Friday, July 13, 2007

WSJ: What Is Normal?

WSJ: Study of Kids' Brains Hopes to Answer: What Is Normal?

Every parent knows that children have minds of their own, shaped by
growing brains that scientists can barely fathom. Researchers strain to tell
symptoms of neural disorder from the natural variations of young brains,
almost infinite in their possibilities.
This summer, brain experts funded by the National Institutes of Health
are finishing the largest systematic clinical study ever of the neurobiology
of youth. In a $30 million project, researchers in six cities have been
combining brain scans, psychological profiles, medical exams and
intelligence tests gathered from hundreds of healthy children to answer a
fundamental question about brain development that nags parents and pediatric
practitioners alike: What is normal? When completed, this NIH brain archive
promises to become the first clinical benchmark by which normal development
can be judged, matching behavior to brain anatomy from birth through
adolescence. With it, specialists should be able to understand better
problems such as autism, in which neural miscues undermine the mind.
Educators bedeviled by child-rearing fads and untested teaching theories
should be able to match alterations in brain structure to the rise and fall
of learning skills. "Once we know the map, we can tell what nudges the brain
for good or ill," said NIH brain imaging expert Jay Giedd.
By any standard, every child's brain is an experiment.
From a single cell in the womb, it swells at such speed -- 250,000
cells a minute -- that by early childhood it has more neurons and nerves
connecting them than do any older, wiser adults. It is buffeted by
tumultuous bursts of growth that prime it for mastering new skills and ways
of thinking. Yet, so little is certain about how it changes throughout
childhood that scientists don't know what ought to be expected, said Cornell
University expert B.J. Casey, who helped pioneer brain imaging in children.
Not only is every new brain different from any other, but the
variations within each one as it adapts, swells and contracts confound
analysis. "A developing brain looks weird," said pediatric neurologist
Katrina Gwinn at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
Stroke, who directs the NIH project. "Something that might be normal in an
adult might look abnormal in a child."
Until recently, little was known about how normal human brains change
as they grow because conventional medical imaging techniques were too
dangerous or invasive to be used with any but the sickest children. The NIH
survey takes advantage of newer techniques benign enough that infants can
safely nap inside while their brain cells are bombarded with magnetic
Seeking as broad a measure of childhood as possible, research teams in
Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Houston
selected 385 girls and boys from among 35,000 families to ensure that the
data would reflect the country's racial, ethnic and economic diversity. "So
many studies are done only with white kids from suburban areas," said Dr.
Gwinn. "We worked hard to get different demographics."
Researchers even sought the proper mix of right- and left-handers. The
children, between six and 18 years old, were screened to ensure they were
free of illness, genetic predispositions, prenatal risk factors, toxic
environmental exposures or chronic health problems that might affect their
brains. "These are really healthy brains," said project researcher Deborah
Waber at Children's Hospital Boston. Newborns have since been included in
the study.
The children were scanned periodically using three techniques:
structural magnetic resonance imaging to catch changes in the brain's gray
matter, which contains neurons; diffusion tensor imaging to monitor its
white matter of connecting nerve fibers; and magnetic resonance spectroscopy
to track the ups and downs of brain chemistry. To match changes in brain
anatomy to mental abilities, the youngsters also regularly took tests of IQ,
dexterity, spatial ability, memory and cognitive skills. "So we are actually
able to follow individual children and look at snapshots of the same brain
over time," said Dr. Waber.
In its essence, this biomedical mosaic is a national portrait of the
child mind.
It reveals that gender differences and income disparities matter less
than previously believed and that health matters more, project researchers
reported recently in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological
Healthy girls and boys do equally well on most cognitive tasks. Boys
perform better at analyzing and manipulating shapes and patterns, while
girls perform better on processing speed and motor dexterity. No differences
were measured in calculation ability, suggesting boys and girls have an
equal aptitude for math. By age 12, many children are as proficient as
adults by most measures of mental performance.
These unusually fit, diverse children outperformed all those in
previous research on tests that measured IQ, memory, reading and math
ability, and development of social skills.
It may be years before the findings have been fully analyzed and
applied. Until then, the NIH brain project, like the children it documents,
is a promise of things to come.
Now don't get too excited. You know what's going to happen don't you? They'll complete this giant expensive study, interpret it themselves, and not share the data. That way they can paternally share their sweeping generalizations that benefit the government's interests and back past decisions. They can spin on the data they need to keep us parents under control at their leisure. Just like they've done with the vaccine data. You just watch.

Cal-Oregon Unvaccinated Survey

Cal-Oregon Unvaccinated Survey

"We surveyed over 9,000 boys in California and Oregon and found that vaccinated boys had a 155% greater chance of having a neurological disorder like ADHD or autism than unvaccinated boys." -Generation Rescue, June 26, 2007
This survey is indeed compelling. However, for the record, I don't completely buy everything Generation Rescue has to say (not this study, but the organization itself). They are too extreme for my taste, but what would we do without our extremists? Especially Michael Moore? I think most factions within the Autism Community have something to offer. I still hope for the day where factions will honor and respect each other. Since vaccines are in the news a lot again, I don't want anyone to infer that I am a vaccine extremist. I'm just commenting on the news du jour. Hopefully we'll have more interesting things to share at some point. Click here for the study. Also, take a look at the Generation Rescue website. They have a lot of good information.

Ny Times: Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised

July 11, 2007
Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised
WASHINGTON, July 10 — Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings. For full article, see NY Times
So I don't even know how to respond to this. Surprising? No. Despicable and sad? Yes. When will our government learn that their process of protecting the herd just doesn't work? All anyone with a mind has to do is look at the profile of the new normal child, and the rates of cancers. With all the hoopla about genes and what not, we STILL have no cure for most cancers and it's been, what, 20 years or something? And that's for starters. Anyone remember when cigarettes didn't cause cancer? Anyone remember that just recently we studied women and heart disease?

Flash forward 20 years from now: Anyone remember when the public didn't think various toxins and the vaccination protocol caused the developmental delays and disorders, not to mention other major illnesses? Remember when they used to keeping adding and adding to the protocol without any accumulative study? Hey remember when the government used to bash nutritional supplements and other alternative therapies because they weren't scientifically sound, all the while never testing common medicines used on children?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Consumers need to know more about allergens; FDA helps out

Consumers need to know more about allergens; FDA helps out

An estimated two percent of adults and about five percent of infants and young children in the United States suffer from food allergies. Allergic reactions to food vary in severity, but approximately 30,000 people require emergency room treatment, and 150 die each year as a result of them. The only means of preventing allergic reactions is to avoid the foods that cause them. FDA's allergen labeling rule helps them to do so.

To help people avoid the risks food allergens pose, the Food and Drug Administration requires that the labels of all foods FDA regulates (all foods except meat, poultry, and certain egg products) must clearly identify the source of all ingredients that are-or are derived from-the eight most common food allergens. This requirement became effective January 1, 2006, so there may still be some product labels in stores or people's homes without this information.

While more than 160 foods can cause reactions in people with food allergies, the eight most common allergenic foods account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions, and are the sources from which many other ingredients are derived. Many of these foods could be ingredients within meat and poultry products, and mislabeling them or failing to label them on meat and poultry products results in product recalls.

The eight foods are:1. Milk, 2. Eggs, 3 Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), 4. Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp), 5. Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), 6. Peanuts, 7. Wheat, 8. Soybeans

Unless they are part of the ingredient's common or usual name (or are already clearly identified in the ingredient list), these eight food allergens may appear on food labels either:

—In parentheses following the name of the ingredient, e.g., lecithin (soy); flour (wheat); and whey (milk); or,

—Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a "contains" statement, e.g., Contains wheat, milk, and soy.

Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to two hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic. Symptoms can include:

* Hives * Flushed skin or rash * Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth * Face, tongue, or lip swelling * Vomiting and/or diarrhea * Abdominal cramps * Coughing or wheezing * Dizziness and/or lightheadedness * Swelling of the throat and vocal cords * Difficulty breathing * Loss of consciousness

For more information on food allergies and allergen labeling, go to FDA's webpage at or call FDA at:1-888-SAFEFOOD.

Huh. I find it interesting that our government continues to focus on bandaids rather than looking at causative factors in our environment. True, I am happy they are labeling and "alerting" the herd.

For fun, I put together my top Questions to FDA:
1) Why are us parents having children with impaired immune systems, which in turn, cannot discriminate between food and real viruses and bacteria that pose a threat?

2) Why are us parents having children with impaired GI systems, which in turn, cannot efficiently assimilate food and flush out toxins?

3) Why do we continue to add soybeans, our number 1 GMO, to viturally all processed foods?

4) Why do we continue to feed our livestock the top allergic ingredients, such as wheat and soy?

5) Why is dairy in virtually all processed foods?

6) Oh, and it seems you forgot to list the behavioral symptoms of allergies such as: Dark circles under eyes, Eczema, psoriasis, Diarrhea, constipation, Gas, bloating, Spaciness, Stimming, Aggressive behavior, Runny nose, Bronchial symptoms and asthma, Stomach tenderness, Reflux, Ear infections, Nausea, Tightening of throat, Headache, and Fatigue

7) Last but not least, why are we not studying healthy children and adults? How do their genes, lifestyle, and GI/Immune systems differ? What can we learn from them? What are they doing? And what are they NOT doing?