This month's postings, January 2009
Startling news about asthma: Researchers have turned up a link between month of birth and the likelihood a child will get the disorder. A huge study of more than 95,000 infants found that babies born in autumn were 30 percent more likely to develop asthma. Researchers think it’s because babies born in the fall are much more likely to catch those nasty winter viruses that lead to respiratory illnesses. That, in turn, may lead to asthma later in life. What can you do? Try to keep viruses to a minimum: Make sure you — and anyone else who holds your baby — washes their hands first.
Breathe on me!
That’s what you’ll be saying to friends once you hear this news: Happiness is contagious! Just kidding about the germ swapping, but it turns out that happiness may spread more easily than previously thought. The study — from Harvard Medical School — found that it’s not just your friends’, but your friends’ friends’ happiness that matters to your own — even if you don’t really know them. Even your next-door neighbor’s joy increases your chance of being happy by 34 percent, according to the study. Strangest of all, one researcher says the study proves that if your friend’s friend’s friend becomes happy, that has a bigger impact on your being happy than putting an extra $5,000 in your pocket. Hello? Researchers? I’m available to test that theory.
Not hardly! Those online social Web sites are bringing out the tramp in our teens. A new survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy finds that 11 percent of girls ages 13 to 16 years old say they have electronically sent or posted online nude or semi-nude images of themselves. (What?) The survey of nearly 1,300 teens and young adults finds that 15 percent of those who have sent sexually suggestive texts, emails or photos have done so with someone they only know online. And 22 percent admit that technology makes them more forward. Talk about “technological advances.”
Speaking of life-enhancing technology, turns out that more than half of all American adults play video games — and one in five play nearly every day! No surprise: ‘Most every teenager — 97 percent — is a gamer, according to the new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But this’ll get you: Grandma’s got game! Twenty-three percent of people 65 and older say they play video games (er… video solitaire?). And forget the gender gap — women now play almost as often as men.
Doggie don’t play that
Is your dog judging you? New research finds that Fido is keeping an eye on the level of fairness in your house — and won’t play if it’s not OK. Those nutty scientists at the University of Vienna in Austria have found that dogs have an innate sense of pup-priety (sorry). If you ask two dogs to do a trick and then you only reward one dog, the other, unrewarded dog won’t play anymore and may even refuse to look at you (as in “You are dead to me”). Researchers say this shows that dogs are very sensitive and smart. They would not attempt this with cats.
—Kristen Russell Dobson