Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Healthy growth in the womb correlates with smarter kids

Another "correlation is causation" fallacy below. The findings are equally compatible with Terman & Oden's findings of a syndrome of general biological fitness

SUCCESS at school may start in the womb, Australian research has found. Two West Australian studies involving more than 80,000 non-indigenous children show a strong link between healthy growth in the womb and improved reading, writing and numeracy skills by the age of eight.

Former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley, who led both studies, said the results suggested that improving the health of pregnant women, particularly those living in disadvantaged areas, could optimise their child's education. [Bullsh*t! It more likely indicates that it is all genetic and nothing can be done] "Good fetal growth appears to give children from disadvantaged areas a comparatively better start," Professor Stanley said. [More likely healthier mothers are brighter and also have heathier and brighter children]

"It's easy to blame schools for poor results but it might be more accurate to start asking about the quality and availability of health care. "You don't just have to have good primary school teachers . . . and good public education. "That's important, but it's not going to be as effective unless you have children who are healthy coming into that system. "Investments in health will result in better outcomes in education."

The results of the studies by Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research are published in two journals: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Prof. Stanley said tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy were known to restrict fetal growth. She said ante-natal care from an early stage of pregnancy was also important in giving babies the best possible start in life. "If you do have something like pre-eclampsia, if you get good ante-natal care then you'll optimise your chances for the baby," Prof. Stanley said.

In 2006, 4157 Queensland babies – or 7.3 per cent of those born – were considered low birth weight because they weighed less than 2500g. In the same year, one in five mothers reported smoking during pregnancy, according to Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young's report, The Health of Queenslanders: Prevention of Chronic Disease. "Low birth weight was the cause of 20 per cent of the total disease burden in Queensland in infants aged 0 to 1 year in 2006," the report said.

Prof. Stanley said the findings of her studies should not alarm mothers who had difficult pregnancies.


Injection protects against dirty bomb effects

New medication claimed as a game-changer: 'We made a breakthrough that may save the lives of millions'. A 'minority' might be a better word than 'millions', however

A groundbreaking advance in medicine announced this week promises to dramatically reduce the number of people who would be killed in a nuclear war due to radiation poisoning with simple injections administered within three days of exposure.

Funded by the Pentagon, Professor Andrei Gudkov, chief scientific officer at Cleveland BioLabs, developed the preventative drug – it's not a vaccine – based on research he began in 2003 using protein produced in bacteria found in the intestine to protect cells from radiation, reported Israel's YnetNews.

Cells exposed to large doses of radiation die, scientists have found, when the cell's "suicide mechanism" is activated. The new medication based on intestinal bacteria works by suppressing the mechanism that causes cells to die and allows them to recover.

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Gudkov's hunch paid off in early mice studies. "We exposed both groups to lethal radioactive radiation," he told YNetNews. "All the mice in the control group died within a short period of time. A few days later, when I approached the cage with the mice that received the protein, I could see that they're OK, that they're alive. They survived. It's hard to describe the joy all of us felt. We realized that finally, after so many years and so many experiments and frustrations, we made a breakthrough that may save the lives of millions."

Those results were published in the journal Science, but the discovery of the injectable medicine is only now being revealed following two tests that showed the drug's effectiveness in protecting monkeys and its safety for humans.

More here


Journal abstract below:

Dyslexia: A New Synergy Between Education and Cognitive Neuroscience

By John D. E. Gabrieli

Reading is essential in modern societies, but many children have dyslexia, a difficulty in learning to read. Dyslexia often arises from impaired phonological awareness, the auditory analysis of spoken language that relates the sounds of language to print. Behavioral remediation, especially at a young age, is effective for many, but not all, children. Neuroimaging in children with dyslexia has revealed reduced engagement of the left temporo-parietal cortex for phonological processing of print, altered white-matter connectivity, and functional plasticity associated with effective intervention. Behavioral and brain measures identify infants and young children at risk for dyslexia, and preventive intervention is often effective. A combination of evidence-based teaching practices and cognitive neuroscience measures could prevent dyslexia from occurring in the majority of children who would otherwise develop dyslexia.


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