Tag Archives: from

From rinsing to whitening – why you’re looking after your mouth wrong

A Twitter discussion has revealed that you don’t need to moisten your toothbrush before using it. Here are five other tips for top-notch oral hygiene

Young girl brushing her teeth


It goes a little something like this … Photograph: LightRocket/Getty Images

A recent lively Twitter discussion revealed, as these things often do, the existence of a group of utter barbarians: people who do not wet their toothbrush before brushing their teeth. It is almost impossible to believe such people exist, let alone that their method works, but it does. Apparently, it is a matter of preference. “A dry brush increases friction with the bristles and won’t dilute the fluoride in the toothpaste, while a wet toothbrush adds moisture and, for most people, makes the brushing experience more pleasant,” says Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser for the British Dental Association. “Whatever your preference, what really matters is that teeth should be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste, including last thing at night.” So, if it is not necessary to add water, what else might we rethink in the dental area?

Don’t brush straight after meals or after certain drinks

Orange juice


Photograph: Getty Images

“If you eat anything with sugar or carbohydrates in it, the enzymes in the mouth create an acid,” says Derek Richards, a consultant in dental public health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry. This can weaken the surface of the teeth. Sugary drinks or fruit juice “will dissolve the very superficial layers of the teeth; if you brush your teeth straight away, you’re going to start brushing that [surface] away. If you want to brush your teeth straight after fruit, wait 10 minutes or rinse out with water and then brush.”

Spit, don’t rinse

“You shouldn’t rinse your mouth out after you’ve cleaned your teeth because that washes away the fluoride that helps harden your teeth,” says Richards. “Most of the real improvement in the reduction of tooth decay since the 1970s is largely down to toothpaste manufacturers and the fluoride they’ve been putting in.”

A knocked-out tooth can be saved

Sometimes. Rinse it and put it back in the socket immediately, then get to a dentist. If you can’t put it back in or can’t face doing that, put it in cow’s milk – not water – while you seek dental attention. “If it’s put in milk within five minutes, the root’s cells can be preserved for up to an hour,” says Monty Duggal, a former head of paediatric dentistry at the University of Leeds.

Good bacteria might prevent bad breath

Mouthwash


Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers were looking at whether supporting the mouth’s good bacteria could improve bad breath. If this is the case, antibacterial mouthwashes, which kill off all bacteria, could do more harm than good. You can buy oral probiotics, but a review last year of the small number of studies concluded that the data was “deficient”.

Don’t get your teeth whitened by a beauty therapist

It is illegal, although some unscrupulous people offer it. It is possible to buy home whitening kits online, which may conrain unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause burns or tooth loss. As long as it is carried out by a dentist, teeth whitening is considered safe.


From rinsing to whitening – why you’re looking after your mouth wrong

A Twitter discussion has revealed that you don’t need to moisten your toothbrush before using it. Here are five other tips for top-notch oral hygiene

Young girl brushing her teeth


It goes a little something like this … Photograph: LightRocket/Getty Images

A recent lively Twitter discussion revealed, as these things often do, the existence of a group of utter barbarians: people who do not wet their toothbrush before brushing their teeth. It is almost impossible to believe such people exist, let alone that their method works, but it does. Apparently, it is a matter of preference. “A dry brush increases friction with the bristles and won’t dilute the fluoride in the toothpaste, while a wet toothbrush adds moisture and, for most people, makes the brushing experience more pleasant,” says Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser for the British Dental Association. “Whatever your preference, what really matters is that teeth should be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste, including last thing at night.” So, if it is not necessary to add water, what else might we rethink in the dental area?

Don’t brush straight after meals or after certain drinks

Orange juice


Photograph: Getty Images

“If you eat anything with sugar or carbohydrates in it, the enzymes in the mouth create an acid,” says Derek Richards, a consultant in dental public health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry. This can weaken the surface of the teeth. Sugary drinks or fruit juice “will dissolve the very superficial layers of the teeth; if you brush your teeth straight away, you’re going to start brushing that [surface] away. If you want to brush your teeth straight after fruit, wait 10 minutes or rinse out with water and then brush.”

