Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Einstein Refunds

Looks like I'm not the only one apprehensive about plopping my baby in front of a Baby Einstein video. If you're unsatisfied with a Baby Einstein DVD that was bought between June 5, 2004 and Sept. 5, 2009, Disney will refund ($15.99) or exchange the DVD for a book or music CD (up to four per household).

Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, has been pressing lawsuits for years, claiming that baby videos -- such as Baby Einstein -- are harmful. Because of Linn's persistence, the company dropped the word "educational" from their marketing in 2006, but Linn wanted further action: Accountability and compensation for their "unfair and deceptive practices."

A letter from Linn's lawyers cites studies that show television exposure between ages 1 and 3 is "associated with attention problems at age 7." And educational or not, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 2.

To read about the new refund, read this. Here's what Linn had to say about it:
"We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds."
But is it an acknowledgment? According to Susan McLain, the general manager of Baby Einstein, this refund is just an extension of the customer-satisfaction refund that has always been in place, but it's basically just to get Linn off of their backs: "We strongly believe that, unlike Linn, our customers find value in our product, and rather than continue to fight with her, we decided to leave it up to those consumers."

Looks like Linn is the nagging gnat that won't die. Here's McLain's side of the story:
"For the past several years, Baby Einstein has been under attack by propoganda groups taking extreme positions that try to dictate what parents should do, say and buy. Our philosophy has always been to focus on creating products that parents and babies love, and to not get sidetracked and pulled down into their street fight.

Unfortunately, with Susan Linn's latest stunt, we cannot be silent any longer. Linn's obvious dislike for Baby Einstein has now turned into a sensational, headline-grabbing publicity campaign that seeks to twist and spin a simple, customer satisfaction action into a false admission of guilt. This is clearly not the case.

Linn's moves are carefully crafted to prey on parental guilt and uncertainty...Linn’s latest public relations blitz simply distorts the facts and misleads the public. In the end, this smear campaign has everything to do with Linn trying to generate ink and funding for her cause, and not about the value that consumers find in our product."
I think it needs to be said that Baby Einstein does offer redeeming products, such as developmental toys, books and CDs.

What do you think? Will you be sending back your DVDs? Do you really feel duped by the Big Bad Baby Einstein? I mean -- what rational parent really thinks that a child can become a genius through the boob tube?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another Colorado child denied health coverage

Remember when I wrote about little Alex, a perfectly healthy child denied health insurance for being too chubby? Well now another child in Colorado was denied health insurance -- this time for being too skinny.

The naturally petite girl, Aislin, happens to be a picky eater (A toddler? Picky? Shocking!), but according to her mother, Rachel Bates, she's not sickly. She has a "minor gag reflex" which causes her to not like certain foods, and she's currently improving in therapy. Yet according to United Healthcare, Aislin's height and weight didn't meet their company's standards.

Because of this publicity, the health insurance company has now decided to insure the child -- after denying her TWICE before this.

What kind of country are we living in? In both of these cases the children happen to be healthy, yet the insurance companies still deemed them too risky for their bottom line. These extremely lucrative companies are leaving vulnerable children to suffer because -- what? -- they may lose their bonuses? I understand how this aligns with the ideals of capitalism, but how does this fit into the ideals of America? If freedom and liberty don't make us money, do we abandon them?

If these two cases are indicative of what's happening around our country -- and I know they are -- then we should all be embarrassed. The Leader of the Free World should look around -- their followers are all pitying us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Elisabeth shares embarrassing post-partum moment

Elisabeth Hasselbeck returned to the View yesterday after taking time off to have her third child, Isaiah. Watch what happened when she attempted to send a mass picture message of Isaiah's first child.

The combination of sleep deprivation and increased nudity is a set-up for public embarrassment. When Noah was about four months old, I was feeding him at La Guardia airport's waiting area. I used a blanket to cover myself -- although his flailing around didn't help -- and when he was done, I stood him on my lap, giggling and cooing. Finally I look down and notice I'm completely exposed to an entire waiting area of strangers, having forgotten to clip my nursing bra and fix my shirt. At least I gave them all a good traveling story.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The pain is in your head

A new study reported in the November issue of Pediatrics finds that children who experience frequent stomach aches can reduce their pain by controlling it with their imagination.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stepdad shoots daughter's boyfriend

A Florida man is facing second-degree attempted murder charges for shooting an 18-year-old boy. Why, you ask? Because he was having sex with the man's 16-year-old stepdaughter.

According to reports, Wade Edwards came home from work early Thursday night and opened a bedroom door to find the teens going at it. He closed the door, went downstairs, and returned with a gun. Edwards shot the boy four times in the leg and hip as he scrambled to get dressed and run out of the house. He collapsed in the yard and ended up needing surgery.

Police said that Edwards is not remorseful for what he did.

Now, fathers, I know how disturbing -- even traumatizing -- it is to see something like that. But attempting murder? Really? Gone are the days when fathers would clean their guns before a date. Now they just pull the damn trigger.

Has the balloon burst for the Hennes parents?

