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Baby Deadline Test: Beat Your Biological Clock

Posted: Sat, 04/09/2016 - 10:36
 
by LAUREN DUNN and PARMINDER DEO
Alyssa Gold had planned on getting married by age 26 and having kids by age 30 — but life worked out differently.
 
Instead, at age 34, she was single and successful, and about to start an MBA program. But her dreams of having a family were real and she began to be concerned as she got older about her chances of having a baby.
 
"I knew starting a family was a few years off," said Gold. "I was very career-minded and very focused and had relationships throughout my 20s and early 30s, but still wasn't in that forever relationship."
 
Women are born with a finite number of eggs: they start out with roughly one to two million in their ovaries. Once a woman hits puberty the number drops to 300,000 and by age 30 the amount decreases by 90 percent. In her mid-30's Alyssa worried how many eggs she had left.
 
Turns out there's a simple blood test that could tell her.
 
For years, it's been a staple in fertility clinics; it's officially called the Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) test. Some doctors are now offering it as an option to healthy women to assess what they call their ovarian reserve.
 
It's now being called the "baby deadline test."
 
 
Alyssa Gold and husband Josh Courtesy of Alyssa Gold
"There are some young, healthy women who are living their lives in shape and taking very good care of themselves who might not know that their reserve strength of their ovaries is lower than it should be." said Dr. Joshua Hurwitz a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with Reproductive Medical Associates of Connecticut. "It's a question of having the knowledge and awareness of keeping your options open."
 
The test is a simple blood analysis that usually costs less than $100. It measures the amount of AMH circulating in a women's bloodstream. This hormone is released by follicles in the ovaries and predicts the amount of possible eggs a woman has. The higher the result the more eggs, the lower the result the fewer eggs. The test doesn't measure the quality of the eggs and it's not a guarantee of fertility. The test has traditionally been offered to women who are struggling to get pregnant and helps assess the possible next steps, such as getting pregnant sooner or freezing eggs.
 
For Alyssa Gold, the AMH test was a wakeup call. At her regular gynecology visit, Gold took the AMH test and received news she didn't wanted to hear but it helped her take the next right step for her.
 
"I took the AMH test and I'm glad I did because the results were not what I was hoping them to be," said Gold. "My tests were really below normal and that was an indicator to me that I needed to move ahead with taking control of my fertility at that time and doing something, which was egg freezing."
 
Gold finished her graduate studies, and soon after met her future husband. She is now happily married, and at age 38, thinking about starting a family soon. She's grateful to the Baby Deadline Test for giving her that option.
 
"Completely fortunate that I was able to get the information and make that decision that there is this medical technology out there to help me in that way," said Gold. "If I had waited until I met my husband and we were trying now to have a child it would be a very different story."
 
"Even the best AMH level in the world is not a guarantee for someone going forward or even right now but they are good indicators for fertility," said Hurwitz. "There's no way you should lose hope, there's so many things we can do these days and starting early enough we can use this information to keep options open, no matter what the result is you're going to be okay." 

 

Why Finland has the best schools

Posted: Fri, 03/18/2016 - 11:08


Op-Ed 


William Doyle

The Harvard education professor Howard Gardner once advised Americans, “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States.”

Following his recommendation, I enrolled my 7-year-old son in a primary school in Joensuu, Finland, which is about as far east as you can go in the European Union before you hit the guard towers of the Russian border.


OK, I wasn't just blindly following Gardner — I had a position as a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland for a semester. But the point is that, for five months, my wife, my son and I experienced a stunningly stress-free, and stunningly good, school system. Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation.

In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of 7. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light.

Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. According to one Finnish maxim, “There is no bad weather. Only inadequate clothing.”

One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. “They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out,” he said.

Finland doesn't waste time or money on low-quality mass standardized testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalized learning device” ever created — flesh-and-blood teachers.

In class, children are allowed to have fun, giggle and daydream from time to time. Finns put into practice the cultural mantras I heard over and over: “Let children be children,” “The work of a child is to play,” and “Children learn best through play.”


The emotional climate of the typical classroom is warm, safe, respectful and highly supportive. There are no scripted lessons and no quasi-martial requirements to walk in straight lines or sit up straight. As one Chinese student-teacher studying in Finland marveled to me, “In Chinese schools, you feel like you're in the military. Here, you feel like you're part of a really nice family.” She is trying to figure out how she can stay in Finland permanently.

In the United States, teachers are routinely degraded by politicians, and thousands of teacher slots are filled by temps with six or seven weeks of summer training. In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors, in part because they are required to have master's degrees in education with specialization in research and classroom practice.

“Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.

Skeptics might claim that the Finnish model would never work in America's inner-city schools, which instead need boot-camp drilling and discipline, Stakhanovite workloads, relentless standardized test prep and screen-delivered testing.


But what if the opposite is true?

What if high-poverty students are the children most urgently in need of the benefits that, for example, American parents of means obtain for their children in private schools, things that Finland delivers on a national public scale — highly qualified, highly respected and highly professionalized teachers who conduct personalized one-on-one instruction; manageable class sizes; a rich, developmentally correct curriculum; regular physical activity; little or no low-quality standardized tests and the toxic stress and wasted time and energy that accompanies them; daily assessments by teachers; and a classroom atmosphere of safety, collaboration, warmth and respect for children as cherished individuals?

Why should high-poverty students deserve anything less?

One day last November, when the first snow came to my part of Finland, I heard a commotion outside my university faculty office window, which is close to the teacher training school's outdoor play area. I walked over to investigate.

The field was filled with children savoring the first taste of winter amid the pine trees. My son was out there somewhere, but the children were so buried in winter clothes and moving so fast that I couldn't spot him. The noise of children laughing, shouting and singing as they tumbled in the fresh snow was close to deafening.

“Do you hear that?” asked the recess monitor, a special education teacher wearing a yellow safety smock.

“That,” she said proudly, “is the voice of happiness.”

William Doyle is a 2015-2016 Fulbright scholar and a lecturer on media and education at the University of Eastern Finland. His latest book is “PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy.”

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

 

 

Vitamin D Prevents Colds and Flu and More

Posted: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 08:39


Getting Ahead of the Vitamin D Revolution Curve

 05/23/2012 07:03 pm ET | Updated Jul 24, 2012
  •  
    Bill SardiAuthor, 'How To Live 100 Years Without Growing Old'


No question, doctors and patients are now joining the vitamin D revolution in large numbers. More and more doctors are ordering tests to determine vitamin D blood levels and more patients are reading about the positive benefits of vitamin D in news reports. There have been more than 3,000 published studies and reports involving vitamin D listed at the National Library of Medicine in just the past 14 months. 

Now, pediatricians at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore say all children need to be screened for vitamin D deficiency. This means vitamin D is going big time.

What's the vitamin D revolution about and why should you join it? It's about the rediscovery of a sun-made vitamin-hormone that was first recognized in 1922 to avert bone softening in children, what is called rickets. 

Overlooked at that time was the fact that most vitamin D-deficient children with rickets had impaired immune systems. Only recently have researchers begun to investigate the role of vitamin D in maintaining an optimal immune response. In particular, vitamin D activates an army of white blood cells called neutrophils, which represent 50-70 percent of the total white blood cell volume and are the first responders to any infection in the body.

Vitamin D for colds and flu

Dr. John Cannell, founder of The Vitamin D Council, has noted that seasonal bouts of the flu and winter colds are not spread from person to person as commonly believed. Colds and the flu do not progress from town to town, and an individual in a family may come down with a viral infection while others remain healthy. Nor are colds "caught" by being out in chilly weather. In fact, medical literature points to the wintertime cold and flu season as simply a downturn in human immunity as vitamin D levels drop due to the diminished intensity of the sun combined with more time spent indoors as the outdoor temperature becomes chilly.

relatively recent study found just 800-2,000 international units (IU) of supplemental vitamin D, by weight just 20-400 micrograms, reduced wintertime cold symptoms from 30 in 104 subjects given an inactive placebo tablet to just nine in 104 subjects given vitamin D. That is quite a striking difference.

Modern medicine is agonizingly slow in providing conclusive evidence as to whether vitamin D is the big antidote to the common cold and wintertime viral infections. But your family doesn't have to wait; vitamin D is relatively inexpensive, and concerns about overdosing are poorly-founded. 

The biggest concern among doctors is that mega-dose vitamin D will cause a condition called hyper-calcification. But it takes about a million units of vitamin Dfor this to occur in healthy adults. Intake of 40 1,000-unit vitamin D pills a day would be required to produce toxicity in an adult.

Our family isn't waiting for more science. My wife and I began taking 5,000-8,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and we have found at the first sign of a runny-nose cold we take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 and our cold symptoms usually subside within minutes. That much vitamin D may seem to be problematic, but physicians inject 300,000 IU among postmenopausal females for wintertime bone protection without side effect.

