April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

Monday, March 29, 2010

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD, that no child should be harmed by abuse or neglect.

There are events all over this great state of Indiana, and all over the nation. Go to Prevent Child Abuse America's website, or Prevent Child Abuse Indiana to find out what YOU can do, or how you can show your support!

You could “plant” a blue pinwheel to celebrate the number of children born in your area, or attend a rally or conference to gain insight and inspiration. Perhaps there are volunteer opportunities where you can work toward child abuse prevention. We have several local prevention councils around the state, and there may be one in your area. Just contact us, or visit our website at www.pcain.org, to see if there is a local prevention council in your county.

Remember, no one can do everything, but we all can do something.

And together, we can do anything. Together, we can prevent child abuse!

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is on Facebook, and we also have a Blog.

Find us at www.pcain.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/preventchildabuseindiana (check out our Events tab)
Blog: http://preventchildabuseindiana.blogspot.com/

(Second Hand) Smoke and Mirrors

Monday, March 22, 2010

I grew up in a house that was full of cigarette smoke. Both of my parents smoked. So did our friends and neighbors. When my older siblings grew up and got married, both of their spouses smoked. I remember countless family gatherings where the air was literally blue from cigarette smoke.

Our house reeked of smoke even when no one was puffing away. The drapes, the furniture, even the walls smelled like cigarettes. My parents smoked at the table during meals.

From an early age I hated the stench. I couldn’t stand the way my clothing smelled when I left the house for school. Even the clean laundry smelled of smoke. I remember stuffing a towel under my bedroom door in a futile attempt to keep the smell out.

What I didn’t understand was that the smell was the least of my problems.

I had numerous ear infections from childhood until my mid teen years. My siblings and I suffered frequent bouts of bronchitis throughout childhood, but no one made the connection.

My father took my dislike of cigarette smoke as a personal affront. “Everybody in the world smokes, and you’re just going to have to get used to it!” he shouted one day as I left the room when he lit up.

As I write this, I am dealing with a severe bout of bronchitis. It happens every winter, sometimes more than once. I thought I had dodged this year’s bullet—it is almost spring, right? But here I am, hacking like a three-pack-a-day smoker. In spite of my father’s warning, I never did take up smoking. But I wonder if my body’s tendency to put out the welcome mat for every stray respiratory virus is the result of the years I spent growing up in a blue haze.

We’ve come a long way since I was a kid. Many communities have no-smoking ordinances, and it’s easy to find smoke-free places to play and eat with your family. But even now, in 2010, nearly half of all kids in the United States live with a smoker.

I know many parents who smoke who are aware of the risks, and many of them try to minimize the exposure for their kids by smoking in another room or cracking the car window. The trouble is that the particles in smoke are so small that they can travel throughout your home or car very quickly. Opening a window or closing the door just doesn’t cut it, and if you believe it does—you’re fooling yourself.

We know a lot more about the effects of second hand smoke now than we did when I was a kid. For instance, we now know that secondhand smoke contains more than 250 chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances and poisons as smokers! These chemicals irritate the nose, sinuses, lungs, and middle ear. Kids exposed to these chemicals have a much higher rate of infections and asthma. The likelihood of needing tubes inserted in the ears goes way up when kids are exposed to cigarette smoke.

The best way to protect kids from exposure to second hand smoke is by not smoking at all. Yeah, it’s a hard habit to break—but it’s not impossible. Think about it…what parent really wants to expose kids to arsenic or benzene or vinyl chloride?

Caring4Cancer.com has a free online tool to help smokers figure out whether they are ready to quit and what steps they can take to assure success. The program can be found at http://www.caring4cancer.com/go/colorectal/prevention/are-you-ready-to-quit-smoking.htm

Here are some other online tools for smokers who are considering quitting:

Smokefree.gov: Tools to help You Quit http://www.smokefree.gov/tools.aspx

American Cancer Society: Guide to Quitting Smoking http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ped/content/ped_10_13x_guide_for_quitting_smoking.asp

Pathways to Freedom: Winning the Fight Against Tobacco http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/how_to_quit/pathways/pdfs/pathways.pdf

Office of the Surgeon General: Tobacco Cessation - You Can Quit Smoking Now! http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/

"If people don't love themselves enough to stop their smoking, they may love someone else enough to do it." (anonymous smoker)

If You Are What You Eat…

Monday, March 15, 2010

By Mary Armstrong-Smith

Nutritionists love to tell us that one of the big problems with food in America is the amount of processed foods we eat. I’ve been reading a lot of food labels lately, and find myself both confused (what the heck is xanthan gum?) and depressed.

Take sodium—plain old table salt. I’m careful not to add much to my baked potato or scrambled eggs, so that’s good, right? Apparently it’s not good enough. According to the Mayo Clinic (there’s an ironic name for a health organization), only about 11 percent of the sodium we consume comes from adding salt to the food we eat. Seventy-seven percent comes from processed and prepared foods.

