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Your Baby

Study: Fracking Linked to Babies Low Birth Weight

High volume fracturing, also known as fracking, has increased in production all through the United States. The process allows access to large amounts of natural gas trapped in shale deposits by utilizing natural gas wells.

These types of wells were once more likely to be found in rural settings but are now increasingly located in and near populated neighborhoods.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found a link between mothers who live close to high volume fracking wells and an increased risk of having a lower birth weight baby.

Researchers analyzed the birth records of more than 15,400 babies born in Pennsylvania's Washington, Westmoreland and Butler counties between 2007 and 2010.

Women who lived close to a high number of natural gas fracking sites were 34 percent more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" than mothers who did not live close to a large number of such wells, the study found.

Small for gestational age means a baby is smaller than normal based on the number of weeks the baby has been in the womb, according to the March of Dimes.

The findings held true even after other factors were accounted for such as whether the mother smoked, her race, age, education and prenatal care. Also taken into account was whether she had previous children and the baby’s gender.

Like other cities around the country, the number of fracking sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has increased substantially in the last few years. In 2007 there were 44 wells; by 2010, more than 2,800.

"Our work is a first for our region and supports previous research linking unconventional gas development and adverse health outcomes," study co-author Bruce Pitt, chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, said in a university news release.

"These findings cannot be ignored. There is a clear need for studies in larger populations with better estimates of exposure and more in-depth medical records," he added.

The main concerns around fracking sites are the air and noise pollution and waste fluids.

"Developing fetuses are particularly sensitive to the effects of environmental pollutants. We know that fine particulate air pollution, exposure to heavy metals and benzene, and maternal stress all are associated with lower birth weight," Pitt said.

While the study provides an association between fracking and lower weight babies, it does not prove that living close to a high concentration of natural gas fracking sites causes lower birth weights. Researchers said that they believe the study’s findings warrant further investigations.

The study was published online in the June edition of the journal PLOS One.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/environment-health-news-233/fracking-linked-to-low-birth-weight-babies-700018.html

Your Baby

BPA Consumed During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Kids

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Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities and used primarily in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

You’ll find polycarbonate plastics in some plastic water bottles, food storage containers and plastic tableware. Epoxy resins are used in lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for many people is through food and beverages.

Why should you be concerned about Bisphenol A?

BPA is thought to act as an endocrine disruptor--a compound that mimics or disrupts hormones produced by the human body. Previous research has linked BPA to asthma, ADHD, depression, anxiety and early puberty in girls. It has also been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease in adults.

A new study has also found a possible link between BPA and child obesity.

Researchers at Columbia University found that children of women exposed to BPA during pregnancy were likely to have more body fat by age seven. Increased body fat has been linked to a higher risk of obesity.

"This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to BPA may contribute to developmental origins of obesity as determined by measures of body fat in children as opposed to the traditional indicator of body mass index, which only considers height and weight,” lead author of the study. Lori Hoepner, DrPH, said in a press release.

Dr. Hoepner and her colleagues studied 369 maternal-child pairs from pregnancy through early childhood.

The researchers collected urine samples during the last three months of pregnancy.

Urine samples were also collected from the children at ages three and five. The children's heights and weights were measured at age five and age seven.

At age seven the researchers also measured waist circumference and fat mass.

The researchers found 94 percent of the women had BPA in their urine--an indication that they had been exposed to the chemical.

Dr. Hoepner and colleagues found that children who had been exposed to BPA in the womb had a higher body fat mass. Even though the children might have been within the normal ranges for height and weight, they had a greater percentage of fat than would be normal at that age.

The researchers found a strong association between BPA, fat mass and waist circumference in girls. They also found that childhood exposure to BPA was not associated with fat mass, indicating that the prenatal exposure was the problem.

Some studies indicate that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. This new study also suggests that pregnant women might want to avoid BPA products.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers these tips for reducing BPA exposure:

•       Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures. Use glass or ceramics for microwaving foods.

•       Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.

•       Reduce your use of canned foods. Choose glass or other safe packaging or fresh or frozen foods when possible.

•       Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.

•       Use baby bottles that are BPA free. 

The study was published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Story sources: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrxnews.com/prenatal-exposure-bpa-was-associated-increased-fat-mass-children-columbia-university-study-found

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/

 

Your Baby

Chubby Baby = Obese Child?

