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“It itches!” he screeches.

You nod in empathetic agreement and dig out the calamine lotion from the back of old-but-probably-still-usable bin in the linen closet. The whole family has been outdoors for an alfresco barbecue dinner under the stars. Some of you return looking like war-weary soldiers while others are none the worse for wear.


Mean-looking, neon red welts pepper your toddler’s tiny legs. You give up counting at 10. You’re sporting your own collection on the back of your neck, and you’re pretty sure you heard one of those biting beasts in the dining room earlier.

Meanwhile, your tween in shortie-shorts and a halter is sporting entirely bite-free skin (we won’t even discuss how jealous this makes you feel). Your spouse shrugs you off when you insist that something must be done. They’re the lucky ones, somehow invisible to your #1 summer enemy.

In summer’s never-ending battle, the mosquitoes always seem to come out on top. Nobody wants to give up gorgeous summer evenings in the great outdoors. But when the great outdoors makes you miserable, giving it up begins to sound pretty darn good.

 

 

Don’t throw in the towel just yet, Mom and Dad. There is hope for mosquito magnets young and old. It’s a matter of sorting out old-wives’ tales from scientifically-proven solutions. So if you want to win the mosquito battle this year, read on.

What you can’t change

First, the bad news: it’s not your imagination. Only a paltry 15 percent of vulnerability to mosquito bites is explained by factors other than genetics.

The buzzing bastards find about one in five people extra tasty. Mosquitoes will happily fly the extra mile to sidle up to the all-you-can-eat blood buffets these poor suckers (or suck-ees, as the case may be) unwittingly serve up.

For some of that miserable 20 percent, their blood type is to blame. The unfortunates with type O – you can remember the vulnerable type by thinking “OMG that mosquito just bit me” – get about double the bites of those with type A blood. Those with type B blood fall between the type O and type A extremes.

As an added genetic punch-in-the-gut, mosquitoes are wired up to detect chemical secretions that, for some, broadcast our blood types like a huge, neon sign that reads, “bite me.” So if you and your bite-prone kids fall in to the unfortunate 85 percent with this involuntary chemical broadcasting system, you’re at even higher risk.

What you can change

Now for the good news. There are some steps you can take to sidestep your genetic vulnerabilities. None are perfect solutions on their own, but taken together, they can make a difference.

Chill – literally and figuratively

Summer is supposed to be a time for relaxing. And as luck would have it, science says that to fly beneath mosquitoes’ radar, relaxing can be an effective part of your bite avoidance plan.

Mosquitoes can sniff us out via sweat and carbon dioxide exhalation (e.g., breathing hard from exercise). So to make yourself and your children less detectable, put away those running shoes, kick back with a tall glass of water, and enjoy the good life. Staying as cool, sweat-free, and lazy as possible is a recipe for a bite-free body that anyone can embrace!

Choose clothing colors carefully

Mosquitoes see dark colors better than lighter ones. Not only that, but those dark colors also retain more carbon dioxide, which serves as an additional attractant. Choose whites and light (not bright) colored clothes to make you and your kids stand out a bit less to the buzzing menace.

In addition to color, consider wearing fabrics infused with permethrin. Here’s a DIY guide to treating your clothing and gear with it.

Chow down on chili

When you’re working up a menu for that backyard barbecue, remember that what you eat can make you more or less mouth-watering to mosquitoes. Garlic and onions, chili peppers, beans, and tomatoes are on mosquitoes’ “no-bueno” list. Sadly, beer and salty foods appear to be as appealing to this menace of the insect world as they to us as they are. So load up on chili, but skip the beer and Fritos as sides.

Interestingly, the oft-reported banana connection seems to be an artifact driven by self-fulfilling prophecy. Some say they attract the beasts, and others say they repel them. Though the jury is still out, mounting scientific evidence suggests that bananas are mosquito-neutral. If you like them, go for it. Mosquitoes don’t seem to care one way or the other.

Repellents that work

DEET

According to the scientists at Entomology Today and the Journal of Insect Science, the verdict is in. Spoiler alert: Parents favoring the all-natural approaches may not be very happy about it. There are natural options that can be effective, too, but none are better than DEET.

