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Illusion of Control Affects Response to Adverse Situations December 31, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 7:26 pm

  Some people handle stress better than others. Their secret, according to
   University of Colorado at Boulder psychologist Steven Maier, is the feeling of control .


Thousands Gather in Vatican to Celebrate Christmas December 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 5:58 pm


                 24 December 2006
 Pope Benedict addressed pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square this Sunday and said that the celebration of Holy Christmas is now imminent. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.


Americans Celebrate Christmas Television Traditions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 5:44 pm

20 December 2006

For many Americans, watching cherished Christmas movies and TV shows has become as much a part of the traditional holiday celebration as decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping gifts.With most of
America’s households connected to 150-channel cable or satellite TV systems, there is no shortage of holiday-themed TV programs for people to choose from today. ………


December 19, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 3:30 am

Physician Urges Tests for Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy

13 December 2006

Thyroid disorders during pregnancy are a leading cause of premature birth and miscarriages, yet doctors say pregnant women around the world are rarely screened for thyroid abnormalities. From VOA’s New York Bureau, we have the story by Amanda Cassandra. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck, which secretes hormones containing iodide that regulate the speed at which the cells in the body work. If too much of the thyroid hormone is produced, the body cells work faster than normal and the thyroid is overactive, which is hyperthyroidism.

However, if too few of the hormones are produced, the body cells work more slowly, the thyroid is underactive and hypothyroidism occurs.

Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New Jersey Medical School, says thyroid disease is, after diabetes, the most common endocrine disease worldwide during pregnancy, due in large part to iodide deficiency.

“Iodide deficiency is probably the number one problem when it comes to thyroid disease worldwide, in many of the countries both in Europe and in the developing world,” said Dr. Stagnaro-Green. “And it is probably the number one reason why children are born with decreased I.Q. What really is needed in those countries is some form of intervention that all mothers who are pregnant get iodide before pregnancy and during pregnancy.”

Iodide deficiency usually happens when soil contains low levels of iodine, causing a low concentration of iodine in food products and insufficient iodine intake in the population.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of countries where iodine deficiency is a public health problem was reduced to 54 in 2003, down from 110 in 1993 through its program of salt iodization. The WHO says the drop is due mainly to the use of iodized salt for human and animal consumption to prevent and control iodine deficiency.

Dr. Stagnaro-Green says during pregnancy, a baby’s development is dependent on the mother’s thyroid function. If thyroid abnormalities are not detected, he says it can lead to several complications for mother and baby.

“The first is that in the first and second trimesters, women who have an underactive thyroid, those women [have] an increased chance of miscarriage,” he said. “The second way it [works] is that women who are hyperthyroid in the third trimester are very prone to pre-term delivery prior to 37 weeks. And those are the infants that have a high death rate and also have a lot of congenital abnormalities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there, it continues in the post partum period. Studies have shown that if the mother has slight abnormalities in her thyroid hormone in the first or second trimester, it can have a deleterious impact on the unborn child in regards to the I.Q. five to 10 years later.”

Dr. Stagnaro-Green says women need to be educated about the symptoms of thyroid disease because they can easily be overlooked.

“All of those thyroid hormonal changes that occur in the first year, are often ascribed to the mother being tired, dealing with a newborn, but in fact many of them are really due to the hormonal changes that are occurring and are not being diagnosed,” continued Dr. Stagnaro-Green.

Despite the risk of a higher rate of miscarriages and premature births, Dr. Stagnaro-Green says physicians have been reluctant to require testing for the disease as a regular part of the prenatal care.

“One of the most exciting studies that has come out in the last 30 years was published this year, about six month ago, from a group in Italy,” he said. “Half the women they gave thyroid hormone, the other half they didn’t give thyroid hormone. They found that the half they gave thyroid hormone to, their miscarriage rate and their preterm delivery rate was at the normal level. The half that had thyroid antibodies and not given the thyroid hormone, their miscarriage rate was four to eight times higher. That was the first study that’s demonstrated that an intervention makes a difference. If another study confirms that and expands upon it, then there will probably be a very strong call for universal screening for all women for thyroid disease in pregnancy.”

Dr. Stagnaro-Green says because hormonal levels fluctuate during pregnancy, it is important to monitor thyroid abnormalities.

He says although there is not yet a mandate from the global medical community to test women for the disease, women with a history of thyroid disease or a history of miscarriage or premature birth should be screened.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 3:07 am

                     Scientists Discover 52 New Species on Borneo Island

19 December 2006

A global conservation organization says scientists have discovered at least 52 new species of animals and plants on the southeast Asianisland of
Borneo in the past year.The World Wildlife Fund said in a statement Monday, the discoveries include 30 species of fish, two tree frogs, 16 ginger species, three tree species and one large-leafed plant.The WWF says some of the species were found in the heart of
Borneo, in a 220,000 square kilometer area covered with equatorial rain forest.
One of the most amazing discoveries is the world’s second smallest vertebrate – a tiny fish measuring less than one centimeter – that thrives in the highly acidic blackwater peat swamps.

Some information for this report was provided AFP and AP.


New & Wonderful

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 2:47 am

                     South Korean Scientists Produce Three Cloned Dogs

18 December 2006

Lee Byeong-chun (center) and his researchers show Bona (l), Hope (center), and Peace, 18 Dec 2006

A former collaborator of disgraced South Korean stem-cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk says he and his team have produced three cloned copies of a female Afghan hound.Veterinary professor Lee Byung-chun said Monday inSeoul, the three identical puppies, called Bona, Peace and Hope, were born in June and July this year. The same team at SeoulUniversity, then led by Hwang, was credited with producing the world’s first cloned dog last year, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.Hwang’s success at cloning the first dog has been independently verified. But he is facing prosecution on charges of fraud and embezzlement related to his team’s human embryonic stem cell research.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Felix Winter @ 2:38 am

Global Warming Threatens Ocean Stability

07 December 2006The effect of global warming on the world’s temperatures has long been discussed. Now there is information that global warming could affect the stability of the world’s oceans, and unless some action is taken, global warming could be accelerated even more. The conclusion is based on data from a satellite that took pictures of the microscopic plants that live on the ocean’s surface. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Phytoplankton are at the bottom of the ocean food chain, and experts say their role in maintaining the health of the environment is enormous.

Scientists say the microscopic plants, which float on the top of the ocean, suck 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year and convert the greenhouse gas into organic deposits that maintain marine life.

Studying images taken by NASA’s SeaWiFS satellite over a 10 year period, researchers have concluded that increases in temperatures could severely harm the phytoplankton and threaten ocean biologic production.

They say reductions in phytoplankton could also accelerate global warming because the tiny plants would become less efficient at siphoning-off the greenhouse gas.

Data from the SeaWiFS study are published in the journal Nature.

Oscar Scoffield of

University says the study is a wake up call.

“A small change has a huge impact for life as we know it on this planet,” said Oscar Scoffield. “And this is one of the very first studies showing a big global change in this earth system.”

The SeaWiFS satellite, which is owned by the
U.S. space agency NASA, measured the biological activity of the plants during a major warming trend known as el Nino and cooling trend called la Nina.

Scientists saw that during warming periods, phytoplankton production become sluggish, while during cooler periods the plants flourished. They say this is a snapshot of what could happen if the earth continues to warm as a result of the greenhouse effect.

Study co-author Gene Carl Feldman of NASA’s

Center oversees the SeaWiFs project.

“Think of the White Cliffs of Dover and things like that,” said Carl Feldman. “That’s all organic carbon that was fixed by phytoplankton. That tells you that the ocean’s biology, the ocean itself, plays a huge, huge, huge role in regulating where carbon is on the planet.”

The authors of the study say it is not a prediction of the future. Rather they say it should be used as a model for scientists who are studying climate change.