Let's Talk Kids

The Salt
7:42 am
Tue January 7, 2014

To Make Healthier Choices, Color-Code Your Food (Green Means Go!)

At NPR's Sound Bites Cafe, all food gets coded with one of three circles: Green is reserved for the most healthful dishes; yellow flags the "good choices;" and red signals the high-calorie foods to grab "on occasion."
NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Could a little red circle really make me bypass short ribs and mashed potatoes for some cod and rice instead? You've got to be kidding.

Well, a team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital sure think so — at least sometimes — and they have a study that backs them up.

It's research that hits close to home: Last April, when NPR moved into new headquarters, we got a snazzy new cafeteria. And little colored circles started popping up on menus.

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Shots - Health News
2:08 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Frostbite Tips For Novices: Skip Whiskey And Shed Your Rings

Jenny Hackett walks across a street in St. Louis, Mo., on Sunday. Subzero temperatures are predicted there Monday, with bitter cold sweeping east.
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 7:38 am

Frostbite isn't usually a major worry here in Washington, D.C., but with wind chills below zero forecast for half of the Lower 48 by Tuesday morning, millions of people from the Plains to the East Coast will have to start thinking like Arctic explorers while waiting for a school bus or heading to work.

Noses, fingers, toes and ears face the biggest risk. Those body parts have less blood flowing through them and a lot less mass than the body's core. They're also more likely to be exposed to the elements. Obviously, bundling up those tender parts is key.

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The Salt
3:16 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Let Them Eat Sandwiches: USDA Eases School Lunch Restrictions

After the the school lunch program was overhauled in 2012 to curb childhood obesity, lots of kids began complaining that lunches were too skimpy.

Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time.

In some districts, program participation dropped as more kids decided to brown-bag it and bring their own food to school.

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Let's Talk Kids
12:32 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Joy in the Quiet Times

After the holiday hustle and bustle, an empty datebook can seem anticlimactic. But in my estimation, those empty calendar pages feel like a benediction to the frenetic season just past.

Children are pushed through holiday observances on the crest of their families’ schedules and their own adrenaline. But as those special times wind down, regular life once again takes center stage.  And for most of the little children I know, regular life is a pretty big deal.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

When Teen Drivers Multitask, They're Even Worse Than Adults

You can do it. But your 16-year-old can't. Teens were more likely to have accidents while eating or talking in the car.
iStockphoto

Everyone knows that the first rule of driving is never take your eyes off the road.

Teen drivers start off being careful, but they tend to start multitasking after just a few months behind the wheel, according to research published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

And while older drivers can handle eating or talking to passengers, which trip up the newbies, dialing a cell phone increased the risk of accidents among young and experienced drivers alike.

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Parenting
11:32 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Parent Resolutions For 2014: Less Telling, More Listening

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms and dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. Today, for our last parenting roundtable of the year, we decided to look back at 2013 in parenting, and we ask some of our regular contributors and you to share some of your best and worst parenting moments of the year.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Doctors And Teens Both Avoid Talking About Sex And Sexuality

Almost half of high-schoolers have had sexual intercourse, but teens almost never ask their doctors about sexual health.
Nicole Young iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 4:09 pm

Many doctors aren't asking teenagers about sex or sexuality, and those who do are spending just 36 seconds on the topic, on average. That's not much time to get into sexually transmitted diseases or birth control, let alone sexual orientation, dating or other big topics.

And teenagers are so bashful when it comes to asking questions about sex and health that they won't bring it up if the doctor doesn't, researchers say.

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Education
4:09 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Closing The 'Word Gap' Between Rich And Poor

In Virginia this summer, Arlington Public Schools transported students in poor neighborhoods to community libraries for group readings. Studies say children from low-income families may hear roughly 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their more affluent peers.
Bill O'Leary The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 10:12 am

In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children's lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families' homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household.

What they found came to be known as the "word gap."

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Let's Talk Kids
12:24 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Capturing Memory

Stars glittered in the mother’s eyes as she described her family’s recent drive west through the Rockies.  They stood in wonder at the foot of beautiful waterfalls.  They marveled at the girth and height of some enormous trees.  They thrilled at their quick glances of shy moose and elk.

Mom and Dad are convinced they’ll never forget this experience, but they have a concern.  The youngest member of this journeying family is only three. How will she ever remember the experience?

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The Salt
5:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

When Is Cinnamon Spice Not So Nice? The Great Danish Debate

Ah, the cinnamon swirl: They're beloved by the Danish, but the traditional recipe for these pastries may be too spice-laden for European Union law.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 10:15 am

Who doesn't love a Danish pastry?

