Food-Borne Arsenic: How to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure

Consumer Reports recently released a review of arsenic levels in 200 every day foods, including rice and rice products such as Rice Krispies cereal.  Earlier this year, they also reported on arsenic levels in apple and grape juices.

Arsenic, a chemical element in the environment, is a known carcinogen and is found in two forms, inorganic (of most concern) and organic.  Trouble is, arsenicnaturally, and sometimes unnaturally, occurs in soils and waters in which foods are grown.  While found in fruits, juices, vegetables, and seafood, rice in particular absorbs arsenic more readily from soil or water than other plants.

How can you reduce your exposure to dietary arsenic?  The FDA is weighing in and suggesting not changing dietary intake of rice.  However, they do support a balanced diet so that consumers do not suffer consequences of eating too much of a particular food.  On the other hand, Consumer Reports suggests taking a few measures to reduce your risk of arsenic exposure.  First, test your drinking water or find out your city’s water levels and find alternative drinking and cooking water if necessary.  Second, rinse raw rice thoroughly and cook rice in 6 parts water to 1 part rice, draining after it is cooked.  Third, clean vegetables thoroughly and limit your children’s juice consumption.  Last, eat other grains such as oats, quinoa, millet and amaranth, while limiting rice consumption to one and a quarter servings per week for children and two servings per week for adults.  Further, they recommend just one serving per day of infant cereal for babies.

Consumer Reports and the FDA want to inform consumers of their possible risks and to offer research-based information.  The FDA will release further information, based on their study of 1200 samples of rice and rice products in the U.S. marketplace later this year.  The FDA, Consumer Reports, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry offer further information.


Whether your child is just starting school or returning to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, she is bound to make countless memories this year. The first day, a favorite teacher, best friends and captivating field trips – kids carry these with them for years to come.

Unfortunately, children might bring along other things from the classroom as well: germs. Schools are exciting, full of information and imaginations; but they’re also stocked with bacteria and viruses, some of which can make children sick.

Of course, not all germs are bad. For children, though, hand washing is the first step to preventing sickness from those unwanted germs so easily spread on desks and playgrounds.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics have sites dedicated to hygiene and hand washing. They contain important information for any parent. We at Healthy Learning Paths have condensed these recommendations into the following kid-friendly, easy to remember graphic.

Keep your child germ-free by following these steps for hand washing!

Soap and water are always your best options before hand sanitizer, and for schools with air dryers, kids need only turn off the water with an elbow and dry hands thoroughly. In general, though, following this simple sequence can make your kid an excellent Germbuster – with memories of being healthy, happy and ready to learn!


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Waking Up on the Right Side of the Bed

How do you feel when you don’t get enough sleep? Tired, sure…but what else?

Sleep determines much more than just your sense of exhaustion. Going to bed too late, waking up too early, or midnight disruptions can contribute to a range of problems, including irritability, lack of concentration, and even increased risk of depression or anxiety.

What’s more, an article published on Get Sleep™, a resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School also notes that the connection between sleep and mood goes both ways. It states, “Not only does sleep affect mood, but mood and mental states can also affect sleep. Anxiety increases agitation and arousal, which make it hard to sleep. Stress also affects sleep by making the body aroused, awake, and alert.” Not getting enough sleep can turn into a vicious cycle, and not just for you; we often forget that children experience stress and anxiety as well.

However, it’s not all bad news. A good night’s sleepcan quickly improve or even reverse these problems.

Getting a good night’s sleep is good for both you and your child’s mental and emotional health.

Setting a consistent and healthy bedtime routine for your child can dramatically improve your own patterns. The article highlights the experience of one Boston working mother, saying, “When she got both of her children on a consistent sleep schedule, she herself started sleeping an average of seven to eight hours a night and her mood improved considerably.” Try our High Five for Sleep listed here.

Also, be sure that both you and your child aren’t going to sleep holding onto thoughts or troubles from the day. Encourage conversation with your kiddo; ask her if there’s anything she’d like to talk about. Be sure you have support systems in place as well.

Sleep is critical for emotional health from childhood to parenthood. While it may seem that becoming a parent is synonymous with fatigue, small changes in your and your child’s sleep schedule can dramatically improve emotional and mental wellbeing for the both of you. Remember, it’s not just about feeling awake – it’s about feeling happy.

Back to School! The Importance of Sleep

It’s August, and parents know that means back-to-school!

This is certainly an exciting time – especially if your little one is just starting school. New friends are made, new information is absorbed, and new routines are set. However, there’s one old routine that may be more important than all the rest.

Your child’s sleep routine.

An article in the New York Times on April 16th, 2012, covered a study published in the journal Pediatrics linking inadequate sleep to the symptoms of A.D.H.D (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).. Researchers found that kids experiencing disrupted sleep were 20-100% more likely to exhibit behavior problems.

