The Glass is (at least) Half Full

While Mamas always try to focus on the positives of raising healthy, happy kiddos, sometimes the events of the day force us to explore disturbing topics and offer teachable moments on trends that — frankly — scare the bejeezus out of us.

So it’s with great pleasure and some relief that we bring you a post that’s chock full of good news.

  • The skinny on toddlers. The CDC reports a 43 percent drop in obesity rates among children ages 2-5 in just the last 10 years. Consumption of sugar-filled soft drinks went down, while breastfeeding rates went up, which may provide part of the explanation. We can’t celebrate just yet, since the decreases didn’t hold for other age groups, so keep serving loads of fresh fruits and veggies and ditch the sugary drinks.
  • Boost for vaccines. Several states across the nation (Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California) are tightening rules requiring children to be vaccinated before enrolling in school. New guidelines require parents to receive counseling and education from a healthcare provider before opting out for non-medical reasons. The issue comes with its share of controversy, but recent deadly outbreaks of measles and whooping cough point to the urgent need for sensible reform.
  • You booze, you lose. A recent study from the Boston University School of Public Health finds that since the age 21 drinking law has been in effect throughout the US (1988), youths have been consuming less alcohol and are less likely to be involved in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.  Researchers found that in high school seniors, binge drinking fell from 35% in 1988 to 22% in 2011. Good start — a ways to go.
  • Yes, you DO matter.  New study from Cornell University finds that parents who play with their children, talk about nutrition, or just spend time with them are more likely to have children who grow up to be slim adults. The bottom line for parents: Spend a lot of time with your kids – it almost doesn’t matter what activity you do with them – just stay in their young lives.
  • Power lines DON’T cause cancer. Really. It’s hard to get this urban legend out of your head, but researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK have determined, once and for all, that children who spend their early years living near overhead power lines are not at greater risk of developing childhood leukemia. We all have plenty to worry about. It’s time to let this one go.
  • Smothering hate saves lives. Schools with explicit anti-homophobia programs, such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs), reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students, according to a new study by University of British Columbia researchers. We know that LGBT students are at higher risk because they are more often targeted for bullying and discrimination, but heterosexual students suffer too. Knowledge is power. Pass it on. 

Happy Monday, Mamas!


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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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