Archive for March 25th, 2011

Guatemala’s first lady divorces “for her country”

Source: Yahoo! News

Link: guatemalas-first-lady-divorces-her-country-20110324-174302-620.html



GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Most loving couples hope their marriage will last “until death us do part”. But for Guatemala’s first lady, politics got there first.

Sandra Torres tearily announced on Thursday she had divorced her husband President Alvaro Colom for the sake of the nation, thereby hoping to skirt a law in Guatemala that blocks the president’s relatives from running for office.

A constitutional clause dating from Guatemala’s transition to democracy in the mid-1980s after decades of autocratic rule prevents family members of the president from taking power.

But Torres, who was already a divorcee, hopes to step into Colom’s shoes after an election later this year.

An ambitious politician who many analysts say wields significant power behind the scenes in Colom’s center-left National Union of Hope (UNE) party, Torres said she was putting the Guatemalan people before her own personal happiness.

“I am getting a divorce from my husband, but I am getting married to the people,” the 51-year-old Torres said at a news conference, fighting back tears. She called the decision, which will force the first couple to live apart, “very difficult.”

“I am not going to be the first or the last woman who decides to get a divorce, but I am the only woman to get a divorce for her country,” added Torres, Colom’s third wife.

The couple quietly filed for divorce by mutual consent in a family court on March 11 but the news was not made public until this week. The couple refused to say whether they would remarry later and declined to talk about their living arrangements.

While the constitution explicitly bans blood relatives of the president and vice president from running for office, it is unclear what the rule is on ex-spouses and the electoral court will have to decide if Torres will be allowed to run.

Opposition politicians blasted the move, with the leading right-wing Patriot Party (PP) calling it “electoral fraud.”

PP candidate Otto Perez Molina, an ex-general who commanded troops at the height of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, is leading polls ahead of the first round of voting in September.

Perez Molina lost to Colom in 2007 and is running again on a platform of fighting crime in the small Central American nation which is renowned for its ecological diversity but also has one of the highest murder rates in the western hemisphere.

The constitution bans former dictators and religious figures from running for president and does not allow re-election, possibly raising questions about the candidacies of other figures in the wide cast of presidential hopefuls.

Zury Rios, the daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, is eyeing a bid, as are evangelical preacher Harold Caballeros and former President Alvaro Arzu.

Rights activists accuse Zury’s father of masterminding some of the most brutal government-backed massacres in the 1960-1996 conflict between security forces and leftist guerrillas.

(Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Kieran Murray)


Firstborn kids more prone to food allergies: study

Source: Yahoo! News

Link: firstborn-kids-more-prone-food-allergies-study-20110323-094643-060.html



If you suffer from food allergies, consider your rank in the family birth order. According to a study out of Japan, firstborn siblings are more likely to suffer from food allergies than their younger brothers and sisters.

In a survey of more than 13,000 children ages 7 to 15, food allergies were prevalent in four percent of firstborn children, 3.5 percent of second-born children, and 2.6 percent in subsequent siblings.

Firstborns were also more likely to suffer from symptoms like an itchy, running nose and inflammation of the eyelids than their younger siblings.

The findings likewise suggest that food allergies may have a prenatal origin, as food allergies decreased significantly as birth order increased.

In a study published last November, researchers found that mothers who consume peanuts during their pregnancy could be putting their babies at increased risk of a peanut allergy. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, evaluated 503 infants across the US, ages three to 15 months, with milk or egg allergies or with severe eczema — all factors associated with an increased peanut allergy.

A total of 140 infants showed strong sensitivity to peanut-based blood tests, and the consumption of peanuts during pregnancy was a significant predictor.

While previous studies have found links between general childhood allergies and birth order, the Japanese researchers say theirs is the first to show a link between specific food allergies and sibling birth order.

In an interview with MyHealthNewsDaily, study researcher Takashi Kusunoki of the Shiga Medical Center for Children in Shiga, Japan, postulated that younger siblings may be spared from food allergies because the mother’s immune system in the womb changes with multiple pregnancies.

Kusunoki also hypothesized that younger children develop stronger immune systems than their older siblings because more children in the house means more germs. That means younger siblings may be exposed to more pathogens at an earlier age.

The study was presented during the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in San Francisco earlier this week.

The abstract for the study can be found at, and is No. 525.

To prevent younger children from developing the same food allergies as the firstborn, one study recommends eliminating the offending food from the mother’s diet from the third trimester on, and continuing the ban until the child is two years old.

According to researchers from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia, seven out of ten babies born to mothers who took avoidance measures had no food allergies, compared to 45 percent of babies whose mothers took no precautions.

Pediatricians recommend eliminating the offending food from both the mother’s diet and the household environment.

Breastfeeding has also been shown to protect children against the development of allergies.

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