What will be the song of summer?

— Summer is upon us and that means barbeques, beach trips and plenty of playlists.

Spotify has released its predictions for this year’s “song of the summer” — you know, the hot jams you’ll be hearing everywhere — and its clever.

The streaming giant categorized the contenders like soundtracks for various summer-themed activities. For parties, Spotify suggests “Strip That Down” by Liam Payne and Quavo. For lounging by the pool, stream “I’m The One” by DJ Khaled (featuring a bunch of other guys). For a sizzling workout, Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” will keep you moving.

Spotify’s listicle also includes suggestions for what to listen to when your summer fling ends in disaster — “Crying in The Club” by Camila Cabello, naturally. Recovering from sunburn? Try “The Cure” by Lady Gaga.

If you are looking for a predictor based on sales, Billboard reminds us that we won’t really know until Labor Day.

And while Billboard predicted some of the same summer hits as Spotify, it also suggests we might all be singing “Do Re Mi” from former Justin Bieber co-writer, Blackbear come September.

Can ‘Wonder Woman’ save the world with its hopeful message?

— Gal Gadot hopes her portrayal of the iconic female superhero Wonder Woman inspires some positivity in the world.

“It was really important for us to convey a message and to remind people about good things like love and hopefulness,” Gadot told CNN at a press day for the film. “If we have that more, we’ll have a better society.”

Gadot, an Israeli-born actress, who got her start in the 2009 film “Fast & Furious,” is the first woman to anchor a superhero movie in more than a decade. (Jennifer Garner starred in Marvel’s “Elektra” in 2005. Prior to that, Halle Berry starred in the Warner Bros. produced “Catwoman” in 2004.)

Robin Wright, who plays General Antiope, Gadot’s aunt in the film, hopes audiences will connect with Wonder Woman and appreciate her strength.

“This female superhero represents justice, equality, love and the betterment of humankind,” Wright told CNN. “That’s what this movie is about. I think we all need a little bit more of that in the world today.”

The film’s director Patty Jenkins, who is the first female director of any Marvel or DC Comics’ movie, said Gadot made her job easy.

“It would have been a totally different story, and I don’t know that I would have wanted to do the movie if it was with a lead Wonder Woman who I didn’t believe in,” Jenkins told CNN. “Not only do I believe in her, she blows me away. It made it much easier to have the greatest Wonder Woman in the world put in the palm of my hand.”

Gadot promises “Wonder Woman” will not disappoint when it comes to action and the “big wowzies” expected with superhero films.

“I hope that the movie will be received well,” Gadot added. “I hope that [audiences will see] what we’ve been trying to say in this movie.”

“Wonder Woman” hits theaters Friday.

Do school dress codes end up body-shaming girls?

— Immediately after writing a piece on how shorty shorts and form-fitting shirts are pretty much all you can find from most major mainstream brands when it comes to clothing for girls, I heard several examples of how schools are shaming girls when they wear those same clothes to school.

But if the girls are wearing the clothes that are primarily being offered to them, don’t we have a problem here?

Many think we do, including Catherine Pearlman, a mother of two who penned a tongue-in-cheek letter to her daughter’s middle school principal in a blog post for Today.com that was viewed more than 2 million times.

Pearlman said her daughter, now 13, had been told in the fall by a teacher that she couldn’t wear yoga pants because the boys would get turned on and then be embarrassed.

Then, for two days in a row, her daughter, who is 5 feet 7 inches tall, was told she violated the school’s dress code for wearing shorts that were too short: They are supposed to be longer than students’ fingertips when they have their arms at their sides. She had to put on boys’ gym shorts instead and return to class.

Pearlman — a licensed clinical social worker and founder of The Family Coach, a private practice helping families resolve everyday problems including discipline, sibling rivalry and sleep — headed to her computer to vent.

“To reward you for treating my daughter with such concern, I am cordially inviting you to take my daughter shopping,” she wrote. “Now, don’t forget that you will have to find something in the stores that also meets with your dress code requirements.

“She has very long fingers which seems to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible. … I can tell you from experience that just heading to the mall, Target and the outlets won’t cut it. Not much for her there. I’ve already checked.”

‘Subtle messages’ being sent to girls

Pearlman never sent the letter to the principal. She took to the computer because she believes schools don’t want to be in the business of body-shaming girls but don’t realize that that’s what they are doing by enforcing what she thinks is an outdated dress code.

