ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
CANCER
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
The Yearly Flu Shot Debate
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
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When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe

(HealthDay News) -- Parents are crowding into stores this holiday season, searching for toys that will prompt smiles, cheers and hugs from their kids.

But parents also need to keep in mind that there are potentially dangerous toys on store shelves, so they must use judgment and common sense with every purchase.

"There are still some items that fall through the cracks," said Liz Hitchcock, a public health advocate for U.S. PIRG, who wrote this year's Trouble in Toyland report for the non-profit consumer protection group. "Consumers buying toys should be careful of what they buy."

There is encouraging news: New federal laws passed in the wake of the massive toy recalls of 2007 are kicking in, which means the toys out for this year should be among the safest ever, experts said.

"New federal safety rules are in place that should give consumers greater confidence when they go toy shopping this holiday season," said Nychelle Fleming, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. There are now tough limits on lead and phthalates (endocrine disruptors commonly used in plastics) in toys, as well as new mandatory safety standards.

"This is the first holiday shopping season where you'll see these things implemented," she said.

Government and business reaction to the problems of 2007 also have improved toy safety, Fleming noted. There were 162 toy recalls in 2008; this year, by November there had only been 38 toy recalls, she said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission attributes the drop in toy recalls to several factors, Fleming said: toy manufacturers placing a greater emphasis on quality, improved product enforcement at United States ports, better cooperation with countries that produce toys, and sharper consumers putting more thought into what they pluck off store shelves for purchase.

Despite this new emphasis on toy safety, researchers at U.S. PIRG still found in their Trouble in Toyland report toys on shelves in September and October that pose potential hazards to children. These include:

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Choking hazards, which prompted the most toy safety recalls in 2009, according to U.S. PIRG. By November, 5.3 million toys and children's products had been pulled from store shelves -- part of the 38 total toy recalls -- due to choking hazards.

Still, the group said it was able to find toys for children under age 3 that contained small parts. "Kids under the age of 3 put everything in their mouth," Hitchcock said. Parents should use a cardboard toilet paper tube or a choke tube to test individual pieces of a toy and see if they will pose a choking hazard.
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Toys containing toxins. Despite the new federal laws, U.S. PIRG found a number of children's products that contained high amounts of lead or phthalates.

"We were disappointed to find lead in products on store shelves, because a lot of attention was paid to lead in toys," Hitchcock said. "Parents can't just trust that every product on a store shelf is safe and free from excessive amounts of lead."

People who want to avoid the potential of lead in their children's toys should avoid buying certain types of toys, Hitchcock said. These include painted toys and inexpensive costume jewelry made out of metal.
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Loud toys. A new safety concern involves toys that could damage children's hearing.

ASTM (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) has created standards that limit the noise made by most children's toys to 85 decibels. But U.S. PIRG found a number of toys that surpassed that limit. "If it seems too loud for the parent, it's certainly going to be too loud for the child," Hitchcock said.

Another type of toy -- one that many people rarely think of as a toy -- caused the most toy-related deaths and injuries in 2008, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Riding toys -- tricycles, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, scooters and the like -- caused nine of the 19 reported deaths in 2008. They also accounted for 26 percent of the 172,700 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments, more than any other type of toy, the agency said.

People who buy their child a riding toy need to buy the helmet, pads and other safety equipment necessary for safe use, Fleming stated.

"The complete gift includes all the safety gear," she said.

When shopping, parents can improve their chances of picking a safe toy by paying attention to the warning labels on toy packaging, Fleming and Hitchcock said.

The labels don't pertain to a child's aptitude. Rather, they take into account a wide range of developmental factors like dexterity and "mouthing behavior" to determine which toys pose a hazard to younger children.

"Always be a good label reader," Fleming said. "These labels are provided for safety."

SOURCES: Liz Hitchcock, public health advocate, U.S. PIRG, Washington, D.C.; Nychelle Fleming, spokeswoman, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Bethesda, Md.; Nov. 24, 2009, Trouble in Toyland report, U.S. PIRG Published on: December 10, 2009