The Infant Mortality Rate Declined In The US

infant mortality rate

Between 2005 and 2014 the infant mortality rate declined by 15%.

Great news for the US. The infant mortality rate has declined by 15% in the last years. Despite the fact that this is good news, doctors mentioned that the US should do much more in this area. This is because the rate is still too big.

Between 2005 and 2014, the infant mortality rate declined by 15%. The rate dropped from 6.89 infant deaths per 1000 births to 5.82. The rate of SIDS also declined by almost 30%. Several racial groups saw declines in infant mortality rates.

The biggest fall was among the US Asian populations. Infant mortality rates among this racial group declined by more than 20%. The only groups that did not experience a fall in the infant mortality rate were the Alaska Natives and American Indians.

The rates of the leading causes of infant deaths also went down. Congenital malformations declined by 11%. This is the primary cause of infant death. The only cause of death that increased was the rate of unintentional injuries which rose by 11%.

Two-thirds of all US states showed a significant decline in infant mortality rates. No state showed a significant increase. The states that had the lowest rates of infant mortality are Delaware, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, South Caroline, and Mississippi. More than 33 states showed a big decline in the infant mortality rate.

The report that was completed by the CDC did not mention how the rate of infant mortality declined in these states more than in the others. Of course, we need to take into consideration the fact that Mississippi, for instance, had one of the biggest rates in 2005. This might be why the rate declined so much in this state.

The actions that were taken by health officials could be showing their effect now. The baby box program is one of those actions. Across the US, health care clinics and hospitals offer baby boxes filled with all the necessary things needed for taking care of an infant. The box can be used as a crib and it prevents parents from putting toys near the baby. It also makes the infants sleep on their back which can lower the chance of SIDS.

What is your opinion about this report? Did you know that the infant mortality rate was declining?

Image source: Pixabay

The Danger Of Extreme Cases Of Strep Throat

strep throat

Despite the fact that kids are more likely to have a strep throat, adults can have it too.

Most of us love the spring. The problem is that, during this period, we are most likely to catch a cold. A sore throat is a normal symptom but if it lasts more than a few days, you should go to the doctor. A sore throat can turn into a strep throat due to the fact that streptococcal bacteria thrive in spring.

Despite the fact that kids are more likely to have a strep throat, adults can have it too. Recent cases showed that streptococcal bacteria can cause a lot of problems. One man in Michigan found out just how dangerous a strep throat can be.

Due to the fact that he left the infection untreated, it spread in his body. His organs started to fail and doctors had to amputate his feet and hands. This is not the only case. Many people almost died after the infection from their throat started to spread in their system.

Despite the fact that this is an extreme case, when left untreated, a strep throat can cause problems. For instance, the most common issue caused by untreated infection is the spread of the infection to the kidney. This can lead to the appearance of blood in the urine, joint pain, and swelling.

If the infection is so far spread you need to stay in the hospital in order for doctors to make sure that the medicine is working. A strep throat infection can spread in other parts of the body too, as well. Major areas like the blood, heart, nervous system, and skin can be affected.

In very rare cases, people can even develop meningitis or go into toxic shock. These too are extreme cases and they can happen only when people don’t treat this infection at all. People need to start treating the strep infection as they observe the first signals.

A strep throat is caused by an infection with contagious bacteria named Streptococcus pyogenes. Worldwide, millions of people experience a mild form of strep throat. More than 10 thousand people have worse cases. The symptoms of this infection include pain when swallowing, sore and swollen lymph nodes, fever, a rash, and prolonged sore throat.

If you observe these symptoms you should go to the doctor. You will receive antibiotics and it is better if you rest for a few days. Avoid going out with friends or spending time with family because a strep infection is contagious.

Image source: Wikipedia


Fluorescent Frog Was Found In Amazon

fluorescent frog

This fluorescent frog found in the Amazon can emit a lot of light.

Animals never stop surprising us. Researchers discover new species of animals every year. This time, a team of Brazilian scientists discovered a fluorescent frog in the Amazon basin. This is the only naturally fluorescent amphibian discovered, until now.

Researchers were amazed to see that this frog is naturally fluorescent. Despite the fact that some marine animals have this feature, this is the first amphibian that has it too. Normally, fluorescent material is usually painted as to glow in the black.

How is this frog fluorescent?

When they observed the unique frog, researchers started to study it. They found that this animal has a skin pigment that allows it to have this feature. When they saw this pigment they wanted to verify if the frog is really fluorescent. They shined a black light at the frog and it changed its color from yellow to neon green.