“As a woman, I know almost no women who like their body, who feel good about their body, almost none, but you don’t know how you got there,” Pearlman said in an interview. “But when you have a daughter, you see, I can literally see it happening, and it’s so subtle, but it’s all of these things. It’s the yoga pants. It’s the short shorts.”

In response to her post, she heard a range of comments, both supportive and critical. Among the critics were people who said that if her daughter continues to wear the shorts she was wearing, “she’s going to grow up to be a slut and a prostitute,” said Pearlman, author of “Ignore It! How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction.”

Though her daughter didn’t hear those kinds of comments at school, Pearlman still feels that the reprimands she received for what she wore could make her feel self-conscious about her body.

“I think there are these subtle messages that sort of carry on that we shouldn’t show something. Why shouldn’t we show something? Because something’s wrong with our body,” she said. “We need to be teaching the boys what appropriate behavior is instead of teaching the girls that they have to cover up to protect themselves from the boys.”

Pearlman’s daughter is not alone.

There have been countless examples, many shared on social media, of girls being shamed for the clothing they wear. One woman wrote about how her 9-year-old granddaughter wore a tank top on a 99-degree day and was told she was violating the school dress code.

“What happened was totally humiliating to her,” wrote Laurie Levy, a retired preschool director, in a blog post for Chicago Now. The teacher sent the girl to the school nurse, where she was told to change out of her top and wear a boy’s short-sleeved undershirt instead, according to Levy, author of “Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real: On Belonging, Loving, Evolving, Advocating, Musing, and Letting Go.”

“I’m not sure what the purpose of a dress code is for such young kids other than to make them feel ashamed of how they look or the clothing their families have purchased for them,” she said. “In middle school, however, dress codes for girls become downright discriminatory. By that age, tight yoga pants, cropped shorts, very short shorts and close fitting tank tops are, well, revealing for some girls. For the late bloomers, not so much.”

One 15-year-old girl, who we’re not naming to protect her privacy, said she was given an in-school suspension for wearing shorts that were to her mid-thigh. Her teacher suggested that her clothing was suggestive and that she was “asking for it.”

She says boys wear shorts that are shorter than hers and don’t get in trouble.

“I feel bad because it’s my body … and there’s no reason for the school to be telling me that I have to cover it up,” she said.

The message her school is sending her, she said, is that she should cover up and be ashamed. “If I show a little bit of my body, I’m considered a bad girl,” she said. “Just because I’m wearing this doesn’t mean that I want people to look at me sexually. I want to be seen as a woman. I don’t want to have to feel bad about my body.”

‘Rules are rules’

In response to concerns about school dress codes, there are plenty of people who take the “rules are the rules” approach and believe that while people might not like the rules, they still need to follow them.

“Your child’s ‘likes and dislikes’ do not supercede the rules and regulations set forth by your current school district that you reside in and pay taxes to,” one person wrote in the comments section under Pearlman’s blog post. “Sometimes we do have to wear things we aren’t wild about. I didn’t like wearing my lab coat, scrubs, goggles, but I did it.”

“I get so tired of seeing these angry parents who sent their children to school in something that they know isn’t according to the dress code. The world has rules. Your kid needs to learn how to obey them and apparently so do you,” another commenter said.

Pearlman said she is not against a dress code but believes schools are taking the concept to an extreme level. “I mean, I do understand that without any kind of parameters, some children would show up (in) inappropriate clothing, and by inappropriate, I mean boobs hanging out,” said Pearlman, who is also an associate professor of social work at Brandman University.

She says she’s a fairly strict parent and disciplinarian who teaches her kids to obey rules, but when the rules aren’t working, you need to speak up. The dress code is outdated and out of touch with the clothing that is being marketed and sold to girls, she believes.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to make (my daughter) feel uncomfortable, which is what inadvertently is happening by the dress code, and … if something is not a good policy, then you should advocate. You should speak up. I’m a social worker, too. That’s what we do.”

Pearlman’s daughter ended up writing a letter to her principal raising questions about the dress code and was told the school is following the district’s policy. She’s about to graduate and head to a high school, which doesn’t have a dress code.

As for the 15-year-old high school freshman who has faced in-school suspension for wearing shorts that were allegedly too short, she has also been reprimanded on other occasions for showing some of her stomach and for showing cleavage.

For the last few weeks of school, she’s mainly wearing jeans, because she is “just too tired to deal with getting in trouble right now.”

