One in 10 Babies Born Preterm Each Year
About 15 million premature babies are born every year—more than 1 in 10 of the world's births. And 1.1 million of those babies die shortly after birth, while many others suffer life-long physical, neurological, or educational disabilities, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and other agencies. The United States fared poorly in a country-by-country comparison of premature births: It did worse than any Western European country, ranking among the 10 countries with the highest number of preterm births. In the USA, about 12 percent of all babies are born prematurely, higher than in Europe and other developed countries. That's likely because of the number of older women having babies, along with increased use of fertility drugs, which often lead to multiple births delivered by Cesarean section. The preterm birth rate for black Americans in 2009 was 17.5 percent, compared with 10.9 percent for white Americans. "Being born too soon is an unrecognized killer," study author Joy Lawn, director of global policy for the children's rights group Save the Children, told the Associated Press. "And it's unrecognized in the countries where you could have a massive effect in reducing these deaths."
Is Veganism Appropriate for Kids?
The cover of Vegan is Love is deceptively cheerful: There are smiling elephants, zebras, pandas, and even pink lambs. But inside Ruby Roth's new children's book, you'll find wounded animals. Rabbits trapped in laboratories. The slaughter house and the circus. Blood. "Killing an animal is not brave—it is cowardly. What we need today are people with the courage to protect animals, not hurt them," writes Roth, a former elementary school art teacher and self-appointed animal rights activist. "We can choose to live without using animals for food, clothing, or fun. As vegans, we live this way because it is best for our health, for animals, and for the earth … and that is love."
Vegan is Love (North Atlantic Books, $16.95) is designed to inspire children to adopt a vegan lifestyle at an early age. It's aimed at kids ages 6 and up, and includes lessons on animal cruelty and the environmental consequences of eating meat, such as pollution emitted by animal farms. Critics argue that it focuses too heavily on violence against animals. And some say it's unwise to graphically promote a restrictive vegan diet to young, impressionable readers.
The book arrives as vegan diets are making a media splash. Actress Alicia Silverstone, author of the vegan-centric The Kind Diet, is raising her 2-year-old son, Bear, as a strict vegan. And last year, an 11-month-old French baby on a vegan diet died after suffering complications from vitamin deficiencies; his parents were sentenced to five years in jail. [Read more: Is Veganism Appropriate for Kids?]
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Are You Sitting Yourself to Death?
Do you exercise every day—pounding the pavement, breaking a sweat, raising your heart rate—all in the name of good health? Well, recent studies suggest that when it comes to your risk of premature death, all that physical activity may not matter as much as you think.
Prolonged periods of inactivity—best described as sitting a lot—is unhealthy. Deadly, even. In a survey of some 220,000 adults, those who sat for more than eight hours a day had a 15 percent greater risk of dying within three years than those who sat for fewer than four hours a day, found a March study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. This risk still held true for those who spent part of their day exercising. The results were worse for those who sat for 11 hours or more a day. They had a 40 percent greater risk of early death compared to those who sat for under four hours. It should be noted, researchers say, that the study didn't prove that sitting caused this risk. It could very well be that people who tend to sit longer are less healthy or have a condition that makes it difficult to walk or stand. Further studies to clarify the relationship between sitting and mortality are needed.
Previous studies, though, have discovered similar results. In 2010, the American Cancer Society released a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology stating that men who sat for six hours or more a day in their leisure time had an overall death rate that was nearly 20 percent higher than men who sat for three hours or less in the 14-year follow-up period. Women who sat for more than six hours a day had a death rate that was almost 40 percent higher. And again, dedicated exercise had no neutralizing effect. [Read more: Are You Sitting Yourself to Death?]