Once they observed this change, they investigated further. They found 3 molecules: L2, G1, and Hyloin-L1. All of these molecules had a hydrocarbon chain and a ring. This is unusual for molecules that make animals fluorescent. Researchers mentioned that they did not discover why this animal has this features and how it got it.

One thing they noticed is that this frog can emit a lot of light. This is also uncommon for these types of animals because they normally emit little light. Researchers mentioned that this frog needs to be studied more before they can know for sure what makes it shine so bright.

The difference between fluorescent animals and bioluminescent ones

There are many marine creatures that are fluorescent. For instance, corals, sea turtles, and sharks are able to use this skill. There are also some land animals which shine in the dark. Some scorpions and parrots have this feature. These animals are able to absorb light and re-emit it.

The difference between these animals and bioluminescent ones is in the way they transmit the light. Bioluminescent creatures emit this light based on a chemical reaction. Some of the creatures that can transmit light after chemical reactions include fireflies, glow worms, catfish, and flashlight fish.

What is your opinion about this frog? Did you know that there are fluorescent creatures?

Image source: Flickr

Natural Changes And Human Activity Blamed For Sea Ice Loss

human activity responsible for sea ice loss

Since less than 50% of sea ice loss was caused by natural changes, this leaves more than 50% to human activity

We all know about the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Apparently, there are two factors that affected the Arctic sea ice. One of them is human activity. Despite the fact that human activity is an important factor, natural changes are also the ones that caused the loss of sea ice.

A new study shows that there are two factors that should be taken into consideration when we talk about sea ice loss. This study is a rare attempt because it wanted to quantify the contribution of nature and humans to this problem. Despite the fact that it is hard to calculate for sure the effects of human and the contribution of nature, the researchers were able to estimate them.

Natural Changes Affected The Sea Ice

Although many people don’t believe in climate change, its effects can be seen. The Arctic is an area that has been affected by this phenomenon. The sea ice is melting, more and more, every day. This change is also affecting the animals that live there. Polar bears, for instance, are endangered animals due to the fact that they are losing their habitat.

People have been debating a lot on the matter of natural changes causing sea ice loss. This study showed that almost 60% of the sea ice decline was caused by changes in atmospheric circulation. When they combined the results from the summertime changes and the fall and winter one, they observed that nature is the one to blame for 40-50% of sea ice loss.

Human Activity affecting the Arctic

Since less than 50% of sea ice loss was caused by natural changes, this leaves a 50% to human activity. Researchers mentioned that this is not great news at all. This shows that human activity has an effect on the entire world

“Continuing to put carbon dioxide and other emissions into the atmosphere is having a direct negative impact on the Arctic, including sea ice,” mentioned Twila Moon from the University of Bristol

This research was conducted in order to help people understand the damage that was done to the Arctic. The scientists mentioned that it is important to know the factors that affect the sea ice before we can try to save it.

Image source: Wikipedia

Twitter Flags Sensitive Accounts

Twitter sensitive accounts

Now, there are sensitive accounts on Twitter instead of just posts.

Twitter is one of the social media platforms that cares about its users. Since it is very popular and a lot of people post there, it is expected to find some inappropriate content. In order to get rid of that content and to make users feel safe, Twitter has been trying to flag anything that is racist or violent.

Until now, the things that were flagged as sensitive were the posts. A few days ago, Twitter’s decided to make a change. Now, there are sensitive accounts instead of just posts. This means that the company is making it hard for those users that have posted inappropriate content.

For instance, once you post something that it is considered as abusive, the whole account is considered sensitive. Normally, in this case, the post would have been flagged as abusive or deleted. Due to the fact that now there are sensitive accounts instead of simple posts, people are not pleased.

Many people think that this is a bit abusive because it can be considered a violation of the freedom of speech. This might be a little over the line for those who believe this. Yes, Twitter decision to flag sensitive accounts is a bit harsh considering that some people only posted abusive content once.

The sensitive accounts are not available for everyone. Since this is only a limited rollout of the feature, only some people have been listed with sensitive accounts. This means that when somebody enters their account they are going to see a message. That warning message states that the account has sensitive content. The users are asked if they want to continue and to see that account.

After the warning message appears people have the option to view the profile or to go back. Another problem is that people who have sensitive accounts were not notified by Twitter. Many of these people mentioned that they did not receive an email or a message stating that they have posted abusive content or that they have been switched to a sensitive account.

When the company was asked about this change they did not say a lot. The only thing the social media platform spokesman said is that this is just a limited feature. They are only trying it out to see if it is better for their users. Seeing the reactions that were tweeted on the platform some may say that it is not the best decision Twitter made.

