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  • Sleeping for under seven hours a night greatly raises the risk of catching a cold, US research has suggested.

    A team from Carnegie Mellon University found the risk was trebled compared with those who slept for eight hours or more a night.

    It is thought that a lack of sleep impairs the immune system and the body's ability to fight off the viruses that cause colds and flu.

    The study appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Previous research has suggested that people who sleep seven to eight hours a night have the lowest rates of heart disease.

    However, there has been little direct evidence that getting a good night's sleep can help ward off a cold.

    The researchers studied 153 healthy men and women with an average age of 37 between 2000 and 2004.

    Each was interviewed about their sleeping habits over a two-week period.

    They were then quarantined and given nasal drops containing rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

    For the following five days the volunteers reported any signs and symptoms of illness, and had mucus samples collected from their nasal passages.

    And 28 days after exposure to the virus, blood samples were taken from each volunteer so tests could be carried out to see if they had developed antibodies to fight infection.

    Sleep quality

    The less an individual slept, the more likely they were to develop a cold.

    The quality of sleep also appeared to be important. Volunteers who spent less than 92% of their time in bed asleep were five-and-a-half times more likely to become ill than those who were asleep for at least 98% of their time in bed.

    The researchers believe that lack of good quality sleep disturbs regulation of key chemicals produced by the immune system to fight infection.

    Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff, said sleep and the immune system were closely linked.

    He said: "The immune system may control the sleep-wake pattern and lack of sleep or sleep disturbance may depress the immune response to infection.

    "I do believe there is enough information on this to indicate that lack of sleep or sleep disturbance will reduce our resistance to infections such as colds and flu."

    Dr Adrian Williams, director of the Sleep Disorders Centre, at St Thomas' Hospital, London, said the study echoed previous work in animals suggesting sleep had an effect on immunity.

    Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, agreed that previous research had shown that poor sleep impacts on immunity, but he said there was little data on its effect on specific infections, such as colds and flu.

  • Home For The Holidays

    MASSILLON, OH — There’s nothing like being home for the holidays.

    Just ask Vince and Amie Spicocchi.

    The Massillon couple will spend their first holiday with all of their children – including quintuplets Amie gave birth to by Cesarean in August – under one roof.

    “It’s going to be fun,” Vince said.

    “The only difference is we are not going to be leaving the house,” Amie added. “We normally visit Vince’s family on Christmas Eve and then my family on Christmas Day.”

    Instead, a small gathering of family will join the Spicocchis at their home on Christmas Day to celebrate the babies’ first Christmas.

    “This is the first time we are under the same roof for a holiday,” Vince said. “For Thanksgiving, Paige and Enzo were still in the hospital.”

    Born nearly four months early at 24 weeks and three days, the quintuplets – Ilah, Paige, Enzo, Ellie and Gia – remained at Akron Children’s Hospital for the first few months of their life. Amie’s due date was Nov. 20.

    In singles and pairs, the babies began coming home: Gia was the first on Nov. 10. Her sisters Ilah and Ellie followed on Nov. 12, Paige on Nov. 26, and finally Enzo on Nov. 29.

    “I think they are growing very well,” said Amie, now a mother of seven, including the quints and 14-year-old Taylor and 5-year-old Grady. “(Doctors) are very happy with how they have gained (weight).”

    Ellie weighs in at 10.1 pounds, followed by Enzo at 9.13 pounds, and the three girls each weigh 9.3 pounds.

    “Their weight has been increasing since the time they were discharged,” Vince said. “They are doing what they are suppose to be doing.”

    Considering they are multiples and were born premature, the Spicocchis say their babies are doing remarkably well, but they know they are not out of the woods.

    “People don’t realize they were only given a 10 percent chance of making it when we found out (we were pregnant with quints),” Vince said. “Here we are now eight or nine months later, not only are they all here but they are doing well. You are humbled by that.”

    “People talk about miracles,” Amie said. “The fact that all five of them were delivered is truly a miracle and we don’t take that for granted.”

    Vince said the day the babies were born, doctors gave them a 50 percent survival rate.

    “We’ve already beaten the odds,” Vince said.

    “You are thankful for that each day,” Amie added.

    A healthy, happy home

    Keeping the babies healthy is of utmost importance.

    To that end, house rules have been posted at the front door – the most important keeping hands washed and clean, and not allowing visitors who are sick or who live with someone who is sick.

    Other rules: Don’t knock on the door – five babies are sleeping. No unannounced visitors. And no perfume around the babies.

