Twins Get Married, Not Realizing They’re Related

Twins separated at birth and adopted by separate parents later married each other without realising they were brother and sister.

The siblings were recently granted an annulment in the high court’s family division.

The judge ruled that the marriage had never validly existed. Marriages can be annulled if one of the parties was under 16 at the time, if it is a bigamous union, or if the couple are closely related.

The identities of the British pair and the details of the relationship have been kept secret, but it is known that they were separated soon after birth and were never told they were twins. They did not discover they were blood relatives until after the wedding.

The case was uncovered by Lord Alton in a conversation with a high court judge.

He used it to highlight perceived deficiencies in the human embryology and tissues bill going through parliament.

Lord Alton argues the twins’ marriage supports the need for children to know the identity of parents.

Legislation in the human embryology and tissues bill, he said, threatened to undermine children’s rights to know these details.

“The right of children to know the identity of their biological parents is a human right. There will be more cases like this if children are not given access to the truth. The needs of the child must always be paramount.”

However, the legislation to include on an individual’s birth certificate whether they were donor-conceived was branded “a step too far” by Dr Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society and senior lecturer in andrology, the study of diseases particular to males, at the University of Sheffield.

His main concern was that legislation would stigmatise individuals. “It’s your business, not anybody else’s, whether or not you are donor conceived,” he said. “What we need to do is encourage parents to talk and just be honest.”

Pacey was also worried that would-be parents would “take matters into their own hands” to try to avoid recording that a child was donor-conceived, such as using a friend to donate sperm or going abroad.

He said it was essential to see the case in context. He said about 3.5% of children are not their father’s children, with the number rising to as much as 20% in socio-economically deprived areas.

The risk of donor conceived children unknowingly having children together was very small, Pacey said. “It is much smaller than it would be of marrying your half brother or sister in an inner-city housing estate,” he explained.

Olivia Montuschi, founding member of the Donor Conception Network, said many people would try to avoid the legislation by not reporting births of donor-conceived children to their clinics.

Quoting a survey conducted by her organisation, she said many parents viewed the new legislation as an invasion of the privacy of donor-conceived children. Almost 95% of respondents to a survey conducted among the organisation’s 1,100 members said new legislation would be an invasion of privacy for their children. “Donor conception has really only come out of the closet in very recent years,” said Montuschi. “But, in the future, we see everything being very much more open, potentially with donors and recipients meeting and being in an ongoing relationship.” Keith Reed, the chief executive of the Twins and Multiple Births Association, said the case reinforced the need to raise multiple birth siblings together. “In the case of adoption, we recommend multiple birth siblings are placed with the same family,” he said.

The Lords will vote on the revised bill on Tuesday.


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Girl Cured of HIV By Early Drug Treatment

A baby in the US born with HIV appears to have been cured after very early treatment with standard drug therapy, researchers say.

The Mississippi child is now two-and-a-half years old and has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection.

More testing needs to be done to see if the treatment would have the same effect on other children.

But the results could possibly lead to a cure for children with HIV.

If the child stays healthy it would be only the world’s second reported cure.

Dr Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, presented the findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

“This is a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants,” she said.

I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk and deserved our best shot”

In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown became the first person in the world believed to have recovered from HIV.

His infection was eradicated through an elaborate treatment for leukaemia that involved the destruction of his immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.

In contrast, the case of the Mississippi baby involved a cocktail of widely available drugs already used to treat HIV infection in infants.

It suggests the treatment wiped out HIV before it could form hideouts in the body.

These so-called reservoirs of dormant cells usually rapidly re-infect anyone who stops medication, said Dr Persaud.

The baby was born in a rural hospital where the mother had only just tested positive for HIV infection.

Because the mother had not been given any prenatal HIV treatment, doctors knew the baby was at high risk of being infected.

Researchers said the baby was then transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Once there, paediatric HIV specialist Dr Hannah Gay put the infant on a cocktail of three standard HIV-fighting drugs at just 30 hours old, even before laboratory tests came back confirming the infection.

“I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk and deserved our best shot,” Dr Gay said.

