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Updated: 4 min 37 sec ago

Treats without tricks: Safety and nutrition tips for Halloween

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Halloween night is swiftly approaching and parents want children to stay safe while having fun. It’s easy to take the tricks out of trick-or-treating with simple Halloween safety and nutrition tips.

As you prepare to send off your little ghouls and goblins for a night of fun, keep in mind these tips from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals:

Prepare for trick-or-treaters
Before Halloween night begins, make sure your yard is safe and ready. Replacing burnt out light bulbs and turning on outdoor lighting will help prevent accidents as night sets in. Experts at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital recommend removing items from your yard that kids could trip over like sprinklers, hoses and rakes. They also encourage appropriately guarding pets to avoid potential injuries.

Give out the goods
Consider giving out healthier alternatives to your trick-or treaters this year. Health care professionals at Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation suggest handing out sugar-free gum, whole-grain crackers or raisins. Stickers and pencils make great giveaways as well.

Let your kids shine
Sending your kids out in the dark doesn’t have to be scary or unsafe. Adding reflective tape to your children’s costumes or candy buckets helps them be seen in the evening hours. Doctors at Gillette Children’s Hospital recommend adding flashing buttons to your child’s costume.  They also encourage attaching mini flashlights to your children’s wrists or candy buckets to allow them to see in poorly lit areas.

Buddy up
On average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year, according to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital recommends children younger than 12 trick-or-treat and cross the street with an adult. Always walk facing traffic on sidewalks or paths if available, and take advantage of all traffic signals and crosswalks.

Beware of tricks
Getting home after a long night of treat collecting is exciting, but before your kids dig into their loot, do a quick inspection of their candy bag and look for any tampered treats. Throw away any candy that is unwrapped or has a torn or worn wrapper.

Limit candy intake
Discussing and setting expectations for how much candy your children are allowed to eat can limit overindulging. Specialists at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta encourage sending trick-or-treaters out after filling up on a healthy family dinner and letting kids choose three to five pieces of candy to eat on Halloween night. To avoid a post-Halloween sugar surge, allow kids to choose their favorite candy and then offer to buy back or trade any leftover candy for money or a special prize.

To learn more about your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and ways you can help make kids healthier, visit

Categories: Lifestyle

Prevent theft from being the story of your vacation with these security tips

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Your school days are finished and that summer vacation is within your sights. This year you’ve planned the trip down to the last detail and made all of the final arrangements, but even if you’ve given your destination extensive thought, you may not have considered what you’re leaving behind. And that could be dangerous.

Empty homes temporarily vacated by summer travelers are ideal targets for thieves. Almost half of Americans count only on simple door and window locks to keep their home safe while they’re away, according to the 2014 Safety and Security Survey conducted by Master Lock. In addition, the items you bring with you can also be a target for theft.

To make sure you and your valuables remain safe, the professionals at Master Lock offer the following safety and security tips:

* Protect the home front – A home that looks deserted is an easy target for thieves. To keep your home looking occupied, set your lights on a timer and stop your newspaper and mail delivery. You should also ask a trusted neighbor to check your home periodically and alert the police of any suspicious activity. You can grant easy access to authorized visitors by storing your spare key in a portable key safe like the Master Lock 5422D.

* Limit distractions on the road – A focused driver is essential for any safe road trip, so plan to limit distractions by muting cell phones and packing provisions to keep young passengers fully entertained. Also, making frequent stops to refuel your body and clear your mind can boost energy and make for a safer journey.

* Prevent your luggage from going home with someone else – When you travel, you often place important items like money or a camera inside your luggage. Despite this common practice, only 16 percent of Americans said they actually secure their luggage when flying, according to the safety and security survey. Instead, keep your valuables in a carry-on and use a TSA-accepted luggage lock to ensure the contents of your carry-on and checked bags remain secure.

* Protect your home away from home - Once you are on vacation, make sure to lock up any valuables whenever you are away from your room. If your hotel doesn’t offer an in-room safe, bring your own portable 5900D SafeSpace to keep passports, jewelry and small electronics safe while you and your family are out and about.

* Take advantage of technology – Advancements in technology continue to make travel easier and safer. One way to keep kids safe is to take a cell phone picture of them every morning while you’re on vacation. This way, if something happens and you become separated, you’ll have a recent picture that shows exactly what they are wearing that day. You can also use the Master Lock Vault app and website to store digital copies of important data including travel documents, insurance cards, passports and medical information. This ensures you’ll have easy access to this information in case your paper documents are lost or not readily available.

