WBEZ | Science http://www.wbez.org/news/science Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Scientists Say The Amazon Is Still Teaching Us New Lessons http://www.wbez.org/news/scientists-say-amazon-still-teaching-us-new-lessons-113969 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/amazon-sunset_custom-f6bb2d63a4763e491dbb54df2a7916ca88a573ab-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res454744073" previewtitle="Sunset colors cut through the smoky haze in the Brazilian Amazon."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Sunset colors cut through the smoky haze in the Brazilian Amazon." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/04/amazon-sunset_custom-f6bb2d63a4763e491dbb54df2a7916ca88a573ab-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Sunset colors cut through the smoky haze in the Brazilian Amazon. (Kainaz Amaria/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Recent scientific discoveries show that the Amazon rainforest might control the climate for much of South America. The theory could mean even more disastrous ramifications for the fragile ecosystem if deforestation continues unabated.</p></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 12:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/scientists-say-amazon-still-teaching-us-new-lessons-113969 Climate Change Winners And Losers http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-27/climate-change-winners-and-losers-113967 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1126_polar-bear.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_96815"><img alt="Polar bear (Anita Ritenour/Flickr)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1126_polar-bear-624x416.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Polar bear (Anita Ritenour/Flickr)" /><p>It&rsquo;s not just the polar bear that is suffering from climate change. Other animals are already seeing the effects of a warming planet, including habitat loss, food shortages and extreme weather conditions. While many species will suffer, some will do well and adapt to the changes.</p></div><p>Thomas Lovejoy, a conservation biologist at George Mason University who coined the term &ldquo;biological diversity&rdquo; back in 1980, tells&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/27/climate-winners-losers"><em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s </em></a>Meghna Chakrabarti about the climate winners and losers and what can be done to restore ecosystems to slow the effects of climate change.</p></p> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 12:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-27/climate-change-winners-and-losers-113967 The Importance Of Friends And The Difficulty Keeping Them http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-27/importance-friends-and-difficulty-keeping-them-113966 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pinky-swear-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_96731"><img alt="Pinky swear (Pixabay)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/pinky-swear-624x416.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Friendships have a tendency to change in adulthood – largely because we have less time for them. (Pixabay)" /><p>Friendship is unlike any other relationship in a person&rsquo;s life. It can be difficult to define and may carry different meanings for different people. Two friends may describe the degree of their relationship in totally different ways.</p></div><p>While family bonds are typically considered unconditional, friendships are voluntary and thus subject to being set aside when people enter adulthood&nbsp;and &ldquo;more important&rdquo; events arise.</p><p>Researcher&nbsp;Emily Langan&nbsp;studies friendship. She speaks with&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/26/friendship-research-langan" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s </em></a>Meghna Chakrabarti about its importance in human development and how it changes over time.</p></p> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 11:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-27/importance-friends-and-difficulty-keeping-them-113966 A Peek At Brain Connections May Reveal Attention Deficits http://www.wbez.org/news/peek-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits-113921 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/adhd_custom-c48f2fc521995d9fce44626b3bf579b5a9fc67cc-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457142622" previewtitle="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/23/adhd_custom-c48f2fc521995d9fce44626b3bf579b5a9fc67cc-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>A look at the brain&#39;s wiring can often reveal whether a person has trouble staying focused, and even whether he or she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.</p></div></div></div><p>A team led by researchers at Yale University&nbsp;<a href="http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nn.4179">reports</a>&nbsp;that they were able to identify many children and adolescents with ADHD by studying data on the strength of certain connections in their brains.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s an intrinsic signature,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://psychology.yale.edu/people/monica-rosenberg">Monica Rosenberg</a>, a graduate student and lead author of the study in&nbsp;Nature Neuroscience.&nbsp;But the approach isn&#39;t ready for use as a diagnostic tool yet, she says.</p><p>The finding adds to the evidence that people with ADHD have a true brain disorder, not just a behavioral problem, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kennedykrieger.org/patient-care/faculty-staff/mark-mahone">Mark Mahone</a>, director of neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. &quot;There are measurable ways that their brains are different,&quot; he says.</p><p>The latest finding came from an effort to learn more about brain connections associated with attention.