Putting vitamin D into practice 

Recently, our 7-year-old son began to develop symptoms of a cold and an earache. We started with 5,000 IU of chewable vitamin D and then gave another 5,000 IU a few minutes later. Our son was also given some elderberry syrup, reported to be helpful for the flu, along with some vitamin C. We soaked Q-tips in hydrogen peroxide and placed them in his ear canals to kill off germs and then instilled an herbal ear drop that provided garlic oil. Within a short time the earache and other symptoms were gone. 

This regimen continued for about three days as symptoms began to reappear upon awakening in the morning -- that is, until our son was given his vitamin D. He didn't miss a day of school and no doctor's office visits for antibiotics were required. Special note: If earache symptoms persist, don't be so stubbornly committed to self-doctoring that you allow your child to suffer permanent hearing loss.

When our son was about 2.5 years of age he awoke in the middle of the night crying with a fever of 101.8 degrees Fahrenheit. We broke up vitamin D tablets, mixed them with water and instilled about 5,000 IU in a bulb syringe orally. Within minutes he began to shake with the chills, a sign his fever was breaking. Within 15 minutes he was sound asleep in his bed. 

The vitamin D revolution is underway, and it has promise for addressing many maladies, including childhood food and peanut allergies, for pregnant women to reduce the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, wheezing and asthma in their offspring, and for tonsillitis, just to mention a few of its many applications. Learn to use vitamin D for your whole family and they will really call you Doctor Mom. To learn more, I've written a free family guide to vitamin D, available here.

 

 

French police tell parents to stop posting Facebook photos of their kids--What??

Posted: Fri, 03/11/2016 - 09:11


 

 

National gendarmerie says photos could expose kids to sexual predators and violate their privacy


 

France's national police has urged parents to think twice about posting photos of their children on Facebook, saying the images could jeopardize the privacy and security of their kids. Authorities say that if shared widely, the images could attract sexual predators, while others have warned of the social or psychological problems that children could face later in life. One French expert says parents may even face future lawsuits from their children for violating their privacy.

"Protect your children!" France's national gendarmerie wrote in a Facebook post last month, warning of the recent "Motherhood Challenge" viral campaign that encouraged users to post photos of themselves with their kids. "You can all be proud moms and dads to your magnificent children, but be careful," the post continues. "We remind you that posting photos of your kids to Facebook is not without danger!" A regional branch of the gendarmerie went even further, imploring parents in all-caps to "STOP" the practice altogether.

 

"PARENTS ARE CHARGED WITH PROTECTING THE IMAGE OF THEIR CHILDREN."

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, French internet law expert Éric Delcroix said it's likely that baby photos published today could lead to lawsuits years from now. Under French privacy law, anyone convicted of publishing and distributing images of another person without their consent can face up to one year in prison and a fine of €45,000. That would apply to parents publishing images of their kids, as well. Viviane Gelles, an attorney specializing in internet law, tells the newspaper that French law makes clear that "parents are charged with protecting the image of their children."

France's data protection authority has urged parents to implement stronger privacy controls to limit the audience for their photos, and Facebook has worked in recent years to simplify its privacy settings. Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of engineering, recently said that the site is considering a new feature that would automatically alert parents before they share photos of their kids with larger audiences.

"If I were to upload a photo of my kids playing at the park and I accidentally had it shared with the public, this system could say: 'Hey wait a minute, this is a photo of your kids,'" Parikh said at a November conference in the UK. "'Normally you post this to just your family members, are you sure you want to do this?'"


 

Parenting Today

Posted: Sun, 03/06/2016 - 17:31

 

State of Parenting
A Snapshot of Today's Families

Introduction

 
The "decline of the American family" is a narrative that has played out in magazines, newspapers and on our television sets for decades.

While it may be true that divorce rates are still high and Americans are delaying marriage, the idea that American families are worse off and continuing to decline is up for debate. The findings of this new NBC News State of Parenting Poll which was sponsored by Pearson, paint a different story. The results are based on telephone interviews in English and Spanish with 803 parents, guardians, or primary caregivers of children ages 3-18 in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted on both landline telephones and cell phones from October 28 to November 16, 2014. This survey shows that parents are generally positive about the future, spending more time with their children than their parents did with them, and having family dinners together regularly.

In fact, nearly four in five parents report having dinner as a family on most days of the week.Today’s parents also want to be more involved in their children’s education and are largely satisfied with the current state of their schools. While they all agree more than a high school diploma is needed to achieve the American Dream, they also say good social and communication skills can be more important than grades when it comes to their child’s success. But there are gaps in just how positive parents are, largely based on their income, race, level of education and marital status. 

Today's Parents

 
Today's parents prioritize family dinners, spend more time with their children than their parents did with them, and want to be more involved in their children's education.
 

