Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Another way to have more kids is to, well, have more kids. Which is exactly what Ethiopian women seem to be doing in response to improved local water supplies. An intervention designed to improve their lives by bringing tapped water in to villages has had the secondary effect of increasing birth rates and childhood malnutrition. The theory was/is that improving environmental conditions would lower the birth rate (though I'm not sure why this would be thought to be the case), but reality seems to be that you need other factors too. Watching all the kids starve doesn't stop people from having them. Maybe they only get 'abstinence-only sex ed'?
However many babies you want, you probably want them to be healthy. So, prospective fathers (and mothers too!) should probably avoid solvent chemicals for a good while before trying to conceive: a study of male painters and carpenters found higher birth defect rates among the offspring of painters, who had high levels of organic solvent exposure. So it seems that stuff really is bad for you!
After being born, kids may need surgery. Someone has decided that space will be a good place to do that in the future, and the French are already trying it out, albeit in a very odd way: doctors will attempt to remove a tumor from a man's arm during 20-second intervals of zero-G on Airbus' version of the Vomit Comet. Does this strike anyone else as an unrealistic approximation, or simply just a bad idea?
And the obvious: a panel of US citizens, comissioned by Congress to discuss what Americans want in a health care system, report that Americans want affordable, accessible, universal health care. Needless to say, Congress is already ignoring the report and claiming that it's unrealistic.
Similarly, an IOM panel has found that the US drug system is "broken" and that major reforms (especially within the FDA) are needed. For the response to this report, see above.
Finally, via BoingBoing, this may be the coolest thing I've seen all week.