    Ellie, her parents say, appears to be coming down with what could be a cold.

    “Something like that could knock them down,” Vince said. “You don’t want to introduce any unnecessary germs.”

    A helping hand

    Juggling five babies is no easy task, and the Spicocchis rely on family and friends to help keep the babies fed and happy.

    The babies are fed seven times a day – that’s 35 bottles and about 50 diapers each day.

    “The dietitian recently said we could skip one feeding, so we are skipping the 4:30 a.m. feeding,” Amie said.

    Vince’s father and stepmother help with the 1:30 a.m. feeding.

    “Sometimes it is just us and sometimes there is a person for each baby,” Vince said. “If we have two people show up, it makes it pretty easy.”

    Even with extra sets of hands, it takes about an hour to feed all five babies.

    “It’s kind of like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’” Vince said noting once you finish changing, feeding and putting the babies to sleep, it is time to start all over.

    The couple is sleeping in shifts, Vince said, joking he sometimes gets out of the 1:30 a.m. feeding if he has to work the next day. Vince is a Massillon firefighter and works a 24-hour shift.

    “I try to get a good night sleep (before a shift),” he said.

    To give their volunteers a break, they have enlisted the services of PINK – Postpartum Infant Nurturing Kare.

    The Jackson Township-based group, Amie said, is not well-known in the area but travels out of state to provide their services.

    PINK offers infant assistance for a seven-hour period one to two times a week.

    “It gives us a chance to hang out with the other kids or to get some sleep,” Vince said. “They specialize in premature babies and multiples. It gives everyone a break so we don’t overtax our volunteers.”

    ‘Actual age’

    While the quintuplets were born nearly five months ago – on Aug. 3 – doctors still consider them only four weeks old – their adjusted age based on Amie’s due date.

    “Their age right now is four and half months but they don’t go by their actual age,” Vince explained. “They look at their level (based on their adjusted age) of around four weeks.

    “They are preemie babies and they are still within in the normal range (for size) and are doing normal things. They act just like newborns.”

    Adjusting to nine

    All the preparation for bringing the babies home paid off, Vince said.

    But one thing the couple wasn’t prepared for is the planning it takes just to make doctor visits.

    “We’ve only had to take all five (at the same time) once,” he said. “But we really had to plan it out. You need one person inside (the doctor’s office), one person in the car and one person to carry them (into the office).”

    After a little trial and error, Vince was able to fit all five of the babies’ car seats in their vehicle, but that only leaves room for two passengers – it doesn’t fit the entire family of nine.

    Starting to smile

    The couple said people visiting their home are surprised by how calm the environment is with five babies.

    “They expect it to be a zoo and it can be,” Vince said.

    “There are times when it is pretty crazy,” Amie said.

    “It’s amazing how normal they are,” Vince said. “They are starting to smile.”

    “It’s reassuring,” Amie said.

    Amie and Vince continue to be thankful for the generosity of their family and friends and complete strangers.

    “We want to thank everybody who has helped us,” Vince said. “The support from people we don’t know who send us cards and well wishes and donations. It’s overwhelming the support.”

     

  • Drinking More Milk And Less Soda Helps To Build Strong Bones

    This article by Elena Conis, at the Los Angeles Times

    Want strong bones? Eat foods high in calcium and vitamin D, get plenty of exercise — and maybe steer clear of soda.

    In recent decades, as consumption of the beverage has steadily displaced the consumption of others —particularly milk — studies have consistently linked soda consumption with weaker bones. Now scientists are trying to figure out how and why, precisely, drinking soda may affect skeletons.

    One theory is that a component in cola may cause bone to deteriorate; another is that people who drink soda simply drink (and eat) fewer nutritious foods.

    In the 1990s, several studies suggested soft-drink consumption might be linked to lower bone mass and reduced bone accretion — the process by which bone is built up — in children, especially teens.

    In a study of 127 teens that was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 1994, teenage girls who drank carbonated beverages were three times as likely to suffer bone fractures compared with girls who didn't drink soda. A study by the same author published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine in 2000 showed the same effect — and an even stronger one for girls who drank cola beverages, who were five times as likely to suffer bone fractures.

    Researchers surmised at the time that soda took its toll on bones because children who drank soda did so in place of milk. Soda drinking was also seen as a marker for a generally unhealthful diet lacking items that help foster strong bones.

