Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Forget the kids, seniors are phoning in the car

You hear a lot about young people with their quick reflexes tweeting and texting and otherwise being idiots in the car.

But a team of researchers at the Training, Research, and Education for Driving Safety program at University of California San Diego looked at the driving habits of California seniors.

Involved in the study were 397 anonymous adults 65 and older.

The older folks drive distracted less than the youngsters, but are still involved in dangerous behavior.

In the sample, the older people with cellphones 60% spoke on them while driving.

Usually involved was a "skewed sense of their multitasking ability," the researchers said.

Here are some fun facts--please read these while parked.

--Older drivers already suffer from medical conditions that impair safe driving--bad vision, frailty, bad thinking, slow reactions.

--Using the phone increases the risk of crashing by four times.

--Using the phone is like driving with a legal blood limit for intoxication.

--75% of seniors think they can use a hands-free device.

--27% drove kids under 11 last month and of those, 42% talked while on the road.

--3% of  the seniors had gotten a ticket for cellphone use, thought they did say the ticket changed their behavior.

How about changing it so you don't get a ticket--or something worse happens?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The signs of autism

Lisa Nalven, MD, director of developmental pediatrics at the Kireker Center for Child Development at Valley Hospital, says 1 in 68 kids are identified with a disorder somewhere on the autism spectrm.

Parents, she says, need to recognize the warning signs.

But--remember, interventions are available and recognizing the signs is constructive.

The most fundamental red flags are:

--No big smiles or warm, joyful expressions by 6 mos or thereafter

--No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, and facial expressions by 9 mos

--No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by a year

--No words by 16 months

--No two-word phrases (without repeating from the parent) by 2 yrs

--Any loss of speech or babbling at any age

Your pediatrician will watch for signs--but if you are concerned, face it, and ask.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Ah--unicorn food

Mermaid Toast
I never heard of this before...but now I have. According to Liam Stack (NYT, Apr 19, 2017), unicorn food is playful, colorful food popularized by Instagram and other social sites.

Starbucks now sells unicorn Frappacinos on Wednesday (for 5 weeks). Like all unicorn food, this java is amped up by cuteness.

Some foods feature fruit in animal shapes, pastel marshmallows, or even a real horn and ears made of sugar.

Toast can be uicorned with vari-colored icings, sprinkles, etc.

Who kicked this off? A wellmess blogger in Miam named Adeline Waugh.

She started it by using beetroot natural dye to pop her food pix.

Of course, her creations were healthy, but the trend has now gone down other paths. Now, sugary sprinkles and weird frostings are involved.

Doesn't sound like a healthfest to me, but hey, sometimes we need some fun, too.

Right?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

More kids can read by first grade

A new study shows that kids entering first grade in 2013 had far better reading skills than similar students a dozen years ago.

Even low-schieving students saw gains in basic reading skills.  But that did not translate into better overall reading for the less-skilled students. The gap between them and the higher-skilled students actually widened--meaning, I guess, that the higher-skilled kids sprinted ahead.

Overall, though, good news, the researchers are Ohio State said. (Educational Researcher)

One take from the researchers was that lower-skilled kids needed more time just reading text and less time being drilled on basic skills.

The study involved 2,358 schools in 44 states, a total of 364,738 kids.

What is the takeaway if you have kids? In my view, it's that preschool is a good thing and that reading should be encouraged at home, too.

To me, though, the really important thing is a love of reading--to somehow instill that.  Reading for pleasure has made my trip through this vale of tears bearable.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Even little kids feel fat

A study done at Leeds Beckett University showed that children as young as age 6 worry about body image, Children as young as three are stigmatized because of their weight, too.

I remember being furious with my ex- because he looked at our toddler daughter and said, "Is she getting fat?"

As if I had not gone that whole route my whole life-starting with amphetamines, threats, insults, etc., when I was not yet in junior high.

The study investigator points out that weight stigma and discrimination greatly influence the change of suffering from mental health issues--such as stress and anxiety.

He says non-stigmatizing supportive health care is paramount, because stigma reduces the potential of all interventions of any kind.

Eating behavior has been associated with depression and mood--and your mood in turn impacts food choice and consumption.

Doctors, he noted, need to "prescribe" exercise to treat both mental and physical concerns.

I don't even know if that's the whole answer.

Everyone needs to be more conscious of this....all this.

Just today, a friend told me about an obese 25-yr-old who had a gallbladder attack. The friend said she was "not being mean, the girl is fat." Yes, obesity can increase the risk of this, but I also know "skinny" people with gallbladder stones. Why is "fat" always the first go-to?