Study: Gender Differences in the Presentation of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Gender differences in the presentation of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in children.  Journal of Mothers at Home with Ill Children (End My Misery). 2017 Mar. (Original).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
Gender differences in illness presentation are well-known (for instance the man-flu experienced by males vs. the suck-it-up-and-get-on-with-life-flu experienced by females).  With this study the author explored whether this gender difference extends to other illness presentations.

OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the gender differences in hand-foot-mouth-and-mouth disease.

DESIGN:
A single-centered observational study. The mother doubled as observer, and was a largely non-consenting volunteer.*
* Due to a lack of funding and staffing.

SETTING:
A single centre in Melbourne, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS:
Two children: female aged 20 months, male aged 43 months. Both blinded to the study design and indeed to any sensible suggestions from the observer.

INTERVENTIONS:
General parenting care, with bodily emissions disposal in line with currently accepted guidelines.

OUTCOMES:
Gender differences in speech and behavioural indices of illness-related parameters (primary outcomes: pain perception, anxiety).

RESULTS:
A clear inverse gender-based relationship between both apparent pain perception and anxiety was observed in the study population.

In the female child (20 months, more severe presentation of HFMD with multiple deep aphthous ulcers), a relative lack of pain perception & lower anxiety was evidenced by gentle, delicate whisperings of ‘ouchie’ associated with progressive, sustained food intake despite actually dripping copious amounts of fresh blood into her food.

Clinical Photo 1: (right) female child subject (despite being pre-verbal, could be heard muttering “Just a flesh wound”)

In the male child (43 months, relatively mild HFMD, presenting only with several cutaneous lesions), a clearly demonstrable pain perception and anxiety level seemingly out of proportion with physical findings, as shown by pointing at a solitary facial lesion screaming ‘OUCHIEEEEEE!!!’, followed by statements such as “I think I need to go to hospital”, “I need a bandaid – the blue Peppa Pig one”, and “I can’t walk Mummy, my feets is broken”. These statements were uttered repeatedly and seemingly without control, and were interspersed with whiny crying noises akin to a baby harp seal being slaughtered.

Clinical Photo 2: (absent) the subject’s level of pain exceeded the maximum level on the Ouchie Pain Scale, and clinical documentation at this stage would have been in breach of the Declaration of Helsinki.

CONCLUSION:
Levels of pain perception and anxiety in relation to HFMD were significantly lower in female, compared with male, children.  Parents and carers should be aware of this gender difference and should enlist adequate preparation should they anticipate being home-bound with sick children (the author recommends self-priming with an alcoholic beverage of choice, taking careful note to maintain the fine balance between (1) Aural nerve numbing, and (2) Potential third-party calls to child services).

Going forward, the author recommends administration of the below tonic in an attempt to strengthen the constitution of male children.*

*  It should be noted however that empirical evidence has shown this medication to be largely (and sadly) useless in the male population, based on countless adult male cohort studies.

Share

Rats, Pants & Sex

Definitely three words that shouldn’t all be in the same sentence.

I cannot believe I missed this momentous article – a study out of Cairo has looked at the effect of different pant textiles on rat sexual activity.

Yep.

Straight to the conclusion – at 6 and 12 months of wearing polyester and polyester-cotton mix pants, rats had significantly reduced sexual activity compared with those wearing cotton and wool pants.

Fortunately for our polyester-induced-rat-pseudo-eunuchs, their manliness returned to normal 6 months after removal of the offending pants.

Please explain?

Apparently polyester-containing pants generate electrostatic fields in the rat’s penis (measured by…?) and these electrostatic fields reduce rat sexual activity.

I am not even sure what level of evidence this is (level II?), but I think we can safely say that if you are a dude, you should steer clear of polyester pants… Pant creases be damned.

Picture: Dr A Shafik. (Why is there no photo - did the rats not consent?)

Picture: Dr A Shafik.

[The mind boggles.  Why is there only a sketch as per above; did the rats not consent for photography?  And how long did it take to tie the pants on 75 rats? Also, the caption above is ‘the underpant’; does that mean the rat had additional clothing on top? If yes, were these generic or designer brands?  And how the hell does the rat go to the toilet?]

And finally, why? Just… Why?

On another rat-related note, check out this news article about rampant mutant rats in England (I particularly like how it is classily categorised under ‘wtf’). Forget the rat poison (“they can take up to a week to die”); get all of these rats into polyester pants pronto and interrupt their breeding cycle. Boom.

REFERENCE
Shafik A. Effect of different types of textiles on sexual activity. Experimental study. Eur Urol. 1993;24(3):375-80.

Share

Updated SIDS Guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has updated its recommendations.  You can read the full article here – there is nothing really earth-shatteringly different compared with previous guidelines:

1. Put infants to sleep in a supine position, on a firm surface – ie. Not face-down in fluffy pillows.

babybedding

Baby bedding from the 80s. Suffocation risk aside, Mickey freaks me out.