Various organizations have published recommended daily allowances (RDAs) of sodium, ranging from 1,500 milligrams to 2,400 milligrams. That sounds like plenty of sodium, until you start reading food labels. The emergency can of Progresso Light Beef Pot Roast Soup that I keep in my desk in case I can’t get to lunch contains 660 milligrams of sodium—almost half of the lower end of the RDA. Sheesh.

Michael Pollan, author of the book Food Rules, says that the Western diet is “the one diet that reliably makes its people sick.” Pollan, a well-known author specializing in works about food, tells how his latest book came about:

“The idea for this book came from a doctor--a couple of them, as a matter of fact. They had read my last book, ‘In Defense of Food’, which ended with a handful of tips for eating well: simple ways to navigate the treacherous landscape of modern food and the often-confusing science of nutrition. ‘What I would love is a pamphlet I could hand to my patients with some rules for eating wisely,’ they would say. ‘I don't have time for the big nutrition lecture and, anyway, they really don't need to know what an antioxidant is in order to eat wisely.’

Another doctor, a transplant cardiologist, wrote to say ‘you can't imagine what I see on the insides of people these days wrecked by eating food products instead of food.’ So rather than leaving his heart patients with yet another prescription or lecture on cholesterol, he gives them a simple recipe for roasting a chicken, and getting three wholesome meals out of it -- a very different way of thinking about health.”

Here are a few of the “Food Rules” from his book:

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. -- This should go without saying. Such cereals are highly processed and full of refined carbohydrates as well as chemical additives.

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. --There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we're eating them every day. The french fry did not become America's most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes -- and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they're so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them -- chances are good it won't be every day.

#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored. -- For many of us, eating has surprisingly little to do with hunger. We eat out of boredom, for entertainment, to comfort or reward ourselves. Try to be aware of why you're eating, and ask yourself if you're really hungry -- before you eat and then again along the way. (One old wive's test: If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you're not hungry.) Food is a costly antidepressant.

#58 Do all your eating at a table. -- No, a desk is not a table. If we eat while we're working, or while watching TV or driving, we eat mindlessly -- and as a result eat a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we're doing. This phenomenon can be tested (and put to good use): Place a child in front of a television set and place a bowl of fresh vegetables in front of him or her. The child will eat everything in the bowl, often even vegetables that he or she doesn't ordinarily touch, without noticing what's going on. Which suggests an exception to the rule: When eating somewhere other than at a table, stick to fruits and vegetables

Pretty interesting rules, and they’re very different from the “diet rules” with which I was raised. I still giggle at my mother’s insistence that “grapefruit burns fat.” If that were true, I would have disappeared in a citrus-scented puff of smoke by the age of sixteen.

We don’t have to go live off the grid and raise our own vegetables in order to eat healthy. What can help us is to avoid highly processed foods. Instead of Fruit Roll Ups, eat actual fruit. Instead of canned soup, make your own.

And lay off the Lucky Charms. Milk shouldn’t be a color not found in nature.

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Monday, March 8, 2010

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and we would like to provide some information and prevention tips so that everyone will remain safe, and then hopefully keep the people in their lives safe. Brain injuries can occur from a blow to the head, or if something were to penetrate the skull and enter into the brain. Injury can also result from a violent shaking motion, like that which is found in Shaken Infant Syndrome\Abusive Head Trauma. When this type of injury does occur, it typically happens with babies, but it can also occur in older children (ages five to six years). Children’s brains are under developed, so they may be at greater risk for brain injury if they sustain head trauma. That is why it is especially important for children to wear helmets while participating in many activities. We want to include several tips, but these suggestions are not all inclusive. For more information, you may visit www.neurosurgerytoday.org.

1. Buy and use tested and approved helmets, especially while biking, skiing, playing sports, riding on motorcycles or ATV’s, or horseback riding.

2. Children wearing helmets while playing soccer is also suggested…especially younger children

3. Do not dive into water where you see debris, or where it appears too shallow (definitely not into water that is less than 12 feet deep).

4. Make sure children are participating in age-appropriate activities.

5. Wear seatbelts.

6. Be certain that fields where sports take place are kept safe and free from debris, and insure that sporting equipment is up-to-date and not damaged or poorly maintained.

7. Never have loaded guns in areas where children can obtain them. Keep guns locked up and unloaded, with ammunition kept in a separate location.

8. Make sure your home, school, place of employment, childcare facility, etc. is safe. Check rugs, stairs, windows, handrails to insure everything is secure.

If someone were to fall and strike their head, or receive any type of head injury, be certain to consult a medical professional immediately…even if that person appears to be okay, or even if the fall was from a seemingly “short distance”. Symptoms of a head injury can be vague, or may appear later, and then it may be too late. Never fool around with a head injury!

Some information was gleaned from Neurosurgery Today