Spit, don’t rinse

“You shouldn’t rinse your mouth out after you’ve cleaned your teeth because that washes away the fluoride that helps harden your teeth,” says Richards. “Most of the real improvement in the reduction of tooth decay since the 1970s is largely down to toothpaste manufacturers and the fluoride they’ve been putting in.”

A knocked-out tooth can be saved

Sometimes. Rinse it and put it back in the socket immediately, then get to a dentist. If you can’t put it back in or can’t face doing that, put it in cow’s milk – not water – while you seek dental attention. “If it’s put in milk within five minutes, the root’s cells can be preserved for up to an hour,” says Monty Duggal, a former head of paediatric dentistry at the University of Leeds.

Good bacteria might prevent bad breath

Mouthwash


Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers were looking at whether supporting the mouth’s good bacteria could improve bad breath. If this is the case, antibacterial mouthwashes, which kill off all bacteria, could do more harm than good. You can buy oral probiotics, but a review last year of the small number of studies concluded that the data was “deficient”.

Don’t get your teeth whitened by a beauty therapist

It is illegal, although some unscrupulous people offer it. It is possible to buy home whitening kits online, which may conrain unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause burns or tooth loss. As long as it is carried out by a dentist, teeth whitening is considered safe.


From rinsing to whitening – why you’re looking after your mouth wrong

A Twitter discussion has revealed that you don’t need to moisten your toothbrush before using it. Here are five other tips for top-notch oral hygiene

Young girl brushing her teeth


It goes a little something like this … Photograph: LightRocket/Getty Images

A recent lively Twitter discussion revealed, as these things often do, the existence of a group of utter barbarians: people who do not wet their toothbrush before brushing their teeth. It is almost impossible to believe such people exist, let alone that their method works, but it does. Apparently, it is a matter of preference. “A dry brush increases friction with the bristles and won’t dilute the fluoride in the toothpaste, while a wet toothbrush adds moisture and, for most people, makes the brushing experience more pleasant,” says Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser for the British Dental Association. “Whatever your preference, what really matters is that teeth should be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste, including last thing at night.” So, if it is not necessary to add water, what else might we rethink in the dental area?

Don’t brush straight after meals or after certain drinks

Orange juice


Photograph: Getty Images

“If you eat anything with sugar or carbohydrates in it, the enzymes in the mouth create an acid,” says Derek Richards, a consultant in dental public health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry. This can weaken the surface of the teeth. Sugary drinks or fruit juice “will dissolve the very superficial layers of the teeth; if you brush your teeth straight away, you’re going to start brushing that [surface] away. If you want to brush your teeth straight after fruit, wait 10 minutes or rinse out with water and then brush.”

Spit, don’t rinse

“You shouldn’t rinse your mouth out after you’ve cleaned your teeth because that washes away the fluoride that helps harden your teeth,” says Richards. “Most of the real improvement in the reduction of tooth decay since the 1970s is largely down to toothpaste manufacturers and the fluoride they’ve been putting in.”

A knocked-out tooth can be saved

Sometimes. Rinse it and put it back in the socket immediately, then get to a dentist. If you can’t put it back in or can’t face doing that, put it in cow’s milk – not water – while you seek dental attention. “If it’s put in milk within five minutes, the root’s cells can be preserved for up to an hour,” says Monty Duggal, a former head of paediatric dentistry at the University of Leeds.

Good bacteria might prevent bad breath

Mouthwash


Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers were looking at whether supporting the mouth’s good bacteria could improve bad breath. If this is the case, antibacterial mouthwashes, which kill off all bacteria, could do more harm than good. You can buy oral probiotics, but a review last year of the small number of studies concluded that the data was “deficient”.

Don’t get your teeth whitened by a beauty therapist

It is illegal, although some unscrupulous people offer it. It is possible to buy home whitening kits online, which may conrain unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause burns or tooth loss. As long as it is carried out by a dentist, teeth whitening is considered safe.