</p><p>Initially, the Yale team used&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC162295/">functional MRI</a>, a form of magnetic resonance imaging, to monitor the brains of 25 typical people while they did something really boring. Their task was to watch a screen that showed black-and-white images of cities or mountains and press a button only when they saw a city.</p><p>&quot;It gets really dull after a while,&quot; Rosenberg says, &quot;so it&#39;s really hard to pay attention to over a long period of time.&quot;</p><p>During the test, the team measured the strength of thousands of connections throughout the participants&#39; brains. And they were able to identify certain patterns that predicted a person&#39;s ability to stay focused.</p><p>What&#39;s more, these connection patterns were present even when the person wasn&#39;t trying to keep track of cities and mountains, or anything else, Rosenberg says. &quot;We could actually look at that signature while they were resting and we could still predict their attention,&quot; she says.</p><p>The team wanted to know whether this signature could be used to assess younger people, especially those with ADHD. So they reviewed data on 113 children and adolescents whose brains had been scanned by scientists in China as part of an unrelated study. The children had also been assessed for ADHD.</p><p>The team used the information about brain connections to predict how well each child would do on the attention task with cities and mountains.</p><p>&quot;And what we found was really surprising, and I think really cool,&quot; Rosenberg says. &quot;When we predicted that a child would do really well on the task, they had a low ADHD score. And when we predicted they would do really poorly on the task, they had a high ADHD score, indicating that they had a severe attention deficit.&quot;</p><p>For many of the children, the researchers were able to predict not only whether they had ADHD, but how severe the problem was.</p><p>The test isn&#39;t perfect but does provide useful information, Rosenberg says. Eventually, she says, it might help psychologists and psychiatrists assess children with attention problems.</p><p>One potential limitation of the approach is that attention deficits aren&#39;t found only in people with ADHD, says Mahone. Individuals with anxiety, depression, learning disabilities and autism also have trouble staying focused, he says.</p><p>Regardless of the diagnosis, though, Mahone says, &quot;knowing how the brain is different in a disorder, we can look at ways to help &#39;normalize&#39; the brain.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/457139705/a-peek-at-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits?ft=nprml&amp;f=457139705" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/peek-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits-113921 Common ADHD Medications Do Indeed Disturb Children's Sleep http://www.wbez.org/news/common-adhd-medications-do-indeed-disturb-childrens-sleep-113922 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/adhd-sleep_custom-e9340e2576e9308325674866f871739028e579b2-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457144752" previewtitle="Boy sleeping in bed"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Boy sleeping in bed" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/23/adhd-sleep_custom-e9340e2576e9308325674866f871739028e579b2-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(iStockphoto)" /></div><div><p>For a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, meeting the daily expectations of home and school life can be a struggle that extends to bedtime. The stimulant medications commonly used to treat ADHD can cause difficulty falling and staying asleep, a study finds. And that can make the next day that much harder.</p></div></div><p>As parents are well aware, sleep affects a child&#39;s emotional and physical well-being, and it is no different for those with ADHD. &quot;Poor sleep makes ADHD symptoms worse,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://psychology.unl.edu/pediatrichealthlab/people">Katherine M. Kidwell</a>, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who led the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/ADHD-Medications-Make-it-Harder-For-Children-to-Sleep.aspx">study</a>. &quot;When children with ADHD don&#39;t sleep well, they have problems paying attention the next day, and they are more impulsive and emotionally reactive.&quot;</p><p>Stimulant medications boost alertness, and some studies have found a detrimental effect on children&#39;s sleep. They include amphetamines such as Adderall and methylphenidate such as Ritalin. However, other studies have concluded that the stimulants&#39; ameliorating effects improve sleep.</p><p>To reconcile the mixed results on stimulants and children&#39;s sleep, Kidwell and her colleagues undertook a meta-analysis, a type of study that summarizes the results of existing research. The team found nine studies that met their criteria. These studies compared children who were taking stimulant medication with those who weren&#39;t. The studies also randomly assigned children to the experimental group or the control group and used objective measures of sleep quality and quantity, such as assessing sleep in a lab setting or with a wristwatch-like monitor at home rather than a parent&#39;s report.</p><p>Taking a stimulant medication leads to poor sleep overall for children, the researchers reported online Monday in&nbsp;Pediatrics. They found that the more doses of medication a child took per day, the longer it took for that child to fall asleep at night. The study suggests that extended-release versions of stimulants, which are taken once a day, have less of an impact on how long it takes to fall asleep than immediate-release formulas, which are sometimes taken three times a day, with the last dose close to bedtime.