Natural Family News

March 27, 2006

Breastfeeding Moms should avoid trans-fatty acids

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Health — jmanty @ 11:49 am

Well, you shouldn’t be eating them anyway, but if you’re nursing it’s especially important that you avoid eating trans-fatty acids. A recent study shows trans fatty acids (trans fat) prevent infants from absorbing essential polyunsaturated fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are required by infants’ brains. Trans fatty acids are found in deep fried foods, baked products like pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and in some margarines.

March 6, 2006

Autism rates dropping since the removal of mercury

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 8:39 am

Medical Journal: Autism Rates Decline as Mercury Removed from Childhood Vaccines
Independent Analysis Refutes Institute of Medicine Claims of “No Relationship,” While Mercury Still Used in Flu & Other Vaccines

TUCSON, AZ — A new study shows that autism may be linked after all to the use of mercury in childhood vaccines, despite government’s previous claims to the contrary.

An article in the March 10, 2006 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons ( shows that since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the alarming increase in reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders (NDs) in children not only stopped, but actually dropped sharply – by as much as 35%.

Using the government’s own databases, independent researchers analyzed reports of childhood NDs, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives. Authors David A. Geier, B.A. and Mark R. Geier, M.D., Ph.D. analyze data from the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) in “Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines.”

The numbers from California show that reported autism rates hit a high of 800 in May 2003. If that trend had continued, the reports would have skyrocketed to more than 1000 by the beginning of 2006. But in fact, the Geiers report that the number actually went down to only 620, a real decrease of 22%, and a decrease from the projections of 35%.

This analysis directly contradicts 2004 recommendations of the Institute of Medicine which examined vaccine safety data from the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC. While not willing to either rule out or to corroborate a relationship between mercury and autism, the IOM soft-pedaled its findings, and decided no more studies were needed. The authors write: “The IOM stated that the evidence favored rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism, that such a relationship was not biologically plausible, and that no further studies should be conducted to evaluate it.”

As more and more vaccines were added to the mandatory schedule of vaccines for children, the dose of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal rose, so that the cumulative dose injected into babies exceeded the toxic threshold set by many government agencies. Mercury is known to damage nerve cells in very low concentrations.

The concern about vaccines may actually be underrated, as it is generally acknowledged that the voluntary reporting of such disorders has resulted in vast underreporting of new cases. For example, the Iowa state legislature banned thimerosal from all vaccines administered there after it documented a 700-fold increase in that state alone. California followed suit, and 32 states are considering doing so. Up until about 1989 pre-school children got only 3 vaccines (polio, DPT, MMR). By 1999 the CDC recommended a total of 22 vaccines to be given before children reach the 1st grade, including Hepatitis B, which is given to newborns within the first 24 hours of birth. Many of these vaccines contained mercury. In the 1990s approximately 40 million children were injected with mercury-containing vaccines.

The cumulative amount of mercury being given to children in this number of vaccines would be an amount 187 times the EPA daily exposure limit

Between 1989 and 2003, there has been an explosion of autism. The incidence of autism (and other related disorders) went from about 1 in 2,500 children to 1 in every 166. Currently there are more than a half million children in the U.S. that have autism. This disorder has devastated families.

In 1999, on the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Public Health Service, thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines as a “precautionary” measure – i.e. without admitting to any causal link between thimerosal and autism.

The Geiers conclude that mercury continues to be a concern, as it is still added to some of the most commonly-used vaccines, such as those for flu:

“Despite its removal from many childhood vaccines, thimerosal is still routinely added to some formulations of influenza vaccine administered to U.S. infants, as well as to several other vaccines (e.g. tetanus-diphtheria and monovalent tetanus) administered to older children and adults. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) retreated from the stated 1999 goal of the AAP and the PHS to remove thimerosal from U.S. vaccines as soon as possible…As a result, assessing the safety of TCVs [thimerosal-containing vaccines] is a matter of significant importance.”

NOTE: The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is the peer-reviewed quarterly journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a non-partisan professional association founded in 1943.

Prepublication copy of article posted here which includes links to the VAERS and CDDS databases.

February 25, 2006

Helpful information on food additives

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 7:07 pm

Did you think we’d gone away forever? Sorry about the lag in posting. I’ve been posting my rear end off about the Olympics and I’m just now coming up for air.

I received an email from a customer today asking me about a list of food additives and their safety. In researching the answer for her, I came across a website that would be useful for most consumers. It is a listing of food additives with their safety ranking, from a green check for “it’s fine” to a big red x for things that no one should consume. Now, I must say, I still think the best rule of thumb is “if you can’t tell what it is, don’t eat it”, I know that the reality is most of us eat processed foods at some point in time, and it’s probably a good idea to be able to figure out just how bad for you a substance is before you buy it for yourself or for your kids.

I’ll be back to publishing articles much more often now that the Olympics are just about over. Oh, and if you like, check out my new vegetarian blog. I try to post a new vegetarian recipe just about every day.

February 19, 2006

Patch users twice as likely to get blood clots

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 7:46 am

Women who use the Ortho Evra patch are twice as likely as pill users to develop potentially life-threatening blood clots. The patch exposes women to higher levels of estrogen, which increases clot risks. The manufacturer will be updating the labelling on the package to reflect this new information.