(From BBC)

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When Sandy’s Rockin’, The Babies Come Knockin’

Jennifer Adamo and her boyfriend decided to ride out Superstorm Sandy together in her Staten Island apartment. For two scary days, they remained inside, only leaving once to see how bad things were getting outside. When they saw all of the downed trees and power lines, they quickly retreated back into the cold, dark apartment.

Without power, there was no TV or Internet to keep them entertained. So while they waited out the storm, they cuddled up and entertained themselves.

Six weeks later, as Staten Island was still reeling from the storm’s destruction, she discovered she was pregnant. At her annual gynecological visit, her doctor broke the shocking news, and Adamo began counting backward and quickly realized she had become pregnant during Sandy.

“Even though this baby is a surprise, it was such a great thing for our families after the devastation of the storm,” says Adamo, a 28-year-old account executive at a nonprofit.

She’s not the only one who discovered a silver lining. Adamo’s firstborn, a baby girl, will be part of what doctors in the area are predicting will be a Superstorm Sandy baby boom this summer.

In the past couple of weeks, one practice has seen more than a 30 percent increase in women coming in to schedule births for late July and early August.

“We started noticing a couple of weeks ago that we were getting really busy with phone calls and lab results and charts. We were like, what is going on here?” says Linda Roberts, a nurse manager at an OB/GYN office in Westchester.

“And then all of a sudden, it dawned on me! This is right about the time when people would be coming in because they got pregnant during Hurricane Sandy.

“I looked at between July 15 and Aug. 15, which is when those people would be due, and sure enough, we have about a third more people delivering during that period than we usually have.”

The storm ripped through New York and New Jersey in late October, leaving many without power for weeks. Offices closed, trains and subways were shut down and gas supplies were limited.

“I got lucky. I only lost power, but some parts of Staten Island were destroyed,” says Adamo. “My boyfriend’s parents’ house on Staten Island had really significant damage.

“ has put a smile back on his parents’ faces for the first time in a long time. We’re all really happy.”

Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of the division of gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, says that New York sees bumps in births after blizzards, storms and blackouts, and that the length of Sandy’s aftermath is significant.

(Read More)

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Man Shot By His Dog

A Florida man was shot and wounded over the weekend by his dog, who walked away without charges, police said.

Gregory Dale Lanier, 35, of Frostproof, Fla., told police Saturday that he and his dog were in their truck in nearby Sebring when the dog kicked a gun that was on the truck’s floor, the Highlands Tribune newspaper reported.

The gun went off, shooting Lanier in the leg, Sebring police said.

Lanier wasn’t seriously injured, said Sebring Police Cmdr. Steve Carr, who actually said police didn’t arrest the dog because the investigation was pending, the Tribune reported.

He also said he had never heard of a similar case.

According to the police report, Lanier said he was driving along State Road 17 North when the dog kicked “the unloaded .380 pistol.” It went on to say that Lanier was “surprised” to learn not only that the gun was loaded, but also that it was actually a 9mm weapon, not a .380.

The incident is only the latest in a string of bizarre shootings in Florida. Just last week, a woman in St. Petersburg was wounded when she was shot by a friend’s oven.


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Students Under Investigation For Doing The “Harlem Shake”

A new viral video, which features costumed members of the Colorado College Ultimate Frisbee Team doing the frenzied dance in the aisle of a Frontier Airlines flight, has caught the attention of federal investigators.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed toABC News that the agency has opened an investigation into the video. An unnamed federal official said that while the video “looks bad,” as long as it was not recorded during takeoff or landing, the incident is probably not a crime. However, if the video was recorded against the wishes of the flight attendants, the participants could be charged with interfering with a flight crew.

“Obviously I hope that this whole situation is solved with the FAA,” said student Matt Zelin, a member of the team, told the Colorado College newspaper. “I don’t see there being any reason why this should cause any trouble. We asked the staff and they said it was safe.”

Adds Colorado College spokeswoman Leslie Weddell, speaking with ABC News: “ definitely had permission from the flight crew.”

While the video appears shaky (watch below), aviation experts say that the dance likely had no impact on the plane itself – unless all dancers had moved to the front or the rear of the plane simultaneously.

