To help limit the spread of Coronavirus and to support public health efforts, many family attractions have closed temporarily. In the meantime, we invite our readers to enjoy virtual events highlighted in our Things To Do calendar. When you do go out, follow public health guidelines: wear masks, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. To learn why social distancing is important and effective in lessening the spread of COVID-19, hear from Dr. Alexis Elward, Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Thinking Twice About Hot Dogs

Come April, the only thing in Busch Stadium more maligned than Mark McGwire might just be the good old fan favorite, the hot dog. Today the American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement online outlining the choking hazards posed by foods, coins and toys. Foods cause more than half of the non-fatal choking situations serious enough to require medical treatment in kids 14 and under -- and of choking deaths in kids under age 10, about 17 percent involved hot dogs, according to the AAP's policy statement.

Yes, some companies already label their hot dogs as a choking hazard.  And many of us know that we should cut them up really small for toddlers, as we do with grapes and apples. The AAP wants doctors and other health care providers to drive home that message more. But it doesn't stop there. Its policy statement also says, "Food manufacturers should design new foods and redesign existing foods, including meat products, to avoid shapes, sizes, textures, and other characteristics that increase choking risk to children."

This latest bad news for hot dogs doesn't mention the actual ingredients they contain -- but there's been plenty of heat there, too. For example, the tastiest hot dogs, like the Hebrew National beef frank, contain 22 percent of the total fat an average adult on a 2,000-calorie diet should get in a day, 30 percent of the saturated fat, and 15 percent of the sodium. In October 2009, a Discover magazine article highlighted a study which suggested that low-level, long-term doses of nitrates and nitrites (compounds found in processed meats, like hot dogs, as well as in fertilizers) may be linked to diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Last spring, a study by the National Cancer Institute found that those who ate the most red and processed meats were more likely to die of cancer or heart disease.

By comparison, most of the other classic ballpark foods don't fare much better than the hot dog. Peanuts? Choking hazard. Cracker Jack? Ditto. Burgers? Fat and calories. It all makes the pretzel sound pretty darn good.

By Amy De La Hunt, Health Blogger for SmartParenting

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Amy De La Hunt is a journalist and editor who lives in the St. Louis metro area and works across the country as a writer, copy editor, project manager and editorial consultant on everything from fiction books to monthly magazines to blog posts. When she's not chauffeuring her teenage sons to activities, Amy is an enthusiastic amateur cook, landscaper, Latin dancer and traveler. Follow Amy on Instagram @amy_in_words

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Science @ Home with the Saint Louis Science Center

The Science Louis Science Center is continuing to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning through its online Science @ Home series! Visit the Science Center's web site or social media channels for DIY science experiments that can be done at home, Amazing Science Demonstrations from the Science Center's Energy Stage team, connections to local scientists, astronomy updates from the McDonnell Planetarium, live chats and more. Content is designed for all ages. 

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Magic At Home with The Magic House

The Magic House is bringing innovative, hands-on learning to you at home with its #MagicAtHome series of interactive, instructional online presentations. The Magic At Home series of activities includes lots of fun projects that you can make at home with common materials. The easy-to-follow directions mean your kids can make paper sculpture, do shaving cream marble painting, create make-your-own flowers, go "fishin," make TP roll animals, make salad spin art and more.

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Teaching in Room 9 from The Nine Network

The Nine Network is producing two hours of literacy and math instruction for prekindergarten through fourth grade weekdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The grade-appropriate instruction is taught by local educators at home, and is available on your St. Louis PBS station, channel 9. 

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Explore Purina Farms: Animal Connections
Monday, May 25, 2020

Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids. 

 

 

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Explore Purina Farms: Trainer Tips
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids. 

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