For adults, the terrible twos are a confusing earful

Here’s another reason you might be exhausted after that preschool birthday party: Your brain had to work to figure out who actually asked for more ice cream.

“What we found with two-and-a-half-year-olds is that it’s amazingly hard for adults to identify who’s talking,” said Angela Cooper, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto.

Cooper’s co-authored research will be presented in the poster session at the Acoustical Society of America’s 176th Meeting, held in conjunction with the Canadian Acoustical Association’s 2018 Acoustics Week in Canada, Nov. 5-9 at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, Canada.

The study, with University of Toronto professor Elizabeth K. Johnson and postdoctoral researcher Natalie Fecher, used a space alien interactive game created by Cooper to elicit recordings from over 50 native English-speaking Toronto-area two-and-a-half-year-old children individually saying 32 common words like tree, dog, ball and elephant. The same words were recorded by the children’s mothers.

In the experiment, University of Toronto undergraduate students aged 18-25 each listened to 80 pairs of words spoken by 20 of the children and indicated whether the words were spoken by the same or a different individual. They did the same for 20 of the adult voices.

“Listeners were significantly worse at telling apart child voices relative to adult voices,” Cooper said. Participants correctly identified different adult voices 65 percent of the time, but only about 40 percent of the time with the squeaky preschooler voices.

“I find it particularly interesting that the participants’ ability to identify adult voices was not related to their ability to identify children’s voices,” Cooper said. “You’re maybe using different information or you’re processing things slightly differently when you’re listening to an adult voice versus when you’re listening to a child’s voice.”

In a second stage of the study, the researchers found that after a training session that included listening to just four different child and four different adult voices, participants had improved voice identification skills, though the improvement was less for children’s voices than adult voices.

“Part of this training process is retuning what speech cues we need to pay attention to,” she said. “Often children have particular mispronunciations. Some kids will say ‘poon’ instead of spoon, or elephant becomes ‘ephant’. We might be actually cuing in to which child makes different kinds of errors.”

In one of a series of follow-up studies, the researchers are using pupillometry, a measure of pupil dilation, to quantify adult cognitive effort involved in trying to differentiate between the voices of two-and-a-half-year-old children.

As for the next kids’ birthday party?

“What I’d like to say to parents is that with exposure it does get easier over time,” Cooper said.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Acoustical Society of America. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

4 Types of Duncan Hines Cake Mix Recalled Amid Salmonella Outbreak

In a culinary catastrophe of tragic proportions, Conagra Brands is recalling four types of boxed cake mix over possible salmonella contamination, the company announced Monday. The recall comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a specific type of salmonella bacteria that matched the bacteria found in five sick people who recently reported their illnesses to the CDC.

Specifically, the recall affects Classic White Cake, Classic Yellow Cake, Classic Butter Golden Cake, and Signature Confetti Cake mixes with “best if used by” dates between March 7 and March 13, 2019. Although these mixes haven’t been conclusively linked to the CDC reports, they were voluntarily recalled out of “an abundance of caution,” the company says, while the FDA’s investigation continues.

The symptoms of a salmonella infection can start within a day of eating something contaminated with the bacteria.

Symptoms usually appear between 12 and 72 hours after you eat contaminated food, the CDC explains, and they last between four and seven days. As SELF wrote previously, those symptoms usually include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in your stool

For healthy adults, a bout of salmonella isn’t pleasant, but it usually isn’t serious enough to warrant special care. It can typically be treated with basic home remedies, like staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.

But for young children, pregnant people, the elderly, or anyone else with a compromised immune system, the infection is more likely to become more severe, possibly causing blood in their stool or dehydration that may require hospitalization. In these cases, the FDA says, the infection can also spread to the bloodstream and may become life-threatening unless the person gets prompt treatment with antibiotics.

The FDA cautions that consumers should not purchase, eat, or bake with the recalled cake mixes—and, as always, don’t eat raw batter or dough. If you’ve already bought some, you can either throw it out or return it for a refund. What you do with that cake-less can of frosting, however, is between you and your spoon.


Adolescent cannabis use alters development of planning, self-control brain areas

Adolescent marijuana use may alter how neurons function in brain areas engaged in decision-making, planning and self-control, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The findings, which were presented at Neuroscience 2018, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, are the result of an animal model study focused on the structural development of the prefrontal cortex, or PFC, which controls high-level cognitive functions.