While planning for a summer vacation can be an exciting time, a little preplanning can ensure the items you take with you and those you leave behind remain safe and sound.

Categories: Lifestyle

Home safety tips that put families at ease

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - While summer is most looked forward to for warmer weather, more time spent outdoors and family vacations, when the weather heats up, burglaries and home invasions increase as well. It is essential that families and individuals learn to protect themselves and their homes from unwanted intruders. With burglaries taking place every 14.5 seconds across the U.S., according to American Police Beat, it is essential to no longer push home safety aside. Instead, be aware of the increased likelihood of a break-in and take preventative action.

Jennifer Cassetta, a nationally recognized martial arts and personal safety expert, encourages conversation, awareness and education surrounding the issues of home and personal safety.

“Unfortunately in today’s society, break-ins and burglaries are something that people often feel invincible from, but also don’t like to talk about. The simple fact is that with today’s growing crime rates, it is more likely than we would like to think that something could happen to us,” says Cassetta.  “Because of this, it is essential that we don’t walk around in fear but that we become educated, aware, and informed about our home and personal safety.”

As far as overall home protection, Cassetta recommends the SABRE Home Series, a new series that includes a wireless protection system as well as several standalone door and window alarms that are now available nationwide at Target stores. She believes that the line is not only effective in warding off intruders but with the easy DIY installation and affordable price points, it provides an approachable and effective means to superior home safety that is accessible to everyone.

In addition, families and individuals should consider the following steps to ensure their homes are as safe as possible:

* Today the tendency is to post all whereabouts on social media, including vacations. However, posting about summer vacations or utilizing any location-based apps on social media can alert potential burglars of a vacant house that will be safe and ideal for them to enter. Refrain from posting about whereabouts on the Internet until after returning home.

* With over 50 percent of intruders entering through first floor windows and back doors according to, it is crucial to be aware of vulnerable entry points throughout the home in order to protect them efficiently.

* Ensure your first floor windows and front door are completely visible from the street.  Do not block them with trees, bushes, or plants so criminals can hide behind them while trying to gain access to your home.

Do you have home safety tips that have worked for you and your family? Share your advice on staying safe at home or while away via social media using the hashtag #SafeIsSmart. For every use of the #SafeIsSmart hashtag in June, SABRE will make a $1 donation to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

For more information, visit or

Categories: Lifestyle

Restless legs syndrome: 'no laughing matter'

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - A creepy-crawly feeling. An irresistible urge to move your legs. The inability to sit still for long periods of time. These are common complaints of those living with moderate-to-severe restless leg syndrome (RLS), a progressive and chronic condition that affects 2-3 percent of U.S. adults.

RLS is a neurologic disorder that causes these symptoms and it is no laughing matter. According to Yve Cook, a photographer from New York City living with RLS, "When I was first diagnosed with RLS, I laughed at my doctor - I thought he was kidding! It didn't sound like a real disorder. It sounded silly because I had always been fidgety, but he said it was because I may have had RLS since childhood."

While RLS can impact even the simplest day-to-day activities, such as watching a movie, driving long distances or sitting through a lecture, it also has a big impact on a patient’s sleep.

“Because symptoms mostly occur in the evening, many individuals experience sleep disturbances,” said Dr. Enrico Fazzini, a board certified neurologist. “Inadequate sleep can impact work, personal relationships, and even trigger other health concerns.”

Cook agrees, “I had a lot of trouble sleeping for many years and the lack of sleep eventually triggered other significant health issues. I couldn’t work. The sleep problems compelled me to seek medical attention.”

For many people, RLS is a progressive disease that may get worse over time. While there isn’t a cure for RLS, there are several treatments available to help manage the symptoms. However, finding the right treatment option for individual patients requires careful coordination with a physician, and may take many years.

“Despite being on treatment, my RLS symptoms continued to progress over time. I began feeling it in my arms in the middle of the day. I just wanted some relief and decided to find a doctor who specializes in movement disorders, like RLS,” notes Cook. “After working together to find the right treatment for me, I'm now sleeping better, and I don't have to keep moving my legs around for relief.”

In addition to medication, patients may also be able to implement several lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms, such as finding activities that help them cope (walking or stretching) and adopting good sleeping habits (going to bed at the same time each night).

“As a photographer, I couldn’t do my job and what I love without the right medication and tools to manage my RLS symptoms,” Cook said.

For more information about RLS symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, visit:

Categories: Lifestyle

Fun kids' activities reverse summer learning loss

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - School-aged kids count down the days to summer vacation when they can play outside and take a break from homework duties. However, being out of the classroom isn’t all fun and games – summer learning loss is a real issue that parents worry about every year.