</p><p>Furthermore, the quality of sleep, or sleep efficiency &ndash; the percentage of time one is asleep while in bed &mdash; was worse for those on stimulant medications, although those kids who had been on the drugs longer fared better than those who had just begun taking the medication. There was also a gender difference, with boys on stimulant medication getting poorer quality sleep than girls.</p><p>Finally, stimulants reduced the total amount of sleep children got at night. &quot;Families and pediatricians need to be aware that sleep problems are a real effect of stimulant medication,&quot; says Kidwell.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s really good to see this,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://psychology.fiu.edu/faculty/william-pelham/">William E. Pelham</a>, a clinical psychologist and Director of the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University, who studies ADHD in children and adolescents. Pediatricians are often quick to prescribe a medication without adequate follow-up, he says, and &quot;assessing sleep side effects is important &mdash; it needs to be something that pediatricians routinely do.&quot;</p><p>For families, Kidwell says that the bedtime routines all parents use &mdash; reading stories, sharing news about the day, quiet activities like coloring&mdash;are very helpful for kids with ADHD too. &quot;But parents may need to provide more structure, support, and simpler reminders for children with ADHD.&quot;</p><p>Aimee Cunningham is a freelance science journalist based in the Washington, D.C., area.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/24/457137288/common-adhd-medications-do-indeed-disturb-childrens-sleep?ft=nprml&amp;f=457137288" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/common-adhd-medications-do-indeed-disturb-childrens-sleep-113922 More Women Are Freezing Their Eggs, But Will They Ever Use Them? http://www.wbez.org/news/more-women-are-freezing-their-eggs-will-they-ever-use-them-113918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/npr_fertility.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457110565" previewtitle="Maria Fabrizio for NPR"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Maria Fabrizio for NPR" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/23/npr_fertilitywindow_wide-358896666ed2e510442e1294f05133a865dd5d59-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="(Maria Fabrizio/NPR)" /></div><div><div>If egg freezing once sounded like science fiction, those days are over. Women now hear about it from their friends, their doctors and informational events like Wine and Freeze.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/">Shady Grove Fertility Center</a>&nbsp;in the Washington, D.C., area hosts Wine and Freeze nights for prospective patients every few months. Fifteen or so women in their 30s gathered at one recently over wine, brownies and sticky buns. A doctor explained the procedure, the costs and the odds of frozen eggs resulting in a baby &mdash; which decline as a woman ages.</div></div></div><p>Egg freezing for medical reasons &mdash; often women undergoing chemotherapy &mdash; has been possible for decades. Some 5,000 babies have been born from eggs that were frozen, thawed and fertilized.</p><p>In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine decided egg freezing was no longer an experimental procedure. That opened the door for clinics like Shady Grove to market it to women who don&#39;t have a medical reason to do it but are simply worried about their declining fertility &mdash; what&#39;s being dubbed as &quot;social&quot; egg freezing.</p><p>The &quot;social&quot; egg freezing business these days is good, says Shady Grove medical director&nbsp;<a href="https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/doctors/widra">Dr. Eric Widra</a>. &quot;This is clearly a time where the technological ability to do this is converging with the demographics,&quot; he says. &quot;There are more and more women who find themselves in a situation where they may potentially benefit from having their eggs frozen.&quot;</p><div id="res457130643"><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/fertility-patients-20151123/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/fertility-patients-20151123/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script></div><p>The majority of women currently freezing their eggs live in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, according to Jake Anderson-Bialis, who&#39;s building a company called&nbsp;<a href="http://fertilityiq.com/">FertilityIQ&nbsp;</a>with his wife, Deborah. &quot;Marketing is aggressively happening, and these are the hubs where fertility clinics will prove out the concept,&quot; he says.</p><p>Anderson-Bialis says he&#39;s hoping to serve women freezing their eggs, as well as couples doing in vitro fertilization, with a database of fertility doctors and reviews from patients. FertilityIQ has so far gotten about 200 women who have frozen their eggs to write reviews of their experience.</p><p>The fact that wine is served at egg-freezing info sessions around the country might imply that this is no big deal, even fun. In fact, it&#39;s a complicated and physically demanding process.</p><p>Women inject themselves with hormones for up to two weeks to stimulate their ovaries to get as many mature eggs as possible. There&#39;s a surgical procedure to retrieve them. And there can be side effects along the way.</p><p>It also isn&#39;t cheap. One round averages about $12,000, and multiple rounds may be needed. No insurance companies cover egg freezing, but in October, a third tech company, Intel,&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.intel.com/jobs/2015/10/19/intel-expands-family-benefits/">joined</a>&nbsp;Apple and Facebook in offering to pay the costs of egg freezing for employees. Financing may be available from a company called EggBanxx as well as some fertility clinics.