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“Look at those cute little rolls of fat and chubby cheeks.” “It’s just baby-fat, he’ll grow out of it.” Common comments when people see a chubby baby. But, what was once thought of as a well-fed and healthy infant might prove to be just the opposite.

Researchers say they’ve found a way to determine if a rapid growing baby will become obese later in life. A new study says that if your baby has passed two key milestones, on a doctor’s growth chart by the age of two, then he or she has double the risk of being obese by the age of 5.  Rapid growers were also more likely to be obese at age 10, and infants whose chart numbers climbed that much during their first 6 months faced the greatest risks.

Children who grew more slowly were less likely to be obese by the same age.

That kind of rapid growth should be a red flag to doctors, and a sign to parents that babies might be overfed or spending too much time in strollers and not enough crawling around, said pediatrician Dr. Elsie Taveras, the study's lead author and an obesity researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Contrary to the idea that chubby babies are the picture of health, the study bolsters evidence that "bigger is not better" in infants, she said.

In an online article on healthland.time.com Dr. Michelle Lampl, director of Emory University's Center for the Study of Human Health, expressed concerns.

“It’s a bad idea that could backfire in the long run,” said Lampl.

"It reads like a very handy rule and sounds like it would be very useful _ and that's my concern," Lampl said. The guide would be easy to use to justify feeding infants less and to unfairly label them as fat. It could also prompt feeding patterns that could lead to obesity later, she said.

Lampl noted that many infants studied crossed at least two key points on growth charts; yet only 12 percent were obese at age 5 and slightly more at age 10. Nationally, about 10 percent of preschool-aged children are obese, versus about 19 percent of those aged 6 to 11.

Taveras said the rapid growth shown in the study should be used to raise awareness and not to put babies on a diet.

The study involved 45,000 infants and children younger than age 11 who had routine growth measurements during doctor checkups in the Boston area from 1980 through 2008.

Growth charts help pediatricians plot weight, length in babies and height in older kids in relation to other children their same age and sex. Pediatricians sometimes combine an infant's measures to calculate weight-for-length _ the equivalent of body-mass index, or BMI, a height-to-weight ratio used in older children and adults.

The charts are organized into percentiles. For example, infants at the 75th percentile for weight are heavier than 75 percent of their peers.

An infant whose weight-for-length jumped from the 19th percentile at 1 month to the 77th at 6 months crossed three major percentiles _ the 25th, 50th and 75th _ and would be at risk for obesity later in childhood, the authors said.

Larger infants were most at risk for obesity later on, but even smaller babies whose growth crossed at least two percentiles were at greater risk than those who grew more slowly.

About 40 percent of infants crossed at least two percentiles by age 6 months. An analysis of more than one-third of the study children found that 64 percent grew that rapidly by age 2.

Dr. Joanna Lewis, a pediatrician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., said she supports the idea that infancy is not too young to start thinking about obesity.

Still, she emphasized that rapid growth in infancy doesn't mean babies are doomed to become obese. "It's not a life sentence," and there are steps parents can take to keep their babies at a healthy weight without restrictive diets, she said.

Lewis said many of her patients are large babies whose parents feed them juice or solid food despite guidelines recommending nothing but breast milk or formula in the first six months.

"The study reinforces what we try to tell parents already: Delay starting solids and don't put juice in a bottle," Lewis said.

Your Baby

Longer Breast-Feeding Time, Less Childhood Obesity

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A new study looks at the duration of breast-feeding and babies who are high risk for obesity, as they get older. Researchers found that the longer mothers breast –fed these higher risk babies, the less likely the babies were to become overweight later.

"Breast-feeding for longer durations appears to have a protective effect against the early signs of overweight and obesity," said lead researcher Stacy Carling, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Carling and her colleagues followed 595 children from birth to the age of 2. They tracked the children's weight and length over this time, and compared individual children's growth trajectories to how long the children breast-fed.

Which children are considered at high risk for extra weight gain? Researchers found that babies whose mothers were overweight or obese, mothers with lower education levels and mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to have overweight children. Almost 59 percent of the children at risk for being overweight had mothers with one or more of these characteristics, compared to about 43 percent of the children not at risk for excessive weight gain.

Higher-risk babies who breast-fed for less than two months were more than twice as likely to gain extra weight than those who breast-fed for at least four months.

Although the study didn’t prove that longer breast-feeding actually reduced risk for obesity, it did provide several reasons why the link between the two may exist.

