Antibacterial Soap: Does it Still Work?

antibacterial-soapFor the past several years, we have been sold on the idea that antibacterial soap is just as effective as regular soap and water. Majority of us have enjoyed the convenience of having a little bottle in our purses, desks, cars, etc to “clean” our hands when we are not able to get to a sink. But, a few weeks ago the FDA announced that manufacturers must prove that the active ingredient “triclosan” is as safe and as effective as conventional soap and water or pull it off of the shelves by 2016.

Smithsonian Magazine did a great piece on this new evidence and highlighted five key reasons why we may want to stop using antibacterial soap. Check out the article for all of the dirty details, but for now here are the reasons given:

Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water. 42 years of FDA research have produced no evidence that triclosan provides any health benefits as compared to old-fashioned soap.

Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The reason that the FDA is making manufacturers prove these products’ efficacy is because of a range of possible health risks associated with triclosan, and bacterial resistance is first on the list.

The soaps could act as endocrine disruptors.  A number of studies have found that, in rats, frogs and other animals, triclosan appears to interfere with the body’s regulation of thyroid hormone, perhaps because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. If this is the case in humans, too, there are worries that it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.

The soaps might lead to other health problems, too. There’s evidence that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development.

Antibacterial soaps are bad for the environment. When we use a lot of triclosan in soap, that means a lot of triclosan gets flushed down the drain. Research has shown that small quantities of the chemical can persist after treatment at sewage plants, and as a result, USGS surveys have frequently detected it in streams and other bodies of water. Once in the environment, triclosan can disrupt algae’s ability to perform photosynthesis.

So what can you do? You have a few options. You can use an alcohol based sanitizer like Purell, which can helpwashinghands in pinch but keep in mind that an alcohol based sanitizer is poor at killing viruses. There are also alcohol-free foam based hand sanitizers by companies like Clean Well and Baby Ganics which also claim to be 99.9% effective in killing germs. Lastly, there is washing your hands with good ol’ fashioned soap and water for 30 seconds. Apparently, singing Happy Birthday twice cleans your hands effectively. Be sure to check your soap at home for triclosan and think about switching them out if they do. Castile soap seems to be a great option.

Being Pregnant is Oddly Similar to Getting Old

Your body goes through so many changes when you get pregnant — too many to even keep up with and the same goes for as you age throughout life.

As I have been experiencing my first pregnancy this summer, my mother and I have been discussing how similar it is to women “getting old.” Her words not mine. But as the days pass and I tell her about a new challenge I have or a new ailment, I am thinking she is on to something. It is funny to us, but also kind of sad, because that means I have to go through this again and it’s going to last a whole lot longer than just nine months. Gee, I have something else to look forward to in about 20-25 years.

We have come up with a list of items to share with you that demonstrate how being pregnant is a lot like getting older. These are in no particular order and I am sure there are a few that will make you laugh out loud, especially if you can personally relate:

  • Your hormones are raging, they are all over the place and you don’t know whether you are coming or going on some days. Everybody beware!
  • You are hot all of the time. Hot flashes are a regular occurrence, you are constantly taking off clothes, kicking off covers at night and sleeping with the fan on full blast. Everyone else in the house is freezing while it is 80 degrees outside on an August evening.
  • You need to hold onto a wall, bed post or counter to put on your underwear, pants, skirt or anything that goes on your bottom half. A new form of a balancing act is an understatement as you use one hand to do all of this. SIGH!
  • You walk slower, move slower, bend slower, get up out of a chair slower and walk up the stairs slower. Your limbs have all of sudden turned against you and it’s so not fair.
    You need one of those rubber mats in the bathtub to keep from slipping, grabbing the shower curtain and almost killing yourself as you get in and out of the shower! Did I mention your equilibrium is shot?
  • Incontinence has become your new friend. You sneeze, you pee. You laugh too hard, you pee, You cough, you pee. You drink ANYTHING, you are running to find restroom at the nearest mall or store. You may even have to pull over while driving to go because you know you will not make it another 5 blocks. Yes, I have done this on a few occasions.
  • Mexican, Jamaican, Indian, and well just about anything with a kick is SO not your best friend. Spicy food gives you heartburn ALL of the time and will keep you up at all hours of the night popping TUMS.
  • You can’t bend over to pick things off of the floor. You realize you are very creative in picking up things you drop by using broom handles, shoes, umbrellas, your feet/toes or getting into a very awkward squatting position.
  • Eventually, you can longer see your toes because of your stomach. Pregnant belly or muffin top…enough said.
  • You are in need of a new wardrobe because your current clothing doesn’t fit your expanding mid-section.
  • You don’t sleep through the night because of many trips to the bathroom and naps during the day are the next best thing to a slice of chocolate cake.
  • Did I mention chocolate cake? You could care less if you indulge and eat all of those calories. All you care about is you want it, you need it, you have earned it and quite honestly who is going to stop you from eating it?
  • You go to more doctors’ appointments, take more tests/screenings and give blood than you have ever in the past.
  • Memory? What memory? You don’t even remember what you did 5 minutes ago or what you were planning to do in the next 5 minutes.

Now if this list hasn’t convinced you of the odd similarities of being pregnant and getting older or at the very least made you chuckle, then you are just clueless and hopeless. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed creating this list all summer. I am sure there are more similarities, but we can start with these.

