Nous sommes les freebirthers by Stéphanie St-Amant

I’m up at 3 am with either food poisoning or a stomach bug…nothing better to do than hop online and distract myself.At Eric’s family reunion 2 years ago, I remember the exact same thing happening…mysterious gastro-intestinal malady, middle-of-the-night websurfing, puke bowl next to me on the couch. And unbeknownst to me, I was also pregnant!I don’t think that’s the case this time around, unless my Mirena IUD has failed me. This can happen, although it’s rare. A friend of mine and mother of 8 has gotten pregnant once on birth control and TWICE on IUDs! Both times the IUD came out with the baby.Anyway…I came across a fantastic article by Stéphanie St-Amant: Nous sommes les freebirthers. Enfanter sans peur …

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Combating obesity with new Okinawan rice

In recent years, Okinawa has recorded the dubious distinction of having the highest obesity rate in Japan. Preventing obesity-related diseases is an urgent issue. Professor Hidetoshi Saze of the OIST Plant Epigenetics Unit is leading a new research project to develop a new strain of rice that produces digestion-resistant starch to prevent these diseases. The project, fostered by the Okinawan government, involves three activities by the medical, agricultural, and food industries: development of the new rice strain, nutritional and physiological analyses, and processing and sales.Nanshoka-Mai, or rice with digestion-resistant starch is a new breed of rice rich in starch that does not as readily break down into glucose. This rice strain was first developed by a research team at Kyushu University 30 years ago. The starch from most grains, which consist largely of an unbranched glucose polymer known as amylose, is normally broken down into glucose during the digestive process and serves as our primary energy source. However, excessive consumption of sugars (simple carbohydrates) can cause life-style-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. This new strain of rice is expected to serve as an alternative preventative measure. In addition to its anti-obesity effect, gathering evidence suggests that the rice with digestion-resistant starch may also provide other benefits, such as lower blood sugar levels, reduced neutral fat, and harmful cholesterol levels, and prevention of lipid accumulation in the liver.Despite its great promise, when researchers planted the original strain of resistant-starch rice in Okinawa, the yield per hectare was about half that achieved in mainland Japan. Prof. …

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Autism, intellectual disability incidence linked with environmental factors

An analysis of 100 million US medical records reveals that autism and intellectual disability (ID) rates are correlated at the county level with incidence of genital malformations in newborn males, an indicator of possible congenital exposure to harmful environmental factors such as pesticides.Autism rates — after adjustment for gender, ethnic, socioeconomic and geopolitical factors — jump by 283 percent for every one percent increase in frequency of malformations in a county. Intellectual disability rates increase 94 percent. Slight increases in autism and ID rates are also seen in wealthier and more urban counties.The study, published by scientists from the University of Chicago March 13 in PLOS Computational Biology, confirms the dramatic effect of diagnostic standards. Incidence rates for Autism and ID on a per-person basis decrease by roughly 99 percent in states with stronger regulations on diagnosis of these disorders.”Autism appears to be strongly correlated with rate of congenital malformations of the genitals in males across the country,” said study author Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, professor of genetic medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago. “This gives an indicator of environmental load and the effect is surprisingly strong.”Although autism and intellectual disability have genetic components, environmental causes are thought to play a role. To identify potential environmental links, Rzhetsky and his team analyzed an insurance claims dataset that covered nearly one third of the US population. They used congenital malformations of the reproductive system in males as an indicator of parental exposure to toxins.Male fetuses are particularly sensitive to toxins such as environmental lead, sex hormone analogs, medications and other synthetic molecules. Parental exposure to these toxins is thought explain a large portion of congenital reproductive malformations, such as micropenis, hypospadias (urethra on underside of the penis), undescended testicles and others.The researchers created a statistical baseline frequency of autism and ID across the country. They then looked at the actual rates of these disorders, county-by-county. Deviations from the baseline are interpreted as resulting from local causes. …

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Ivy is 11 months old!