From rinsing to whitening – why you’re looking after your mouth wrong

A Twitter discussion has revealed that you don’t need to moisten your toothbrush before using it. Here are five other tips for top-notch oral hygiene

Young girl brushing her teeth


It goes a little something like this … Photograph: LightRocket/Getty Images

A recent lively Twitter discussion revealed, as these things often do, the existence of a group of utter barbarians: people who do not wet their toothbrush before brushing their teeth. It is almost impossible to believe such people exist, let alone that their method works, but it does. Apparently, it is a matter of preference. “A dry brush increases friction with the bristles and won’t dilute the fluoride in the toothpaste, while a wet toothbrush adds moisture and, for most people, makes the brushing experience more pleasant,” says Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser for the British Dental Association. “Whatever your preference, what really matters is that teeth should be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste, including last thing at night.” So, if it is not necessary to add water, what else might we rethink in the dental area?

Don’t brush straight after meals or after certain drinks

Orange juice


Photograph: Getty Images

“If you eat anything with sugar or carbohydrates in it, the enzymes in the mouth create an acid,” says Derek Richards, a consultant in dental public health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry. This can weaken the surface of the teeth. Sugary drinks or fruit juice “will dissolve the very superficial layers of the teeth; if you brush your teeth straight away, you’re going to start brushing that [surface] away. If you want to brush your teeth straight after fruit, wait 10 minutes or rinse out with water and then brush.”

Spit, don’t rinse

“You shouldn’t rinse your mouth out after you’ve cleaned your teeth because that washes away the fluoride that helps harden your teeth,” says Richards. “Most of the real improvement in the reduction of tooth decay since the 1970s is largely down to toothpaste manufacturers and the fluoride they’ve been putting in.”

A knocked-out tooth can be saved

Sometimes. Rinse it and put it back in the socket immediately, then get to a dentist. If you can’t put it back in or can’t face doing that, put it in cow’s milk – not water – while you seek dental attention. “If it’s put in milk within five minutes, the root’s cells can be preserved for up to an hour,” says Monty Duggal, a former head of paediatric dentistry at the University of Leeds.

Good bacteria might prevent bad breath

Mouthwash


Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers were looking at whether supporting the mouth’s good bacteria could improve bad breath. If this is the case, antibacterial mouthwashes, which kill off all bacteria, could do more harm than good. You can buy oral probiotics, but a review last year of the small number of studies concluded that the data was “deficient”.

Don’t get your teeth whitened by a beauty therapist

It is illegal, although some unscrupulous people offer it. It is possible to buy home whitening kits online, which may conrain unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause burns or tooth loss. As long as it is carried out by a dentist, teeth whitening is considered safe.


From rinsing to whitening – why you’re looking after your mouth wrong

A Twitter discussion has revealed that you don’t need to moisten your toothbrush before using it. Here are five other tips for top-notch oral hygiene

Young girl brushing her teeth


It goes a little something like this … Photograph: LightRocket/Getty Images

A recent lively Twitter discussion revealed, as these things often do, the existence of a group of utter barbarians: people who do not wet their toothbrush before brushing their teeth. It is almost impossible to believe such people exist, let alone that their method works, but it does. Apparently, it is a matter of preference. “A dry brush increases friction with the bristles and won’t dilute the fluoride in the toothpaste, while a wet toothbrush adds moisture and, for most people, makes the brushing experience more pleasant,” says Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser for the British Dental Association. “Whatever your preference, what really matters is that teeth should be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste, including last thing at night.” So, if it is not necessary to add water, what else might we rethink in the dental area?

Don’t brush straight after meals or after certain drinks

Orange juice


Photograph: Getty Images

“If you eat anything with sugar or carbohydrates in it, the enzymes in the mouth create an acid,” says Derek Richards, a consultant in dental public health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry. This can weaken the surface of the teeth. Sugary drinks or fruit juice “will dissolve the very superficial layers of the teeth; if you brush your teeth straight away, you’re going to start brushing that [surface] away. If you want to brush your teeth straight after fruit, wait 10 minutes or rinse out with water and then brush.”