</p><p>Stacey Samuel is a producer with CBS in Washington, D.C., (formerly with CNN). She thought about freezing her eggs earlier, but couldn&#39;t afford it until this year. &quot;Before you know it, I&#39;m 40, and I thought, oh, my goodness, this is very real for me,&quot; Samuel says.</p><p>Doctors prefer that women freeze their eggs before their mid-30s. But Samuel thought that advice might not apply to her. &quot;I&#39;m a black, South Asian female. Fertility in my culture and family extends for many years,&quot; she says. &quot;So I&#39;m thinking 40 is nothing but a number &mdash; I still get carded.&quot;</p><p>She assumed she&#39;d get the 15 to 20 eggs that doctors recommend women freeze. But in the middle of her cycle, while she was injecting hormones, there were complications. She ended up with just 10.</p><p>&quot;Even when I choose to go use those eggs, I could lose them again,&quot; Samuel says. &quot;So that feeling of reassurance that I thought I was buying with my near $20,000 on the table &mdash; I&#39;m still unable to control the outcome.&quot;</p><p>Preserved eggs offer women like Samuel hope for beating the biological clock. But you can&#39;t escape the fact that your body will continue to age. The older a woman is when she freezes her eggs and when she uses them with in vitro fertilization, the lower her chances of success.</p><p>&quot;There was a lot of encouragement to go forth even if it looks like you&#39;re kind of a risky case, because I think these dedicated doctors really want to know where they can take this,&quot; Samuel says. &quot;And they need the numbers, and they need those of us who are willing to go through with it.&quot;</p><p>That concerns&nbsp;<a href="https://law.utexas.edu/faculty/jr43/">John Robertson</a>, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Texas Law School. He wrote a&nbsp;<a href="http://jlb.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/28/jlb.lsu002.full">paper</a>&nbsp;published in 2014 in the&nbsp;Journal of Law and the Biosciences&nbsp;on how women freezing their eggs can be both empowered and alienated by the procedure.</p><p>&quot;The problem is it may be marketed to women who are in the older age group who may have very little chance of obtaining viable eggs,&quot; Robertson says. &quot;So it&#39;s extremely important that there be full disclosure at every step of the process.&quot;</p><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/fertility-births-20151123/child.html">&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.embryo.net/fertility-center/fertility-doctors">Dr. Kevin Doody</a>&nbsp;agrees. He codirects the Center for Assisted Reproduction in Dallas, and is president-elect of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, or SART.</p><p>&quot;I do not think that this should be highly promoted for the older-age woman,&quot; Doody says. &quot;I&#39;m not saying one should refuse or deny services if a 40- or 42-year-old woman wanted to have her eggs frozen. But I think it would warrant a substantial counseling session with that patient.&quot;</p><p>SART collects data on egg freezing in the U.S. And Doody says in 2013, about 4,000 women froze their eggs, up from about 2,500 the year before. And he predicts the number this year will be much higher.</p><p>But so far very few women who&#39;ve frozen their eggs since the experimental label was lifted in 2012 have gone back to try to use them. SART found that of the 353 egg-thaw cycles in 2012, only 83 resulted in live births. In 2013, there were 414 thaw cycles and 99 live births. &quot;Live birth&quot; is not babies born &mdash; it means delivery of one or more infants, so it can include twins.</p><p>Overall, the success rate of live births from frozen eggs has remained consistently pretty low, at about 20 to 24 percent since 2009. And, Doody adds, &quot;Even if the success rates were significantly higher, there&#39;s never going to be a guarantee for an individual patient that the eggs she would bank would ultimately result in a baby for her.&quot;</p><p>Medical anthropologist&nbsp;<a href="http://marciainhorn.com/">Marcia Inhorn</a>&nbsp;at Yale University is conducting a study of the women who have frozen their eggs.</p><p>&quot;The vast majority say, &#39;Well, it&#39;s given me peace of mind, I feel a sense of relief, it&#39;s taken the pressure off of me to rush into a relationship with someone who isn&#39;t right,&#39; &quot; she says.</p><p>Inhorn has interviewed about 100 women so far for her study.</p><p>&quot;Most of these women are amazing professional women, I have to say,&quot; says Inhorn. &quot;But the major reason over and over is not being able to find the right person to embark on a partnership and parenthood with.&quot;</p><p>Finding the right person is likely to be just as big a challenge for women in the future, Inhorn says. Which is why she believes this technology will become normalized, like in vitro fertilization.</p><p>And maybe it&#39;s already happening if people like Mindy Kaling are talking about it. The actress, producer and writer hit on this in an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hulu.com/watch/865280">episode</a>&nbsp;of her Hulu show&nbsp;The Mindy Project. Her character, a fertility doctor, goes to a college campus to peddle her newest service for women.</p><p>Here&#39;s what she tells them:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;When I was your age, I thought that I was going to be married by the time I was 25. But it took a lot longer than that. And unfortunately your body does not care if you are dating the wrong guy. ... Your body and your eggs just keep getting older, which is why freezing them is a pretty smart idea, &#39;cause it gives you a little bit more time.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>But it will be years before there&#39;s enough data showing us whether egg freezing actually helps most of the women doing it fulfill their dreams of motherhood.