Best (and Worst) Place in the World to be a Kid

Drumroll, please...

Best (and Worst) Place in the World to be a Kid

And the best place in the world to be a kid today is... [cue drumroll, if you please]. 

While I keep you in suspense just a little bit longer, let's ponder the whys and wherefores of what makes a given country ideal for children.  

According nonprofit Save the Children's annual report, the three key factors (no pun) at play in ensuring a child's welfare are health, education and nutrition. Oh, and not dying before your fifth birthday is generally considered a boon. As is enrolling in school and not being underfed... The most kid-friendly countries scored the lowest in the index.

And without further delay, the top ten countries are as follows:

  1. Japan
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. France
  6. Canada
  7. Switzerland
  8. Norway
  9. U.K.
  10. Netherlands


With its medical and educational advancements, Japan’s came up trumps with a score of 0.35 while Somalia, at 54.50, ranked the worst place to be a child.

So at least we snagged the top spot on this side of the Atlantic. What more could be done to make our country a better place for kids? Spill it.


Women Binge Drinking During Pregnancy

Knocking 'Em Back

Women Binge Drinking During Pregnancy

So you've got your Lululemon yoga pants at the ready. You've practiced your hoo-hoo-ha-ha breathing till kingdom come. Now you're ready to head to the nearest patio for a few mojitos...

A recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that one in 13 women regularly (as in, at least once a month) drink alcohol during pregnancy, with one of those five binge drinking (as in, downing more than four drinks in a single sitting). 

The data was collected from 2006 through 2010, and was self-reported through random phone surveys, which leads me to suspect women may actually underestimate how much they were actually drinking. 

So much for all the warnings about fetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects, then. It seems many moms-to-be aren't heeding the advice to nix the booze pre-baby. Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn't the younger set knocking them back but expecting moms—predominantly white, educated and employed—aged between 35-44.  

Shocked or not so much? Why do you think older women are more likely to booze it up during pregnancy? Is it harder for them to change their lifestyles pre-baby?


The Truth About the Five-Second Rule

When in Doubt, Throw it Out

The Truth About the Five-Second Rule

So much for the five-second rule. Another urban mommy myth bites the big one. Seems anything that drops on the floor—be it the cookie or the soother—is contaminated long before those five seconds are up. 

"A dropped item is immediately contaminated and can't really be sanitized," says medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System, Jorge Parada. "When it comes to folklore, the 'five-second rule' should be replaced with 'when in doubt, throw it out'."

This (unconventional) wisdom applies to any item that comes into contact with another surface. 

"If you rinse off a dropped hot dog you will will probably greatly reduce the amount of contamination, but there will still be some amount of unwanted and potentially nonbeneficial bacteria on that hot dog," said Parada, who says that when applying the five-second rule, "you are rolling the dice with your health or that of your loved one."

Ever licked a dropped pacifier to clean it off, what Parada refers to as "double-dipping"? Show of guilty hands, please... So Parada can rap them. "You are exposing yourself to bacteria and you are adding your own bacteria to that which contaminated the dropped item. No one is spared anything with this move."

Obviously, even Parada concedes that there are varying degrees of contamination, depending on the surface area, the absorbency of the item, and the amount of time item is left on said surface, i.e. a clean table definitely contains fewer microbes than say the floor. 

I can only imagine the horror Parada would have experienced having observed (true story) the toddler who dropped his lollipop on a public bathroom floor while mom wasn't paying attention, only to plop it back in his mouth. 

But aren't microbes actually good for building a child's immunity? Or is that another mommy myth? 

"There actually is certain research that supports the importance of being exposed to bacteria at critical times in a child's development," said Parada. "But I believe this development applies to exposures of everyday living. I do not advocate deliberately exposing ourselves to known contaminants... If you want to be proactive in building up your defenses, eat right, exercise, and adequate sleep -- and remember to get your vaccines."

Consider yourselves educated, yummies. And here I thought double-dipping referred to the hummus at a party...