Spit, don’t rinse

“You shouldn’t rinse your mouth out after you’ve cleaned your teeth because that washes away the fluoride that helps harden your teeth,” says Richards. “Most of the real improvement in the reduction of tooth decay since the 1970s is largely down to toothpaste manufacturers and the fluoride they’ve been putting in.”

A knocked-out tooth can be saved

Sometimes. Rinse it and put it back in the socket immediately, then get to a dentist. If you can’t put it back in or can’t face doing that, put it in cow’s milk – not water – while you seek dental attention. “If it’s put in milk within five minutes, the root’s cells can be preserved for up to an hour,” says Monty Duggal, a former head of paediatric dentistry at the University of Leeds.

Good bacteria might prevent bad breath

Mouthwash


Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers were looking at whether supporting the mouth’s good bacteria could improve bad breath. If this is the case, antibacterial mouthwashes, which kill off all bacteria, could do more harm than good. You can buy oral probiotics, but a review last year of the small number of studies concluded that the data was “deficient”.

Don’t get your teeth whitened by a beauty therapist

It is illegal, although some unscrupulous people offer it. It is possible to buy home whitening kits online, which may conrain unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause burns or tooth loss. As long as it is carried out by a dentist, teeth whitening is considered safe.


From rinsing to whitening – why you’re looking after your mouth wrong

A Twitter discussion has revealed that you don’t need to moisten your toothbrush before using it. Here are five other tips for top-notch oral hygiene

Young girl brushing her teeth


It goes a little something like this … Photograph: LightRocket/Getty Images

A recent lively Twitter discussion revealed, as these things often do, the existence of a group of utter barbarians: people who do not wet their toothbrush before brushing their teeth. It is almost impossible to believe such people exist, let alone that their method works, but it does. Apparently, it is a matter of preference. “A dry brush increases friction with the bristles and won’t dilute the fluoride in the toothpaste, while a wet toothbrush adds moisture and, for most people, makes the brushing experience more pleasant,” says Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser for the British Dental Association. “Whatever your preference, what really matters is that teeth should be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste, including last thing at night.” So, if it is not necessary to add water, what else might we rethink in the dental area?

Don’t brush straight after meals or after certain drinks

Orange juice


Photograph: Getty Images

“If you eat anything with sugar or carbohydrates in it, the enzymes in the mouth create an acid,” says Derek Richards, a consultant in dental public health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry. This can weaken the surface of the teeth. Sugary drinks or fruit juice “will dissolve the very superficial layers of the teeth; if you brush your teeth straight away, you’re going to start brushing that [surface] away. If you want to brush your teeth straight after fruit, wait 10 minutes or rinse out with water and then brush.”

Spit, don’t rinse

“You shouldn’t rinse your mouth out after you’ve cleaned your teeth because that washes away the fluoride that helps harden your teeth,” says Richards. “Most of the real improvement in the reduction of tooth decay since the 1970s is largely down to toothpaste manufacturers and the fluoride they’ve been putting in.”

A knocked-out tooth can be saved

Sometimes. Rinse it and put it back in the socket immediately, then get to a dentist. If you can’t put it back in or can’t face doing that, put it in cow’s milk – not water – while you seek dental attention. “If it’s put in milk within five minutes, the root’s cells can be preserved for up to an hour,” says Monty Duggal, a former head of paediatric dentistry at the University of Leeds.

Good bacteria might prevent bad breath

Mouthwash


Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers were looking at whether supporting the mouth’s good bacteria could improve bad breath. If this is the case, antibacterial mouthwashes, which kill off all bacteria, could do more harm than good. You can buy oral probiotics, but a review last year of the small number of studies concluded that the data was “deficient”.

Don’t get your teeth whitened by a beauty therapist

It is illegal, although some unscrupulous people offer it. It is possible to buy home whitening kits online, which may conrain unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause burns or tooth loss. As long as it is carried out by a dentist, teeth whitening is considered safe.


