Category "Lifestyle"


‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning ‘basic life skills’ – National

by BBG Hub

Snowplow parenting is exactly what it sounds like: acting as the rescue option for your child’s every need, even when they’re adults.

And while setting up children for success is one thing, one recent poll by the New York Times and Morning Consult found a majority of parents in the U.S. were “robbing” their kids of adulthood.

The poll, which looked at data from 1,508 young adults and 1,136 parents of children that age, found a majority of parents were still doing doing mundane tasks for their adult children, USA Today reported.

READ MORE: Should we f***king swear around our kids? Parenting experts weigh in

The poll found 76 per cent of parents reminded their adult children of deadlines at school, 74 per cent made appointments for them (including doctor’s appointments) and 15 per cent of parents texted or called their children to wake them up every morning.

And it didn’t stop there. The poll also found 11 per cent of parents called their children’s place of work if there was an issue and 16 per cent wrote a part of all of their children’s job or internship applications.

Parenting expert Maureen Dennis told Global News this style of parenting is preventing young people from learning basic life skills.

“They haven’t been given the chance to make decisions, to learn from both the good and the poor ones,” she said. “Allowing kids to make decisions when they are young allows them to learn from those age-appropriate decisions, especially the poor decisions.”

Parenting coach Julie Romanowski agreed, adding this type of parenting enables the child any time they struggle with something.

“It runs a very high risk of the child being incapable of coping in the world as an adult,” she explained. “This can lead to all kinds of problems, from mental health issues to financial difficulties, relationship problems, time management, keeping a household and even overall hygiene.”

The poll followed recent news of the U.S. college scam, where Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman and Full House‘s Lori Loughlin were indicated for allegedly paying bribes to get their children into top colleges like Yale and Harvard.

Going into adulthood

Attending college or university is often the first stepping stone of adulthood, and when parents start doing tasks for their children, children don’t have the opportunity to be independent, experts said.

“The trouble is that these parents haven’t had any expectations of their children and have been solving their children’s problems their whole lives, so they have not given their kids the chance to fail or to exceed expectations,” Dennis said.

“These kids have no idea of what they themselves are capable of. They are not driving the direction of their own life. They have just been along for the ride.”

READ MORE: Mom lets children skip school to take a ‘mental-health day’ — is this good parenting?

She added as parents, you can’t just hand over the wheel — you have to teach children how to drive first. “These parents have literally chauffeured their kids through life and don’t know how or want to teach their kids to drive their own life.”

Romanowski said it is only appropriate to check-in with adult children if they struggling or isn’t doing well in school. There are ways to support them without rescuing them.

Giving children space to be independent

Romanowski argued teaching children to be independent starts before sending them off to post-secondary education — life skills start as early as age five.

“It [creates] opportunities for socializing and learning new information in the school-age years.. .these skills are all being developed in young children,” she continued.

“Waiting until teen years or early adulthood is when we see a problems arise… it is much more difficult to teach and manage.”

And along the way, parents have the responsibility to hold their children accountable.

“The only way we can help adult children is to layout our expectations for them and to hold them accountable for them. They need to experience the highs and lows of their own decisions and actions to learn life skills,” Dennis said.

Teaching children how to be independent

Romanowski said children learn best by instruction, repetition and role modelling.

Here are her steps on how children learn responsibility:

1. A child needs to feel self-secure first in their surroundings and then in themselves.
2. A child has to know what the expectations and boundaries are for the task/life skill/routine.
3. A child can then predict what the expectations are for that task/life skill/routine to be executed.
4. A child can then feel more independent around the task or routine.
5. A child can then start to take responsibility for that task/life skill/routine

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Here’s to more ‘free-range parenting’ in 2019

“Learning responsibility lies in the areas of a child knowing their place in the world, understanding how they can contribute in a meaningful way, being properly guided at times of difficulty and most of all, being connected to a parent/caregiver who shows acceptance during good times and bad.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Dirty Dozen’: Do these fruits and veggies really have harmful amounts of pesticide? – National

by BBG Hub

A new report says pesticide residue is on most of your favourite fruits and vegetables — even after they’re washed — but health experts say there’s nothing to be worried about.

According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list — a report that tests pesticide residue levels on produce — strawberries have the highest levels of pesticides, followed by spinach and kale.

WATCH BELOW: Yes, avocados need to be washed before consuming

“We were surprised that more than 92 per cent of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and some samples contained as many as 18 different residues,” Dr. Olga Naidenko, EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health, told Global News.

The report, released on Wednesday, used data from the United States Department of Agriculture to analyze which fruits and veggies are the most and least contaminated. This is the first time kale has appeared on the “dirty” list since 2009 as it hasn’t been included in USDA’s produce tests in recent years.

Naidenko said the produce samples were tested for pesticides after they were cleaned.

READ MORE: Rates of colon cancer have doubled among young people, and doctors still don’t know why

“This means the produce has been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled,” Naidenko said. “After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies.”

Other fruit that was listed as having higher levels of pesticide residue include nectarines, apples, grapes and peaches, ranked fourth to seventh, respectively. (Full list here.)

Food that EWG ranked on their “Clean 15” list of lower-residue foods include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions and papayas.

Are pesticides really that harmful for you?

Despite the report, Erin MacGregor, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and co-founder of How to Eat, says that Canadians should not be worried about pesticide residue on their foods.

WATCH BELOW: Does Canada’s new food guide reflect the needs of all Canadians?

