Corrections In the May editorial, "Tune into baby, not TV," the statistics from the study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal were misconstrued. The increase of attention problems is not 10-fold, but for every hour a child age 1-3 watches television per day, the child was found to be almost 10 percent more likely to develop attention problems at age 7 than a child who watched no television before the age of 3.
Chicago Parent regrets the error. But it does not change our belief that children under age 2 should not watch videos or television. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Three cheers for sandlots Thank you for the excellent article, "Reclaiming the Sandlot" (June 2004). I have many fond memories of the sandlot. The neighborhood kids organized games every weekend. The McNichols' approach to sports is so refreshing. Youth sports are so disappointing and discouraging for kids who just want to try out a sport and have some fun with other kids. Team games are played before skills, sportsmanship and knowledge of the game are even introduced.
It is so true that many children are not even ready to bloom until much later. I know many excellent athletes who never even began playing an organized sport until high school and wound up being the team's star players.
With our too soon, too competitive philosophy we may discourage our best athletes. We also make people feel they have to have their child start a sport at age 2 or they will be too behind to play.
I hope articles like this will restore the love of the game and the joy of the sport. Thank you, Kimberly Straub, for this excellent article. VYNETTE BELLUOMINI, Bartlett
Vaccines carry risk Thanks for your recent articles about childhood vaccinations (April 2004, June 2004), and for noting there are risks to these mainstays of American pediatric medicine.
As you discuss in the article on whooping cough, the vaccine for this disease is not always effective, nor is the immunity life-long. The same is true for most vaccines; the immunity wears off, unlike the lifelong immunity that is obtained when someone actually gets a disease. In other words, my kids, who got chickenpox when they were little, will be immune for life. But the kids next door, who were vaccinated, may be at risk for developing the disease later in life when it may seriously harm or even kill them.
I recently attended the AutismOne conference in Chicago and I listened to a number of doctors and researchers who are studying how damaging vaccines are to some children. Because of a deadly poison called thimerasol contained in most vaccines, American children are being injected with more than 100 times the Food and Drug Administration's acceptable limit for mercury. Dr. Mark Geier and Dr. David Geier, who spoke at the conference, estimate that one out of six U.S. children will suffer significant neurological damage because of the mercury injected into their bloodstreams during infancy.
Geier and Geier analyzed government vaccine data and found that a child receiving injectable mercury during vaccinations is 26 times more likely to become autistic than a child who receives mercury-free shots. They also note that the symptoms of mercury poisoning are the same as the symptoms of autism.
Several years ago, the government asked the vaccine makers to remove the mercury, but allowed the companies use up "existing stores." These existing stores are apparently like the biblical loaves and fishes; they never seem to be exhausted.
Once the mercury is removed, however, there is talk that it will be replaced with aluminum, which is implicated in Alzheimer's disease. Will we now have to experience a rise in Alzheimer's in children before the drug companies finally get it right-and think about safety over convenience?
Recently I contacted a law firm that is contemplating a class-action suit for vaccine-injured kids. I asked how many parents have contacted them, and I was told, "Thousands and thousands." That many parents cannot be dismissed as crazy. The medical profession has been wrong time and time again, and it is often the parents who keep fighting until these experts open their minds. JOAN MATTHEWS, Northbrook
Mercury more harmful than TV Your editorial, "Tune Into Baby, Not TV" (May 2004) pointed out the soaring levels of ADD and ADHD in America's children. While television is causing developmental harm to the brains of young children, many are unaware of the hidden dangers to the developing brain posed by mercury contamination in our waterways.
Mercury enters our lakes and rivers through pollution from coal-fired power plants. Already, one in six American women has an unsafe level of mercury in their bodies that could cause severe birth defects and brain damage in an unborn child.
Just as we must regulate TV-watching among children already born, we must regulate coal-fired power plants to ensure the safety of our future children. The answer is as simple as installing technologies in these plants to drastically reduce emissions.
For the sake of our children today and those yet unborn, we must flip the switch on coal-burning power plants. GINA PULCIANI, Chicago Parents: Trust thyselves Regarding your editorial in May 2004 ("Tune into baby, not TV"): It's articles like these that send certain parents off to stew in their anxieties, especially worrisome new mothers.