Within the PFC, a support structure called the perineuronal net forms a lattice of proteins around inhibitory cells, helping to secure their connections with excitatory neurons and regulate PFC activity. Perineuronal net formation is sensitive to drug use, but the effects of marijuana are not known.

To investigate how adolescent marijuana use affects perineuronal nets in the PFC, the UIC researchers gave adolescent rats a synthetic cannabinoid which was similar to THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, for one day, 10 days, or 10 days followed by a period of abstinence. They then compared perineuronal net structure in these rats to those in drug-free animals.

Animals exposed to the cannabinoid showed a reduction in net development around inhibitory cells during adolescence, and this reduction was more common in male animals.

“Our evidence suggests that exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence alters brain maturation in the prefrontal cortex,” said Eliza Jacobs-Brichford, study lead author and UIC Ph.D. candidate in psychology. “These results may offer a mechanistic explanation for functional and behavioral changes caused by adolescent cannabinoid exposure.”

Recreational use of marijuana is among the risky choices often made by adolescents, and likely to become more prevalent with greater availability due to its shifting legal status in some states and Canada.

These impulsive choices are taking place during a key period of brain development and could have costs later in life, according to the researchers.

“Adolescence is a crucial time for fine-tuning the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the brain, which combine to control precise patterns of brain activity,” said Jamie Roitman, UIC associate professor of psychology and study co-author. “Substance use as a teenager thus has the potential to disrupt the normal developmental trajectory of the PFC, with potentially long-term consequences for decision-making.”

Hu Chen, UIC research assistant professor of psychiatry, and Amy Lasek, UIC associate professor of psychiatry, are co-authors on the paper.

The study was supported with funds from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the National Institutes of Health, and a UIC Provost Award for Graduate Research.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Face the music: Explicit anti-piracy warnings are best deterrent

STOP! This is illegal. You may be monitored and fined.

Did that get your attention? Good. Because according to a new UNLV study, this phrasing coupled with a graphic of a computer and download symbol with a prohibitive slash is the most effective way to stop music piracy.

The research, borne out of dissertation work by UNLV psychology instructor Joanne Ullman, tested 220 college undergraduates’ reactions to more than 70 symbols, action words, and warning phrases. Among the findings:

  • Signal words conveying the presence of risk (IMPORTANT and STOP) received higher perceived effectiveness ratings than NOTICE.
  • An icon depicting the illegality of uploading copyrighted music scored less effective.
  • Regarding warning messages, researchers evaluated them to be sure they could be understood with a literacy level of 5th grade or lower. They initially hypothesized that the threat of fines alone was most likely to scare off illegal downloaders. But they were surprised to find that people are equally leery of being monitored by unknown entities — and pairing the repercussions proved most effective.

“For some individuals, privacy may be just as important as a pecuniary consequence,” researchers wrote in their paper, which was published last month during the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2018 Annual Meeting. “Of course, the combination of both would heighten the potential consequence.”

Ullman said she doesn’t expect her findings will rid the entire world of music piracy. But she hopes to educate the public and to perhaps encourage lawmakers to streamline copyright laws or the music industry to create blanket streaming/download rules that better match consumer habits.

Currently, the Copyright Act allows damages of $750 up to $150,000 per infringement. Moreover, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, internet service providers can disable repeat offenders’ web access.

“Technically, there’s no music out there that’s free,” Ullman said, referencing the 2018 Music Modernization Act which for the first time enacts federal laws — that will supersede a vague, contradictory, confusing patchwork of state laws protecting sound recordings — and allow fully-protected music to enter public domain beginning in 2022. She noted that even the “Happy Birthday” song, protected under the vague older laws, didn’t enter public domain until 2016 under a judge’s ruling; previously, she said, movies and restaurants were among entities that would create their own version or avoid using the song altogether to avoid legal battles surrounding copyright infringement.

Ullman says that, similar to jaywalking, music copyright laws are not regulated across the board and therefore could be subject to selective enforcement. And that could become a problem for the United States, which produces and distributes the most music in the world.

