It's a hard job finding time to be good parents

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 1994, 12:00am

Q: DESPITE our busy work schedules, my wife and I want to be good parents and are struggling over whether to buy commercial baby foods or make our own baby food using a food mill and blender. What is your advice? Dr Rose writes: I applaud you and your wife for your efforts. More people should follow your example and devise ways to better interact with their children despite a busy lifestyle. As many families employ domestic helpers these days, this makes home-prepared baby food a viable option should you and your husband decide to pursue it.

Commercial baby foods, like many other processed foods, have gone through a revolution in the past decade. They are becoming more nutritional with higher contents of naturally processed foods and lowered levels of sugar, salt, additives and colouring.

Carefully read the labels for ingredients and nutritional content. For example, many of the so-called natural fruit juices contain extra added sugar and fruit colouring and flavouring. If ingredients are not listed, call the manufacturer or buy other brands that label that information. I have found that local brands of baby foods tend to contain higher artificial ingredients than those produced overseas.

While I think it is an excellent idea to prepare baby food from scratch yourself, I do not feel your children will be harmed if they eat commercial foods. The more important factor to take into consideration is evaluating the nutritional value of the foods against the convenience they bring to your lifestyle. Q: Can you tell me what percentage of the population is actually homosexual? Whenever I read about gays in magazines and books, I get the impression that they exist in large numbers and are everywhere. However, I don't personally know of any gay people. Isn't this just another new sexual fad? Dr Rose writes: It is difficult to obtain reliable statistics in Asian countries. It is especially difficult to obtain accurate information on sexual practices, including homosexuality.

From ancient writings and pictorials, there is plenty of evidence that homosexuality and bisexuality have existed for centuries and is not a ''new sex fad'', as you have suggested. There is still a great deal of debate about people's sexual orientations and preferences with regard to whether it is due to a biological basis or develops in certain environments. Regardless, we should not discriminate against another individual on the sole basis of his or her sexual orientation or preference.

One study from the United States has shown that as many as one-in-four men have experienced sexual intimacy with another male, either as a teenager or as an adult. In general, it is believed that approximately 10 per cent of the population is homosexual.

Within each country, the prevalence rate varies significantly depending on the age, occupation and geographical location. However, a much lower percentage of the population label themselves exclusively homosexual, due to the fact that most homosexuals are also bisexuals and many who consider themselves heterosexuals may have had a homosexual experience at some time in their lives. Q: How does an ultrasound work? I am pregnant and every time I visit my obstetrician, she performs an ultrasound on my baby. Are they safe? Dr Rose writes: Many doctors employ the use of ultrasonography, especially in the fields of obstetrics, cardiology, gastroenterology, oncology (or the study of cancer) and vascular surgery, to assist in their diagnosis and treatment. Ultrasound has been used increasingly over the past decade especially in the field of obstetrics to aid in visualising the foetal anatomy. It is often used to locate areas for performing fine needle aspiration, such as the case with an amniocentesis.

The technique is simple. Your doctor places a transducer on your belly, which emits ultrasound waves. The transmission is enhanced by use of gel medium. The transducer contains a crystal that converts an electrical impulse into high frequency sound waves, ranging from 2.5 to 10 million hertz. Most of our normal daily noises are in the ranges of one to 10 kilohertz.

At such high frequencies, the sound waves are focused into a beam that passes through the abdomen as the transducer crystal moves back and forth. A series of echoes is created when the waves are reflected back by different tissue densities. These echoesare converted by the transducer into electrical signals, which are then translated by computer software into two-dimensional images that are displayed on the viewing monitor.

While ultrasounds can be quite helpful, and there have been studies that demonstrate the relatively safety of this procedure, doctors should be aware of overuse of this technology. Sometimes, false positive findings may cause the physician to overreact, leading to aggressive medical and surgical interventions which are unnecessary and may harm the patient's and the baby's health.