 

 

79% of parents have dinner together as a family on most nights



Research has found that teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, have high-quality relationships with their parents and be drug-free. Nearly four in five parents (79%) surveyed said their family has dinner at home together most days a week. Millennial parents, the youngest generation, are actually more likely than Baby Boomers to have meals with their families most of the time.

A Rainbow a Day

Why is it important for kids (and parents!) to eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables? This video answers that question and offers tips for picky eaters. 

FAMILY DINNERS
BY PARENT AGE
BY RACE
How often does your family eat dinner at home together?


  • 79.0%17.0%4.0%
    Most of the TimeOnly some of the timeHardly Ever

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Parents today need a variety of skills and talents to effectively balance the demands of their own lives with the challenges of raising well-adjusted children. Parents are often the biggest influence in their child’s lives, and today’s parents believe they should be patient and understanding with their children, more so than setting rules and guidelines.

IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR PARENTS
What is most important for parents to have?



  • 46.0%29.0%17.0%8.0%
    Patience and UnderstandingSet Rules and GuidelinesDesire to be Involved in Child's EducationSomething Else
    Set Rules and Guidelines
     Overall: 29

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51% of parents say they spend more time with their children than their parents did with them.



Children with families who spend time together are often more successful in school, less likely to engage in violent behavior, and better able to adapt to life’s changes. Despite the 24/7 digital world today’s parents are raising their children in, 51% of parents say they spend more time with their children than their parents did with them. But for working parents, striking a balance between time at home and time away can be a struggle - only 46% of working parents spend more time with their children than their parents did with them, for non-working parents, that number is 63%. Time can also be an issue for parents who want to be more involved in their child’s education - 43% say they’re too busy.

BY RACE
BY INCOME
BY EDUCATION LEVEL
How parents feel about their involvement in their child's education


  • 594840405260SatisfiedWish Could be Doing MoreWhiteBlackHispanicWhiteBlackHispanic80604020020406080

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87% of parents believe a large part of their child’s academic success is based on their child’s natural abilities despite how much parents try to help. Despite prior research that shows parental involvement in a child’s education supports better outcomes for their child, including better academic performance, fewer behavior problems and higher graduation rates, parents believe that a large part of a child’s academic success is based on their own natural abilities, no matter how much a parent tries to help. Find ways you can help your child here.

 

High Marks for Education

 
America’s parents are quite happy with the quality of the education their children are getting, and think their children are all above average. But there’s an enthusiasm gap depending on the race, income, marital status and level of education of parents.
 
 

75% of parents rate the quality of their child's education positively.



Parents are pleased with their children’s schools, despite frequent news coverage on failing schools and political debate on the need for school reform. A full three-quarters of parents rate the overall quality of their children’s education as excellent or good, but higher earners and white families are more likely to say “excellent,” while lower earners and minority families are more likely to say “good.” 

Nearly 9 in 10 parents rate their child's total academic experience - whether they like their teachers and peers, and going to school - positively.  

QUALITY OF SCHOOLS
BY INCOME
BY RACE
How parents rate their child's education


  • 3441176OverallExcellentGoodFairPoor01020304050
    Good
     Overall: 41

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88% of parents rate their children’s overall academic performance positively.



Parents also think their children are earning high marks. Despite the fact that the US ranks 27th in math and 17th in reading, two thirds of parents say their children’s overall academic performance is excellent or very good. They have similar positive views on their child’s grades, but the level of enthusiasm is different depending on the race, education and marital status of parents. Married, highly educated or white parents are more likely to rate their child’s grades as excellent.

HOW PARENTS RATE THEIR CHILD'S GRADES
BY RACE
BY EDUCATION LEVEL
BY MARITAL STATUS
How parents rate their child's grades


  • 37272393OverallExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor01020304050

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Bare majority (50%) of parents favor the Common Core State Standards



When it comes to standards in education, overall, parents are equally satisfied with the current academic standards in their schools. Traditionally, across the country each state set their own set of academic standards. Since 2010, many states across the country have adopted a common set of standards, called the Common Core. While the bare majority of parents surveyed support the Common Core, there is a substantial group who are opposed with support more likely to be found among Democrats and Independents, and opposition found largely among Republicans.

Parents above the age of 40 are more likely to favor raising the academic standards at their child’s school than younger parents.

56% of parents believe that the academic standards in their child’s school should stay the same

37% of parents believe that current academic standards need to be raised.         

2% of parents believe that the current academic standards at their child’s school should be lowered.

Parents above the age of 40 are more likely to favor raising the academic standards at their child’s school than younger parents.