Research shows students can lose two to three months of learning over the summer break, which means teachers spend more time in the new school year revisiting topics from the year past. Kids deserve time off, but that doesn’t mean learning should fall by the wayside. Parents today have more options than ever to keep kids learning and having fun throughout the summer months.

Make math practice fun
Parents can keep math skills fresh and make learning fun by pairing math and technology this summer. Games and customized learning activities engage kids to fight math learning loss and even get a head start on the upcoming year. For example, the TenMarks Summer Math Program ( is a customized program for students in grades 1 through Algebra 2 and Geometry. Students work at their own pace – just one hour a week – through a personalized program that features hints and video lessons to refresh topics they’ve learned and introduce new math concepts for the upcoming year. Levels, points and customized rewards provide a motivating and fun environment. TenMarks Summer Math Program is free this summer (previously $39/student).  Also new this summer, the TenMarks Summer Math Program is available as a Kindle App; as well as on any browser or iPad.

“Using TenMarks over the summer definitely had a positive impact on my daughter – it helped her move up a grade in school,” said Renee Lennon, mom of 4 kids from Maryland. “By having videos and helpful hints, my children were able to use TenMarks independently all summer long.”

Research reading titles that inspire
Instilling a love for reading is important for all kids, whether infants or teenagers. That’s why the summer months are the perfect time for children to read books of their choice or start a fun new series. Reading programs are plentiful during the summertime, but with so many books to choose from, it can be overwhelming for parents and kids to narrow down options. To ensure kids select books they’ll love, it’s smart for parents to have the inside scoop on which titles are popular. Amazon’s Summer Reading for Kids site ( offers curated lists that will keep young readers turning the pages all summer long, as well as other themed booklists, such as Graduation Gifts for Little Scholars and Nature Nonfiction, to encourage learning enrichment. It’s simple to search for books by age group so parents can find the perfect read for their children.

Find science learning opportunities locally
Inspiring curiosity through hands-on activities helps to strengthen science skills during summer break.Fortunately, there is a multitude of scientific opportunities that allows kids to go outside and explore. For example, planting a vegetable garden helps children learn how photosynthesis works. Investing in a magnifying glass or microscope can also provide endless hours of activity for little explorers. For children of all ages – consider visiting a local zoo or science and technology museum. Students can also explore specialized science summer camps where kids can create their own science experiments and build their understanding for subjects such as physics, biology and engineering.

Combating summer brain drain doesn’t have to be difficult for parents or students. With a few creative ideas and engaging programs, children will be ready to go to the head of the class come fall.

Categories: Lifestyle

Life on the cutting edge: Groundbreaking stem cell research into Lou Gehrig's disease

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig said goodbye to the crowd at Yankee Stadium: "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." The bad break he referred to was his career-ending diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known today as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Seventy-five years later, researchers studying ALS are using cutting-edge stem cell science to develop treatments and, one day, a cure.

ALS affects nerve cells called motor neurons that control a person's muscles. As the disease progresses, the brain loses the ability to control voluntary muscle movement, which slowly causes paralysis, eventually taking away the ability to breathe.

Monica Carrasco, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Columbia University, lives on the cutting edge of ALS research. Carrasco uses human stem cells to study the ways ALS functions. Her current project focuses on the interaction between motor neurons and cells known as glia that help maintain the balanced environment neurons require to function properly. Stem cell research can be very intense, she says, because the cells need attention every day.

The breakthrough that made her projects possible came in early 2006, when another lab pioneered the process for developing stem cells for motor neurons. At the time, people mostly used mice to study ALS, but only a tiny fraction - 5 percent - of ALS cases can be studied with mice models. That imposed serious limitations on ALS research.

Carrasco says that stem cells will be huge for many diseases. For ALS, they already are. The ability to develop stem cells from the skin samples of many different ALS patients gives researchers the big picture that studies using mice could not. As a result, the past few years have been a hotbed of new discoveries.

To support those discoveries, the ALS Association funds more than 98 projects with a total award value of $18.1 million through its Translational Research Advancing Therapies for ALS (TREAT ALS) program. From 2006 to 2008, Carrasco was the recipient of the Milton-Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship for ALS Research from the ALS Association. Funding for this two-year scientific research award was made possible by the generosity of the Safenowitz family through The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter in memory of Milton Safenowitz, who died of ALS in 1998.Dr. Carraso has since received several other support grants from the association to continue her work and says that the ALS Association’s funding has been “Incredibly important. We wouldn’t be able to study ALS in the lab without that support. There are many things that we could not be doing right now without it.”