2. Avoid bed sharing for certain populations:  <4 months of age, premmies, SGA infants. I understand the rationale, but the guidelines have got to be really specific in order to promote skin-on-skin and yet avoid bed sharing. Especially as babies sleep on Mum in a prone position, and Mum’s body isn’t ‘firm’ after birth (DAMN YOU PREGNANCY). Sorry, my fingers just typed that on their own.

3. No soft toys or loose bedding in the sleep area. Most over-zealous 1st-time parents fail this one. Especially when Hello Kitty is involved.

hellokitty

Even if this baby manages to avoid SIDS, she won’t be able to avoid the need for a therapist later on in life.

4. Offer a dummy/pacifier at nap or bedtime (see my previous post about pacifiers/dummies here). Be prepared to be told that your baby “needs to go to sleep school” to learn to sleep with the pacifier, and (later) that they “need to go to sleep school” so that they can break their unhealthy attachment to the pacifier.

pacifiers

Never used pacifiers but this still made me laugh my ass off ’cause it reminded me of the time I was so sleep-deprived that I tried to charge my baby instead of my mobile phone.

 

5. Avoid overheating. Most of the babies I used to see in HK = instant fail. Because catching a cold chill is infinitely worse than SIDS.

inuitfamily

A Hong Kong family when the temperature has dropped below 20 degrees C- these days more commonly seen in North Face jackets (ok FINE – An Inupiat family from Noatak, Alaska, 1929. Wikipedia)

… And the one that really makes you question why there isn’t a common sense test before conception,

6. Do not cover the baby’s head during sleep.

cellophane

You may laugh… But lots of people push their kids around in a stroller with a full plastic cover. Just sayin’…

The media have jumped on these “NEW GUIDELINES!” (peeps, they’re not ‘new’… Or ‘new & improved’ like washing powder… They are ‘updated‘) with headings like:

(What a genius heading – so glad that journalism degree is working for you sweetie.)  Not only is this heading ridiculous  (er hashtag irony?), there is NO SOLUTION (delicate sobbing).  

The Milwaukee Health Department has used a slightly different approach to warn of the dangers of suffocation during co-sleeping resulting in SIDS:

 

People everywhere had a fit about the ‘over-the-top’ ads. I don’t see a problem with them personally – there’s nothing wrong with getting your sweet baby intruder-ready from an early age.

Anyway, while they get full marks for drrrrrama dahling, they have gotten their definition wires a little crossed with their message (bless):

  • SIDS is termed as sudden and unexpected death of a baby under 1 year of age, with onset of the lethal episode apparently occurring during sleep, that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation including performance of a complete autopsy and review of the circumstances of death and a clinical history, whereas
  • Fatal sleeping accidents: death of a baby occurring during sleep, as a result of an accident such as a fall, suffocation or overlaying.

Technically a suffocation is not SIDS, and if I’m going to be really obsessive-compulsive and poke holes in the accuracy of the advertisement message statistics (hold on while I flip light switches and wash my hands)…

(23 minutes later)… Dang. It’s accurate. In the States in 2014, ~1500 died from SIDS, and ~1,500 died from cutting/stabbing weapons. My bad.

Do you adhere to safe sleeping guidelines? 

I haven’t always. It wasn’t an intentional middle finger to the guidelines (#anarchy) but more of a “just trying to survive this new parenting gig” thing – ie. I have most definitely cuddled/fed my babies, and also fallen asleep with them, on a non-SIDS-prevention-approved-sleeping surface, but have never covered their heads in plastic bags and rolled around on them in a crack-induced frenzy.

Bottom line: SIDS ain’t no joke. After congenital issues, it’s the leading cause of death in 0-1 year olds. Read the guidelines. Look after your baby the best you can*

* In your crazed-hormone, sleep-deprivation state…. And remember:

kidsalive  

REFERENCE
SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Pediatrics.

Share

Would you exercise (more) if someone paid you to?

Inactivity… It’s a major issue

The WHO lists physical inactivity as a global public health problem. In some regions (namely the Americas & Eastern Mediterranean regions), 50% of the population are classified as sedentary.

To combat this problem, and to (literally) decrease the associated morbidity and mortality, people are trying to find ways to get people moving.

The Study in Question

I’m not saying I agree with this premise of this study (in fact I think it’s ridiculous) but it was recently published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, and involved 800 Singaporeans being randomised to 4 groups:

1. Fitbit only
2. Fitbit + cash ($20 per week for meeting daily step goals)
3. Fitbit + charitable incentive
4. Control (no Fitbit, no reward)

With these interventions, it was found that Group 2 (cash) had 30 minutes more of moderate-vigorous activity per week (compared with controls) and group 3 (charitable reward) had 20 minutes more per week than controls.