56% of parents believe that the academic standards in their child’s school should stay the same

COMMON CORE
BY PARTY AFFILIATION
BY EDUCATION LEVEL
BY RACE
How do parents view the Common Core?


  • 38.0%12.0%50.0%
    OpposeDon't KnowFavor

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What is Common Core?

 

 

The Road Ahead

 
Parents today see a tougher road ahead for their children than they faced, but they are still optimistic for their child’s future. When looking at the future, there is a gap in optimism among races and party affiliations.

 

 

63% of parents believe their children will face more problems growing up than they did.



Today’s parents are more optimistic than parents were 17 years ago. In 1998, when parents were asked if they believed their children will face more problems growing up than they did, 78% said their children will have more problems. That was before 9/11, before the dot-com bubble burst, and before the Great Recession. Now, 63% of parents believe their children will face more problems growing up than they did.

68% of parents who believe that their child's school is not preparing them to enter the job market also believe that their child will face more problems growing up.

75% of parents who rate their child's education as "Fair" or "Poor" think that their child is going to encounter more problems growing up.

57% of parents who rate their child's education as "Excellent" or "Very Good" think that their child is going to face more problems growing up.

68% of parents who believe that their child's school is not preparing them to enter the job market also believe that their child will face more problems growing up.

75% of parents who rate their child's education as "Fair" or "Poor" think that their child is going to encounter more problems growing up.

TOUGHER ROAD
BY GENDER
BY RACE
Do children face more problems than their parents did when they were young?


  • 63727OverallMore ProblemsFewer ProblemsSame Amount010203040506070

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Parents are divided about their child's future.



When asked the historic question of whether today’s children will be better or worse off than they are, parents are divided. The gaps in optimism vary by a parent’s age, income, race and party affiliation. Parents who are lower income and younger have a brighter view of their child’s future, while older, white and Republican parents seem to be less optimistic. 

THE FUTURE
BY RACE
BY AGE
BY INCOME
BY PARTY AFFILIATION
Will children be better off or worse off than their parents?


  • 5.0%7.0%48.0%40.0%
    SameDon't KnowBetter OffWorse Off

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51% of parents believe that schools are not preparing kids to enter the job market if they do not choose to go on to college.

 

Bright Futures

 
To be successful in the future, parents believe their children need to have a career they enjoy. To get there, parents believe children need to achieve post-secondary education, have good social and communication skills, and respect others.”

 

 

86% of parents say children need more than a high school degree to achieve the American Dream.



By and large, parents want the same thing for their children-- success. But what success looks like is different for many parents. While 46% of parents say their children will be successful in the future if they have a career they enjoy, 23% say the metric for success is financial security and 12% say having a family of their own is success. No matter their race, the vast majority of parents believe their children need more than a high school diploma in order to achieve the American Dream.

ACHIEVING THE AMERICAN DREAM
What level of education do children need to achieve the American Dream?
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54% of parents believe good social and communication skills are more important than grades for future success.



Emotional intelligence, or the ability to read others and respond accordingly, is at the core of social and communication skills. Research has shown that those with high emotional intelligence have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. When it comes to skills children need to achieve success, parents don’t rank grades as number 1. In fact, 54% of parents said good social and communication skills are more important to a child’s future success than grades. However, the emphasis on grades is different based on a parent’s race and level of education.

55% of Hispanic parents think responsibility is one of the most important quality for children to have as they grow up.

    Thinking about the most important quality that children should have, 50% of parents say respecting others is at the top.

      Mothers are more likely to think that the most important quality for kids to have is respect for others. While fathers are more likely to think that determination and strong work ethic is more important.

      54% of white parents prioritize determination and strong as one of the most important qualities for children to have. Only 38% of minorities agree.

      55% of Hispanic parents think responsibility is one of the most important quality for children to have as they grow up.

        Thinking about the most important quality that children should have, 50% of parents say respecting others is at the top.

          SKILLS FOR SUCCESS
          BY RACE
          BY EDUCATION LEVEL
          What skills are most important for future success?
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          Social & Emotional Development

          These growth charts can help you support your child’s social and emotional development, and reflect on your own skills in the process.

          VISIT PARENT TOOLKIT

           

          Download & Share

          Use the links below to download the full report or a one-page summary of the findings. You can also help spread the word by sharing this on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email.

          DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT     DOWNLOAD SUMMARY




          NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis and Parenting Expert Michele Borba discussed the findings of the poll in a series of webinars.

          WATCH THEM NOW


          Produced By:
          NBC Education Nation
          Supported By:
          Pearson

           

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