“A list like the Dirty Dozen makes it seems like we have something to be concerned about, when we don’t necessarily have anything to be concerned about at all,” MacGregor said to Global News.

“We actually have a very stringent regulatory system in Canada, which states there’s a very conservative amount of pesticide residue allowed to be on fruit and vegetables that Canadians buy in the grocery store.”

MacGregor says this means produce has to pass government safety standards, which determine how potentially harmful a pesticide may be. “[Regulators] look at what level of residue would cause harm — if we were to ingest it — and then they set a residue limit that falls far, far below that,” she explained.

READ MORE: Parents, vaping near children is just as dangerous as smoking: study

Pierre Petelle, the president and CEO of CropLife Canada, says that pesticides are a necessary part of farming. He says fruits — especially smaller ones like strawberries — are susceptible to a number of insect infestations and diseases that makes them unusable.

“If you rely on [only] nature to grow crops, you would consistently waste endless amounts of food,” he told Global News.

“We compete with lots of different organisms and insects for the same crops, and so farmers need to protect them. It’s a simple as that. [Farmers] try to make sure they only use [pesticides] when and where they need them, but they’re no doubt an essential part of fruit and vegetable production.”

Is organic better for you?

One of the recommendations made by EWG is that consumers buy organic versions of produce found on their Dirty Dozen list whenever possible.

WATCH BELOW: Affordability is one of several factors stopping some Canadians in following latest Food Guide

“When organic versions are unavailable or not affordable, EWG advises consumers to continue eating fresh produce, even if conventionally grown,” they said in the report’s press release.

While some people prefer eating organic fruits and veg, MacGregor says they’re not always free of pesticide.

“Pesticides are allowed to be used in organically grown produce as well; they simply cannot be synthetic [pesticides], they have to be naturally-derived,” she said.

Washing your food

What consumers should do if they’re concerned with pesticide residue is thoroughly wash produce under cool tap water, MacGregor says.

READ MORE: Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study

Washing is also an important step in preventing food poisoning as bacteria can live on the skin of fruits and vegetables.

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a report that found more than 17 per cent of avocados had listeria monocytogenes on the skin. Even though you would never eat an avocado’s skin, the FDA noted this foodborne pathogen can be transferred by a knife.

Other produce, like lettuce and tomatoes, should always be washed, too. Even skinned fruits like melons and bananas should be cleaned before eating.

“Melons, in particular, are an extreme example because their flesh is the best growth medium for salmonella,” Keith Warriner, a professor of food science at the University of Guelph, previously told Global News.

WATCH BELOW: UBC study says fruit and veggie consumption is down

Bottom line

It’s important for Canadians to eat fruit and vegetables daily as part of a balanced diet. Produce offers nutritional benefits, including a variety of vitamins and minerals, that are vital to a healthy lifestyle.

Petelle says reports like the Dirty Dozen can scare Canadians into thinking that fruits and vegetables are potentially harmful — which may cause folks to avoid them.

“If this report from the Environmental Working Group has the effect of stoking fear in people around certain eating fruit and vegetables, it’s having a very dire consequence,” he said.

“Reports from scientists are saying we need to eat more fruits and vegetables — not less — and worrying about minute traces of pesticide is not where we should be focusing our attention.”

With a file from Arti Patel and Marilissa Racco

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Stop being a ‘people pleaser’ — how to say no to others – National

by BBG Hub

It can get easy to always say “yes” to social obligations, even if you really don’t want to be there.

Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist and columnist of “Baggage Check,” recently wrote a post in Psychology Today on why some people have a hard time saying “no” to obligations.

She said many of us are people pleasers. “Often mildly socially anxious, these folks — and the majority of them are women, though men can certainly be afflicted — are so afraid of disappointing others that they make themselves miserable in the process,” she wrote.

“They’re desperate for help in saying “no,” and yet they also can’t imagine actually bringing themselves to do it.”

READ MORE: ‘Fiver’ birthday parties replace gifts with $5 — Is this genius or insulting?

This can mean wanting to say “no” to a friend’s birthday party or maybe even something more personal like a wedding. The reasons people want to say “no” vary, she added. It can come down to finances, schedule conflicts or just not having the desire to attend.

But it’s human nature for people to not want to disappoint others, often making it hard to use the two-letter word.

“It’s a very human tendency to want to be liked, almost evolutionary,” she told Global News. “The problem comes when your desire to please overtakes the ability to take care of yourself. You sacrifice your own needs.”

She added these days, that sense of belonging and community are still there, and when people ask us to join them for social gatherings, it gets tough to back out.

How we say ‘no’ has also changed

Bonior argued the way we say “no” has also changed, and technology has made it somewhat easier.

“We’re sort of getting less comfortable with interactions that are not calculated,” she said. “People don’t have to decline invitations in person and they can get out of it last minute.”

This can simply be done by sending a text or an email — any way to avoid real-life confrontation. Bonior said this can also mean more people are likely to cancel at the last minute.

“If you are worried about being liked, last-minute cancellations cause more damage,” she said.

Do we just love cancelling on others?

Last year Glamour magazine wrote about society’s “cancellation plague,” and how easy it is for people to bail on others with the tap of a few buttons. Some experts argued this type of culture can ruin friendships.

“Our FOMO (fear of missing out) has been replaced by FOGO (fear of going out),” author Elizabeth Kiefer wrote. “Performative admissions of how much better it is to stay home have become the thing to do on social media. There are countless memes dedicated to the fact that early bedtimes and hanging solo on the couch have become preferable to spending time with our friends.”