After incentives were removed, physical activity levels dropped (to only 10 minutes more per week than control – er, that’s only 1.4 minutes per day?!).  Additionally, neither body weight nor blood pressure improved post intervention.

Their Conclusion

The researchers concluded that:

  • This study calls into question the value of these devices for health promotion (actually, studies are showing that physical activity trackers (such as Fitbits) are not having their intended effects (“improve your health by tracking your activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep”), and that
  • “Incentives would probably need to be in place long-term to avoid any potential decrease in physical activity resulting from discontinuation”.

(NB:  Spellcheck for ‘Fitbit’ brings up ‘nitwit’. Not judgin’. Just sayin’.)

fitbit

My Conclusion (infinitely more insightful)

I have differing conclusions:

  • The list of reasons for inactivity is extensive and varied (see below), and a measly $20 a week ain’t gonna help people overcome these hurdles (aka excuses);
  • The suggestion that these incentives could be in place for long-term indicates a lack of insight into the reasons for inactivity, and also opens up the potential danger of a policy being developed at governmental level (this study was funded by the Ministry of Health after all) that is completely useless (I know, I know… It wouldn’t be the first time a government has done this…);
  • Finally, and most importantly, why should anyone be PAID to exercise? Unless there are really valid reasons for an inability to exercise (I would hazard a guess that these would be mostly lacking in this study population:  English-speaking, adult, full-time employees of some 13 organisations in Singapore) why perpetuate the dangerous ideal that they are owed something for doing what they should be doing anyway – ie. getting up off their asses and moving.

funeralforfat

Top 10 Barriers to Physical Activity (constructive suggestions in brackets)

1. No time (make some)
2. Inconvenient (but yet you will drive 1 hour to a shopping outlet)
3. No motivation (find some – less obesity/ disease/ DEATH. Oh you don’t care? How about ‘look hot naked’?)
4. Unenjoyable (you clearly have issues, and shouldn’t have made it through to the Industrial Revolution ‘ Oh I just find walking for life-sustaining food and water so, like, unenjoyable – can’t I wait in the village and get a mani/pedi instead?’ #naturalselection)
5. Boring (pick another type of activity – perhaps one that ISN’T boring)
6. Low self-efficacy (this is a real one. Lack of confidence with activity from early childhood does carry over into adulthood, but still this can be overcome – find a caring and physically attractive personal trainer to gently ease you into an exercise programme. They will praise you for simply breathing. Well done!)
7. Fear of injury (well, the longer you wait to exercise, the heavier and less agile you’ll be, so you’d better get started now)
8. Lack of self-management skills (#1 actually comes under this one – in short, you need to get your shizzle together)
9. Lack of encouragement from others (if family and friends aren’t holding your hand enough (and I am crying you a river), get some encouraging emails/ banners/ robots that will remind you to do what you know you should already be doing)
10. Lack of safe space near home or work (oh that’s RIGHT! I forgot that no-one in Central America or Africa is active. I also forgot that no-one exercises at home. My bad.)
(Sallis and Hovell, 1990; Sallis et al., 1992)

pilates

REFERENCES
Finkelstein EA, Haaland BA, Bilger M, Sahasranaman A, Sloan RA, Nang E, Evenson KR. Effectiveness of activity trackers with and without incentives to increase physical activity (TRIPPA): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2016 Oct 3. pii: S2213-8587(16)30284-4.
Jakicic JM, Davis KK, Rogers RJ, King WC, Marcus MD, Helsel D, Rickman AD, Wahed AS, Belle SH. Effect of Wearable Technology Combined With a Lifestyle Intervention on Long-term Weight Loss: The IDEA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2016 Sep 20;316(11):1161-1171. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.12858.

Share

Does reading on your device at night really mess with your sleep?

Light… The giver of life.

Yes, absolutely mostly true. Especially if the sun / God / plants are involved. As with most things however, humans tend to screw it up…

Light affects physiology and behaviour in humans both indirectly through clock synchronization and circadian rhythms, and directly through the promotion of alertness, with the help of tricky things like retinal ganglion cells, our retinohypothalamic tract, and this bloated sac of protoplasm we house in our skulls. In terms of the type of light that is the most powerful, because there can be only one, it would probably have to be blue light (450-490 nm).

Obscure reference 1

Obscure reference 1

Obscure reference 2

Obscure reference 2

Nerdy scientists (yes, I am slightly jealous) have of course shown the basis of all this shizzle in the animal kingdom, where cryptochromes (blue/UV-A-absorbing photoreceptor proteins discovered originally in plants) are present to entrain our circadian rhythms. Just fascinating.

Evidence that exposure to blue lights affects sleep

A single 30-minute exposure to blue light is already enough to boost brain working performance and executive function, improving alertness and decision-making. Not so great at 11pm.

