Dosing your kids with antibiotics, early and often, linked to childhood obesity

Children exposed repeatedly to antibiotics in their first 2 years of life were more likely to be obese later in childhood…

Children with four or more courses of antibiotics were 11% more likely than others to become obese, according to Charles Bailey, MD, PhD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues.

But the effect was restricted to broad-spectrum drugs, suggesting that narrower antibiotic selection might modify the risk, Bailey and colleagues reported online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Because obesity is multifactorial, the authors argued, cutting its prevalence means “identifying and managing multiple risk factors whose individual effects may be small but modifiable.”

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine identified several such factors, including the mother’s pre-pregnancy body mass index, physical activity, and sleep duration. But one “emerging factor,” Bailey and colleagues noted, was the role played by microbial populations in the intestine, which can be affected by antibiotics…

They looked at recorded antibiotic prescriptions in the first 2 years of life and used Cox proportional hazards models to look for associations with obesity in the following 3 years…

Some 69% of the children in the cohort had at least one exposure to antibiotics before 24 months, with an average of 2.3 episodes per child, the investigators found…

Children who were given antibiotics were similar at the time of exposure in terms of weight-for-length to children who did not get the drugs.

But cumulative exposure to antibiotics was associated with later obesity…The effect was greater for broad-spectrum antibiotics…

Getting broad-spectrum drugs early was also associated with obesity, Bailey and colleagues found.

I don’t care what the rationale may be. Whether parents unreasonably demand antibiotics – and doctors cave in. Just like “social promotion” in some school systems for children with failing grades. Or whether your family GP is getting spiffs from some pharmaceutical corporation detailer.

The appropriate response to studies like this is to halt overmedication. Further studies are always needed to confirm or counter; but, meanwhile, let’s try to err on the side of healthier kids, eh?

Bush, government spies, Obama — you have only yourselves to blame for Apple’s spy-proof iPhone

If the government wants to listen in on your phone calls, it can. That’s the crux of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, enacted in 1994: It requires wireless carriers to keep the possibility open of wiretapping their networks. In 2005, the act was expanded to include VoIP and broadband providers.

But Calea has never been expanded from phone networks to phones themselves, and now phone makers—first Apple (AAPL), then Android—are releasing handsets with encryption that makes it impossible for the handset maker to retrieve data from the phone, warrant or no. The government is not happy. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” FBI director James Comey said last week. But there’s not much he or other branches of law enforcement can do to stop it, absent some help from Congress…

The lawmakers may not be as accommodating as they once were. Revelations about National Security Agency spying have made sanctioned surveillance into a political hot potato: The FBI’s recent push for further technological backdoors in Internet communications seems to have died last year. “Something happened,” recounted Christopher Soghoian of the ACLU at the hacker conference Defcon this summer. “Calea 2, which is the D.C. nickname for this backdoor proposal, for now is dead. It is dead in the water; no politician wants to touch that kind of surveillance for now. So thank you very much, Edward Snowden.”

If the public reaction to Snowden and Operation Prism killed political momentum to expand government power, it also pushed companies such as Apple to develop stronger encryption security in the first place. Assurances that the legal system alone is sufficient to protect privacy seem less credible than they have in the past, and Silicon Valley doesn’t want its reputation to suffer by appearing not to stand up for its users. If government officials are unhappy about this latest turn of events, they have only themselves to blame.

That portion of Congress not entirely consumed with theocracy, bigotry, the John Wayne theory of history – remains governed by cowardice. Fence-sitters and papier mache liberals have always been easy targets for the arrogant superpatriot brigade to tip over like a drunken heifer. Today, maybe not so easy.

Both the nutball Right and please-please-reelect-me Left know their base is pissed off about the NSA, the track record of the last two presidents and their lack of defense on the playing field of constitutional protections for the 98%. Minority caucuses, bona fide peaceniks, the few legitimate progressives in Congress know from decades of assault from every quarter that they haven’t any rights. So, it looks possible for a spell that technology and principles might prevail over political opportunism.

Life on Eigg


Click to enlargeReuters/Paul Hackett

The Island of Eigg, located about ten miles off the Scottish mainland, is made somewhat famous by its rich and varied wildlife, beautiful scenery and its residents’ attempts to become self sufficient.

It has the first completely wind, water and sun-powered electricity grid in the world, according to the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.

The island’s climatic conditions allow it to generate power from hydroelectric generators, wind turbines and photovoltaic panels.

Between 85 and 95 percent of the energy it consumes comes from renewable resources, according to locals.

Before the switch to renewables, the island relied on diesel generators for power. Locals described them as noisy, inconsistent and said there used to be a lot of scrambling around in the dark.

Conditions only improved on the island when the community took control over its assets in a 1997 buyout.

With the financial support of various trusts, a milestone was reached in 2008, when Eigg Electric provided 24-hour power for the first time.

Click through to the article. There is a delightful slide show illustrating the changes built by the islanders.

It speaks well of the advocacy for crofters having the right to buyout their land, townships and [sometimes] whole islands – so that beautiful, historically-important garden spots like Eigg now have the independence and support to rebuild their island into energy self-sufficiency. The Community Land Unit was for many the seed planted which grew into a new and proper life for places like Eigg.

Strictly on a personal note, I believe Brian Wilson, former Labour MP and Minister deserves credit for the groundwork for ventures like this one. The West Highland Free Press established a baseline for economic and cultural freedom unmatched by UK Establishment politicians. His persona is strong-willed enough to offend as many folk as he pleases; so, I defer to folks’ personal experiences.

Thanks, Mike — great minds and etc.