Throughout history, Ullman said, copyright issues have become an issue whenever there’s been modernization; for example, laws had to be created to protect works reproduced after the printing press was invented. “There might be a correlation between our economic condition and how strict (the government or music companies) are with intellectual property. Economic recessions may actually lead to more stringent enforcement with respect to copyright laws,” she said.

With respect to the effectiveness of music piracy warnings, Ullman said we all have different levels of risk aversions because of our personality or profession.

“I doubt these symbols will get someone to suddenly change their mind and say, ‘Piracy is bad’, ” she said. “But at least being reminded that if you download something illegally you may be monitored or fined, we can think about our behavior and make thoughtful decisions. That’s especially important in the online world where we’re so task-focused; the pictorial can almost immediately remind you — you don’t even have to read anything — and make you say, ‘I should think before I act’.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

New insights into the neural risks and benefits of marijuana use

Research released today underscores both the dangers and the therapeutic promise of marijuana, revealing different effects across the lifespan. Marijuana exposure in the womb or during adolescence may disrupt learning and memory, damage communication between brain regions, and disturb levels of key neurotransmitters and metabolites in the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease, however, compounds found in marijuana, such as the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may improve memory and mitigate some of the disease’s symptoms. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2018, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and its popularity is expected to rise as it is legalized in more places. It is also the illegal drug most commonly used by pregnant women, despite the potential for long-term harm to the fetus. Many people start using marijuana as teenagers — a particularly vulnerable time as the brain is still developing — when there is evidence for increased risk. At the same time, a growing number of people are turning to marijuana for the relief of symptoms of chronic diseases such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. These use patterns highlight the need to better understand the long-term effects of marijuana, particularly in sensitive populations such as unborn children and adolescents.

Today’s new findings show that:

  • Prenatal exposure to THC in rats has lasting effects on metabolites in the brain, making the animal more vulnerable to stress later in life (Robert Schwarcz, abstract 609.12).
  • Rats exposed to synthetic compounds that are similar to THC during fetal development show impaired formation of the neural circuits involved in learning and memory as adolescents (Priyanka Das Pinky, abstract 424.17).
  • Cannabinoid use by adolescent rats boosts activity in brain pathways responsible for habit formation (José Fuentealba Evans, abstract 602.07).
  • In adolescent rats, cannabinoids may disturb the development of a protein lattice important for balancing excitatory and inhibitory activity in a brain region involved in decision-making, planning, and self-control (Eliza Jacobs-Brichford, abstract 645.09).
  • Long-term cannabinoid use alters metabolism and connectivity of brain regions involved in learning and memory in adult mice (Ana M. Sebastião, abstract 778.08).
  • Treating Alzheimer’s disease mice with the psychoactive compound found in marijuana improves memory and reduces neuronal loss, suggesting a possible therapy for the human disease (Yvonne Bouter, abstract 467.14).

“Today’s findings lend new understanding of the complex effects that cannabis has on the brain,” said press conference moderator Michael Taffe, PhD, of Scripps Research Institute and an expert in substance abuse research. “While it may have therapeutic potential in some situations, it is important to get a better understanding of the negative aspects as well, particularly for pregnant women, teens, and chronic users.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Society for Neuroscience. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience. “New insights into the neural risks and benefits of marijuana use: Compounds in cannabis can impair or improve memory depending on age, disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2018. <>.

Society for Neuroscience. (2018, November 6). New insights into the neural risks and benefits of marijuana use: Compounds in cannabis can impair or improve memory depending on age, disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2018 from

Society for Neuroscience. “New insights into the neural risks and benefits of marijuana use: Compounds in cannabis can impair or improve memory depending on age, disease.” ScienceDaily. (accessed November 6, 2018).

Political Donations: How to Use Money as an Extension of Your Political Voice

Today, as women across the country head to the polls for the midterm elections, many of us will also have dedicated time and money as candidates, volunteers, or voters to support the candidates or causes we care about the most. The work doesn’t stop once your ballot is cast. Women are increasingly using their dollars to amplify their political voices—but you don’t need an election year or a massive bank account to make your voice heard.