Reading an iPad for just 30 mins before sleep decreases subjective sleepiness and delays onset of deep sleep, compared with reading a book.

Blue-light exposure results in less deep sleep (necessary for memory consolidation, and lots of other important things like ‘resting’ the brain), particular in the frontal areas (needed for decision-making, planning, etc).

Time matters: just 30 minutes of device use increases alertness at bedtime… Two hours of use affects melatonin levels. In fact, the effect of blue-light on melatonin suppression is dose-dependent; a tiny amount of blue light has a greater suppressive effect on melatonin than the white fluorescent light currently used in most general lighting fixtures.

Blue light doesn’t only affect sleep…

It can also:

  • Induce photoreceptor damage
  • Increase the risk of cancer (eg. breast, prostate)
  • Make you fat (clutches face in horror):  well, possibly fatter.  People exposed to blue light in the evenings (low enough intensity NOT to affect sleep) have suppressed energy metabolism the next day.

(Quite scarily) artificial light-induced changes to the circadian rhythm signal are communicated maternally at the very onset of life and after birth via breast or artificial formula feedings. The deleterious effects of blue-light exposure are worsened by a lack of natural light exposure (due to work environments, fear of sun exposure due to skin cancer risk and ageing, etc). So in the present day (avoidance of sunlight PLUS increased device use), it’s a double whammy. For bad things.

Which devices are better / worse for blue light emissions?

One group of researchers compared the blue light emissions from:

  • A tablet (iPad)
  • An e-reader (Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation)
  • A smartphone (iPhone)

They found that all of these devices shared the same blue light emissions. (I was totally surprised to read this – FULLY expected the Kindle to be less ‘blue light’ damaging…)

What can you do to combat the disruptive effects of blue light on sleep?

Have exposure to bright light during the day / Use blue light exposure only at certain times.

One study had subjects exposed to bright light during the day, then during the evening they either read a book under dim light, or read a tablet. Nil differences were found between the two groups in terms of sleep parameters or melatonin levels – suggesting that exposure to bright light during the day may help combat sleep disturbances associated with the evening use of electronic devices emitting blue light.

Another study found that blue light exposure in the daytime helps prevent a messed up circadian rhythm in those who have light-induced melatonin suppression – eg. Hospital and shopping centre workers.

Use blue-light blocking glasses / filters.

In patients with Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (essentially they go to bed later and wake up later than what is considered normal AND this sleep pattern interferes with ‘regular daily life’), the wearing of blue light-blocking amber glasses every evening for two weeks helped with getting them to sleep earlier.

Actually, DSPD is commonest in adolescents (some argue that for them it is natural, not a disorder). Adolescents today have the combined effect of their biology (which makes them go to sleep, and wake up, later) and their behaviour (screen time). A study gave a bunch of teenage boys ultra trendy blue-light blocking glasses (ok, so there was no actual mention of how cool they were) and found that they improved nighttime melatonin secretion, reduced bedtime attention vigilance and alertness.

“So sweetie, don’t drink, don’t have sex, don’t use drugs, and make sure you wear your DANG BLUE-LIGHT BLOCKING GLASSES”. Yeah sorry, I just don’t see it happening.

Even in normal people (eg. Those without DSPD, non-adolescents),  wearing a blue-light shield for two hours in the evening when using devices results in higher overnight melatonin secretion, quicker time to sleep, improved sleep quality, all without interfering with visual quality, when compared with control eyewear without blue-light filters.

These blue-light blocking lenses are amber – don’t make the mistake of getting the yellow-tinted lenses (these block UV light only, no good la).

Blue-light blocking lenses don’t only improve sleep, they also improve mood (er, most likely because  you have slept)… Holy crap I wonder if wearing amber lenses will improve the poor mood associated with non-blue-light-associated-chronic-sleep-deprivation-due-to-young-children (aka NBLACSDDTYC Syndrome)?

Hey, while we’re on the topic of mothers, studies have shown that wearing blue-light blocking glasses can potentially reduce post-partum depression. Just like succeeding in looking for postpartum belly wrap – major win right?

The argument is that the new mother has to get up in the middle of the night (when melatonin is usually high), and light exposure messes with her sleep, thereby causing depression. Authors daringly state that “new mothers will benefit from using glasses and light bulbs that block blue light when getting up at night to care for their babies”. There is no mention however as to the strength of this recommendation in reducing postpartum depression when compared with, you know, other tiny factors like – a history of depression or postpartum depression, other stressors (psychosocial), an asshole partner who is unsupportive…  Also I don’t feel the authors have thought out the practicalities of their suggestion – I’m feeling now is a good time for a ROLE PLAY!