READ MORE: Why we all lie to get out of socializing, and how to do it right

She added cancelling plans to be alone is a reasonable enough excuse, but there’s also a level of narcissism to the move.

“[It is] inherent to the idea that we think we’re too busy, stressed or mentally exhausted to devote time to anyone but ourselves. It’s at odds with the very idea of friendship.”

Bonior said effort also matters and when people expect plans to get cancelled, they don’t want to put any in.

How to say ‘no’

But sometimes, it is about learning how to say “no” in a respectful way, valuing your relationships and also knowing when to set boundaries.

Here are some of Bonior’s tips to say “no.”

Practice first: No, not in front of a mirror, but start learning how to say “no” by actually saying “no” to small things you wouldn’t say “yes” to. “It can be helpful to practice for clarity sake — if somebody sends out a call out for volunteers and you ignore it.” In this situation, respond by saying “no.”

Understand your patterns: “Try to identify when you are most vulnerable to this behaviour, and when you are not. What feelings are associated with saying ‘yes’ to something that you’d rather not? Is it fear of being disliked? Is it the idea that you ‘should’ be able to do it? Is it guilt that no one else will?” Bonior added understanding why you say “yes” when you do will help you figure out when you can say “no.”

READ MORE: Embrace ‘JOMO’ — it’s way cheaper than ‘FOMO’

Think before you speak: Bonior said sometimes we blurt out a response to avoid awkwardness or silence or to keep the conversation going.

“Stop responding out of pure reflex, but instead make yourself count to five before you respond. That will not only gradually desensitize you to the awkwardness of pauses, but it will give you further opportunity to deliberate and find the right words for whatever response you choose.”

Stick to your gut: Sometimes a person’s “no” quickly becomes a “yes” because they can’t come up with an excuse for not attending something. “When we give too many reasons for why we are saying ‘no,’ the other person may detect an opening,” she wrote, expecting us to say “yes” instead.

Instead, she recommends just saying, “Sorry, I can’t make it” in the first place

Don’t always say yes: Bonior argued this is different from learning how to say “no” — some people just don’t know when to stop saying yes. “The problem is people put too much on their plate.” She said saying “no” helps you set your priorities.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Non-Christian’ yoga program cancelled at school, former principal suing – National

by BBG Hub

An assistant principal is in the middle of a legal battle after her elementary school ended her yoga program and transferred her to another location — a move she says was prompted by parents who said the practice was not Christian.

Bonnie Cole, a Georgia educator who introduced the yoga program during the 2014-2015 school year, said she implemented breathing and stretching exercises as a way of reducing stress and encouraging relaxation in the classroom.

This upset parents who objected to yoga on religious grounds, even though Cole says the program was not religious.

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Cole claims Bullard Elementary gave into the parents’ pressure, and sued the Cobb County School District in 2017 after her program was “halted” and she was transferred to another school — one that was further away from her home.

A federal judge recently refused the school district’s request for summary and said the case will go to trial.

In her lawsuit, Cole maintains that the yoga program was not rooted in religion, but still prompted complaints from some Christian parents. In 2016, upset parents held a prayer rally for “Jesus to rid the school of Buddhism,” Cole’s lawsuit says.

READ MORE: Should the rich kids involved in the U.S. college scam be punished?

It also alleges that the school district was being hypocritical because emails containing “Christian-based Daily Scripture Devotionals” were sent to all staff during the time she worked at the school.

The lawsuit contends the school system violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by adopting the “religious perspective” of complaining parents who said the practices did not align with their Christian beliefs.

The school system said there was no religious motivation to her transfer. Attorneys for the school system wrote in a court filing that the disruption at the school was to a point that it made Cole “unable to effectively lead her staff and her students moving forward.”

WATCH BELOW: Tips for parents who hate parenting

Debate around the yoga was heated before the lawsuit.

In 2016, Bullard Elementary held a meeting with parents to address the “many misconceptions” around the school’s yoga program, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some,” the school’s principal wrote in an email to parents at the time.

READ MORE: Should we f***king swear around our kids? Parenting experts weigh in

The principal said students would not be allowed to say the word “namaste” or put their hands to their hearts while mediating or doing yoga. Students were also prevented from colouring mandalas, symbols associated with Hinduism and Buddhism.

Yoga causing divides in schools

This isn’t the first time yoga has been a topic of controversy in schools.

In 2015, the University of Ottawa scrapped their free yoga classes after concerns of cultural appropriation.

WATCH BELOW: Tips to make your kids enjoy reading

In 2017, a Vaughn, Ont. mother was upset when her child took part in yoga at their school after she asked for a religious accommodation that excused her from the activity, the Toronto Star reported.

The mother told the outlet her family is Roman Catholic and doesn’t do yoga because it’s rooted in Hinduism.

With files from the Associated Press 

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘I have no regrets’: What it’s like to be estranged from family – National

by BBG Hub

Joanne Lawrence stopped talking to her parents right before she got married.

In 2014, the 28-year-old sent a text message to her father letting him know that he wouldn’t be walking her down the aisle. And as hard as it was, the Toronto woman knew she had to make the decision for her own mental health.

“My parents have always been physically, mentally and financially abusive to my brother, myself and each other,” she told Global News. “Going through diaries from when I was 10, I wrote about the moment I would cut them out and never look back.”