The day after her in-school suspension for shorts that didn’t meet code, she wore jeans and started overheating (it was 90 degrees) and had to go to the nurse’s office.

“We can’t show our shoulders. We can’t show even a little bit of our stomach. We can’t show, pretty much, our legs. We can’t show our chest, either,” she said.

She longs for a day when things will change and girls are not experiencing body-shaming for what they wear.

“They can keep a dress code that has the same rules but be more lenient toward the rules as long as what the person is wearing is acceptable,” she said. “If one kid with no boobs can get away with it, so can someone with large boobs.”

As for Levy, the grandmother and retired preschool director, she believes that if schools don’t have uniforms, they should be following common sense. A 9-year-old wearing a tank top on a hot day is not being seductive or disrespectful, she says. And a developed 13-year-old’s body should not be seen as a distraction to male classmates, she believes.

“If schools want to teach respect, they need to give the message that it is unacceptable to blame a girl for being more developed and thus too distracting for her male classmates,” she writes. “If schools want uniformity in how students look, they need uniforms, not dress codes.”

Powerful new antibiotic could halt superbugs

— Scientists in the United States have developed a vital tool in the battle against superbugs by re-engineering a decades-old antibiotic.

A new version of vancomycin is much more effective at fighting Enterococci bacteria, which is found in hospitals and can cause dangerous wound and blood infections. Some infections had become resistant to the drug, which has been prescribed for 60 years.

The research team, from The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, described the new drug as “magical” in its strength, the UK Press Association reported.

It could be years, however, before the completion of clinical trials needed to turn the lab discovery into a mass-produced medicine, an expert told CNN.

Triple threat to tough infections

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says the modification gives vancomycin a 1,000-fold increase in activity, so doctors could use less of it to fight infection.

It works on bacteria in three ways to make it harder for them to develop resistance.

“This increases the durability of this antibiotic,” said Dale Boger, who led the research and is co-chair of The Scripps Research Institute’s chemistry department.

“Organisms just can’t simultaneously work to find a way around three independent mechanisms of action,” he said. “Even if they found a solution to one of those, the organisms would still be killed by the other two.”

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels around the world, threatening the ability to treat common infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning and gonorrhea, the World Health Organization warns.

The Scripps team described vancomycin as an antibiotic of last resort, used only after treatment with other antibiotics has failed.

“This is a relatively simple modification that’s made a much better drug,” Dr. Andrew Edwards, a lecturer in molecular microbiology at Imperial College, London, told CNN.

He described it as a “very significant” development, explaining: “Hopefully what this means is there will be another option for treating really serious invasive infections. It’s almost like having a new antibiotic.”

Still, Edwards said, the need for more testing means its availability is likely years away.

Thousands die each year

And while promising, the re-engineered drug is not effective against all types of resistant bacteria, Colin Garner, CEO of the charity Antibiotic Research UK, told CNN.

“It is good, interesting science, but it is not going to cure antibiotic resistance,” he said.

“This is going to be one small step on a long road to trying to tackle antibiotic resistance,” Garner said. “In the UK, at least 12,000 people a year are dying from antibiotic-resistant infections. That’s about the same number as breast cancer.”

What you should know before buying sunglasses

— Summer’s almost here, so beware the brightest of sunlight! To protect your eyesight, the most important recommendation you need to follow is to wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet radiation whenever you go outside during daylight hours, according to the National Eye Institute. This is true for everyone, no matter what age, year round.

Ultraviolet radiation is the energy radiated by the sun that arrives on Earth in wavelengths too short for us to see. Both UVA (waves that are 320 to 400 nanometers long) and UVB radiation (290 to 320 nanometers long) can be harmful to your eyes. The fix, though, is simple.

“The recommendations are that eyeglasses should block UVA and UVB radiation,” said Dr. Andrea Thau, president of the American Optometric Association. When shopping for sunglasses, look for a tag or label that says 100% protection against both UVA and UVB or 100% protection against UV 400.

The UV 400 designation simply means the lenses will block radiation equal to or shorter than 400 nanometers, which covers both UVA and UVB rays, Thau said.

Thau and Dr. Justin Bazan, a doctor of optometry and medical adviser to The Vision Council, a nonprofit trade organization for optical industry manufacturers and suppliers, recommend purchasing sunglasses from a reputable retailer.

