Christmas is all about giving and new ethical babywear brand Darlo (www.alittlegiving.com) puts giving to disadvantaged children at the heart of the business, with each product sold in the UK providing a week’s worth of meals for a child in India. Chloe Hoole established Darlo in 2013 following a trip to India and South America. […]
With over millions of iPhones and iPads sold, it’s not a stretch to say that Apple products are a leading source of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation exposure.
Article Originally Published Here
An Open Letter to Apple Inc.
Mr. Tim Cook
CEO, Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014
October 15, 2014
On behalf of concerned parents, I’m writing to ask for your help. First, though, I’d like to acknowledge your company’s tremendous success.
You run the most culturally powerful company of all time.
Adults love them: “I’m waiting to see what Apple will make me buy next.”
Kids love them: “Mom, just get me something with an Apple on it.”
You run a tight ship. You generate more sales than Google, Amazon, and Facebook combined and your iPhone revenue surpasses Microsoft’s entire business. You’re “wildly profitable” (fiscal 3Q14 results). As the most valuable company in the world, you have unparalleled resources and reach. You’ve amassed 800 million iTunes accounts (with accompanying e-mail and credit card information) and hold over $150 billion in cash.
It’s been an impressive run. Congratulations.
With success and leadership comes responsibility.
Kids are using your devices. A lot.
Three-quarters of all children in the U.S. have access to a mobile device. Most of them are Apple-branded. Forty percent of kids use iPads before they can speak. This data from Common Sense Media Research is over a year old. Babies try to swipe TV screens. iPads dominate in schools (95% of the educational market).
Children use these devices on the go and they are also spending massive amounts of time on them at home and at school. They spend 7.5 hours/day on electronics (2009 data). Kids are increasingly living in mobile-only households that are ditching wired connections and land lines for convenience and economy.
People require WiFi or 3G/4G network access to operate your devices. WiFi penetration is growing rapidly, in our homes, offices, schools, airplanes, airports, and that perfect hot spot your kids love to grab while in the car waiting for the light to turn green.
Cupertino, We Have A Problem. RADIATION IS HARMFUL.
Especially to children.
OK, not all radiation is bad. Scientists (even NASA) and others investigate natural and man-made frequencies and the potential applications for grounding, healing, and protection (look up “earthing” and “Schumann Resonance“). Good radiation reduces blood viscosity and enhances other physiologic processes.
But that’s not what’s going on here. Most radiation is deeply concerning.
THE DANGERS ARE DOCUMENTED AND REAL.
There are over 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies that link the impacts of communication-frequency radiation to serious health problems including cancer, neurological disease, immune dysfunction, disruption of the blood-brain-barrier, DNA damage, infertility, and statistically significant neurological and cognitive disorders such as headaches, dizziness, tremors, decreased memory and attention, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, decreased reaction times, sleep disturbances, and visual disruptions.
CHILDREN ARE AT GREATER RISK.
“Radiation exposures are higher for children than adults because children have thinner skulls, and their brains have higher water and higher ion (charged particle) content…these three factors enhance radiation penetration.” – Pediatr Nurs. 2013;39(2):65-70
“When electrical properties are considered, a child’s head’s absorption can be over two times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be ten times greater than adults. Therefore, a new certification process is needed that incorporates different modes of use, head sizes, and tissue properties.” Electromagn Biol Med. 2012 Mar;31(1):34-51
POLICIES ARE INADEQUATE TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC HEALTH.
“Based on this review … as well as [those in] the … recent Bioinitiative Report … it must be concluded that the existing public safety limits are inadequate to protect public health, and that new public safety limits, as well as limits on further deployment of untested technologies, are warranted.” – Pathophysiology. 2009:16(2-3):157-177
IPADs SPIKE 900 BLASTS OF RF RADIATION PER HOUR
An iPad has five operational antennae. Unless these antennas are individually disabled, they will continually emit bursts of high frequency radiation (GHz) every four seconds or approximately 900 spikes an hour. This radiation is unnatural and jarring. The human body’s frequency is about 7.83Hz while WiFi frequencies are 2,400,000,000 to 5,000,000,000 Hz. A child holding onto a WiFi-activated iPad will absorb significant amounts of microwave radiation into her hands, lap, and face, even when there is no active uploading or downloading activity occurring.
If your children use iPads at home or school, listen to these two short videos. An Acoustimeter measures an iPad’s pulsed microwave radiation.