READ MORE: Choosing your own family members can be life-saving. Here’s why these Canadians did it.

Last year, Lawrence also cut out her only sibling.

“He tried to guilt me into resuming a relationship with [my parents] last year,” she explained. “He said if I cared about him, I would reach out to my parents. He told me the only reason he talks to me is because ‘you’re my bloody family; I will always be there for you because that is what family is.’”

Family estrangements as a reality

Family estrangement is a reality for some Canadians, but there isn’t hard data on how many people fall into this category.

Dr. Saunia Ahmad, director and clinical psychologist at the Toronto Psychology Clinic, added that there is a difference between not speaking with family members and full estrangement.

“Sometimes, you stop talking to someone and you may start talking to them again not too long afterwards,” she explained. “Estrangement is a bit more consistent and a decision to really cut off contact with someone physically and emotionally.”

One 2015 report published by the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, U.K., and Stand Alone — a U.K. charity supporting adults with estranged family — found more than 800 adults in the U.K. said they were estranged from family members.

“This British study revealed that people estranged from a family member sought but found little support,” psychologist Terri Apter wrote in Psychology Today.

WATCH: Montreal woman reunited with estranged father in Kelowna through online ancestry site

“Some complained that social services were ‘useless’ [and] a quarter of those who asked advice from a doctor said she or he seemed ill-equipped to provide it.”

Birthdays were triggering, but the holiday season was worse.

“Nine out of 10 people who suffer family estrangement report finding [the holidays] ‘challenging.’ Quintessential times of family gatherings, communal hopefulness, gratitude and celebration become hollow-eyed reminders of continuing emotional loss,” Apter added.

Ahmad said there are plenty of reasons people choose to cut off family members. Often, this can boil down to trauma, mental and physical abuse or other negative experiences. Other times, family members are not willing to accept others for their sexuality, choice in partners or for other reasons.

The backlash and pressure

Some may also feel pressure to keep these relationships intact, even if they are abusive. For Lawrence, it was about being grateful.

“My brother would remind me how my parents clothed, fed and housed me and paid for my education. How hard it was for them to immigrate to Canada. I really did think I owed it to them to have a relationship with them,” she explained.

“It didn’t come from people I cared about so it didn’t feel as hurtful as it might’ve been when they said: ‘But she’s your mother.’ Other relatives actually took the opportunity to bad-mouth my mom to me so I stopped contacting them, too.”

Caroline McInnes, 40, of Oshawa, Ont., didn’t face backlash when she cut off her mother.

“Other family members followed suit for very much the same reasons but with their own experiences, and everyone is understanding of each other,” she told Global News. “If anything, this brought the rest of the family closer together.”

McInnes was once very close to her mother; at one point, they lived a five-minute drive from one another. But for her, the decision to cut off her mother came down to greed and lies.

READ MORE: Ariel Winter’s estranged mother asks to reconcile 

“My family and I were renting a townhouse from my parents for seven years. At this time, mom and dad were separated, with dad living in Alberta,” she said.

McInnes was going to purchase the townhouse in December 2015, but her mother decided to sell it six months before without telling her.

“She did not forewarn me about this but instead chose to go through a paralegal to communicate this to me. I tried to talk to her afterwards, but she would not speak to me.”

In a messy string of events involving lawyers, her father and dividing assets, McInnes’ relationship with her mother again turned into that of a landlord and tenant.

“[It] was fine until I responded to an inspection of the house… mom went completely off the wall and attacked various family members in a letter for no apparent reason. The only viable explanation I have come up with is because she did not like being called out on her lies and tried to turn everything around to make it look like it was everyone else and not her. I cut all communication with her from then on,” McInnes explained.

Ahmad said the belief that “blood is thicker than water” is often normalized and could create a barrier for people to cut off certain relationships.

“It is very common, if someone is related to you by blood. They will be more protective, prioritize you more and care about you more, however that is not always the case,” she said. “It is necessary for some people to be estranged from their family members.”

The initial steps

Taking steps to disconnect yourself from a family member is not streamlined. Sometimes, it’s about having a conversation with the family member, but other times, people do it without warning.

“The person who initiates it has to do the work internally [and] come to an agreement with themselves, either talking to someone or over time,” said Ahmad.

Today, McInnes has no communication with her mother. She blocked her on social media, while her other family members have followed.

READ MORE: Ariana Grande reconciles with estranged father over Christmas

“Life is so much happier and easier now without having someone to drag you down with their negativity, to believe their web of lies and get caught up in their drama,” she said.

For Lawrence, she still sees her parents and brother at family events but tries not to communicate with them.

I have no regrets about cutting my parents out,” she said. “I’m still holding out hope that my brother will come around, but it’s a small hope.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Rates of colon cancer have doubled among young people, and doctors still don’t know why – National

by BBG Hub

While rates of colorectal cancer are down in adults over 55, a recent study found that more young people are now being diagnosed with the disease.

According to findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, rates of colon cancer have doubled in U.S. adults aged 20-39 since the mid-1980s. In adults between the ages of 40 and 54, incidents of colon cancer have increased from 0.5 per cent to 1.3 per cent since the mid-1990s.

“The cause for the rise in young adults is unknown and a growing area of research,” Dr. Rebecca Siegel, the study’s lead author and a scientific director at the American Cancer Society, told Global News.

WATCH: Colorectal cancers in Canada discovered too late — report

“The obesity epidemic has probably contributed but does not appear to completely explain the trend.”