    It does seem to be true that soda drinkers have worse diets overall. In a study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Assn., for example, among 170 girls followed from age 5 to 15, those who drank soda at age 5 were less likely to drink milk throughout childhood than 5-year-olds who did not drink soda. And they were more likely to consume diets lacking in calcium, fiber, vitamin D, protein, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

    Such findings are significant because as much as 90% of bone mass is acquired in youth, particularly from age 16 to 25, says Dr. Jeri Nieves, director of bone density testing at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y.

    Children who fail to get enough bone-building nutrients and bone-thickening exercise in their youth end up with increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture as they get older, adds Dr. Robert Murray, director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

    But there is also evidence that drinking sodas — specifically, colas — may take a direct toll on the skeleton, says Dr. Katherine Tucker, professor of health sciences at Northeastern University in Boston.

    In a large, well-designed study published by Tucker and colleagues in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006, women enrolled in the ongoing Framingham Osteoporosis Study who drank just three or more colas a week had a 3.7% to 5.4% lower bone mineral density in their hip bones when compared with women who didn't drink the beverage.

    The study also showed what scientists call a dose response: The more soda participants drank, the lower their bone mineral density.

    The effect was seen only with colas — non-cola soft drinks, such as ginger ale and orange soda, had no effect on bone density. That finding led Tucker and colleagues to suggest that the phosphoric acid in cola is behind its bone-weakening effects.

    Phosphoric acid is added to colas for its tangy flavor. It's not normally found in the food chain, Tucker says. When ingested, it causes the acidity of the blood to increase; to adjust the blood's pH, the body draws calcium out of bones and into the bloodstream.

    These proposed effects of phosphoric acid on bone are largely theoretical, but they are supported by animal studies and some human research. A Danish study published in the journal Osteoporosis International in 2005 measured the blood levels of bone minerals in a group of men after they consumed a low-calcium diet and 2.5 liters of soda daily for 10 days, and then again after they consumed a normal diet and 2.5 liters of skim milk for 10 days.

    During the cola-drinking period, the men had higher blood levels of the bone mineral phosphate, the bone turnover protein osteocalcin and a substance called CTX — results that indicated minerals were being removed from bone, and not replaced, during the soda-drinking period.

    Scientists are continuing to test the theory that phosphoric acid in soda harms bones. But even if it turns out that phosphoric acids cause only small or temporary changes in bone composition, these can add up over time, Tucker says.

    In the meantime, Nieves suggests, it's probably wise to limit your intake of soda.

    "It's not like alcohol, where one drink a day is OK," she says. "Because bone mass is constantly changing throughout life, soda can cause bone loss at any stage."

  • Maternity Styling - Rich Colors Rock The Red Carpet In Celebrity Fashion

    As the awards season gets started this year and actors walk the red carpet, fashion blogs and celebrity magazines got their cameras rolling and pens ready. Which designers would the stars turn to? Who would wear a classic dress? Who would step out of the box and wear something totally unexpected? As lights flashed and the actors arrived, one theme became clear: colors. And not just any colors, but bold, beautiful, and deep colors, some almost jewel-like. From ruby reds to jeweled teals to quartz purple, rich and bold colors stood out on the red carpet. Celebrities such as Tina Fey, Cameron Diaz, Lea Michelle and Amy Adams

    Tina Fey

    Tina Fey

    Cameron Diaz

    Cameron Diaz

    (you've got to love an expectant mom rocking the red carpet), all sported vibrant colors in their gown selections, making bold statements.

    The great thing about rich colors is that they are incredibly versatile and look beautiful next to any skin tone or hair color. While nudes or grays can wash out many people, deep colors play up your best features and really make a statement. As super-chic and famed celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe writes in her fun fashion guide, "...rich jewel tones tend to look good on almost everyone... Pale or dark, my clients tend to look best in colors that are rich and bold... These are colors that pop and look striking on just about anyone."

    This example is clear with the dresses seen at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards this year. Sandra Bullock

    Sandra Bullock

    Sandra Bullock

    Gabourey Sidebe

    Gabourey Sidebe

    looked gorgeous in a deep quartz purple gown, Gabourey Sidebe

    looked glamorous in a bold blue dress, and Lea Michelle shown in a stunning jeweled teal gown. Whether you are fair skinned or darker, have brown hair or blonde, most deep and bold colors are complimentary to your coloring.