Video #1: WiFi ON and connected to internet. We hear rapid pulsing from the router emitting beacon signals and irregular spikes from the iPad:
Video #2: WiFi ON and not connected to internet. We hear jarring spikes solely from the iPad.
Children are already more vulnerable; parents should know radiation exposure is cumulative over a lifetime. This isn’t news to Apple. The iPad user guide advises that “iPad contains components and radios that emit electromagnetic fields” and you direct customers to the Legal area of your site for “steps you can take to minimize exposure.” [p147]
ADDICTION IS A REAL PROBLEM
People joke about iPad addiction but it’s no laughing matter. Children have great difficulty self-regulating usage and more infants lack key motor skills due to an obsessive iPad “habit.” Nearly all teens are online (95%) and own cell phones (78%). They consume online media voraciously. And it’s not just a kid problem. Internet addiction is being considered for inclusion in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V).
You surely know that the vast majority of people do not restrict their iPad and iPhone usage to minimize exposure. Like all large consumer products companies, Apple conducts extensive market research to understand how your products are used by your different target markets so you can deliver improved features and functionality.
4G LTE POSES EVEN GREATER HEALTH RISKS
4G LTE is the newest wireless communications standard for mobile devices that’s up to 10x faster than 3G networks. Apple is designing amped up products with multiple antennae to benefit from 4G’s full bandwidth power. Are they safe? The first study on LTE radio frequency by peer-reviewed Clinical Neurophysiology shows that activity on both sides of the brain is affected by 30 minutes of exposure to LTE cellphone radiation. 4G appears to intensify health risks.
A kids’s yoga activity book, combining yoga, with mindfulness techniques, visualisations and meditations. For ages 6-11. Alongside the story is a range of activities to nurture, mind, body and soul, ranging from yoga poses, breathing exercises, games, dance, song, guided visualisation to massage exercises. The story and activities have been written and illustrations designed in a style […]
This is my simplified (and less authentic) version of a traditional Nepali first food for mothers after birth, which I originally learned from Sarita Shrestha, who is a classically trained Ayurvedic obstetrician and gynecologist. The pudding aids digestion, has instantly accessible energy and builds blood. Serve all day, as often as you enjoy it, for the first few days after the birth. This is a wonderful food for friends and family to bring you in hospital in a thermos.
NEPALI RICE PUDDING
Preparation time 0 minutes
Cooking time 35 minutes
5 cups pure water
1 cup basmati rice
¼ cup jaggery
¼ cup ghee
2 teaspoon ginger powder
2/3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup milk
Bring water and rice to a boil in large pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally until it begins to thicken. This should take about 20 minutes.
Add the sugar and spices and ghee. You may need to add an extra cup of water at this stage if your pudding is too thick.
Continue to cook slowly; stirring as needed. When gelatinous consistency add milk. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken.
Serve hot, with sugar and ghee to taste. Serve as desired throughout the day.
Fearless Parent is the thinking parent’s daily dose of unconventional, evidence-based news about health, wellness, green living, and holistic parenting choices. Find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on the air.
The luscious baby photos in parenting magazines belie today’s new childhood normal. Frazzled parents-to-be are fretting about chronic illness, obesity, and developmental delays. Using the Three Pillars of Radiant Health as our guide — respect the microbiome, food is medicine, less is more — we sally forth with 7 bold and brave ways to keep baby safe.
I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.
The incomparable writer and humanitarian, Maya Angelou, inspires us because her loving words are timeless and liberating.
So, How Do We Keep Baby Safe?
#1: FEATHER A NON-TOXIC NEST
When it comes to environmental toxins, less is more, and this is doubly true during pregnancy. The fetus is most susceptible to damage during the first trimester. For this reason, any precautions that you want to take should begin before you conceive. Environmental Working Group released stunning research that babies are born with hundreds of industrial chemicals that are carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and can cause infertility and abnormal development.
Moreover, realize that you are about to experience a Massive Migration of Things into your home. There are few events that inspire a more prodigious commitment and perfectionistic zeal to shopping and decorating than planning for baby’s arrival. Not to mention all the gifts!
Here’s what you can do:
- Make these eight choices for a cleaner womb, with advice on food shopping, cleaning, cookware, plastics, cosmetics, EMFs, and more
- Review the five critical groups of chemicals to avoid before you set up your baby registry.
- Try, try, try to buy less. Not only will you save money, but you’re less likely to bring something dangerous into your home.