When it comes to rectal cancer, the disease has been increasing “longer and faster” in adults aged 20-29 years old. The study, which analyzed the data of nearly 500,000 people, found rectal cancer rates increased 3.2 per cent annually from 1974 to 2013.

In Canada, health-care professionals are noticing a similar trend.

What’s causing the increase?

“What we’re seeing in Canadians under the age of 50 [is that] rates of colorectal cancer are increasing,” said Dr. Leah Smith, senior manager of surveillance at the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Overall, colorectal cancer rates are decreasing, but this decrease seems to be restricted to older age groups… There’s more research that needs to be done to investigate this increase as we’re not entirely clear yet what is causing it.”

READ MORE: Long periods of sitting puts men at higher risk of bowel cancer, study says

As Siegel pointed out, the rise in obesity rates in North America may be a contributing factor to colorectal cancer in younger adults.

“We know that excess body weight is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer,” Smith said. “Rates of obesity are increasing in our population so that could explain the increase.”

A sedentary lifestyle may also up one’s risk, Smith said, just like a diet high in red or processed meat, alcohol or tobacco can.

There have also been changes in diagnostic care that may play a role, but experts are unsure of how much.

WATCH: Colon cancer awareness month 

“More use of colonoscopy in young adults may contribute to the rise, although it is probably not a big factor because … the largest increase has been for advanced stage disease, whereas screen-detected prevalent cancers are typically diagnosed at a localized stage,” Siegel explained.

Despite the increase in rates, colorectal cancer is still primarily a disease that affects older adults, Smith says.

“About six per cent of all colorectal cancer cases occur under the age of 50, meaning … the bulk of colorectal cancer cases in Canada are occurring in older populations,” she explained.

How can Canadians help protect themselves?

Smith and Siegel both say that someone’s risk of developing colorectal cancer can be reduced by healthy lifestyle habits. These include being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting red and processed meat consumption and avoiding large amounts of alcohol.

Smith also says that smoking increases your risk of colorectal cancer so avoiding tobacco is best.

READ MORE: These two cancers aren’t detected early enough, and it’s costing Canadian lives

Screening for colon and rectal cancers is also important. Smith says there are screening programs in place for adults over 50 but adds that anybody who is experiencing symptoms that indicate colorectal cancer should be checked for it.

“Some of the signs of colorectal cancer are things like changes in bowel moments, blood in the stool, stomach cramping and weight loss,” Smith said.

Early detection is key as colorectal cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in Canada and the second leading cause of cancer death. If it’s caught at Stage 1, it has a 90 per cent survival rate. If it’s caught at Stage 4, the survival rate is less than 15 per cent.

“It’s always important we are aware of our body and are communicating openly and honestly with our health-care providers about what’s going on,” Smith said.

—With a file from Leslie Young 

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study – National

by BBG Hub

Babies born to mothers who had an infection during pregnancy are at an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and depression, a new study has found.

The study found a 79 per cent increased risk of autism and a 24 per cent increased risk of depression in children exposed to infection while in utero, as well as an increased risk of suicide.

READ MORE: Yet another study finds no link between MMR vaccine and autism

Researchers analyzed patient data from pregnant women hospitalized between 1973 and 2014 in Sweden.

From a database of nearly 1.8 million children, researchers used hospital codes to determine which babies were exposed to infection. They then tracked those children and their mental health through the years, with some of the oldest babies now entering their forties.

Researchers divided infections into three categories: the first was any infection at all, the second was “severe maternal infections” and the third was “mild maternal infections” (namely, urinary tract infections).

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“We thought of (severe) infections as things that would cause a whole bunch of inflammation in the mother,” researcher Benjamin J. S. al-Haddad told Global News.

“Things like sepsis (when there’s bacteria in the blood), severe pneumonia (where moms need special help breathing because they have such a severe respiratory infection), meningitis or encephalitis (infections around the brain), pyelonephritis (where the kidneys have bacteria and puss), as well as influenza and chorioamnionitis (where the different parts of the placenta become infected over the course of giving birth).”

Researchers hypothesized that something as mild as a UTI would not be linked to such a high increased risk — but they were wrong.

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“From our results, it looks like we see similarly increased risk whether the mother had a UTI or something more severe,” al-Haddad said. “It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of infection it is.”

No link was discovered between exposure to infection in utero and other mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Researchers worried about other conditions present in mom (such as asthma or diabetes) that could taint the results.

WATCH BELOW: The importance of including autism training for public workers

However, even when they controlled for such conditions, the link between infection and an increased risk for autism and depression remained.

“The things that we controlled for included maternal age, maternal asthma, maternal diabetes, premature rupture of membranes (which is when the sac holding the liquid that the fetus is in breaks before mom goes into labour), maternal tobacco status (whether mom smoked or not), and then we also did special controls for siblings,” al-Haddad said.

The results of the study suggest that infection can “impart subtle brain injuries contributing to the development of autism and depression,” said researchers.

READ MORE: One third of pregnant women don’t think cannabis will harm their babies, study says

While these results sound scary, al-Haddad stressed that the increased risk is in addition to the preexisting baseline risk.

“In the United States, the risk of autism is one out of every 59 kids. Our results suggest that on top of that baseline, there would be a 79 per cent increased risk. We don’t know what that number would be, but the extra risk conferred on top of a baseline low risk, in terms of the population, is not high,” said al-Haddad. (Autism Speaks Canada reports that one in every 66 children have autism in Canada.)

