General Health and Life Style

TV Violence Early in Life Affects Children Later in Life.

Although the relation between TV-violence viewing and aggression in childhood has been clearly demonstrated, only a few studies have examined this relation from childhood to adulthood, and these studies of children growing up in the 1960s reported significant relations only for boys. This study is the first to recognize the effects of violent TV on girls as well. Read more.

Huesmann LR, Moise-Titus J, Podolski CL, Eron LD   Longitudinal relations between children's exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood: 1977-1992   Dev Psychol 2003 (Mar);   39 (2):   201-221

Social Support and Birth Weight

A University of California study that included 250 pregnant women showed that an infant's birth weight may be affected by the amount of social support the mother receives during pregnancy. The women were asked if the baby's father would help them financially and otherwise with the baby, if their parents would be there for them, and if they had friends to turn to for support and assistance. The study found that women with several types of support from various sources during pregnancy had higher birth weight infants.

The relationship between social support and birth weight held even after the researchers took into account other factors often associated with low birth weight, including premature delivery, a history of stillbirth or spontaneous abortion, and medical conditions such as hypertension or epilepsy. The researchers speculated that social support may alter responses of the nervous system to stress and improve fetal growth. Social support may also inspire healthier behaviors and lifestyles among pregnant women and discourage high-risk behaviors such as smoking, substance use, and poor nutritional intake. Pregnant women with more social support may also be more likely to receive treatment for diseases associated with low infant birth weight.

- Psychosomatic Medicine, Sept./Oct. 2000

Parental Influence on Childhood Obesity.

Learn how parenting influences childhood obesity. This article from Pediatric Nursing explores the many factors associated with childhood obesity and its prevention.

The Effects of Sleep Restriction and Extension on School-Age Children:

This study assessed the effects of modest sleep restriction and extension on children's neurobehavioral functioning (NBF). The sleep of 77 children (age: M=10.6 years; range=9.1-12.2 years) was monitored for 5 nights with activity monitors. These children (39 boys and 38 girls) were all attending regular 4th- and 6th-grade classes. Their NBF was assessed using computerized tests on the 2nd day of their normal sleep schedule. On the 3rd evening, the children were asked to extend or restrict their sleep by an hour on the following 3 nights. Their NBF was reassessed on the 6th day following the experimental sleep manipulation. Sleep restriction led to improved sleep quality and to reduced reported alertness. The sleep manipulation led to significant differential effects on NBF measures. These effects may have significant developmental and clinical implications. Child Development, Volume 74: Issue 2

Protection at Birth: Rub in the Vernix

The newborn infant is protected by an innate antimicrobial barrier: peptide antibiotics are present in the skin and vernix caseosa

Peptide antibiotics are part of the surface defenses against microbial intruders. However, the presence and significance of these innate immune effectors in the skin barrier of the newborn infant have not yet been appreciated.
Peptide antibiotics are present in the vernix caseosa and in the skin of the healthy newborn infant, indicating effective innate immune protection already during fetal and neonatal life.

G. Marchini, S. Lindow, H. Brismar, B. Ståbi, V. Berggren, A-K. Ulfgren,* S. Lonne-Rahm, B. Agerberth and G.H. Gudmundsson

Mattresses: Hidden source of toxins

There are options. Many futons are not treated with fire retardants, except for boric acid, which can also be left out of the futon processing with a note from a doctor explaining a chemical sensitivity. Mattresses made from organic materials are also available Do not set mattresses directly on the floor; use a frame to elevate the bed, allowing an air space to diffuse gases.

Take note though, not even an organic mattress is adequate to protect infants from birth to six months from SIDS. Crib and bassinet mattresses must be wrapped with thick gauge polyethylene sheeting (available at hardware stores) to prevent exposure to toxic gases that can be formed even in natural materials. If a baby sleeps with the parents, then the adult bed needs to be wrapped. After six months it is assumed that babies are less susceptible to the gases.

Visit the ICPA Newsletter On-line References for sources for safer mattresses provided by Dr. Randall Neustaedter.
References are available on line at:

Links between Toxic Pollutants and Childhood Illness

The Center for Children's Health and the Environment (CCHE) is the nation's first academic research and policy center to examine the links between exposure to toxic pollutants and childhood illness. CCHE was established in 1998 within the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. CCHE's mission is to promote the health of children by conducting environmental health and policy research.

Visit Site

Sleep-Debt Linked with Temper Tantrums

A new study confirms what many parents, teachers and doctors have suspected: Lack of sleep provokes behavioral problems in young children.  Specifically, 2- and 3- year-olds who sleep less than 10 hours per 24-hour period are nearly 25% more likely to have a clinically diagnosed behavior-related psychiatric disorder, such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD), compared with children who sleep at least 10 hours in a 24-hour period, say researchers. The study enrolled 510 youngsters, aged 2 to 5 years.

Lavigne JV, Arend R, Rosenbaum D, Smith A, Weissbluth M, Binns HJ, Kaufeer-Christoffel K.  Sleep and behavior problems among preschoolers. J Dev Behav Pediatr 1999; 20 (3): 164-9

Teach Children Healthy Habits Early

Elementary school children who were taught healthy behaviors are still practicing them three years later, according to a follow-up study that examined the children's food and fitness behaviors over time. " From 1991 to 1994, the institute financed the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH), the largest school-based health promotion research project in the United States. In the project, third grade students at 56 elementary schools in four states participated. The children ate school lunches lower in fat than usual and participated in physical education classes in which they had to maintain moderate-to-vigorous activity levels. These changes were complemented by classroom health lessons and activities - and in some cases with family participation.

Nader PR, Stone EJ, Lytle LA., et al.  Three-Year Maintenance of Improved Diet and Physical Activity: The CATCH Cohort.  Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999;153 (7): 695-704

Are Cloth Diapers Healthier?

