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Students weighed down by heavy backpacks, ‘text neck’

The Toronto Star – Vikki Ortiz

“For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has cautioned parents that backpacks should remain no more than 10 to 20 per cent of a child’s body weight to avoid strain on their backs that could lead to chronic pain later in life. Wearing two padded straps and making frequent stops at a locker or elsewhere to lighten a backpack’s load are also recommended, says Sarah Denny, a of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council for Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.” (more)

Is Your Backpack Causing Unnecessary Back Pain?

The U.S. News and World Report – Neel Anand, M.D.

“Backpacks are one of the most practical ways for children, teenagers (and even adults) to lug around all of their daily items. Especially for school, backpacks are the best way to transport books, binders, pencil boxes and lunches. Compared with shoulder bags, messenger bags or purses, backpacks are the wiser option because the strong muscles of the back and the abdomen help support the weight of the pack. When worn correctly, the weight is evenly distributed across the shoulders and the back, reducing the risk of shoulder or neck strain that can sometimes result from carrying a purse or any other bag on just one side of the body. However, if worn incorrectly or filled with too much weight, backpacks can be a significant cause of back pain and muscle strain.” (more)

How To Raise ‘Creative, Curious, Healthier’ Kids, According To The AAP

The Huffington Post – Taylor Pittman

“The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that doctors write a prescription for kids that’s a bit out of the ordinary. In a new clinical report, the AAP stresses the importance of a “prescription for play.” The report, which is an update to one from 2007, explains the many benefits play can have in a child’s life, including its role in promoting “social-emotional, cognitive, language and self-regulation skills” as well as its ability to help manage stress and create nurturing relationships between children and caretakers.” (more)

Lead hurts kids, including their ability to learn. But new research shows cities can help.

Chalk Beat – Matt Barnum

“The effects of lead on children are far-reaching: it can cause both health problems and challenges in school, driving test scores down and suspension rates up. Now, a new study says there’s a lot that can be done about it — even for kids who have already been exposed to the chemical, which was common in paint until the late 1970s. Straightforward efforts, like making sure kids get nutritional help and aren’t exposed to any more lead, can boost student learning and cause substantial decreases in suspensions, absences, and crime rates.” (more)

High-quality food is the foundation for a healthy life

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


There never seems to be enough time in the day, especially when you have a job and kids. After a long day of work the last thing most of us want to do when we get home is worry about preparing a meal. As a result, many of us stop for take-out, pop TV dinners in the microwave, or go through the drive-through on the way home.

While fast, pre-prepared, and restaurant food is quick, convenient, and satisfying it is often low in nutrients, fiber, and phytonutrients; high in refined carbohydrates; and full of artificial colors and flavors. In addition, these foods are generally easy to digest and high in trans-fats or processed vegetable oils. Worst of all, many prepared foods are designed for “sensory-specific satiety” which makes it easy for us to eat more than we need and to become addicted to the product.

Sadly, the impact of consuming these foods is not usually immediately apparent. In many cases, it takes years or decades for symptoms to develop. As a result, it is easy for parents to overlook the impact food may be having on the long-term health and welfare of their children.

More information on the hazards of poor food choices has reached the mainstream press recently. Dr. Eva Selhub wrote about the connection between food choices, brain structure and function, and mood in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog. “If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, further contributing to brain tissue injury, consequences are to be expected. What’s interesting is that for many years, the medical field did not fully acknowledge the connection between mood and food.”

Also, according to research conducted by Sanjay Basu M.D., Ph.D. at the Stanford University Medical Center, “increased sugar in a population’s food supply was (is) linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.”

Although it might seem overwhelming, ditching processed foods is possible even if you have a super busy schedule. The key is advanced planning, selecting healthy items when you get to the supermarket, and cooking enough extra food that you can have leftovers on days when there is no time to cook.

Once you adjust to the new approach to food, you will likely notice that everyone is less cranky and feels better, there are less sick days, and that you have more energy and patience.

Screening may miss signs of autism, especially in girls: study

Medical X-Press – Dennis Thompson

“An important checklist used to screen for autism can miss subtle clues in some children, delaying their eventual diagnosis. Researchers found that the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, or M-CHAT, can fail to detect developmental delays that are tell-tale signs of autism in 18-month-olds, according to findings published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.” (more)