Review Category : Health

Apps Aim to Prevent Sexual Assault, Rape on Campus

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A slew of new apps aim to prevent assault and rape on college campuses, under the assumption that students are never too far from their smartphones.

Two are in development at the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. One, SPOT a Problem, is actually a party-planning app that lets students upload guest lists, photos and a playlist, while also keeping tabs on suspicious activity.

It works with a flexible, smart wristband that the party host wears, and that bracelet lights up when someone at the party sends an alert. The message can be about a neighbor complaint, a police officer who showed up or a potential sexual assault.

“We’ve all been at an event or at a party and seen something that didn’t quite sit right with us, but we didn’t have the tool to be able to respond to that,” said Kosa Goucher-Lambert, a Ph.D .student in engineering who worked on the app. “That’s the gap we wanted to address.”

Students can ping the host to point out a problem, and the data all disappears when the party is over.

Another app in the works is called NightOwl, which also aims to get bystanders who see potential sexual assaults involved. That one works by alerting friends of a partygoer who might be in danger, so they know to check on that person.

Donna Sturgess, the Integrated Innovation Institute’s executive in residence, worked on the app concepts with the students, and says she hopes they’ll be built and available for the public to download within the next year.

As many as 1 in 5 female college students are assaulted, the White House has said, but many organizations say the figure is higher.

“This is not a social problem that we’re going to sit around and wait for other people to fix,” Sturgess said.

But many apps that aim to reduce sexual assault are already available to students. Some colleges have partnerships with one called LiveSafe, which lets students send photos or text messages to the nearest police station if they see something shady. It also gives students an easy way to tell friends where they are, using location data, and tracks crimes on campus.

Loyola University in Chicago released the app I’m Here For You last fall. It provides students information about on-campus resources as well as city services to report dating violence, stalking and assault.

And the app Circle of 6, which emerged from a White House challenge, is also popular among schools. It uses GPS to pin down users’ location and alerts a user’s inner circle if there’s trouble. With just a couple of taps, users can send a text message like, “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely” to a friend, along with their location data.

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Gamblers and Pigeons Don’t Know When to Fold Them

iStock/Thinkstock(COVENTRY, England) — One of the slang meanings of “pigeon” is someone who can be easily duped.

Perhaps then it’s no surprise that British researchers have determined that people who like to gamble exhibit the same tendencies as pigeons when it comes to decisions that involve risk.

Psychology expert Dr. Elliot Ludvig of the University of Warwick asserts that “Both humans and pigeons were shown to be less risk averse for high rewards then they were for low rewards and this is linked to our past memories and experiences of making risky decisions.”

Never mind that human have brains that are so much more advanced than any other species. According to Ludvig, the same mental processes drive gamblers and pigeons when they’re faced with risk.

So why does this happen? Ludvig says it may have to do with “shared common ancestry or similar evolutionary pressures.”

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Parents and Babies Should Live Life on the Babble

iStock/Thinkstock(IOWA CITY, Iowa) — Before babies learn to speak, they babble, which is actually a form of baby-speak.

Although parents think babbling is cute, it’s also an opportunity for mom and dad to communicate with their infants and consequently, accelerate their vocalization.

A new study out of the University of Iowa and Indiana University says that it’s all about how a parent responds to baby that holds the key to facilitating their language and communication.

Researcher Julie Gros-Louis says 12 mothers and their eight-month-old children were observed interacting over a period of six months and the chief finding was that moms who actively try to understand what their babies say and respond in kind will boost developmentally advanced vocalizations.

Furthermore, babies with interested moms also directed more of their babbling to them.

On the other hand, mothers who weren’t as engaged and tried to divert their infants’ attention away from babbling did not improve their babies’ language and communications skills as quickly.

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Introverts Spend Most Time on Facebook

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) — You’re never going to get back all the time you spend on Facebook but most users probably don’t care, especially those who log on longer than anyone else.

Dr. Pavica Sheldon of the University of Alabama in Huntsville conducted research to find out who spends the most time on the social media website. Turns out it’s not extroverts, narcissists or those who post a million photos of themselves.

Sheldon contends it’s people who are considered introverts who are most addicted to Facebook at least in terms of time spent on the site, often because it can help them to forget their loneliness.

Even so, they’ll reveal less personal information, including photos and subsequently, won’t reap the same relationship benefits as others.

Sheldon calls it the “rich get richer” hypothesis, in that people who are more socially outgoing in real life also tend to keep those relationships going online while forming new ones.

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How the HIV Cure That Wasn’t May Hold a Positive Lesson After All

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say that even though a baby in Mississippi who was initially thought to have been cured of HIV later relapsed, there may have been important information gleaned from the case.