A report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute revealed that women are the ones leading the charge when it comes to embracing charitable giving as a means of civic engagement. According to the report, women’s giving to top 501(c)3 charities significantly increased compared to men’s in weeks following the 2016 presidential election. The report found that in the week before the election, women gave an average of $1,586 more than their male counterparts. In the week after the election, the difference between women and men’s giving more than doubled to $3,905.

Regardless of your income level, engaging in philanthropy can be a powerful way to actively support the ideas you champion at the polls or within your own activism. For political campaigns or mission-driven organizations, financial resources often make the crucial difference between success and failure. Philanthropy is not the “soft stuff”—it’s the platform women can embrace to wield economic power to create meaningful, purpose-driven change.

Understand the power in your money.

Let’s be honest: Money is a tough subject to broach, and for some of us the idea of using money as a tool to influence change can seem greedy or corrupt. But consider the type of impact money can have when it’s rooted in your values.

When you align charitable giving with your passions, you’re investing to create sustainable impact. Think of it this way: If advocacy is the engine of change, money is the fuel that sustains and propels advocacy campaigns. In addition to the variety of hands-on ways you can support nonprofits or political causes, like volunteering and canvassing, one of the simplest and most effective ways to create impact is through donations.

Through charitable giving—even at small amounts—you are supporting both the real-time actions of nonprofit programs, like after-school activities, as well as the large-scope projects like bringing an advocacy campaign to national scale. (For more on assessing impact, read on.)

You don’t need to be rich to give.

Whether you’re donating $5 a month or becoming a major contributor, your money can go the extra mile to support the causes you care about.

If large donations are like the ice cream in a sundae, then small donations function like toppings. Nonprofits rely on that extra bit of cash to provide paper and pens to classrooms, or print an additional banner or two. The small donations help organizations go that extra mile. The organization Givewell details what a select group of high-impact charities can do with donations as small as a few dollars.

In order to determine what type of giving is within your means, you first need to create a basic monthly budget, which includes set dollar amounts for things like rent, internet bills and a gym membership. With basic costs taken care of, you should have about 30 percent set aside to play with. Try to find room among these expenses—like Starbucks runs and Spotify—to add monthly charitable donations into the mix. On average, people donate anywhere from 3 percent to 10 percent of their income—but there’s no “minimum” required to make a difference.

If a monthly donation does not fit within your budget, try first committing to a once-a-year donation. To make your dollar stretch farther, be on the lookout for matching campaigns, especially around the time of Giving Tuesday on November 27th. You can use your birthday as a chance to fundraise. Facebook’s fundraising feature is an easy way to ask for donations from friends and family. Platforms like Crowdrise or GoFundMe can engage your network in helping you raise money for a cause you care about.

You can also set up an Amazon Smile account where a portion of everything you spend automatically goes to charity, at no cost to you.

Use your gut to guide your giving.

Particularly around elections, you might feel over-stimulated when it comes to requests for donations. When there isn’t just one issue you care about, it can be helpful to focus on the results you want to achieve.

For example, are you interested in supporting a larger, national nonprofit focused on changing federal policies? Or would you rather support a local, community-based organization working to improve the lives of those who live in your city or town? Deciding on the scale can help you whittle down your options at a time when everyone seems to be asking for money.

Once you’ve determined the types of causes you want to support, there are many tools that can take the guesswork out of donations and help you feel secure that your donation will truly have an impact. Websites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar provide easy-to-understand, transparent reports on how nonprofits use their funding and how far your dollar will go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn more about how your money will actually be used.

Go beyond money.

Despite the power that charitable giving can create, nothing can fully replace your own civic engagement. Money is merely an extension of your own voice—a vehicle that can help create long-term, critical change.

There are so many ways to make an impact and shape the world you inhabit. Get out there and vote. Volunteer for a cause you care about. And on top of those efforts, fully embrace the power of money to influence the change you want to see in the world and build the future you want to live in.

Linda Davis Taylor is the CEO and chairman of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors in Pasadena, California, and a champion for women’s economic independence and strength. She is a frequent speaker on wealth transition, family governance, and philanthropy, and author of The Business of Family.

