Was it just me or did 2010 seem more intense than ever? Stories affecting our kids and families were all over the Web this year, filled with new breakthroughs, sad endings and amazing inspirations. Here are 10 story lines (for better or worse) that made an impression on me this year.
1. BPA. If I had a nickel for every time I wrote about BPA this year, I'd be a rich woman. Researchers found this ubiquitous chemical in our food, our receipt paper, and even in the air. To make matters worse, they found that it readily penetrates the skin. So it's no wonder that there were stories almost every week about BPA — where it was found and how to avoid it.
2. Kids and chemicals. Lead, phthalates, and cadmium, oh my! The chemicals that our kids are exposed to made big waves this year, and studies that found our kids are already laden with chemicals prompted legislators to introduce the Kids Safe Chemicals Act to do something about it.
3. Toy recalls. Toy recalls made the news again this year, as each time the government made an effort to limit a potentially toxic ingredient (like lead), overseas manufacturers replaced it with an equally toxic, but not yet monitored ingredient (like cadmium.)
4. Childhood obesity. With the rate of childhood obesity at an all-time high, government officials, parents, school administrators and health experts have been scrambling and pointing fingers in an attempt to identify the source of the problem and find solutions. Will the next decade see the end of super-sized kids?
5. Breast milk classifieds. A new trend was born this year as desperate mothers bypassed expensive milk banks to buy, sell and donate breast milk online.
6. Autism breakthrough. Scientists got one step closer to unlocking the mystery of autism with new research that found a link between the disease and a gene that controls connections in the brain.
7. San Francisco's Happy Meal Ban. San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban fast-food kids meals that come with toys unless they meet specific nutrition guidelines. The controversial move made some parents happy, while others were up in arms over the intrusion into a choice they believe is theirs alone to make. Even the mayor vetoed the ban in an attempt to overturn the legislation. At last check, it appears the debate will continue to rage on into the next decade.
8. Girls hit puberty at earliest age ever. I can still remember my jaw dropping to my chest when I read the finding that girls are now hitting puberty at an average age of 9 years old. Did I mention that my eldest daughter is 8 years old? Health experts aren't sure yet why the girls are hitting puberty at such a young age, but many folks are pointing to chemicals (like BPA) and childhood obesity as potential culprits.
9. Bullying 2.0. Kids have always been cruel, but texting and social media have given them new tools that up the ante when it comes to tearing down their peers and letting the world know.
10. Eco-heroes. For every negative story to hit the Web this year, there was an equally uplifting story about eco-heroes who are forging a path towards a cleaner, greener future. From the young teen who walked across the U.S. to end homelessness to the 10-year-old who created eco-bags, I was inspired almost every day by the next generation of eco-stewards.
What were your favorite stories of 2010?