Keeping medical cannabis from children is callous, and foolish | Ian Birrell

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania have opened their doors over the past few days. Thousands of patients with serious medical conditions have registered to access the drug, which comes in oils, patches and vaporisers, rather than smokable leaf form. The historic first purchase in the state was by Diana Briggs, the mother of a teenage son with severe epilepsy. “I am beyond thrilled,” she said. “There’s no more fear, no more stress for our family.”

Briggs campaigned for this moment after seeing how the drug reduced her son’s seizures from more than 400 a day to fewer than 50. As I know from my own daughter, who also has serious epilepsy, this is a miserable condition when poorly controlled by conventional medicine. Even after 24 years, I still find seizures distressing to watch – seeing the fear on her face when they start, holding her thrashing body tight for several minutes, then making her comfortable when she is left drained for hours. There is nagging fear in the knowledge that these episodes can kill.

Contrast the tears of joy for that mother in the US with the concern facing another mother in Britain. Hannah Deacon sees her six-year-old son, Alfie Dingley, endure up to 30 violent seizures a day. His type of epilepsy is so aggressive that he ended up in hospital 48 times in one year. Then he went to the Netherlands, and enjoyed 24 days without a single attack. The difference seems to have been made by a cannabis-based medication – just three small drops of oil – prescribed by a paediatric neurologist. “We’ve found something that makes him happy,” said his mother.

But since returning to Britain, Alfie has had to return to injections of steroids that are less effective and might eventually cause his organs to fail. This child is another innocent victim of the global war on drugs – perhaps the most foolish aspect of this futile 50-year fight has been the ban on medical marijuana. Now, Pennsylvania has become the 29th state in America to permit its use, while Italy and Germany are among European nations considering this shift.


Families with epilepsy are allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates

Slowly, however, things are changing. But there seems still to be befuddled stupor in Whitehall. This is perhaps unsurprising, under a prime minister whose policy record on drugs during her time as home secretary showed clear disdain for evidence. Yet it is callous and morally confused to stop patients accessing a cheap, safe and readily available drug that could improve life so dramatically. It is also irresponsible to ignore its fiscal potential, given the importance of the pharmaceutical sector to our economy. Among those planning to dispense the drug in Pennsylvania is a firm run by a former British policeman, Michael Abbott. His company, Columbia Care, has won licences in 12 states, and its boss would love nothing more than to be able to offer the drug to his home country. At one of his New York dispensaries I met his chief pharmacist. She explained she was at first embarrassed to be linked to the cannabis trade, and became a convinced advocate only after seeing changes in patients using the drug, especially for chronic pain, late-stage cancer and complex child epilepsy.

This does not have to be a Trojan horse for wider drug reform. And yes, much of the evidence is anecdotal since cannabis research has been hampered by illegality – although it is worth noting that Big Pharma seems resistant to an emerging industry that has reduced opioid deaths in American states where it is permitted to operate. Besides, why are families with epilepsy allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines in their homes but not cannabis?

Polls find that more than two-thirds of Britons and more than half of MPs back the use of medical marijuana. Perhaps we will see a revolt on Friday, when the Labour MP Paul Flynn tries to reschedule cannabis for medical purposes in a private bill. For where is the compassion or sense in letting children such as Alfie needlessly suffer?

Ian Birrell is a former deputy editor of the Independent and worked as a speechwriter for David Cameron during the 2010 election campaign

Keeping medical cannabis from children is callous, and foolish | Ian Birrell

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania have opened their doors over the past few days. Thousands of patients with serious medical conditions have registered to access the drug, which comes in oils, patches and vaporisers, rather than smokable leaf form. The historic first purchase in the state was by Diana Briggs, the mother of a teenage son with severe epilepsy. “I am beyond thrilled,” she said. “There’s no more fear, no more stress for our family.”

Briggs campaigned for this moment after seeing how the drug reduced her son’s seizures from more than 400 a day to fewer than 50. As I know from my own daughter, who also has serious epilepsy, this is a miserable condition when poorly controlled by conventional medicine. Even after 24 years, I still find seizures distressing to watch – seeing the fear on her face when they start, holding her thrashing body tight for several minutes, then making her comfortable when she is left drained for hours. There is nagging fear in the knowledge that these episodes can kill.

