First Graders Possess Medical Marijuana Cards

Medical marijuana card

An example of an Oregon State medical marijuana card.

Written by: Jason Garoutte

No. That’s not a typo. Parents with children diagnosed with disorders and diseases like autism or leukemia are becoming more open to non-traditional treatments such as medical marijuana. There are currently 58 children in the state of Oregon who are covered under the state medical marijuana law which allows them use of the so called “gateway drug.”

All of us have probably heard the terms leukemia and autism before, but do we fully understand what challenges parents are faced with day in and day out with such disorders? Autism is a brain disorder that often makes it difficult to communicate with and relate to others. With autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together. This leads to anti-social behavior, repeated types of behavior like body rocking, and becoming upset when routines change.

With one in every 88 children diagnosed with autism in the United States, more parents are searching for answers and treatments that work. One problem with autism is that there is no typical case. People can have many different types of behavior, from mild to severe. In nearly one in three cases, children with autism experience seizures or seizure disorders such as epilepsy.

Although marijuana is not currently considered a treatment for autism by the medical profession, it is considered a treatment for seizures and mood altering behavior. So, what makes medical marijuana a safe treatment for children over the more traditional treatments?

The active chemical in marijuana is called THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol.) This is what gives marijuana its medical properties. In essence, the human body produces receptors that bind with THC, interfering with the brains neurotransmitter systems. This allows the recipient to feel various effects, such as reducing pain, limiting seizures, and lowering anxiety. In cancer patients, marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea and increase appetite, after receiving chemotherapy,

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of scientifically validated treatments. The use of medical marijuana to treat autism has not been tested and could be dangerous for children,” says Susan Martin, director of media relations at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although long term effects from marijuana have yet to be determined, using marijuana at such a young age may be detrimental to the child’s brain growth and development.

Traditional treatments for autism include special behavior training, speech therapy, physical therapy, and FDA approved drugs. Melatonin and Chelation are widely used, legal treatments for autism, where medical marijuana is only legal in 18 states.

There are many traditional treatments available to parents for children with these disorders that are safe, legal, and readily available across the nation. However, as a parent when you are faced with the challenges of raising a child with special needs, you may find yourself weighing the possible long term effects against the apparent short term benefits of non-traditional treatment, even if it involves allowing your child access to a medical marijuana card.

Pets Train People

Written by: Devon Houtz

Parents always say the most important job is raising their child. One of the highest points of the parental career is the day they look at their offspring and see an adapted, functioning member of society. As soon as the little one is born, the countdown begins until the child will be on their own, taking control of his or her life.

How does a parent ensure their grown up kid understands what it is to be a full person? Animals.

Pet care requires a great deal of responsibility and the ownership of a pet is an excellent educational tool for children. By the age of three, children can interact with their pets using their voice and small treats. They can help fill a pet’s food and water bowls. Children at this age have the ability to respect boundaries of their pet by keeping their distance when the animal is eating. This can all take place in the safety of the home so parents are able to control the environment and ensure their kid is learning safely.

Some families may think three is too young for a pet, however, it’s important to note that there are advantages of pet ownership even for infants! Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D and her colleagues published a study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy proving that teenagers who lived with a cat during their first year of life had a 48 percent lower risk of cat allergy than their peers, and the teen boys who lived with a dog had a 50 percent lower risk of allergy. So, not only will a pet teach a child some crucial life lessons as they grow up, exposure to a beloved animal will lower their risk of suffering from allergies! The advantage of a pet extends to special needs cases, as well. A French study has shown that autistic children who received a pet at age 4 or 5 were better able to share with others and comfort those in distress. And what about parents who see their children come home from school, angry with their classmates or rejected by friends? Allen McConnell at Miami University Journal of Personality and Social Psychology performed a study dealing with affect of pets versus friends. McConnell states, “one’s pet was every bit as effective as one’s best friend in staving off social needs deficits”

Pets are bountiful resources for parents. The little things that are easy to be overlooked like exercise or chores are made easy with a pet. Taking the dog for a walk is a fun way for children to stop watching television and get outside. Cleaning the rabbit cage or litter box establishes a routine of chores for kids, vital for their future understanding of duty.

Besides the usefulness of pets as teaching aids, animals play a large role in a happy childhood. Books and movies are written every year detailing the love and bond an owner shares with his or her pet. Not only will an animal in the home create a perfect catalyst for responsible behavior and pave the way to adulthood, pets are loveable creatures that a child will look back on with fond memories and adoration.

A pet in the home is a rewarding experience for both parent and child.

Disney to Fight Against Childhood Obesity by Banning Junk-Food Ads

Written by: Kristiina Yang

Iger and Obama pose with Mickey Mouse

Disney CEO Robert Iger and First Lady Michelle Obama present new initiative together at June 5 press conference.

In an effort to combat America’s escalating childhood obesity problem, the Walt Disney Company, together with First Lady Michelle Obama, announced on June 5 its plan to remove junk-food advertising from its kids’ programming by 2015.

This initiative, presented by Disney CEO Robert Iger at the Newseum in Washington, will require companies advertising food and drinks to meet a set of nutrition standards in accordance with the government’s dietary guidelines. By 2015, when the full ban is slated to be in place, such companies must either reformulate their products or they will be cut off from advertising on all of Disney’s programming.

Disney is a wide-reaching and influential media company, including amongst its many divisions, a leading film studio, the ABC broadcast network, and multiple cable channels. The ban on junk-food advertising will primarily apply to its programming for children, which accounts for millions of dollars of revenue for the company each year.

