Serena Hails Rule Changes To Protect Mothers In Tennis

US player Serena Williams celebrates/ AFP

 

Serena Williams has described the new changes to the ‘Special Ranking’ rule introduced by the WTA for 2019 as “great” and believes the move will encourage more players to take a break from the tour to have children then come back to resume their careers.

Under the new rules, returning mothers who have a special ranking that would earn them a seeded position can be drawn as an ‘additional seed’ at tournaments, meaning they would not be able to face a seed in the opening round of a tournament.

This change also ensures that no seed will get bumped as a result of a returning mother given a protected seeding.

Williams, along with other mothers on tour like former world number one Victoria Azarenka, had been advocating for such rule changes that would ease the transition back for players following the birth of their children.

“I think it’s great,” Williams said of the new rule changes during a press conference in Abu Dhabi ahead of an exhibition match against her sister Venus on Thursday.

“Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it and not have to wait ’til the twilight of their years to have children and I think it’s a really great rule.”

The 37-year-old American had her daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017 and returned to the WTA circuit last March at Indian Wells.

“I think having gone through the experience myself really opened my eyes up to me and, ‘Would have I done it sooner had there been different rule changes?’ I don’t know. But now that there is an opportunity, people don’t have to ask that question anymore,” added Williams, who is currently ranked 16 in the world.

“I think it’s a great rule change. I think it is a lot. But I feel like it’s just something that’s always going to be there and be special and ‘’m happy that they did it.”

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi will be Williams’ first on-court appearance since she lost the US Open final to Naomi Osaka in September amid a wave of controversy that resulted from her outburst at chair umpire Carlos Ramos, whom she accused of sexism.

“I’m feeling good. I’ve been training for a couple of months now and I’m getting ready for the new year,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said in the UAE capital.

AFP

ERGP: FG Encourages Child Spacing To Reduce Population Growth

 

The Federal Government says it is engaging critical stakeholders such as traditional and religious leaders to advise their members on child spacing.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said this on Tuesday at the Nigeria Economic Summit meeting which took place in Abuja.

According to her, the increase in the nation’s population was found to be one of the ‘great challenges’ in the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), hence the need to curb the “exponential population growth”.

She said, “We have been engaging traditional rulers and other leaders. Specifically, we have found out that to be able to address one of the great challenges that we identified in the ERGP, which is the growth in our population, we need to engage these institutions”.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the minister also cleared the air on reports that the government had plans to implement a policy that limits the number of children a mother can have, saying, “We never said we are placing a cap on childbirth.”

“What is child spacing? This is a healthy practice of waiting between pregnancies”.

 

Ahmed also spoke about the government’s efforts in creating more jobs for youths.

She listed the attainment of 7,000 megawatts of electricity as a major milestone in empowering youths with small businesses.

Parents Should Suck Kid’s Pacifiers To Prevent Asthma, Rashes – Study

Toddlers are less likely to have asthma and itchy rashes if their parents “cleaned” their pacifiers by sucking on them when the kids were infants, a small new study suggests.

The findings don’t prove that technique protects kids against asthma, eczema or other allergies. But researchers said it’s possible the transfer of mouth microbes from parents to baby may help boost the bacterial diversity of the young child’s digestive system and foster immunity.

“We know these bacteria are important for development,” said Dr. Wilfried Karmaus from the University of Memphis, who has studied asthma and eczema but wasn’t involved in the new research.

Being delivered through a vaginal birth, for example, exposes babies to more of their moms’ bacteria and has been linked to fewer allergies in childhood. But no one has ever looked at transfer of bacteria through pacifiers, Karmaus said.

For the new study, researchers recruited pregnant women at one Swedish hospital and followed them and their children through phone calls and exams over three years. The 184 infants in the study were particularly allergy-prone: 80 percent had at least one parent with allergies.

When the babies were six months old, 65 parents reported “cleaning” their pacifiers by sucking on them. Most parents also said they rinsed pacifiers with tap water.

The children were then brought in for allergy testing at 18 and 36 months of age.

At the first visit, 46 of them had eczema and 10 had asthma symptoms. Kids whose pacifiers had been sucked on by parents were 63 percent less likely to have eczema at 18 months and 88 percent less likely to have asthma, compared to the children of parents who didn’t use that cleaning technique.

By 36 months, the difference had gone away for asthma. Parental pacifier sucking was still tied to a 49-percent lower chance of a child having eczema, researchers led by Dr. Bill Hesselmar from Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg found.

There was no clear link between parents’ pacifier cleaning method and babies’ sensitization to common allergens, such as cat and dog dander or eggs and peanuts, at either age.

In a smaller analysis of 33 infants, the researchers found that babies whose parents did or didn’t suck on their pacifiers had different types of bacteria living in their mouths, the group reported Monday in Pediatrics.

“With the different oral flora, it supports the hypothesis and the findings,” Hesselmar told Reuters Health.

Still, he said the study can’t prove the pacifier cleaning method protected kids against asthma and eczema, and that it’s too early to recommend this technique to parents.

“It’s always hard to tell if it’s the only explanation, but we have tried to analyze as many other possibilities as we can think of,” he said.

“This is a simple measure which is really, really nice,” Karmaus said. “But we need a trial to be really sure that this is protective.”

A gold-standard trial would involve randomly assigning some parents to regularly clean pacifiers by sucking on them and others to never use that method. In the current study, Karmaus said, it’s possible parents who decided on their own to suck on their child’s pacifier were different from parents who didn’t in other important, allergy-related ways.

“It could be that these parents have more time with their children, a less stressful relationship with their children, hug their children more or whatever,” he told Reuters Health.

For now, he said, parents should know that using their mouth to clean an infant’s pacifier may be worth trying – and at the very least, shouldn’t be harmful.

That technique may also be a necessity from time to time, Karmaus noted.

“Sometimes you take two or three pacifiers with you but if all are dirty and your child is crying, there’s nothing you can do” but clean it yourself.

SOURCE: bit.ly/cxXOG Pediatrics, online May 6, 2013.