    While these rich tones look gorgeous on a red carpet with the cameras flashing, they look equally as good in day to day life. A deep purple blouse or a cute red cami looks great paired with a pair of dark wash denim jeans. Pair a sapphire blue top with a cute skirt and you have a winning combination. When pregnant, a gorgeous empire waist top in a vibrant color or a cute wrap dress in a rich hue is an excellent addition to your wardrobe.

    Amy Adams

    Amy Adams

    Lea Michelle

    Lea Michelle

    If looking for a maternity top to wear daily, from work to an evening out, a great choice is the Teal D&A Sash Maternity/Nursing Top from Japanese Weekend. This gorgeous teal color will make you feel radiant, and a deep v-neck and empire waist are figure flattering. This look and color is work appropriate yet also perfect for an evening out.

    Another great maternity option is the Knit Flutter Top from Maternal America. A rich fuchsia color combined with a flattering flutter front design looks great with anything from jeans and flats to black pants and heels. Consider some gorgeous color options as you add to your spring wardrobe!

    Ginnifer Goodwin

    Ginnifer Goodwin

    Just as bold colors look good on cute tops, they look also great on dresses. From flowing summer dresses to the classic cocktail dress, a rich color makes a statement. Classic black is always elegant and beautiful, but switching it up with an emerald green or sapphire blue really makes a statement. For an evening out or a special work party, the Embellished Dress from Maternal America is a twist on the standard cocktail dress and is sure to make a splash. Deep plum in color, it has a jeweled neckline and an empire waist which truly make a statement. Classic in shape yet modern in color, it is the perfect dress for that special evening. If looking for something a bit more casual, Maternal America's Front Tie Dress is another fantastic option. Splashes of bright blues really sparkle on this sleeveless dress, perfect for warm weather days.

    From amethyst purple to emerald green, jewel tones are vibrant and beautiful. These highly saturated colors make a statement as a cute top or a stylish dress. Adding these colors to your wardrobe will spice up your day to day wear!

  • Swim During Your Pregnancy!

    If you are looking for a great workout that is safe while you are pregnant, than consider swimming. Swimming is one of the safest forms of exercising, assuming you know how to swim and are not learning for the first time when you are pregnant. Swimming improves circulation, builds endurance, burns calories and exercises both arms and legs. Because of the weightlessness and the low-impact to tendons and ligaments, swimming poses a very low risk of injury although you should check with your doctor or midwife before taking the plunge.

    It is important to stay well hydrated when swimming, and easy to forget as you are surrounded by water. There is no hard and fast guideline for how much to drink, but stayed tuned into your body and try to drink before you swim and every 20-30 minutes when swimming and also when you get out of the pool. If it is hot then you will need to drink more. Also, stay away from hot pools or saunas as they can overheat you and your growing fetus.

    For some women, swimming first thing in the morning can counteract morning sickness and energize them for their day. If you swam regularly before you were pregnant, there is no reason why you can't continue during pregnancy, just pace yourself and do not overexert yourself. The water does help keep you from in the hot sun, which is one of the great benefits of swimming versus other forms of exercise in the warm summer months. It also supports your ligaments and joints that tend to be a little looser during pregnancy and more prone to injury during high impact workouts.

    By your second semester you will probably need to invest in a maternity swimsuit to fit your changing body more comfortably. It is important that you do not constrict your belly or bust with minimizing non-pregnancy styles that may cut down circulation to your growing tummy and compress changing breasts. Maternity swimwear is made with more stretch in styles that are designed for women's ever changing pregnant body which is important to the health of you and your baby.

    If you are looking for a classic lap maternity swimsuit, then check out Prego Maternity's Empire Tank.

    Prego Maternity Empire Tank

    Prego Maternity Empire Tank

     This suit provides superior bust support with adjustable straps, molded cups and a bra hook in the back for maximum performance. This suit comes in both navy and black and has plenty of stretch in the tummy for all trimesters of your pregnancy.

    If you opt for a little more style in your suit for a water aeobics class or just playing in the pool, then Maternal America has a number of cute new tankini styles this season to check out. My favorite is the Jenni Tribal Tankini that has adjustable hip sash ties and a halter tie on the top that can also be worn as a mini with the ties bowed in front. The tribal pattern is super cute with an O-ring accent in front and black bikini bottoms.

