Healthy Happy Holidays

Removing Pacifiers Reduces Ear Infections

If your child is continually battling ear infections, you may have an alternative to surgery or antibiotics. The Academy of General Dentistry has released a study showing an association between pacifier use and acute middle-ear infections. Otitis media, or acute middle-ear infections, often develop when viruses from an infection of the nose or throat travel along the eustachian tube to the middle ear. Continuous sucking on a pacifier can cause the auditory tubes to become abnormally open, which allows secretions from the throat to seep into the middle ear. Researchers suggest restricting your child's use of a pacifier to the first ten months. A baby has a strong, instinctual urge to suck for the first six months; after that period, use of a pacifier is habit-forming. The study also stressed keeping pacifiers sanitary. Dropped pacifiers pick up microorganisms and bacteria, which then go directly into the baby's mouth.



Tote a Coat to Subway on November 7

Winter is coming, and along with the snows comes an urgent need for warm winter coats. Subway Sandwich and Salad Shops are collecting coats to distribute to shelters, charities, and churches during their seventh annual "Tote a Coat" clothing drive. On Sunday, November 7, bring a coat in good condition to a Subway shop. To thank you for your donation, Subway will give you a free, regular six-inch Subway sandwich. (Note: they thank donors per person, not per coat) The first distribution of the donated coats will be on Saturday, November 13, at Minneapolis's Bethlehem Community Center, 2529 Pleasant Ave. S. Bethlehem Community Center director Delroy Calhoun says kids benefit most from this effort. He recalls one woman whose children were each wearing four or five sweaters to try to keep warm. "A coat that's appropriate for the cold weather makes a big difference." Aside from a need for children's coats, coats sized adult extra large, and adult extra-extra large are in high demand.



What are kids thinking?

Each quarter Sports Illustrated for Kids conducts a survey of nine-to-thirteen-year-olds. Some of their most recent findings:


* Drug and alcohol issues were named most often as kids' biggest concerns, followed closely by popularity, "fitting in," and violence.

* Sixty-two percent of kids said they have a hero. Parents, friends, and relatives were the favorite choices. The two top sports heroes: Michael Jordan and WWF wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin.

* Most kids eat family dinners only three nights a week. One in four kids reported to have had no family dinners at home within the past week, a significant increase from the levels reported in 1989.

* Kids said that the "cool" companies were Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, FUBU, and MTV. Their favorite spot to buy everyday clothes was J.C. Penney.



"Use Your Bean" Recipe Contest for Kids

Perking up beans on school food-service menus is the goal of the first Paul Beanyan "Use Your Bean" contest, sponsored by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association. The Association invites grade school children in Minnesota and North Dakota to show off their cooking skills by entering an original bean recipe. The recipe needs to serve at least five and include one or more of the following bean varieties: navy, kidney (light or dark red), pinto, or black. "Beans play a key role on school menus since they bring great taste, nutrition, and value to so many kid-favorite foods," says Mark Myrdal, president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association. "And who better than kids to show us how they would feature beans in many of the meals they love to eat?" Recipes will be judged on taste, creativity, kid appeal, healthfulness, and convenience.

One grand-prize winner from each of two grade categories (first through third grade and fourth through sixth) will be awarded a trophy and $500 cash. Additionally, the school food-service program at each of the grand-prize winners' schools will be awarded $500 cash. Four runners-up will also receive trophies. The deadline for entries is December 31,1999. Winners will be announced during March 2000, National Nutrition Month. For more information, or to receive an official entry form, visit the Northarvest Web site at or write to: Paul Beanyan's "Use Your Bean" Recipe Contest c/o ML&L, 303 E. Wacker Dr., Ste. 440, Chicago, IL 60601.



Talk to Your Children About Huffing

Inhalants are the substances most likely to be abused by younger children yet least likely to be discussed by parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics studied inhalant abuse and found that fifty-nine percent of the children surveyed were twelve years years old or younger when they became aware of friends using inhalants. The children also reported that their parents did not discuss inhalants with them, possibly because parents focus on drugs and alcohol but may not realize that home products can also become abused substances. Inhalants are readily available in the form of cooking spray, furniture polish, oven cleaners, lighter fluid, and gasoline. Children reported that they were most likely to sniff inhalants, or "huff," with friends after school and before their parents returned home from work. The signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse include:

* Breath and clothing smell like chemicals

* Spots or sores around the mouth

* Paint or stains on body or clothing

* Drunk, dazed, or glassy-eyed look

* Nausea, loss of appetite

* Anxiety, excitability, irritability

The Academy has prepared a fact sheet (see box below) to help you talk with your children about the dangers of using inhalants. You can help your child decide not to huff by providing clear rules about not using drugs, and by not using them yourself.

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