Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reach for the Red and Crimson Berry this Holiday Season

It’s time for holidays and there’s no better way to celebrate with your family and friends than cooking up something delicious and satisfying. This season consider serving your kids something that’s not only tasty but also colorful and healthy. The crimson fruit known as the cranberry is easy to spot and you can find it at your local grocer in the produce section, with the canned goods, in the freezer section, in the juice aisle, or even with the dried fruit. No matter which form you choose, your children and guests are sure to say yum while reaping the health benefits of the berry!

The tart red berry boasts as many ways to enjoy it as it does health benefits. This versatile berry adds pizzazz to most any dish- from entrées to baked good, relishes to stuffing- and can easily be added to many of your favorite traditional holiday offerings.

What’s so great about this native fruit? The research behind the berry is ongoing and there’s enough concrete evidence that this berry is one functional food that your family should not be without!

Fortify with Fruit!

Health professionals have long known that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduces the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. According to the Cranberry Institute, this effect may result from the high antioxidant and polyphenol content of these foods. In comparison with other typically consumed fruits, the tart cranberry tops them all; the total antioxidant capacity of the cranberry exceeds that of the plum, highbush blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, red delicious apple, strawberry, red and green grapes.

In addition to being rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, or PACs. These PACs help keep us healthy by providing “anti-adhesion” activity against various harmful bacteria. Because the germs can’t stick to the different organs of the body, they can’t multiple and leave the body. Therefore, you’re left with better health after eating cranberries.

Which form is best?

People enjoy cranberries in their raw form, baked form, boiled, dried, and juiced. But how you eat them doesn’t matter because no matter the form, cranberries still provide healthful benefits to you and your family.

What kind of benefits?

Naturally low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, cranberries easily fit within the dietary guidelines as they are a nutrient dense choice; providing ample amounts of vitamins and minerals with relatively low amounts of calories.

Cranberries are recognized by the American Heart Association as “heart healthy” because they are low in fat while being rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. Not only are cranberries a heart healthy choice, but the intake of cranberries can positively impact one’s overall health; from head to toe.

Cranberries have been shown to prevent cavities, fight off urinary tract infections, prevent stomach ulcers, and improve cholesterol levels. Because cranberries are so high in anti-oxidants, current research is looking into whether cranberries may be a key component in the fight against cancer.

As the seasons change and as you search for healthy dishes to serve in the upcoming months, don’t forget to include cranberries on the menu. For new dishes to enjoy this holiday season, check out, a site which contains a plethora of new and innovative recipes and can provide answers to all of your questions cranberries.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preteens, sex and the internet

By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Preteen children have discovered sex on the internet. Internet entries for “sex” and “porn” are the fourth and sixth most popular items searched by children 8 to 12 years of age. By the age of 11, two out of every three youngsters in France have viewed a pornographic movie.

What does this mean and how should parents respond?

Parents fear that internet usage by preteens will result in victimization by sexual predators. That fear is unfounded. The group at highest risk for sexual enticement by adults is adolescent girls with a history of sexual abuse. These girls are looking more for emotional support than for sexual relationships, but enter into the latter to achieve the former. Physical force is not involved in 95 percent of these cases.

Preteens cruise the internet for “porn” and “sex” for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they are just curious about concerns they can’t discuss with their parents. Girls are curious about their periods or pregnancy issues. Boys are concerned about the size of their genitals, body hair and what sexual behaviors are normal. In recent years, I’ve seen an increasingly number of preteens ask questions about homosexuality, sexual identity and various types of sexual behavior.

Preteens also use the internet for sexual excitement. With an extraordinary of preteens having private access to computers, these kids view images that were unavailable to previous generations. Some of these kids have described websites that are unimaginable to me as an adult. The impact on kids’ behavior and moral values won’t be known for quite some time, but I can’t believe it’s positive.

I’ve found that most parents are both naive and irresponsible about their kids’ internet lives.

Here is what parents should be doing:

Monitor internet use of young children. A recent report by Ofcom revealed that 20 percent of children aged 5 to 7 have unsupervised use of the internet. Sixteen percent of preteens have computer access in their bedrooms. Young children should not use the computer without close adult monitoring. It’s just too risky, even for well adjusted kids from good homes.

Begin sexuality education when your child is a toddler. Responsible parents begin talking about sexual issues with their kids at an early age, and continue that dialogue throughout their childhoods. Use news events as a way to begin these discussions, even if it involves sensitive issues. Most parents underestimate their kids’ knowledge and interest about sex. Be casual in your approach, communicating to your kids that you are comfortable about these sensitive topics.