13 Thanksgiving Recipes You Can Make in an Instant Pot

The bigigest obstacle I face on Thanksgiving is my limited oven space. As soon as I start roasting my big turkey, I have about one shelf left to devote to the many, many sides and desserts I know my guests will be expecting when they arrive. In the past, I’ve relied on my slow-cooker to help me get dishes on the table when my oven is occupied, but this year I have another partner in crime: My Instant Pot is going to help me save oven space, pick up the pace, and get all of my favorite, classic T-Day recipes on the dinner table.

If you’re wondering if there’s anything an Instant Pot can’t do, the answer is no, and these 13 Thanksgiving recipes prove that. Here, you’ll find quick and easy ideas for all of your Thanksgiving favorites, whether you’re a big fan of sweet potato casserole, or mashed potatoes are your thing. Heck, there’s even a super speedy recipe for a turkey—instead of four hours in the oven, it only needs one hour in your Instant Pot. With some help from this gadget, you might even be finished cooking everything before your guests even show up.

Largely unrecognized role of youth caregivers illuminated in new study

‘I need this — can you grab my pills?’ ‘Can you help me with this?’ ‘Can you go in my bag and get me my medicine?’

For more than half of her 16 years, 10th grader Destiny has answered calls like this to help her grandmother and great-grandmother manage their medications.

“I’ve been helping out basically most of my life,” she said.

Despite the essential role Destiny and other youth caregivers play, little is known about how they learn to manage medications, what they know about the medicine they administer, and what kind of rewards and challenges they encounter day to day.

To find out more, Julia Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine physician-researcher and pediatrician, and colleagues studied 28 middle school and high school students 12 to 19 years old. Their study is the first of its kind to take a comprehensive look at this population; they reported their findings online in the Journal of Adolescence.

Through a series of qualitative focus groups, the investigators asked the youth about medication management. They used semi-structured interviews to assess their responsibilities, medication knowledge, and more. The caregivers were part of the Caregiving Youth Project of the American Association of Caregiving Youth. Their mean age was about 15, and 71 percent were female.

For physicians, greater awareness is the first step. “It is important for all physicians, regardless of specialty, to know that this population of caregiving youth exists. Physicians should take this into consideration when they are making plans for the care of their patients,” said Dr. Belkowitz, who is associate professor of pediatrics.

“One of the things we discovered in this study is that some of the kids reported that not only were they taking on the responsibilities of managing medications at home, they were actually the ones receiving the instructions directly,” said Dr. Belkowitz.

This finding underlines the importance of determining who is responsible for medication management.

“The only way to do this is to ask.”

Proceed carefully, however. “It is important to know that some parents fear that if others know about the medication role and other caregiving responsibilities of their children that their families would be split apart, so these conversations need to be done in a sensitive and nonjudgmental manner.”

Several participants in the study reported difficulty understanding instructions, either written or as instructed in person by a health care professional.

The data from this study also indicates that youth caregivers interact substantially with medical professionals, providing an opportunity for physicians and others to support them and recognize their contribution to the patient’s well-being.

“Back when my grandmother was walking, the doctor offered to help us with installing rails if we needed them,” Destiny said. “And they said they would even install a chair in our shower so she could sit down and wash herself.”

“Once kids have been identified as caregivers, we need to ask them how they are doing,” Dr. Belkowitz said. Inquire about challenges they face and what type of support they need to succeed in school, in their home environments and as caregivers.

“We know from the literature that caregiving can have a significant impact on mental health and school performance of children and young people, and we have heard many stories of kids who have experienced physical injuries as well,” she said. “Of course, we should use available screening tools and guidelines to identify children who may be suffering from conditions such as anxiety or depression.”

One in five youths said their caregiving made them miss a school activity or an after-school activity, 15 percent said it has kept them from doing schoolwork, and 8 percent said it has made them miss homework, according to a 2005 national survey. In addition, young caregivers said they missed school, “38 percent at least sometimes.”

Destiny has managed to find a way to balance caring for her relatives so that it does not detract from her school or social life. “I’ve learned to do really well with time management,” she said.

When properly supported, these children and teenagers can experience benefits such as pride and a closer personal relationship with their care recipient.

Grandparents were the most common care recipients in the study, followed by parents and siblings. Other relatives, such as cousins and aunts or uncles, as well as unrelated people also relied on the youth for help with their medications.