These include “eyecare provider offices, or brick-and-mortar and online department stores and sunglass specialty shops — as they offer sunglasses that meet the necessary standards for proper UV protection,” Bazan wrote in an email. He adds that shoppers “should be wary when purchasing sunglasses from online auction sites, street vendors and flea markets, as sunglasses available at these locations may not meet the necessary standards for proper UV protection.”

That’s all good, but does UV protection wear off over time?

It doesn’t, says Dr. Jeff Pettey, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Moran Center University of Utah and a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“The UV protection is embedded,” Pettey said, explaining both the technology and the process have changed over time, advancing far enough that “routinely, even on the cheapest pair of glasses,” the protection is built in for life.

“In the testing we’ve done, we’ve never had a pair of sunglasses that didn’t meet that UV protection,” Pettey said.

He acknowledges that in the early 1990s, tests on children’s sunglasses showed that not all lived up to their UV protection claims, but more recently, “we just have not seen that.”

Still, he suggests buying from a reputable retailer just to be safe.

“There’s no guarantee, because you can’t say for certain where your glasses are coming from,” Pettey said, adding that there’s a test you yourself can perform at any local optical shop that has a UV light meter.

“You can take your glasses in and have them tested,” said Pettey. This is a handy test for when you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag or if they’re simply old and you want to make sure.

As far as a “hard requirement,” UV protection is it, he said. Tint doesn’t matter, polarization doesn’t matter, and although bigger is always better, “UV protection is the essential piece.”

The inessentials, though, may also play a role in eye health.

Beyond UV rays

Thau says there are two parts to sunglass protection: One is non-visible radiation, and the second has to do with visible light — how much brightness they block.

“When you’re in the bright sun, like the beach, you do want something 75% or darker to block you from visible light,” Thau said. Too much exposure to visible light “does bleach your receptors, and some studies have indicated it can impair your night vision and your color vision perception.”

Yet blocking visible light has a downside if your sunglasses are not up to UV snuff, suggests Dr. James H. Diaz, an environmental medicine specialist and anesthesiologist.

“The darker the sunglass lenses, the more the pupils will dilate and allow more UV light to enter the eye,” Diaz wrote in an email. This is true of blue light, which ranges in length from 400 to 440 nanometers.

“The longer the retinas are exposed to unfiltered blue light, the greater the risk of macular degeneration,” Diaz said. However, the National Eye Institute does not list protection against blue light as necessary when purchasing sunglasses. In fact, research has shown blue light exposure is good for us, as it helps regulate our circadian rhythms and so affects both mood and cognition.

“Orange and yellow lenses provide the best protection from blue light, and blue and purple lenses provide the least protection,” Diaz said.

Thau noted color is not crucial in protecting eye health. “Most popular colors are gray, green and brown. They are the least distorting for color perception, with gray being the most neutral,” she said.

People who have color vision deficiencies generally find that they see much better with brown lenses, while “green seems to give more contrast,” said Thau.

Whether you opt to filter out blue light or not, a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses can protect both your short-term and long-term health.

Protect your thin skin

“Skin around the eyelid is the thinnest in the body, so it is susceptible to skin cancers,” Thau said. This thin skin is most likely to develop basal cell and squamous cell cancers, so the recommendation is to wear the largest pair of sunglasses possible to protect the eyelids and surrounding skin.

Meanwhile, Pettey warns that cancers of the eye itself, including squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas, also can result from sun exposure.

“The same damage that occurs to our skin occurs to the eye,” he said: specifically “eye burn,” a form of short-term damage similar to a sunburn.

Thau says sun exposure can also cause photokeratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, with temporary symptoms of blurry vision, light sensitivity and a burning or gritty sensation. Too much sunlight may also lead to a thickening and/or yellowing of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the eye. Though unsightly and annoying — your eyes will feel too dry when this happens — this doesn’t cause blindness, says Thau.

Other conditions caused by too much unprotected time in the sun may have longer-term consequences, according to Pettey. Pterygium, for instance, is a growth of fleshy tissue that can cover part of the cornea and hurt your vision. This is sometimes called “surfer’s eye.”

“Inside of the eye, as far as function, increased UV light leads to increased progression of cataracts and also likely increased progression of macular degeneration, both of which are conditions that cause loss of sight,” Pettey said.

Thau says the latter is the more serious of the two complications.

