Monday, August 29, 2005


Significant rises in the incidence of autism reported across the world have sparked fears of an epidemic. Blame has been laid at the feet of a range of environmental suspects, among them the MMR vaccine, mercury in vaccines, food allergies, viral infections and antibiotics. But some say there is no epidemic at all, that other factors are to blame, including the fact that autism is being dignosed more often now than in the past because its definition has broadened.

For more, see NewScientist, 13 August, 2005, or go to http//

Breast Cancer

Researchers from Harvard Medical School have found that pre-school aged girls increase their risk of breast cancer in adulthood by eating chips. They found that eating chips only once a week increased the risk of getting breast cancer by the age of 60 by 27%. They found that eating potatoes wasn’t a risk factor, but that the problem lay in the saturated fats and trans-fatty acids that the potatoes were fried in.

For the whole Times article (‘Girls who eat chips more likely to get breast cancer’, August 19, 2005) go to

Car Safety

‘Freakonomics’ is the number one bestseller about the economic side of just about everything. This is from a column by the same name (and by the same authors) in the New York Times. It basically compares the safety of a child (older than 2) in a child’s car seat to the safety of the same child in a seat belt. The authors conclude that the money spent on the car seat could be better spent.

For the whole July 10, 2005 column, go to


A study has found that, in the first two years of life, the most important factor in a child’s development is not its mother’s education or wealth, but how well she interprets her baby’s moods. They called it ‘mind-mindedness’.

For more, see NewScientist, 4 June, 2005, or go to http//


A top-selling drug commonly prescribed for depression has been linked to a seven-fold increase in suicide attempts. Children under under have been advised not to take Seroxat (paroxetine), which is a SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor). The latest study says adults should be advised of the same.

For the whole article from the Times (‘Top-selling drug linked to increased suicide risk’, August 22, 2005) go to


A recent study suggests that children suffering from leukaemia are more likely to survive if their chemotherapy is topped up with an injection of blood stem cells.

For more, see NewScientist, 18 August, 2005, or go to http//


Dr Andrew Weil says try to avoid margarine. The problem with margarine is the presence of trans fats, produced when liquid vegetable oils are hydrogenated. Margarine can increase the risk of heart disease, and also promotes cancer, inflammation, damage to the immune system and premature aging. He says go for canola or olive oil in preference, and even butter is better.

For more, go to

Choice says when you’re choosing a spread, go for the one lowest in saturated fat and trans fats. This site includes a table of recommended spreads.

Go to and search for ‘butter and margarine’


Nowhere is childhood obesity more of a problem than in the U.S. The Governor of Arkansas is trying to do something about it by getting schools to weigh their pupils.

For the whole Times article, August 18, 2005, go to

Sex Education

Talking frankly with teenagers about sex isn’t about giving them the message that you condone it. It’s rather giving them the means to respect themselves enough to be able to avoid unwanted pregnancies (and diseases too).

For the whole Times article (‘Sex; why it’s good to talk’, August 15, 2005), go to

Sunday, August 28, 2005

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