#2: GET SERIOUS ABOUT FOOD
I thought pregnancy was a time when I could (and should) eat as much of almost anything I wanted. I was wrong. Real food is medicine and preconception is actually the time to start. We know that diet influences the microbiome. There’s emerging evidence that mama’s diet, via a placental microbiome, influences baby’s first gut bacteria. And the imprint for healthy eating is set very early in life. Here’s what to kick to the curb and what to add in:
SUGAR: There are countless reasons to eliminate sugar. It feeds bad microbes and cancer cells. It causes insulin resistance. It’s addictive. It makes you fat. It contains no nutrients. It makes you acidic and more susceptible to chronic illness. It is associated with gestational diabetes, abnormally large birth weight, C-section deliveries, and depression.
GLUTEN: Gluten is implicated in hypothyroidism, diabetes, colic, leaky gut, infertility, mental illness, heart disease, GERD, and uh, male gonadal dysfunction. Gluten peptides in the urine of autistic children may contribute to their symptoms. Consider having a gluten antibody test before pregnancy and read Grain Brain (or start with this article).
GMOs: We are only just beginning to investigate the adverse health consequences of GMOs, which is shocking considering they’re largely unlabeled. Researchers are raising serious questions about links to allergies, liver problems, infertility, birth defects, and disease. Thoughtful voices advise caution.
REAL FOOD: Your body needs nutrient-dense food, especially during pregnancy. You can’t beat the advice of Weston Price and leading proponents of a Paleolithic diet. To start, read Deep Nutrition and the Whole9. Avoid tuna, though. There are new alerts from Consumer Reports and the EPA/FDA.
#3: CONSIDER NEW BENEFITS OF A VAGINAL BIRTH
A newborn baby’s gut microbiome is populated by maternal vaginal flora as he passes through the birth canal. Wow, right? This may have significant implications for C-section babies. Disruption of intestinal microbiota is linked to bowel disease, cancer, allergies, asthma, and more. Watch the MicroBirth film trailer.
C-sections are associated with a higher rate of adverse effects, including uterine rupture, uncontrolled bleeding, pain, infection, endometriosis, complications from anesthesia, and accidental cuts to internal organs.
Vaginal birth isn’t always easy or in the cards. Having a knowledgeable and positive advocate in your corner can make a big difference. I encourage pregnant moms to investigate hiring a home birth or hospital midwife and a birth doula.
Breast milk is perfectly perfect baby food. It is species-specific. It is easy to digest and contains all the nutrients, growth factors, and immune cells baby needs to develop, thrive, and fight infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to have ear infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Breastfeeding also provides important psychological benefits for mom and baby. For science geeks: benefits of early exposure to secretory antibodies in breast milk and the prosocial role of oxytocin (released in breastfeeding).
Baby formula falls short on many levels including ingredients (sweeteners, GMOs, cow’s milk, soy) and contamination risks (bacteria and perchlorate). Breastfeeding may look easy but it can be super challenging. For a back-up plan, get the number of a really good lactation consultant. And think twice before taking the free Enfamil samples.
#5: SAY “AHHHHH”
Your mouth offers a revealing window into your total health. If you have bleeding gums, loose teeth, cracked fillings, perpetual cold sores, a swollen, coated tongue, or anything else going on in your mouth, then please take the hint. Your immune system is working overtime and your body isn’t at its best. Avoid getting major dental work done while you’re pregnant. Doing root canals and replacing or inserting amalgam fillings will mobilize bacteria and mercury. Several European countries advise against amalgam fillings during pregnancy. If you have “silver” in your mouth, have it removed by a holistic or biological dentist six to twelve months before you conceive. And while on the subject of dentistry, check out the effect of fluoride on the fetal brain.
#6: POOP, LATELY?
Listen, I know sometimes it’s just not happening. Maybe you’re traveling a lot. Or you ignored Nature’s call because you were busy. This is something you have to prioritize. Stool is the waste product of our digestive system and contains toxic material, including heavy metals and bacteria, that the body does not want. Get regular and get it out. Ideally, elimination happens after every meal (yes, seriously). If stool stays in your body, then you’re retoxifying yourself.
Ok, it’s gross but … peer into the potty and take a good look. It should be medium brown and well-formed. If it is very light or dark, extremely large or narrow, multi-colored, sandy, tarry, pebbly, mushy, disintegrates upon flushing, smells exceptionally bad, or contains blood, mucus, dark flecks, or undigested food, then research what it means and address it before conceiving.
