Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a roundup of news articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:


1. A writer traces illnesses back to the womb, Dec. 27, 2010,
Brief Intro:"The idea led to her acclaimed new book, “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives” (Free Press). Divided into nine chapters that mirror the nine months of Ms. Paul’s own pregnancies, it explores the notion that heart disease, diabetes and perhaps other illnesses may have their origins during pregnancy."

2. New drug strategy shows promise against HIV, Dec. 22, 2010, Health Day
Brief Intro:"Scientists are reporting early but promising results from a new drug that blocks HIV as it attempts to invade human cells."

3. Nutrition: At home, influence wanes on child diets, Dec. 27, 2010,
Brief Intro:"Researchers reviewed 24 studies on parent and child dietary habits, using statistical techniques to combine their results. Their analysis, being published in the February issue of The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found only a weak correlation between what parents and their children eat.

They also found that the association diminished over time — later studies generally showed a weaker connection than earlier ones between child-parent pairs. The authors acknowledge that their conclusions were based on limited data, that only three of the studies were conducted in developing countries, and that methodologies varied."

Vulnerable populations

1. Anti-bias agency cracks down on the use of credit and criminal checks in job screenings, Dec. 27, 2010, Chicago Tribune
Brief Intro:"The federal agency that enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws is warning employers they could be sued if they refuse to hire blacks or Latinos because of a bad credit history or a criminal record."

2. Hispanics leave Connecticut town as FBI probes complaints of police abuse, racial profiling, Dec. 26, 2010, Chicago Tribune
Brief Intro:"Racial profiling allegations began swirling about two years ago in East Haven, a predominantly Italian-American seaside suburb of about 28,000 people 70 miles northeast of New York City. Hispanics make up only about 7 percent of the population, but their numbers had been growing as the peaceful, small-town setting and thriving businesses attracted newcomers from Mexico and Ecuador."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Breadcrumb tutorial and training sessions

As I have blogged about a couple of Breadcrumb projects that I have worked on, I decided to create a tutorial to help others make use of the tool to make their own learning applications. You can view a tutorial presentation on my Slideshare account (or a WebEx recording I've posted onto YouTube). The tutorial will provide you with an introductory overview of Breadcrumb and tips for working on your first idea. You'll also learn about advanced coding techniques to add hosted images, videos and quizzes to your mobile learning app.

If you are a CFL member interested in additional Breadcrumb training, I have scheduled sessions for February 2011. Click on this link for more information. These classes are free but space is very limited.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest that have been published within the last 7-10 days:

Brief Intro: "The Obama administration and Walgreens on Friday announced a partnership to provide free flu shot vouchers to 350,000 uninsured Americans and others with inadequate health benefits."

2. Depression during pregnancy might affect baby, HealthDay, Dec. 14, 2010:
Brief Intro:"Babies born to mothers who are depressed during pregnancy have higher levels of stress hormones, decreased muscle tone and other neurological and behavioral differences, a new study finds."

3. Thousands on HIV drugs desperate amid budget woes, Associated Press, Dec. 16, 2010:
Brief Intro: Cash-strapped states are cutting back on a program that provides free medicine to people with HIV, leaving thousands of patients to wonder where their drugs will come from and stirring fears of a return to the days..."

Brief Intro:"With the lame-duck Congress winding down and a $5.7 billion gap in financing looming for next year’s Pell grants — and a further $8 billion gap for the following year — there is growing uncertainty about the future of the grants, the nation’s most significant financial-aid program for college students."

2. Los Angeles schools to seek sponsors,, Dec. 15, 2010:
Brief Intro:"Facing another potential round of huge budget cuts, the Los Angeles school board unanimously approved a plan on Tuesday night to allow the district to seek corporate sponsorships as a way to get money to the schools.

The district is not the first to look for private dollars as a way to close public budget gaps — districts in Sheboygan, Wis., and Midland, Tex., for example, have offered up naming rights for their stadiums for years. But the Los Angeles school district is by far the largest to do so, and officials say the plan could generate as much as $18 million for the schools."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Childhood: A Caffeine Buzz From Soft Drinks

An article in the New York Times discusses a small study completed by an urban pediatric clinic that suggests that children younger than 12 may be routinely drinking so much caffeine that it could interfere with their sleep. The source was almost exclusively caffeinated soft drinks. About 78% of the 228 children in the study consumed caffeine - with children 5-7 consuming about 52milligrams per day and children 8-12 consuming about 109 milligrams.

