Are Teachers’ Prejudices Affecting Your Daughter’s Math and Science Grades?

Female studentGirls can do anything boys can do, especially in math and science, but what if teachers, whose goal is to educate and empower kids, are discouraging girls from these subjects without knowing it?

This may be the case, according to new study conducted by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The research suggests that the perceptions elementary school teachers have about what girls can and can’t do in math and science might be causing female students to shy away from those areas. Their unconscious biases are negatively impacting girls and unintentionally affecting the academic and career choices that female students make later in life.

Three groups of students, from sixth grade through the end of high school, were asked to take two exams. The exams were then graded by two different people: one who didn’t know their names and one who did. The results showed that girls were scored higher than boys only when their tests were graded by the objective scorer versus the familiar scorer, reports Science Daily.

Researchers in Tel Aviv continued to follow the students and also noticed a pattern: if a girl was discouraged by an elementary school teacher, they were less likely to register for advanced-level science and math courses. But boys who were encouraged, despite being scored lower, actually began to excel more and more.

“It isn’t an issue of discrimination but of unconscious discouragement,” said Dr. Edith Sand, an economist at the Bank of Israel and an instructor at TAU’s Berglas School of Economics. “This discouragement, however, has implications. The track to computer science and engineering fields, which report some of the highest salaries, tapers off in elementary school.”

Women around the world are still underrepresented in multiple fields, especially ones related to math and science. Although strides have been made in the U.S. to help young girls have a more STEM-focused education, to play with more toys related to science, technology, engineering, and math, and teach them how to code with HTML, there is still more to be done so that they won’t face inequalities in the future.

As parents, it’s important to continue encouraging kids, regardless of gender, to pursue all endeavors, which will definitely be a step in the right direction.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

What Parents Don't Need to Do (When it comes to school)
What Parents Don't Need to Do (When it comes to school)
What Parents Don't Need to Do (When it comes to school)

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Baby Delivered Inside Amniotic Sac Will Soon Go Home

Amniotic BabyNot all births—especially premature births—are created equal. But in early December, a baby boy who was born 26 weeks premature amazed everyone.

The doctors at Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles delivered Silas Johnson via C-section, and—much to their surprise—he was still fully encased in his mother’s amniotic sac. This is called an en caul birth and only happens once in every 80,000 births. This type of birth is so rare because, even in C-sections, “doctors frequently pierce through the sac as they make their incision to remove the baby,” reports Time.

In some cases, an amniotic sac may be intentionally left intact to protect a premature baby during delivery, but the doctors at Cedars-Sinai had not planned for this outcome.

“It was a moment that really did, even though it’s a cliché: we caught our breath. It really felt like a moment of awe,” said William Binder, M.D., who delivered the baby. “This was really a moment that will stick in my memory for some time.” He even took a moment to snap a photo of Johnson perfectly curled up in the fetal position.

A baby born en caul will continue to receive oxygen through the placenta, but only for a short amount of time, so doctors (or a midwife) need to puncture the sac soon after birth.

Johnson is doing well and is set to head home in less than a month.

Check out more real-life birth stories!

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor

Image: Screenshot of baby Silas courtesy of a CNN video

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Stem Cell Breakthrough Means Biological Babies for Same-Sex Couples

Couple ChildDesigner babies? Three-parent babies? Here’s what’s next: two-dad (or mom) babies from stem cells.

A team of scientists have reached an incredible breakthrough—they have successfully created identical human egg and sperm cells from the stem cells of human skin, regardless of gender.

This new technique can be used as IVF treatments to solve fertility problems for couples, especially same-sex couples. “While this breakthrough could help men and women who have been rendered infertile by disease, gay groups have also expressed hope that this project will eventually lead to the creation of children made from same-sex parents,” reports Medical Daily.

In addition, the technique can solve certain age-related diseases, or epigenetic mutations, because cells that form sperm and eggs cells do not contain these mutations.

The use of stem cells to create egg and sperm cells builds on a previous study that was published by lead researcher Dr. Azim Surani and his team last year, when they converted mice skin cells into germ cells (a step toward egg and sperm cells). And it’s likely that the procedure may be introduced within two years—although moral and ethical arguments will undoubtedly be raised.

This news comes right on the heels of Britain’s decision to allow the three-parent baby IVF technique, making Britain the first official country to do so in the world. The first baby using the technique — also know as mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) — will be born in 2016.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes
Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes
Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes

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Why IUDs Are Becoming the Birth Control of Choice for Many Women

IUDsMore women than ever before are choosing intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants to prevent pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Despite a decline in users for nearly 20 years because of safety concerns, improved IUDs and implants are now a safer and more effective form of birth control.

“Among U.S. women aged 15 to 44, the use of these long-term but reversible contraceptives rose from 1.5 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2011-2013,” reports Health Day. And the use of implants also tripled during the same period, according to Time.com.

This method of protection is a great option for women who aren’t ready to start a family because IUDs can last between 3 and 10 years. Also, if the usage of IUDs and implants continue to increase, the amount of unplanned pregnancies is likely to decrease.

An IUD or implant is always in place, and women don’t have to take extra steps or rely on their partners to avoid becoming pregnant,” reports The Huffington Post. “Some women experience lighter or no periods after their IUDs have been in place for several months.” Plus, an IUD is 99 percent effective with little fuss, compared to birth control pills (91 percent effective only if taken at the same time daily) and male condoms (82 percent effective only if used correctly).

Women may currently opt for other, less expensive methods of birth control because an IUD currently costs more than $1,000. But the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to cover birth control expenses at no cost, which may increase the use of this type of birth control even more.

Tell us: Would you prefer this no-worry solution for yourself?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

Are You Pregnant? How to Know for Sure
Are You Pregnant? How to Know for Sure
Are You Pregnant? How to Know for Sure

Image: Photo of an IUD via Shutterstock

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Could Ditching Your Dishwasher Lead to Fewer Allergies for Kids?

cleaning dishesFor the past few years, researchers around the world have dedicated their studies to find out why so many childhood allergies are on the rise.

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that there may actually be a positive link between handwashed dishes and decreased children’s allergies.

The study, published in the journal of Pediatrics, focused on more than 1,000 children between the ages of 7 and 8. In addition to determining if a parent washed dishes by hand or with a dishwasher, researchers noted if children ate fermented foods, and consumed foods that were purchased directly from farms (such as eggs, meat, and unpasteurized milk). Researchers then analyzed each child’s development of asthma, eczema, and hay fever.

“Ultimately, the researchers found that children raised in households where dishes were always washed by hand had half the rate of allergies,” reports the The New York Times. In fact, 38 percent of children who ate from dishwashed plates had a history of eczema, compared to only 23 percent of children who ate from handwashed plates. “They also discovered that this relationship was amplified if the children also ate fermented foods or if the families bought food directly from local farms.”

The correlation between handwashed dishes and fewer allergies is likely due to an idea known as “hygiene hypothesis,” which argues that children who live in germ- and bacteria-free environments develop more allergies because a tolerance is never built up.

The AAP study also notes, “Dishwashing by hand might, however, be associated with different lifestyle and socioeconomic factors that could act as cofounders, explaining the lower prevalence of allergy seen in children whose parents use hand dishwashing.” Meaning that how children are raised (including their family backgrounds, economic households, etc.) may play a role in how dishes are washed. And further research is needed to confirm if there is a definite cause and effect relationship between these findings.

Read more about the dishwashing and allergy study on AAP.org.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: Allergies
Baby Care Basics: Allergies
Baby Care Basics: Allergies

Image: Daughter helping with dishes via Shutterstock

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