Lack of Vitamin D Endangers Kids Vitamin D deficiencies are threatening kids in epidemic proportions, and some of the most e-mailed, viewed and commented on stories on the web.

Lack of Vitamin D Endangers Kids

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MIKE PESCA, host:

Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News, online all the time at npr.org/bryantpark. I am joined by a team of veritable all stars to share with everyone the most-viewed, the most-shared, the most-emailed, the most-gossiped-over, the most-scuttle-butted, the most-whispered, implied, inferred, referred to, ferreted out and declaimed. It is The Most.

(Soundbite of music)

PESCA: Ms. Coleman?

KORVA COLEMAN: Yes?

PESCA: Would you like to Most us first?

COLEMAN: I will. Here's the number one thing that's been read at foxtv.com. Victoria Secret underwear could be damaging to your eyes. How do I know this? A woman is suing Victoria Secret because her V-string - yes, that's V-string - damaged her eye. Apparently, there's a decorative piece of metal that somehow came loose and was flung into this poor woman's cornea, which it cut, and so now she's suing for compensatory damages. Poor Macrida Patterson, she needs a little help.

PESCA: Yeah. I thought maybe she was putting it on wrong, but it's flinging metal is what she...

COLEMAN: Well, I don't know. I've seen the both of these, and if you look at the design - well, just go to Wikipedia, and you can see how there could be some question about how to get into one.

PESCA: Yeah.

COLEMAN: A V-string as opposed to a, say, G-string.

PESCA: Mm-hm.

COLEMAN: As opposed to a T-string.

PESCA: Mm-hm.

DAN PASHMAN: That's why I never put barbed wire in my underwear.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Yes, it's true.

PASHMAN: It's a bad idea.

PESCA: Yeah, yeah.

COLEMAN: I've got to know which letter I'm using.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Also, if you're going through the metal detector at the airport, who wants to strip down to that level?

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Yeah. You could hurt somebody in the eye.

PESCA: Ding!

PASHMAN: Oh, man.

PESCA: Mark?

MARK GARRISON: I have a most-emailed from the Chicago Tribune. Basically, a major new study finds, like, a major tipoff to an aggressive driver is bumper stickers, and you would think it would be, you know, what they say, but it's actually interesting, it doesn't matter what the stickers say. So it could be, you know, my kid's an honor student, or my kid beat up your honor student, or keep Austin weird, or make Austin normal, it doesn't really matter what the message is, just the idea if they're there or not. And they think the reason is, because road rage is a kind of about territory...

PESCA: Yeah.

GARRISON: You know, this is my lane, my thing, you're in it, I will hurt you now. And they think a bumper sticker is a marker of someone saying, hey, this is my car, and so like that. So it can be...

PESCA: That's fascinating.

GARRISON: It can be about puppy kisses, or it can be about violence.

PASHMAN: Even the one that says coexist with the different religious symbols...

COLEMAN: I must be a horrible person.

GARRISON: Oh, no.

COLEMAN: Oh, no.

PASHMAN: I think the one that says, my car will run into your car...

GARRISON: Oh, Korva!

PASHMAN: That's like (unintelligible).

COLEMAN: No, I...

PESCA: Korva, what are your bumper stickers?

COLEMAN: What are my bumper stickers? My kid plays ice hockey?

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: Oh my God! Stay away from that lady!

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: That's the kind of person who'll be driving down the highway flinging her thong at everyone.

COLEMAN: Oh!

PASHMAN: Ow, my eye!

PESCA: Dan, would you like to go?

PASHMAN: Sure, I've got a most-emailed here from Yahoo! News. Watch out, guys. The moon is going to be huge tonight. Actually, it's not. It's just going to look really big. But you can see a huge moon illusion tonight. It's a full moon, and we're approaching the summer solstice, and there's a thing called the moon illusion, which you may have noticed, which is that when the moon is especially low in the sky...

GARRISON: Right.

PASHMAN: It looks a lot bigger. It isn't bigger, obviously, but it looks a lot bigger, and...

PESCA: Thank you for the clarification.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: You see, the moon doesn't change size, Mike.

PESCA: Celestial bodies don't shrink and expand?

GARRISON: It's not growing.

PESCA: I see.

PASHMAN: Right. Exactly.