February 15, 2006

Study finds WIC participants using herbs

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 7:01 am

A recent study of WIC participants found that many caregivers (I guess this is the new way of saying parents) were giving their children herbs.

Quotes from the article I, personally, find disturbing:

“Nutrition professionals and WIC educators have hesitated to talk about herbs for children because they feared that it would encourage acceptance and, perhaps, cause people to start using them.”

Well, yes, I can see why WIC educators wouldn’t want to talk about herbs. I mean, why use something that’s been used for thousands of years when there’s that brand new pharmaceutical to be prescribed?

“Although most of the herbs that the participants reported giving to children were those with relatively low risk, the effects of long term use and interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medications are unknown.”

As opposed to the long term effects of those lovely prescriptions and over-the-counter medications– like Tylenol, or Motrin, or antibiotics. Those couldn’t possibly cause any long-term problems. Could they?

February 10, 2006

Teething rings recalled

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 9:06 am

This is important news for all parents. The First Years has recalled a series of water-filled teething rings. The teething rings may contain bacteria, which could sicken infants if they swallow or absorb it through a cut in the mouth, the FDA said. The risk of illness is greatest for babies with immune systems weakened by cancer, malnutrition or other health problems.

Consumers who bought the recalled teething rings can go the company’s Web site for information on how to return the items.

February 8, 2006

Formula and the FDA

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Health — lking @ 8:43 pm

I don’t know that this counts as news exactly – it’s not a recent change – but it was news to me. I was surprised to learn that infant formulas do not have to be approved by the FDA. The FDA asks manufacturers for assurances in regards to the products nutritional value and quality control, and they can object to the marketing of a particular formula if such assurances are not received. However, the manufacturer may still market the product even if the FDA objects. Chalk up another reason to breastfeed!

Breastfeeding prevents respiratory illness

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Health — jmanty @ 7:13 am

Breastfeeding for at least six months protects the child against respiratory illness and ear infections, according to a new report in Pediatrics. I’m always somewhat surprised when a new study showing breastfeeding is healthier is published. Is there a reason to keep studying breastfeeding’s health benefits? Can there be any doubt by now that, yes, it’s better than formula? Is anyone out there using formula because they think it’s better for their child than breastfeeding? If they’re not breastfeeding, is there any new data that will change that? And with the massive body of evidence, why are there doctors out there who still act like breastfeeding is no big deal?

Did I tell you about the doctor I visited who actually told me she recommends that none of her patients breastfeed for longer than six months because she says it’s harmful to the baby’s bone health? What a loon. I ought to make a copy of this report and wallpaper her office in it.

February 7, 2006

Are your children getting enough calcium?

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 7:33 am

If they’re like the typical American child, the answer is no. A recent report in Pediatrics says that a lack of calcium and exercise in children over 8 will likely lead to an epidemic of broken bones later in life. Now, excessive use of the word epidemic aside, this is a report that I feel is pretty accurate. More and more children consume soda. Fewer consume dairy or (and I was pleased the report mentioned this) green vegetables which contain just as much calcium. My own children are guilty of not spending enough time doing activities, such as running and jumping, which help build later bone health. So, give your kids a plate of broccoli and send them out to run around the back yard. Their bones will thank you.

February 5, 2006

Breastfeeding – how long is too long?

Filed under: Attachment Parenting,Breastfeeding,Health — lking @ 5:08 pm

A news station in the BBC has caused quite a stir online with their piece on “Extraordinary Breastfeeding”. Great Britain apparently has lousy breastfeeding rates overall, but this piece focused on mums who practice extended – and sometimes *really* extended – breastfeeding. Get any group of moms together, ask them at what age a child should be weaned by, and you will get a wide variety of answers. There are comments from moms on the news piece above that state that breastfeeding beyond 6 months of age is abuse. Others feel like 2-3 years should be the limit. Still others say 5 or older. Who’s right? The probable answer is no one. I don’t think that anyone can list a hard and fast rule about when a child should wean. Anthropologists seem to be in agreement that historically children were breastfed well into their third year and beyond. Ultimately when to wean is a very personal decision, and one that I believe should be left for individual families to work out on their own.

February 3, 2006

Cosleeping in the news

Filed under: Attachment Parenting,Health — lking @ 11:35 am

A recent news piece is rehashing the pros and cons of cosleeping. It does a relatively decent job of presenting both sides, though it does appear to lean towards the “cosleeping is dangerous” camp. They do mention some of cosleeping’s benefits, and make some recommendations of how to do so safely. However, they fail to mention the problems with the CPSC’s study and their findings, and all but one of the listed dangers of cosleeping are related to unsafe cosleeping practices, not cosleeping itself. It’s like saying that crib sleeping is dangerous because the crib slats could be too far apart and cause entrapment of the baby’s head. The problem there isn’t inherently crib sleeping – it’s the design of the crib. Beds that are too soft, big gaps between headboards and footboards, etc. are hazards that can be eliminated. If you’re interested in a more scientific view and in depth discussion of sleep practices, I would recommend you check out Dr. James McKenna’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.

February 1, 2006

Natural birth practices and beneficial bacteria

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Health,Natural Birth — lking @ 1:26 pm

There’s an interesting opinion piece by Jeff Leach written recently that discusses how vaginal birth and breastfeeding promotes colonization of the baby’s intestinal tract by beneficial bacteria. He does a great job discussing the issue, and is a witty writer to boot. It’s definitely a worthwhile read.

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