The unnamed girl, dubbed the “Mississippi baby,” was born to an HIV-positive mother in 2010. After being treated with high doses of antiretroviral medication, she was deemed cured, but four years later, detectable levels of HIV were found in her blood. Still, researchers said, they learned from that.

The girl’s relapse helped to support the theory that CD4+ memory T cells, a specific type of immune cell, harbors the latent virus. Potential treatments, they note, could be aimed at reducing the number of those specific cells.

The article, published in the journal Science, also looked at two other patients who had been deemed “cured” before relapsing.

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Obese Mothers Can Beat Baby Weight Using Conventional Weight-Loss Methods

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say that obese women, who have even more reason to try to limit weight gain during pregnancy, can do so by using conventional weight-loss methods.

The study, published in the journal Obesity, looked at 114 obese pregnant women. Half of the subjects received one counseling session on keeping a healthy diet, while the other half attended weekly support meetings and behavioral and dietary counseling, and kept a food and exercise journal. After 34 weeks of pregnancy, the women in the latter group had gained just 11 pounds on average — at the lower end of the recommended weight gain for obese mothers by the Institute of Medicine.

Women in the control group, on the contrary, had gained an average of 18 pounds through 34 weeks.

Limiting weight gain among obese mothers can help to limit both complications during delivery and the future risk of obesity for the child.

The study found that participants in the more intense intervention group weighed six pounds less two weeks after giving birth than they did when they entered the study, while those in the control group weighed three pounds more. Those in the intervention group also were significantly less likely to give birth to babies deemed large for gestational age.

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Why You Could Be Eating Trans Fat Without Knowing It

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Experts say that even if the nutritional label on your food may not indicate that it contains trans fat, it may still be leading you to eat trans fat.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in their study, published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, that a number of products featured misleading nutritional labels. Researchers looked at the ingredients and labels of 4,340 packaged foods and found that many items contained partially hydrogenated oils, which are themselves trans fats. Yet, 84 percent of those items that contained partially hydrogenated oils claimed to contain zero grams of trans fat.

The reason for the misleading labels is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy, which allows food manufacturers to label products as having zero grams of trans fat if the serving size contains less than half a gram.

For example, even though a package of Chips Ahoy may be labeled as having no trans fat, for every three cookies you eat, you could be eating up to 0.5 grams of trans fat.

In 2013, the FDA issued a statement saying that partially hydrogenated oils should no longer be generally recognized as safe.

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Fictional Tearjerkers Can Be Powerful as True Stories

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Whether they want to admit it or not, just about everybody at one time has gotten a little choked up watching a movie that pulls on the heart strings.

However, the assumption that a true story carries more of an emotional wallop than a fictional tale is wrong, according to researchers at Brandeis University and NYU.

For instance, people who want to avoid getting upset may decide to read a fictional book filled with tragedy because they figure it won’t affect them nearly as much as a tragic true-life story.

Yet, what the researchers discovered was that “fictional nature does not alter the impact of the tragic story, leaving them more emotionally distraught than if they had read the true story instead.”

If that indeed is the case, then movie producers and book publishers should greenlight more fictional stories.

Although sales of true stories may be stronger, the researchers contend realism “does not necessarily increase satisfaction.”

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How to Do the Most for Your Child’s Education

iStock/Thinkstock(AMES, Iowa) — If parents leave it up to schools to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to educating their kids, then they’re not doing all they can to help their children succeed academically, according to an Iowa State University study.

Study author Kimberly Greder says there are numerous things parents should be doing to give their youngsters as much as an advantage as possible in an increasingly competitive world with the school year having started or about to begin.

Among other things, parents should create a good learning environment at home, according to Greder, while setting reasonable expectations for their children.

Involvement in a child’s education also includes regularly asking them what happened at school and taking an interest in their homework. Visiting teachers and counselors to talk about a student’s progress is also on Greder’s list.

While all youngsters will benefit from such parental involvement, Greder says taking these steps is especially important for those kids at the greatest risk of dropping out.

These children typically come from homes in low income neighborhoods with minority populations where the parents may have struggled during their school years.

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Social Media Users Shy Away from Controversial Postings

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — One of the big complaints about social media is that people seem all too willing to share every opinion they have with the world.

But a new Pew Research Center poll in conjunction with Rutgers University challenges that view, at least when it comes to controversial political issues.

In a survey of 1,800 adults, Facebook and Twitter users more times than not won’t express an opinion on matters that come up on talk radio or cable TV.

Pew researchers think these social media sites inadvertently encourage people to exercise self-censorship unless they’re pretty sure that most who read their opinions agree with them.

Therefore, talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is pretty safe, compared to expressing views on abortion or immigration.

While Pew found that 86 percent of Facebook or Twitter users would be willing to discuss an issue such as government surveillance at a town hall meeting or at some other event with friends, less than half that number would feel comfortable talking about it on social media.

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