances being monitored under a law aimed at controlling dioxin. The toxicity level of Co-PXBs is apparently similar to that of PCBs. — Japan Times

Comments:

I must reply to this ASAP. There are sooooooo many things to fault in this Kyodo report on but I will only go into a few. Unfortunately, this report has already been replicated in many of the newspapers in Japan already.

First of all, 7 women is not a representative sampling from which one can extrapolate meaningful data applicable to large populations. Secondly, we are not told what time of day or how many samples of breastmilk were taken. The fat content of breastmilk will change throughout the day and also depends on the frequency of feeds. PCBs are attached to fat molecules. Therefore, measurements will change depending upon when samples are taken and how many samples are averaged.

PCBs, as mentioned in the article, are also found in the air. It is hard to say whether or not the breastmilk contamination came from the food the women ate (over longer periods of time than just pregnancy) or the place they live in and the air they breathe. The body also stores these chemicals for long periods of time.

The scary language used in this article makes it appear that it is a danger to breastfeed your baby when in reality, the benefits of breastfeeding far out weigh the potential risks. We do know that if one continues to breastfeed for more than 3-4 months then there are few or no PCBs transferred in the milk after that time barring a recent and great contamination in the area. We also know that babies are breathing the same contaminated air we are and are therefore subject to the effects of air pollution. Breastfeeding is the best known way of keeping a child healthy in the long term, probably counteracting some of that pollution received either through the air or through the breastmilk.

As alluded to above, the amount of PCBs your first baby receives is more than the amount future babies will receive since the amount stored up in the woman’s body will be released into the breastmilk with her first child. This makes it even more important to breastfeed your first child longer. — B.I.
All of these are really important points! Remember, too, all the studies done on the benefits of breastmilk were done on babies and moms who’ve been living in a contaminated world. One environmental researcher I spoke to commented that breastmilk has an ameliorative effect – counteracting many of the effects that babies get through in- utero exposure, which is far and away the main way that a baby (esp.
a first baby) is exposed to the body burden of the mother.

I believe fat biopsies are a more accurate way to look at body burden but they are more expensive and invasive, which is why researchers often turn to breastmilk – despite the *many* problems with testing it. — Christine

Children who shun junk food in favour of fruit, vegetables and oily fish do 11 per cent better in exams, a study claims.

The survey of more than 10,000 children found unhealthy diets were linked with poor performance as well as bad behaviour.

The research was carried out by Patrick Holford, visiting professor of mental health and nutrition at Teesside University and funded by the organic food firm Organix.

Professor Holford, who is also director of the Food for the Brain Foundation, said: “The brain is 60 per cent fat.

“Children who eat good fats, from raw nuts, seeds and oily fish, double their chances of high performance.”

Beware of the brain-eating bug. PAM or primary amebic meningoencephalitis usually occurs in healthy children or young adults with no prior history of immune compromise who have recently been exposed to bodies of fresh water. In 1999, the first case of a 25-year-old female with primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) due to Naegleria fowleri was reported IN JAPAN. Headache, lethargy and coma developed in this patient, and her condition progressed to death 8 days after the onset of clinical symptoms. Since then more patients have been infected in Japan. Naegleria fowleri that causes amoebic human meningoencephalitis is found in hot springs, public bath houses, and other warm water environments. Free-living amebas represented by Naegleria fowleri, Acanthamoeba and Balamutia have been known to cause fatal meningoencephalitis in children. Boys are for some reasonable particularly vulnerable. However, according to experts, cases are still extremely rare and the easiest way to prevent infection is to use nose clips when swimming or diving in fresh water and that you’d have to have water going way up in your nose to be infected. The bug has killed over 20 people in the US. Sources: CDC Factsheet Sciencelinks Victoria Advocate Killer Amoeba

If you prepare food for children, find out whether your kitchen practices cuts the hygiene standards here.

Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore top the list with the largest numbers of asthmatic and kids suffering from allergies in the world. Check out this guide to allergies and asthma.

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