Image source: Pixabay 

Interval Training Exercise Might Make You Look Younger

interval training

A new study focused on showing how high-intensity interval training can help us.

Exercise, exercise, exercise! This is what we hear every day. Although many people know the benefits working out brings to them, they don’t do it. A lot of researchers proved that exercising regularly is the best medicine for us. No matter if we are too tired or we want to lose weight, it is better to work out than to take drugs.

A new study focused on showing how high-intensity interval training can help us. You probably heard about this high-intensity interval training. These workouts involve short bursts of highly intense aerobic activity followed by moderate exercise. This type of interval training is apparently the best for our health.

Interval training is the type of workout that is known for reversing age-related changes. People who practice this training help their cells produce more proteins. After that, the proteins give them more energy. This is the thing that helps people feel and look younger.

In order to see which type of exercise is best for people, researchers analyzed women and men. These people were from 2 age groups. The “young group” was composed of people between 18 and 30. The “older group” had people between 65 and 80.

Researchers put all of the participants in 3 mixed groups.All of the groups contained both young and old, women and men. Each group received a different type of training. The training program took 3 months. The first group did interval training exercises. The second group focused on strength training while the last group combined both.

The team that conducted this study mentioned that they wanted to see to which type of training do people respond better. It was observed that all types of training improve overall fitness. The difference between these training sessions was at the cellular and muscle levels.

Those who did strength training had more defined and bigger muscles. This is also great for older people because they lose their muscle mass as they get older. People who had interval training exercises were the ones that benefited at the cellular level. The study showed that exercise is important and that it helps treat some health conditions and also prevent others.

What is your opinion about this study? Did you try this type of workout?

Image source: Pixnio

Scientists Improve DNA Data Storage

three DNA strands

Scientists further improve DNA data storage processes.

Data storage is gradually becoming a real problem, as users continue to generate massive quantities that may even outstrip the capabilities of hard drives to capture it. Data centers holding data collected by Facebook and Amazon are already extremely large, but even those are only a short-term solution to a problem getting bigger each day.

However, scientists are trying to discover more innovative ways to store data. One such method involves DNA data storage, which can provide safe long-term storage, or at least as long as humanity is still around. As scientists became increasingly proficient at decoding DNA, they found a way to store data inside it.

Now, two researchers working at the New York Genome Center found a way to expand the capacities of DNA data storage to its theoretical maximum. They used a previous coding scheme meant for noisy communication channels to actually store an entire operating system and several movies into DNA, at an unprecedented density of 215 petabytes per each gram of DNA. This means that the world’s entire data can be stored in one room using this method.

However, the synthesizing and decoding of DNA is not entirely 100 percent accurate, as it eventually leads to some data loss and errors. Therefore, the researchers used Fountain codes, to compensate for the loss of data. The researchers first converted the data into a string of binary information, which was then compressed into a master file and split into shorter strings of binary code.

The code was then packaged into droplets using the Fountain code, which ended up as a digital list of 72,000 DNA strands, each one being 200 bases long. The strands were then sent to Twist Bioscience, the company responsible for synthesizing the data into actual DNA. They were also able to successfully decode the information stored within by using modern technology used in DNA sequencing. The new DNA data storage method worked so well that the decoded information did have any errors.

However, the current problem with DNA storage data is that it costs $7000 to store 2 megabytes of data and $2000 to decode it. While the cost is gradually going to decrease, the synthesizing and decoding processes are quite slow. Nonetheless, DNA data storage may be used for large long-term archives.

Image sourcePublic Domain Pictures

Mozilla Buys Pocket, a Mobile Bookmarking Tool

Mozilla features

Mozilla has acquired Pcket, a mobile bookmarking tool.

Mozilla, most commonly known as the developer of the Firefox browser, has recently acquired Pocket, a bookmarking mobile app. Pocket initially started as Firefox extension called Read It Later, which was used to allow users to save online articles so that they can be read offline later.

This is an interesting turn of events for both companies considering their previous history and the fact that this is Mozilla’s first ever acquisition, as it seeks to expand its services to mobile users. A few years ago, the team behind Pocket was gradually expanded in order to develop a suite of new apps for all major mobile platforms. The two services joined forces once more in 2015 when Pocket became the browser’s main bookmarking tool.

After the acquisition deal is finalized, Pocket will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Mozilla as it attempts to establish a foothold on mobile devices, an area with which the company has previously struggled. Mozilla had lost much of its steam in the smartphone era as it was focused on developing its own Firefox OS, which the company recently abandoned and finally decided to release an iOS version of their once-popular browser.

