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Mind Reading Device Gives Voice to Paralyzed Patients; Doctor Removes 130-Pound Tumor

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How a Baby’s Sex Affects Mom-to-Be

Gender PregnancyResearch out of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center shows that women react differently when pregnant with girls or boys. “Women carrying female fetuses exhibited a heightened inflammatory response when their immune system was challenged, compared to women carrying male fetuses,” principal investigator Amanda Mitchell is quoted in a press release from the medical center. The heightened inflammation could play a role in why women pregnant with girls “tend to experience exacerbated symptoms of some medical conditions, including asthma.” The research, published in the February issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, “helps women and their obstetricians recognize that fetal sex is one factor that may impact how a woman’s body responds to everyday immune challenges,” Mitchell said. Additional studies could pinpoint “how differences in immune function may affect how a woman responds to different viruses, infections or chronic health conditions” and whether they affect the health of the fetus.

Reading the Minds of the Paralyzed

Brain InterfaceResearchers in Europe have figured out how to communicate with deeply paralyzed patients who’ve lost all voluntary movement. A brain-computer interface fits onto a person’s head like a cap to measure changes in electrical waves from the brain and employs a technique to measure blood flow. The cap was placed on four patients who’ve lost all voluntary movement because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gherig’s disease — and then were presented with the statement, “I love to live,” MIT Technology Review reports. Three of the four replied “yes” with the help of the interface designed by Niels Birbaumer at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva. For some families, this was the first communication with their ailing loved ones in years, and learning that they wished to stay alive on ventilators must have been encouraging. The details of the experiments were published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Second Opinions Matter

A decade ago, doctors told Roger Logan, 57, he was fat. In fact, he had a non-cancerous tumor that eventually grew to 130 pounds and was so large that it rested on the floor when he sat down. Mercifully, the tumor has finally been removed at Bakersfield (Calif.) Memorial Hospital, CBS Los Angeles reports. Logan had been told that surgery to remove the tumor would be too dangerous, so he had spent most of his time in a recliner at home in Mississippi. But, his wife, Kitty, found a specialist in Bakersfield, the procedure was successful and he’s recovering well. “My feet are together,” he said in the report. “They haven’t been together in years.”

He Provides a Home for Dying Kids

Terminal KidsIn a dare-not-to-cry article in the L.A. Times, Hailey Branson-Potts writes about Mohamed Bzeek, a devout Muslim immigrant from Syria, who over the course of two decades has been foster parent to numerous California children with one thing in common — terminal illness. Bzeek, 62, was drawn to the cause by his wife, Dawn, who had been a foster parent before they married, and he has continued to do heart-wrenching, exhausting and inspiring work since they split up and she later died. “If anyone ever calls us and says, ‘This kid needs to go home on hospice,’ there’s only one name we think of,” an official with the Department of Children and Family Services told Branson-Potts. “He’s the only one that would take a child who would possibly not make it.” Read about Bzeek and you will be moved.

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