MATT MARTINEZ: But you know, as a kid I used to think that it did, because I would see a bigger moon, I was like, that's enormous. How did the moon get that big?

PASHMAN: Well, it's an illusion, Matt.

MARTINEZ: Oh, OK.

PASHMAN: It's OK. Don't worry.

MARTINEZ: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Perhaps your parents long ago should have disabused you of that ritualistic, primitive notion.

MARTINEZ: Twenty years, now you know the truth.

PASHMAN: Yeah. But tonight is the solstice moon, coming just two days before summer starts in the northern hemisphere, and basically, because of lunar mechanics, the sun and full moon are like kids on a seesaw. When one is high, the other is low. So the especially high solstice sun...

MARTINEZ: Yeah.

PASHMAN: Results in especially low, and therefore apparently large, moon.

MARTINEZ: And the solstice's coming up on Friday.

PASHMAN: Right.

PESCA: Also, Matt, I should note that seashells aren't whispering about you behind their back.

MARTINEZ: Really?

PESCA: I feel like we have to go back to your childhood.

MARTINEZ: So you cannot hear the ocean in a seashell?

PESCA: Yeah. There may be a lot of impressions that were misgotten (ph) in your childhood. Trish?

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: I smell a segment.

COLEMAN: The moon's made of cheese. It's cheese. It's cheese.

PESCA: Things Matt got wrong.

MCKINNEY: Things Matt didn't understand when he was a kid. OK.

MARTINEZ: Let's go.

MCKINNEY: So, I have the most-emailed story on USA Today. The headline, "Lack of Vitamin D, Rampant in Infants and Teens." And rampant?

PESCA: Can a lack be rampant?

MCKINNEY: Well, OK, that is a little problematic...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MCKINNEY: But I also thought, you know, people get to...

PASHMAN: She didn't write the headline.

MCKINNEY: Be a little inflammatory in headlines.

PESCA: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

MCKINNEY: Maybe not rampant really, but it's actually - there are a couple of stories showing - a couple of studies showing that 40 percent, and another study shows 42 percent, of infants, toddlers and adolescents, are vitamin D deficient.

COLEMAN: Ooh.

MARTINEZ: Because?

MCKINNEY: So, you know, this is an age of fortified foods. You know, they have been adding vitamin D to cereals and things like that, but it's not helping, apparently, and you know, vitamin D is this - is activated by exposure to sunlight.

PESCA: Right.

MCKINNEY: So you can eat a lot of it, but it's not naturally in a lot of foods, and...

COLEMAN: You've got to go outside.

MCKINNEY: And you can eat a lot of it, but if you don't spend 15 minutes in the sun, at least, you're going to get - vitamin D is not going to do you any good. So...

PESCA: And is there a lot of stats in that article about how kids just aren't going out into the sun? People are scared of the sun?

MCKINNEY: Well, actually they do talk about people using sun block...

PESCA: Yeah.

MCKINNEY: You know, so it's one of those things where, you know, you can't win for losing.

CONAWAY: Oh, great!

MCKINNEY: So you have to put on sun block to prevent skin cancer, but now they're saying, if you put on sun block, you're preventing vitamin D absorption, so now they're saying, maybe spend 15 minutes in the sun before you put the sun block on, except if you think you might have cancer. Then don't do it. Talk to your doctor first.

MARTINEZ: This just proves you can't do anything. You can't do anything.

COLEMAN: Yeah.

MCKINNEY: Yeah. There's also an interesting thing about breast milk not being rich in vitamin D, so with more people breastfeeding their children...

COLEMAN: Oh, gosh.

MCKINNEY: Maybe a lot of infants now are not getting vitamin D. So I'm sure that's going to set a lot of people off...

COLEMAN: And tomorrow...

MCKINNEY: So there's a lot going on in that story.

COLEMAN: Tomorrow, saliva causes stomach cancer.

PESCA: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MCKINNEY: Oh, if you want - but if you need your...

MARTINEZ: No, kids, you can't swallow it.

MCKINNEY: Vitamin D, apparently, it's in - 340 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, you can get it in cod liver oil. So have fun, folks.

PESCA: Oh, yeah. That will be fun.

MARTINEZ: I actually put that stuff in my coffee, so...

PASHMAN: Yeah.

COLEMAN: Ugh.