“This is just one of a myriad of causes that we think increases risk. This is another piece of trying to understand what the causes of autism are and how we can prevent those causes.”

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What does “increased risk” really mean?

It’s important for parents to understand that the reported 79 per cent increase in risk sounds like a big number, but it’s actually quite a small increase on the pre-existing risk.

“It’s still (less than) 1 per cent in terms of the absolute increase (in risk) a particular child has. Basically, that means almost 98 per cent of kids whose mothers have an infection during pregnancy that would cause hospitalization are not born with autism or another neuro-developmental condition,” Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou. She works as a child neurologist and senior clinician scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute.

“So it’s a small absolute risk, but it’s a big risk biologically in the sense that we are learning that there is a mechanism to do with infection that likely interacts with our genes that may increase the chance of developing autism.”

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On its own, exposure to infection during pregnancy is not enough to cause autism, but it can be a contributing factor.

“It’s one of the ways that our environment (in this case, infection) may interact with our genes to somewhat increase our risk,” Anagnostou added.

This study is helpful because it explains one of the many different changes that can happen in the brain and the body that can contribute to autism.

Some findings should be interpreted with caution, says one doctor

“It’s not the first time we’re learning this,” Anagnostou said. “We have lots of evidence from animal-model and previous human studies that significant infection during pregnancy increases risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.”

However, there are a few findings that should be interpreted with caution, Anagnostou told Global News.

READ MORE: Vancouver Canucks taking steps to help fans with autism enjoy the games

“(Researchers) tried to look at the severity of infection and whether the severity of the infection would change the impact, and… they said that severe infections were not different than a regular urinary infection, but we have to be careful because these people were admitted to hospital.”

For Anagnostou, those admitted to hospital didn’t have a “regular” urinary infection. Only a more severe infection would warrant a hospital stay. In a similar vein, the kids who later developed autism were also hospitalized.

“Both the people who had infection and the kids who had autism were hospitalized, so they are not representative of the larger population,” she noted.

Other factors which can increase your risk of autism

The most robust explanation for autism comes from our genetics, Anagnostou said.

“But our genes and our environment interact… and there’s a series of these environmental exposures that have small but consistent effects.”

One is infection during pregnancy, and some infections are worse than others.

“That’s why we want all moms to be vaccinated. For example, rubella during pregnancy (is linked with) a very high risk of autism.”

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“Other factors could be maternal diabetes, use of certain medications during pregnancy, an increased paternal age… all of these things are robust. We know they’re important to biology, but the actual increase is very small for each one of them… so no parent should be feeling guilt because they happen to develop an infection during pregnancy,” said Anagnostou.

“We have zero evidence that vaccines increase the risk for autism.”

Autism is a difference that comes with both “difficulties and advantages”

According to Anagnostou, autism is a developmental difference that causes the brain and the body to grow and connect in different ways than someone who doesn’t have autism.

“Sometimes, that’s associated with things that cause distress and dysfunction, and we want to treat those things,” said Anagnostou. “But sometimes, it actually comes with unique gifts and unique perspectives.”

Anagnostou said people with autism are more likely to think out of the box and they’re more likely to contribute to innovation.

READ MORE: New autism supports coming to Ontario schools due to therapy funding changes

“Speaking generally, they’re good employees, they have very low absenteeism (rates), they tend not to lie,” Anagnostou explained. “It’s a difference that comes with both difficulties and advantages.

“It’s important that we don’t lose perspective of the things that need to be treated, because a lot of these children need our support, but it’s also important to not lose perspective of all the unique qualities people with autism bring to society.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Meghan Markle’s pregnancy wardrobe cost more than $800K — here’s who pays for it – National

by BBG Hub

Dressing like a duchess doesn’t come cheap.

Researchers at Love the Sales tallied the retail prices of the 75 maternity outfits Meghan Markle has worn in public and found her mom-to-be wardrobe has cost more than $840,000 so far.

But, according to royal expert Victoria Arbiter, Markle pays nothing — the Royal Family foots the bill. More specifically, the cost falls to Markle’s father-in-law, Prince Charles.

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“Prince Charles pays for the wardrobe of he and Camila, as well as William, Kate, Harry and Meghan,” Arbiter told Global News.

The official household budget, part of which is used to pay for clothing, comes from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, said Arbiter. The estate is a private fund from which “Prince Charles takes an official household budget that is [for] the running of the offices of the Cambridges, Sussexes, and indeed, his and Camila’s office.”

According to the Royal Family, Edward III created the estate in 1337 with the goal of securing income for his son and heir, as well as future heirs to the throne. The estate is the responsibility of Prince Charles, and one day, the Duchy of Cornwall will pass to William, said Arbiter.

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“[Markle] needs an official work wardrobe, and dressing for the part comes with the job,” Arbiter told Global News. “That’s a household expenditure. Clothes that she wears in her private time, she’ll be paying for herself.”

If Prince Charles believes there has been overspending, he’ll ask the Sussexes to make some cuts. However, the price tag on Markle’s maternity wear is nothing compared to the Royal Family of years past.

“[Lady] Diana wore pretty much nothing but designer wardrobe for official functions,” said Arbiter. “We do see Kate [Middleton] and Meghan incorporate high street brands in their outfits. Kate loves Zara; Meghan has worn Marks & Spencer. They’ve both worn other high street brands.”

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Tailoring has become quite common too, according to Arbiter.