Disposable diapers may be poisoning the children who wear them, say researchers in the Archives of Environmental Health. Specifically, chemical emissions from these diapers may trigger asthma and respiratory problems, according to the report.The study assessed the breathing patterns of mice while they inhaled emissions of three brands of clean disposable diapers or one brand of clean cloth diapers. All three types of disposable diapers spurred respiratory problems in the mice. In contrast, the emissions from cloth diapers resulted in only slight alterations in respiration. Chemical testing further indicated the toxicity of disposable diapers. According to the study, "chemical analysis of the emissions revealed several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity."

Anderson RC, Anderson JH.  Acute respiratory effects of diaper emissions. Arch Envir Health 1999; 54 (5): 353-8

International Coalition for Drug Awareness

A group of physicians, researchers, journalists and concerned citizens dedicated to educating others about the dangers posed by many prescription medicines.

Visit their site.

United States Spends Most on Health Care -
but Study Ranks Nation 37th in Overall Quality

July/ August 2000

The United States, which spends more on health care than any other nation, came in 37th. In the analysis published by the World Health Organization which evaluated the health care systems of its 191 members and graded them based on how well each country performs given the resources at its disposal. The study concluded that France has the best health care system in the world, followed by Italy.

Previous assessments have looked just at how healthy people are, "and you're left with the image that the rich (countries) do well because they're rich," said study co-author Dr. Julio Frenk. This new analysis praises health systems "that utilize few resources very well."

The report essentially measures value for money: comparing a population's health with how effectively governments spend their money on health, how well the public health system prevents illness instead of just treating it and how fairly the poor, minorities and other special populations are treated. It also examines how fairly the bill is divided among people.

When each country's measurements were added together, even study co-author Dr. Christopher Murray, a Harvard health economist and the health organization's chief of health policy evidence, was surprised. He had expected Scandinavian countries or Canada to be the world's best, because they're always presented as models. Instead, Norway hit No. 11, Canada 30.

Some health economists raised concerns about the method used to compile the rankings, in which several Mediterranean countries scored unexpectedly high. Tiny countries with few patients to care for - San Marino, Andorra, Malta - crowd onto the surprising best list. Singapore, Spain, Oman and Austria also made the top 10. Japan, which rated top for the health of its people, placed 10th overall.

Americans - while good at expensive, heroic care - are very poor at the low-cost preventive care that keeps Europeans healthy, said Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt. The United States spends a stunning $3,724 per person on health each year. But measuring how long people live in good health - not just how long they live - the Japanese beat Americans by 4 1/2 years, and the French lived three more healthy years. Yet Japan spends just $1,759 per person on health and France $2,125. ``That's a pretty big gap,'' noted Murray. ``For the money we're spending, we should be able to do a lot better!''

At the bottom of the list were Sierra Leone, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. Many of the worst-faring countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. Largely because of the AIDS epidemic, healthy life expectancy for babies born this year in many of those nations has dropped to 40 years or less, the W.H.O. said.


1. The World Health Report 2000 - Health systems: Improving performance. Published by the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Reported by: Ross E. Associated Press Medical Writer

Is the germ theory of disease creating its reality?

At the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association June, 2000, the following statement was issued: . "Antibacterial soaps may be no more effective against germs than common soap, and could contribute to the threat posed by drug-resistant bacterial strains, according to a statement by the American Medical Association (AMA)." Unfortunalely, they stopped stopped short of recommending that people avoid using the popular soaps, lotions and mouthwashes.

They have asked government regulators to expedite their review of antibacterial products and determine if they might contribute to the health threat created by excessive use of antibiotics. "There's no evidence that they do any good and there's reason to suspect that they could contribute to a problem" by helping to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said Myron Genel, chairman of the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs and a Yale University pediatrician.

He said use of the products may contribute to the well-recognized problem created by excessive use of antibiotics that has led to mutated bacterial strains that are resistant to drugs.

The following article in Conscious Choice offers an entire article to the subject, siting the types of soaps which contribute to resistant strains of bacteria.

Western medicine: a confidence trick driven by the drug industry?

A very interesting editorial in this months BMJ brings to light the drug industry realtionship and what we are led to believe is health care for our best interests. Read the editorial.

Reported adverse drug events in infants and children under 2 years of age .

Adverse reactions to drug therapy are a significant cause of death and injury in infants and children under 2 years of age. Drugs administered to the mother in the perinatal period constituted a major route of exposure to adverse drug advents. These results underscore the need for additional drug testing in the youngest pediatric patients and for carefully weighing the risks versus benefits of medication.
Read Abstract

Does drug promotion adversely influence doctors' abilities to make the best decisions for patients?

The following excerpts reveal what we have said all along about the promotion and prescribing of drugsAn excellent compilation of facts and references.

The pharmaceutical industry is huge and growing fast...Because of this huge and increasing expenditure, it is timely to review the effects of drug promotion on psychiatrists and our patients...Pharmaceutical companies use the most effective promotional methods that they can to increase sales income. They have a legal obligation to maximise profit for shareholders, as well as self-interest in maximising income for staff and for the company as a whole...The pharmaceutical industry has another more subtle way of maximising profit, which can potentially adversely influence doctors' abilities to make the best decisions for patients. Pharmaceutical companies do not just promote drugs, they also promote illness (which of course leads to increased sale of drugs)....There is also considerable opportunity for hidden promotion in the funding of research. For example, many so-called research studies seem designed to familiarise doctors with drugs and encourage their use, rather than to contribute to scientific knowledge. ...Patients are likely to benefit if doctors avoid contact with drug companies when possible, become very sceptical of promotional claims from any source and gain skills at critical appraisal of both the medical literature and promotion

Read the entire article