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Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine: Adding Fuel to the Fire Increasing Evidence for Developmental Toxicity of Indoor Solid Fuel Combustion
The importance of the adverse effects of air pollution on children’s health cannot be ignored. In particular, remarkably high levels of exposure to indoor air pollution have been documented in settings where solid fuels, including coal or biomass (such as wood, dung and crop residues), are burned for heating orcooking.1 Such fuels are used by more than half the world’s population.
Studies in low-income countries where these levels of exposure predominate have found consistent evidence of the respiratory health effects of indoor air pollution on young children. For example, exposure to indoor smoke more than doubles a child’s risk of serious acute respiratory infection, the most important cause of death in developing countries.2 Increasingly, studies are also finding associations between indoor solid fuel use and other leading pediatric morbidities, such as low birth weight.3
Disney is taking cradle-to-grave marketing to a new low, branding babies literally at birth.
The company has hired Our365–a newborn photography service/marketing firm–to promote its new Disney Baby line in maternity hospitals around the country. Moms who request a newborn portrait during their hospital stay are pitched Disney Baby by their photographer, given a branded onesie, and encouraged to sign up for email alerts from DisneyBaby.com.
It is reprehensible for Disney to inject itself into the relationship between a mother and her baby at birth. Please take a moment to tell Disney to stop its hospital marketing scheme immediately.
ANOTHER LIFE : IF IT WEREN’T for the early whizz-by of the school bus, dashing to the furthest tendril of its morning round-up, I might suppose that children had vanished from all the houses between me and the mountain.
I mean child-size children, swinging satchels, not pushchair infants being taken out for a bit of occasional sunshine, of whom, I am delighted to say, there seem to be a few new ones…
Land means different things to town kids and country kids. To the first it’s “countryside”, a place apart, highly spoken of and pleasingly unknown. To the farmer’s son it is a workplace, best viewed from a tractor seat once puberty sets in.
All this seems far from the worries about childhood obesity and the transfer of play, adventure and imagination from the physical world of nature to the virtual and invented one of PlayStations and other screens. For such deeper pathologies one could turn, perhaps, to Richard Louv’s [amazon_link id=”156512605X” target=”_blank” ]Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder[/amazon_link]. Since 2005, in the US, this has spawned whole networks of action to reconnect children with the natural world.
But even in Ireland, where the leaf burst of a horse-chestnut twig in a jam jar brings the miracle of spring to myriad infant schoolrooms decked with butterfly posters and the wild leaps of whales, the need to secure that connection in growing minds and hearts is of pressing importance.
My newest grandchild is 18 months old and even has a nickname, Gunny. What a joy it is to escape the complexities of adulthood to focus on him, just playing. Recently, I had to muck out the compost on a typical Vancouver winter day — it was pouring rain. So I dressed Gunny up in boots, sweater, gloves, and rain slicker, and out we went.
As each shovelful turned up worms, I encouraged Gunny to pick out the big ones to feed to the turtle. He dove in with gusto. Anything moving and colourful immediately attracted his attention. It took a while to empty the fully composted side of the box and turn over the newer material but he kept digging away with his toy shovel and never lost interest or wandered off.
I cannot imagine what is going on in my grandson’s brain. He is learning about an entire world with no reference points to start from. A while back, his other grandfather was chopping wood, and as he was piling up the pieces, there was Gunny, barely able to walk, struggling to carry a piece of wood to the pile!
Composting? Piling wood? One might wonder what meaning those activities will have for a child who is going to grow up in a big city, parked in front of a computer screen or text messaging on a cellphone. I believe they have everything to do with that child’s future. You see, I am as alarmed by the astonishing rise of childhood obesity as I am about the ecological crisis. Children learn by the example set by adults.
Z Recommends: What goes around, comes around: Dorel recalls 800,000 car seats one year after one dad’s reporting
About a year ago, concerned parent Bryan Dussault posted a video to YouTube documenting a serious problem with the Safety 1st Vantage car seat: thecenter front adjuster could easily lose its grip, allowing shoulder straps to loosen completely. At the time, we had been dealing with competing waves of support and criticism for recommending against the Safety 1st Air Protect Car Seat based solely on the Dorel Juvenile Group’s track record with child safety, so Dussault’s crystal-clear video demonstration of the faulty harness lock piqued our interest even more than usual. Dussault’s hometown Chicago TV station picked up the story a few weeks later, and NHTSA reacted to the outcry by opening an investigation. One year and twelve days after Dussault posted his video to Youtube, Dorel is recalling nearly 800,000 car seats because the center front adjuster can fail to lock, just like Dussault showed in the video he sent them over a year ago.
It’s frustrating that these things take as long as they do, but considering that Dorel managed to tie up the NHTSA for eight years before being forced to recall defective belt webbing in 2001 models, this is a NASCAR finish. (We have said our piece about Dorel’s sense of corporate responsibility, so we won’t rehash it here.)