Research today is “advancing as fast as I have ever seen,” she says.

Many ALS patients have lost up to 60 percent of their motor neurons by the time they are diagnosed. Carrasco wants to better understand the causes and phases of ALS and enable doctors to diagnose the disease as early as possible. Early diagnosis is crucial to effective treatment, she says. “By understanding the mechanism of the disease, we can move on to develop drug treatments.”

There’s still a long road to travel before stem cell research into ALS reaches its full potential, Carrasco says. “You have to consider that only in 2006 was the technology developed to take skin samples and develop the skin samples into pluripotent stem cells,” she says. “This is unique and very new. It’s not just about using the cells; it’s about asking the right questions and understanding exactly what information you can get out of the cells. There is huge hope, but these are the really early days.”

Categories: Lifestyle

7 health myths that might surprise you

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Living a healthy life takes some resolve, but success often comes down to knowing what pays the biggest dividends for a given effort. Health coaches are great sources for this insight. They’ve seen it all on the job and learned a lot in their training.

To honor Employee Health and Fitness Month in May, health coaches for workplace well-being leader Provant identified seven commonly held health and wellness myths drawn from their research and experience:

Myth No. 1: An aerobic workout boosts your metabolism all day. Wrong, it just burns calories while you’re doing it. Muscle-strengthening exercises, however, will burn calories long after your workout.

Myth No. 2: If you don’t break a sweat, it’s not a workout. Wrong, sweat is just the body’s way of cooling itself. A better reflection of effort is the talk test: your workout is moderate if you can talk, but not sing, and vigorous if you need to take a breath every few words.

Myth No. 3: You should stretch before you exercise. Not really, you could hurt yourself. Better to stretch after you’re warmed up with light, smooth movement of gradually increasing intensity.

Myth No. 4: Frozen fruits and vegetables are less healthy than fresh ones. Actually, they’re both healthy. Frozen fruits and vegetables are generally picked and frozen at nutritional peak. Canned can be a fine choice if you’re watching your budget. Avoid fruits packed in syrup.

Myth No. 5: Cigars and chewing tobacco are safe because you don’t inhale. This is another myth. Cigar smokers have higher rates than nonsmokers of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and are four to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the throat, mouth, lips, larynx and esophagus, according to the American Cancer Society. People who chew tobacco are more likely to develop oral cancers that affect the tongue, lips, cheeks and gums.

Myth No. 6: Stress happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. Not true, stress doesn’t have to overwhelm you. There are several approaches to managing it. Set priorities and tackle simple problems first. Then move on to complex difficulties. Practice relaxation exercises. Make yourself more resilient by eating smart, exercising and avoiding tobacco.

Myth No. 7: Cold turkey is the best way to quit tobacco. Nope. It’s just one of the ways to quit, and the more times you try to quit, the better your chances of succeeding. Research indicates to help improve success rates, you need: the desire and readiness to quit, some form of pharmacotherapy (nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications) and social support (family, friends, health coach).

Keep this information in mind as you go about improving your health, and most importantly, don’t give up.

Categories: Lifestyle

Family turns grief into action; offers advice for raising awareness for a cause

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Mother and rare disease advocate Lora Moore knows all too well the value of good health and how quickly it can slip away. In 2004, she tragically lost her 12 year-old daughter Lyndon to Hereditary Angioedema (HAE), a rare genetic disease characterized by repeated swelling attacks that can occur anywhere in the body such as the limbs, abdomen, face and even the throat, which can be life-threatening. Lora herself suffers from HAE, as does her oldest daughter Hillary. For their family, living in fear of the unpredictable swelling attacks of HAE is a way of life.

Lyndon’s untimely death was devastating to the Moore family, but inspired by the creation of the first-ever internationally recognized annual HAE Day on May 16, 2012, Lora and Hillary turned their grief into action.

“Lyndon had the kindest and most caring heart. She wanted everyone to feel happy,” said Lora. “We knew we had to do something to keep her memory and wonderful spirit alive.”

Beginning in 2012, Lora and Hillary organized an annual memorial walk in their hometown on HAE Day to raise awareness about HAE and honor Lyndon’s memory.

Having no event experience prior, they had little time to prepare for the inaugural memorial walk in 2012. Lora went door to door to local businesses trying to get as many sponsors as she could and also made T-shirts printed with a picture of a butterfly that Lyndon had drawn. As a result of her hard work and dedication, the memorial walk went on without a hitch and around 100 people came out to support the walk and celebrate the first HAE Day, all while raising funds for the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA).

