New Zealand’s Prime Minister and one of my daughters have babies

Emma started caring for Sorenne when she was an undergrad in child studies at Kansas State University about 9 years ago.

She followed the path of others and hooked up with a veterinarian and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, one of my favorite cities (and no, not for The Lord of the Rings movies).

Emma writes she is so honoured to live in this country for so many reasons, and this is now definitely one of them. I highly recommend you Google Jacinda, because she’s doing lots of great things.

“This is The Prime Minister Of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She’s 37. She’s the youngest female Head of Government in the world. She’s also the first western woman to give birth while in this position of power. Two days after the baby was born – with midwives, standard in NZ hospitals – she introduced her to the country during a press conference on the nightly news. It was really lovely. She named her Neve Te Aroha. Te Aroha means “The Love” in Māori. It represents all the names that were submitted (upon her request) from various tribes throughout the country, and was her attempt at capturing them all.

This is her and her partner, no, he’s not her husband (gasp!), walking to the press conference. He’s TV fishing show Host Clarke Gayford, and he will be staying at home with baby Neve when his lady goes back to running the country in 6 weeks. Clarke sports a snazzy sweater he picked up at the op-shop (second-hand store) in Gisborne, and thinks its just kinda logical and he gives up his day job to stay home and look after the baby.

A week after the birth on July 1st Jacinda introduced a $5 billion Families Package that she’d drafted on the floor of her friends house in Hastings – long before her pregnancy. It’s based on the knowledge that the first few years of a babies life are the most important. The package gives an extra $60 a week to families with new babies, and an extra $700 to families for winter heating costs as well (it’s cold as hell down there in the winter). It also increases the Paid Leave for new parents from 18 weeks to 22 weeks. She announced the details via Facebook live, from her couch, right after she’d finished breastfeeding the baby. Because Kiwis. Some of the most down-to-earth, no-drama-having, just-do-it kind of people you’ll ever meet.

And because Women. We really do know how to lead, and to do it well.

Yes, women do.

Amy’s been leading me around for the past five years as I go from drama to drama.

But as I get older I’m accepting that people won’t really care if I do an extra post before I go screaming into that night.

They may care about my family, so welcome to Jasper William Toth, brother to Emerson and second son of 2-of-4 daughter, Jaucelynn, back in Canada, who was born at 4:39 a.m. with the help of a midwife after a couple hours of labour at home.

Jaucelynn writes that Jasper is an impressive 9lbs 2oz and 21 inches long. We are all doing well and excited to start our journey as a family of four.

Jaucelynn was a 10-pounder.

Jasper is grandson #3 for me, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Funky blanket, Probably hot there.

Writers write

Sorenne is 8-years-old,

She helped me prepare dinner tonight, in a sous chef role.

My eldest daughter turned 30-years-old today.

She’s got a 4-year-old and is doing great.

This pic of Sorenne, the bald baby, was taken when she was about 5-months-old in Kansas, when Katie the grad student was  about to go do her MS research in New Zealand, lived with us.

I still miss her.

  Sorenne read me four different stories tonight that she is working on in her notebook.

Earlier today I was talking to someone about the value of throwing stuff out for public consumption, no matter how terrifying.

So maybe I’m slowly learning.

However Katie and Amy have both perfected the what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you-Doug look.

Sydney mother avoids jail over breastfeeding on ‘naturopath’s raw food diet’ that nearly killed baby

Lucy Carter of ABC News reports a 33-year-old woman, who cannot be identified, was last year trying to treat her six-month-old son’s severe eczema and sought the advice of a naturopath who allegedly first put her on the diet and later convinced her to consume only water.

7713006-3x2-340x227The woman’s son nearly died of starvation and dehydration as a result.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) lawyer, Alex Brown, told the Campbelltown Local Court that the woman “was a nurse who decided to blindly follow a naturopath she had only just met” and that her child came within days of death.

Magistrate Ian Guy said the mother would have been given jail time if she had not agreed to give evidence against the naturopath, Marilyn Bodnar, who is expected to face a committal hearing on Monday.

“On any view, [the offence is] extremely troubling and disconcerting considering how long the child had been vomiting,” he said.

Police claim the 59-year-old, from Leppington, gave advice to the mother, over the treatment of her son’s eczema in February 2015.

Officers allege the naturopath advised the mother to stop medicating her child.

In May 2015, the baby boy was admitted to hospital with severe malnourishment and developmental issues.

