Today in Medicine

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Babies can lip read!
Study subjects: 180 babies at ages 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 months
Location of study: U.S.
Results: A Florida Atlantic University study found that in order to form words, babies have to learn how to shape their lips to make the sounds. The researchers found that young babies first stare mostly at the eyes to learn the sounds. But at around six months, they begin staring at the lips, learning how to make the sounds.
Significance: Learning the mechanics of pronunciation, rather than concentrating only on sound, is likely the reason why babies learn languages more easily than older children or adults.

Young women and weight obsession  
Study subjects: 466 women with an average age of 25
Location of study: U.S.
Results: The University of Texas Medical Branch found that their study subjects didn’t notice weight gain of up to 11 pounds. Researchers also found that body perception appears to be influenced by race and, oddly, contraceptive methods, because black women and DMPA users (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, commonly known as the birth control shot) were more likely to recognize weight gain than their counterparts.
Significance: Researchers thought that DMPA users were likelier to recognize the scale tip because the shot is associated with weight gain. Creeping weight gain leads to obesity and health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.

La Niña’s link to flu pandemics
Study subjects: The four most recent pandemics
Location of study: U.S.
Results: A new study examining the weather patterns at the time of catastrophic flu pandemics found that each episode was preceded by La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific. The La Niña pattern alters wind patterns and the migratory routes of birds, which are thought to be the main incubators of human influenza. The result could be a virus mutation following the mixing of different bird species and with livestock such as pigs.
Significance: Mutation of the flu virus might render current vaccines useless. La Niña is currently in effect. 



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