The study was published online in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Senate Blocks Bill for Young Illegal Immigrants

A recent article in the New York Times reported that the Dream Act was voted down in the Senate 55-41. The bill would have created a path for citizenship for children brought to the U.S. as illegal immigrants by requiring them to meet a set list of requirements that included completing two years of college or service in the military along with the passage of a criminal background check.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Children Are Caught in the Cycle of Poverty

An article in the New York Times cites figures produced by The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness that shows 1.35 million children are homeless nationwide. Children make up a quarter of the U.S. population but account for 36% of all people in poverty, according to a report from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

The effects of poverty on children can range from poor performance in school and poor mental health. Facing such disadvantages so early in life and with no intervention, these children will find it difficult to transcend these obstacles and as adults may perpetuate the cycle.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Creating a Black History Month Learning App with Breadcrumb

I have been doing some more experimenting with Google Labs Breadcrumb, the mobile learning design interface. Since developing my first mobile app using the tool, I've learned how to add images and pop-up windows that can launch videos and websites without having the user leave the learning application itself. Here is a Black history month learning application I created that makes use of short quizzes to test user learning, window launching to play a YouTube video of Dr. King's famous "I have a Dream" speech, and a final resource window that provides a listing of other sites that users may want to visit to learn more.

*If you have an Android phone, go ahead and scan the code to load it onto your phone or click on the highlighted link up above to view it in your browser.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of news articles of interest that have been published within the past 7-10 days:

1. Proximity to freeways increase autism risk, study finds, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 16, 2010
Brief Intro: "Children born to mothers who live close to freeways have twice the risk of autism, researchers reported Thursday. The study, its authors say, adds to evidence suggesting that certain environmental exposures could play a role in causing the disorder in some children."

2. A cure for HIV?, WebMD
Brief Intro:"The first and only person ever to be cured of HIV/AIDS is a leukemia patient treated in Berlin with HIV-resistant stem cells.

Although the Berlin patient was treated in 2007, researchers are only now officially using the word "cure." That's because extensive tests -- including analyses of tissues from his brain, gut, and other organs -- detect no sign of lingering HIV."

3. Call for fast-food moratorium unlikely to succeed in Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Dec. 15, 2010

Brief Intro:"Bing spokesman Dan Lijana said the mayor "supports initiatives to ensure Detroiters are living healthy lifestyles," but is reluctant to make policies that would hamper development in a city that needs the economic boost from new business.

The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is pushing the moratorium, acknowledges that its efforts elsewhere have been met with silence."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

6 health care systems team up on cost/care project

According to a recent article published in the Washington Post, six health care systems serving more than ten million patients around the country will begin to share data in hopes of helping other providers improve quality while reducing costs. The group plans to focus on conditions and treatments for which there are wide variations in quality and outcomes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Those with lower education/income have a larger risk for heart failure

According to a MSNBC article, those with less education have a greater risk for developing heart failure. The study followed more than 18,600 Danish participants for two decades and found that those with the most education were 39% less likely to be admitted to a hospital for chronic heart failure compared to those with the least education. The researchers believe that heart failure prevention for lower income people needs to begin earlier in life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The new hungry: College-educated, middle-class cope with food insecurity

An article on CNN discuses the new faces of food insecurity. The article covers how a growing group of middle and working-class individuals are now becoming food-insecure. The figures show that about 1 in 6 Americans are now having issues feeding one or more of their household within the last year due to money issues.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cells reprogrammed to treat diabetes

In a recent article published in USNWR, researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center described their findings of converting sperm-producing cells to insulin-producing cells to replace diseased ones in the pancreas. The new technique is edging closer to provide the amount of insulin needed to cure diabetes in humans.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. U.S. gets 'unsatisfactory' grade on women's health, WebMD, December 9, 2010
Brief Intro: "The nation and most states continued to receive a grade of “unsatisfactory” on key issues affecting women’s health in an updated report released today by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)."