Is it actually your opinion that the content of the Baby Einstein videos move at "breakneck speed?" The only Baby Einstein video I have seen is the one that belongs to my son, who is 8 months old. He and I have watched it together a handful of times in the past few months. He enjoys the music and moving pictures, and it doesn't seem to me that he is overstimulated by it.
I agree that some parents use TV or videos as a babysitter. I hope that most parents are trying to stay conscious about how TV affects their children. However, to buy into the type of advertising that claims to have products that help your baby "be smarter" or "leap ahead" is completely the individual choice of parents everywhere.
When my friend (who is a new first-time mother like myself) read your editorial, she took it to heart because she has ADHD and it runs in her family. She insists that because of the recent headlines and advice from other well-meaning sources, she will not allow her 2-month-old baby girl to watch any TV until she is 2.
Chicago Parent keep us up to date about what topics parents should be thinking and talking about. However, as I grow into motherhood, I try to remember to cherish my sense of intuition. I choose to use my energies to stay tuned in to my child, rather than make my head spin trying to keep up with each and every opinion of the scientific community.
I find myself wishing that my friend would do the same. JOY-MARIE SHORES, Elgin
A vote for paying moms Hallelujah! I just read "Being Paid to do a Mother's Work," (May 2004) and I wholeheartedly agree that stay-at-home moms should benefit from a similar level of economic security as their working counterparts. American society is doing all its members an injustice by not officially recognizing this critical work.
There is an important larger picture that story just begins to tell. Joanne Brundage of Mothers and More says "that a more important goal" is needed than legislation for Social Security benefits. She rightfully maintains that "caregiving be seen in a more positive light and not as something that detracts from a woman's ability to do paid work." YES. This is the central problem underlying the conflict between mothers and work.
It is no longer about the choice to work or measuring success by a paycheck or level of professional achievement The issue is about melding meaningful family and work lives. We're one of the most economically stable countries in the world with a well-educated work force that works longer hours with less vacation time than most other highly developed countries in the world. Why do I know mothers with advanced degrees having to choose between babysitting and working in the corner store? Corporate culture simply doesn't provide many good choices for parents who want to have an active role in raising their children.
Changes are about more part-time careers and more support from existing job situations. On-site daycare anyone? Women deserve to make peace with themselves and the larger stage that doesn't support working moms enough while sending subtle messages that those who stay home aren't quite ambitious enough or creative enough to put the right family-work situation together.
Is "Being Paid" just about economics and the large numbers of mothers who live in poverty? I don't think so. Mothers and More might seem, at first, like an organization that is a little too extreme for some people. Organization is power and power affects real change. Thanks for trying to get the ball rolling, Chicago Parent. STEPHANIE BEHNE Naperville
There's a cheaper alternative I thought your article on geo-caching (May 2004) was informative, and wanted to let you know about a low-tech version of the same idea, as not everyone can afford GPS. It's called letterboxing. Children and parents can go to www.letter boxing.org to find directions to boxes in their area. Some directions are easy and straightforward, while others provide clues you need to figure out. I would also encourage people to set up their own boxes, and post the information on the Web site, to help the game grow in the Chicago area. SUSAN TIRVA , Burbank
Free museum passes Once again you failed to mention the free family museum passes available to Chicago Public Library card holders ("Museums are more fun when they're free," June 2004). These cover up to eight people and can be used constantly within the allotted time period. JAMES REYES, Chicago
Give us more Two articles in your March 2004 issue were particularly compelling. "Advocating for special needs children" and "Extraordinary Parent: Mom helps daughter live with juvenile diabetes" were well written, highly informative and contained so much information that many families will find helpful.
I would particularly like to see more articles about special parents. A "special parent" can make a world of difference in the life of a child.
Childhood depression and bipolar disorder is on the rise-I would like to see an article dealing with those issues. More and more families are having to deal with the pervasive effects of having a child with these all-encompassing illnesses. BEVERLY M. COPELAND, Morton Grove
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Please tell us... Reader poll Tell us about traveling with kids August is the biggest travel month of the summer. What's the most ambitious trip you've taken with your kids? What advice would you offer to other parents planning a major family vacation? Deadline: July 12.
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