You are a depressed new mother. You feel like you cannot cope with everything/ anything and your world is collapsing in around you. Luckily for you, nice (but with no contact with real life) researchers have provided you with a nice pair of glasses that block blue-light. You must wear them when you get up during the night. You must not turn on the light without first wearing them. You are grateful that soon all your sleep and mood problems will be solved.

Cue: baby cries.

“Where are those glasses?”
“I can’t find them if I can’t put on the light.”
“I can’t put on the light until I find them.”
“Sigh, the baby won’t stop crying.”
“I’m a shit mother. I can’t even wear a pair of glasses, let alone look after a baby.”
“I’d better deal with the baby first…   Oh no wonder you’re crying, you’ve done a big poo poo!”
“What’s that on the change table? Oh THERE are those glasses, yay I found them.”
“WHY DOES MY FACE SMELL LIKE SHIT?”

Yep. That’s how it will go. Bless the authors for trying though. Actually as I read the reference again, I realise that their paper is published in “Med Hypotheses”…

You gotta pick your subjects sometimes and rather bizarrely someone carried out a study with blue-light emitting goggles in college students. They put some blue-light goggles on freshman varsity cheerleaders and members of the delta-iota-chi-kappa fraternity* and found that blue-light negatively affects their sleep. There was however no mention of the possible effects of confounding factors such as alcohol, drugs, parties, and general horsing around. Yeah, because in college students, mostly definitely blue-light is their main cause of their lack of sleep.

(* names changed to protect the true identities of subjects)

You can… Just… Wait…

Blue-light doesn’t affect oldies as much (for the sake of argument, ‘old’ was defined in this study as over 60 years). The blue light just doesn’t stimulate the brain areas for alertness and higher executive function as much.

Why? Another study suggested it was due to the ‘normal’ age-related yellowing of the lens in the eye, acting as a ‘natural’ blue-light filter. Mother nature is clever. Or maybe not, because that means (study proven) that oldies are also not getting as much of the brain-enhancing effects of light stimulation – the yellowing lens also prevents the regular daytime light coming through to receptors, making sleep quality poorer.

Ageing #naturescrueljoke

Look for ‘sleep aware’ apps / Devices with ‘bedtime’ mode

Some app designers are beginning to make ‘sleep-aware’ programmes, where blue-light emissions are deliberately reduced, and apparently all hardware should/ could have ‘bedtime mode’ that shifts blue and green light emissions to yellow and red as well as reducing backlight/ light intensity.

Does anyone know if this exists yet? Please comment below if you know!

Bottom line: blue-light from light-emitting electronic devices messes with your sleep in a dose-dependent manner. Fight the effects with judicious device use and appropriate blue-light blocking eyewear / filter, or just wait until you’re old. Don’t mess with new mothers. Ever.

