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Smoke can lower kids' IQs

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that exposure to secondhand smoke reduces children's scores on math, reading, and spatial skills tests by two to five IQ points.

The study was the largest and most scientific of its kind. For the first time, it used the level of cotinine in the blood as a biological marker for smoke exposure. Cotinine is a breakdown product of nicotine. Children with the highest levels of cotinine had the lowest test scores.

Study authors estimate that 21.9 million children are at risk for smoke-related reading problems.

Storage and your home office

Need shelving and storage for your home office, but wall space is taken up with windows and closet doors? One New York designer solved the problem by installing book shelves across the entire side of the room.

One section of the bookshelves was hinged so it could swing out to reveal the door to the supply closet.

At the end of the day, it can swing back to use the room as a guest room.

Middle-schoolers need Mom

About 80 percent of mothers with kids in the sixth through eighth grades are in the work force, full- or part-time. The percentage hasn't changed in the last decade. What has changed is the idea of when parents most need to monitor their kids. A growing number of educators, social workers, and parents think it's during middle school.

Psychologists say a nurturing person can be found to help a small child play with blocks. Helping a child through life transitions of middle school is best done by a parent.

Studies show that teen sex, crime, and drug use are most prevalent between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. That could be the most important time for a parent to be available.

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