PESCA: Both inhaling and exhaling. I've got a quick one from the Christian Science Monitor, the Now It Needed to Be Said file. Airlines are wrong - sorry, airlines are charging for the wrong bags. It's a commentary. He makes the very logical point that they should be charging - Mark Katz does - they should be charging for the carry-on luggage which clogs everything up, and people try to stuff stuff into the overhead compartment.

MARTINEZ: Yeah.

PESCA: They should charge for that privilege, and then it would ease things along, make them more money, and actually do what they wanted to do, which is also limit the amount of tonnage on flights. So, very logical argument, now it needed to be said. Matt, what else needs to be said?

MARTINEZ: Well, what else needs to be said is on the most-emailed list at the old NPR computer machine is the headline "Neutering Nunu: A Dog-Culture Clash in Iraq," and it's about the pet dog at the NPR Baghdad bureau, and NPR producer Katia Dunn reported this story.

KATIA DUNN: A few months after Nunu came to live with us in Baghdad, I asked Ghasson, an NPR translator, to call a veterinarian and make an appointment. We needed to have Nunu neutered. Ghasson didn't have any idea what I was talking about. I explained that in the States, when we own a dog, we think it's responsible to stop it from reproducing. We even call it "fixing." In Iraq, Ghasson explained, it is just the opposite.

GHASSON: The idea of having a dog is to have puppies, and especially that you may give one of the puppies to your close friends, your relatives, but right now, we are - just like we're going backwards. Instead of having more puppies, we are trying to stop the coming puppies, which is a kind of nonsense.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Come here, baby. Here it is. Here's the ball. OK. Go get it.

DUNN: It was Lourdes Garcia-Navarro and I who decided we had to neuter Nunu. Garcia-Navarro is a correspondent in Baghdad. Nunu kept getting lost, slipping out to gallivant with the pack of stray females who roam the street outside our bureau. "The snip," as she called it, seemed like the only solution.

GHASSON: Nunu. Bye, Nunu.

DUNN: On the day of Nunu's appointment, I tried to slip out the door quietly with him. But the staff caught me on the way out.

(Soundbite of people talking)

DUNN: Everyone is sad about Nunu, Ghasson said to me. He explained that for Iraqis, having a big family is a great achievement, a basic right, of which we shouldn't deprive man or dog. Another translator, Isra, went so far as to say that Nunu would be scorned. Before this, she said, she always thought that the stray dogs outside envied Nunu for his posh, indoor lifestyle.

ISRA: But now, I mean, that he will stop being a male dog, I think no stray dog will ever think of envying him anymore.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DUNN: I assumed the vet we visited would, like U.S. vets, be an advocate of population control, but this is the first thing veterinarian, Leith Jacob Sabah, said to me.

Dr. LEITH JACOB SABAH (Veterinarian, Baghdad): Yeah, it's the season of breeding. I prefer to find him a girlfriend. What do you think?

DUNN: Sabah explained that veterinarians in Iraq are basically matchmakers. He proudly told us about hundreds of arranged dog marriages. He'd even brokered a few international unions, but I insisted, Sabah shrugged, and started shaving Nunu's fur.

(Soundbite of electric razor)

DUNN: Ghasson and I stood by and whispered, as we watched Sabah and his assistant do the surgery.

GHASSON: I think from now on, he's going to be fat, because he will focus on eating only.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GHASSON: This is the only desire that left for him.

DUNN: When we brought Nunu home later that day, I admit, he looked pathetic, all bandaged up. Isra and Nada, two translators, were horrified.

NADA: There's no other solution? Just an operation? It's awful.

ISRA: You should give him asylum in the United States, because he doesn't fit here anymore.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DUNN: Today, Nunu has pretty much recovered. We're glad we don't have to worry about little Baby Nunus showing up on our doorstep. The staff seems to have moved on. But did we do the right thing? I asked Garcia-Navarro what she thought.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think it's one of the things that you grapple with here all the time, whether you're imposing your own system on an alien culture, on a different way of doing things.

DUNN: Of course, no single one of us can say for sure whether or not it was a good decision.

(Soundbite of dog bark)

DUNN: Except for maybe one dog.

(Soundbite of music)

PESCA: That's NPR producer, Katia Dunn, reporting from Baghdad. You can get links to this story and all the others on today's Most, plus you can see The Most in magical Technicolor at our website, npr.org/bryantpark.

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