“[Clothes] that she was wearing early on, it’s possible she was just buying a slightly larger size to accommodate her growing tummy, in which case many of those clothes will be tailored,” said Arbiter. “They won’t be cast off, never to be worn again.”

Even the outfits Markle has purchased to wear as she reaches full term will likely be re-worn eventually.

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“I’m sure that she and Harry would like to have more than one baby,” said Arbiter. “So it’s not like she’s spent all of this money and then boom, it’s done.”

Arbiter wants to make one thing absolutely clear: Royals cannot accept clothing as gifts from designers, “because then they can be billed as walking billboards.”

While a designer may send over several styles for the family to try, anything that’s worn is paid for and anything not wanted is sent back.

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“Let’s say they have a tour coming up — I’m speaking speculatively here — but Meghan would ask a designer to send over a few selections. Whatever she chooses and whatever she wears, she will pay for. Everything else gets sent back. She would never keep anything that’s just been given as a gift. That would be inappropriate in [her] position,” said Arbiter.

“Now, it’s possible designers are giving them a ‘family and friends’ rate, because of course a designer wants to see them in their outfit,” Arbiter said.

“We know Kate is a regular Alexander McQueen wearer, Meghan loves her Givenchy, so it’s possible that they’re getting a slightly more friendly rate, but they do have to pay for those items.”

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Markle has had a spectacular impact on the fashion world since marrying Prince Harry last May.

Nearly every time the Duchess steps out, the clothes and accessories she wears are purchased by royal fans around the world. The phenomenon is known as “The Meghan Effect.”

For example, when she and Harry toured New Zealand in October, Markle ditched her heels for a pair of sustainable sneakers. Online searches for the V-10 shoes, which cost $220, went up by 300 per cent overnight, according to the report by Love the Sales.

READ MORE: Royal protocols — why Meghan Markle always carries her purse in her hands

In January, Markle wore a $35 H&M dress. It sold out less than 24 hours later, and multiple eBay listings were soon selling the frock for as much as six times the retail price.

Markle announced her pregnancy in October last year, several months after her wedding to Prince Harry in May. She is reportedly due to give birth at the beginning of April.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Depression isn’t like a broken bone’: Steps to overcome this common mental illness – National

by BBG Hub

Depression can slowly takeover a person’s routine, often making it difficult to go to work or even get out of bed.

A clinical state of depression can be intense, making it hard for some to balance their relationships or social life, often making them feel worthless, weak or sometimes suicidal, said Toronto clinical psychologist Dr. Maneet Bhatia.

But there are others with mild symptoms of the mental health illness: they may be “high-functioning” on the outside, but carry the burdens of feeling depressed from time-to-time.

READ MORE: 8 signs your child may be going through depression

“Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we have to live in a world where we have to continously think about it,” he told Global News. “Feeling depressed and being clinically depressed are two different (but common) things.”

Is there really a ‘cure?’

Bhatia said when people are diagnosed with depression, most healthcare professionals will set up a plan to overcome it. It’s different for everyone, he added, and many people go into it thinking depression can be a lifelong battle.

“Cure is a medical word, but mental health and depression isn’t like a broken bone,” he continued, adding that there are ways to “cure” your symptoms, but it doesn’t mean you are cured forever.

“Cure implies it is black and white and it’s not always the case,” he said. “You can manage it and overcome it, but it still means you have to take care of it.”

Steps to overcome depression

In a post for Psychology Today, psychotherapist Linda Esposito said if you want to overcome depression, you need to resist the urge to live in the past. “Time spent reliving, rewriting and recreating the past is like purchasing a one-way ticket to the dark depths of despair,” she wrote.

“This insidious mental habit is as much a threat to emotional well-being as any. Self-loathing or blaming others will not get you on the right side of feeling better, any more than believing the answer is found at the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniels.

“You cannot do life differently if you don’t change your thought process.”

Dr. Jane Framingham, in article for PsychCentral, added that overcoming depression requires taking baby steps. “If you feel good one day, and decide to try and start a new business or make a new friend and you fail, it could be a forceful setback in overcoming depression,” she wrote in October 2018.  “Instead, try things out slowly, and experiment with change one step at a time.”

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She also noted that not all paths to overcome depression are a straight line. “There will be setbacks in your journey recovering from depression, no matter if you focus on going it alone (e.g., without seeking formal treatment), or even if you are in treatment with an antidepressant or psychotherapy,” she continued.

“Take the setbacks in stride, though, and keep them in perspective — it wouldn’t be work if it was simple to recover from depression. Depression recovery is a process that will take time, but as long as you stick with the goal of change, you can overcome depression in due time.”

Here are some other tips Bhatia recommended:

Recognize the signs: Signs of depression in children and adults can include irritable moods, feeling of guilt or worthlessness, losing interest in things over time or trouble concentrating. Other symptoms of depression, Bhatia added, include loss of appetite, change in sleeping habits or isolation.

Reach out to your support network: Once you recognize the signs, reach out to a mental health professional and your close family and friends. Bhatia said this allows people in your network to check in on you and also allows you to update them.

Find the treatment that works for you: This one will vary depending on the person, but once your healthcare provider recommends a treatment option (medicine, mindfulness, therapy or all of the above), take this treatment seriously.

READ MORE: Depression leads to shorter lifespan — Canadian study

Try lifestyle changes: Sometimes managing or overcoming depression means making lifestyle changes. This includes eating healthier, getting more sleep, staying active or even picking up a hobby.