Though concerns surfaced many years ago that DEET might not be safe for people, science says it is. Like any substance from peanuts to plastic, a small number of people may have unusual reactions to it, and that is a matter of no small concern. For the most part, however, DEET is the way to go if you want a cheap, effective means of keeping the biters away from your kids. The CDC concurs and recommends EPA-registered repellents contain at least 20 percent DEET by volume for maximum effectiveness. They name Deep Woods Off as a go-to brand.

When you’re comparing the risk of Zika or dengue contracted from a disease-carrying mosquito versus the minuscule risk for weird reaction to DEET, for many parents the decision is pretty straight-forward. And as an extra bonus, DEET repels ticks, too.

Non-DEET and organics

Other DEET-free repellents endorsed by the CDC include Picaridin, IRIR35, and 2-undecanone (methyl nonyl ketone). Picaridin is also known as Icaridin. Brand names for Picaridin include Bayrepel and Saltidin. 2-undercanoe is derived from palm kernel and soy bean oils, and is found in a number of insect repellents that are also suitable for pets.

If you shy away from DEET or chemical-containing repellants, go with PMD. PMD is para-Menthane-3,8-diol. Don’t let its chemical-sounding moniker and acronym put you off: It’s actually quite natural. PMD is a botanical derived from Australian lemon-scented gum trees. It is also known as “OLE” or “oil of lemon eucalyptus.” Some research suggests that PMD is nearly as effective as DEET for repelling the vicious vermin.

In addition, the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association has reported promising results for two essential oils. Their testing suggests that essential oils L. origanoides and E. citriodora have both insecticidal and repellent properties against mosquitoes. Specifically, they’re effective against the type of mosquitoes which are vectors for dengue and Chikungunya.

Repellents that don’t work

Don’t be fooled by commercials for the wearable insect repelling bracelets and belt dangles. As promising as they appear, they just don’t work. Science says most of them are an abysmal failure, and just can’t compete against sprays and lotions. Wearables that release Metofluthrin were a singular exception. For the most part, however, wearables are a bust. They are particularly poor at repelling the nastiest of the nasty: the sort of mosquitoes that carry deadly illnesses like Zika and yellow fever.

Other busts in the repellent department include citronella candles and vitamin B1 patches. Though scores of people swear by it, Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil also falls into this doesn’t-really-work-but-at-least-you’ll-smell-good category. Avon’s Skin So Soft product infused with Picaridin, on the other hand, shows more promise.

From DEET to PMD, and from clothing to food choices, there are a number of options parents can employ to beat the mosquitoes this year. Choose those that seem the best for your family and go out and enjoy your summer, hopefully with much fewer pesky mosquito bites to spoil your fun.

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Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Regaining your footing in a world where working mothers are so often penalized is tough, and (just like most things during the postpartum period) it takes time.

The challenges we face as working women returning from a maternity leave can be so different from those we faced before, it can feel like we're starting over from scratch. But mothers will not be deterred, even if our return to the working world doesn't go exactly as planned.

We are resilient, as Serena Williams proved at Wimbledon this weekend.

She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, just 10 months after welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia and recovering from a physically and emotionally traumatic birth experience.

Williams didn't get her eighth Wimbledon title this weekend, but when we consider all the challenges she (and all new moms) faced in resuming her career, her presence was still a huge achievement.

"It was such an amazing tournament for me, I was really happy to get this far!" Williams explained in an emotional post-match interview.

"For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

The loss at Wimbledon isn't what she wanted, of course, but Williams says it does not mean there won't be wins in her near future.

"These two weeks have showed me I can really compete and be a contender to win grand slams. This is literally just the beginning. I took a giant step at Wimbledon but my journey has just began."

When asked what she hopes other new moms take away from her journey, Williams noted her postpartum recovery was really difficult, and hopes that other moms who face challenges early in motherhood know that they don't have to give up on whatever dreams they have for themselves, whether it involves working or not.

"Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just that person, that vessel that's saying, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' If you want to go back to workand to me, after becoming a mom, I feel like there's no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job," she said.

"But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it."

Thank you, Serena. You may not have won, but this was still a victory.

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Since baby Crew became the newest member of Chip and Joanna Gaines' family three weeks ago, his proud parents have been keeping the world updated, sharing sweet snaps of their youngest and even giving us a glimpse into his nursery.