In case you've been living under a rock, you know the story of the storm-chasing, UFO-tracking, wife-swapping family that captured national attention when their 6-year-old was claimed to be soaring 7,000 ft. above Colorado in a make-shift weather balloon. Authorities scrambled to save the child -- rumored to have fallen out -- while we all held our breath.

Balloon landed, no child.

Turns out he was just hiding because he thought he'd be in trouble.

Naturally, the news networks jumped on them -- including CNN's Wolf Blitzer who simply asked why the child didn't come out when he heard his name being called. The child's response? "You guys told us to do it for the show."

Excuse me, what?

Check out the dad's backpedaling when CNN questions what the child meant by this:

What do you think? Is this all a hoax for fame?

Man simulates labor

Who has a higher threshold for pain -- men or women? A doctor set out to answer this question by voluntarily experiencing a simulation of labor. Electrodes were placed on his abdominals to mimic the feeling of contractions.

While the video is entertaining -- especially since it ends with him saying "women win, men don't, end of story" -- here's my issues:

1. He used gas to manage the pain. Some of us went through NATURAL CHILDBIRTH over here. Man up!

2. What about the back pain? The nausea? The leaking? The PUSHING?

3. There's no way for men to REALLY know what childbirth is like because labor is the culmination of carrying your child for nine months. There's often a mental preparedness when that day finally comes, which in large part is due to the fact that you'll soon have a baby in your arms. If someone put sticky things on my abs and cranked up the pain for 10 hours, I'd have a much more difficult time than I did in labor. It's apples and oranges.

Regardless, how many women want to hook their husbands up to this contraption?

Train drives over baby; no one injured

An Australian mother forgets to use the brakes on her 6-month-old baby's stroller, and he falls to the tracks seconds before a train barrels through. The stroller was destroyed, the baby unscathed.

Watch this heart-stopping video:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Parenting Roundup

As I've mentioned over at Mama Never Said, this week I've been a little lax on posting. Forgive me, my baby has been trying to hack up his lungs.

Here's a wrap-up of what's been going on in the parenting world:

*A 40-year-old German woman delivered a healthy baby while in a coma.

*In another unconscious-mother story: A British woman credits the sound of her baby's voice in pulling herself out of a five-week coma.

*A new report suggests the number of abortions worldwide has declined, while the number of unintended pregnancies hasn't gone up. This is being attributed to an increased availability of contraceptives. Every country is different though -- read about that here.

* A substitute teacher heavily pressured a 10-year-old student to stand up and say the pledge after he refused based on principle. According to him, our country's lack of gay rights proves that we do not, in fact, have "liberty and justice for all."

* Utah abortion laws are protecting a teenage girl who paid someone to beat her up in order to terminate her pregnancy at seven months. Strangely, while the state's abortion laws forbid legal medical late-term abortion (forcing her to take these extreme measures), these same laws state a woman cannot be prosecuted for seeking an abortion. Happily, the baby survived the beating and is now living in state custody while her mother is on trial.

*This is beyond disturbing.

*Co-sleeping deaths largely attributed to parents using alcohol or drugs.

*Congratulations to Heidi Klum and Seal who welcomed baby girl Lou Sulola Samuel on Oct. 9.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chubby baby denied health insurance

As if we couldn't despise the cold, cruel health insurance companies enough: A healthy, breastfed 4-month-old baby in Colorado was denied health insurance because he's "fat," making him a financial risk.

Alex Lange is in the 99th percentile for height and weight, and according to the Denver Post, insurers don't take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy. No one in Lange's family has weight issues.

The silver lining to this discriminatory, absurd practice: The Rocky Mountain Health Plan -- where the Langes attempted to get coverage -- released a press release announcing a "companywide policy change...now [providing] health plan coverage for healthy infants, regardless of their weight."

“A recent situation in which we denied coverage to a heavy, yet healthy, infant brought to our attention a flaw in our underwriting system for approving infants,” says Steve ErkenBrack, president and CEO, Rocky Mountain Health Plans. “Because we are a small company dedicated to the people of Colorado, we are pleased to be in a position to act quickly. We have changed our policy, corrected our underwriting guidelines and are working to notify the parents of the infant who we earlier denied.”
Whew, looks like Alex won't have to substitute Slim Fast for breastmilk.

Photo: Denver Post

Friday, October 9, 2009

Product Recall

Let's cut to the chase: Don't use anything from Simplicity. Two more deaths have been reported with Simplicity convertible bassinets -- originally recalled in August 2008 -- and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled millions from the brand. To check if you're using a recalled product (some bassinets are under the name Graco!), visit cpsc.gov or call CPSC at 1-800-638-2772.

131,500 Safety 1st Smart-Light Stair Gates are being recalled because of faulty hinges. Go here to find out if your gate is compromised.

Target is recalling 43,000 Circo Booster Seats because the restraint buckle has been opening unexpectedly, putting children at risk for falling. If your booster seat was bought between December 2008 and June 2009 -- with codes XJ0811, XJ0812, XJ0901, and XJ0902 -- return them to Target for a refund.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lucky number three

Pennsylvania couple Amanda and Matthew Faher gave birth to identical triplets last week -- a rarity that is estimated to be a one in a million chance.