"Breast-feeding an infant may allow proper development of hunger and satiety signals, as well as help prevent some of the behaviors that lead to overweight and obesity," Carling said.

"Breast-feeding, especially on demand, versus on schedule, allows an infant to feed when he or she is hungry, thereby fostering an early development of appetite control," she said. "When a baby breast-feeds, she can control how much milk she gets and how often, naturally responding to internal signals of hunger and satiation."

The study did not include information on whether the babies were exclusively breast-fed or how often they were getting milk at the breast versus from a bottle, but the time required to reduce obesity risk was not long.

"The difference of two months of breast-feeding may be enough to reap some benefit," Carling said.

There are many reasons mothers choose to breast-feed for shorter periods, and some mothers are not able to breast-feed at all. For mothers that choose to breast-feed, Carling believes they need to be supported on many levels.

"Ultimately, increasing breast-feeding rates in the United States means increasing knowledge and support at a variety of levels from institutional to interpersonal," Carling said. "Our study recognizes the benefit of longer duration breast-feeding in a specific population and, hopefully, this and other studies will lead to more customized breast-feeding promotion in those populations at higher risk for overweight and obesity."

The findings were published in the January print issue of Pediatrics, and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/breast-feeding-news-82/breast-feeding-for-longer-may-protect-infants-at-risk-for-obesity-694218.html

Your Baby

FDA Recommends Limits on Arsenic in Rice Baby Food

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday proposed new limits for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal, an effort to reduce the leading source of arsenic exposure for babies.

The draft guidance to industry would cap the inorganic arsenic at 100 parts per billion, a level that most infant rice cereals already meet, or are close to meeting, the agency said.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is less toxic. But inorganic arsenic may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period of time. Rice is thought to have arsenic in higher levels than most other foods because it is grown in water on the ground, optimal conditions for the contaminant to be absorbed.

Babies' consumption of rice, which is primarily through rice cereal, is about three times greater than that of adults, according to the FDA. Most people consume the highest amount of rice, relative to their weights, at about 8 months of age.

The proposed limit is based on testing of rice and non-rice products, as well as a 2016 FDA risk assessment on the association between exposure to inorganic arsenic and adverse pregnancy outcomes and neurological effects in early life.

The agency said that inorganic arsenic exposure can result in a child's decreased performance on certain developmental tests.

The agency tested 76 samples of infant rice cereal from retail stores and found that nearly half met the agency's proposed limit of 100 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic. More than three-quarters of the samples had levels at or below 110 parts per billion.

The agency advised parents to feed their babies iron-fortified cereals; they can include oat, barley and other grains. It also urged pregnant women to consume a variety of foods, including grains, such as wheat, oats and barley. The FDA also noted that cooking rice in excess water - six to 10 parts water to one part rice - can reduce a significant part of the inorganic arsenic.

Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, said that Consumer Reports was pleased by the FDA's proposal, which he said was close to the level proposed by the group three years ago. But he said the organization remains concerned that other rice-based products consumed by children and adults don't have any such standards. "This is particularly true of children's ready-to-eat cereals," he said, urging the FDA to set levels for these other products.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed limits for 90 days.

Story source: Laurie McGinley, http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-infant-rice-cereal-inorganic-arsenic-20160402-story.html

 

Your Baby

Obese During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Offspring

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Not every time, but often, you’ll see obese couples and their kids are either obese or on the threshold of obesity. While adults have the power and the life experience to understand the health issues associated with obesity, their children – depending on their age- are reliant on on their parents making healthy choices for them.  

 Is generational obesity inherited or a case of families making poor choices where food and exercise are concerned – or both?

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine wondered if children born to obese moms might be predisposed to being obese due to their womb environment.

The team of scientists analyzed stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of babies born to normal weight and obese mothers. In the lab, they coaxed these stem cells to develop into muscle and fat. The resulting cells from obese mothers had 30% more fat than those from normal weight mothers, suggesting that these babies’ cells were more likely to accumulate fat.

No cause and effect was established, but the scientists noted that further research was needed. “The next step is to follow these offspring to see if there is a lasting change into adulthood,” says the lead presenter, Kristen Boyle, in a statement.

She and her colleagues are already studying the cells to see whether they use and store energy any differently from those obtained from normal-weight mothers, and whether those changes result in metabolic differences such as inflammation or insulin resistance, which can precede heart disease and diabetes.

