Iconography of Contagion

About a hundred years ago, public health took a visual turn. In an era of devastating epidemic and endemic infectious disease, health professionals began to organize coordinated campaigns that sought to mobilize public action through eye-catching wall posters, illustrated pamphlets, motion pictures, and glass slide projections. An Iconography of Contagion.

The Eagle. Weather or Not.

A Beautiful Sunday

Perfect way to start a week off…

Holiday Weekend

Having a long weekend with two holidays and beautiful weather in February was a pleasant surprise.

HDR vs Exposure Fusion

Here are two photos shown three ways: straight out of camera, fused exposures, HDR with tone mapping. The originals (SOOC) are the captures with the best average exposure for the scene. The fused exposure version was made taking three exposures of the same scene, and using Photomatix to merge the exposures, without any further adjustments. Then taking the merged result into Photoshop and using the curves tool to heighten the contrast. The third version is my standard HDR merge using Photomatix’s tonemapping. It’s always a surprise to see what results from the tonemapping. Often the image is amazing, but sometimes it’s a little over the top. I’m experimenting with the Exposure Fusion feature to see if I like the more subtle images you can make with it. What do you think?







Happy Valentine’s Day

Delivery Method Affects Brain Response to Baby’s Cry

Was just reading some interesting research showing that the method of delivery seems to influence how a mother’s brain responds to the cries of her own baby. The brains of women who have natural childbirth appear to be more responsive to the cries of their own babies, compared to the brains of women who have C-section births.

The finding is based on brain imaging scans conducted two to four weeks after delivery among just 12 women, half of whom had vaginal births and half of whom gave birth by C-section. The study, published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that the cry of a woman’s own baby triggered significant responses in several parts of the brain related to sensory processing, empathy, arousal, motivation, reward and habit-regulation. The effect was greatest in the brains of women who had delivered vaginally compared to those women who delivered their babies by C-section.

The conclusions that can be drawn from the study are limited because it involved so few women. However, it does support the theory that C-section birth may result in slight delays in attachment, putting those women at slightly higher risk for postpartum depression.

(image courtesy Photosavvy)

Watch Sid Slide

Pitchers and catchers report in 9 days.

Vitamin D

Research suggests that Vitamin D might help build bones, strengthen the immune system, and fight off heart disease, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and diabetes. It’s a nutrient that the body makes from sunlight and that is also found in fish and fortified milk. But thanks to skin cancer awareness programs, sunscreens, and poor diets (and likely many other reasons), as many as half of all adults and children are said to have less than optimum levels and as many as 10 percent of children are highly deficient, according to a 2008 report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Like a number of my colleagues, I have begun testing Vitamin D levels more frequently. But this is where the confusion begins. There is controversy about what the best blood level of Vitamin D is, as well as what level constitutes a deficiency worthy of treatment. In general, people are considered to be deficient if they have blood levels below 15 or 20 nanograms per milliliter. But many doctors now believe vitamin D levels should be above 30. The ideal level isn’t known, nor is it known at what point a person is getting too much vitamin D, which can lead to kidney stones, calcification in blood vessels and other problems.

People’s vitamin D levels are influenced by the color of their skin, where they live, how much time they spend outdoors and by fish and milk consumption. To raise vitamin D without supplements, you can increase sun exposure for 10 to 15 minutes a day. Eating more fish can help — a 3.5-ounce serving of wild fresh salmon has 600 to 1,000 I.U.’s of vitamin D — but it would take a quart of milk a day to get the recommended dose of vitamin D.

Personally, I’m not taking vitamin D supplements yet. Science needs to catch up with the hype. Although numerous studies have been promising, there are scant data from randomized clinical trials. Little is known about what the ideal level of vitamin D really is, whether raising it can improve health, and what potential side effects are caused by high doses. The data is mostly from observational research, so it may be that high doses of the nutrient don’t really make people healthier, but that healthy people simply do the sorts of things that happen to raise vitamin D.

There is now a major study over the next five years that should provide answers to these questions and more. The nationwide clinical trial is recruiting 20,000 older adults, including men 60 and older and women 65 and older, to study whether high doses of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from fish-oil supplements will lower risk for heart disease and cancer. (If you qualify, consider taking part in the study at www.vitalstudy.org)

In the meantime, I think it’s best to continue checking levels more frequently than we have in the past, eat more fish, and get some outdoor exercise.

Madaket Moonset

© 2009 ackdoc - Greg Hinson, MD 508/325-9981 info@ackdoc.com Purchasing help RSS feed