That's not the only oddity of the story:
  • The 3 babies were born on Sept. 30 to 30-year-old parents
  • At 33 weeks gestation
  • On the couple's 3rd wedding anniverary
  • In room 1233
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, they are done having babies. Good luck to the new family!

For my own weird number connection, read this.

Photo credit: Tribune-Review

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Attention Fever phobics

With flu season upon up, we're bombarded with tips and warnings and fear-mongering. Without fail, every year our 24-hour news cycle sings that same old tune -- and this year we have The Swine to top it off.

Here's some advice you're not likely to hear: Avoid fever-reducing drugs.

Yet this is exactly what Dana Ullman of the Huffington Post suggests, citing the 2,000-year-old understanding that a moderate fever is beneficial.
"It is widely recognized that fever is a vital defense of the body in its efforts to fight infection. A fever enables the body to increase its production of interferon, an important antiviral substance that is critical for fighting infection. Fever also increases white blood cell mobility and activity, which are instrumental factors in fighting infection."
Aggressively suppressing a fever strips the body of its natural fighting process, according to Ullman. There are exceptions: A fever above 104 degrees for over six hours, or any fever in an infant under four months old.

The article also cites the inherent danger in aspirin and acetaminophen. Aspirin can cause Reye's syndrome -- a potentially fatal neurological condition -- in children, and can increase the risk for bleeding disorders. Acetaminophen -- widely assumed to be safer than aspirin -- has been associated with asthma and eczema in children; and is the number one overdosed drug reported to U.S. poison control centers.

Are you a Tylenol addict? Do you give your children OTC drugs?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

230 babies die every hour from childbirth

While we may gripe about maternity leave and day care expenses here in the U.S., at least we're alive. A new study released at the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics on Tuesday reports that 2 million babies and mothers die around the world each year from childbirth complications.

Childbirth claims more lives than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.

According to the AP, 3 out of 4 of the maternal and infant deaths occur in Africa and South Asia, and poverty is the main culprit. Improved health care and better training would drastically slash this number, considering 60 million of the 136 million yearly births take place outside of health facilities without any skilled assistance.

It's time that awareness is brought to this unnecessary, barbaric tragedy, and that money is invested where it matters: Our future generation. As the study says, "The world will continue to miss the unheard cry of the 230 babies who die every hour from childbirth complications."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autism steadily rising

A new study reports that one in every 91 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with some developmental disorder on the autism spectrum -- a 50 percent increase in what was previously estimated. The report, published in the October issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal, Pediatrics, also shows that the rate for boys is up at a startling 1 in 58.

Why the sudden spike?

Is it an increase in parent/doctor awareness? A growth in the span of the autism spectrum? Vaccines? Toxic waste exposure? Diet? Even after the countless hours of research, studies and media coverage, there still isn't a definitive cause for autism. The only thing for sure is that more cases are being reported.

Some question the accuracy of this statistic, especially since the study relies solely on verbal interviews with parents and children, not doctors. Also, there isn't a biological marker for who is and who isn't autistic. It can't be traced in blood or urine. There are no physical marks. The only way a child can be diagnosed is by observing how he/she behaves. Are we too quick to label a difficult child as autistic?

Despite this, testimony from 78,000 parents is hard to ignore.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cuddle up with Mr. Placenta

If you're anything like me, after birthing the bloody placenta you may have marveled at the life-sustaining organ that nourished your newly born child, and then you moved on to something less gross. But in many parts of the world, placentophagia -- the eating of the placenta -- is said to be a sacred ritual that may prevent postpartum depression, slow postpartum hemorrhage and boost milk production.

Not ready for a placenta patty? Perhaps a Placenta Teddy Bear would serve as an appropriate remembrance souvenir for your little one. And I don't mean a teddy bear that looks like a placenta (hello, nightmares). No, no -- I mean a cuddly bedtime friend made out of your actual organ.
[re]design -- the socially engaged, environmentally conscious design enterprise -- introduced Designer Alex Green's "Twin Teddy Kit" at this weekend's Doing It For The Kids expo.

Simply cut the placenta in half and rub the organ with sea salt, allowing it to dry out. Then, treat it with a mixture of tannin and egg yolk until it's soft and pliable. Finally, sew the pieces into a teddy bear -- natch. I know that when I got home from the hospital I was itching to fill my abundance of free time with a celebratory -- albeit creepy -- DIY craft project.

What do you think? Cuddly or cringe-worthy?

Photo credit: Inhabitots.com

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Always on top

So much for silently laughing at high school "Plastics" for peaking at 18 years old. A 30-year Swedish study shows that popular children grow up to be healthier adults.


Peer status affects a child's identity, which affects behavior, which affects life choices, which may affect health development. The study, reported by Reuters, says that children with lower social status and fewer friends are more likely to suffer from heart disease and diabetes later in life. Suicide and drug dependence rates are higher among the D-list as well.