REFERENCES
Rångtell FH, Ekstrand E, Rapp L, Lagermalm A, Liethof L, Búcaro MO, Lingfors D, Broman JE, Schiöth HB, Benedict C. Two hours of evening reading on a self-luminous tablet vs. reading a physical book does not alter sleep after daytime brightlight exposure. Sleep Med. 2016 Jul 25.
Bourgin P, Hubbard J. Alerting or Somnogenic Light: Pick Your Color. PLoS Biol. 2016 Aug 15;14(8).
Grønli J, Byrkjedal IK, Bjorvatn B, Nødtvedt Ø, Hamre B, Pallesen S. Reading from an iPad or from a book in bed: the impact on human sleep. A randomized controlled crossover trial. Sleep Med. 2016 May;21:86-92.
Esaki Y, Kitajima T, Ito Y, Koike S, Nakao Y, Tsuchiya A, Hirose M, Iwata N. Wearing blue light-blocking glasses in the evening advances circadian rhythms in the patients with delayed sleep phase disorder: An open-label trial. Chronobiol Int. 2016;33(8):1037-44.
Alkozei A, Smith R, Pisner DA, Vanuk JR, Berryhill SM, Fridman A, Shane BR, Knight SA, Killgore WD. Exposure to Blue Light Increases Subsequent Functional Activation of the Prefrontal Cortex During Performance of a Working Memory Task. Sleep. 2016 Sep 1;39(9):1671-80.
Tosini G, Ferguson I, Tsubota K. Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Mol Vis. 2016 Jan 24;22:61-72.
Kozaki T, Kubokawa A, Taketomi R, Hatae K. Light-induced melatonin suppression at night after exposure to different wavelength composition of morning light. Neurosci Lett. 2016 Mar 11;616:1-4.
Ayaki M, Hattori A, Maruyama Y, Nakano M, Yoshimura M, Kitazawa M, Negishi K, Tsubota K. Protective effect of blue-light shield eyewear for adults againstlight pollution from self-luminous devices used at night. Chronobiol Int. 2016;33(1):134-9.
Gringras P, Middleton B, Skene DJ, Revell VL. Bigger, Brighter, Bluer-Better? Current Light-Emitting Devices – Adverse Sleep Properties and Preventative Strategies. Front Public Health. 2015 Oct 13;3:233.
Smolensky MH, Sackett-Lundeen LL, Portaluppi F. Nocturnal light pollution and underexposure to daytime sunlight: Complementary mechanisms of circadian disruption and related diseases. Chronobiol Int. 2015;32(8):1029-48.
van der Lely S, Frey S, Garbazza C, Wirz-Justice A, Jenni OG, Steiner R, Wolf S, Cajochen C, Bromundt V, Schmidt C. Blue blocker glasses as a countermeasure for alerting effects of evening light-emitting diode screen exposure in male teenagers. J Adolesc Health. 2015 Jan;56(1):113-9.
Kayaba M, Iwayama K, Ogata H, Seya Y, Kiyono K, Satoh M, Tokuyama K. The effect of nocturnal blue light exposure from light-emitting diodes on wakefulness and energy metabolism the following morning. Environ Health Prev Med. 2014 Sep;19(5):354-61.
Daneault V, Hébert M, Albouy G, Doyon J, Dumont M, Carrier J, Vandewalle G. Aging reduces the stimulating effect of blue light on cognitive brain functions. Sleep. 2014 Jan 1;37(1):85-96.
Chellappa SL, Steiner R, Oelhafen P, Lang D, Götz T, Krebs J, Cajochen C. Acute exposure to evening blue-enriched light impacts on human sleep. J Sleep Res. 2013 Oct;22(5):573-80.
Wood B, Rea MS, Plitnick B, Figueiro MG. Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Appl Ergon. 2013 Mar;44(2):237-40.
Kessel L, Siganos G, Jørgensen T, Larsen M. Sleep disturbances are related to decreased transmission of blue light to the retina caused by lens yellowing. Sleep. 2011 Sep 1;34(9):1215-9.
Figueiro MG, Wood B, Plitnick B, Rea MS. The impact of light from computer monitors on melatonin levels in college students. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(2):158-63.
West KE, Jablonski MR, Warfield B, Cecil KS, James M, Ayers MA, Maida J, Bowen C, Sliney DH, Rollag MD, Hanifin JP, Brainard GC. Blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Mar;110(3):619-26.
Burkhart K, Phelps JR. Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial. Chronobiol Int. 2009 Dec;26(8):1602-12.
Bennett S, Alpert M, Kubulins V, Hansler RL. Use of modified spectacles and light bulbs to block blue light at night may prevent postpartum depression. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Aug;73(2):251-3.
Devlin PF, Kay SA. Cryptochromes–bringing the blues to circadian rhythms. Trends Cell Biol. 1999 Aug;9(8):295-8.

Share

Dad’s Act of Kindness

So apparently this (white) father helped settle someone’s crying (non-white) baby on domestic US flight so that mum could get some rest… And now he’s a hero.

20160910_102546

Ok, it’s nice he helped but seriously is it that big a deal?

1. Fathers always get awards for doing stuff that mums do all the time. Dude, mums and dads are both PARENTS. Settling babies, donning HAZMAT to clear bionuclear bum emissions, singing mind-numbing nursery rhymes a million times (because let’s face it, sometimes you think that perhaps stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork would be less painful), it all comes with the territory. And Dads guess what?  You were already spared from carrying/ birthing the child, managed to avoid those terrible food binges where your damn hormones FORCED you to eat the whole carrot cake, AND your nipples are intact.  So really you should be doing even more work to even up the playing field.

It’s like when someone says to you “So is Daddy babysitting tonight?”
“No fool. He’s PARENTING tonight.”

It’s his job and he gets paid not with cash, with the intrinsic reward that comes with putting two nut job kids under 3 to bed and making the mother of his children happy (or at least making her less likely to stab him in his sleep).

2. Who gives a shit what colour the father/ mother / baby were? Was this guy calculating the extra Good Samaritan points he’d get for helping someone outside of his race group? Er, no.  (Or maybe, let’s face it, he didn’t want to help that white trash mother on the same flight – after all crack is wack).  I’m sure he didn’t care about their colour so why does the media? We’ll headline”We want racial equality / We don’t want to talk about race / We’re all the same race” but we’ll still make a big deal about it when Rhett helps Mammy.

Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn, so just Let It Go (like how I did that? Boom! And yes, sing the song. SING THE SONG.  Share my pain).

3. This guy knew FO SHO that he and the other passengers were in for a noisy journey with the screaming baby so he was like “Screw it, I’ll just take matters into my own hands” providing peace for mum, baby, himself, and the other passengers. So he’s smart, but this wasn’t an altruistic act; it was purely selfish. Because apparently men don’t deal well with high-pitched noises; it interferes with their selective hearing.