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/24/456671203/more-women-are-freezing-their-eggs-but-will-they-ever-use-them?ft=nprml&amp;f=456671203" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-women-are-freezing-their-eggs-will-they-ever-use-them-113918 A Doctor Wrestles With Whether To Keep Wearing His White Coat http://www.wbez.org/news/doctor-wrestles-whether-keep-wearing-his-white-coat-113904 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/doctor-coat_wide-1060c55f0842fabb7a04c0391fc61d0d95c3980f-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456823405" previewtitle="Lorenzo Gritti for NPR"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Lorenzo Gritti for NPR" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/doctor-coat_wide-1060c55f0842fabb7a04c0391fc61d0d95c3980f-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="(Lorenzo Gritti/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>I remember being handed a white coat during my first year of medical school. It came crisply folded in a cellophane bag. I was told to wear it anytime we were in the hospital or with patients as a sign of respect.</p><p>There was no pomp about it. I took it home and tried it on. It was like putting on a costume and pretending to play doctor. The white coat continued to feel that way to me for a long time.</p><p>Over the years, the costume has become second nature and part of my clinical identity. I slip it on when I&#39;m seeing patients, because when I&#39;ve asked, most of them tell me they prefer it. The coat provides a mutual comfort to us both.</p><p>My, how times have changed. Now the vast majority of the nation&#39;s medical schools (along with more than 700 nursing schools and physician assistant programs) host special&nbsp;<a href="http://humanism-in-medicine.org/programs/rituals/white-coat-ceremony/" target="_blank">white coat ceremonies</a>, in which new students are welcomed into their profession with a solemn ceremony invoking commitment to the healing arts. White coats are formally offered to students, and put on them by their school&#39;s leadership.</p><p>These ceremonies present an opportunity for the students and their families to mark the beginning of health careers in an educational and professional crucible that will challenge their ideals, empathy and compassion. &quot;The iconography, the ritual of holding up members of the profession in this time of change must be maintained,&quot; says Dr. Richard Levin, president and CEO of the&nbsp;<a href="http://humanism-in-medicine.org/about-us/" target="_blank">Arnold P. Gold Foundation</a>, whose mission is to promote and maintain humanism in health care.</p><p>Now in the role of medical educator myself, I find anything that helps students stay connected with their highest ideals valuable in imparting a sense of professionalism. That&#39;s why it&#39;s disconcerting to think that our white coats are being challenged as possible vectors of infection.</p><p>A group of doctors in the field of infectious diseases has begun to rally around a<a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/11/18/doctors-debate-hanging-white-coat/wRJxWpiRFtm4ehy8Q9pIEJ/story.html" target="_blank">mantra</a>&nbsp;of &quot;bare below the elbows,&quot; suggesting that health professionals avoid wearing white coats altogether, as is the custom in the U.K.</p><p>It turns out we don&#39;t wash the things nearly enough.</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="https://theconversation.com/its-time-for-doctors-to-hang-up-the-white-coats-for-good-47536" target="_blank">piece</a>&nbsp;titled &quot;It&#39;s Time for Doctors to Hang up their White Coats for Good,&quot; Boston-based infectious diseases specialist&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/philiplederer" target="_blank">Philip Lederer</a>&nbsp;argues that white coats have outlived their usefulness, both as guardians of cleanliness and as symbols of the profession.</p><p>Studies demonstrate the presence of harmful&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18834751?dopt=Abstract" target="_blank">bacteria</a>&nbsp;on our white coats, though evidence of direct harm to patients is lacking.</p><p>&quot;We don&#39;t need a randomized trial to prove that parachutes save lives,&quot; Lederer told me. He prefers wearing khakis and dress shirts with the sleeves rolled up; no tie. He mentioned other docs who favor vests for their pockets and warmth, a trend some hope will catch on. And while Lederer supports the idea of a humanism-themed ceremony to welcome students into the profession, he and others suggest that even as a symbol white coats are more of a barrier than a conduit to strong doctor-patient relationships.</p><p>Levin counters that with all of the changes in health care, people in the field feel a tremendous sense of dislocation. &quot;The idea of taking away [professional status] rather than elevating it is a problem for health care,&quot; he said. But taking away the coats wouldn&#39;t necessarily be a blow, he said, pointing to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23278829" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;that challenges the notion that white coats are fundamentally elitist.</p><p>The debate over white coats has forced me to consider my own practice. In the end, I think the issue is as much about generational change as it is about infection control. I&#39;d give up my white coat instantly if I knew it was spreading harmful bacteria. But colonization with bacteria is different from transmitting them to another person.</p><p>Bacteria live on all of us, so are white coats necessarily worse than our other garments or even our own skin?</p><p>It&#39;s likely that this debate will continue, unless patients were to somehow come to consensus on what they want doctors to wear. And that&#39;s not likely to happen anytime soon.</p><p>Until then, I vow to wash my white coat more frequently.</p><p><em>John Henning Schumann is a writer and doctor in Tulsa, Okla. He serves as president of the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa. He also hosts Public Radio Tulsa&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://kwgs.org/term/medical-matters">Medical Matters</a>.