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EXCLUSIVE: ‘All natural’ baby skin cream found to contain potent steroid

Ginella Massa | posted Tuesday, Mar 28th, 2017

Health Canada has issued a warning for a popular skin cream marketed for babies and children with eczema. In a lab test, they found PureCare Herbal Cream, a product advertised as “all-natural,” actually contains a highly-potent prescription steroid called clobetasol propionate.

“Clobetasol happens to be in pretty much the most potent corticosteroid family,” says pharmacist Joseph Fanous. “It’s up there with medication we reserve for people who have years of eczema or are under dermatologist care. We don’t prescribe this easily over the counter.”

It’s shocking news to parents who say they have been using the cream on their babies for months. The label lists ingredients including shea butter, argan oil, and aloe vera, and claims to be steroid-free.

“All these families that have used it are enraged because they feel so helpless they don’t know what do,” says Cynthia Hu, a Richmond Hill mother who bought the lotion from a Mississauga distributor to help treat her daughter’s rashes.

Hu first discovered the product online through a Facebook group for moms. The lotion, touted as an herbal remedy for eczema and other skin ailments, was getting rave reviews from bloggers and moms posting amazing before and after pictures.

“We were using it as a moisturizer thinking there’s no harm, “ says Hu. “We continued to do that for six, seven months, not just on her face, but all over her body.”

But Fanous says even when prescribed to adults, clobetosal shouldn’t be used long-term or on thin skinned areas like the face because it can have lasting effects if absorbed by the body.

“We don’t want to have effects on the immune system, including one of the worst parts, stunting their growth,” says Fanous.

PureCare has issued a recall on their Facebook page, acknowledging the Health Canada findings. But for some parents who stopped using the cream, their troubles didn’t end there.

Desiree Valches-Lin, a Markham parent who had used the cream to treat eczema on her four month old son, says his skin became worse when she stopped. “He started having this reaction that was more pimple-like … all over his eyes and it spread to his cheeks.”

“The body was used to seeing this level of cortisol, or something like it,” explains Fanous. “Stopping right away has a bit of a shock effect.”

Fanous recommends any parent who used PureCare to let their doctor know immediately.

Purecare did not respond to CityNews’ request for comment. They have offered refunds to parents on their Facebook page.

Wearable technology was supposed to be the next big thing. What happened?

Peter Nowak | posted Monday, Mar 27th, 2017

It looks like the rumours of wearables’ demise have been premature. Or at least that’s the case according to the latest figures from analysis firm IDC.

Total global wearable shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016 were 33.9 million units, up 16 per cent from 29 million units a year earlier. Judging by those numbers, you might say there’s life in wearables yet.

A closer look at the numbers suggests there’s some truth to that conclusion, but that the market is also changing considerably.

To start with, it looks like Fitbit—the market leader—is in free fall. The company accounted for 19 per cent of all wearables shipped in the quarter, down a full 10 per cent from a year earlier.

China’s Xiaomi picked up much of that slack, placing second with 15 per cent of the market, up from 9 per cent in 2015. Apple was third with 4.6 per cent, up slightly from 4.6 per cent.

Garmin and Samsung rounded out the top five, each with low-single digit market shares.

“Others” also saw decent growth, going to 13 per cent from 10 per cent.

This group includes newcomers such as Fossil, BBK and Li-Ning, which variously make child-monitoring and step-counting shoes, as well as “hearables” companies such as Doppler Labs.

Taken together, there are a few conclusions that can be arrived at. First, Xiaomi’s powering ahead suggests there’s a lot of demand for traditional wearables in China.

Fitbit’s decline, meanwhile, indicates that the market for traditional step-counting devices is fizzling, which is probably where the wearables-are-dead narrative comes from.

The growth of the “others” category could also mean interest is increasing in wearables that do different things.

Hearables in particular, while only accounting for about 1 per cent of the market so far according to IDC, are promising.

Rather than just telling users what they already subconsciously may know—that they’ve walked a lot in a given day—such devices offer up new capabilities, like enhanced hearing.

Wearables might therefore be dead, but only in the way we’ve known them so far.

5 easy money-saving food swaps

Today's Parent | posted Monday, Mar 27th, 2017

Tip 5:

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and a squirt of honey. They’re already in your cupboard—free!

Toronto council could explore bid for 2022 Commonwealth Games

Amanda Ferguson | posted Monday, Mar 27th, 2017

City council may explore whether Durban’s loss could be Toronto’s golden opportunity after the South African city was stripped of its right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games last week.

Coun. James Pasternak has filed a motion, to be debated Tuesday, calling for the city’s Economic Development & Culture Division to investigate whether Toronto should enter the bidding process given its recent success as host of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

“Toronto is ready to host this competition after successfully hosting the Pan American/Parapan American Games in 2015,” the motion reads.

“It is highly likely that no new venues would need to be built for the games which would greatly reduce any financial risk to the city.”

However, Bob Richardson, who was behind Toronto’s successful bid for the Pan Am Games, said the timing doesn’t work for another bid.

Most cities are given five to seven years to prepare as host of a multi-sport Games.