Bodnar has remained on bail since her arrest on the condition that she not provide naturopathy services to anyone under the age of 16.

Food safety is crucial in China deal for baby milk

Six years ago, when tainted infant formula killed six babies in China and sickened 300,000, one of the biggest foreign investors in the sector was caught by surprise.

The investor, the Fonterra Cooperative Group of New Zealand, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, had put millions of dollars into a partnership with the Sanlu Group, a Chinese maker of infant formula that was one of several found to have mixed an industrial chemical into milk powder to artificially raise protein readings.

Sanlu was declared bankrupt, and four of its executives were imprisoned. Fonterra was forced to write down the entirety of its investment of 200 million New Zealand dollars, or about $167 million at current exchange rates, in the Chinese venture.

Yet on Wednesday, Fonterra became the latest foreign company to make a new bet that it could turn a profit by bringing safer food to China. The company said it would spend more than $500 million in a deal with the Beingmate Baby and Child Food Company, a Chinese manufacturer of infant formula. A day earlier, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, an American private equity giant, announced an investment of about $400 million in China’s largest chicken breeder, Fujian Sunner Development, in a deal intended to improve food safety and quality.

“China is a completely different environment now; Beingmate is a completely different partner,” Theo Spierings, the chief executive of Fonterra, said on Wednesday in response to questions from reporters about the Sanlu episode, according to Reuters. “We are very focused on learning from the past and moving on to the future.”

UK baby sick with Salmonella from pet lizard

A five-month-old baby was rushed to hospital after contracting Salmonella pomona from an exotic family pet.

Your Local Guardian reports a warning has now been issued to all reptile owners and further investigations by Sutton Council environmental health officers revealed the family’s Bearded Dragon lizard and tortoises to be the likely culprits that passed on the bacteria.

The five-month-old has since recovered and the council is using the incident to urge parents of young children to keep them away from reptiles.

It follows a similar incident in 2009 when a baby girl from Sutton was admitted to intensive care with a fever and high heart rate after contracting Salmonella Arizona from her family’s pet snake.

Seek and ye shall find: Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli O78:H– in family, Finland, 2009

From researchers in Finland, writing in the April edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Edited bits below, the complete report is available at

Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a pathogen that causes gastroenteritis and bloody diarrhea but can lead to severe disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). STEC serotype O78:H– is rare among humans, and infections are often asymptomatic.

A boy born on Oct. 3, 2009, in Finland, the third child of healthy parents, was breast-fed and healthy. But by 2-weeks-old, he became irritable, started feeding poorly, and produced large volumes of watery feces with some blood. At 17-days-old he was taken to the Vaasa Central Hospital in Finland for medical care.

A blood culture showed a gram-negative rod, which was identified as E. coli. Results of a test for the O157 antigen were negative. Because the neonate was severely ill, he was referred to the University Hospital in Pirkanmaa Hospital district, and the s E. coli train isolated from his blood was forwarded to the Helsinki University Hospital Laboratory, where the invasive strain from fecal specimens of the neonate and all 4 asymptomatic family members — the mother (31 years-old), father (32 years), sister (3 years), and brother (2 years) — was confirmed by detection of Stx. The 6 strains isolated from the blood and fecal samples of the neonate and from the fecal samples of his asymptomatic parents and 2 siblings showed a sorbitol-fermenting STEC serotype O78:H– that carried the virulence genes stx1 and hlyA.

The boy recovered, but required a kidney transplantation, supplied by his father and performed in April 2011. The operation and posttransplantation period went without complications.

HUS develops in ≈5%–15% of patients <10 years of age in whom E. coli O157:H7 infection is diagnosed and occurs 2–14 days after diarrhea onset. In contrast to the O157-related HUS cases, less information is available about the non–O157-related HUS cases. Some risk factors, including an elevated leukocyte count, administration of antimicrobial drugs, use of antimotility agents, and very young age, are associated with increased risk for HUS

Ruminants, such as cattle and sheep, are the major reservoir of STEC. None of the family members, however, had contact with any farm animals, and the family had no pets. One of the family members of the neonate might have been infected with STEC by eating contaminated food, but these food items were not available for investigation. Moreover, because all the family members were asymptomatic, estimating the exact date of their infections is difficult. Secondary infections among family members most likely resulted from person-to-person transmission or from food given to the children with contaminated hands of other family members or from some other cross-contamination. Family clusters have been reported to be common. In Finland, ≈50% of STEC infections are family related.