&nbsp;He&#39;s on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GlassHospital">@GlassHospital</a></em></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/21/456811455/a-doctor-wrestles-with-whether-to-keep-wearing-his-white-coat?ft=nprml&amp;f=456811455" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/doctor-wrestles-whether-keep-wearing-his-white-coat-113904 Local Tomatoes Flourish in the Chicago Area Through Hydroponics http://www.wbez.org/news/local-tomatoes-flourish-chicago-area-through-hydroponics-113898 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HydroTomato.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="MightVine tomatoes are already in Chicago stores including Whole Foods. (WBEZ/Monica Eng) " /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>In recent weeks, Chicago shoppers have found something unusual in Whole Foods and Jewel stores--local tomatoes, in November. They come from an experiment in Midwest farming underway 80 miles to the west in Rochelle, IL.</p><p>That&rsquo;s where the new MightyVine hydroponic farm houses 100,000 tomato plants inside a 7-acre greenhouse. The vines wind around wires and rise high into the air like magical beanstalks sprouting chubby red fruit.</p><p>The tomatoes are being used and sold in specialty store Local Foods in Chicago&rsquo;s West Town neighborhood and in school food catered by Handcut Foods. Both are co-owned by Jim Murphy, who serves as chairman at MightyVine.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re trying to do is provide the best tomato possible into the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Murphy said at the farm&rsquo;s opening last month.</p><p>Hydroponic and greenhouse tomatoes from places like Maine and Canada have been available to Chicagoans for years now. But Murphy, MightyVine CEO Gary Lazarski and their investors have put a $11 million bet that Chicagoans will prefer a product grown closer to home.</p><p>&ldquo;First, you have to have the product,&rdquo; Murphy said. &ldquo;Then you have to educate people about it. And we think we can get Chicago residents to think about tomatoes the way they should. And I think the perfect way is the way Mario Batali says: &lsquo;The best tomato is the one that grows closest to home&rsquo;-- and MightyVine will be the one that grows closest to home 11 months of the year.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HydroTomato2.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="100,000 tomato plants rise into the air in the 7-acre MightyVine farm in Rochelle, Illinois. (WBEZ/Monica Eng) " /></p><p>The Dutch have developed a lot of hydroponic farming, so it&rsquo;s little surprise that MightyVine has chosen Nic Helderman as its master grower. We recently toured the farm with the Netherlands native and he explained that the plants only need about 10 percent of the water used for field tomatoes. Most of that water, he says, will be derived from captured rainwater and snow melt.</p><p>On the other hand, the farm will need some extra inputs when it comes to heat and light the vast greenhouse While the diffused glass ceiling lets in sunlight, the plants will also depend on high-power sodium lights that give the room an unearthly glow.</p><p>&ldquo;Most greenhouses [in the Netherlands] don&rsquo;t have lights, so they plant the tomatoes around Christmas and they harvest in the summer,&rdquo; Helderman said as bumble bees buzzed around the plants he was showing off. &ldquo;But because of the lights, we can grow these tomatoes year round, vine ripe and close to the market.&rdquo;</p><p>Helderman is optimistic about the conditions for a strong, consistent crop, despite a disastrous whitefly infestation that struck in late 2013 at one of the major hydroponic tomato facilities in Maine, Backyard Farms.</p><p>According to CEO Lazarski, the farm has created about 35 permanent jobs and 15 seasonal jobs in Rochelle.</p><p>MightyVine officials say they hope to grow about 4.5 million pounds of tomatoes a year at the facility (about 70,000 to 100,000 pounds a week), including some specialty varieties custom grown for Chicago restaurants including Frontera, RPM Steak, Bang Bang Pie Shop and Revolution Brewing.</p><p>In stores, the tomatoes will go for $2.50 to $3.50 a pound.</p></div><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/local-tomatoes-flourish-chicago-area-through-hydroponics-113898 What Does It Mean to Be Intersex? http://www.wbez.org/news/what-does-it-mean-be-intersex-113883 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/hiresb_custom-073b1fc73ec73acb43d3c734848e575adb035c7e-s1500-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456621002" previewtitle="What is intersex?"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="What is intersex?" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/hiresb_custom-073b1fc73ec73acb43d3c734848e575adb035c7e-s1500-c85.jpg" style="height: 368px; width: 620px;" title="(iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>In the area of 1 in 2,000 people are born intersex. These individuals may have mixed genitalia, meaning some combination of ovaries and testes. This comes about either because ovarian and testicular tissue grow together in the same organ or because a &quot;male side&quot; and a &quot;female side&quot; develop in the body.</p><p>Other intersex individuals may have genetically inherited chromosomal abnormalities such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which may result in masculinization of the genitals in people born with XX chromosomes, or androgen insensitivity syndrome, when the body doesn&#39;t respond to testosterone and a person has XY chromosomes and feminized genitalia.</p><p>If you&#39;ve never heard of intersex, you&#39;re not alone, says Georgiann Davis, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas sociology professor and intersex person, in her October column &quot;<a href="http://www.unlv.edu/news/article/5-things-i-wish-you-knew-about-intersex-people#.VhWCfg5OtLo.twitter">5 Things I Wish You Knew About Intersex People</a>.