Eric, Ivy and I just arrived in Seattle last night to visit my sister and to go to the AWP conference, while my mom watches the other kids. It’s the first time we’ve left our children and gone somewhere together. I’m looking forward to good food, warmer (if wetter) weather, lots of fun sight-seeing, and best of all one-on-one time with Ivy during the day. Thanks to all my blog readers who sent in suggestions of things to do! She does this funny scrunchy thing with her face when she smiles Having only one child is SO EASY in comparison to four. Only one little person to get dressed and feed and clean up after and buckle into carseats/strollers and get in and …

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Connect for Health Colorado Exceeding Enrollment Targets

Please enable cookies. Error 1010 Ray ID: 10977b6160a1070d Access denied What happened?The owner of this website (www.healthinsurancecolorado.net) has banned your access based on your browser’s signature (10977b6160a1070d-mh5).CloudFlare Ray ID: 10977b6160a1070d • Your IP: 162.144.68.20 • Help • Performance & security by CloudFlare

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Early warning system for epidemics: Risk map correlates environmental, health data

The environment has an impact on our health. Preventing epidemics relies on activating the right counter-measures, and scientists are now trying to find out how better use of forecasting can help. The EU’s EO2HEAVEN project developed a risk map for correlating environmental and health data in order to identify where a disease may break out next. The concept will be on show at Booth E40 in Hall 9 of the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover.Cholera has been all but eradicated in Europe, but this bacterial, primarily waterborne disease still claims thousands of lives in Africa every year. Scientists are examining the effects various environmental factors have on cholera epidemics in Uganda. As part of this work, the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe developed a software architecture for early warning systems that compares environmental and health data and presents the results graphically. “This allowed us to visualize the complex relationships between these factors for the first time on risk maps, leading to a better understanding of the processes,” explains project coordinator Dr. Kym Watson.The scientists use sensors to measure environmental parameters such as rainfall, exposure to solar radiation and pH value, as well as temperature and concentration of nutrients in the water. Weather and climate forecasts are also factored into the analysis. At the same time, they use mobile applications to collect health data on cholera cases from hospitals and doctors, such as where patients have been and what their symptoms are. …

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Optimizing donor kidney distribution in the United States

Northwestern University’s Sanjay Mehrotra has developed an innovative model that could help ease kidney distribution inequities among regions in the U.S. and ultimately help save hundreds of lives. His mathematical model, which takes into account a number of different factors, simulates and optimizes donor kidney distribution.Mehrotra will discuss his research in a presentation titled “Addressing Allocation Inefficiencies and Geographic Disparities” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago. His presentation is part of a symposium titled “Transplant Organ Shortage: Informing National Policies Using Management Sciences” to be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. CST Friday, Feb. 14, in Columbus IJ of the Hyatt Regency Chicago.Mehrotra also will participate in a press briefing to be held at 1 p.m. CST the same day in Vevey Room 3 of the Swisstel Chicago.In addition to Mehrotra, two other Northwestern professors will discuss issues related to organ shortage during both the symposium and press briefing.Michael Abecassis, M.D., chief of the division of organ transplantation and founding director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, will offer a brief overview of the current issues facing organ allocation.John Friedewald, M.D., associate professor in medicine and surgery at Feinberg and director of clinical research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Comprehensive Transplant Center and transplant nephrologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, will speak about policy changes in kidney allocation that were developed during his recent term as chair of the United Network for Organ Sharing Kidney Transplantation Committee.Nearly 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for kidney transplants, but only 17,000 kidneys are available annually from both living and deceased donors. There are major regional inequalities in access to organs because of supply and demand disparities among different areas of the country. A person in one state might get a kidney within a year, while someone in another state might wait up to four years. As a consequence, nearly 5,000 people die each year waiting for a kidney transplant.Logistically, organ allocation is a difficult problem. …

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First global geologic map of Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede details an icy world

More than 400 years after its discovery by Galileo, the largest moon in the solar system has finally claimed a spot on the map.A team of scientists led by Wes Patterson of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md., and Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College, Norton, Mass., has produced the first global geologic map of Ganymede, a Galilean moon of Jupiter. Published by the U.S. Geological Survey, the map technically illustrates the varied geologic character of Ganymede’s surface, and is the first complete global geologic map of an icy, outer-planet moon.Patterson, Collins and colleagues used images from NASA’s Voyager and Galileo missions to create the map. It’s only the fourth of its kind covering a planetary satellite; similar maps exist for Earth’s moon as well as Jupiter’s moons Io and Callisto.”By mapping all of Ganymede’s surface, we can more accurately address scientific questions regarding the formation and evolution of this truly unique moon,” says Patterson, a planetary scientist.Since its discovery in January 1610, Ganymede has been the focus of repeated observation, first by Earth-based telescopes, and later by flyby missions and spacecraft orbiting Jupiter. These studies depict a complex icy world whose surface is characterized by the striking contrast between its two major terrain types: the dark, very old, highly cratered regions; and the lighter, somewhat younger (but still ancient) regions marked with an extensive array of grooves and ridges.  With a diameter of 3,280 miles (5,262 kilometers), Ganymede is larger than both planet Mercury and dwarf planet Pluto. It’s also the only satellite in the solar system known to have its own magnetosphere. The map details geologic features of the moon that formed and evolved over much of our solar system’s history. These features record evidence of Ganymede’s internal evolution, its dynamical interactions with the other Galilean satellites, and the evolution of the small bodies that have impacted Ganymede’s surface.The new chart will be a valuable tool for researchers to compare the geologic characters of other icy moons, since almost any type of feature that is found on other icy satellites has a similar feature somewhere on Ganymede. And with a surface over half as large as all the land area on Earth, Ganymede offers a wide variety of locations to observe. …

