Health Buzz: New York Urges New Moms to Breastfeed

How safe are your cosmetics? Plus, beware of these hidden causes of acne.

By + More

New York Says New Moms Should Breastfeed

New York City wants new mothers to breastfeed. Starting in September, nurses will talk to moms about why natural milk is better for newborns than formula. Nearly 30 city hospitals will no longer hand out free formula unless it's for medical reasons or specially requested. In that case, formula will be signed out like medication, and the city will keep track of how many bottles are stocked and used. Health officials say breastfeeding leads to fewer episodes of acute respiratory illnesses, inner-ear infections, and gastroenteritis. Plus, moms who don't breastfeed are at increased risk for postpartum bleeding and anemia, and have higher rates of breast cancer later in life. "Most public health officials around the country think this is a great idea," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a City Hall briefing this week, according to the Associated Press. "The immunities that a mother has built up get passed on to the child, so the child is healthier." Still, the pro-breastfeeding movement is drawing criticism from some, who say mothers should be able to make their own choices without interference. 

  • Home Safety: Hidden Risks to Children
  • Babyfacts: Pediatrician Andrew Adesman on What Doctors Get Wrong
  • How Safe Are Your Cosmetics?

    Most of us probably don't give much thought to our morning rituals, to the extent that we're even awake during them. But the parade of personal care products Americans use each day—from toothpaste and shampoo to lipstick and aftershave—can affect us more than we realize. At issue are the chemical ingredients they contain and the extent to which they pose any risk to consumers. Just as Americans have developed an appetite for pesticide-free foods and all things organic, so too have they turned their attention to the make up of makeup. 

    Mounting research on the subject has raised questions and stoked concern about the potential toxicity of certain chemicals and has led to calls for increased regulation of the beauty business. Fragrance, in particular, has become a source of concern due to the unlisted ingredients behind the scents. A study of 17 popular fragrances by the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, advocacy groups focused on exposing products they deem hazardous to health, found 14 undisclosed chemicals, on average. Among them were phthalates, which are used to soften plastic and have been linked to various ailments. 

    Last week, in fact, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance were lobbying members of Congress to pass the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, which, among other things, would require product labels to list all ingredients and authorize the Food and Drug Administration to recall products and discontinue ingredients that may cause "serious adverse health effects." The groups are also pressing the FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors to recall hair-straightening treatments that contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen that they say jeopardizes the health of salon workers. [Read more: How Safe Are Your Cosmetics?]

    • 10 Best Foods for Your Hair
    • Should You Spend Money on Detox Skin Care Products?
    • Beware of These Hidden Causes of Acne 

      All of a sudden, you have a zit to zap. A pimple to pop. How, you wonder, did it get there? What went so wrong that your once flawless skin is covered with a red spot or two or three? Blame your yoga mat. Or your cell phone. Or even that pretty new shade of eyeliner you've been wearing. "Acne is a complex medical condition caused by four factors: hormones, inflammation, bacteria, and dead skin cells that clog pores," says dermatologist Jessica Krant, founder of the Art of Dermatology practice in New York. Triggers include "stress, poor sleep, and dietary choices. For some people, chocolate really does cause breakouts; for others, it's greasy foods, or a diet heavy in dairy." 

      And that's just the beginning of the list. Be alert to these often-sneaky causes of acne: