eNews For The Week Of August 21, 2012
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In This Week’s Issue
In The News
Articles and Commentary
- Less Formula, More Oxytocin - (Read)
- Biometrics Go Form-Fitting - (Read)
- Akin, Abortion and Rape - (Read)
In The News
Links to interesting articles elsewhere
August 22, 2012
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Israel must make sure that the 1979 peace treaty is upheld and not stay silent as Egyptian tanks enter Sinai.
Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said Wednesday that Egypt's deployment of tanks to Sinai should not be a worry for Israel so long as Egypt cracks down on terrorist groups operating in the peninsula.
"Terrorism is fought with tanks," Yadlin, currently head of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, told Army Radio during an interview. Israel has already given Egypt approval to insert more military forces than the quantity specified by the 1979 Camp David peace treaty, Yadlin added.
— The Jerusalem Post
August 22, 2012
Researchers unraveled a medical mystery that left six patients dead last year at the National Institutes of Health's elite research hospital, demonstrating that gene sequencing can help in the fight against hospital-acquired infections.
The NIH researchers' sleuth work - they stalked a deadly strain of antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia through 18 patients at the agency's 243-bed Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md - was detailed in a study published online Wednesday by Science Translational Medicine. The scientists sequenced the genes of the microbial invader to reveal its exact path from patient to patient until the deadly outbreak was contained in December.
— The Wall Street Journal
August 16, 2012
Last week in Egypt, when Muslim Brotherhood supporters terrorized the secular media, several Arabic websites - including Arab News, Al Khabar News, Dostor Watany, and Egypt Now - reported that people were being "crucified." The relevant excerpt follows in translation:
A Sky News Arabic correspondent in Cairo confirmed that protestors belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others. Likewise, Muslim Brotherhood supporters locked the doors of the media production facilities of 6-October (a major media region in Cairo), where they proceeded to attack several popular journalists.
— The Algemeiner
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Articles And Commentary
Less Formula, More Oxytocin
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In the 1960s, it became very popular to get up in the middle of the night and stumble around with one eye open to heat up sterilized bottles of formula for infants. Doctors did not encourage women to breastfeed. In fact, one woman related to us that in 1966 she told her doctor that she planned to breastfeed her new baby, and the doctor responded with an incredulous, "Why would you want to do that?"
The medical community has since begun to appreciate the many benefits of breast milk for babies, and for the past few decades have again encouraged women to feed their infants the real stuff for as long as reasonably possible. Yet, hospitals regularly give new mothers formula, freely provided by the formula companies to increase brand name recognition, often resulting in mothers' relying at least partially on bottles from the get-go.
In New York City these days, to breastfeed or not to breastfeed is no longer the question. The answer, solidly, is "Lock up the formula!" Mayor Michael Bloomberg has sought to stop the hospital practice of automatically giving mothers formula for their newborns. The city is officially pushing breastfeeding, and 27 of 40 hospitals have agreed to the new policy. Formula has not been outlawed, but getting a nurse to provide a new mother formula in a NYC hospital now requires keys, paperwork, signatures - not to mention a lecture on the benefits of breastfeeding. Some people consider the pressure to breastfeed and the locking away of formula to be somewhat extreme. As Chicago Tribune writer Steve Chapman suggested, "It may be easier to get marijuana."
The rest of the country may not be focusing as energetically on mother's milk as NYC, but education and encouragement have been working.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 76.9 percent of women in 2009 breastfed for awhile after giving birth. After three months, 36 percent of mothers were still exclusively breastfeeding (no formula or other supplements), and 16.3 percent were pushing on with breastmilk only at 6 months, up from 11 percent in 2004. Breastfeeding has once again become the medically-supported thing to do. It is recognized that breastfed babies tend to be less prone to illness and are, in general, healthier and happier than their bottle-fed peers.
There is far more to breastfeeding, however, than merely baby nutrition, and many people to this day do not appreciate the multitude of wonderful built-in benefits of old fashioned nursing.
The purpose of this article is not simply to promote breastfeeding. Some women who would love to breastfeed find they cannot for one reason or another, and our purpose is not to frustrate those mothers. Our purpose here – and we hope we can communicate the amazement and wonder implicit in these facts – is to raise appreciation for the precious care God took in His plan for bringing new life into the world. Even beyond the question of infant food, breastfeeding provides a blanket of protection that smooths the way for both new baby and mommy. A multitude of mercies can be found in the simple act of suckling a child, and they demonstrate the goodness and wisdom of our great God.
Many women can testify to the aggravation and pain of having nurses pressing on their stomachs or tugging on the umbilical cord to get the placenta to come out after the baby is born. God made a much better way. When the mother begins to nurse after the baby's birth, the hormone oxytocin is released by the pituitary gland, sending a message to the uterus to release the placenta and to continue the contractions necessary to deliver it. It may take some time, but without any stomach mashing or cord tugging, without leaving pieces behind, the placenta will generally come out on its own after a few more pushes by the new mom.
The release of oxytocin also naturally makes the uterus squeeze back into place. This is important, because the uterus has been supplying blood to the placenta, and it needs to close off those open blood vessels. (Vigorously rubbing the uterus can also help shrink it to prevent the mother from losing too much blood.) Breastfeeding can initially be painful, especially with a woman's third or fourth (etc) child, because her uterus is tightening back up during the days after birth. It's good, though. It also helps get rid of that post-pregnancy belly.
As long as the mother is eating decently, her milk is the healthiest for a new baby. Formulas are "formulas" – they are mixed together with all the ingredients formula chemists know how to put in them. But, mother's milk is alive. It contains living cells and antibodies that provide the most easily assimilated nutrition for a baby's little system, as well as a multitude of ingredients that formula-makers just don't know how to duplicate. Breastmilk is easiest for the baby to digest, and babies who nurse have fewer tummy aches (unless Mom gorges on spicy Thai food one night). Fewer tummy aches means a happier baby, which also means happier parents.
Babies receive their first natural disease-fighting resources from their moms' milk, especially during the first few weeks after birth. A study published in the journal Pediatrics in April, 2010 concluded that nearly 900 babies and billions of dollars in medical costs would be saved every years if new mothers in the US simply breast-fed for the first six months. The antibodies in breast milk do more than just pass on immunity to disease. Mother's milk has long been used to disinfect the outside of babies' bodies too. It may sound odd to some, but a squirt of breast milk on a scratch or mosquito bite, or even in the eye of child with pink eye, is a time-proven aid in the healing process.
After birth, oxytocin continues to be released during nursing. It's a multi-purpose hormone that has also been called the "hormone of love" because it encourages emotional bonding between people when it is released. Oxytocin helps momma to bond to her child.
Beyond oxytocin, though, nursing provides for plenty of mother-baby time. Anybody can bottle feed a baby, but only momma can nurse, and momma can't nurse while she's running around being busy. She has to sit and rock and hold that baby and look into the baby's eyes. Not only does that help a mother to get to know this new human in her life, but it helps the baby to bond to his mommy too. Babies can't see very well; they can't focus on everything at all distances. But, the distance from the breast to a mother's face is perfect for allowing a baby's eyes to focus. Nursing forces mommy and baby to spend one-on-one time with each other, and that is essential for getting to know one another.
Nursing is God's weight loss plan for new mothers, especially for mothers who nurse for more than six months. All the weight packed on during pregnancy is part of God's plan to make sure mom can easily feed her new baby in the big wide world. As the baby grows and needs more food, he dips into those fat reserves that his mother built up while she was pregnant. After enough months go by, that fat can start peeling off - unless Mom enjoys her daily hot fudge sundaes too much.
Mothers are not the only beneficiaries in this regard. Babies who breastfeed tend to be less likely to be obese as children. This may be because a nursing mother passes on the hormone leptin to her infant, which helps regulate appetite. Babies who breast feed are also not encouraged to finish a bottle, and so get used to eating only as much as they need. Experts also think that the lower protein content of breast milk actually helps program an infant's body in a way the makes obesity later on less likely.
Formula is expensive. Breast milk, on the other hand, is free and readily available. It is sterile and is always stored at the perfect temperature. It is also much easier than formula to provide in the middle of the night.
While not fool-proof, exclusive breastfeeding can postpone a woman's first post-birth menstrual period for many months.
Breast Cancer Prevention:
Fewer menstrual cycles means that the nursing mother has fewer showers of estrogen washing her body, and therefore has a lower chance for breast cancer. Breastfeeding also physically changes the cells in the breast in a way that actually helps them resist the mutations that can cause cancer. The link between breastfeeding and a decreased risk for breast cancer is quite strong, and is demonstrated in a 517-page report called "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective" published by the American Institute for Cancer Research - the result of five years of study by nine independent teams of scientists.
Studies have shown that mothers who nurse are less likely to abuse their children. There are probably several reasons for this. First, babies who nurse tend to experience less stomach discomfort and therefore cry uncontrollably less often. Mothers who bond closely with their children are less likely to be easily frustrated by them, and mothers who breastfeed are also mothers who get more sleep than those who have to get up in the middle of the night for feedings.
Are mothers who bottle feed their babies bad? Of course not. Some women persistently struggle to breastfeed and yet never get the hang of it. Some women just don't produce enough milk to feed their babies. In Third World countries, women who have this problem often have to rely on other nursing mothers to help them. Some women find that their babies are still hungry after breastfeeding and need to drink formula to find contentment. Some babies like the bottle better because they can drink more food faster. In the end, some mothers have to work to survive, and nursing just doesn't fit in very well.
