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Life in Brief — week of March 30

Tips for kids shopping
at consignment stores

It’s spring kids clothing consignment season, a great time to purchase gently used items at a fraction of the cost of regular stores. Here are some best practices:

• Before going, be sure you know your child’s sizes. Think 6 to 9 months ahead to take full advantage of the sale. According to, a good guide to use:

Birth-12 months: Add 10 inches in length and triple their birth weight (in one year).

12-24 months: Add 5 inches and 6 pounds each year.

2-10 years: Add 2½ inches and 6 pounds each year.

Puberty: For girls, 9 inches and 15-55 pounds; for boys, 11 inches and up to 65 pounds.

• Inspect each item for holes, missing buttons, etc. Check equipment such as strollers, walkers or bicycles.

• Be ready to spend time. Unlike a typical store, these sales offer lots of variety and require shoppers to search a little harder.

— Tara McAlister

Charlotte Observer

Hints from Heloise:

Unmatched sock handy
to have around house

Vasilisa H. in Columbia, S.C. writes: No matter how careful I am, I always manage to have an unmatched sock. I’ve learned to keep these socks around to use for quick dusting (place it on your hand like a glove) and to protect fragile items, like wine bottles, when I’m packing/wrapping them.

Laverne S. writes via email: I’ve discovered that flameless pillar candles make wonderful night lights. One provides a soft light that is ample when it’s necessary to move around the house at night. Added plus: It’s portable.

— King Features

Stress may have effect on ability to conceive

Can stress affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant? A new study says it may.

Over four years, 401 women who were trying to have a baby underwent saliva testing for two stress-related substances: the enzyme alpha-amylase, and the hormone cortisol. The women provided a saliva sample upon enrollment in the study, and then another at their first observed menstrual period, so that comparisons could be made from the same starting point.

Researchers analyzed the samples and then followed the women to see how long it took them to become pregnant. The scientists defined infertility as a failure to become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. During the study, published in Human Reproduction, 347 women became pregnant and 54 did not.

There was no association of cortisol with fertility. But those whose alpha-amylase levels were in the highest third, a sign of longstanding stress, had more than double the risk of infertility. The scientists controlled for age, race, income and other health and socioeconomic factors.

The lead author, Courtney D. Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at Ohio State University, said that if a woman was having difficulty becoming pregnant, it would be harmless, and might be helpful, to consider stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

— Nicholas Bakalar

New York Times


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