“I don’t think there’s any concern structurally when it comes to safety of flight,” said ABC News aviation consultant John Nance. “It’s nothing the flight crew or the aircraft can’t handle… This gyrating around is of no consequence.”

The “Harlem Shake” craze has garnered increased attention as of late, with countless videos surfacing online of groups of people dancing wildly to a track from producer Baauer, which is currently in its second week atop the Billboard Hot 100. The videos have drawn some criticism, however, due to its contrast from the “real Harlem Shake” which, according to The New York Times, is a raw, technical and fluid dance born in New York City more than three decades ago by Rucker Park native Al. B.


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Social Media Doing A Better Job Than Your Parents?

A new World Vision study has revealed that social media is doing a better job at making teens aware of global issues than their parents.

According to a new World Vision study, more than half of teens (56%) claim social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter) have made them more aware of the needs of others. This is a huge increase from 2011, when just about 44% said their use of social media made them more aware.

According to the online study, more than 2 in 3 teens (68%) say that adults don’t do enough to set a positive example for teens, when it comes to helping those who need it.

What do you have to say about that? Tweet me @KrisSanchez and share your thoughts!


Tweets by @KrisSanchez

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Childhood Bullying Can Affect Adult Life

There are very real effects of bullying that can last well past the days of recess and gym class, according to a new report published Feb. 20 in the Journal of American Medical Association, Psychiatry.

As part of a study, more than 1,400 Western North Carolina children between the ages of 9 and 16 in 11 different counties were asked on average four to six times about their experiences with bulling. From the data, researches created categories based on whether the participants were solely bullies, solely victims, neither, or a combination of both, identified as “bullies/victims.”

The report showed that children who were both bullies and victims had a higher chance of developing depression and panic disorders, and were at an increased risk when it came to suicide later in young adulthood. Children who only acted as bullies—not victims, had an increased risk of antisocial personality disorder.

“Victims and bullies/victims had elevated rates of young adult psychiatric disorders, but also elevated rates of childhood psychiatric disorders and family hardships,” the study stated. “After controlling for childhood psychiatric problems or family hardships, we found that victims continued to have a higher prevalence of agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder.”

Bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance,” according to information released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The behavior is considered to be repeated actions that carry “the potential to be repeated, over time.”

“The effects of being bullied are direct, pleiotropic, and long-lasting, with the worst effects for those who are both victims and bullies,” the report stated.

Bullying can take three different forms, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which include verbal, social, and physical torment, which includes everything from hitting and punching to breaking another person’s personal belongings and making “mean or rude hand gestures.”

Verbal bullying consists of “teasing,” “inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, threatening to cause harm,” while social bullying can include “leaving someone out on purpose” or actively spreading rumors.

The CDC estimates that 20 percent of high school students deal with some type of bullying that can have far reaching effects with the help of social media.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all bullying be addressed immediately when noticed with a calm and collected attitude.

Adults are also encouraged to not try to make bullies or victims explain their actions in a public forum, and time should be taken with each child individually before making all parties involved apologize or come to an agreement after an altercation.


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America Doesn’t Get Enough Sleep

Sleepless in America. How many of you would say that you get enough sleep? A solid eight hours, or enough to make that 7 am alarm clock feel manageable? I will go out on a limb and say that I do not get enough sleep. Even on the unusual night where I clock in a solid eight hours, my morning alarm still pains me every time. I suspect it is because the rest of my nights average closer to four or five hours and my body just can’t catch up.

According to today’s infographic, inadequate sleep can result in higher risk of stroke, a large decrease in testosterone and the destruction of your diet. Getting a solid eight hours of sleep will save you money, keep you alive and help your productivity at work. Driving while drowsy is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .05. The danger in that statement alone should have you dying for some shut-eye! Taking care of your body is important and getting an adequate amount of sleep is an integral part of the equation. Eat well, drink well and sleep well.

As I always say, sleep or be sleepy. Let’s all get some sleep! [Via]


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Horsemeat Found in Ikea’s Meatballs!

