Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Katelyn Roman, a 13-year-old Florida girl whose felony charges were dropped yesterday in the case of a schoolmate’s suicide that was allegedly prompted by cyber-bullying, is telling the media, “I do not feel l did anything wrong.” In September, 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick took her life after her family said she was “absolutely terrorized” by cyberbullies who were taunting her on social media. Roman and another girl–unnamed because she is a juvenile, were charged with third-degree aggravated stalking last month, but the charges have been dropped. More from Today.com:
Katelyn and a 14-year-old girl whom TODAY is not identifying because she is a juvenile were charged last month after Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Grady Judd saw a derogatory post on Facebook that he claims was written by one of them. The two girls were arrested after Judd said they were allegedly involved in the bullying of Rebecca Sedwick, 12, who committed suicide on Sept. 9, with the 14-year-old allegedly writing on Facebook, “Yes ik [I know] I bullied Rebecca nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a f---].”
Judd also publicly revealed the girls’ names and their mug shots at an Oct. 15 news conference and told TODAY on Oct. 16 that one of the girls did something “despicable” with the post on Facebook.
On Wednesday, the Florida state attorney’s office announced that charges had been dropped and withheld comment on its reasoning because both girls are juveniles. After his public outrage over the alleged bullying by the two girls last month, Judd said at a news conference Wednesday that he was “exceptionally pleased with the outcome of the case.”
“We see the children are going to get the services they need,’’ Judd told reporters, referring to both girls being in counseling. “That’s the best outcome for juveniles. Our goal is that these kids never bully anyone again.”
Image: Web page, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 14th, 2013
William Pollack, a medical researcher who worked at the Ortho Pharmaceutical Company in Raritan, N.J., in the early 1960s, has died at age 87. While Pollack’s is not a household name, he is responsible for helping to develop the vaccine against Rh disease, an illness caused by seemingly minor differences in the blood types of pregnant women and their fetuses. Pregnant women today are routinely tested for Rh status, and if they are Rh negative, they receive the vaccine so their bodies will not mistakenly attack their babies’ cells if the babies are Rh positive. More on Pollack and his work from The New York Times:
Rh disease occurs when a pregnant woman is Rh negative and her fetus is Rh positive. In the mixing of blood between the two during pregnancy, the mother’s Rh-negative blood cells produce antibodies that attack the blood cells of the fetus. Depending on the strength of the mother’s immune response, the effects on the baby can range from mild anemia to stillbirth.
Dr. Pollack and his partners devised an “ingenious” counterattack, as it was described in an introduction to their work in “Hematology: Landmark Papers of the Twentieth Century,” a collection published in 2000 by hematologist organizations.
The three men produced a vaccine that patrols the mother’s body, dispatches invading Rh-positive cells and causes no harm to the fetus. The vaccine was made from a passive Rh-negative antibody, which soon wears out. It not only solves the mother’s temporary immunity problem but also, more important, prevents her immune system from mounting a full-fledged response of its own, which would endanger the fetus she was carrying as well as any future ones.
“It was an absolutely brilliant idea,” said Dr. Richard L. Berkowitz, the obstetrics and gynecology director of resident education at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital. “A lot of people know who Jonas Salk is, but they should know William Pollack’s name, too. This disease was a major, major problem, and it’s been virtually eradicated.”
Researchers had developed other approaches to treating Rh blood disease, including potentially dangerous intrauterine transfusions, before the idea of a vaccine emerged. Among his other contributions, Dr. Pollack was credited with devising the process in which the blood components needed to make the vaccine are isolated and recombined in a liquid solution.
Image: Vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Amid the rubble and destruction of the deadly typhoon that may have killed as many as 10,000 people in the Philippines, an astounding story of survival has emerged–a baby was born in a makeshift hospital that was set up in the badly damaged Tacloban airport. More from PEOPLE.com:
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On Nov. 11, Emily Ortega, 21, gave birth to daughter Bea Joy in a makeshift hospital set up in what remains of the Tacloban airport.
“She is my miracle,” she told the Agence France-Presse. “I had thought I would die with her still inside me when high waves came and took us all away.”
Ortega named her new baby after her mother, Beatriz Sagales, who was swept away in the storm surge of Super Typhoon Haiyan which ravaged central Philippines last week.
