Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Children under three should be banned from watching TV, says authoritarian a*hole

Evidence for harm?  Just: "authorities say".  It's just conceited elitist opinion

Parents need to drastically cut the number of hours children spend watching television, while under threes should be stopped from watching altogether, a leading psychologist has warned.

Limiting the amount of time youngsters are sat in front of a screen could have significant advantages for their health, development and wellbeing, according to Dr Aric Sigman.

By the age of seven, a child born today will have spent a full year glued to screens and over the course of childhood youngsters spend more time watching TV than in school.

The population's vast use of games consoles, tablet computers, televisions, smart phones and laptops has been linked to obesity problems and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes - with the average child exposed to five different screens in each household.

Writing in the influential medical journey Archives Of Disease In Childhood, Dr Sigman said such extensive use could also lead to attention problems and other psychological difficulties.

‘Reducing total daily screen time for children, and delaying the age at which they start, could provide significant advantages for their health and wellbeing,' he writes.

‘While many questions remain regarding the precise nature of the association between screen time and adverse outcomes, the advice from a growing number of both researchers and other medical associations and government health departments elsewhere is becoming unequivocal: reduce screen time.’

The amount of time spent in front of a screen could also adversely affect children's social relationships, he added.

He said many parents use the devices as ‘electronic babysitters’ as a means to occupy their children.  ‘Screen time appears to have created the three-parent family,’ he added.

There are emerging concerns about the amount of time children spend watching 3D televisions and consoles - saying such devices could affect the development of the child's depth perception.

Dr Sigman - who is also a child health expert - has made a raft of suggestions for children's screen consumption including delaying the age children start using screens to at least three.

Children aged between three and seven should be limited to half-an-hour to an hour of screen time each day, he said.  Those aged seven to 12 should spend just one hour in front of screens.  Children aged 12 to 15 should have a maximum of 1.5 hours in front of screens and those aged 16 and over should spend just two hours, he recommends.

He concluded: ‘As health risks are reported to occur beyond exposure of two hours of screen time per day, although the average child is exposed to three times this amount, a robust initiative to encourage a reduction in daily recreational screen time could lead to significant improvements in child health and development.

‘Britain and European medical establishments should consider screen time as a separate entity from sedentary behaviour, and offer an advisory on the average number of hours per day young children, in particular, are viewing screen media, and the age at which they start.’


Fungal Meningitis Outbreak is iatrogenic

Quite appalling

It starts with a headache, nothing major. Then the neck stiffness sets in, the high fever. That's all the warning you have before fungal meningitis inflames your brain and takes your life. And it's happening, all of a sudden, to unprecedented numbers of people all across America.

Fungal meningitis is a devastating illness, but also historically an incredibly rare one. Which is why the 64 recent cases—spread over seven states—that have plagued the US in a very short time is so troubling. Five have died, thousands more are at risk. Even worse? It can all be traced back to a single, preventable source.

The Cure Is the Disease

Methylprednisolone acetate is an injected steroid, commonly used to treat the pain and swelling associated with arthritis but also deployed against blood disorders, severe allergies, even some cancers. Between the months of July and September, 52,848 vials of the stuff were shipped from New England Compounding Center Inc, in Framingham, MA, to treatment centers throughout the country.

In all, Reuters reports, 76 facilities in 23 states received shipments from NECC's warehouse. The steroid has a shelf life of 180 days, which means that thousands of patients could have been injected in that time, and thousands more could be still.

Why does all of this matter? Because every single case of fungal meningitis that has been reported in the last several weeks can be traced back to a dose of methylprednisolone acetate, provided by the New England Compounding Center.

Twenty-three states. 76 facilities. 52,858 vials. And most of them still unaccounted for.

What's Next

There's good news, yet; fungal meningitis—unlike its viral and bacterial brethren—is not contagious. This may count as an outbreak, but it won't reach full-fledged epidemic. It helps, too, that the offending batches of steroid have been recalled, and that NECC has suspended operations until it can figure out exactly what went wrong. But we're far from out of the woods, according to the Center for Disease Control's Benjamin Park:

"Unfortunately, despite the current recall, we expect to see additional cases as this investigation unfolds. However, it is possible if patients are identified soon and started on appropriate antifungal therapy some of the unfortunate consequences may be averted."

It takes up to a month for symptoms to present themselves, which means that we'll be seeing the fallout throughout October, and maybe beyond.

Meanwhile, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to pass on the steroid treatments until it's absolutely certain that every one of those 52,858 tainted vials is accounted for. That, and hope the CDC and drug manufacturers can figure out how to make sure this never happens again.


Update: Comment from a medical correspondent:

"Likely this drug was "preservative free" - made popular by hysteria following use of MUCH LARGER DOSES of preservatives accidentally introduced into spinal fluid many years ago. Local pain clinic doctor informed me – that preservatives in steroids have MUCH LOWER incidence of complications than "natural" drug. Amount of preservatives is trivial, NOT proven in any way to be harmful, and likely would have prevented the infection problem."

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