What may be most striking are the implications of such research. While the study focused on breathing disorders during sleep, such as sleep apnea and snoring, the author also states, “sleep experts note that children who lose as little as half an hour of needed sleep per night — whether because of a sleep disorder or just staying up too late texting or playing video games — can exhibit behaviors typical of A.D.H.D.”

Even if your child does not suffer from a breathing problem, he or she may be losing sleep. The following are some common causes of inadequate sleep:

  • Screen time before bed
    • Avoid TV, videogames, computers, or cell phone use.
  • Bright lights in the bedroom (a dim night light is fine, though!)
  • Sugary foods or beverages
  • Caffeine
  • Inconsistent bedtimes/wake up times
  • Loud noise

“Sleep is vital for learning, brain development and emotional health,” explains Dr. Chris Marchioni, family medicine physician and executive director of Healthy Learning Paths.Sleep improves memory and retention, productivity, alertness, and attitudes!” Young children need 10-12 hours of sleep each night – even on weekends. When a child’s sleep routine is disrupted, it can take days to weeks to get back on track. To keep your child healthy, happy, and ready to learn, establish a consistent bedtime routine.

Kids have the power to make healthy choices for restful sleep every night!

Try our “High 5 of Sleep:”

  1. If she or he is hungry, eat a healthy snack.
  2. Take a bath or shower.
  3. Put on clean pajamas.
  4. Brush and floss teeth.
  5. Read a book.

Help your child start the school year with healthy sleep habits for success in health, learning, and life.

Healthy is the New Happy for Kids!

To bring our “Let’s Dream” program to your child’s preschool or school, contact us at


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Community Rallies for Healthy Kids

12/02/10 Broomfield Enterprise letter to the editor

Community Rallies for Healthy Kids

“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude,” writes Alfred North Whitehead, an English mathematician and philosopher. These words ring true as I reflect the support Healthy Learning Paths has received from so many individuals and businesses in Broomfield.

Only a month ago, we hosted our second annual conference addressing the emotional health of the young child. As we searched for a place for educators, medical professionals and parents to gather, we explored partnerships with hotels, hospitals and conference centers. Who would have guessed the leader who stepped up to the plate to offer their facility was neither a hospital nor a hotel? The community at the Stratford at Flatirons extended an offer to share their facility and their services.

Why do I call the Stratford at Flatirons a community? They treated us like family with caring, compassion and impeccable service. The facility was absolutely gorgeous and staff tended to our every need. The food was delicious and plentiful. The meeting rooms were comfortable and welcoming. Each staff member was pleasant and provided personal service. The Stratford truly is a community committed to its residents and to the needs of Broomfield. They wanted to give back to Broomfield by partnering to help our children. This partnership joined the power of the young and the young at heart. How could we not be successful with such collaboration?

On behalf of the board of directors, staff and volunteers of Healthy Learning Paths, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Tina Dickhoff, Kathy Burdge and the entire staff at the Stratford at Flatirons for making our annual conference a huge success. Thank you for making a difference for kids by providing a place for medical professionals, educators, child-care professionals and parents to share best practices for emotional health.

I also want to thank the Mental Health Center of Broomfield and Boulder Counties for providing us with excellent speakers as well as a silver sponsorship. A big thank you to Eric Harris, chair of Healthy Learning Paths and bronze sponsor. Special thanks to our child advocate sponsors, Broomfield Pediatrics & Internal Medicine, Dr. Nancy Greer, Lafayette Dental Excellence, Dr. Mitchell Friedman, The Wellness Initiative, Dr. Brian Stafford, Dr. Terry Katz, Dr. Ian and Yorlenny Brickl, and all of our speakers who shared their expertise.

Finally, I want to thank Bette Erickson and the Enterprise for the wonderful article about our conference and their ongoing commitment to children.

So you see, success really does require a team effort and Healthy Learning Paths is grateful to have each of you on our team.

Tom Mahoney,

Board of directors,

Healthy Learning Paths

Recall: Children’s Benadryl and Motrin

A voluntary recall of Children’s Benadryl and Motrin is underway according to Johnson and Johnson’s McNeil division. The recall is due to “insufficiencies in the development of the manufacturing process.”

About 4 million packages of Children’s Benadryl allergy tablets, cherry and grape flavors and about 800,000 bottles of junior-strength Motrin caplets, have been recalled at the wholesale and retail level according to a Bloomberg report.

To learn more visit

WEBCAST: Food Allergies & Schools: Keeping Students Safe and Ready to Learn

Be sure to check out an important upcoming webcast featuring FAAN’s (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) Christopher Weiss.

