A 9-month-old baby was fingerprinted and booked by a Pakistani court, accused of attempted murder because the boy allegedly threw bricks at police officials who had come to his house to collect on an unpaid bill. More from CNN.com:
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The ordeal started February 1 when several police officers and a bailiff went to a home hoping to get payment for a gas bill, said Atif Zulfikar Butt, a senior police official in Lahore.
A scuffle ensued, during which the infant’s father, one of his teenage sons and others in the residence severely injured some of the officials by tossing bricks their way, according to Butt.
That led authorities to seek out those in the house. An official document aired by CNN affiliate GEO News shows charges of stoning and attempted murder.
How and why the baby was implicated was unclear, though the Lahore police official acknowledged that the child appeared in court Wednesday and was booked as his grandfather held him.
“The police filed a wrong, false arrest charge sheet and brought this innocent 9-month-old into this court room for an appearance,” the family’s lawyer, Irfan Tarar, said.
Following media coverage of the incident, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed police to immediately suspend a Pakistani official for registering the case against the baby boy, according to police.
Daniel Murphy, the second baseman for the New York Mets, took a lot of heat last week from sports radio talk show hosts and sports blogs because Murphy missed the first two games of the baseball season so he could be there for the birth of his first child. Murphy spoke out late last week, calmly defending his decision. More from ESPN.com:
“I got a couple of text messages about it, so I’m not going to sit here and lie and say I didn’t hear about it,” Murphy said about the on-air criticism from WFAN Radio of his decision. “But that’s the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day — that being Wednesday — due to the fact that she can’t travel for two weeks.
“It’s going to be tough for her to get up to New York for a month. I can only speak from my experience — a father seeing his wife — she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off. … It felt, for us, like the right decision to make.”
After receiving word about 11:30 p.m. Sunday that his wife’s water had broken, Murphy traveled from New York to Florida and arrived in time for the birth of 8-pound, 2-ounce son Noah at 12:02 p.m. Monday — about an hour before the first pitch of the Mets’ opener against the Washington Nationals.
The Mets had Tuesday off before resuming the series Wednesday. Murphy remained with his family through Wednesday, as he was placed on paternity leave, and rejoined the Mets in time for Thursday’s afternoon game against the Nats.
“You’re a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse,” Mike Francesa reportedly said of Murphy on WFAN Radio during Wednesday’s show. “What are you gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?”
Murphy said his wife delivered their son by C-section. On another WFAN show, host Boomer Esiason said, in part, that Murphy’s wife should have had a “C-section before the season starts.”
Esiason issued a lengthy apology Friday at the start of his radio show.
“I just want to say again on this radio show that in no way, shape or form was I advocating anything for anybody to do. I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that,” he said. “That’s their decision, that’s their life and they know their bodies better than I do. And the other thing, too, that I really felt bad about is that Daniel Murphy and Tori Murphy were dragged into a conversation, and their whole life was exposed. And it shouldn’t have been.”
Parents.com’s executive editor Michael Kress wrote about the issue last week on The Parents Perspective, as he begins his own paternity leave. He said, “Stepping back, even for a few weeks, from a job that is busy and that means a lot to me, is scary, and it remains something that is never easy.” But at the same time, “the more men who take paternity leave, the better it will be for all new fathers, because over time, it will become normal and expected, not something to criticize or even remark on. Especially seeing athletes do it, those most manly of professionals, will hopefully encourage others to do the same.”
Image: Daniel Murphy, via lev radin / Shutterstock.com
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Significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are toxic chemicals often found in household cleansers and paints, have been found in the polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding materials found in many crib mattresses. More on the new study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin:
The researchers studied samples of polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding from 20 new and old crib mattresses. Graduate student Brandon Boor, in the Cockrell School’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, conducted the study under the supervision of assistant professor Ying Xu and associate professor Atila Novoselac. Boor also worked with senior researcher Helena Järnström from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. They reported their findings in the February issue of Environmental Science & Technology.
The researchers found:
- New crib mattresses release about four times as many VOCs as old crib mattresses.
- Body heat increases emissions.
- Chemical emissions are strongest in the sleeping infant’s immediate breathing zone.
