HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, October 2, 2006

Moms Voice Beats Out Beep

News of the slightly strange but helpful --- a new study demonstrates that "Children in deep sleep awoke to recordings of their mothers' voices -- calling them by name and ordering them out of their bedrooms -- even if they slept through the beeping sound a smoke alarm makes."  CNN reports,

The study of 24 children ages 6 to 12 found that 23 awoke to the recorded voice of their mother saying "(Child's first name)! (Child's first name)! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!" Fourteen of the children also awoke to the traditional tone alarm. One child didn't wake up to either.

The children who woke up to the voice did so at a median time of 20 seconds, compared with three minutes for those who woke up to the tone, according to the study by Columbus Children's Hospital researchers being released Monday in Pediatrics.

Both alarms were created using a large speaker and sounds measuring 100 decibels, about four times louder than levels used in standard home alarms, Smith said.

The next step, he said, is to determine why children responded to the voice alarm differently, whether they were responding to their names, their mothers' voices or the frequency at which the sound was delivered, which was lower than the frequency of a beeping alarm. . . .

A safety expert said the study was a start.

"We have a piece of the puzzle now and we're really happy someone has taken up this research and we hope it moves forward," said John Drengenberg, manager of consumer affairs for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., an independent organization that certifies safety for consumer products.

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 3,300 fatal fires killed 3,380 people (not including firefighters) in 2005, with 14 percent of victims younger than 10. Smoke alarms were not present in 42 percent of residential fatal fires; alarms did not operate in 21 percent.

I wonder if my next smoke alarm will be more like my telephone answering machine - allowing me to say something about getting out of the house quickly.  If so, I can say that when the battery runs down, the smoke detector will still be making some fairly annoying sounds although maybe not quite so annoying as the little beeps.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Take the Test . . .

Understanding the importance of "know thyself," I am providing, just for fun, this informative test for all so that you can learn if you are a nerd, geek or dork.  Here are the definitions:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

I was mostly nerd with some dork thrown in for good measure, not too much geek, probably because I lack a love of all things science fiction - I better change my reading habits.  Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for the link.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Two Americans Receive Nobel Prize for Medicine

Congratulations to Americans Andrew Fire and Craig Mello who were awarded the Nobel Prize in  medicine for their discovery of a way "to turn off the effect of specific genes, opening a new avenue for disease treatment."  CNN reports,

"RNA interference" is already being widely used in basic science as a method to study the function of genes and it is being studied as a treatment for infections such as the AIDS and hepatitis viruses and for other conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

Fire, 47, of Stanford University, and Mello, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, published their seminal work in 1998.

RNA interference occurs naturally in plants, animals, and humans. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which awarded the prize, said it is important for regulating the activity of genes and helps defend against viral infection.

"This year's Nobel laureates have discovered a fundamental mechanism for controlling the flow of genetic information," the institute said.

Erna Moller, a member of the Nobel committee, said their research helped shed new light on a complicated process that had confused researchers for years.

"It was like opening the blinds in the morning," she said. "Suddenly you can see everything clearly."

Genes produce their effect by sending molecules called messenger RNA to the protein-making machinery of a cell. In RNA interference, certain molecules trigger the destruction of RNA from a particular gene, so that no protein is produced. Thus the gene is effectively silenced.

For instance, a gene causing high blood cholesterol levels was recently shown to be silenced in animals through RNA interference.. . . . .

Last year's medicine prize went to Australians Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren for discovering that bacteria, not stress, causes ulcers.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)