Share

Exercise in Pregnancy… I Give Up.

So I started this blog back in December 2012 when I was (just) pregnant with bub #1. It came from a place of extreme annoyance and frustration with healthcare providers and their mindless mantra of “no exercise during pregnancy”.

I felt SURELY this advice was bullshit? And even if it wasn’t, could I break the rules?  Because if I wasn’t allowed to exercise throughout pregnancy, everyone around me was going to be blasted for 9 months with hormone-fired rage. And they would surely die.

I have no idea where they got this picture of my husband.

My (poor) husband.

Anyway, my original aim was to present the evidence supporting the benefits, nay the necessity, of regular exercise in pregnancy.

Flashback to my very first shiny blog post – it contains the ACOG Guidelines for Exercise in Pregnancy – check it out, because it basically says you can do what exercise you want in pregnancy UNLESS you:

1. Want to engage in certain sports during pregnancy – eg. Contact rugby, horse riding, scuba diving, marathons at altitude, etc;
2. Have certain medical or pregnancy issues – eg. Heart/ lung/ cervix issues, preterm labour risk/ ruptured membranes/ abnormal placenta position/ abnormal blood pressure/ anaemia;
3. Have certain signs during exercise – eg. vaginal fluid or bleeding, dizziness/ fainting, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, calf pain/swelling, uterine contractions.

MOST women DO NOT have these issues in pregnancy.

In fact, the ACOG recently produced updated guidelines in May 2016 which say pretty much the same thing.

So I figured “Hey, the message is getting out, women are staying fit during pregnancy. People are finally being sensible.” And my warm-fuzzy-save-the-day feeling expanded my heart. 😍

Mais non, this warm fuzzy was not to last.

Case in point – conversation with pregnant lady (PL) (toddler in tow) on the street this morning (100% true):

PL “Hey, I see you have two kids – how did you manage initially?”
Me “Well it’s hard at first, the first few months were bad, I was like “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!” but then it gets better, apart from the chronic sleep deprivation.”
PL “Oh well you must be doing something wrong then, if they’re not both sleeping through the night.”

Aw HELL no, don’t you dare go there.

PL”So do you live around here, in one of these flats?”
Me “Yes.”
PL “Well that’s a bad decision, you can’t have kids in flats… They need to have a big house and garden otherwise their growth will be stunted.”

Ah yes, the commonly forgotten aetiological factor in paediatric growth failure. My apologies.

PL “You look quite fit, how do you manage with two kids, what diet are you on?”
Me “No diet, but I remained fairly active during and after both pregnancies.”
PL “So you actually exercised during pregnancy?”
Me “Yes.”
PL “No way man, unlike you I don’t want to have a miscarriage.”

She abruptly ended our conversation by taking a giant swig from her 1.2L bottle of Coca Cola and telling me “I have to meet my mate at McDonald’s.”

I feel defeated… Defeated by this sedentary, overweight (yes, even accounting for pregnancy), soft-drink-swilling, apartment-hating woman. Sigh.

cola

The best start for your precious baby.

Share

Unhealthy Australia

Australia’s Health Tracker report was released last week by the AHPC (Australian Health Policy Collaboration, Victoria University).

The findings are horrifying.  Australia – this is you:

  • Obesity:  28% adults / 30% school-age.  A THIRD OF YOUR KIDS ARE OBESE.
  • Sedentary lifestyle:  45% adults / 70% primary schoolers / 91% in high schoolers. LESS THAN 10% OF YOUR HIGH-SCHOOLERS ARE ACTIVE ENOUGH.
  • Excessive sugar intake:  20% adults / >70% kids.  BECAUSE WHY WOULDN’T YOU GIVE THEM STUFF TO MAKE THEM CRAZIER THAN THEY ALREADY ARE.

Thankfully smoking and excessive alcohol intake is on the decrease, but nevertheless…

  • Over 50% AUSTRALIANS HAVE CHRONIC DISEASE – eg. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes;
  • Of which ONE-THIRD IS PREVENTABLE – by controlling risk factors like smoking, obesity, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and
  • Amazingly, this can be done using ONLY 1.5% OF CURRENT HEALTHCARE SPENDING.

You’d think these statistics would be in the news right? Sadly no.

We prefer to headline politics, fuel racial/ religious/ Indigenous tensions, and feature the Spanish matador* gored to death by a bull.

If your job is “killer of bulls” then sadly having a bull kill you doesn’t make it news; it makes it karma.

Read the full report here (the health report that is… Not matador report, which you can read here).

REFERENCE
Australia’s Health Tracker 2016.

* Spanish, from matar (to kill), from Vulgar Latin mattāre (to beat senseless), from Latin mattus (stupefied)

Share

Selling stuff online

​Sometimes selling stuff online is not worth the trouble.

(This story is 100% true.)