&quot; (You may have heard the old term &quot;<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2009/09/16/dont-call-them-hermaphrodites.html">hermaphrodite</a>,&quot; but that term is no longer used; it suggests bodies that encompass all male and all female organs at once, which is not the case.)</p><p>These days, transgender people and some of the challenges they face are pretty much everywhere in the media &mdash; a very good thing, especially when discussion of the right to use the bathroom that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/us/as-transgender-students-make-gains-schools-hesitate-at-bathrooms.html">matches one&#39;s gender identity</a>&nbsp;is supplemented with attention to risks of suicide and violence faced by transgender people. (Note: Nov. 20 is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/transgender-day-remembrance">Transgender Day of Remembrance</a>.)</p><p>But intersex people aren&#39;t transgender and, for the most part, they are not well-understood in our society.</p><p>During the past two weeks, I&#39;ve taught about intersex to my anthropology and gender undergraduates.</p><p>We start by discussing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sexing-Body-Politics-Construction-Sexuality/dp/0465077145">Sexing the Body</a>,&nbsp;by biologist and Brown University professor emerita&nbsp;<a href="http://www.annefaustosterling.com/">Anne Fausto-Sterling</a>, which lays out the anatomical and genetic science of the situation and explains how quick the medical profession has been to surgically &quot;fix&quot; babies identified at birth as intersex, by sculpting the body to make it functionally male or female.</p><p>Then we read a novel,&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.abigailtarttelin.com/golden-boy/">Golden Boy</a></em>,&nbsp;by Abigail Tarttelin, in which a British teenager named Max Walker grapples with being intersex. Just at the time when he is starting to date, and wondering how he&#39;ll ever explain to a love interest about his body, he gains from his doctor more information than he ever had before. He asks: Is he really a boy or really a girl? The answer comes back: He is neither.</p><p>Good fiction stirs deep feelings; Tarttelin&#39;s story allows my students, teenagers and those recently teenagers, to map flesh and blood onto the science. In the book, Max&#39;s parents and brother each respond in their own, sometimes explosive ways to his situation and, at times, Max despairs:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;I realize that I am going to be intersex my whole life. Years and years and decades and maybe for seventy years I&#39;ll be like this. And, unless I find someone who doesn&#39;t mind having sex with me, I&#39;m going to be alone all that time.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>In the end, Tarttelin lifts Max into a place of light and hope.</p><p>As is clear from an investigative piece last year in&nbsp;<em>The Atlantic</em>&nbsp;titled &quot;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/should-we-fix-intersex-children/373536/">Should we fix intersex children</a>?,&quot; the era of medicalized &quot;repair&quot; of the intersex body is far from over.</p><p>Georgiann Davis in her piece&nbsp;<a href="https://www.unlv.edu/news/article/5-things-i-wish-you-knew-about-intersex-people">makes the same point</a>. She explains:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;Doctors continue to perform surgery on intersex bodies to squeeze us into an arbitrary male or female box &mdash; one that is narrowly and problematically correlated with gender and sexual stereotypes. These stereotypes force everyone into rigid categories, regardless of the shape or features of their genitalia. If you have a penis, you are expected to use it to penetrate a vagina if you want to be a &#39;real&#39; man. If you have a vagina, you are expected to desire and enjoy vaginal penetration if you want to be a &#39;real&#39; woman.</em></p><p><em>&quot;However, it would behoove all of us to escape these constraints of binary thinking that underline sex, gender, and sexuality. Genitalia are naturally variable and are not predictive of our gender or sexual identities, which are complex and fluid parts of who we are. There are many ways to accomplish your gender and sexual identities both with and without your genitals.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>This is a powerful statement. And from it, we can learn. As Fausto-Sterling writes inSexing the Body:&nbsp;&quot;There is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of difference. ... Labeling someone a man or a woman is a social decision.&quot;</p><p>Sure, like many people, I was taught growing up that each of us is either/or, male or female, period. But that&#39;s simply not so.</p><p>Humans are gloriously variable, and we don&#39;t all fit into neat categories like that. We can educate ourselves right out of that old binary way of thinking.</p><div><hr /></div><p><em>Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, often writes about human evolution, primate behavior and the cognition and emotion of animals.&nbsp;Barbara&#39;s most recent book on animals is titled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/176686699/how-animals-grieve">How Animals Grieve</a>.&nbsp;You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/bjkingape">@bjkingape</a></em></p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://bc.ca/radio/q" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 16:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-does-it-mean-be-intersex-113883 Genetically Modified Salmon Is Safe To Eat, FDA Says http://www.wbez.org/news/genetically-modified-salmon-safe-eat-fda-says-113863 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/aquabounty-salmon_edited_custom-4f9714ca542488f7d7be38aac708da7ecee37e3b-s1600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456634873" previewtitle="AquaBounty's salmon (rear) have been genetically modified to grow to market size in about half the time as a normal salmon — 16 to 18 months, rather than three years."