Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
A group of high school seniors at Wilcox County High School in Georgia are making national news after they organized a formal prom dance that is racially integrated, something that hasn’t happened in the town’s memory. CNN.com has more:
For as long as most remember, Wilcox County High School hasn’t sponsored a prom for its 400 students. Instead, parents and their children organize their own private, off-site parties, known casually as white prom and black prom — a vestige of racial segregation that still lives on….
Mareshia and her friends bucked 40 years of local customs this month by organizing their own integrated prom, a formal dance open to Wilcox County’s white, black, Latino and Asian high school students. Organizers, both black and white, said they lost friends in the process — a grim experience in the waning weeks of the school year. It’s been hard on the rest of their hometown, too.
When the story erupted on TV and social media, Wilcox County became a symbol of race relations stuck in the past. People around the world heard about the sneers from some classmates, the silence from some adults, the school board that says it supports them but didn’t sponsor its own prom. Thousands lashed out at the old tradition or offered up kind words, cash, dresses, a DJ. Stunned, they wanted to know, could this be true? In 2013?
Segregated proms are a longstanding reality in this farming community 160 miles south of Atlanta, and until recently, at several schools nearby. Some in Wilcox County say it’s just an old habit that’s hard to break. A few argue the proms are private because of cost and liability or because parents won’t cede control. They say people “self-segregate,” and kids can’t agree on country or hip-hop, “white music” or “black music.”
Some say some preachers and some parents implicitly encourage segregation, but there’s no point to arguing: People are entitled to their opinions, even if they’re racist.
Plenty here shrug off the debate entirely and say a high school dance is nothing to make a fuss about.
Mareshia is 17, a good student, a cheerleader who’s active in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. She knew long ago that proms were segregated, but she didn’t think much about it till last year, when she and three friends first realized they’d be split up.
“How do you want your last moments of high school to be,” Mareshia asked herself then. “What do you want your memories to encompass?”
Image: Diverse group of prom-goers, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urge doctors to distinguish between gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) when diagnosing infants who suffer from the very common complaint of reflux. The guidelines follow a study published earlier this month in the journal Pediatrics, which concluded that high rates of GERD may be resulting in over-medicated infants.
More on the AAP’s new recommendations:
Making the appropriate diagnosis will identify patients who can be treated with lifestyle changes alone or those who require more intensive therapies, according to Jenifer Lightdale, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, David Gremse, MD, of the University of South Alabama Health System in Mobile, and colleagues from the AAP section on gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition.
Among patients with either condition, lifestyle changes — such as modifying maternal diets in breastfeeding mothers or avoiding spicy foods in older children — are recommended as a first-line therapy, while more intensive treatments are recommended for those with intractable symptoms or life-threatening GERD-related complications, they wrote online in Pediatrics.
GER is common to more than two-thirds of infants who are otherwise healthy and “is considered a normal physiologic process that occurs several times a day in healthy infants, children, and adults,” they wrote.
The condition is “generally associated with transient relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter independent of swallowing, which permits gastric contents to enter the esophagus,” they explained.
While GER is short lived and can cause few to no symptoms in healthy adults, GERD is characterized by mucosal injury on upper endoscopy and can result in vomiting, poor weight gain, dysphagia, abdominal or substernal/retrosternal pain, and esophagitis.
Symptoms of GERD can also include cough, laryngitis, and, in infants, wheezing, as well as dental erosion, pharyngitis, sinusitis, and recurrent otitis media.
Image: Upset infant, via Shutterstock
Friday, April 26th, 2013
A growing number of American high school students are expanding their college searches to include Canadian universities that offer quality educations without the staggering pricetags many American colleges carry. NBC News has more:
About one in six people who owe money on their student loans is in default. Such a debt load is a harsh reality that is forcing a growing number of young people to look north to Canada for an education they can better afford.
Six percent of McGill’s student body is American, and the ranks are growing. The number of U.S. students at Canadian colleges rose 50 percent in a decade, and now about 10,000 Americans attend Canadian colleges, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
That institute also says graduates from an American university can expect, on average, to carry more than $26,000 in debt. And about 9 percent of those grads default on student loans within two years.
The largest cost of going to school in the United States is the tuition, which is astronomical compared to Canada. At schools such as the University of Chicago and New York University, the annual tuition tops $40,000, far above their Canadian counterparts, which benefit from a tradition of robust government support.
Image: Canadian flag, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Telling children to “clean their plates” or finish all of their food at any given meal is associated with a higher risk of obesity later in life by a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. More from CNN.com:
Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Investigators combined data from two separate research studies. The first, EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens), studied around 2,800 middle and high school students from public schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Participants in the project responded to survey questionnaires designed to examine dietary intake and weight status.
Researchers combined that data with information from the Project F-EAT (Families and Eating and Activity Among Teens), a study designed to examine factors within the family environment on weight in adolescents.
From the combined information, researchers were able to gain a better understanding of how parents’ approach to food and feeding is related to adolescents’ weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate from just a generation ago.
“We found that between 50 and 60% of parents from our sample reported requiring that their child eat all of the food on their plate at a meal,” said researcher Katie Loth, the study’s lead author. “Further, we found that between 30-40% of parents from within our sample reported encouraging their child to continue eating even after their child stated that they were full.
“While these pressure-to-eat behaviors were more frequent among parents of non-overweight adolescents, they were still endorsed quite frequently by parents of overweight and obese adolescents, indicating that many parents endorse these behaviors regardless of their child’s current weight status,” she said.
Image: Child eating, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Listening to live music, whether strummed on a guitar or hummed by a parent, is soothing and healthy for babies who are born prematurely, a new study has shown. The New York Times has more:
Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City led the research, conducted in 11 hospitals, which found that live music can be beneficial to premature babies. In the study, music therapists helped parents transform their favorite tunes into lullabies.
The researchers concluded that live music, played or sung, helped to slow infants’ heartbeats, calm their breathing, improve sucking behaviors important for feeding, aid sleep and promote states of quiet alertness. Doctors and researchers say that by reducing stress and stabilizing vital signs, music can allow infants to devote more energy to normal development.
And while the effects may be subtle, small improvements can be significant. Premature births have increased since 1990, to nearly 500,000 a year, one of every nine children born in the United States.
The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, adds to growing research on music and preterm babies. Some hospitals find music as effective as, and safer than, sedating infants before procedures like heart sonograms and brain monitoring. Some neonatologists say babies receiving music therapy leave hospitals sooner, which can aid development and family bonding and save money.
Image: Mother rocking baby, via Shutterstock