While this initiative may represent a loss of money for Disney, it is not expected to be a significant amount relative to the company’s total operations. This small cost is seen as a smart business move for the positive publicity that this initiative will afford the company.

When a food or drink product meets Disney’s nutrition standards, it will receive a Mickey Check, a symbol also newly introduced as a part of Tuesday’s announcement. Additionally, Disney plans to revamp its menu items and offer more fruit and vegetable options at its domestic theme parks by next year.

Mickey Check

Food and drink items will receive a Mickey Check when they meet Disney's nutrition standards.

Disney is being lauded for its acknowledgement of media’s heavy influence on children, particularly in junk-food advertising, as well as, its commitment to battling childhood obesity. Such was the draw for Michelle Obama’s involvement, who has made fighting childhood obesity a cornerstone of her time in office.

In her statement at the press conference, Obama praised Disney remarking, “This is a major American company, a global brand, that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives. With this new initiative Disney is doing what no major media company has done before in the United States and what I hope every company will do going forward.”

This initiative is the first time that a wide-scale media company is taking control of what food products are being advertised to children. Some believe that with this ban, Disney may completely change the landscape of food marketing toward children with other stations such as Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network anticipated to take notice and act accordingly.

Is Your Child Addicted to Online Video Games?

Written by: Mary Shull

Where’s Johnny? Just check the computer and the lost is found! Online video game addiction is fast becoming the norm. Hours are lost in front of the computer. Social interaction disappears. Kids get annoyed or angry when their online game is interrupted, even for dinner. What are parents to do?

First, check out the signs. Some possible symptoms that may give you a clue that your child is headed toward online video game addiction:
• Moodiness
• Lying
• Forgets to eat
• Plays online video games instead of doing homework
• Sleep deprivation
• No social interaction
• Lack of physical exercise
• Lack of personal hygiene

Do any of these sound familiar? How are your child’s grades at school? Does your child forget to interact with friends and family members? Is exercise a forgotten subject? Does your child rub their eyes and complain of soreness? Is a shower skipped for extra time on that online video game? Would your child rather skip dinner and snack later so more time is available for gaming?

Online video game addiction

Online video game addiction

If the answer to any of these is yes, then you must step up and get involved with your kids! Even though addiction to online video gaming has not been officially declared a disorder, the signs are in front of our eyes. Online video gaming is being compared to gambling. Playing produces a high because endorphins are being produced and released by the brain. In online video games, the children are in control. Why would they want to go back to the real world and relinquish control and be just a kid that has to follow rules? Parents need to be assertive and turn off their children’s computers! Set priorities so kids know what’s expected of them. Discipline plays a key role. Set time parameters for online games. Let your kids know that homework comes first; dinner is served at 6 p.m. and lights are out at 10 p.m. Take charge before it’s too late!

Online video game addiction can be serious and methods to help that addiction are popping up fast. Some include therapy with a counselor or following steps in a self-help book on online video game addiction. One method even suggests sending your child to summer or wilderness camp to promote exercise and a change of environment.

Parents, it’s up to you to help your children. Recognize the signs and symptoms of online video game addiction. Take the steps now to correct the disorder. Engage your child. Set up a regimen and see that it’s followed. Bring your child back into the real world and help them appreciate its beauty.

Are Apples Safe for Children?

The all-American food!

          Are Apples Safe for Children?

   By: Barbara J. Ross

The number one fruit eaten by children is our country is – the apple!!!  Even for picky eaters it seems that this mainstay of the American diet is the one fruit that almost every child will eat. That begs the question – just how safe is the apple?  We should also wonder – just how safe is the most popular fruit juice for children – apple juice?

I went out to seek information about the fruit that Johnny Appleseed turned intoAmerica’s most popular food.  Consulting sources such as The President’s Cancer Panel, I researched the environmental hazard created when fruit is sprayed with pesticides.  Well parents, this news requires action – now!  Protect you children from contaminants.  Research provides evidence that pesticide indeed has harmful effects:

  • According to the Environmental Working Group of Washington, 92% of all non-organic apples contain 2 or more pesticides. reports that this same group “called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Carol Browner to immediately halt the use of one highly toxic insecticide that poses short-term risks to small children. The group said an emergency cancellation of the bug killer methyl parathion is needed because hundreds of thousands of preschoolers are exceeding government-established safety limits for the pesticide every day, mostly through consumption of apples and peaches.”
  • The University of California-Berkeley participated in a study about the intelligence of children as tested for an IQ score. The research conducted included an excess of 400 children, using records before birth and through ages of 6 to 9. Berkeley’s findings were that children with the greatest exposure scored on an average 7 points lower on standardized IQ tests compared with children with the lowest pesticide exposures.
  • A research article by S H Zahm for the National Institutes of Health reports that “Malignancies linked to pesticides in case reports or case-control studies include leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilms’ tumor, soft-tissue sarcoma,Ewing’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers of the brain, colorectum, and testes.”  Zahm continues with the suggestion “that  children may be particularly sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of pesticides.”

One cannot ignore the phenomenal nutritional value that the apple gives to those who eat it, especially children since they seem to love apples so much.  What can we do to minimize the effects of all these chemicals on our children?  How can we make this beloved fruit safe for children?

The very first thing we should all do is write to government leaders and let them know about our concerns and even our anger.  We should not and cannot accept the continued pesticide exposure to children through this inexpensive and readily available popular diet mainstay.

Families can certainly take extra steps to wash all fruit with soap and water.  Never, never,  serve your children this fruit without a good scrubbing.

Of course the very best solution is to buy organic.  If a family can afford just one organic food, the evidence above suggests that it should be that popular American staple – the apple.  Happy crunching!