The researchers concluded that, on average, mattresses emitted VOCs at a rate of 87.1 micrograms per square meter per hour, while older mattresses emitted VOCs at a rate of 22.1 micrograms per square meter per hour. Overall, Boor said crib mattresses release VOCs at rates comparable to other consumer products and indoor materials, including laminate flooring (20 to 35 micrograms per square meter per hour) and wall covering (51 micrograms per square meter per hour).
Boor became motivated to conduct the study after finding out that infants spend 50 to 60 percent of their day sleeping. Infants are considered highly susceptible to the adverse health effects of exposure to indoor air pollutants.
“I wanted to know more about the chemicals they may inhale as they sleep during their early stages of development,” he said. “This research also helps to raise awareness about the various chemicals that may be found in crib mattresses, which are not typically listed by manufacturers.”
The 20 mattress samples are from 10 manufacturers. The researchers chose not to disclose the names of the manufacturers studied so that their results could draw general attention to the product segment without focusing on specific brands.
At present, not much is known about the health effects that occur from the levels of VOCs found in homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Researchers advised parents to allow new mattresses to air out in a garage or protected porch for as long a period as possible before placing it in a child’s crib.
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Image: Baby in crib, via Shutterstock
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A number of programs that send trained volunteers to the homes of new moms to help out and dispense advice and support will receive federal funding for another 6 months, following a Congressional vote to extend the funds. More from The New York Times:
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Similar community models [to a New Hampshire program called Good Beginnings] make the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs funded through the federal-state partnership successful, said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund. “In Utah, state organizations noticed a high rate of infant mortality among the Asian Pacific Islander population. For that group, the best messenger is the aunt or grandmother — a registered nurse might not be as effective as a trained parent educator.” Federal funds went to a program designed to understand the community it was trying to reach. “They were able to greatly reduce infant mortality rates,” Ms. Perry said. In the mid-2000s, the infant mortality rate for Pacific Islander families in Utah was more than double the statewide rate. Just a few years later, it was lower than the rate in the rest of the state, with nearly 48 percent more babies living.
In a bipartisan vote, Congress approved a six-month extension of the federal funding that goes to the programs, which would have run out in September 2013. That means it will be months before program directors and employees will once again have to turn their attention to securing their funding for another year — months that can be spent on work that increases family self-sufficiency, reduces medical costs and even lessens the need for remedial education for the children in participating families.
Newborns and infants are sensitive to what German researchers term “pleasant touch,” and they display specific physiological and behavioral response to this style of touching. The findings are yet more confirmation of what parents have known for years, that physical contact is an important part of forging the parent-child bond. More from the journal Psychological Science:
Previous studies with adults have shown that when the skin is stroked, a specific type of touch receptor is activated in response to a particular stroking velocity, leading to the sensation of “pleasant” touch. Cognitive neuroscientist Merle Fairhurst of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues hypothesized that this type of response might emerge as early as infancy.
For the study, Fairhurst and colleagues had infants sit in their parents’ laps while the experimenter stroked the back of the infant’s arm with a paintbrush. The experimenter varied the rate of the brushstrokes among three defined velocities (0.3, 3, or 30 cm per second). The experimenters gauged the infants’ responses through physiological and behavioral measures.
The results showed that the infants’ heart rate slowed in response to the brushstrokes but only when the strokes were of medium velocity; in other words, the touch of the medium-velocity brush helped to decrease their physiological arousal.
The infants also showed more engagement with the paintbrush during the medium-velocity brushstrokes, as measured by how long and how often they looked at the brush while they were being stroked.
Interestingly, infants’ slower heart rate during medium-velocity brushstrokes was uniquely correlated with the primary caregivers’ own self-reported sensitivity to touch. That is, the more sensitive the caregiver was to touch, the more the infant’s heart rate slowed in response to medium-velocity touch.
The researchers note that this link between caregiver and infant could be supported by both “nurture” and “nature” explanations:
“One possibility is that infants’ sensitivity to pleasant touch stems from direct or vicarious experience of differing levels of social touch as a function of their caregiver’s sensitivity to social touch,” explains Fairhurst. “Another possibility is that social touch is genetically heritable and therefore correlated between caregivers and infants.”
According to the researchers, the findings “support the notion that pleasant touch plays a vital role in human social interactions by demonstrating that the sensitivity to pleasant touch emerges early in human development.”
Image: Mother hugging baby, via Shutterstock
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