However, the company seems ready and willing to establish a foothold in that market with a different approach. The recent acquisition of the bookmarking tools also comes with the 10 million pre-existing Pocket users, alongside new ad revenue opportunities, a premium service with a subscription model as well as analytic tools for publishers.

Denelle Dixon, Mozilla’s chief business and legal officer stated that the two companies share a user-first mentality, which is the main driving force behind their products. More than six years ago, when Pocket was still known as Read It Later, Evernote volunteered to purchase it. However, the deal was rejected as the soon to be Pocket app would become a feature of Evernote and not separate product.

According to Nate Weiner, the CEO of Pocket, the recent acquisition by Mozilla won’t involve an immediate change into their business model or their products. He revealed that Pocket will help Mozilla with the development of its “context graph” project. It consists in a recommendation online engine which can be integrated into a browser.

What do you think about Mozilla’s acquisition of Pocket, the mobile bookmarking tool?

Image source: Mozilla

NASA Prepares Two Future Asteroid Missions

asteroid in space.

NASA is preparing for two future asteroid missions.

In its endeavor to explore outer space as much as possible in order to better understand the world around us, NASA has announced two new asteroid missions in the coming decade. The mission will involve learning more about asteroid found in Jupiter’s gravity as well as those located in the solar system’s asteroid belt.

The first of the two asteroid missions part of the Discovery Program is titled Lucy and is scheduled to launch in 2021 towards Jupiter. Scientists calculated that it will arrive in its orbit in 2025, where it will begin studying Trojan asteroids trapped in the planet’s gravity. Its mission will last between 2027 and 2033 as it will explore up to six Trojan asteroids in two groups.

One group leads and the other one trails Jupiter in a 12-year circuit around the sun. The Trojan asteroids are of interest to scientists because they are relics of a previous era in the history of our solar system. The Lucy spacecraft is designed to help scientists learn as much as possible from the analysis of six asteroids.

The Lucy spacecraft will be developed by Lockheed Martin, while the overall mission will be managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt, Maryland.  According to NASA’s statement, the development of the spacecraft will cost around $450 million.

The second mission announced as part of NASA’s Discovery Program will consist in exploring a particular asteroid found in the solar system’s asteroid belt. This specific asteroid known as Psyche garnered the attention of scientists because it is a unique metal asteroid which has never been visited before.

The Psyche mission is scheduled to launch in 2023 and has quite a long way to go considering that the 16 Psyche asteroid is located at three times the distance between Earth and the sun. Furthermore, the asteroid itself is quite large in size, measuring a diameter of 130 miles.

What makes it particularly interesting to scientists is the fact that it mostly comprised of metals such as iron and nickel, unlike other asteroids which have rocky or icy bodies. Scientists are eager to learn if the asteroid is the exposed core of a former planet.

Image source: Wikimedia

CDC Says Flu Vaccine Has 48% Effectiveness This Season

nurse giving a vaccine to a girl

CDC finds that the flu vaccine is 48 percent effective this season.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new report which states that the flu vaccine has only a 48 percent rate of efficiency in combating the flu virus during this season of the disease.

The current flu season, which is still expected to continue for a few more weeks, has been marked by the predominance of the influenza A (H3N2) strain of the virus. Experts initially estimated that the efficiency of the flu vaccine in combating that particular strain of the virus was just 43 percent compared to the 73 percent effectiveness of the vaccine against the influenza B virus strain.  However, the report found that overall protection of the vaccine was rated to be at 48 percent.

The CDC report is based on data collected between November 28 and February 4 from more than 3,100 adults and children who were part of the Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network.  The CDC has routinely used data from this network to estimate the effectiveness of a vaccine during a particular season of the virus.

Previous CDC reports revealed that during the2015-2016 flu season, the flu vaccine was 47 percent effective in combating the virus, while the 2014-2015 season saw a major decline in the effectiveness of the virus, to just 19 percent.

According to the scientists, the low effectiveness rate from two years ago was caused by the predominant state of the H3N2 virus strain, for which that current vaccine was not well suited. Fortunately, researchers were able to correctly anticipate that the same strain will remain predominant during this season, which allowed to develop a vaccine which was better suited to combat the virus.

In a separate but related report, the CDC revealed that the US saw an increase in the activity of the flu virus in the middle of December, and remained high until early February. Researchers expect that that flu season will continue for a few more weeks, but it will begin to drop in activity. The increased activity of the virus led strength to the recommendation of doctors to get vaccinated.

What do you think about the report’s findings? Have you received a flu vaccine this season?

Image sourceFree Stock Photos