Text4baby Promotes Infant Mortality Awareness

During the month of September, maternal and child health organizations, communities, families and social service entities will be working together to commemorate National Infant Mortality Awareness Month and bring attention to this critical health issue. The infant mortality rate (6 in 1,000 live births) in the U.S. is one of the highest among developed nations. The rate is dismal and is not only higher compared to other countries, but our rates are increasing while theirs decrease. Additionally, health disparities within the U.S. linger with black babies dying at a rate more than twice that of their white counterparts regardless of socio-economic and educational levels.

One way that the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition is working to address this critical issue is by getting more pregnant women and mothers connected to high-quality health information and health care. The text4baby program achieves this by sending free, accurate, and easy-to-understand health information via text message.

This month, in honor of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, text4baby is also partnering with the National Healthy Start Association, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc on a contest to help more moms connect with text4baby’s quality information. Pregnant women and moms with infants under age one who sign up for text4baby between September 1 and September 30 will be entered to win a year’s supply of Johnson’s Baby products.  Moms can enroll online, via Facebook or by texting BABY (or BEBE in Spanish) to 511411 and all enrollees who are still active as of 11:59pm EST on September 30 will be entered to win. For more information, see contest rules.

Text4baby was developed as a true public-private partnership in 2010 and more than 400,000 moms have enrolled since then. A program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, text4baby is completely free to moms who sign up. To learn more about the program, visit www.text4baby.org.

Join HMHB and text4baby and help raise the awareness of infant mortality!!

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Daily Glow’s 10 Best and Worst Cities for Skin

Check out this piece on the DailyGlow.com website for the cities noted as the best and worst for skin. I am loving that my hometown (Chicago) is in the top 10 best. At least DC wasn’t in the worst. But Baltimore made the top 10 best and I am only 25 minutes from there, so that has to count for something, right???

Ladies, remember to keep that skin healthy this summer by drinking lots of water and not eating a lot of junk food. Remember to use a moisturizer with at least SPF 30, exfoliate at least once a week, and wear a hat when you are directly in the sun for a long period of time. Just a few tips to keep your skin happy and healthy.

Adding 3 More Letters Behind My Name

It is no secret that I have been “MIA” on the blogging front since November but I have a really good reason. Despite the fact that work was kicking my butt after Thanksgiving last year, I found out on January 2 that I would soon be a mommy come September. Needless to say these last six months have been a whirlwind for me as I prepare for this new phase of my life.  In those first few months I really wanted to blog about my new experience of being newly pregnant, but between hugging the porcelain goddess for 5 weeks straight and trying not to fall asleep at my desk or lose my EVERY thought during meetings; I just physically could not do it. Just a few of the many things no one can really prepare you for as it relates to pregnancy. Oh the list goes on and on. But, I digress.

So yes, my dear readers, I will soon be adding another set of letters behind my name — MOM– and I do hope now that I have begun to master this pregnancy thing and I am able to focus a little better, that I can  blog more often about what I am experiencing. Talk about real life maternal and child health information. But please know that I will continue to blog about women’s health in general especially as I prepare to turn 40 in September. (That is a whole other life experience unto itself). Just because I am about to be a mom, I am a woman first and staying on top of my health is important to me. So while I will talk about pregnancy and the like, know that I will not forget the purpose of my blog.

I must now prepare for an evening of slight insomnia because of the 100 baby related things on my mind, the constant flipping from my right to left side every two hours because I can no longer sleep on my back or stomach, the trips to the bathroom every 3 hours and oh my favorite the wonderful leg and hip cramps I get because I am sleeping on my side. Ah yes, I know it is all worth it in the end when that tiny hand goes into yours, but right now…not so much. I would pay so much money right now for just one night of sleeping on my stomach for the next 8 hours.

Live Life, Live Healthy!

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a wonderful, happy and healthy Thanksgiving. While we should be thankful and grateful every day, I really love taking time one day out of the year to spend time with family and friends, and sharing with them why we are grateful to have them in our lives. So on this day, take time to tell your loved ones at least one thing, one reason why you are thankful for them, Trust me, this will make their day and make them smile.

To help you get through this year’s Thanksgiving, enjoy the 2010 Dos and Don’ts for Thanksgiving. 

Live Life, Live Healthy!

 

Born too Soon, Born Survivors

Every year, an estimated 13 million babies are born too soon and too small. More than a million of these tiny babies do not survive. Premature birth is a big problem in the United States. In other parts of the world, where hospitals and health providers may be ill-equipped to care for preemies, or the nearest hospital is days away, the problem is even more serious.

This blog is dedicated to one of my favorite little girls Maiya, who lights up a room every time she walks in, makes you laugh hysterically and has more personality at the ripe age of 4 than most adults I know. She is truly a fighter, strong willed and very determined. Much like she was on the day she was born.

Maiya was born 8 weeks premature with underdeveloped  organs, a lot of hair and so small that I could literally hold her in one hand. Her mother, one of my best friends, spent weeks at the NICU, waiting to hear the words from the doctor — “You can take her home.” When that day finally arrived, we were all overjoyed with an enormous amount of faith that Maiya would grow strong and develop into the amazing little girl she is today. My girlfriend did everything she thought was right — early prenatal care, healthy diet, no smoking, no drinking, etc. But we also know that prematurity can be caused by so many different things. So, while we may not have the answer to the question “why this baby?” we do know she is a survivor.

As one of her many Aunties, I am so thankful to not only Maiya’s NICU nurses but to all of the nurses around the country. Your job is so critical and I wonder if you truly know how much relief you provide to families every day. It is because of you that babies are strong enough to go home sooner rather than later.

I encourage you all to spread the word about prematurity and help increase the awareness so we can reduce then number of babies that are born too soon. We need to fight ― because babies shouldn’t have to.

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