Be mindful of your thinking patterns: One of the biggest ways to advocate for your own health is to be mindful of how you feel, he added. This can be achieved through therapy, but sometimes this means keeping track of your day-to-day and seeing how your treatments or therapy are working for you.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868  all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Should the rich kids involved in the U.S. college scam be punished? – National

by BBG Hub

The children involved in the U.S. college admissions scam are facing the consequences of their parents’ decisions, but parenting experts warn the backlash towards them is misguided.

Olivia Jade Giannulli, daughter of Full House actor Lori Loughlin, is receiving floods of angry comments on social media after news broke that her parents allegedly paid US$500,000 in bribes for she and her sister to be designated as recruits for the University of Southern California’s crew team — despite the fact they reportedly don’t row.

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“It’s their parents’ behaviour and their parents have made all the decisions here to pull the kids in,” said Jennifer Kolari, a child and family therapist and founder of Connected Parenting.

“It’s difficult if the kids were in [on the scam] the whole time — then they’re responsible to some degree — but it’s certainly been guided by the parents, and that’s where the focus should be.”

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The implications of the scam on the kids

While 19-year-old Giannulli has not commented on the scam and was on the chairman of her school’s yacht when the news broke, other involved students have spoken out.

The son of marketing executive Jane Buckingham — who is accused of paying US$50,000 for a professional to take a college entrance exam in place of her son — told the Hollywood Reporter he is “sorry” for his mother’s actions despite being advised he shouldn’t “speak on the matter.”

“I know there are millions of kids out there both wealthy and less fortunate who grind their ass off just to have a shot at the college of their dreams,” Jack Buckingham said.

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“I am upset that I was unknowingly involved in a large scheme that helps give kids who may not work as hard as others an advantage over those who truly deserve those spots. For that I am sorry, though I know my word does not mean much to many people at the moment.”

Having to take responsibility for your parent’s actions is not only unfair, Kolari says learning that you didn’t get into a school on your own merit can be “devastating.”

“Often what kids do is look at a situation and go, ‘What else is not true? What else haven’t you told me?’” Kolari said. “There’s just this sense that the rug has been pulled out from under them and that nothing is real. That’s really traumatic, actually, for kids, and it makes them look at their parents differently.”

READ MORE: Lori Loughlin’s daughter on USC chairman’s yacht when college scandal broke

Socially, parenting author Ann Douglas says that being entangled in a scam of this scale can have serious consequences. Not only will students likely receive different treatment from their peers, their future academic and job prospects may be compromised.

“I feel very sorry for [these kids], because in an era of social media shaming, your name follows you for a lifetime,” Douglas said. “When people do Google searches on these kids five or 10 years from now, they will be like, ‘Wow, that was that kid who was involved in that scandal.’”

What should happen to the kids?

According to Dona Matthews, a parenting author and expert, if kids haven’t yet started at the school where they were granted entrance unfairly, “it is probably in the kid’s best interest to withdraw their acceptance.”

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“This is both because of the social disapproval they are almost certain to be subjected to, and also because of their qualifications,” she said. “If they can’t get into a school without cheating, they shouldn’t be there, and will probably not succeed.”

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For kids already well into their degrees, Matthews says “their continued allowance to participate should be contingent on their academic success and contribution to the school to date,” which should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“I would allow a student who got in through cheating to remain, if they have worked hard, are contributing to the university, and have not participated in any further cheating activities,” she said. “Those who are floundering or have participated in further cheating should be asked to leave.”

Douglas agrees that kids who got into school unfairly may have trouble succeeding without their parents’ help, but says society’s interest in punishing kids for their parents’ actions “seems to be more motivated out of a desire to humiliate people as opposed to actually fix a system that is clearly easy to rig.”

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The scam represents a larger parenting issue

Parenting experts say that the college scam is just a magnified example of the troubling ways parents try to intervene and control their children’s lives.

“Parents do their kids’ homework all the time, they pay tutors to do assignments for them, there’s lots of university parents who pay to have essays and lab reports done for [their kids],” Kolari said. “So this is not new, this is happening on a smaller scale all the time.”

Douglas says we should be looking at why parents feel this immense pressure to assist their kids in the first place. She says today’s economic realities and “dog-eat-dog” world makes parents do everything in their power to help their children get ahead.

READ MORE: USC, Yale University among colleges sued by students over college admissions scandal

“All parents are feeling that pressure right now, it’s not limited to any certain economic group,” she explained.

“Until we grapple with some things that are happening on the economic and cultural level, I think we are being really hard on the parents who are engaging in this behaviour because it makes so much sense… in terms of the pressure they’re feeling.”

What happens when you lie for your kids

Despite parents’ likely good intentions, pulling strings — legally or illegally — can have serious consequences on a child. Experts agree that when parents do their kids’ homework for them, for example, they’re sending a message that they don’t believe they can achieve things on their own.

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“What I see in my practice is this [behaviour] really does affect kids’ self-esteem,” Kolari said. “Kids feel that it’s not their [work], and that they haven’t earned it. They walk around with a sense of shame and not feeling quite worthy, and it seriously impacts their self-esteem.”

What’s more, cheating for your kids doesn’t actually give them the life skills they need to succeed. Kolari says children need to learn from their own mistakes and failures in order to become healthy adults.

“If we never allow children to learn the lesson of healthy adversity and working hard for something… then they’re never going to know that,” she said. “And you’re probably going to be helping them for their whole lives.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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