Become computer literate. Many parents tell me that their kids know more about computers than they do. Please don’t be proud of that fact. You can’t monitor what you don’t understand.

As with any technology, internet access has the potential for either helping or harming our children. It’s time for parents to be more aggressive in protecting our kids from these risks.

Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hocus Focus: The Healing Power of Magic

Victoria Theatre Association’s Education and Outreach  department and Dayton Children's are pleased to announce Hocus Focus: The Healing Power of Magic – a unique interactive series of workshops associated with the Young At Heart presentation of Spencer’s Theatre of Illusion. Kevin Spencer and his team have created a program approved and accredited by the medical community that using small magic tricks as a form of physical therapy for young patients struggling to regain use of fine motor skills.

With the help of Dayton Children's, Kevin Spencer will host a FREE workshop to engage and teach children and parents in the healing power of magic.

Friday, December 4
The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton
Outpatient Conference Rooms
Space is limited.
To reserve your space, please contact
Dayton Children’s at (937) 641-3385.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Toys/Games for Language Stimulation in Preschoolers

This holiday season choose toys and games that will help your preschooler get ready for a lifetime of learning! Here are some suggestions to help your preschooler with language development from our pediatric speech and language pathologists.

1. Cat in the Hat - I Can Do That! $18.39

  • Good for teaching direction following!
2. Cranium Cariboo $21.99

  • Good pre-reading/literacy game, incorporates beginning sounds/letters, shapes, colors, numbers, concepts (“empty/full, not”)
3. Hasbro Candy Land Castle Game $15.97

  • Good for simple matching, concepts (“same/different”)
4. Hi Ho Cherry-O $12.29

  • Good for teaching 1:1 counting, concepts (“more/most, some/all”)
5. Go Away Monster $11.58

  • Very simple matching game
6. Melissa & Doug Best Friends Forever Deluxe Magnetic Dress-Up $24.92

  • Good for those who need work with descriptive words (“pretty, long”) or boy/girl pronouns
7. Lucky Ducks $22.92

  • Simple color matching, concepts (“same/different, more/most”)

Note: All toys were available at as of November 2009. Please note that not all toys will be appropriate for your child and are dependent upon his/her developmental level.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday Travel Tips

Car seats – essential for safe travel by air or by land

With the busy holiday travel season right around the corner it is important to remember that car seats are an essential safety device both on the ground and in the air.

Not all car seats can fit on standard airplane seats, which are typically about 16 inches wide, but Dayton Children’s, Safe Kids Greater Dayton, and the Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommend using a car seat in an aircraft whenever possible.

"Air turbulence can be dangerous and can appear suddenly without warning," said Jessica Saunders, community relations manager at Dayton Children’s. "Infants and toddlers on airplanes are safest in a car seat with a harness. A child who rides in a car seat on the ground should ride in that car seat on a plane."

Parents should make sure that their child's car seat is labeled "certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft."

"You need your child's car seat to travel to and from the airport anyway," said Saunders. "Car rental companies might not have reliable car seats available and checking your child's seat as baggage could result in damage. Your kids are better off in their own car seats."

Babies younger than 1 year old and 20 pounds are best restrained in a rear-facing car seat, and a forward-facing car seat can protect toddlers up to 40 pounds or more. Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly on the airplane seat and, like all passengers, keep the lap belt buckled across their thighs or hips. Booster seats are not allowed on airplanes, because they require shoulder belts and airplane seats have only lap belts.

Space for safe traveling on airplanes – Reserve your seat!

The FAA advises travelers with small children to reserve a pair of seats by a window. Car seats are not allowed in aisle seats or exit rows, where they could block emergency escape routes; they must be installed at a window seat.

Parents cannot rely on there being empty seats onboard an aircraft, especially during the busy holiday travel season. Holding a child on an adult's lap is not the safest option. Whenever possible, buy a child his or her own seat to ensure an approved car seat can be used. Most airlines offer a discount for children younger than 2.

Fasten your seat belts!

Inappropriately restrained children are nearly three and a half times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than their appropriately restrained counterparts. Children should always wear a safety belt, in a car or in the air.

Adult air travelers should buckle up, too. "You're a role model," says Saunders. "Children learn safety behavior by watching parents and caregivers. Also, children who ride in car seats on the ground appear to be more comfortable and better behaved when using one on a plane."