Item: (cheap arse) toddler monkey suit costume. 

Advert with pictures:  toddler monkey suit, fits age 1-2yo, new, unopened with tags, never worn, in original packaging. Appearance/ colours as per photos. Available for pick up only from XXX address. Price: $5

Questions.. All from the same potential buyer
(My responses italics in brackets)

What size child does the costume fit?
(Fits an average toddler from 1-2yo)
Is that US or international sizing?
😐

How does the costume feel when on?
(As per ad, it is new unopened and never worn)
Is it scratchy when worn?
😐

Can you post it?
(As per ad, pick up only from XXX address)
Can you bring it to YYY address?
😐

Can I pick it up today at 1.15pm?
(Yes you can)
(At 1.45pm – Are you picking it up today? You said 1.15pm?)
From your last response I wasn’t sure if you meant yes. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.
😐

What does it look like?
(As per pictures)
Are the pictures representative of actual appearance?
😐

One last question – is it flammable?
(Only if you set fire to your child while they’re wearing it)
So is it?
😣

Share

The things kids don’t know about their mothers

I read this lovey-dovey article the other day, speaking about the “things that kids don’t know about their mothers.”

Post-delivery I would have been so (with delicate sobbing) “Oh this article is so speaking to me PERSONALLY”.
Because you are the only woman to have given birth, ever. You are special, blessed. The baby is a gift from God (for the believers) or Mother Nature (for the atheist hippies). This is what your messed up hormones will have you believe.

But now, with a nearly 1-year-old and a nearly 3-year-old, I feel there are certain truths that should be mentioned.

1. “You made her cry… A lot… When she found out she was pregnant, and crying with happiness when she was giving birth.”

Absolutely true. I cried A LOT.
I cried when I put on 10kg in the first trimester simply by breathing. Stupid calorie-laden air.
I cried when Suzie at the café accidentally put soft cheese on my croissant instead of cheddar. She is no longer known as Suzie… but as evil Listeria-witch.
And I cried in late pregnancy when my husband gently suggested that my comfy pink-striped-tracksuit pants were not suitable for the restaurant, because clearly that meant he was having an affair with a hot stripper named Candy, hated me, and wanted an immediate divorce.
And anyone who tells you they were crying from happiness whilst giving birth is a liar. You are crying because you are actually living the experience of Alien vs Predator (except the baby is both the alien and predator) and you are poor Linda Hamilton before she could do pull ups; weak and lame. You are crying due to the pain akin to falling into a vat of molten steel. And I don’t even care that I got my movies mixed up.

2. “She wanted that last piece of pie… But when she saw that you, her child, wanted it she gave it up because it would make her happier to see your tummy filled.”

Yeah sorry, so not true. I ate the damn pie, yeah the WHOLE THING. Sometimes, on a good day, I’d give you little crumbs… And then remind you how lucky you were because little kids in North Korea don’t even get pie crumbs.

3. “She was always afraid… Afraid of you waking up with nightmares… Afraid that you would need cuddles at night…”

I was afraid. Afraid of many things.
Afraid that my sleep debt would never be paid back.
Afraid of the next childcare pestilence you would bring home.
Afraid that I would break the delicate balance of number of coffees per day for survival vs making the baby jittery and unable to sleep due to caffeinated breast milk.
But mostly I was afraid when you were breastfeeding and teething at the same time. For that we mothers deserve the Purple Heart.

4. “She carried you longer than 9 months… She held and snuggled and loved you. She held you all the time.”

Yep, sure did. Mostly to avoid meltdowns. And also to train as a one-handed Ninja with a pelvic floor of concrete.

5. “She put you first… She did it because she loved you and because you are a good parent.”

Partially true. Of course I love you. Of course I put you first (except when there’s pie involved, see point 2). And of COURSE I’m a good parent, because:
a) I use reusable organic nappies and feed you organic food in organic packaging (no wait, should be organically grown in your organic garden) with organic water that is gluten-free. And fair trade. Preferably water that is made from the saliva of one-armed ethnic minority women who make bracelets from the faeces of rare, endangered birds;
b) I give you the right amount of stimulation –  so that you end up somewhere in between a Ukranian orphanage kid and a child who’s been diagnosed with ADHD and started on Ritalin aged 2 weeks;
c) I ‘enable’ sleep – this can only be done after reading books which extol varying amounts of putting down/ picking up/ patting/ shushing/ sleep school/ environmental cue changes/ dietary changes. I don’t know if the kid ends up sleeping, but I do know that you can shush so loud you’re spraying saliva everywhere and you will still be decibel-inferior to a screaming kid, and that the only thing that leaning over into the cot and patting gives you is a Saturday Night Palsy… Every night of the week… Sadly unrelated to alcohol.

And there you have it, the things kids don’t know about their mothers. But most importantly…

sleep

Share