Neurologic-related diseases topped the list of care recipient conditions at 12, followed by diabetes at 7, and an equal number of people — 4 each — with diabetes, functional decline/mobility loss, asthma, vision loss and other conditions.

“What was also important about this study is that we were able to hear their perspectives directly from youth,” Dr. Belkowitz said. “We learned that these kids take on multiple important responsibilities, often without formal education, surrounding their role.”

Destiny learned on the job. Her grandmother showed her which medicines she needs when to manage her Parkinson’s disease. Her great-grandmother, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, did the same, until she passed away in September.

An estimated 1.4 million children and teenagers between 8 and 18 years old help family members take their medicine and perform necessary activities of daily living, according to a 2005 survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Since then, experts believe the number of youth caregivers has mushroomed due to the aging of the U.S. population, the opioid epidemic, a shift toward more home care, and other factors.

In terms of solutions, the researchers noted that teenagers are typically tech savvy and those with resources are closely connected to smart phones. Devising strategies to use this technology could be of great potential benefit for adolescents managing medications.

That’s precisely the advice Destiny would offer other youth caregivers. “Have reminders on your phone five minutes before it’s time to give the medicine. That way you can prepare, get a cup of water, and sometimes they need to take it with food, so you need to grab a quick snack or cook something good.”

Many unanswered questions remain, including the current prevalence of caregiving youth in the United States. Future research could expand the age range to include children younger than 12. In addition, Dr. Belkowitz said, “We are currently looking at perspectives of pediatric health care providers about this issue and the impact of poverty on the role of children as caregivers.”

In the meantime, Destiny’s grandmother recently progressed to an advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease. “My grandmother is now on bed rest. She can’t walk, talk or sit up for a long period of time,” she said. “She has good and bad days. Sometimes I really can’t understand her — and have to get real close to understand what she is saying. Other days are really good days, and she speaks in full sentences and laughs.”

Another piece of advice, based on experience, is telling care recipients that you will always be there to support them. “Constantly remind the person you’re caring for that you love them and that you’re doing this for them — that it doesn’t bother you,” Destiny said.

She said her grandmother apologized once ‘for being a hassle.’ “That was really hard for me, because I don’t want her to think that,” Destiny said. “I do this for her because I want her to be taken care of.”

Always being there is the most important part, Destiny added. “It lets her know I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep her well.”

Margaret Nickels, M.D., M.P.H., a graduate of the Miller School of Medicine; Connie Siskowski, RN, Ph.D., president of the American Association of Caregiving Youth; and Cynthia N. Lebron, a Ph.D. student at the Miller School Department of Public Health Sciences, co-authored the research. The Quantum Foundation through the University of Miami Springboard program funded the study.

A 23-Year-Old College Student Died From Lemierre Syndrome, a Rare Infection She Thought Was Tonsillitis

A college rower at Kansas State University died after experiencing symptoms that she thought were caused by tonsillitis but turned out to be Lemierre syndrome, a rare bacterial infection. The student, Samantha Scott, died on October 27, not long after seeking medical attention.

Two weeks ago, Scott, 23, started feeling pain and swelling in her throat, People reports. She brushed off her symptoms but eventually went to the hospital when they got worse.

She was diagnosed with Lemierre syndrome, a rare infection that starts with a sore throat and fever and causes swelling and infection that can move throughout someone’s body. Scott died just days after she was diagnosed.

“I don’t think I could say a negative thing about her,” Kennidi Cobbley, her lifelong friend who set up a GoFundMe to help Scott’s family with funeral expenses, tells SELF. “She was honestly one of the best people I know.” Cobbley calls Scott’s death “devastating,” adding, “I just talked to her on Tuesday and it seemed like she was doing better.”

Cobbley is hoping to help Scott’s family raise enough money to help cover medical bills and funeral expenses. Any leftover funds will go toward creating a scholarship in Scott’s name.

Lemierre syndrome is a severe infection usually caused by a specific type of bacteria.

The bacteria Fusobacterium necrophorum is at the root of the majority of these cases, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), but the infection has been reported with other bacteria as well. The infection begins in the throat and spreads through the lymphatic vessels, thin tubes structured like blood vessels that carry white blood cells and lymphatic fluid throughout the body.