Other studies have found a high correlation between parents’ Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers and their children ‘s BMI, particularly between mothers and their kids. Further, the BMI of grandmother’s and their grandchildren is also high.

What is a healthy weight gain for a pregnant woman? It depends on how much you weigh before getting pregnant.

The guidelines for pregnancy weight gain are issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM); most recently in May 2009. Here are the most current recommendations:

•       If your pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for your height (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds, gaining 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy for the optimal growth of your baby.

•       If you were underweight or your height at conception (a BMI below 18.5), you should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

•       If you were overweight for your height (a BMI of 25 to 29.9), you should gain 15 to 25 pounds. If you were obese (a BMI of 30 or higher), you should gain between 11 and 20 pounds.

•       If you're having twins, you should gain 37 to 54 pounds if you started at a healthy weight, 31 to 50 pounds if you were overweight, and 25 to 42 pounds if you were obese.

These recent findings point out again, how important it is for pregnant women to consider the possible long - term health affects on their unborn offspring when making decisions about their own health.

The report was presented in May to the American Diabetes Association.

Sources: Alice Park, http://time.com/3906135/obese-moms-wire-kids-obesity-during-pregnancy/

http://www.babycenter.com/0_pregnancy-weight-gain-what-to-expect_1466.bc

 

Your Baby

Pregnant? Exercise is Good For You!

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For years, the prevailing thought has been – if you didn’t exercise before, during pregnancy wasn’t the time to start. That’s no longer the case says, Alejandro Lucia, a professor of exercise physiology at the European University of Madrid.

A group of researchers want women to know that when it comes to exercise, there is a strong consensus of benefit for both the mother and developing fetus.

"Within reason, with adequate cautions, it's important for [everyone] to get over this fear," said Lucia.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which updated its recommendations in 2015, women without major medical or obstetric complications should get at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise — enough to get you moving, while still being able to carry on a conversation — on most days of the week.

Lucia noted that evidence now suggests that starting an exercise program while pregnant can provide health benefits to both the mother and the growing fetus. Obviously, though, if you're new to exercise, take it slowly — you can work up to that 20 or 30 minutes.

The authors of the study say physical activity can prevent excessive weight gain, which can complicate the pregnancy and contribute to obesity. A review of existing research published in 2015 by the Cochrane Library found "high-quality evidence" that exercise during pregnancy can help prevent gaining too much weight, and may possibly lower the likelihood of a cesarean section, breathing problems in newborns, maternal hypertension and a baby that is significantly bigger than average. And of course, exercise promotes general cardiovascular and muscular health.

Other health problems can be helped such as chronic high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and women who are overweight or obese. Researchers say women with these conditions should be encouraged to exercise.

However, there are some health conditions in pregnancy where exercise should be avoided. According to the ACOG guidelines, women should avoid aerobic exercise if they have significant heart disease, persistent bleeding in the second or third trimester, severe anemia and risk of premature labor, among other conditions. And certain symptoms, such as contractions or dizziness during exercise, should be checked out quickly.

The bottom line is that women need to make a plan with their physician, taking into account their exercise history, their health, and the risk of pregnancy complications, says James Pivarnik, a professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at Michigan State University. He wasn't an author of the viewpoint but has conducted research on exercise and pregnancy.

Moderation is the goal during any exercise program. Long distance running and heavy weight lifting are not recommended. ACOG also recommends against contact sports, hot yoga, and exercises done in the supine position, i.e. lying face up, starting in the second trimester.

There are always exceptions to the rule, particularly with women who are highly trained athletes before they become pregnant. These women should still form plan with their OB/GYN on how much and what kinds of exercises are safe for them.

Among the general population and pregnant women specifically, people will respond differently to an exercise program. "But we know if you do the kind of things they're talking about here, the odds are your risk will be lower," says. Pivarnik.

Story source: Katherine Hobson, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/21/520951610/exercising-while-pregnant-is-almost-always-a-good-idea

Your Baby

Moms-to-be Need Folic Acid

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One of the best ways to have a healthy baby is to take good care of your own health.  Folic acid has been shown to help prevent certain birth defects, but now a new study suggests when a woman takes it in the first two months of pregnancy; her child may be less likely to have severe language delays.

Folic acid is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, orange juice, and enriched grains.  It’s also available as a supplement.

American companies often add folic acid to their grains to help make sure that pregnant women are getting enough of the B vitamin.