There are gentle ways to get things moving. Water and exercise top the list. Magnesium, vitamin C,probiotics or cultured vegetables, and temporary use of botanicals can help. So can a huge bowl of lightly steamed kale. Reduce or eliminate dairy, refined grains, and processed, high fat, and deep fried treats (they bind the bowels). And don’t rely on coffee. p.s. If it’s hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, it’s time for some lifestyle changes.
Sustained constipation is a big risk factor for baby. Stools from breast milk-fed babies are soft but they firm up as her diet expands. The goal is a smooth, flat pancake that peels off the diaper without much staining. If stools are hard and dry, with whimpering and straining, then your little one needs some help.
#7: CAREFULLY RESEARCH ALL INTERVENTIONS
Health care interventions have risks. Here are the four most common medical exposures given to mom and baby that deserve our highest scrutiny:
TYLENOL: Turns out that this safest of meds is not well-studied in pregnancy and may be tied to ADHD in children. Further, it is toxic to the liver and the dose that helps is very close to the dose that can cause serious harm (+2 pills!). Acetaminophen sends 78,000 people to the ER annually and is the leading cause of liver failure. It depletes our master antioxidant. When we pair it with another drug, our bodies bear the full brunt of the toxic chemical insult unprotected. Must read: ProPublica’s study: “Use only as directed.“
ANTIBIOTICS: We take them when we’re sick and eat them in our meat. NYU professor Martin Blaser, MD is an expert on the human microbiome and author of Missing Microbes. He surmises that the rise in allergies, asthma, bowel disorders, and obesity is connected to overuse of antibiotics. Listen to his NPR interview. New research finds that early antibiotic use may alter immunity long-term. Antibiotics can be life-saving, but more often than not, what’s needed is a bit of courage and restraint.
ULTRASOUND: It’s the most universally applied intervention in pregnancy. But excessive, non-indicated use of ultrasound in pregnancy may be tied to rising autism prevalence. Government regulation and end user education are deficient, and parents are led to believe that it’s completely safe. Listen to this radio interview.
VACCINES: Pregnant women are routinely vaccinated but fetal risk is poorly studied or not studied at all. In the CDC’s Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women, every recommended vaccine is either Category B or C. In “B” vaccines, there’s no fetal risk in animals but human studies are inadequate. In “C” vaccines, there are adverse fetal effects in animals and inadequate human studies. Read the official definitions for additional nuances (the FDA descriptions are a bit more clear).
Vaccine science focuses solely on the presence of antibodies as evidence of immunity. There is no understanding for the individualized complexity of our defense systems, which include other types of immune cells, let alone an appreciation for sophisticated interplay with our microbiota. How does vaccination impact the human microbiome? Expert Jeroen Raes says a disturbance of flora is linked to disease (go to 1:52). Could increased vaccination be playing a role in the rising rates of sick kids? (See 2014 vs 1983 schedules.) Parents need to know there’s a choice and it’s theirs.
It’s Hard to Go Against the Herd!
If we start with the premise that things we do may be contributing to the new normal of childhood chronic illness, then making changes probably means going against the herd. Even little kids know it’s not easy to be the cheese that stands alone. By challenging an established norm, we shine a light on a cultural or lifestyle practice. Sometimes these practices are reflexive or unexamined, and we have no idea why we do them. When someone bucks the system, others can get defensive. Our vastly different choice feels uncomfortable to them, like a cross between passing judgment and giving a warning. And then they may not like us so much because anger is easier than the alternative. I totally get it because I’ve been there.
Standing in someone else’s shoes makes us compassionate. Being a parent gives us a stake in the future. Loving a child makes us fearless.
Note: the information contained in this email is not medical advice and does not replace guidance from a qualified medical professional.
Louise Kuo Habakus runs Fearless Parent, an online media platform combining her passion for health/wellness, green living, scientific research, and holistic parenting. She is a published author, runs a nonprofit think tank, and is the lead host/producer of the popular Fearless Parent Radio. Louise was a Bain consultant and C-level financial services executive, and holds two degrees from Stanford University.
Simple pumpkin soup is such a classic Australian comfort food. In this recipe, garlic, ginger and asafetida help to energetically warm the coconut milk making it more valuable for new mums.
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes
2 tablespoons ghee
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
600 grams chopped pumpkin
3 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon Himalayan rock salt
small bunch coriander leaves, to taste
- Heat ghee in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Gently fry garlic and ginger in ghee until soft
- Add pumpkin, water, coconut milk, asafetida and salt and bring to boil
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
- Add coriander leaves and turn off the heat. Puree with a stick blender until creamy and serve.
by Ellen Church
When you encourage creativity and problem-solving, you help your child develop skills that can be applied to everything she does.
