Saving Bentley’s brain: Daring surgery aims to fix a gaping hole in baby’s skull

BOSTON — Everyone was so sure the newborn would die that they didn’t even clean him off after birth. Nurses didn’t weigh him, or suction fluid out of his throat. His parents had bought no baby supplies, other than a single onesie. They expected to bury him in it. But Bentley Yoder came out screaming and wouldn’t give up. Click here to read the story in STAT and see the very moving video. A significant chunk of his brain grew outside his skull, in a bulbous mass at the top of his head. With birth defects like his, the protruding white matter is usually such a mess that doctors just lop it off. But Bentley had so much brain outside his skull that doctors thought it must be crucial to his survi

Ask Well: Getting the Most Out of Whole Grains

Q: Are whole grains as beneficial if they are ground up, for example, as in smoothies, or made into flour as in cereal? A: Whole grains are good, whether served whole or ground up, experts say, but with a few caveats. Some product labels will suggest that they contain whole grains when they really don’t, warned Maria Elena Rodriguez, a dietitian and diabetes expert with the Mount Sinai Health System. Read the label carefully and make sure that whole grains — and not sugar or a sugar equivalent like corn syrup — are among the first few ingredients. Click here to see this piece on Intact whole grains are grains in which all three components of grain — the bran, the germ and the end

Most anti-depressants don’t work on kids and teens, study finds

The vast majority of antidepressants given to kids and teens are ineffective and potentially dangerous, according to a new study in The Lancet. Of 14 regularly prescribed drugs, only one — Prozac — proved effective enough to justify giving to children and teens, the researchers found. If medications are given at all, Prozac should be the drug of choice, the study concluded. Click here to read the story on “No one should be on any other antidepressant, and I think it’s doubtful that people should be on Prozac, as well,” said Dr. Jon Jureidini, a child psychiatrist at the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide in Australia, who wrote a commentary that ran with t

Head trauma may have contributed to Ali's Parkinson's

Muhammad Ali died Friday with the Parkinson’s disease that helped define his life for the last 32 years. Boxing may have contributed to his illness, but genetics was likely a bigger factor, experts said. “It’s bad luck on top of genetics,” said Ole Isacson, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School who met Ali several times. People who lose consciousness through head trauma are at 50% higher risk of Parkinson’s than those who don’t, he said. Ali’s symptoms and the course of his disease were also consistent with a genetic form of Parkinson’s, said Michael Okun, chairman of neurology at the University of Florida, who was a longtime Ali friend and adviser. About 10% of cases are believ

Taking Gene-Editing to the Next Level

Researchers who discovered a molecular “scissors” for snipping genes have now developed a similar approach for targeting and cutting RNA. The new cutting tool should help researchers better understand RNA’s role in cells and diseases, and some believe it could one day be useful in treatments for illnesses from Huntington’s to heart disease. To develop the “blades” for the process, researchers led by Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute used CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)—a system that bacteria evolved to fight off pathogens. CRISPR has previously been used to edit DNA but had been theorized to work on RNA as well. (Click here to see the story on ScientificAme

About me

Cover COVID-19 

and patient safety

for USA Today.

Former long-time health/science

journalist, contributing to The

New York Times, The Washington Post, 

Scientific, and others. Journalism educator and book author.


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