Symptoms usually include a sore throat and fever, followed by swelling of the internal jugular veins (which run along either side of the neck), according to GARD. From there, someone with this infection might develop a blood clot in their jugular vein. Then, if the condition is left untreated, pus-containing tissue moves from the throat to different organs, usually the lungs.

Experts don’t really know why some people develop Lemierre syndrome, especially because totally healthy people may also have Fusobacterium necrophorum without any issues. Some scientists think that Lemierre syndrome may develop when bacteria invades a person’s mucosa, which is the membrane that lines various parts of the body, GARD says. Having viral or bacterial pharyngitis or the Epstein-Barr virus may also increase a person’s risk.

The symptoms of Lemierre syndrome usually feel pretty different from a “regular” sore throat.

Although your sore throat may start out feeling relatively mild, it quickly progresses into something more severe. “You just start feeling poorly all over,” William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells SELF. “You just feel sick and all of a sudden realize that this is not just a simple sore throat.”

For instance, when your tonsils swell, you might find it difficult to swallow, infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF. It might also make it difficult to breathe, Dr. Schaffner adds, which is definitely worrying.

If the infection makes its way into your bloodstream, it’s possible to develop sepsis, a severe reaction to infection, Dr. Schaffner says. That comes with symptoms that include a fever, high heart rate, and difficulty breathing on top of the initial infection. From there, sepsis can progress to organ failure and septic shock. “It’s not something that happens immediately, but can get progressively worse over a few days,” he explains.

Given that Lemierre syndrome is so rare, a proper diagnosis requires doctors who know about the syndrome and have a healthy dose of suspicion, Dr. Schaffner says. Diagnosis usually involves blood tests and imaging of the neck (such as a CT scan or ultrasound) to look for the presence of swelling or a blood clot in the jugular vein, which often comes with Lemierre syndrome, GARD says.

Lemierre syndrome is often treatable if it’s caught in time.

Patients will usually be given IV antibiotics to try to clear up the infection, GARD says. “Most people don’t die from this, at least in the U.S., but they can get pretty sick,” Dr. Adalja says. However, he adds, the risk of serious complications increases the longer someone waits to seek medical care.

Again, this is rare, and it’s unlikely that your next sore throat will be due to Lemierre syndrome. “Even infectious disease doctors may only see one or two in our professional lifetimes,” Dr. Schaffner says. “Very few people who have sore throats develop complications like this.”

However, if you have a sore throat that seems to be getting worse, or if you’re having trouble swallowing or breathing, those are possible signs that you may be dealing with something more serious than a common cold or flu, so it’s crucial to get medical attention.


Women who give birth to boys much more likely to have postnatal depression

A University of Kent study into postnatal depression (PND) found the odds of developing this condition increased by 79% when mothers had baby boys compared to baby girls.

Overall the researchers identified that women who give birth to males are 71-79% more likely to develop PND. Furthermore, women whose births had complications were 174% more likely to experience PND compared to those women who had no complications.

As a result of their findings, Dr Sarah Johns and Dr Sarah Myers in the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC), conclude that recognising that both male infants and birth complications are PND risk factors should help health professionals in identifying and supporting women who may by more likely to develop this condition.

Their research also showed that while women with a tendency towards symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress were always at increased risk of PND, they had reduced odds of developing PND after experiencing birth complications. This is likely because these women may receive greater post-birth support because their mental health concerns were previously recognised. This finding suggests interventions to support women can be effective in preventing PND developing.

Dr Johns said: ‘PND is a condition that is avoidable, and it has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop. The finding that having a baby boy or a difficult birth increases a woman’s risk gives health practitioners two new and easy ways to identify women who would particularly benefit from additional support in the first few weeks and months’

Dr Johns and Dr Myers decided to assess whether there was a relationship between the sex of infants and PND because of the known link between inflammatory immune response and the development of depressive symptoms.

Both the gestation of male foetuses and the experience of birth complications have documented associations with increased inflammation, yet, until this study, their relationships with PND were unclear.

Many known risk factors for depressive symptoms are associated with activation of inflammatory pathways, opening up the potential for identifying new risk factors based on their inflammation causing effects — an idea supported by this study.

The study used complete reproductive histories of 296 women from contemporary, low fertility populations.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.