When Marla and her family moved to a new house, her two children, 6-year-old Jenny and 4-year-old Nicky, eagerly dragged some new appliance boxes into the backyard. The boxes attracted two of the neighbor’s children, and all four began to play intently with the boxes. When Marla asked, “What are you going to do with these boxes?” the floodgates opened, and a multitude of ideas poured out:
“We can use the boxes as drums!” said Jeff.
“Let’s jump in and out of them and play follow the leader,” said Denise.
“I know,” said Nicky, “let’s make them into houses for our animals.”
“Why don’t we put the boxes together to make a castle for us to play in?” offered Jenny.
As you can see, children approach the same materials and solve the same problems in different ways. The unique perspective of each child is what makes the process of inventing so awesome. In fact, children’s inventions are an open window into their inner thought process and interests. Remember this when your child brings home that crazy, wonderful “invention” made of recycled materials. Recognize that it’s the product of much thinking and experimenting, even though it might not look like anything that resembles art or science.
It Takes All Kinds of Thinking
The ability to invent requires something that comes naturally to most young children: creativity and imagination. Creative thinking is an important life skill that can be applied to everything they do, especially to problem-solving, which is what inventing is all about. Memorizing information, such as letters and numbers, is necessary, but it’s not what makes a child a “thinker.” Instead, it’s the ability to use this information in new and creative ways. It’s important for your child to know what to do with the facts. She needs to know how to use what is there to create what is needed.
The process of inventing invites your child to use both critical thinking and two kinds of creative thinking — fluent and flexible.
How Does Your Child Invent?
Watch and listen as he explores a new material, and you will learn a great deal about him. Some children will be very organized as they explore the sizes and shapes of blocks, for example, while others will immediately use them in a dramatic-play scenario. All children will show you their interests, as well as their creative- and critical-thinking skills, when inventing.
In fact, Dr. Howard Gardner, the Harvard educator who created the Multiple Intelligences theory, defines intelligence “as the capacity to solve problems or make things that are valued by a culture.” Invention activities are one of the best ways to provide your child with the opportunity to use her unique intelligence.
It’s also interesting to note that boys and girls tend to approach inventing differently. While boys tend to be physically active, or “loud and large” in their inventions, girls tend to be more quiet and circumspect. Girls often pay more attention to detail in their creations, and focus more on interactions with others as they build. Of course, this is a generalization, but one that can be helpful in sparking and inspiring your child’s inner inventor.
Listen carefully for gender bias in discussions with your child, such as a comment that only boys are builders and girls are secretaries. Use such comments as an opportunity to discuss or read books about how both men and women build and invent.
Supporting Your Child’s Innovations
The first step toward encouraging your child’s inventive spirit is to provide him with plenty of engaging materials. While he can take it from there, he also needs your continued attention, good questions, and narration to keep his ideas going.
During invention activities you will play multiple roles. As an observer, it’s important to watch, listen, and follow your child’s lead with invention materials. Young children often have different (and better!) ideas for how to use or do things.
As a supporter, you positively acknowledge your child’s efforts. You support her when you specifically state what you see her doing: “Wow. Look at all the different ways you are using the boxes. Putting this smaller one on top was a good idea because it won’t fall off.”
You can be a facilitator by asking a provocative question. The right question can propel your child into new ways of thinking. Open-ended questions invite him to think creatively and problem-solve. Try questions such as:
Your child is always watching you. That is why it is also important to be a role model. As she observes you inventing and creating solutions, she sees a valuable example of how inventive thinking is a part of life. One way to help her see this process in action is to narrate your creative thinking out loud. For example, you might say: “I have an interesting problem. We ran out of paper for fingerpainting. What else do you think we could use to paint on?”
When you do this, you are modeling an attitude, as well as using and emphasizing vocabulary words such as think, problem, and wonder. Children will begin to use these words to describe their own creative-thinking process.
Making Time and Space for Invention
Time to explore and invent is critical. Young children deserve what the ancient Greeks calledtemenos: the sacred or protected time and space to do deep work. When your child has the time to think and tinker, all that he has learned can blossom into a meaningful application of his skills and understandings.