And in Denmark, they like their pastries sprinkled with plenty of cinnamon.

But now, Denmark's bakers are being told that their time-honored recipe for the beloved kanelsnegle — or cinnamon swirl — may be unhealthy and against the law. Recent testing by the Danish government found that a large number of the rolls had too much cinnamon — more than the recommended limits set by the European Union.

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Shots - Health News
2:46 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo

Vera Wojtesta was one of 300 babies flagged by New York's newborn screening program as at risk of having life-threatening Krabbe disease.
Ben Shutts Courtesy of the Wojtesta family

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:24 pm

For Matthew and Brianne Wojtesta, it all started about a week after the birth of their daughter Vera. Matthew was picking up his son from kindergarten when he got a phone call.

It was their pediatrician, with some shocking news. Vera had been flagged by New York's newborn screening program as possibly having a potentially deadly disease, and would need to go see a neurologist the next day.

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Let's Talk Kids
12:21 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Race is On

The middle-aged woman’s excitement was palpable as she described the lovely gifts she had just purchased.

Her two grandchildren would be in her home at some point for the holidays, and she’s planned to recreate every holiday tradition her family’s ever enjoyed.  She’ll bake each cookie recipe in her family cookbook.  She’s arranged a visit from a friend who owns a Santa suit. 

And the gifts!  She’s bought every toy these children might possibly desire, and looks forward to showering them with her love on December 22.

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Shots - Health News
11:37 am
Tue December 17, 2013

The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger

Though some people might need more of specific vitamins, multivitamins don't help most people, studies say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:57 am

When I was growing up my mom gave me a multivitamin every day as a defense against unnamed dread diseases.

But it looks like Mom was wasting her money. Evidence continues to mount that vitamin supplements don't help most people and can actually cause diseases that people are taking them to prevent, like cancer.

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Parenting
11:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Tantrums: To Control Or Not To Control?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:17 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. Today, we're talking about something we've all seen and perhaps experienced. Here it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILD TANTRUM)

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Shots - Health News
4:00 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

FDA Asks For Proof That Antibacterial Soaps Protect Health

There's no evidence that triclosan and other chemicals in antibacterial soaps do a better job than plain soap and water, the FDA says.
Kiichiro Sato AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:32 pm

In hospitals, people are bathed with soaps containing the antibacterial triclosan to reduce the risk of serious infections in surgery. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should be using triclosan soap in the kitchen and the bathroom, the Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency on Monday took a step toward restricting the use of triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals widely used in soap, deodorant, cosmetics and hundreds of other consumer products.

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Shots - Health News
1:27 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

As Far As Mom's Concerned, You'll Always Be The Little One

Being the littlest may mean more protection and care from parents, psychologists say.
Getty Images/Image Source

If you're a youngest child, your mother may call you "the baby," even if you're 6-foot-3. It can be endearing or annoying, depending on how you're feeling about dear old Mom.

But, it turns out, lots of parents think their youngest children are smaller than they really are, Australian researchers have found.

When they asked mothers to mark the height of their youngest child on a wall, they consistently marked it lower than the child's height. And not just by a little bit.

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Health
4:03 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Why A Regular Bedtime Is Important For Children

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:15 am

Children who have irregular bed times are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. A survey of 10,00 children showed that irregular bedtimes are linked with difficulties such as hyperactivity, acting out and being emotionally withdrawn. Researchers think inconsistent bedtimes probably affect young children like jet lag.

Around the Nation
4:12 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

For Many Urban Schools, Gun Violence Remains A Daily Reality

Trevor Watson, 14, says he hears gunshots in his Oakland neighborhood so often that "it doesn't even affect me anymore."
Brett Myers Youth Radio

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:56 pm

With its colorful box-style buildings with big windows, Castlemont High in Oakland, Calif., looks like any other school. But inside, teacher Demetria Huntsman and Joseph Hopkins, 16, are deconstructing a shooting that happened out front just 30 minutes before.

"We just, like, heard gunshots," Joseph explains. "We just ... turned around and started running. That's the closest I've ever came to almost, like, actually getting shot."

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:36 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

'Mr. Terupt' Shows What A Difference One Teacher Can Make

Because of Mr. Terupt cover.

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:41 pm

Not to judge a book by its cover, but just take one look at the jacket of Because of Mr. Terupt and you'll see it is the perfect book for December. It shows two mittened hands holding a snowball — a snowball responsible for a life-altering accident.