Ikea has withdrawn meatballs from sale in 14 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in a batch made in Sweden. Meatballs from the same batch had been sold in many states, including the UK, France and Portugal, the retailer said. Swiss food giant Nestle meanwhile said it had found horse DNA in meat from the Spanish supplier, Servocar. The discoveries come as EU agriculture ministers meet for talks expected to focus on the growing horsemeat scandal.

Since the first horsemeat was discovered in frozen meals and burgers in the UK and Ireland last month, traces have been found in meat products across Europe. ‘Testing like mad’

Ikea’s announcement on Monday came after the Czech State Veterinary Administration said horsemeat had been found in 1kg (2.2lb) packs of meatballs manufactured in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there. A total of 760kg (1,675lb) of the meatballs have been intercepted and stopped from reaching Czech shelves, according to the Associated Press. Horsemeat had also been found in beef burgers imported from Poland, the Czech State Veterinary Administration said. In a posting on its Swedish Facebook page, Ikea first confirmed it was halting all sales of meatballs at its stores in the country. Later, the company announced that meatballs from the affected batch of meatballs had also been sent to Ikea stores in Slovakia, Hungary, France, the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland.

Ikea insisted that it had not found any horsemeat during in-house tests on its own range of food products, carried out two weeks ago, but said new tests would now be carried out.

“We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications, secured through set standards, certifications and product analysis by accredited laboratories,” a statement said.

Also on Monday, the Spanish agriculture ministry announced that traces of horsemeat had been found in beef pasta meals produced by brands owned by Nestle. A statement on the Swiss company’s website said it was withdrawing six “La Cocinera” products and one “Buitoni” product from shops in Spain, and that it had halted all deliveries from the meat supplier, Servocar. Nestle said testing continued across its products, a week after it announced that it was withdrawing two types of beef pasta meals from supermarkets in Italy and Spain which had been supplied by a company in Germany, H J Schypke.

A Nestle spokesman told the BBC the discovery of horsemeat in the products of a second supplier was not an indication that the problem was widespread across the company, but because “we are testing like mad”.

(Read More)

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Human Beings Are Getting Dumber

Just look at all the amazing innovations modern technology has given us: at-home HIV testsmotion-activated screwdrivers and self-inflating tires. It’s easy to look down on our prehistoric ancestors for their primitive, electric screwdriver-less way of life. But one scientist says we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

In a two-part paper published in the journal Trends in Genetics, Stanford University researcher Gerald Crabtree suggests that evolution is, in fact, making us dumber — and that human intelligence may have actually peaked before our hunter-gatherer predecessors left Africa.

The reason? Life on the veldt was tough, and prehistoric humans’ genes were constantly subjected to selective pressure in an environment where the species’ survival depended on it. For humans, that meant getting smarter. ”The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples before our ancestors emerged from Africa,” Crabtree said in a news release.

The urbanization that followed the development of agriculture simplified survival by removing some of its challenges, which likely weakened natural selection’s ability to eliminate mutations associated with deficiencies in intelligence. Crabtree estimates that over the last 3,000 years (about 120 generations), humans have sustained at least two mutations that have eroded our intellectual and emotional intelligence.

“A hunter-gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his or her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate,” Crabtree wrote in the paper. He also noted that the average Athenian from 1000 B.C. would rank among the smartest and most emotionally stable in today’s society.

Not everybody agrees with Crabtree’s reasoning, however. Steve Jones, a geneticist at University College London, believes there is insufficient data to support his theory. ”Never mind the hypothesis, give me the data, and there aren’t any,” Jones told The Independent. “I could just as well argue that mutations have reduced our aggression, our depression and our penis length, but no journal would publish that. Why do they publish this?”

Crabtree does argue that no matter how deteriorated our intellectual abilities may have become over the millennia, advancements in technology will someday render these changes insignificant.

“I think we will know each of the millions of human mutations that can compromise our intellectual function and how each of these mutations interact with each other and other processes as well as environmental influences,” Crabtree said in the release. “At that time, we may be able to magically correct any mutation that has occurred in all cells of any organism at any developmental stage. Thus, the brutish process of natural selection will be unnecessary.”


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