Parents wonder if cancer jabs are worth the risk

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Natalie MortonDebate over vaccinating girls against the human papillomavirus to prevent cervical cancer is running hot in Britain after a 14-year-old schoolgirl died and an older teen developed epileptic seizures and brain damage following the jabs.

A couple of weeks ago the UK’s drug safety watchdog, the Medicines and Health care products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), reported that over 2000 individuals had suffered adverse reactions, some more than once, giving a total of 4602 suspected reactions to the vaccine Cervarix. They ranged from mild (rashes, pain in the arm, and allergies) to serious (convulsions, eye rolling, muscle spasms, seizures and hyperventilation). A similar report about Gardasil was published in the United States in August.

Anti-vaccine groups are warning parents off the Cervarix programme, which has been rolled out through schools (on a voluntary basis) starting in April last year, while professionals and cancer charities are urging people to… click here to read whole article and make comments



Working mums have less healthy kids

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Last night on New Zealand television the British female lead of the live show Mamma Mia! joked about how she went to work to get away from her four young children -- a firstborn plus triplets who are on tour with her. Great for her, but how are the kids doing?

Research just published in her homeland suggests that the children of working mothers are less healthy and are more likely to have poor dietary habits and a more sedentary lifestyle. They eat less fruit and vegetables, watch more television and consume more crisps and fizzy drink than the children of mothers who stay at home.

This is bad news for British authorities, whose crowded social agenda includes fighting childhood obesity and getting women to return to work. It looks as though the two goals are at loggerheads. Flexible working arrangements for mothers in full-time work seem to… click here to read whole article and make comments



China’s stolen babies

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Girl babies adopted by American and other overseas couples from orphanages in China in recent years may have been forcibly taken from their parents, not abandoned, as the adoptive parents were told. The Los Angeles Times reports at length on a scandal that can be laid at the door of China’s inhuman population control policy and corrupt local family planning officials.

It seems that many couples in China have been left distraught by what amounts to baby trafficking, and couples who have adopted the babies are left wondering whether their little girl was snatched from a sobbing mother or tricked away from a bewildered father or grandparent.

Since the early 1990s, says the LA Times, more than 80,000 Chinese children have been adopted abroad, the majority to the US. Many, perhaps, were abandoned, but some parents are coming forward to report that they were coerced to give up an… click here to read whole article and make comments



Study reveals what teens want to know about love and life

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When it comes to learning about sex, young people do not, on the whole, get this information from their parents. Surveys show that they more often get it from their friends, even though their preferred source is their parents. A study from the Philippines confirms this, and suggests that more should be done to improve parent-child communication in this area.

The research, carried out among 3044 adolescents in 2007, also shows that their desire for information is not limited to biological aspects of sexuality. Around 90 per cent wanted to know more about the emotional aspects: how to manage one’s feelings and sexual drive; the meaning of “falling in love”; how to know whether the person one is dating is dating is the right person; and how to tell the difference between desire, sexual attraction and love.

The authors of the study, led by Professor Jokin De Irala… click here to read whole article and make comments



Abortion raises risks for future births

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Canadian researchers who reviewed 37 case studies have confirmed a long-noted link between abortions and premature births as well as low birthweight babies.

Women who had undergone more than one abortion had a 72 per cent increased risk of having low birthweight children and a 93 per cent increased risk of having a premature baby. The study also found that women who had an abortion in the first or second trimester had a 35 per cent increased risk of giving birth to a low-weight baby and a 36 per cent increased risk of having a premature baby.

Now, what do you think would be the logical response to that? Yes, you guessed: make abortion safer.

The authors of the study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, stress that further studies are needed to assess the impact of new ways of carrying out an abortion,… click here to read whole article and make comments



Children write better essays with a pen

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Plonking a child in front of a laptop may not be the right solution for those who have difficulty writing down their thoughts, according to a new study. And it shows that even children without any specific transcription difficulty benefit from using a pen rather than a keyboard at least some of the time.

I recently heard a report of a primary school that had completely done away with paper and pens. Wrong move, says Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor of educational psychology who studies normal writing development and writing disabilities. Her study of second, fourth and sixth grade children showed that they consistently did better with a pen when they wrote essays.

Only for writing the alphabet was the keyboard better than the pen. For sentences results were mixed. But when using a pen, the children in all three grade levels produced longer essays and… click here to read whole article and make comments



The pursuit of happiness

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Is it time to shelve materialistic measures of a country’s progress such as gross domestic product and replace them with quality of life indicators like access to healthcare, ecological footprint and work-life balance?

The president of France says, yes. Armed with a report he commissioned last year from two Nobel Prize-winning economists (Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen), Nicholas Sarkozy declared that the banking “crisis doesn't only make us free to imagine other models, another future, another world. It obliges us to do so." And that is not because the financial crisis has made the French economy more of a basket case than ever; no, it’s because national life should be organised around what makes people happy rather than what makes (some of) them rich, and around environmental sustainability, say the economists.

As we’ve observed many times before on this website, happiness research is a growth industry, and not without… click here to read whole article and make comments



Grandparents yearn to meet donated progeny

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We recently noted that would-be grandparents in Britain are paying for their grown-up children’s IVF treatments. Now we learn that Canadian women whose daughters -- and sons -- have donated gametes to other couples are pining for their unknown grandchildren. The grand-parenting urge is apparently very strong, especially when you know that the grandchildren are out there somewhere, and artificial begetting brings mixed blessings.

It's estimated that about one million donor offspring worldwide have been born, most of them through anonymous donations. In some cases grandparents and donor grandchildren do meet; in others not. A man who donated sperm for almost 10 years says he now sees that grandparents ought to be considered. "His own parents were delighted when two teenage donor daughters surfaced a few years ago." Imagine how many more there could be…

A bioethicist plugs for the grandparents. She says it’s not just a personal decision:… click here to read whole article and make comments



Marriage movement makes waves in New Zealand

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The marriage movement is making itself felt in Australia and New Zealand with the publication of a report, 21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters, this week. A coalition of marriage and family advocacy groups is backing the report, which is based on local and international research showing the benefits of marriage over alternative arrangements for family life.

“This edition has 146 researched footnotes including NZ-based research and presents strong evidence that marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is a social good and we should develop policies, laws, and family and community interventions to help strengthen marriages. The weakening of marriage is one of the most important social issues we are facing in NZ,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Mr McCoskrie points out that government commissions as well as community agencies dealing with children’s welfare are ignoring the significance of marriage in… click here to read whole article and make comments



President Obama to kids: be responsible

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After all the brouhaha leading up to President Obama’s back to school address to America’s students, he gave them a first-rate pep talk that no-one in their right mind could disagree with. It was about taking responsibility for one’s own path in life, discovering what they are good at, setting goals and putting in the serious work to achieve them.

But the president was not peddling rugged individualism; he appealed to the kids as American citizens called to contribute to the common good:

And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

We… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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