With her husband, Jobert, by her side, Ortega went into labor at 5 a.m. Monday morning near the coastal town of San Jose and had to walk towards Tacloban before a truck driver picked up the expectant mom.
While the family rejoices in the birth of their child, the moment remains bittersweet.
“We are supposed to be celebrating today, but we are also mourning our dead,” Jobert said.
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
Infants who do not make eye contact during their first months of life may be displaying a marker for autism, researchers from the National Institutes of Mental Health reported in a potentially game-changing study that was published in the journal Nature. the study found that eye contact and attention to others’ eyes routinely declines in 2- to 6-month-olds who are later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). More from the National Institutes of Health:
“Autism isn’t usually diagnosed until after age 2, when delays in a child’s social behavior and language skills become apparent. This study shows that children exhibit clear signs of autism at a much younger age,” said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH. “The sooner we are able to identify early markers for autism, the more effective our treatment interventions can be.”
Typically developing children begin to focus on human faces within the first few hours of life, and they learn to pick up social cues by paying special attention to other people’s eyes. Children with autism, however, do not exhibit this sort of interest in eye-looking. In fact, a lack of eye contact is one of the diagnostic features of the disorder.
To find out how this deficit in eye-looking emerges in children with autism, Warren Jones, Ph.D., and Ami Klin, Ph.D., of the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine followed infants from birth to age 3. The infants were divided into two groups, based on their risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder. Those in the high risk group had an older sibling already diagnosed with autism; those in the low risk group did not.
Jones and Klin used eye-tracking equipment to measure each child’s eye movements as they watched video scenes of a caregiver. The researchers calculated the percentage of time each child fixated on the caregiver’s eyes, mouth, and body, as well as the non-human spaces in the images. Children were tested at 10 different times between 2 and 24 months of age.
By age 3, some of the children — nearly all from the high risk group — had received a clinical diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. The researchers then reviewed the eye-tracking data to determine what factors differed between those children who received an autism diagnosis and those who did not.
“In infants later diagnosed with autism, we see a steady decline in how much they look at mom’s eyes,” said Jones. This drop in eye-looking began between two and six months and continued throughout the course of the study. By 24 months, the children later diagnosed with autism focused on the caregiver’s eyes only about half as long as did their typically developing counterparts.
This decline in attention to others’ eyes was somewhat surprising to the researchers. In opposition to a long-standing theory in the field — that social behaviors are entirely absent in children with autism — these results suggest that social engagement skills are intact shortly after birth in children with autism. If clinicians can identify this sort of marker for autism in a young infant, interventions may be better able to keep the child’s social development on track.
“This insight, the preservation of some early eye-looking, is important,” explained Jones. “In the future, if we were able to use similar technologies to identify early signs of social disability, we could then consider interventions to build on that early eye-looking and help reduce some of the associated disabilities that often accompany autism.”
Download our free baby charts and checklists to keep her info organized and track her growth. Then, check out the Top 14 Pregnancy Fears and why you shouldn’t worry about them.
Image: Infant looking at mother, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
The Nevada middle school shooting that left two dead early Monday morning was perpetrated by a student, and it claimed the lives of a beloved math teacher and the shooter, who shot and killed himself with the handgun he allegedly took from his parents, CNN was reporting Monday night as details continued to emerge. More from their report:
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An official used one word to describe the scene at Sparks Middle School: chaos.
The shooter took a handgun from his parents, a federal law enforcement source who was briefed on the situation told CNN’s Evan Perez.
The gunman shot and killed himself, Sparks Deputy Chief Tom Miller said Monday evening at a news conference.
Authorities said the shooter’s motive was unclear.
“It’s too early to say whether he was targeting specific people or just going on an indiscriminate shooting spree,” said Tom Robinson, deputy chief of the Reno Police Department.
Mike Landsberry, a math teacher at the school, was killed in the shooting, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini told CNN.
In addition to his work as a teacher, Landsberry also had served in the Marines and served several tours in Afghanistan as a member of the Nevada Air National Guard, his brother, Reggie, told “Anderson Cooper 360.”
“He was the kind of person that if someone needed help he would be there,” Reggie Landsberry said. “He loved teaching. He loved the kids. He loved coaching them. … He was just a good all-around individual.”