“We don’t think people should change their behavior based on these findings,” said Dr. Ezra Susser from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, who worked on the study.

“But it does add weight to the public health recommendation to take folic acid early in pregnancy,” he told Reuters Health.

And, he added, it shows that “what you do during pregnancy… is not only important for birth but also for subsequent development".

The study took place in Norway, where 40,000 women – a few months into their pregnancy- were surveyed on what supplements they were taking in the four weeks before they got pregnant and eight weeks after conception.

When their children were three years old, Susser and his colleagues asked the same women about their kids’ language skills, including how many words they could string together in a phrase.

Toddlers who could only say one word at a time or who had “unintelligible utterances” were considered to have severe language delay. In total, about one in 200 kids fit into that category.

Four out of 1,000 kids born to women who took folic acid alone or combined with other vitamins had severe language delays. That compared to nine out of 1,000 kids whose moms didn’t take folic acid before and during early pregnancy.

The pattern remained after Susser’s team took into account other factors that were linked to both folic acid supplementation and language skills, such as a mom’s weight and education, and whether or not she was married.

The study can’t prove that folic acid, itself, prevents language delay, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But Susser said the vitamin is known to affect the growth of neurons and could influence how proteins are made from certain genes.

“The recommendation worldwide is that women should be on folate (folic acid) supplements through all their reproductive years,” Susser said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women of childbearing age — and especially those who are planning a pregnancy — consume about 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid every day. Adequate folic acid intake is very important before conception and at least 3 months afterward to potentially reduce the risk of having a fetus with a neural tube defect.

You can boost your intake by looking for breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and rice containing 100% of the recommended daily folic acid allowance. But for most women, eating fortified foods isn’t enough. To reach the recommended daily level, you’ll probably need a vitamin supplement.

Your Baby

Acetaminophen Ranks Highest in Infants’ Accidental Poisonings

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Infants are just as susceptible to accidental poisonings as toddlers and older children, according to a new study. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) was the most common medication error for infants. Some of the other products associated with accidental poisonings may surprise you.

The researchers look at data from all poison control center calls in a national database from 2004 to 2013 that related to babies younger than 6 months old.

Acetaminophen was the most reported medication mistake followed by H2-blockers (for acid reflux), gastrointestinal medications, combination cough / cold products, antibiotics and ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil).

The most common non-medication exposures were diaper care and rash products, plants and creams, lotions and make-up, the investigators found.

"I was surprised with the large number of exposures even in this young age group," said lead author Dr. A. Min Kang, a medical toxicology fellow at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix in Arizona.

"Pediatricians typically do not begin poison prevention education until about 6 months of age, since the traditional hazard we think about is the exploratory ingestion -- that is when kids begin to explore their environment and get into things they are not supposed to," Kang added.

The research team found that there were more than 270,000 exposures reported during the decade of data, 97 percent of which were unintentional. However, over 37 percent were related to medication mistakes.

Acetaminophen was involved in more than 22,000 medication exposures and nearly 5,000 general exposures. This high rate reflects its frequent use because it's recommended instead of ibuprofen for infants, Kang pointed out.

"The concern with too much acetaminophen is liver failure although, luckily, young children are considered to be somewhat less likely to experience this than an adult because the metabolism is a little different," Kang said.

The current rate of acetaminophen mistakes may actually be lower notes Dr. Michael Cater, a pediatrician with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, because infant drops are now standardized across manufacturers.

The number of ibuprofen exposures, however, surprised Cater since ibuprofen isn't recommended for those under 6 months old.

"Also surprising was the number of ethanol poisonings," likely from parents leaving empty glasses or bottles of alcohol around, he said. "Low-lying plants, some of which are toxic, are a source of concern, and this was a bit of a surprise to me."

Diaper creams and lotions likely top the list because they're easily reachable by infants when left on the diaper-changing areas, Cater added.

The AAP has a policy statement recommending that all liquid medications use metric units for dosing and that they include administration devices, such as syringes, to reduce the chance of an overdose.

Perhaps doctors should offer poison prevention education to caregivers earlier, even starting when a baby leaves the hospital, Kang suggested.

The poison control hotline phone number- 1-800-222-1222 – should also be posted in the home and programmed into parents and caregiver’s cell phones Kang said.

The findings were published online in the January edition of the journal Pediatrics, and in the February print edition.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160113/acetaminophen-tops-list-of-accidental-infant-poisonings

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