“Cataracts can be removed surgically, but macular degeneration is yours for life,” she said. “It literally causes damage to the photo receptors. It’s like damaging film in a camera, and you cannot replace the film.”

One other long-term danger of looking directly at the sun is solar retinopathy. Just like your mother told you, don’t ever look directly at a solar eclipse, such as the one coming August 21.

“If you were to look at that level of radiation, even for a few seconds, without the brightness of the light telling you to look away because it would be painful, you can actually cause burns on the retina in the back,” Thau said. These burns cause permanent damage to your sight, and regular sunglasses are not enough protection for a solar eclipse.

Though the sun is the main cause of UV radiation damage, artificial sources such as tanning beds, lasers and welding machines also produce UV radiation that might damage vision.

One other consideration at least for some is their location on the globe, Diaz said.

Polarized lenses

“We have more sunny days in the South, especially in Florida, and the West, especially in California, than in other areas of the US, and therefore, we see more sun-related injuries,” said Diaz, who has researched this topic. Naturally, this is also true for the sunniest spots around the globe.

“Another problem in the coastal South and all coastal areas is the reflected magnification of UV radiation off of surface waters,” Diaz said. UV-blocking sunglasses protect against these reflections, but there is a risk of the same complications that result from direct sunlight.

Beyond the standard UV recommendations, does polarization matter?

“I like to fish, and polarized lenses will reduce reflection and glare off surface waters and allow one to see at a greater depth,” Diaz said.

Thau says this is not mandatory, “it’s just an optional add-on benefit you can have.”

Though most of us are concerned with eye health, the Vision Council reports that only 31% of Americans always wear sunglasses when outside.

They’re not merely a fashion statement, insists Thau, but if that gets you to wear them, go with it. She herself owns five pairs and has been known to put them on even when sitting in a bright room.

To be safest, Thau recommends that an annual comprehensive eye examination with a credentialed doctor to learn more about eye health and which sunglasses might be most beneficial in any given circumstance.

“It’s also important for children to start with some protection early, because it’s cumulative damage over time,” Thau said. “My family does not walk out the door without their sunglasses on, except at night.”

Inside Beyoncé’s baby shower

— Don’t act like you didn’t know Beyoncé was going to shut it down when it came to her baby shower.

Queen Bey’s “Carter push party” was held this weekend to celebrate the coming of twins for the superstar singer and her husband Jay Z, whose legal name is Shawn Carter.

Thanks to social media, we commoners can all enjoy highlights from the day.

Beyoncé shared images of her henna decorated belly, along with photos of her and the hubs decked out in African attire.

The Beyhive has been eagerly awaiting the twins’ arrival since Beyoncé announced in February that she was making five year-old daughter Blue Ivy a big sister.

The push party was, naturally, a star-studded event. Guests included Kelly Rowland, sister Solange and expectant tennis phenom Serena Williams.

Queen mom Tina Knowles shared some video and pictures from the party, as well.

The Carters have not publicly shared their due date, but the hive is buzzing it will be soon.

Memorial Day Ceremony to Honor Four Marylanders

— The annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens will salute the men and women of the armed forces who have paid the highest price in defense of the United States of America and honor four Marylanders killed in the past 14 months. The traditional patriotic ceremony will feature a slate of local participants and dignitaries, including keynote speaker NASA Astronaut and Baltimore native, G. Reid Wiseman, (Commander, U.S. Navy).

In addition to honoring those fighting the battles of today and those who gave their lives in Korea, Vietnam and World War II, the 2017 ceremony will honor: Airman 1st Class Nathaniel H. McDavitt of Severna Park, Md., killed on April 15, 2016 in Jordan by the Islamic State; Private First Class Victor Stanfill of Fulton, Md., died on May 10, 2016 from injuries suffered during a live-fire training exercise at Fort Polk, La.; Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas of Takoma Park, Md., killed by an improvised bomb blast on October 4, 12016, during a mission against the Islamic State’s Afghan branch; and Sgt. First Class Allan E. Brown of Takoma Park, Md., died on December 6, 2016, from wounds suffered in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan the previous month.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Memorial Day ceremony held in Dulaney Valley’s Circle of Immortals, an area dedicated in 1967 and reserved for Marylanders killed in action. Twenty-six service members who died in Vietnam are buried within the Circle. The area is also home to the official Baltimore County World War II/Korean War Memorial, dedicated in 1998; and The Children of Liberty Memorial, which was added to the Circle in 1990 and is dedicated to Maryland servicemen and women who died at the hands of terrorists. It includes a plaque dedicated to the seven Maryland service members who lost their lives in the 1991 Liberation of Kuwait, the names of the three Maryland servicemen killed in 2000 aboard the USS Cole and the names of the service members killed in the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

The annual Memorial Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens is a legacy of the former owners, the Armiger Family, who felt the public was losing sight of the meaning of Memorial Day.

