Sounding the alarm about keepsake ultrasounds 

Everyone has a favorite keepsake stashed in a drawer somewhere — a withered corsage from the prom; a yellowing newspaper write-up of the first high-school soccer game you played in; or something less conventional. Actress and pop singer Hilary Duff confessed to keeping her son’s umbilical cord stump in a baggie in her makeup drawer.

Unfortunately, ever-angling entrepreneurs have decided that every pregnant woman should pick up a keepsake ultrasound of her growing fetus the next time she’s at the mall! That has the Food and Drug Administration sounding yet another alarm about the growing popularity of these unregulated prebirth images. They first cautioned people against them more than 10 years ago, but nobody paid much attention. Now it’s time for a “Hey there, listen up, don’t do that” alarm.

The FDA — along with the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the American Pregnancy Association — warn against the casual use of an ultrasound device by untrained and unlicensed personnel. Why? Growing embryos are very sensitive, and too much of a zap from an undertrained ultrasound operator may heat up fetal tissue. There’s a possibility of heating fetal bone (in the skull and spine especially), which may cause developmental problems. So have an ultrasound done in a medical facility if and only if your doctor recommends it. They’ll be happy to print a keepsake copy of it for you.


In Disney’s 2001 animated movie “Recess: School’s Out,” bad-guy Secretary of Education Phillium Benedict (voiced by James Woods) tries to ban recess nationwide. He mistakenly believes that by trapping kids in school all day, test scores will skyrocket and he will become president. (Spoiler alert: Benedict suffers humiliating defeat.)

But if “The Enemy of Recess” knew that kids will eat a lot more vegetables and fruit (research shows such improved nutrition leads to better learning and higher test scores) when recess is scheduled before lunch, would he still have attempted his all-work, no-play version of school-world domination? Hard to say, but we’re glad to hear about this recent discovery made by researchers in Oren, Utah. It offers a great way to improve kids’ nutrition and to eliminate a lot of the waste that schools are complaining about now that they’re mandated to serve up healthier foods. It’s estimated that an extra $4 million in fruits and veggies are discarded daily!

The researchers found that when kids in grades one through six have recess before their midday meal, they eat about 54 percent more fruits and vegetables than if recess comes afterward. Seems kids are hungrier after a bit of exercise (duh!), and when recess follows lunch, they rush through lunch, skipping what they can (fruits and vegetables) to get outside sooner.


When 23-year-old singer-songwriter James Taylor starred in the 1971 drag-racing movie “Two Lane Blacktop” his character loved speeding down the highway. But with age comes wisdom (sometimes) and by 1988, J.T. was crooning, “Never, ever die young.” Well, one of the best ways to make sure a young person’s life is long and happy is to get involved in teaching kids safe driving techniques — and staying on them!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that every day, seven 16- to 19-year-olds die in car accidents, and 300,000 are treated in emergency rooms annually for driving-related injuries. Now a new study has found that letting your teen know that you are using an in-vehicle data recorder to track what goes on while the car is moving, plus what researchers call “vigilant care,” drastically reduces teen recklessness.

Such data recorders range from $70 (the SafeDriver) to $15 a month for ones that stream live data (Escort Entourage PS). And “vigilant care” means your teen must let you know where he or she is via text messages (never ever sent while driving), and that family “driving chats” are held once a week to discuss key issues such as how to behave with friends in the car (a high-risk situation), wearing a seatbelt (ALWAYS) and impaired driving — and there must be consequences if rules are broken.

The combination of technology and parental involvement surrounds teens with protection. As one teen in the study said, “I felt as though someone was sitting by my side, even though I was alone in the car.”


You’ve heard the expression “Move it or lose it”? Wow, is that true! A new study looked at the life expectancy of over 334,000 men and women, and found that — regardless of your body mass index — inactivity (no recreational activity and a sedentary job) is twice as likely as obesity to lead to premature death.

The good news? Researchers found that if over- or healthy-weight couch potatoes did just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day, they could slash their risk of premature death by 16 percent to 30 percent. And going from “moderately inactive” to “active” brings even better results. So here’s how to get “active.”

1. Hey, Batman, find Robin. For real success, you want an exercise buddy/coach you trust so you’ll listen to coaching, prodding — even a smackdown, if you need it. And if your Robin isn’t local, arrange for a daily check-in via social media, texting and/or a call, so you can get support and report on your progress. Dr. Mike says choosing the right buddy is the most important thing you can do for your health.

2. Aim for 10,000 steps a day. Every morning, grab your pedometer (you have one, don’t you?) and count all of your steps, right through your new routine of a daily 30- to 60-minute walk.

3. Laugh — a lot. Getting healthy should be fun! Laughter will keep you engaged and eager to exercise.


New Year’s resolutions are like a souffle — they go flat really fast. That’s because they tend to be undoable or just unfortunate. We’re sorry that Jose Conseco had to make “don’t blow off another finger” his resolution this year, but we do applaud musician and producer Quincy Jones’ resolution — if he goes about it right; he said he wants to: “lose 40 pounds” because “there are no 250-pound 80-year-olds.” So here are our resolution-revision suggestions that will get you back on track to a healthier, happier 2015.

Change “I will lose weight quickly” to “I will eat a balanced diet.” If you shortchange your body on calories and nutrients, your metabolism will slow to a no-weight-loss crawl. Go for veggies, fruits, 100 percent whole grains and lean protein. That one’s for Quincy.

Change “I will work out hard daily” to “I’ll get moderate exercise five days a week.”

Moderate exercise boosts immune strength; rest days help build muscle and prevent injury. But going flat out for more than 90 minutes day after day depresses the immune system.

Change “I’ll stop drinking this month” to “I’ll drink moderately.” If you’re not alcohol-dependent, don’t set yourself up for bingeing once your ban is lifted! Moderate drinking (one drink a day for women, one to two for men) is optimal for longevity.
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