A technique for protecting premature infants, developed in Colombia because of a shortage of incubators, is proving so effective that Colombian doctors are urging more affluent nations to adopt it as well. Called "kangaroo mother care," the therapy begins when the child no longer needs special medical support, and ends when he is able to regulate his own temperature, typically at the time he would normally have been born. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 13, 2004 at 12:43 pm | Edit
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There are many ways to serve one's country besides military service, but today we honor those who have given the extraordinary service of laying their lives, health, and future on the line for us, especially those who gave "the last full measure of devotion." (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 11, 2004 at 7:17 am | Edit
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An Austrian study of the benefits of walking is both encouraging and perplexing. During the four-month study, 45 healthy adults walked 600 meters, three to five times per week. Each participant walked uphill for half of the study, and downhill for the other half, taking a cable car for the opposite trip.

It's not surprising that the walkers benefitted from their exercise; what is peculiar is the distribution of their improvements. Both uphill and downhill walkers experienced a decrease in their LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Uphill walking also lowered triglyceride levels and increased the body's ability to handle fat. Downhill walking significantly increased the body's ability to handle sugar. Walking uphill did not help with sugar, nor downhill with fats. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 8:28 am | Edit
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Florida is being labeled as an unhealthy state, ranking 42nd in a study by the United Health Foundation. On looking further into the study, I discovered that the risk factors they considered were far different from the ones I would have chosen to get a picture of how living in a certain state might be a health risk or benefit. I would have asked questions such as: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 9, 2004 at 7:37 am | Edit
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Homeschooling is legal in Pennsylvania, but the regulations imposed on homeschooling families are among the strictest in the nation. Recently, one family decided to sue the state on grounds that the rules impose an unreasonable restriction on their freedom of religion. Reading that article, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial in response, reminds me that we must never, never become complacent about our rights, nor take our freedoms for granted. The Post-Gazette wonders,

To us, the requirements seem rather minimal. Parents must submit an annual affidavit to the local school superintendent outlining their educational goals. They must turn in a log at the end of the year showing what subjects were taught and when. A neutral, certified teacher reviews the work and interviews the child. Standardized tests are required at several grade levels.

What is the problem with that?

One problem is that such an attitude betrays appalling ignorance of what homeschooling is all about. It is not about taking the philosophies, methods, systems, procedures, and materials of school and trying to squeeze them into one's living room. Rather, homeschooling liberates children and families to pursue learning in creative ways that are not possible when subjected to classroom-mentality restrictions. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 6, 2004 at 4:57 pm | Edit
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Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital found yet another health benefit of breastfeeding, this time for mothers. Women in the study who breastfed their children for a total of one to two years experienced a 20% lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life. For those who breastfed for at least two years, the risk was cut in half.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 2:35 pm | Edit
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It appears that Boston could not have two big winners this year. If they could have chosen, I wonder how many would have traded the Red Sox World Series win for a Kerry victory?
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 1:59 pm | Edit
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Cast your vote, then "cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22). As close as this election is, we can be sure that half of the people in this country will be disappointed with the results. Nonetheless, for the health of our country, we all need to look toward the future with hope and enthusiasm.

For our country—and for ourselves, also. It is appropriate that today's news includes a Dutch study confirming the positive health benefits of optimism. The nine-year study of nearly a thousand men and women between the ages of 65 and 85 found that an optimistic personality contributed significantly to reduced mortality. The effect was most dramatic when cardiovasculary mortality alone was considered. (The above link takes you directly to the Archives of General Psychiatry where the research was published. As might be expected, unfortunately, the news stories circulating differ vastly in accuracy, with some reporting the opposite of the true cardiovascular results.) (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 2, 2004 at 9:44 am | Edit
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Get your news first, from Crickler! Their nifty little puzzles often alert me to interesting news stories, which I follow up with my favorite overall news source, Google News. Today's intriguing tidbit has been a little hard to pin down, as the full story at Salon.com requires a subscription. Supposedly you can get a "one day pass" to read it if you watch an advertisment, but I sat through the thing twice and still was asked to register, so I gave up and will wait till a free news source covers the story. However, since I was asked my opinion, I'll quote the beginning (free) part of the story:

George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. "I don't know what that is," he said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."

Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He's a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis. Currently he's engrossed in analyzing digital photos of Saturn's moon Titan, determining its shape, whether it contains craters or canyons.

One theory is that the President was receiving some sort of assistance during the debate, which would make Bush the immoral, irresponsible idiot of his opponents' visions. I have a few thoughts of my own, and have gathered more from other folks:
 (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 29, 2004 at 3:09 pm | Edit
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Researchers in England have determined that tea inhibits the activity of brain enzymes linked to Alzheimer's disease. They don't know yet if the effect works in vivo, but the report nontheless puts an extra feeling of satisfaction into my morning "cuppa." Both green and black tea have this salubrious effect, although green tea's benefits are more enduring.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 at 9:21 am | Edit
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Did you know that? Do you care? Probably not, unless you live in Boston.

A senator from Boston, with a name like Kerry? Of course he's Irish! At least that's what everyone thought, and—Boston politics being what they are—Kerry did not dispel the illusion. It was only when the Boston Globe hired a genealogist to look into Kerry's ancestry that it was revealed that he is not Irish at all, and that the Kerry name is only as old as his grandfather, who changed it from Kohn. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 4:42 pm | Edit
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Are you as annoyed as I am by the omnipresence of blaring television sets? It's bad enough to spend time waiting in a doctor's office or mechanic's lounge without the incessant television noise that splinters your concentration, so that you read the same passage in your book four times. (Maybe that's why those places are stocked with fluff-filled magazines.) How many times have you sat down to a nice restaurant meal with friends, expecting pleasant conversation, only to have everyone's eyes automatically swivel to the large-screen TV? The Orlando International Airport plays peaceful classical music throughout its terminals, surely designed to calm the nerves of frantic and impatient travellers. Too bad you can't hear it without the risk of missing your flight, because at the gates it's drowned out by clamoring television sets. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 22, 2004 at 4:01 pm | Edit
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A study of German babies showed a higher risk of food allergies and diarrhea for those born by Caesarean section. The healthy, full-term babies were all exclusively breastfed for the first four months, during which time no such effect was seen. However, blood samples taken at 12 months showed that C-section babies were twice as likely as vaginally-delivered babies to have allergies to five common food allergens, including eggs, cow's milk, and soy protein. They were also 46% more likely to suffer from diarrhea during the first year.

These findings are consistent with previous research which demonstrated the importance of intestinal bacteria in the development of a healthy immune system. Babies who experience a normal delivery pick up vaginal, intestinal, and perianal microbes from their mothers. The risk to babies born by C-section includes not only deprivation of normal microbes, but also exposure to the unnatural microbial ecosystem peculiar to a hospital environment.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 10:33 am | Edit
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...to make a man. Or at least it improves the odds significantly, according to a study by Dr. Karen Norberg, a clinical associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "When parents were living together before the birth of one child, that child was 14% more likely to be male than when the parents were not living together before the birth," she reported, according to an article in today's Guardian.

Charles Darwin noted similar findings in 1874, giving some credence to the article's statement that this "is certainly not an effect of any bias from parents against daughters." Otherwise one could easily imagine single mothers preferring to raise daughters; not everyone, but enough to skew the statistics. Sex-selective abortion is frowned upon, but that doesn't prevent it. And it can have a huge impact.

Just ask the Chinese.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 7:25 am | Edit
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A study of premature infants suggests that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord can reduce the need for blood transfusion in babies who are born too soon. A delay of only 30 seconds to two minutes was sufficient to provide significant benefit.

This news led me to search out a much more exhaustive discussion of umbilical cord issues, covering everything from conditions where immediate separation is necessary, to cord blood collection, to the "lotus birth," in which the placenta stays attached until the cord falls off the baby. Parents, midwives, and a few doctors speak out on issues that I had no idea were issues when I gave birth a quarter of a century ago. The concensus of this group is that delayed cord cutting is beneficial for full term babies (and their mothers) as well. Most of the debate seems to be between cutting the cord after the placenta stops pulsating, and waiting until the placenta is delivered.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 7:35 pm | Edit
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