Mr. Terupt is a popular fifth-grade teacher at Snow Hill elementary school. And for seven students in particular, he is the center of their universe — a sage who gives them advice and confidence and helps them overcome obstacles and rivalries.

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Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Some Young Athletes May Be More Vulnerable To Hits To The Head

Dartmouth defenders sandwich a New Hampshire wide receiver during a game in Durham, N.H., in 2009.
Josh Gibney AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 2:31 pm

Concussions have deservedly gotten most of the attention in efforts to reduce the risk of head injuries in sports.

But scientists increasingly think that hits too small to cause concussions also affect the brain, and that those effects add up. And it looks like some athletes may be more vulnerable than others.

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NPR Story
10:41 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Holiday Visits: When Grandma Throws Elbows...

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 4:50 pm

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
8:43 am
Tue December 10, 2013

To Get Kids Exercising, Schools Are Becoming Creative

Students at Northeast Elementary Magnet, in Danville, Ill., play around. Fewer than 1 in 5 parents polled said their kids were getting physical education daily.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:42 pm

Avery Stackhouse, age 7, of Lafayette, Calif., says he wishes he had more time for phys ed.

"We just have it one day a week — on Monday." There's always lunch and recess, he says. "We play a couple of games, like football and soccer," he tells Shots.

But at Happy Valley Elementary, where he goes to school, recess lasts only 15 minutes and lunch is 45. Between eating and mingling, he says, "there's only a few minutes left where we play games and all that."

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Shots - Health News
1:49 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Violence In PG-13 Movies Comes With Plenty Of Sex And Booze

Explosions during the filming of the PG-13 hit The Dark Knight in Chicago in 2007.
Nam Y. Huh AP

If you're looking for good role models for your teenagers, the local cineplex may not be the place to go.

PG-13 movies are awash in violence, and the violence is almost always linked with sex and drinking, according to an analysis of top-grossing movies from 1985 to 2010.

The PG-13 movies, which are supposedly OK for teenagers, had the same amount of violence as R-rated movies.

Violence took up about one-third of the movies, researchers found.

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Children's Health
11:05 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Infants At Risk Due To Blood-Test Delays

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 7:09 pm

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
9:03 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Gene Therapy Keeps 'Bubble Boy' Disease At Bay In 8 Children

David Vetter was born without a functioning immune system and spent his life in a bubble that protected him from germs. He died at age 12 in 1984. Scientists are using gene therapy to treat the disorder so that children can live normally.
Science Source

Researchers say they are achieving success in curing the genetic defect that causes some children to be born without immune defenses, a rare condition made famous in the 1970s by a Texas boy who lived most of his short life in a sterile "bubble."

Scientists now report that 8 out of 9 young children given gene therapy for a type of severe combined immunodeficiency disease, called SCID-X1, are alive and living amid the everyday microbial threats that would otherwise have killed them. The oldest is just over 3 years old.

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The Two-Way
1:46 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Shanghai's Choking Smog Registers 'Beyond Index'

A building under construction is covered with haze in Shanghai on Friday. The city's pollution index is at its highest ever, officials say.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

In the latest smog-related health scare in China, officials in Shanghai on Friday ordered schoolchildren to stay indoors, halted all construction and even delayed flights in and out of the city, which has been enveloped in a thick blanket of haze, reducing visibility in places to less than 150 feet.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that the commercial capital's Air Quality Index soared above 500 for the first time ever, according to government sensors. He says officials described the readings as "beyond index" — in layman's terms, off-the-charts awful.

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The Salt
1:10 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

What Separates A Healthy And Unhealthy Diet? Just $1.50 Per Day

A Safeway customer browses in the fruit and vegetable section at Safeway in Livermore, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:09 am

If you want to eat a more healthful diet, you're going to have to shell out more cash, right? (After all, Whole Foods didn't get the nickname "Whole Paycheck" for nothing.)

But until recently, that widely held bit of conventional wisdom hadn't really been assessed in a rigorous, systematic way, says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Shots - Health News
2:14 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Solid friendships can help buffer life's stress.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 5:31 am

A teen's relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren't getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Nurses tend newborns at Sloane Hospital for Women in New York City.
Pat Carroll Getty

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:29 am

Drugs that help women become pregnant have replaced in vitro fertilization as the main culprit behind high-risk multiple births, according to a study looking at births of triplets and higher-order multiples.

"IVF, which is usually the one we tend to point fingers at, was not the leading culprit," says Eli Adashi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University who was senior author of the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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The Salt
4:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 8:09 am

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

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