It is important to provide a safe haven to mess around with interesting stuff. One 4-year-old girl who was playing with some empty film canisters, pudding cups, tape, and paper created a tropical island village out of her materials. Instead of concentrating on a particular subject, like science or reading, an invention space invites your child to use many essential skills all at once in a creative way. The good news is that you don’t need a great deal of extra space or expensive materials. Just setting aside a small corner or table with some interesting, recyclable materials will do just fine.
You can begin by creating an “Inventions-in-a-Box” kit that can be used any time, then stowed away when you need the space for something else. Rotate the items periodically so your child always has new materials to invent with. You might include:
Kick-Starting Inventions at Home
One of the most fulfilling aspects of making inventions with children is that it can be an exciting, collaborative experience for both of you. Children often think of things that don’t occur to adults, such as giving a birdhouse a chimney made from a paper towel roll, or using some paper and ribbons to make a hat. Not only are they using creative- and critical-thinking skills when they have materials to experiment with, they are also building social and teamwork skills. During family downtime or on a playdate, pull out your Inventions-in-a-Box or try these starter ideas:
Your child is using his own ways of thinking and inventing everyday; it’s as natural as breathing to him. By supporting his innate style of invention, you are encouraging him to apply all the knowledge she has and will acquire in innovative ways. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Image Copyright: http://www.vk.com
“Clinical use of diagnostic ultrasound imaging during pregnancy has a long history of safety and diagnostic utility, as supported by numerous human case reports and epidemiological studies.However, there exist in vivo studies linking large but clinically relevant doses of ultrasound applied to mouse fetuses in utero to altered learning, memory, and neuroanatomy of those mice.”
How may doctors and unknowing patients be colluding to harm unborn babies? This recent study suggests that the seemingly benign practice of obstetrical ultrasonography is one practice that deserves urgent reassessment. Researchers exposed pregnant mice at 14.5 days gestation (a neurologically vulnerable window) to 30 minutes of fetal ultrasound and assessed the pups’ behavior at 3 weeks of age. They found that the exposed pups were significantly less interested in social interactions and had significant levels of behavioral hyperactivity, in the presence of an unfamiliar mouse.
Why Did Ultrasounds Become Routine?
Today’s children have been exposed to an unprecedented level of ultrasound technology, both in frequency and intensity. In 2001, 67% of pregnant women had at least 1 ultrasound, and in 2009, that percentage jumped to 99.8% with an average of 3 per woman. What accounts for this increase? Do we have evidence to suggest that this intervention is saving lives, changing outcomes, and that it is safe? What about safety in the settings it is applied most frequently, such as advanced maternal age, metabolic syndromes, and complications? Could these higher risk pregnancies represent a category of fetus that is more vulnerable to potential side effects of an intervention like ultrasound?
It appears that, answers to these questions remain elusive despite widespread application for the following conventionally accepted reasons:
- Gender determination
- Screening for anomalies
- Assessment of size/fluid level
- Visualization for bonding/curiosity/entertainment
- Assessment of placental position
As one survey concluded,
“Women appear to want sonograms for reasons that may not assist their provider with immediate clinical decision making. This is a potentially important disagreement between cost-saving and patient satisfaction that maternity care providers must consider when deciding whether to perform prenatal sonography for women with low-risk pregnancies.”
In other words, women are lured into the prospect of reassurance and information about an uncertainty-laden bodily experience, and providers may cater to that desire in neglect of accumulating concerns, lack of benefit, and conflict around financial gains ($86-102/scan).
Are They Safe and Effective?
As is the case for most habitual rather than evidence-based medicine, the vast majority of women undergoing this procedure are not adequately consented about the potential ultrasound risks and the state of benefits as acknowledged by objective assessment of the literature.
Assumptions about the technology’s safety allowed it to be grandfathered in to FDA clearance in 1976. Epidemiologic studies of ultrasound safety were conducted before 1992, and would have been representative of significantly less cumulative epigenetic burden to the fetus, as they predated changes to the childhood vaccination program and the flooding of our diets with genetically modified foods – all of which may synergize in a vulnerable child to contribute to chronic neurodevelopmental problems.
In the past several decades, ultrasound technology has evolved in terms of peak exposure and intensity (from 46 to 720 mW/cm2), and newer versions remain largely unstudied.
McClintic et al’s results corroborate existing findings that evidence concern for delayed learning and reduced hippocampal neuronal dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, as well as disrupted neuronal migration, a defect implicated in the pathogenesis of autism. Investigative journalist Dr. Jennifer Margulis has documented research including interviews with Dr. Manuel Casanova, a neurologist and neuroscience researcher, who discusses characteristic changes in gestational brain development in autistic children that can be produced by ultrasound exposure, as well as the epidemiologic overlap between escalating ultrasound exposure and autism incidence.