The ceremony, which is free and open to the public begins at 10 a.m., at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, Circle of the Immortals, 200 East Padonia Road, Timonium, Md.

Heart Disease in Children…Yes, it happens! And Parents Need to Know About It

— As a pediatric cardiologist, I diagnose and treat children with heart conditions. I also assist families and children with implementing strategies to help prevent the onset of heart-related disease.

Dr. Carissa M. Baker-Smith, , MD, MS, MPH Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine Pediatric Cardiologist, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital

Courtesy Photo/UMMS

Dr. Carissa M. Baker-Smith, , MD, MS, MPH Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine Pediatric Cardiologist, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital

Parents, family members and children are counseled regarding the child’s specific heart findings and when necessary, management and treatment strategies are put into action.

News that Jimmy Kimmel’s son was born with a heart defect was on the front page of the news several weeks ago. Knowledge that his newborn son would need to undergo heart surgery at such a young age gripped the family and those hearing this story.

It is important to note that while not all children with defects of the heart will require heart surgery, many will require lifelong follow-up with a cardiologist. Some may require procedures of the heart such as cardiac catheterization or heart surgery.

In the field of pediatric cardiology, we often talk about two types of heart disease: congenital and acquired.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) refers to defects of the heart that occurred when the heart was forming (first three to eight weeks of pregnancy). CHD can present early or later in a child’s life, depending on the severity of the disease. CHD is actually the most common birth defect in the United States, occurring in 40,000 of the four million live births a year, or nearly one percent of U.S. births.

The other type of heart disease that will impact an even larger number of children and adults is acquired heart disease. Approximately 92.1 million people have at least one type of cardiovascular disease.

Known risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:

•Elevated blood pressure and hypertension

•Lack of physical activity

•High cholesterol

•Unhealthy diet

•Unhealthy weight/obesity/morbid obesity

•Smoking/tobacco Use

•Elevated blood glucose/Diabetes

•Poor sleep and obstructive sleep apnea

It is not uncommon for parents, teachers and other providers to assume that a child is “fine.” Many of the conditions that put children at risk for long-term heart-related problems don’t cause symptoms.

For instance, most children with elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol are unaware that they have either of these conditions.

Parents should know that even if your child’s heart developed normally, decisions that we make in terms of what and how much we feed our children can also have an impact on their heart health.

Children who are of an unhealthy weight or who are obese (weight for height greater than the 95th percentile) are at a much higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, and early heart disease as adults.

We as parents must encourage good nutrition and avoid giving our children excessive calories (children are not little adults). Children need far fewer calories in order to grow normally. Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages is important and avoiding or limiting high fat foods is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.

Simple ways to keep our children healthy, include:

•Try to exercise every day

•Eat the green stuff: spinach, broccoli, green beans

•Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages

•Get a good night’s rest

•Drink water!

Tips to help your child lead a healthier life according to the American Heart Association “Life’s Simple 7”: Questions to Ask Yourself as a Parent”

•One out of every 10 children has elevated blood pressure or hypertension. Do you know your child’s blood pressure? Is it abnormal?

•One out of at least 250 children has high cholesterol. If your child is over the age of 10 years, or there is a family history of high cholesterol and your child is over four years of age, do you know your child’s cholesterol level? Is it abnormal?

•Children 12-to-19 years of age should get one hour of physical activity each day. Does your child exercise for less than one hour per day, each week?

•How much does your child weigh? What is his or her body mass index? Is it greater than the 95th percentile? Check Out: https://nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/Calculator.aspx

•Does your child smoke?

•Does your child snore?

•Does your child ever stop breathing when he or she sleeps? Does he or she find it hard to stay awake during the day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may benefit from lifestyle intervention that could potentially have a positive impact on his or heart long-term cardiovascular health.