Now, Chip Gaines is showing off a pic that proves there is nothing cuter than a floppy, sleepy baby.

"My heart is full..." the proud father of five captioned the photo he posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Earlier this week Crew's mama shared how she gets him so sleepy in the first place, posting an Instagram Story showing how she walks around the family's gardens on their Waco, Texas farm to lull her newborn boy to sleep.



The couple are clearly enjoying every single moment of Crew's babyhood. As recently as 7 days ago Chip was still sporting his hospital bracelet. Joanna says with each child he's worn his maternity ward ID until it finally wears off. We can't blame Chip for wanting to make the newborn phase last as long as possible.

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It was a changing table must-have a generation ago, but these days, many parents are forgoing baby powder, and now, the leading manufacturer of the sweet smelling powder was dealt a big financial blow.

Johnson & Johnson was just ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

A St. Louis jury says the women are right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks.

Way back in 1981 the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates.

In 1998 Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the kind alleged to have caused ovarian cancer in the lawsuit (which Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal), but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks as alleged in the case.


Bottom line: If you are going to use baby powder on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

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In the days since a The New York Times report revealed a resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding was blocked by U.S. delegates at the World Health Assembly, breastfeeding advocates, political pundits, parents, doctors—and just about everyone else—have been talking about breastfeeding, and whether or not America and other countries are doing enough to support it.

The presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians say the controversy at the World Health Assembly reveals that mothers need more support when it comes to breastfeeding, while others, including The Council on Foreign Relations, suggest the national conversation needs more nuance, and less focus on the "breast is best" rhetoric.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that parents need more support when it comes to infant feeding, and in that respect, the controversy over the World Health Assembly resolution may be a good thing.

In their joint letter to the editor published in the New York Times this week, the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians, Dr. Colleen Kraft and Dr. Lisa Hollier urge "the United States and every country to protect, promote and support breast-feeding for the health of all women, children and families."

The doctors go on to describe how breastfeeding "provides protection against newborn, infant and child infections, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and sudden infant death syndrome," and note the health benefits to mothers, including reduced risks for "breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"Helping mothers to breastfeed takes a multifaceted approach, including advancing public policies like paid family leave, access to quality child care, break time and a location other than a bathroom for expressing milk," say Kraft and Hollier.

Certainly such policies would support breastfeeding mothers (and all mothers) in America, but some critics say framing the discussion around domestic policy is a mistake, because the World Health Assembly resolution is a global matter and women and babies in other parts of the world face very different feeding challenges than we do here at home.

In an op-ed published by CNN, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations suggests the laudable goal of breastfeeding promotion can backfire when mothers in conflict-riddled areas can't access formula due to well-meaning policy. Lemmon points to a 2017 statement by Doctors Without Borders calling for fewer barriers to formula distribution in war-torn areas.

"International organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) promote breastfeeding ... and provide infant formula, but only by prescription. We believe that distributing infant formula in a conflict situation like Iraq is the only way to avoid children having to be hospitalized for malnutrition," Manuel Lannaud, the head of Doctors Without Borders Iraq mission wrote.

The various viewpoints presented this week prove that infant feeding is not a black and white issue, and policy debates should not be framed as formula versus breast milk—there is more nuance than that.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found opting to supplement with formula after first breastfeeding improves outcomes for infants and results in higher rates of breastfeeding afterward, and while the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, they are sometimes overstated. Another recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found breastfeeding has no impact on a child's overall neurocognitive function by the time they are 16. Basically, parents should not be shamed for supplementing or choosing to use formula.

This, according to Department of Health and Human Services says national spokesperson Caitlin Oakley is why the HHS opposed the original draft of the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly (although critics and the initial NYT report suggest the United States delegation were acting in the interests of infant formula manufacturers).

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Oakley said in a statement.

That's true, but so is everything the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians presented in their op-ed, and that's why the U.S. should support breastfeeding policy.

Here's another truth: This is an issue with many perspectives and many voices. And we need to hear them all, because all parents need support in feeding their babies, whether it's with a breast, a bottle or both—and we're not getting it yet.

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