Lead in Reusable Shopping Bags

The Tampa Tribune recently reported on their lead testing of reusable shopping bags at some of the largest nationwide supermarkets. All tested positive for higher than recommended levels of lead. According to the newspaper, “The bag contains enough lead that Hillsborough County could consider the bag hazardous if thrown out with household trash, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by The Tampa Tribune.”

Those that tested positive in the newspaper’s investigation were bags at Winn-Dixie, Publix, Sweetbay, Wal-Mart, and Target. Since then, CVS has also found lead in their 99 cent green color cloth bags. As a result, CVS has ordered a voluntary recall on these bags. Publix has asked the supplier to lower the lead content in the bags. Winn-Dixie has not made any changes; they contend the bags are safe to use. However, both Winn-Dixie and Publix are offering rebates to anyone who wants to return their cloth reusable shopping bags.

New York Senator Charles Schumer has called for an investigation by the Federal Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take action. Senator Schumer wants federal agencies to place a ban on lead in grocery bags.
The question is … are these bags safe or not? However, think about how your hands are in contact with the bag. In addition, food may leak into the bag. Many of us unconsciously put our hands in our mouth at one point or another. If this occurs, you could be introducing lead into your body either directly or through food. Lastly, what about our young children who hold these bags? If their putting their hands in their mouth, they’re contaminating themselves too.

Technically, since no harm has been shown from the use of these bags, it’s a personal decision you make regarding their use. However, it is important to note that there is no true “safe” amount of lead in humans. Consider returning them for a refund, if you have them. For those of you who are “green” shoppers, buy an old fashioned cloth beige bag for your shopping needs or use paper. You can still go green by going brown.


Get Smart About Antibiotics Week

November 15-21, 2010 is Get Smart about Antibiotics Week.  This is a campaign set forth by Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a partner in this campaign.  
The goal this week is to help educate the public about the use of antibiotics, how they work, when they are  needed, and their side effects.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, such as ear infections, strep throat, sinusitis, and pneumonia.  It is important to know that antibiotics don't "work for everything."  Antibiotics do not treat viral infections.  Viruses cause the common, the flu, and many cases of upper respiratory infections.  You may wonder why your doctor does not prescribe an antibiotic each time your child is evaluated for his/her sore throat, cough, and stuffy nose.  That is because there is no cure for most viral infections. 
In fact, taking antibiotics unnecessarily may do more harm than good.  Your child may feel worse than he/she already does.  Antibiotics change the normal gut flora.  As a result, diarrhea is a common side effect as is nausea as well.  In addition, judicious use of antibiotics is imperative so as to prevent antibiotic resistance.  Over the decades, antibiotic resistance has increased.  This means that some antibiotics are no longer effective in their fight against infectious certain bacteria.  This occurred as a result of overuse of antibiotics in the past.  Lastly, it is important to make sure you follow your doctors directions in regards to how your child takes his/her anitbiotics.  Unless your child cannot tolerate his/her medication, please always make sure that he/she finishes the medication as directed.  In addition, do not save "left over" antibiotics and do not give "left over" antibiotics.  If you do, this leads to increased bacterial resistance.  In other words, this antibiotic is less likely to have killed the bacteria the first time, rendering it less susceptible to that same bacteria the next time.  As a result, your child will need to be placed on an additional course of antibiotics.  And no one wants that.
As always, the best resource you can have for all your questions regarding bacterial and viral infections and the treatment of your child(ren)'s illness is your doctor.  For more information, please check out the follow webpages from the CDC  (www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/index.html) and the AAP (www.healthychildren.org/English/News/pages/Get-Smart-About-Antibiotics.aspx).

Overwhelmed with a New Baby?

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to help a new mother.  She was loving, concerned, and asked many appropriate questions.  Interestingly enough, I've noticed that more and more mothers are using their Blackberry's as a resource.  This mother "wrote" all her questions in her Blackberry.  Daddy was in the room, supportive and patient.  They warned me when a entered the room, "Mommy has a lot of questions."
I was very impressed, she had her Blackberry question list in her right hand as she breastfed her new infant son on the left.  Talk about multi-tasking!  Her questions included the topics of feeding, breast milk, formula, sleeping, clothing, sleepwear, daywear, etc.  She was very apologetic.  I had to reiterate to her that there was no need to apologize.  A new mother with unanswered questions is a woman with unabated anxiety.  She smiled and pressed on.  She thanked me at the end.  Then, she said the most important thing of all, "I'm overwhelmed."
It was very honest and welcomed.  Admitting you are overwhelmed is the first step towards finding a solution.  I agreed with her - having a newborn is overwhelming, especially as a first time mother.  Most mothers don't admit it because they feel inadequate if they do so.  After all, how many mommy's do you know of admit that they are tired and overwhelmed with a baby that's only 4 days old.  I let her know that she was a wonderful mother at only 4 days old!  She knew what questions she needed answered.  She made a list and asked me all of them.  To boot, she really was taking excellent care of him.  She couldn't possibly do more.

I advised her to keep writing her question list for each visit.  It is a pediatrician's role to answer questions & educate a mother, so that she can be the best mother she can be.  In the process, she will feel more confident and be able to rest more peacefully.  When searching for a pediatrician, I advise you ask if time is taken to answer your newborn questions, so you can feel the same.

She thanked me and agreed, "I feel more relaxed."  Then, she asked, "How long until the next visit?"  He'll be back at two weeks old.  The look on her face was that of relief; I could almost hear her say, 'Whew!  It's not so far off.'  She'll be here with her Blackberry list and a smile.


Kids, Teens & Voting Lessons

How can you have an impact on your child on Election Day? Teach them about the importance of voting through discussion and by example. Regardless of your politics, this election can serve as an important lesson for our children on voting. Young children and teenagers can learn much on the importance of their single vote. Have you talked to your children why it’s important to vote? Do they know that one vote can make a difference?
Schools may teach this to our children, but it needs to come from the home as well. It is much more powerful to a child when their parent explains to them that voting is a right as a United States citizen. It truly is a precious gift. Do your children know that not every country has a voting system? Do they know that “back in the day,” not everyone in this country had the right to vote? Maybe they’re older and do know these facts. Maybe they’ve had a mock Election Day at school or in class. Perhaps, you can have an open conversation with them about this. Consider asking them, ‘How would life be different if we couldn’t vote?’

Elections can also be a lesson in how State Referendums/Amendments are important. Do your teens know how each one could affect their State financially?

Consider taking your child with you to the polls. Talking to them about the process beforehand, followed by seeing the process can make a huge impression.

Most important of all, today is an opportunity to teach our children to respect each other. Do they know to respect each other’s different voting opinions? A child or teen may be impassioned regarding the election. Often, they think others are wrong because they view things differently than they or their family. You can teach them the value of healthy debate and respecting differing viewpoints.

This is just a small sampling of how you can expand your child and families experience regarding voting. Try it; you just might be enlightened by your own child.
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