2. 1.5 million to be notified that their insurance is below standard,, December 9, 2010
Brief Intro: " The Obama administration on Thursday outlined what must be in the notices sent to people with limited-benefit plans, which cap coverage for medical care, sometimes to as little as $2,000 a year. The law bans annual limits entirely in 2014, but restricts them in the meantime: the current limit is $750,000 annually."

3. US life expectancy dips, Chicago Sun-Times, December 9, 2010
Brief Intro:"

Life expectancy in the United States fell slightly in 2008, even though deaths from heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases continue to drop, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

Americans born in 2008 can expect to live 77.8 years on average, about a month less than the all-time high of 77.9 years reached in 2007, the CDC reported."

1. House backs legal status for many young immigrants,, December 8,2010
Brief Intro:"The bill, known as the Dream Act, passed the House by a vote of 216 to 198. But a vote in the Senate on opening debate on the bill was scheduled for Thursday, and the measure seemed likely to fail there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Doctors slash patients' lab-test costs

An interesting article on the CNN website details how a doctor decided to push forward to find an innovative way to help his clients who had trouble paying for expensive laboratory tests. Dr. Doug Lefton connected with LabCorp and PrePaidLab LLC and was able to develop a relationship that helped cut the costs for lab tests dramatically. For example, a lipid panel in Lefton's area can cost close to $150 for someone who is uninsured. Patients can now get the same test for $18. The test results are sent securely to both the patient and the doctor so that both can review the results before the patient's next visit.

Except in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, anyone in the U.S. can use this service. There are no income guidelines. In my opinion, this sounds like a win-win for helping the underserved gain access to the tests they need to properly manage their health.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google Breadcrumb

I had the opportunity to check out Google's Breadcrumb development interface. The tool allows users to create simple text mobile learning applications without any programming experience. Here is a sample learning story that I created using the tool. You can also use the QR code available on the right to add this story to your Android phone.
I think that this is an excellent way for those interested in getting their feet wet in creating a mobile/web learning application, but may not have the programming experience or funds to hire a professional developer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Mission to Transform Baltimore’s Beaten Schools

A recent article in the New York Times discusses a mission to transform Baltimore's under performing schools. In 2007, the school board hired Dr. Alonso to head up the reorganization of the school system, which required the closing of some schools and the laying off of staff. While some disagree with Dr. Alonso's methods, since he was hired the school dropout rate has fallen by half.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Senate Passes Sweeping Law on Food Safety

According to a recent article published in the New York Times, the Senate passed an overhaul of the nation's food safety system that would strengthen the FDA and is meant to keep unsafe foods from reaching markets and restaurants.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Embracing incentives for efficient health care,, 11/28/2010
Brief Intro: "Spurred by incentives in the federal health-overhaul law, hospitals and doctors around the country are beginning to create new entities that aim to provide more efficient health care. But these efforts are already raising questions about whether they can truly save money, or if they might actually drive costs higher."

2. Hospital train heals Argentina's poor, Yahoo News, 11/28/2010
Brief Intro: "Children from this desperately poor village in northern Argentina rushed to welcome a special hospital train rolling into town, their only chance to receive specialized care for a year."

Vulnerable Populations
1. Putting down textbooks to provide for triplets,, 11/27/2010
Brief Intro: A young teenage mother becomes pregnant with triplets and has to forgo finishing her Associate's degree to care for her children.

1. NAACP educational summit to look at return of segregation,, 11/29/2010
Brief Intro: "The nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization wants to sound the alarm on school resegregation, and is hoping a national educational summit will bring attention to what its members consider a huge problem, according to a news release from the NAACP."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Treating childhood epilepsy with a fat-focused diet

An interesting article in the New York Times discusses how a husband and wife have decided to treat their son's epilepsy using a special fat-focused diet. Their son, Sam, suffered up to 130 seizures a day before being put on a diet that has drastically reduced the level of carbs he took in daily. The diet tricks the boy's body into starvation and uses his body's fat stores for fuel - a process called ketosis - which has an antiepileptic effect.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Podcast: Interview with Juliane Schneider (Metadata)

This month's podcast is with Juliane Schneider, Metadata Librarian at the Countway Library of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. This interview will help listeners learn about metadata and how it can be effectively utilized to help clients find what they need.

*Link to article referenced in podcast:

*The above podcast link is a WAV file. If you need MP3, click here.