A torn knee ligament is one of the most debilitating injuries that routinely hit young athletes. Now, medical researchers are deciphering why women are at much greater risk for the problem than men and how it can be prevented.
An estimated 90,000 varsity high-school and college athletes a year suffer an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. Women are between four and six times as likely as men who play the same sports to be injured, partly because they rely more on ligaments to compensate for less-developed muscles, researchers say. The riskiest sports for ACL tears are soccer, basketball, volleyball, football and skiing, all of which involve sudden stops, changes in direction and jumps.
Here’s how to protect babies and toddlers from the sun.
By Armin Brott
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Dear Mr. Dad: I thought I was doing the right thing by slathering my 1-year-old with sunscreen when we go outside, but I just read that the chemicals in sunscreen could be more harmful than the sun. Now what are we supposed to do?
A: Summer is winding down, but there are still plenty of sunny days ahead, so your question comes at a good time. For years, we’ve been programmed to practically marinate our kids in sunscreen before sending them outside. But recently, as you point out, the effectiveness — and safety — of that strategy is in question.
Before we get to the actual ingredients of sunscreen, let’s talk about the vocabulary, which can often be contradictory, confusing, or both. In June 2011, the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) tried to deal with this issue by coming up with new regulations for sunscreen labeling, including requiring a “drug facts” box, forbidding claims such as “sunblock” or “waterproof,” and clarifying which products can be labeled “broad spectrum” (meaning that they protect against both UVB and the more deadly UVA rays). Unfortunately, these requirements don’t go into effect until summer 2012.
OK, back to ingredients. In a 2010 study, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit watchdog, reported that only 39 of the 500 sunscreen products they examined were safe and effective. The study claims sunscreens flaunt false sun protection (SPF) ratings, that one commonly ingredient, oxybenzone, is a hormone-disrupting chemical that can affect puberty, and another, retinyl palmitate (a derivative of Vitamin A), could actually accelerate some cancers instead of preventing them. But the emphasis needs to be on the word “could” as the research is hardly definitive.
The American Academy of Dermatology, for example, maintains that sunscreens — even those with oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate — are safe for most people over the age of six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees, but recommends that babies under six months be kept out of direct sunlight and shouldn’t wear sunscreen except in very small areas, such as their hands. For babies over six months, the AAP recommends sunscreen but says the best protection is limiting sun exposure — especially around midday — and wearing protective clothing, including a hat.
If you’re concerned about sunscreen chemicals, look for “chemical-free” or “mineral-based” brands that don’t contain oxybenzone.
These mainly use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient, both of which form an actual barrier on the skin without being absorbed and start working immediately upon application.
But don’t go overboard. In small doses, the sun is actually healthy. Those UVB rays help our bodies produce vitamin D which is essential for healthy immune systems and bones. If you’re going to be out in the sun for a few hours, you and your children need protection; if you’re just running around for 10 minutes, you should be OK (but check with your pediatrician to be sure).
Here’s how to protect babies and toddlers from the sun:
— Limit exposure to direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when rays are strongest.
— Use protective lightweight clothing to cover up, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses (if they pull them off, keep putting them back on).
— If you’re not using a zinc or titanium blocks, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside so it has plenty of time to get absorbed into the skin. But regardless of the type of sunscreen, reapply every two hours or after swimming (no sunscreen is completely waterproof.)
— Don’t fear the sun.
A little every day is good for you.
— — —
(Armin Brott is the author of “The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads” and “The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be.” Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at www.mrdad.com.)) 2011, Armin Brott
Athletes, coaches, athletic departments and entire schools are focusing more on high schoolers’ eating habits.
MIAMI — At home, John Battle sees it. His son — also named John — eats healthy. And now, just 15 years old, the younger Battle already towers over his dad, who serves as track and field coach at Hallandale High School in Florida.
“Everyone says, ‘My God, what are you feeding him?”‘ the father said of the state-qualifying hurdler.
Battle saw it three years ago, too, when standout high jumper and University of Florida football recruit Frankie Hammond Jr. was “a tall, slender individual,” in Battle’s words, and was put on a meal plan by the Gators. Hammond quickly built “some lean and mean wide receiver muscle,” Battle said, and now he is a UF redshirt junior.
But perhaps the biggest indicator came five years back. After a “pretty good” 2005, Battle decided to stress proper nutrition to his team.
The Chargers won the 2006 Class 3A state boys’ title. Runner Tabarie Henry went on to be an Olympian. And although Battle knows it’s not the only reason behind the success, he isn’t denying the importance of eating right in high school sports.
“We (tell our athletes): ‘Hey, if you want to get to this level — and we always go back to 2006 — this is what you need to do,”‘ Battle said. “And part of that is eating correctly.”
Hallandale is far from alone. Although the movement is hardly universal — many say it’s still not remotely widespread enough — athletes, coaches, athletic departments and entire schools throughout the area are focusing more on high schoolers’ eating habits.
I see parents tie up their egos in their children.
By BETSY HART
Scripps Howard News Service
“Our children are not our masterpieces,” Wendy Mogel is fond of saying. A clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, she is the author of “The Blessings of a Skinned Knee.” And she’s the wise and oft-quoted voice in Lori Gottlieb’s provocative piece, “How to Land Your Kids in Therapy: Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods,” in Atlantic magazine’s July/August issue.
Gottlieb is a therapist and mother herself. She says that while she learned in graduate school that parents can really mess their kids up, she learned something surprising in her practice: that parents who overly focus on their children’s happiness can mess them up, too. Over and over again, she started seeing young adults in her office with idyllic childhoods and involved, attuned parents. What were they there for? Anxiety, depression and general emptiness. It seems their nearly perfect early years, in which they were unlikely to experience frustration, disappointment or certainly outright failure, had not prepared them for real life and its natural ups and downs.
As children, life was one constant “up.”
There’s the relentless voice that tells parents their kids are overweight, and the one that wants to protect them from the truth; the voice that makes them feel guilty when they let their kids have a treat and guilty when they say no; the one berating them to do more, and the one nagging at them — as they see a world of hurt in their children’s eyes — that nothing they could say seems right.
When Nanette Magno looks at her youngest son, she sees a sweet 8-year-old who plays soccer and baseball and likes to help out in the kitchen.
Other people, she realized a few years ago, see something different. There was that day in church, for instance, when they ran into one of his classmates.
“That fat boy is in my school!” the kid yelled out, excited to see a familiar face.
Magno doesn’t generally talk about this with other moms. It’s too painful. But one day, looking for help, she will begin to share. First she’ll show you his soccer team photo.
“He does stand out,” she says. And indeed, he does.
She will go on to tell you that three of her four kids are significantly overweight and that she’s overweight herself. She will confide that as much as she keeps it inside, the problem consumes her. She is confused. Frustrated. And ashamed.
“I feel sometimes we’re being judged,” she says quietly.
She’s right, of course.