Contrast the tears of joy for that mother in the US with the concern facing another mother in Britain. Hannah Deacon sees her six-year-old son, Alfie Dingley, endure up to 30 violent seizures a day. His type of epilepsy is so aggressive that he ended up in hospital 48 times in one year. Then he went to the Netherlands, and enjoyed 24 days without a single attack. The difference seems to have been made by a cannabis-based medication – just three small drops of oil – prescribed by a paediatric neurologist. “We’ve found something that makes him happy,” said his mother.

But since returning to Britain, Alfie has had to return to injections of steroids that are less effective and might eventually cause his organs to fail. This child is another innocent victim of the global war on drugs – perhaps the most foolish aspect of this futile 50-year fight has been the ban on medical marijuana. Now, Pennsylvania has become the 29th state in America to permit its use, while Italy and Germany are among European nations considering this shift.


Families with epilepsy are allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates

Slowly, however, things are changing. But there seems still to be befuddled stupor in Whitehall. This is perhaps unsurprising, under a prime minister whose policy record on drugs during her time as home secretary showed clear disdain for evidence. Yet it is callous and morally confused to stop patients accessing a cheap, safe and readily available drug that could improve life so dramatically. It is also irresponsible to ignore its fiscal potential, given the importance of the pharmaceutical sector to our economy. Among those planning to dispense the drug in Pennsylvania is a firm run by a former British policeman, Michael Abbott. His company, Columbia Care, has won licences in 12 states, and its boss would love nothing more than to be able to offer the drug to his home country. At one of his New York dispensaries I met his chief pharmacist. She explained she was at first embarrassed to be linked to the cannabis trade, and became a convinced advocate only after seeing changes in patients using the drug, especially for chronic pain, late-stage cancer and complex child epilepsy.

This does not have to be a Trojan horse for wider drug reform. And yes, much of the evidence is anecdotal since cannabis research has been hampered by illegality – although it is worth noting that Big Pharma seems resistant to an emerging industry that has reduced opioid deaths in American states where it is permitted to operate. Besides, why are families with epilepsy allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines in their homes but not cannabis?

Polls find that more than two-thirds of Britons and more than half of MPs back the use of medical marijuana. Perhaps we will see a revolt on Friday, when the Labour MP Paul Flynn tries to reschedule cannabis for medical purposes in a private bill. For where is the compassion or sense in letting children such as Alfie needlessly suffer?

Ian Birrell is a former deputy editor of the Independent and worked as a speechwriter for David Cameron during the 2010 election campaign

A child’s gender can be detected in their speech from age five, research says

University of Minnesota academics say boys and girls pick up speech cues from adults around them, resulting in differences

kids playing different roles in costumes


The team also found that adults heard differences in the speech of boys who prefer male friends and traditionally ‘male’ toys compared with boys who prefer friends of the opposite sex and toys culturally associated with girls. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The gender of children can be picked up from their speech from as young as five years old, researchers have revealed.

While male and female children have no physiological reason for sounding different before puberty, when changes to the larynx kick in, researchers say boys and girls pick up telltale speech cues from adults around them, resulting in perceptible differences in their speech.

The team also found that adults heard differences in the speech of boys who prefer male friends and traditionally “male” toys compared with boys who prefer friends of the opposite sex and toys culturally associated with girls. Some of the boys in the latter group had received a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) based on behaviours such as playing with toys traditionally associated with girls, or wanting to wear female clothes or be called by a female name. Gender dysphoria, the currently used term, is now diagnosed only when such behaviour is distressing to the child.

“Even as young as five years of age, those boys are rated as sounding less prototypically boy-like than the boys without the diagnosis, and they are rated as sounding more girl-like” said Prof Ben Munson from the University of Minnesota, who is presenting the work at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.

The findings are based on research by Munson and colleagues involving 96 children aged between five and 13, who were recorded saying particular words. The team asked adults to listen to the recordings, and rate them on a six point scale as to whether the voices sounded more male or female.