Randomized studies in humans point to potential increased incidence of low birth weight, delayed speech, poor school performance, dyslexia, and non-righthandedness.
Safety studies, even if they were undertaken in a placebo-controlled manner, rarely are longitudinal enough to account for neurodevelopmental delay declaring itself later in childhood.
McClintic et al hypothesize that acoustic radiation, which may impact brain action potentials through calcium signaling, may be the mechanism by which ultrasound impacts neurodevelopment, when it does. Other putative impacts are cavitation and heating, which is particularly relevant with non-pulsed Doppler technology. According to the peer-reviewed medical resource, UpToDate:
Spectral Doppler ultrasound, however, uses higher energy and focuses the acoustic energy that is created on a much smaller volume of tissue than typical 2D imaging does, and can result in changes in tissue temperature, especially at bone-tissue interfaces. For this reason, Doppler ultrasound should be used with great care, especially early in pregnancy.
With regard to “efficacy,” multiple Cochrane reviews have demonstrated a lack of perinatal mortality benefit for routine ultrasound in a normal pregnancy, and an increased risk of cesarean section with third trimester screening. A review of outcomes literature condemns ultrasound when used for dating, second trimester organ scan, biophysical profile, amniotic fluid assessment, and Doppler velocity in high and low risk pregnancies. We want to believe that this intervention is changing the health of pregnancies, but that is not what has been demonstrated. Ultrasound may have a limited role in detection of a treatable (often with 50% mortality risk) indication, which Judy Cohain CNM states only includes spina bifida, diaphragmatic anomaly, twin-twin transfusion syndrome, bladder obstructions, and sacrococcygeal tumor. False positive rates are significant on routine scan, and anxiety-provoking at best, and at worst, result in terminations for anomalies less severe than perceived by ultrasound as was the case in 1 in 200 ultrasound-influenced abortions.
For these reasons, routine prenatal ultrasound is not recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, for non-medical use and UpToDate states,
The primary objective is to obtain information that will enable delivery of optimal antenatal care and thus the best possible outcomes for mother and fetus. However, the benefit of such prenatal sonographic screening on neonatal outcomes remains unproven.
So Why is Every Woman Walking into an OBs Office Getting Probed With a Jelly-Slicked Wand?
It is because habit, profit, and community consensus are driving your care, not evidence or the precautionary principal. In fact, in this review, of 717 obstetrical recommendations, only 30% reflected good quality evidence.That leaves you, the patient to make your own decisions about health care interventions.
Is it possible to fly blind throughout a pregnancy, without a cute little profile pic or scrunched claymation images of your little bundle-to-be?
It is, and this is an option worth considering. Each and every recommended ultrasound should be thoughtfully pursued in light of unanswered questions and growing concern. Avoiding ultrasounds is a gift to your mental health in that it may just liberate you to experience the pregnancy for what it is, rather than to jump from one externalized nail-biting milestone to another.
Pregnancies, cared for by thoughtful women and their loved ones are marked by maximizing health through a low glycemic, high natural fat diet, exercise, relaxation response, and careful environmental detox of plastics, pesticides, air and water contamination, and genetically modified foods. Preparing for pregnancy in advance of conception, through these measures, is the best reassurance of fetal health available. When we step back and allow for the complexity of gestation to unfold unhindered, we may recognize the danger in micro management of a normal physiologic pregnancy and birth experience.
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If you are a stay at home parent you know how hard it sometimes is to keep your children entertained during the summer. There are simple yet frugal ways to ensure that your children have one of the best summers ever and stay near home. It takes a bit of imagination and creativity but it can be done. A great deal of what makes children happy is having interaction with their parents when they are young. And if you build this relationship with them from the beginning they will continue to enjoy being around you for the rest of their lives.
I know some activities depend on what type of home you live in and what part of the world as well. These are just some suggestions of the types of activities that you might be able to do, choose the ones that best suit your circumstances.