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Poaching threatens savannah ecosystems

White rhinoceros may be extinct in twenty years with the current poaching rates. The loss of this megaherbivore is in itself a tragedy, but it may also have tremendous effects on the ecosystems they now live in.The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), and other megaherbivores, are key drivers of ecosystem functioning because theyre not controlled by predation.A new study by Joris Cromsigt and Mariska te Beest, published in Journal of Ecology, highlights the role of the white rhino in the savannah ecosystems.Earlier empirical studies on the ecosystem impact of megaherbivores are strongly biased to African elephant with very little contemporary evidence for other megaherbivore species. Cromsigt and te Beest quantifies how rhino recolonized Kruger National Park (KNP) following their re-introduction in the 1960s to create a unique ‘recolonization experiment’ and tests how this megagrazer is affecting the structure of savannah grasslands.The researchers identified landscapes that rhino recolonized long time ago versus landscapes that were recolonized more recently. The assumption was that time since colonization represents a proxy for extent of rhino impact. Grassland heterogeneity on 40 transects covering a total of 30 kilometer were recorded. Short grass cover was clearly higher in the high rhino impact than low rhino impact landscape. Moreover, they encountered about 20 times more grazing lawns, a specific grassland community, in the high rhino impact landscape. The conclusion is that white rhinoceros may have started to change the structure and composition of KNP’s savannah grasslands. The amount of short grass has important consequences for other species, but also components of ecosystem functioning such as fire regimes. The results highlight that this poaching crisis not only affects the species but threatens the potentially key role of this megaherbivore as a driver of savannah functioning.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). …

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Promise for castor crop planting in Florida

Castor, grown in Florida during World War II and currently considered as a component for military jet fuel, can be grown here again, using proper management techniques, a new University of Florida study shows.Those techniques include spacing plants properly and using harvest aids to defoliate the plant when it matures.Growers in the U.S. want to mechanically harvest castor, which is typically hand-picked in other parts of the world, the researchers said. Among other things, the UF/IFAS study evaluated whether the plant would grow too tall for mechanical harvesting machines.Castor oil is used in paints, lubricants and deodorants, among other industrial products, said David Campbell, a former UF agronomy graduate student and lead author of the study. It has not been grown in the U.S. since 1972, because the federal government ceased giving price supports, the study says.At UF research units in Citra and Jay, scientists tested Brigham and Hale, two types of castor that were bred in an arid part of west Texas near Lubbock in 1970 and 2003, respectively. These cultivars are shorter than castor found in the wild, said Diane Rowland, an associate professor of agronomy at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Campbell’s faculty adviser.Scientists tried to control the growth of the plants even more by spraying them with a chemical, she said. Even though the crop didn’t respond to the chemicals, it did not grow taller than expected. So it appears these types of castor can be harvested mechanically, she said.While yields were lower than those reported in Texas research trials in 1993, results are promising for Florida.“We were concerned that, in this environment, with all the moisture and the good growing conditions, that it would grow too tall. But it didn’t,” Rowland said. “So it shows that shorter genetic types will still work, without the chemical application. …

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New pathway for fear discovered deep within brain

Fear is primal. In the wild, it serves as a protective mechanism, allowing animals to avoid predators or other perceived threats. For humans, fear is much more complex. A normal amount keeps us safe from danger. But in extreme cases, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), too much fear can prevent people from living healthy, productive lives. Researchers are actively working to understand how the brain translates fear into action. Today, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) announce the discovery of a new neural circuit in the brain that directly links the site of fear memory with an area of the brainstem that controls behavior.How does the brain convert an emotion into a behavioral response? For years, researchers have known that fear memories are learned and stored in a small structure in the brain known as the amygdala. Any disturbing event activates neurons in the lateral and then central portions of the amygdala. The signals are then communicated internally, passing from one group of neurons to the next. …