Durban was awarded the Games in September 2015 and was due to be the first African city to host the event.

Last week, David Grevemberg, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said the city did not meet the criteria set by his organization and stripped it of its right to host. This came after months of the Durban government warning it may not have enough money to put on the event.

“The operational plans for [the] Games is huge,” Richardson said. “It’s a very, very tight timeline. I don’t think it’s feasible.”

Richardson said while a number of venues built for the Pan Am Games could be re-used for the Commonwealth Games, the city would need to scramble to build another athlete’s village.

The complexes built for the 2015 Games have been already converted into condos and student housing.

“It’s not a back-of-the-napkin kind of venture,” Richardson said. “The reason the Pan Am Games were successful is because we had that time and we had plans and it was well-executed.”

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years and feature athletes from more than 50 countries, mostly former British colonies.

Other cities have expressed interest in staging the 2022 edition, including Liverpool, London, England, and Edmonton. Grevemberg said an announcement on a new host city would be made by the end of the year.

Pasternak has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Canadians turn off the lights for Earth Hour

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 27th, 2017

Many Canadians spent an hour with the lights out as they joined people around the world in marking the 10th annual Earth Hour on Saturday.

The event is aimed at drawing attention to climate change and for people to show they support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Wildlife Fund has championed Earth Hour since 2007 when it started in Australia.It has since grown to a worldwide movement.

The WWF says this year’s events included everything from a choir performing by candlelight in Montreal to skating under the stars in Vancouver to a candlelight walk and yoga in Toronto.

Last year’s event saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a number of cabinet ministers join in.

Electrical utilities across Canada have also actively taken part in Earth Hour, though it has prompted some critics to use power usage figures to measure Earth Hour’s success.

The WWF says the idea behind Earth Hour is to raise awareness rather than attempting to reduce power usage.

United Airlines mocked online for barring girls wearing leggings from boarding flight

CityNews | posted Monday, Mar 27th, 2017

United Airlines is defending a gate agent’s decision to bar two young girls from boarding a plane reportedly for wearing leggings, despite a firestorm of criticism online.

The incident occurred on a flight from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday morning and was first reported on Twitter by Shannon Watts, the founder of anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action.

Watts went on to tweet that the girls – one as young as 10-years-old – were forced to change or put on dresses over the leggings. However their father was allowed to board without incident despite having on shorts that were a few inches above his knees, she told the New York Times.

United Airlines responded saying the girls were “United pass” riders –  travelling on tickets available for employees or eligible dependents – and were subject to their dress code policy. They also cited a rule in their ‘Contract of Carriage’ that states they have the right to refuse passengers who are “barefoot or not properly clothed.”

Delta Airlines and American Airlines both cite lack of footwear as a condition of removal or refusal to transport, but neither defines a dress code or specifically mentions clothing.

The backlash was swift and severe as thousands retweeted Watts’ original tweet. Many questioned what “properly clothed” means for a 10-year-old and accused the gate agent of sexualizing her outfit.

Celebs too weighed in, including Chrissy Teigen:

Billy Eichner pointed out some possible double standards:

And Patricia Arquette was on team leggings as well:

United Airlines spent the day responding to various critics on Twitter and it’s official response remains the same as the time of posting.

Marijuana could be legal by Canada Day 2018: report

CityNews | posted Monday, Mar 27th, 2017

The federal Liberals have reportedly set a date to officially legalize marijuana.

The CBC reports the government will unveil legislation the week of April 10 and that the recreational use of marijuana is set to be legal by Canada Day of next year.

According to the Globe and Mail, the federal government is scrambling to draft legislation ahead of April 20, the day when pro-weed groups publicly “light up.”

The minimum age to buy pot will be 18, but provinces could set a higher limit. It’s also up to the provinces to control distribution and sales. Also, four marijuana plants will be allowed in each household.

Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had signalled the legislation would be drawn up this spring to make good on his campaign promise to legalize pot.

All storefront marijuana dispensaries are currently illegal while the federal government drafts legislation to legalize and regulate recreational pot.

Dispensaries have been frequent robbery targets over the last few months. Several shops have been held up, often at gunpoint, and in some instances shots were fired.

Earlier this month, police arrested Marc and Jody Emery – the owners of the Cannabis Culture brand – and raided a number of Cannabis Culture dispensaries across Canada.

U.S. State Department grants permit for Keystone XL: TransCanada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Mar 24th, 2017

TransCanada Corp. is moving forward with its attempt to seek more than $15 billion compensation under the North American Free Trade Agreement following the U.S. government’s rejection of the company’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta

TransCanada says it has received a presidential permit from the U.S. State Department that allows it to build the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

Former president Barack Obama rejected the previous Keystone proposal saying it wasn’t in the U.S. national interest.

The new administration has said repeatedly that President Donald Trump supports the project.

However, Keystone may face more hurdles.

TransCanada still does not have deals with all the landowners in Nebraska on the proposed route.

The company also lacks a permit in that state and protesters promise they will try to stop the project, which will stretch from Alberta to refineries Texas.

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