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="AquaBounty's salmon (rear) have been genetically modified to grow to market size in about half the time as a normal salmon — 16 to 18 months, rather than three years." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/aquabounty-salmon_edited_custom-4f9714ca542488f7d7be38aac708da7ecee37e3b-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 304px; width: 620px;" title="AquaBounty's salmon, as seen in the rear, have been genetically modified to grow to market size in about half the time as a normal salmon — 16 to 18 months, rather than three years. (MCT /Landov)" /></div><div><div><p>A kind of salmon that&#39;s been genetically modified so that it grows faster may be on the way to a supermarket near you. The Food and Drug Administration approved the fish on Thursday &mdash; a decision that environmental and food-safety groups are vowing to fight.</p></div></div></div><p>This new kind of fast-growing salmon was actually created 25 years ago by Massachusetts-based&nbsp;<a href="https://aquabounty.com/">AquaBounty Technologies</a>. A new gene was inserted into fertilized salmon eggs &mdash; it boosted production of a fish growth hormone. The result: a fish that grows twice as fast as its conventional, farm-raised counterpart.</p><p>AquaBounty has been trying to get government approval to sell its fish ever since. Five years ago, the FDA&#39;s scientific advisers concluded that the genetically modified fish, known as AquaAdvantage salmon, is safe to eat and won&#39;t harm the environment.</p><p><a href="http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/faculty/vaneenennaam/">Alison Van Eenennaam</a>, a biotechnology specialist at the University of California, Davis, who was part of that scientific evaluation, says it wasn&#39;t a hard decision. &quot;Basically, nothing in the data suggested that these fish were in any way unsafe or different to the farm-raised salmon,&quot; she says.</p><p>The FDA now is giving the salmon a green light. In a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm472487.htm">statement</a>, the agency said that the data indicated &quot;that food from the GE salmon is safe to eat by humans and animals&quot; and &quot;that the genetic engineering is safe for the fish.&quot; It&#39;s the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption.</p><p>The FDA also says there&#39;s no reason why the fish needs to be labeled as different from any other salmon in the supermarket. Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of&nbsp;Consumer Reports, decried that decision. &quot;We are deeply disappointed with the FDA&#39;s decision to approve the AquaAdvantage salmon,&quot; Michael Hansen, senior scientist with Consumers Union, said in a statement. &quot;And it&#39;s even more concerning that the FDA chose not to require any form of labeling, making it extremely difficult for consumers to know if the salmon is GE or not.&quot;</p><p>The FDA is requiring AquaBounty to take precautions to make sure the fish don&#39;t get into the ocean, where they might compete with &mdash; or interbreed with &mdash; wild salmon. Critics of FDA approval for the salmon have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/24/413755699/genetically-modified-salmon-coming-to-a-river-near-you">repeatedly raised</a>&nbsp;such concerns. AquaBounty says that the likelihood of its fish escaping is &quot;virtually impossible,&quot; as Dave Conley, the company&#39;s director of corporate communications,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/24/413755699/genetically-modified-salmon-coming-to-a-river-near-you">told us</a>&nbsp;this summer.</p><p>AquaBounty will only be allowed to raise the modified fish in tanks, on land, at just two sites &mdash; one in Canada and one in Panama. And the company says its fish will be sterile, so if they escape, they will fail to reproduce.</p><p>But those precautions aren&#39;t enough for the fish&#39;s opponents. &quot;This frankenfish, this GMO salmon, should not be approved, and shouldn&#39;t have been approved,&quot; says Dana Perls, a campaigner with the environmental group&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foe.org/">Friends of the Earth</a>.</p><p>Perls and other critics of this decision say that in the future, GMO fish farms may get bigger; mistakes will happen, and fish will escape into the oceans. To stop it now, they&#39;re organizing consumer boycotts.</p><p>&quot;People do not want to eat this fish,&quot; Perls says. &quot;And it&#39;s becoming more and more clear that the majority of consumers won&#39;t eat the GMO fish, even if it is available.&quot; In 2013, a&nbsp;New York Times&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/science/strong-support-for-labeling-modified-foods.html?_r=0">poll</a>&nbsp;found that three-quarters of Americans would not eat genetically modified fish. And in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/06/07/131270519/americans-are-wary-about-genetically-engineered-foods">2010 poll</a>&nbsp;by NPR, just 35 percent of respondents said they would try such fish.</p><p>Friends of the Earth says more than 60 grocery store chains have already promised not to sell the fish &mdash; including Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe&#39;s, Whole Foods, Aldi and many others.</p><p>And the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/">Center for Food Safety</a>, an environmental-advocacy group, says it will sue the FDA to block the approval of the salmon.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/19/456634593/fda-says-genetically-modified-salmon-is-safe-to-eat?ft=nprml&amp;f=456634593" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/genetically-modified-salmon-safe-eat-fda-says-113863