One idea is to call up your local dirt yard (that also carries sand) and have them deliver a load of sand to your home. We did this one year because we needed the sand to aerate the yard. Upon seeing it in the driveway we devised a surprise for the kids; not only ours but the neighbors and the nieces and nephews. We already had a blow up pool that was about six feet wide and four feet deep so we decided to give the kids their own personal beach right there at home. We went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of pails and shovels, set out the lounge chairs and umbrella, gathered up the dump trucks, scattered around a few shells, chilled the soft drinks and went to the beach. The smiles on their faces told us that we hit a home run! We even set up a shower of sorts using the hose to clean them up when they were done. They are still talking about our trip to the beach at home and we have some wonderful pictures from that day as well. Our own children were able to use their private beach the entire summer. Even the adults enjoyed sitting out under the umbrella watching the kids play.
Something else we did during the summer was to set up a zip line in the back yard between two of the larger trees. We found a large pulley at an antique/junk shop near our home and we already owned a long, thick, strong rope. Using a ladder we tied the rope to one tree high enough that the weight of a person would not cause them to drag the ground. And then we tied a large knot near the end and tied it to the other tree (so that no one would end up crashing into the tree at the end). Then we tied a piece of rope to the hook on the pulley and stuffed a large duffel bag with rags and secured it to the rope that hung from the pulley. We left a ladder next to the first tree so that the kids could climb a few steps up and put the duffel bag between their legs. Then they took their weight off the ladder and sailed across the yard! Oh the joy on their faces was priceless. The house was a ranch style house and it was a long back yard so they got quite a ride. All the children in the neighborhood loved it and they used it until the duffel bag wore out.
We live near a pond and several parks that are close enough to drive to within just a few minutes. One year we found a whole bunch of tadpoles and decided to bring them home to watch them turn into frogs. It was so much fun for the kids to check on their tadpoles every day and see the changes. Even though you know that frogs start out as tadpoles you have a hard time imagining it until you actually watch it happen. We ended up with a bunch of frogs and even found a couple of turtles that we brought home. We learned about how to care for them and what their perfect habitat looked like and we worked hard to create that for our new pets. It was a great way to not only have some fun but to also to get educated about nature and animal habitats.
Something else that is a lot of fun is setting up an arts and crafts station of sorts outside. It helps to keep the creativity high and the mess at bay. The kids have a great time using interesting sticks, leafs, moss, acorns, etc. in their works of art. We talked about the nests that the birds made and decided that we wanted to create bird houses that were similar to their nests in the hopes that the birds would stay nearby and have their babies. We also were able to find pine cones and make bird feeders by covering them with peanut butter and bird seed and hanging them with yarn. If you cover your table with a vinyl table cloth (the kind for kid’s birthday parties) that you can get at the dollar store then the mess is quickly cleaned up after your arts and crafts day is over.
Another great way to spend a summer’s day is to have a picnic/barbeque and set up some outdoor games. Badminton is a great game that is fairly easy for kids of all ages and adults, not to mention that the birdie or the shuttlecock (proper name) is so light that it does not scare the kids when it is hit back and forth. I realize that not too many people today have a game of Croquet but we do and the kids absolutely love to play it. I did see a set on a site online for around thirty two dollars and I am sure it includes the rules. It is a great game to set up in the yard and invite folks over to play on a summer’s afternoon. You can include a game of Frisbee, play catch, soccer, or perhaps even set up a tetherball. I have seen those from thirty dollars on up to a hundred or more. You can spend the day playing games and having a wonderful time with friends and family.
Going on family bike rides or roller skating/blading as a family is always a good time. We happened to live in a cul-de-sac and so therefore we had quite a bit more freedom and access to playing in our street. Since the neighbors all know each other and watch out for each others children we knew our kids would be safe. We did of course make strict rules about street safety if they saw a car approaching at any time. We were able to play street tennis and four square in our cul-de-sac and driveway. It is a fun way to spend time with your kids. Spending time playing and in recreation with your children builds wonderful memories and bonds families in a way that not many activities can.
Something else we did that the kids absolutely adored was camping in the back yard. We had full blown camping trips right there. We were able to clear a spot in the yard of grass and build a campfire site with bricks. We made S’mores and sang songs and told stories and if anyone needed the comforts of home we were right there. Even the spouse joined in on that camping trip and their idea of camping is to stay in a hotel! Everyone had a wonderful time. We did this from time to time and I even recall a time it rained really hard and started to flood the tent but instead of giving up we just brought the camping trip indoors. We set up a small dome tent in the family room and continued having our campout. These are wonderful memories that will stay with us forever.
There are few things that can really bond a family: reading together, praying together, eating meals together, and playing together. Spending time with family and enjoying just hanging out around the house during the summer just takes a little imagination and a lot of one on one time with our kids. Especially during these harsh economic times we live in it is still very possible to have fun with our families.
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.