STARTLING NEW RESEARCH FROM LOVEY LABORATORIES

It9_cwebsitespainttubezippedfrommikerewo Cleaning out the kids' closet in preparation for the new arrival, we discovered a forgotten trove of loveys - here we call them "Sleepy Animals," as in "Sleepy Bear," who is Fellow's night-time companion; "Sleepy Duck," who is Tiny's, etc. Turns out when Tiny Girl was born, she received three Sleepy Animals, each personalized with her name, and we chose to keep Sleepy Duck out for her and simply put Sleepy Hippo and Sleepy Lamb aside. That is, until last week, when, as we tore through into the closet in an attempt to make our baby supplies handy again, the extra animals reappeared, and Tiny scooped them right up. And what we're finding fascinating - and on one level, perhaps a bit troubling - is that Tiny is now treating the three Sleepy Animals as completely interchangeable, defying years of child-development research that once a connection has been made between a child and a single "special" comfort object, it can't be replaced. To recap, she's really quite a wingnut, our little girl.

MAYOR McCHEESE CLAIMS HE ONLY SUPPORTS THE PEACEFUL USES OF SPACE, BUT HIS ADMINISTRATION'S ACTIONS SEND A DIFFERENT MESSAGE

Benefizgolfronald So we spent the weekend with Small Fellow in our nation's capital, enjoying such attractions as the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. Actually, we caught lunch there in the McDonald's-branded cafeteria, where Fellow got himself a chicken-nugget Happy Meal. And it was then that our befuddlement began, because the toy accompanying the meal - in keeping with the museum's theme - was a yellow plastic fighter plane, wheels and all, piloted by . . . RONALD McDONALD.

That's right, manning the bomber was the corporation's friendly spokesclown, who loves all of the world's children so much that he would never, we had presumed, try to bomb any of their villages back to the Stone Age.

HEY, SUPERCOOL PARK SLOPE MOMS: STILL FEELING SMUG ABOUT REFUSING ALL THOSE SHOTS?

From Reuters, confirmation of a basic concept from Public Health 101 -- If enough people in a localized area refuse a needed vaccination, the community is put at an unreasonable risk:

Recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough show how easily a rare or "eradicated" disease can flare up again, U.S. investigators said this week. Three people in Indiana were hospitalized last year after a 17-year-old girl carried measles back from Romania. It spread to 34 people because many in her community had refused to be vaccinated, a team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. . . .

Measles . . . has staged a comeback as people question the safety of vaccines: The World Health Organization estimates that measles infects 30 million people annually and kills 454,000 of them, mainly children. In the Indiana measles case, the unvaccinated girl returned from Romania with the disease and went to a church gathering the next day, the researchers said.

She infected 16 people, who infected others until 34 people carried the virus, the largest U.S. outbreak since 1996. . . . Almost all of those infected had previously refused the vaccine for fear of side-effects, the researchers said. Some groups say vaccines preserved with a mercury compound called thimerosal can cause autism and other disorders . . . . [but] the ingredient has been removed from all U.S. childhood vaccines except the flu vaccine. [emphasis added]

We're in no position to argue one way or the other on the effects of thimerosal, but we recognize that the preservative continues to cause public-relations for public-health officials as they try to promote 100% child inoculation. And so we wonder if they shouldn't be making more of an effort to spread the word that the compound has in fact already been removed from all of the traditional childhood vaccines.

By the way, here's the official word from the FDA's site:

. . . . Since 2001, all vaccines manufactured for the U.S. market and routinely recommended for children < 6 years of age have contained no thimerosal or only trace amounts (< 1 microgram of mercury per dose remaining from the manufacturing process), with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine. In addition, all of the routinely recommended vaccines that had been previously manufactured with thimerosal as a preservative (some formulations of DTaP, Haemophilus influenzae b conjugate (Hib), and hepatitis B vaccines) had reached the end of their shelf life by January 2003.

A GOOD ARGUMENT FOR NEVER MAKING BLANKET PROMISES TO YOUR KIDS

Mcdonald We have a special set of "sick rules" for the kids, many of them relating to TV access. Basically, when you're sick, you get to watch more TV, and you pretty much get to watch whatever you want. And it has always worked out fine - Tiny will come down a fever, and she'll lie down to repeated screenings of her "Dr. Caillou" video, or Fellow will get an ear infection and watch multiple episodes of "The Most Extreme" on Animal Planet. But, alas, the little ones are growing up, and their choices are becoming less wholesome.

Fellow turned up with a 102 temperature Sunday night and as soon as we took the thermometer from him and delivered the bad news, he dialed up channel 109 on our Time Warner Cable box - the Toon Disney channel - so that he could watch Power Rangers, a show which has always been banned here on the grounds that it was "about fighting," "for bigger kids," and "crap." We demanded a channel change and were of course told,  "But I'm sick! I can watch what I want!"

But yes, Reader, he did agree to change the channel - right over to a Texas Hold 'Em competition.

ISN'T THIS IS WHAT PARENTAL CONTROLS WERE MADE FOR?

We've since looked further into this Toon Disney channel. According to its Web iste, it's apparently "the only channel that celebrates the magic of Disney animation 24 hours a day!" But not 24 hours in a row, because when the sun goes down, Toon Disney morphs into something called "JETIX," an all-night lineup of worthless, violent, overstimulating Fox Kids programming like "Digimon," "W.I.T.C.H.," "Dragon Booster," and at least two kinds of Power Rangers, "Generations" and "S.P.D." (Why not just remove all pretense and call it "Power Rangers A.D.H.D."?) Insidiously, Time Warner places Toon Disney on our chennel lineup just two slots north of Discovery Kids and The Science Channel. That's like putting a Good Humor cart in the produce section.

OH, THIS IS JUST GREAT. INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT WHICH UNHEALTHY FOODS OUR KIDS MIGHT FIND IN THE SUPERMARKET, NOW IT TURNS OUT THAT THE SUPERMARKET ITSELF IS ONE GIANT DEATH TRAP

Estimable design blog Unbeige today links to an article on a new American Academy of Pediatrics study claiming that 24,000 American children - nearly all of them under 5 - were "treated for shopping cart-related injuries" last year. Common causes include unharnessed kids standing up in carts, and poorly-designed carts with high centers of gravity that can tip over even when children are properly strapped in, leading to head and neck injuries including concussions. Pediatricians and engineers are working up prototypes of shopping carts that place children closer to the ground. But until they're ready for market, there's another option for concerned parents.

August 9, 2006 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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