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Double mastectomy halves death risk for women with BRCA-related breast cancer

Women with BRCA-related breast cancer who have a double mastectomy are nearly 50 per cent less likely to die of breast cancer within 20 years of diagnosis compared to women who have a single mastectomy, according to a new study led by Women’s College Hospital’s Kelly Metcalfe.The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest a double mastectomy may be an effective first-line treatment for women with early-stage breast cancer who carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation. The BRCA1/2 genes belong to a class of genes that typically act to protect individuals from acquiring cancer, yet women who inherit a mutated form of the genes have a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.”Women with a BRCA mutation have a 60 to 70 per cent chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, and once diagnosed, a further 34 per cent chance of developing breast cancer in the opposite breast within 15 years,” said Kelly Metcalfe, an adjunct scientist at Women’s College Research Institute and professor at the University of Toronto. “For these women, we need to think about treating the first breast cancer, but also about preventing a second breast cancer.”To compare the survival rates of women with BRCA-related breast cancers, researchers assessed the medical records of 390 women with stage one or two breast cancer and a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. The women were required to have been initially treated with a single or double mastectomy. The researchers found:Women who had a double mastectomy had a 48% greater likelihood of surviving compared to women with a single mastectomy For women who developed a new breast cancer in the opposite breast, the risk of dying of breast cancer was doubled At twenty years, the survival rate was 88% for women with a double mastectomy and 66% for women with a single mastectomy “Our study’s results provide evidence that in order to improve survival in women with BRCA-associated breast cancer, we need to prevent new breast cancers from developing after an initial diagnosis,” said Dr. Steven Narod, a co-author of the study and a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute. “This study highlights the importance of providing genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 at the time of breast cancer diagnosis if appropriate. This genetic information could help women make decisions that ultimately may increase their chance of surviving breast cancer.”Last year, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, publicly announced her decision to opt for a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery after discovering she had the BRCA1 gene. The then 37 year-old actress said doctors estimated she had a 50 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer and an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer.While existing research widely supports the benefit of a double mastectomy in preventing breast cancer in women with the gene mutation, the study’s researchers caution more research is necessary to confirm the benefit of a double mastectomy in reducing the risk of death in women diagnosed with BRCA-related breast cancer.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Women’s College Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Help for a scarred heart: Scarring cells turned to beating muscle

Poets and physicians know that a scarred heart cannot beat the way it used to, but the science of reprogramming cells offers hope–for the physical heart, at least.A team of University of Michigan biomedical engineers has turned cells common in scar tissue into colonies of beating heart cells. Their findings could advance the path toward regenerating tissue that’s been damaged in a heart attack.Previous work in direct reprogramming, jumping straight from a cell type involved in scarring to heart muscle cells, has a low success rate. But Andrew Putnam, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and head of the Cell Signaling in Engineered Tissues Lab, thinks he knows at least one of the missing factors for better reprogramming.”Many reprogramming studies don’t consider the environment that the cells are in — they don’t consider anything other than the genes,” he said. “The environment can dictate the expression of those genes.”To explore how the cells’ surroundings might improve the efficiency of reprogramming, Yen Peng Kong, a post-doctoral researcher in the lab, attempted to turn scarring cells, or fibroblasts, into heart muscle cells while growing them in gels of varying stiffness. He and his colleagues compared a soft commercial gel with medium-stiffness fibrin, made of the proteins that link with platelets to form blood clots, and with high-stiffness collagen, made of structural proteins.The fibroblasts came from mouse embryos. To begin the conversion to heart muscle cells, Kong infected the fibroblasts with a specially designed virus that carried mouse transgenes — genes expressed by stem cells.Fooled into stem cell behavior, the fibroblasts transformed themselves into stem-cell-like progenitor cells. This transition, which would be skipped in direct reprogramming, encouraged the cells to divide and grow into colonies rather than remaining as lone rangers. The tighter community might have helped to ease the next transition, since naturally developing heart muscle cells are also close with their neighbors.After seven days, Kong changed the mixture used to feed the cells, adding a protein that encourages the growth of heart tissue. This helped push the cells toward adopting the heart muscle identity. A few days later, some of the colonies were contracting spontaneously, marking themselves out as heart muscle colonies.The transition was particularly successful in the fibrin and fibrin-collagen mixes, which saw as many as half of the colonies converting to heart muscle.The team has yet to discover exactly what it is about fibrin that makes it better for supporting heart muscle cell. …

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