The most important information that I can share with families is that while youth is protective, decisions we make or help our children to make at an early age can have a dramatic impact on whether they develop heart disease as an adult. No parent wants their child to suffer a heart attack or stroke as an adult, but it is important to note that the risk factors for heart attack and stroke can develop in early childhood.

Author and global traveler brings kindness message to Baltimore

— Leon Logothetis brought his message of kindness to Baltimore’s Arbutus Middle School earlier this month, and the global adventurer and philanthropist says the students there embraced his belief that doing something good for others goes a long way in creating a peaceful world.

“My visit to Arbutus went very well and it’s such a privilege to be able to go to the school and talk to the students,” said Logothetis, the best-selling author who quit his job to embark on a global journey that he said transformed his life and taught him that nothing succeeds like kindness.

“What stands out for me is when I asked a question and invite the students to come down and tell me what it’s like when someone is kind to them. More often than not, they picked someone from the school or in the audience who has been kind,” Logothetis said. “That shows everyone that kindness really does change lives.”

Logothetis, who hosts the Netflix series, “The Kindness Diaries,” traveled across the world with just $5 to spend per day. He relied on the kindness of others to take him from place to place.

His story made international headlines and gained traction as he appeared on top-rated shows like “Good Morning America” and his YouTube series, “#GoBeKind,” which has generated millions of views.

“It really started for me early,” Logothetis said. “I had an afterschool teacher who helped me. I used to be bullied and the teacher would always say that she believed in me. That was really the first act of kindness that made me believe that how you speak to another person really does matters.”

On a yellow motorcycle, Logothetis traveled the world, a six-month jaunt that took him across 20 countries, which he’s chronicled in the 13-part series, “The Kindness Diaries.”

Through extreme conditions, setbacks and bike breakdowns, kindness prevails and is paid back in-kind by Logothetis. For example, he reportedly provided sports equipment, books, and water purifiers to a Calcutta orphanage that had offered him refuge.

Kindness, Logothetis believes, is universal.

“If you know how to be kind to your pet, then why can’t you be kind to each other? There are no more excuses,” he said.

He calls the presentations he gives at schools, “I See You,” a reflection of the imperative of not being judgmental of strangers and endeavoring to learn their stories.

Logothetis fondly recalled his trip through Bhutan, a tiny remote kingdom that’s nestled in the Himalayas between India and China.

Despite the national struggles, which include many human rights violations, individuals there proved especially kind to him, he said.

“The people are so lovely. My experience is that the people I met deal with you from the heart,” Logothetis said.

He said the time is particularly right for promoting kindness in the United States because of the divisive political climate and the vitriol of social media.

“I have faith in America. I have faith in the people and I have faith things will improve,” Logothetis said.

Later this year or early in 2018, he plans to take an electric car around the world in which he’ll again rely on the kindness of others.

“When you show an act of kindness, you’re making someone feel less alone,” he said. “That, in itself, is valuable. But, the beauty is, it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how little you have, everyone can be kind.”

Marylanders encouraged to practice these steps throughout tick season

— Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed May Tick-borne Disease Awareness Month.

Lyme disease is the most well-known tickborne disease but ticks also transmit diseases such as babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia. Spring is the start of tick season but Marylanders should continue to check for ticks after outdoor activities through the fall.

Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in Maryland. In 2015, the latest year that complete data is available, more than 1,700 cases of Lyme disease were reported in the State. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash (which might look like a bull’s eye), fever, headache and fatigue. If left untreated, the disease may spread to the joints and nervous system. Contact your healthcare provider if any of these symptoms develop after a known tick bite or after spending time in a tick habitat. Most cases can be cured with antibiotics.

The best way to avoid tick-borne diseases is to avoid ticks and their habitat. Ticks are found outdoors in the leaf litter, weeds, tall grasses, shrubs, and woods, preferring humid environments. To prevent tick exposure and tick bites:

use insect repellents such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus; perform a tick check on yourself, children and pets after being outside in tick habitat; wear light colored clothing so you can spot ticks more easily; wear long pants and sleeves to keep ticks off of your body; when hiking, stick to the path and avoid the brushy areas and tall grasses where ticks are more likely to be present; Within two hours of being outside, shower to wash away unattached ticks on your body and dry your clothes on high for six minutes to kill ticks; and discuss ways to protect your pets from ticks with your veterinarian.

To learn more about how to protect yourself, family members and pets from tick-borne diseases, visit the Health and Mental Hygiene website: dhmh.maryland.gov/tick.