Handwashing practices may be of greater relevance than food as a source of infection in infants and very young children because the infection might result from an infected person or animal in the home. Prolonged excretion of STEC and intimate caring of infants by family members provide a risk for cross-infections. Therefore, to limit the risk for STEC infection, thorough handwashing before touching food or young babies is particularly necessary.

Our findings demonstrate that contrary to earlier suggestions, STEC under certain conditions can invade the human bloodstream. Moreover, this study highlights the need to implement appropriate diagnostic methods for identifying the whole spectrum of STEC strains associated with HUS.

Cookbook recalled for bad food safety advice

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority is doing something exceedingly proactive: it somehow got the publisher of The Happy Baby Cookbook to initiate a voluntary recall – not of a food but of the cookbook — because it contained bad food advice for pregnant women.

Or NZFSA is following what New South Wales, Australia, did a couple of months ago for a book that has been available since Aug. 2009. Regardless, it seems extraordinary that government agencies are calling people on their food safety bullshit.

A recall is underway for a cookbook containing recipes for pregnant women made with ingredients the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) considers could be harmful in pregnancy.

NZFSA principal public health advisor Donald Campbell says while it is vital for expectant mothers to eat a nutritious and varied diet, it is important that they know which of the foods they might normally eat may require extra care or be avoided altogether during pregnancy.

“Hummus for example is packed with protein, but because most hummus is made with tahini which has been associated with Salmonella outbreaks, we recommend that pregnant women don’t eat it.”

Other foods that are unsuitable for pregnant women to eat include soft cheeses, ready-to-eat foods from delicatessens or smorgasbords, raw fish and shellfish, cold cuts, deli salads, sushi and foods containing raw eggs.

I can’t wait for my copy of The Happy Baby Cookbook to arrive. Will any other regulatory bodies take action against food safety silliness that can harm people?

Mothers, babies in Oregon infected with listeria from Mexican-style cheese

This is why listeria matters, especially to pregnant women and others who may be immunocompromised.

Two Oregon mothers have been sickened by listeria after eating tainted Mexican-style cheese made in Yakima, causing their babies to be born with a serious illness.

Another person got sick as well in Washington state after eating Queso Fresco made by Queseria Bendita in Yakima. The firm’s three cheeses, including Requeson and Panela, are being recalled.

William Keene, senior epidemiologist with the Public Health Division, said,

“All of these people were hospitalized. No one has died but with five people we’re lucky. … Queso fresco is a recurrent source of problems because it’s made with raw milk and often under poor conditions.”

Food poisoning during the Dominican honeymoon means Pepto-Bismol and baby wipes

Kansas State University student, and news hunter and gatherer, Gonzalo Erdozain (right, sorta as shown), finally got away on his honeymoon to the Dominican Republic after classes ended last week. Gonzalo returned yesterday and shares his tale below.

I probably contracted a slight case of food poisoning while honeymooning in the Dominican Republic.  So did my wife, and I spent my birthday, literally, in the bathroom and having to use baby wipes on sensitive and inflamed, uh, skin.

We apparently weren’t alone.

The Toronto Star reported yesterday that five passengers aboard a WestJet flight from the Dominican Republic were taken to hospital by ambulance Wednesday night after apparently suffering from food poisoning.

I’d like to know the resort where those other sick people were staying, but if it was anything like ours, it became rapidly apparent that food safety standards in the U.S. are still much, much higher than those of the Dominican Republic.

The resort was luxurious and the service was indeed top of the line, but what they consider to be safe and appropriate is just different than what Americans do.

Gonzo’s do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do advice when visiting a resort in the Dominican:

• don’t eat ceviche that isn’t cold enough or that isn’t entirely covered by lemon and lime juice (which is what is supposed to kill microorganisms;

• don’t eat the fruit they put as decoration on your drinks, its been sitting out all day at the bar in temperatures around 80-90F; and,

• if you want to be extremely careful, even though the hotel tap water is purified, always use bottled water if it will end up in your mouth such as washing your toothbrush, mouth guard (yes, I wear one myself due to grinding), or even rinsing the toothpaste from your mouth – if you use the tap water for any of these, and it happens to be tainted, you will get sick.

Bonus traveler tips: A small bottle of Pepto-Bismol at the hotel costs $18, the equivalent of a year’s supply in the U.S., and yes, baby wipes are available, but there is nothing funny about having to go to the pharmacy and buy baby wipes in a couples-only resort.