    The blue colors are especially in vogue this spring and summer. Maternal America's Diamond Josie Halter Tankini

    Maternal America Diamond Tank

    Maternal America Diamond Tank

    showcases a sporty blue diamond pattern with adjustable halter ties and bottom sash ties. If you opt for solids, then check out their Carrie Tankini which comes in a memorizing royal blue shade. This strong blue looks great on all skin tones and blondes and brunettes alike. The stylish sweetheart cut with padded bra and ruching is super flattering across the chest. The sash tie bikini bottoms are adjustable for your changing size.

    In a softer blue/aqua shade, Maternal America has a new color take on their classic Flutter Halterkini. This style can be worn as a string halter or mini if you bow the halter strings in front. The lightweight mesh fabric across the belly is a great alternative to a bikini if you don't really want to bare all, but show only hint of skin. It is also a great style for growing bellies as you can comfortably wear this style through your third trimester with no constriction on your belly. Side ties on the bikini bottom can be adjusted to fit comfortably.

    If you like a cute mini style suit, then take a look at Prego Maternity's South Seas Strapless Mini. This suit is absolutely adorable with big aqua flowers and foliage set against a chocolate backdrop with solid chocolate bottoms. There is also a detachable halter string that comes with the suit for a halter style.

    Swimming can help you and your baby's health during all stages of your pregnancy. So consult with your doctor or midwife before embarking on a serious swimming exercise regime and use your own good judgment.

  • Kourtney Kardashian Doctored Pregnancy Photo!

    Kourtney Kardashian, primarily known for being one third of the always entertaining trio of sisters on Keeping Up With the Kardashians and co-owner of fashion boutique Dash, has recently caught my attention for two reasons: her impeccable pregnancy style and her insistence on standing up to the tabloid magazines when they airbrushed out her post-pregnancy weight. Kourtney gave birth to beautiful baby boy Mason Dash in mid-December (with long term boyfriend Scott Disick), and this month, when a tabloid magazine airbrushed out her post-pregnancy belly and claimed she had lost all her pregnancy weight, she issued a statement calling them out on it. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily she stated, “They doctored and photoshopped my body to make it look like I have already lost all the weight, which I have not.” Good job Kourtney! Seeing a celebrity more concerned with enjoying her child than losing weight is wonderful.

    Throughout her pregnancy, whether she was running errands around town or walking the red carpet, Kourtney’s style was impeccable. In November, Kourtney was seen on a lunch date wearing a super cute flowy top, a boyfriend blazer, and leggings.Kourtney Kardashian-casual-people For an expectant mom so close to her due date, this outfit is a great option. The leggings are stretchy and comfortable, ensuring you will not feel restricted throughout your busy day. A cute flowy top draws the attention upward and also balances out the tightness of the leggings. A good rule of thumb: if you are wearing something tighter on the bottom go looser on the top, or vice versa! This breaks up one’s look, ensuring that the overall appearance is not too tight or too loose. A blazer adds structure and shape to the outfit, and truly pulls the look together. (From leggings to jeans, from casual to sophisticated, a fitted blazer adds structure to any outfit and is one of my favorite ways to pull an outfit together). For a finishing touch she adds a gorgeous statement necklace and some cute boots, and the look is complete! This is a great look for the day when paired with ballet flats, or can easily be dressed up for evening with more jewelry and different shoes!

    When walking the red carpet during her pregnancy, Kourtney looked equally as stunning and fashionable. One of my favorite red-carpet looks of hers is the gorgeous Grecian inspired maxi dress she wore to the Emmys. Just three months before her due date, she looked radiant posing sideways in her gorgeous empire waisted dress. Kourtney KardashianAn empire waist dress is always a great choice for expectant mothers, particularly as they get farther along in their pregnancy. It creates a gorgeous shape, emphasizing the smallest part of your body yet celebrating your baby bump. The sweetheart neckline and intricate twisted cinching under the bust add a special look to her dress. Although with her hair worn down the dress looks strapless, there are actually thin straps to ensure comfort. The extra support of the straps is a great idea so that you will not be concerned about your dress moving around. The final aspect of Kourtney’s dress which I love is the length. The maxi dress, with a high empire waist, elongates the line of the body, creating a more streamlined looked. It also skims the body, creating a feminine flowing look, and will provide endless comfort.

    Whether she was walking the red carpet or relaxing around town, Kourtney Kardashian’s pregnancy style was stylish yet comfortable and her insistence on being truthful about her post-baby shape is admirable. From comfy leggings paired with a fun, flowing top to gorgeous dresses, she rocked fashionable and flattering clothing perfectly. I am looking forward to seeing what her nursing and post-baby style will be!

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