Looking at 28 children without a GID diagnosis, the results reveal that on average boys and girls differed by about one point on the scale for comparable ages. What’s more, on average a difference of about a third of a point was seen between boys with and without a diagnosis, with 25 boys in each group.

Delving deeper using computer software to analyse the speech sounds, the team found that besides perhaps more obvious acoustic factors such as pitch, the way in which children pronounced an “s” appeared to be linked to whether listeners thought the voice was that of a boy or girl.

The team found that adults rated boys who pronounced an “s” in a very crisp, hyper-correct manner as sounding less prototypically boy-like.

“This makes sense because that is the very same ‘s’ that is characteristic of gay male speech styles in the adult population,” said Munson, drawing on something he had identified in previous research.

But the team also found that boys who pronounced an “s” with a lisp were also considered to sound less prototypically boy-like.

That, said Munson, was surprising.

“We never see [that pronunciation] in adult men in gay populations or really in adult men very much at all, or women for that matter,” he said . “But what we do find is that they are very prevalent in stereotypical portrayal of gay men’s speech.”

Munson suggests the findings could help researchers understand where the lisp stereotype comes from, although he noted that the study was based on a self-selected sample of children.

“Perhaps the reason that we see a higher incidence of the [lisp] in these kids is because the parents were troubled by it because the parents themselves had this stereotype in their minds,” he said.

The team say that when they looked to see which boys were making which pronunciations, they found boys with the GID diagnosis were indeed more likely to pronounce an “s” sound either with a lisp or in a hyper-correct manner, with the former more common in younger boys and the latter more common when the boys were older.

Munson said the study pushed back against traditional theories of language acquisition that, until recently, have suggested that early in life children do not select who they try to copy, but come up with an average of what they have listened to.

“It is evidence that children are picking and choosing among the people they encounter during language acquisition and that they are coming to emulate those people,” he said.

“The take-home message is language variation is pervasive. Seemingly subtle variation in language can convey social meanings learnt from a very early age,” he added.

While Munson said gender dysphoria/GID is a good predictor of who is going to grow up to be a adult gay man, he rejected concerns that speech traits in childhood could be used to predict future sexual orientation, noting there are no long term studies in the area.

Instead, he said, understanding why children pick up sounds from certain people could help researchers aid children who have difficulties learning language.

McDonald’s to cut cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from Happy Meal menu

  • Restaurant chain wants to cut down on calories, fat and sugar
  • Health advocates have linked Happy Meal to childhood obesity

McDonald’s says diners can still ask for cheeseburgers and chocolate milk, but not listing them will reduce how often they’re ordered.


McDonald’s says diners can still ask for cheeseburgers and chocolate milk, but not listing them will reduce how often they’re ordered. Photograph: Rogelio V. Solis/AP

McDonald’s will soon banish cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar that kids consume at its restaurants.

Diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the child’s meal, but McDonald’s said that not listing them will reduce how often they’re ordered. Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14%, the company said.

The Happy Meal has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity. McDonald’s has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped its apple juice for one that has less sugar.

It’s been especially important as the company tries to shake its junk-food image, since McDonald’s is known for getting more business from families with children relative to its traditional rivals, such as Burger King and Wendy’s. The Happy Meal is a key part of that.

The latest changes will occur in the United States by June.

McDonald’s said Thursday that it wants all its Happy Meal options to have 600 calories or fewer and have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. It also wants less than 10% of the meal’s calories to come from saturated fat and added sugar.

The cheeseburger and chocolate milk didn’t meet those new standards, McDonald’s said. It is, however, working to cut sugar from the chocolate milk and believes it’ll be back on the Happy Meal menu eventually but doesn’t know when that will happen.

There will be other tweaks: the six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small, lowering calories and sodium from the fries by half. And bottled water will be added as an option to the Happy Meal menu, but will cost extra. Currently, the Happy Meal menu lists milk, chocolate milk and apple juice. Soda does not cost extra.

For international restaurants, McDonald’s said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines. The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.