There are still many benefits to nursing, and even if new moms can nurse once a day, it is good both for them and the baby.
We human beings can feel as though God has just dumped us on this earth with no apparent purpose or direction. Yet, from the very beginning of our lives, He developed a plan to give us the comfort, protection, and nourishment we need through somebody designed to love us and care for us. Not only does breastfeeding help the newborn baby, it helps the mother as well. Everything God does has purpose (often a multitude of purposes); sometimes, like the doctors in the 1960s, we just need to find out what those purposes are.
Biometrics Go Form-Fitting
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Last year, John Rogers and Todd Coleman offered the flexible microcircuit to the world. Designed to replace electrodes and bulky monitors for measuring body and brain functions, this combination of biological and electrical engineering can be used like an electronic patch and applied to any part of the body. The microcircuit flexes, stretches, and wrinkles like normal skin – entirely without damage to the wires or functionality. The engineers have now applied the technology to thin, stretchable sheets that can form-fit body parts from fingers to hearts, offering a new wide range of biometric possibilities.
Rogers and his team of scientists at the University Illinois Urbana-Champaign designed and created a thin, squiggly "filamentary serpentine wire" - the secret to this newest leap in biometric technology. Circuits mades of strips of silicon one billionth of a meter in width and tiny strips of electricity-conducting gold mounted on a stretchy polymer mesh can move and bend without snapping. By reducing the size and thickness of the silicon circuitry, the team dramatically raised the breaking point of the wire, allowing a flexibility similar to that of human tissue.
This kind of technology opens a new vista of possibilities in medical research and practice; the biometric patches might measure brain function, monitor the heart and other vital functions, even potentially perform ultrasound - all completely wireless. Biosensors have long been in use, but not in a flexible, skin-like form. Rogers and his team have great hopes of developing practical uses for their breakthrough microcircuits.
"We have also shown that these same devices can stimulate muscle tissue to induce contractions. When combined with sensing/monitoring, such modes of use could be valuable in physical rehabilitation. We also have interest in sleep monitoring (for sleep apnea), and neo-natal care (monitoring premature babies, in particular)."
These miracle microsystems receive and transmit data from the body as well as transmit neurological information to the body. Because the brain and nervous system are controlled through electronic signals, these chips can communicate by the same means, causing muscles to contract and even, like silicon nerves, transmit sensory data to the brain.
The researchers first formed an array of interconnected sensors and electronics on a silicon wafer in an "open mesh" geometry. They implanted the electronics in a silicone "finger" able to receive sensory information from the nanomembrane diodes, just like they would from regular nerve endings in the finger, by turning the silicone fingertip inside out so the electronics are in contact with the skin
"We became interested in figuring out ways to do similar classes of devices, but with full, 3D shapes, matched precisely to the body, and the Fingertip was a good starting point to demonstrate the ideas," Rogers told Nanowerk.com recently.
Rogers and Coleman are interested in the medical possibilities. According to Rogers, an initial application area might be in advanced surgical gloves that improve the sense of touch, allowing doctors to perform ablation to eliminate aberrant tissues by touch, or even electrophysiological measurements and blood pressure assessments. Because of the microcircuit's ability to cause muscles to contract, it could be used in rehabilitation for strengthening muscles.
Last year, the engineers tested the technology's sensitivity to muscle contraction and motion to electronically transmit the words of the speaker when the patch was placed on the throat. A mute person could potentially speak by mouthing the words so that the muscle movements are read by the microsystem patch and transmitted to an electronic voice box. Intelligence operatives and other military personnel could report to their command center without making a sound via a tiny skin-like patch that could be hidden under a tattoo or clothing.
Rogers has particular interest in using his stretchable and foldable integrated circuits to interact with the brain itself. He believes that if the integrated circuits were stretched over the surface of the brain, it might be possible to control computers and electronics through mere thought. The team has already worked with controlling a computer by speaking or merely mouthing words.
The team's web site states, "[T]he brain-machine interface research that combines neuroscience modeling with feedback design will enable next-generation human-computer interaction systems that not only provide restored functionality to the disabled, but will enable new technologies to interact with the environment based solely upon thought."
The possible applications of skin-like microcircuits seem endless, and like all technologies, the potential for evil exists along with the potential for good. A microcircuit that can be used to stimulate muscles for rehabilitation might one day also be used to control muscles against a person's will. A technology that allows electronics to be controlled by mere thought could open the world for those suffering paralysis ... or power hunger. This biometric technology is new and its possible applications still largely in the realm of dreams. As development proceeds, it has the potential for great help and blessing as well as for harm. The technologies are never in themselves good or evil. Their effects on the world ultimately depend on how they are used in the end.
Akin, Abortion and Rape
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A variety of high-level Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have urged Missourian Todd Akin to step down from the Senate race after Akin made controversial comments regarding abortion in the case of rape. Akin has said he would remain in the race, expressing regret at the insensitivity of his "off-the-cuff" comments, but insisting he would keep up the fight for the Senate seat.
In the hot seat on the Democrats' side, Congressman Kerry Gauthier (D-MN) has been asked by the DFL to step down after he was caught having a liaison with a 17-year-old boy in a not-too-private spot behind a rest stop. The age of consent in Minnesota is 16, and no money was exchanged, but meeting a stranger 40 years younger than oneself in a public place to perform no-strings-attached sexual acts is still bad form, no matter which party one supports.
Liberals and conservatives alike have condemned Akin's words, and the uproar has raised not only issues regarding abortion in the case of rape, but about the nature of rape itself. (Gauthier's inappropriate conduct, however, has caused hardly a noise outside Minnesota.)
Akin and Rape:
"Congressman Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong," Romney told the National Review early Monday. Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (R-Wis.) said, "Todd Akin's statements are reprehensible and inexcusable. He should step aside today for the good of the nation."
Akin gained notoriety on Sunday when he defended his position against abortion in cases of rape by suggesting that few women who experienced a "legitimate" rape got pregnant anyway.
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
Akin's statement certainly had its flaws. To begin, women who are raped do indeed conceive. According to a 2003 report published in the journal Human Nature, using data from the United States National Violence Against Women survey, women who were raped had a 6.42 percent chance per incident of being impregnated (7.98 percent after a statistical correction), while the pregnancy rate dropped to 3.1 percent in women having consensual sex. The simple reason may be that a woman with a choice in the matter can use birth control or say, "No," at a high fertility time in her cycle. The ultimate point is that rape still produces babies.
The second error Akin made was in suggesting that there was one kind of rape that could be called "legitimate" and then mysterious other breeds of rape. Akin later clarified that he meant "forcible" rape. We assume he meant to contrast the effect of violent rape on the female body with, for instance, rape of a drugged or sleeping person or nonviolent statutory rape cases. Akin's statement unfortunately insinuates, whether intentionally or not, that certain kinds of rape are less serious than others.
Christians especially should regard rape with great horror. The union between a man and a woman is a precious act meant to bond two people together for life (Matt 19:5-6). The man is supposed to love and cherish his wife, laying down his life for her as Christ laid his life down for the Church (Eph 5:25-33).
Rape is an unspeakable crime, an invasion and theft that can never be reversed. Rapists treat their victims as creatures to be dominated, trash to be used and discarded, when the victims should be honored as precious children of God and the temples of the Holy Spirit. Even after the pain and torment of the act itself is over, the shame and sense of violation remain. It is no less a violation when a grown man takes advantage of a teenager whom he should be honoring and protecting. In all cases, the rapist takes something that does not belong to him.
On Monday, Akin responded to the backlash against his comments, saying, "This weekend I made a mistake. I used the wrong words in the wrong way. What I said was ill-conceived and it was wrong and for that I apologize."
The massive media attention to Akin's statement has raised the issue of abortion in the cases of rape or incest, often considered exceptions by those who would otherwise oppose abortion. Akin is one of the few politicians who openly declares his position that abortion is wrong, even in these painful cases.
It is a difficult area because, as always, there are two lives at stake. There is the life and welfare of the woman who was attacked, and there is the life and welfare of the now-existing child.
Many people, both men and women, believe that carrying the child of a rapist for nine months simply adds to the torment of the woman who has already been damaged. They believe she should have the freedom to stop this crime-caused pregnancy. She should not have to face a daily reminder of the violence done against her.
At the same time, people need to remember that the child in the raped woman's womb is still her own child. An abortion destroys, not just any human life, but that woman's baby. It is easy for people to assume that an abortion will remove an inconvenient reminder of her rape, and yet, there is no such thing. The rape will always be a part of her life, and it is equally insensitive to suggest to a woman that - on top of the rape - she is better off destroying her child. An abortion is a different kind of violation and has the capacity to cause a different kind of pain. Along with the rape, it will be something the woman has to live with for the rest of her life. People should never be so insensitive as to treat a rape victim as though an abortion is a light, simple thing.
There is also the life of the child in concern. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) released a statement on Monday, saying, "Each year in the U.S., 10,000-15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest." A 1996 ACOG study reported that "among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year." While it is unknown how many raped women carry their pregnancies to full term, it appears it could be as high as 15,000-20,000. This means that there are likely thousands upon thousands of people who are alive today because their mothers chose to keep them in spite of the nature of their fathers.
Human life is human life, and it's still valuable, however it was conceived. It is rare to meet somebody who says, "I think it would have been better if I had been aborted after all." It is good to be alive. It is good to bring new life into the world.
Women who have children conceived in terrible circumstances should be treated with utmost care and gentleness. They need to have arms of support and care and protection around them and they need to know they are not alone.
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