The next year, Lora enlisted the support of the HAEA to help coordinate the second annual ‘Lyndon Brooke Stidham Memorial Walk’ so that they could make an even bigger impact than the year prior. Not only did they double the number of participants, they raised four times the amount of money as the year prior.

Through their work to organize the walk, Lora and Hillary learned a number of valuable lessons that are applicable to anyone hoping to raise awareness for an important cause. These include:

* Tap relevant local and national organizations for help; they often have valuable experience and resources to leverage

* Use social media to help get the word out and don’t be shy about asking people to “share” the news; this can be a great (and inexpensive) way to raise awareness

* Local businesses are often looking for ways to help out the community; consider approaching them for donations of funds or items to help with your event (e.g., food and beverages or items for raffle prizes) or even to post flyers about your cause

* While organizing an event can be hard work, the rewards are immeasurable

For Lora, the walk provided more than just an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate Lyndon. It also connected her with many others facing a similar challenge.

“It’s so empowering celebrating HAE Day with other HAE patients. Having a rare disease can sometimes make you feel alone and isolated, so bringing people together who can relate and share stories is incredible,” said Lora.

As for the future of the ‘Lyndon Brooke Stidham Memorial Walk,’ Lora’s dream is to take the memorial walk across America.

“I want to bring this event to people all over the U.S. so that we can continue to raise awareness about HAE across the country,” said Lora.

To learn more about HAE Day, visit To find a health care professional, visit, the official Web site of the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association.

This content provided courtesy of Shire.

Categories: Lifestyle

How to handle student-teacher conflicts for the benefit of your child's education

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Conflict and disagreements are a part of life. As an adult you understand this and you employ skills that help you mitigate conflicts and avoid future disagreements. Your children, however, may not have developed these skills yet. That means they will rely on you for help in dealing with these situations. Your help is especially important when the disagreement involves your child’s teacher. Approaching this situation in the proper way is important. It provides a good example for your children and sets them up for a successful learning experience the rest of the school year.

“When parents are active in their child’s education, the child is likely to perform better academically in school,” says Dr. Deborah Hammond-Watts, an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Argosy University, Chicago. “A good working relationship between school and home sends the message to a child that his/her parents and the school work together for his/her educational and emotional benefit.”

When a child approaches a parent with an issue or comment related to school and/or the teacher, parents should be willing to listen and to not jump to conclusions. “Whether you believe what your child is telling you or not, it is important that your child knows you are willing to listen,” says Dr. Dominick Ferello, professor in the College of Arts & Sciences and College of Education at Argosy University, Tampa.

The next step is for the parent to reach out to the teacher directly. Request a conference or time to discuss the matter with your child’s teacher directly (without your child present) to gain some understanding as to what the teacher perceives the concern or issue to be. “When requesting to talk with a teacher, keep in mind that the teacher’s job is to teach the children in the classroom during the school day. Schedule an appointment to make certain that the teacher has time to speak with you. Showing up at school and demanding to see a teacher may not always work in your favor,” says Hammond-Watts.

“Try not to make assumptions about what is going on before you have an opportunity to meet with the teacher,” says Ferello. “The goal for the meeting is to gather information about what may be going on, as well as make it clear that you want to partner with the teacher in helping your child to feel that the focus is on their education and helping them succeed in the classroom,” says Ferello. “Even in some of the most difficult situations, a compromise can probably be reached if both the teacher and parent keep in mind that they are working for the benefit of the child in the educational setting,” says Hammond-Watts.

The reality is that teachers aren’t perfect and neither are parents, says Ferello. As such, the outcome may not always be what either party had hoped for. “Teachers are faced with questions and concerns from a number of parents and children on any given day,” says Ferello. “Given the number of students they teach and the demands placed on them, it’s not hard to imagine that even teachers can get frustrated. Given that parents naturally want to stand up for their children and see the best in and for them, it stands to reason that parent/teacher conversations can sometimes go in the wrong direction.”

“If that happens, it’s important to acknowledge that you got off on the wrong foot,” says Hammond-Watts. “To change the relationship or the conversation, someone needs to address the ‘bad start’ and be willing to start over. Either the parent or teacher can do this.”

If you and the teacher just cannot get along after much effort and frustration, the principal or another administrator may need to get involved. “The presence of a third party may assist both teacher and parent to try to communicate in a way that demonstrates less conflict,” says Hammond-Watts. “After the meeting, the principal/administrator can meet separately with the parent and teacher to critique the meeting and offer solutions toward a better working relationship. While the principal can instruct the teacher to work with the parent in a professional manner, the teacher needs to be sincere in any efforts to do so.”

Categories: Lifestyle
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