“FAAN’s Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations, Christopher Weiss, will be participating in a webcast entitled Food Allergies and Schools: Keeping Students Safe and Ready to Learn, sponsored by the National School Boards Association. This webcast, which will feature national experts, educators, parents, and students with life-threatening food allergies, will take place Nov. 9 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET. The webcast is free, but you must register to view it. We encourage you to participate in this educational webcast, and let your local school officials know about it as well.”

Register to participate:

The Best Gift of All

December brings more than excitement, anticipation, and joy. For some families, it is also a time of reflection, memories, and unwelcome stress. The holidays can bring a season of exhausting emotional roller coasters.

Although holidays are a time for family celebrations, for some there is a looming emptiness left from the absence of loved ones. From serving in the military overseas to suffering from chronic illness to loss of a grandparent through death, these situations often overshadow our holiday joys and even add to the hollowness we sometimes carry from missing family members.

As we struggle with this stressful burden, it is important to know that no one is alone. We have a connection with many others around us, both friends and family. As we rush in holiday preparation with shopping, decorations, and meal planning, each one of us would benefit from a long pause—a pause to offer a smile or a gentle squeeze to the arm of a friend or relative. A pause to offer a listening ear or an understanding heart for loneliness or sadness one may bear. A pause to recognize how important each of our children, our parents, and our grandparents are to us and to others. A pause to simply slow down and connect to people.

We all have soothing strengths and fragile weaknesses. However, the holiday season puts each of us to the test. Even young children and teenagers experience some of the emotional challenges of the holiday season. To ease the pain of these feelings, sometimes it only takes talking with a friend, parent, or counselor. What really matters is to find the courage to seek some help to work past the sadness or stress, whatever the cause. Keep in mind that this does not mean that we are crazy or flawed because of these feelings. It only means that we are amazing humans!

As we create our gift list this season, here are some unique ideas that will make shopping much more enjoyable.  Let’s take the time to listen and to talk with children and adults who experience holiday stress or sadness, this is more valuable than any brightly wrapped toy or gift. Let’s connect to others with compassionate conversation and kindness, as this fills the hollowness and sadness with a hint of peace and joy.  We cannot forget to make adequate sleep a priority, eat healthy foods, drink water, and venture outside the malls for a walk to sustain positive mind and body energy. These gifts are not sold in any stores or even on the web. In fact, these gifts are so valuable that they are priceless, utterly impossible to measure in dollars.

Perhaps the most important, the absolute best gift of all, the gift of kindness and connection to one another is what we all need under our tree.

For more information about grief support for children, teens and adults, or to speak to a counselor contact:

The Grief and Education Center
HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties
1585 Patton Drive
Boulder, CO  80303

(c) 2010 Chris Marchioni, MD

Who’s Looking Out for our Kids?

A day doesn’t pass by when I don’t hear about the health of children especially the childhood obesity epidemic.  Now that the government is making kids’ health a priority, the food industry is expected to step up to the plate and make some healthy changes. It’s time foods aren’t soaked with sugar and fat.

I was shocked to read about how some foods are labeled as “healthy choices” for kids and the food industry is digging in their heels resisting change.

According to a recent article in the New York  Times by William Neuman on 7/23/2010, “Lucky Charms. Froot Loops. Cocoa Pebbles. A ConAgra frozen dinner with corn dog and fries. McDonald’s Happy Meals. These foods might make a nutritionist cringe, but all of them have been identified by food companies as healthy choices they can advertise to children under a three-year-old initiative by the food industry to fight childhood obesity. Now a hard-nosed effort by the federal government to forge tougher advertising standards that favor more healthful products has become stalled amid industry opposition and deep divisions among regulators.”

Do you think these companies have any guilt as they rake in millions in profits at the expense of our kids’ health?  Should they be charged for misrepresenting the health value of their products?  Who’s looking out for our kids?  Tell me what you think.

Chris Marchioni, MD

What You Need to Know about Pertussis

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a on the rise in many states throughout the US. Before pertussis vaccine became available in the 1940’s, more than 200,000 cases of pertussis occurred every year. Since using the vaccine the incidence has decreased more than 80%. However, there is a cyclical increase in pertussis and 2010 seems to be one of those years where more children are becoming ill with pertussis.

Pertussis is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. The disease is very contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing. Pertussis starts with mild cough or fever and progresses to severe coughing that can be present for weeks. During the severe coughing phase, vomiting and extreme fatigue may also be present. Recovery is a gradual process. To learn how to avoid pertussis, visit:

States Take on Pertussis as Disease Cases Resurge Around the Nation: Cases Are Cyclical The Nation’s Health (American Public Health Association), Kim Krisberg, 10/01/2010. Reports of pertussis have reached startling numbers in communities around the nation in recent months, leading to renewed attention to the common infectious disease. Several states are currently reporting pertussis outbreaks, from California to Michigan to South Carolina.

Chris Marchioni, MD