First U.S. incubator baby: Sept. 7, 1888
For the first time, a premature baby is treated in an incubator in America. Her name is Edith Eleanor McLean and, though she weighs only two and a half pounds, she’s nursed to health at State Emigrant Hospital in New York in a 3-ft. square, 4-ft. high box called a “hatching cradle.” That makes sense because the device, first used in France a few years earlier, is modeled after a chicken incubator being used at the Paris zoo.
But incubators were not inexpensive and hospitals were reluctant to invest in them—in part because it was not the practice among doctors at the time to spend a lot of time trying to help what were known as “weak infants.” But a few French doctors came up with the idea of charging the public to look at the babies inside what was promoted as the “Amazing Mechanical Mom.” Then, a German physician named Martin Couney went a step further–he created a preemie baby exhibit at the Berlin Exposition in 1896.
Some people attacked Couney, charging that he was exploiting children by displaying tiny babies in what critics saw as a sideshow of sorts. But Couney felt that not only did it provide an opportunity to show how technology could help premature babies, but it also was the only way to ensure that they were given a chance to live. And the public lined up day after day to see them.
Inspired by Couney’s idea, organizers of the 1904 World’s Fair set up their own premature baby exhibit. But unlike the display in Berlin, no glass separated the infants and the people watching them. Half of the babies died.
By then, however, Couney, who had moved to America, had arranged to create a preemie display at Coney Island. The attraction resembled a normal hospital ward, with babies, nurses providing specialized care, and the doctor looking over everything. People paid a dime to look through the glass at the preemies. The healthier and older babies were put in incubators along an open hallway, with a railing keeping the public back.
Over the next 40 years, many of the premature babies born in New York were sent to Coney Island, where they were treated, without any charge to their parents—the admission fee covered the cost. More than 8,000 premature babies, including Couney’s own daughter, were cared for there, and 6,700 survived.
By the 1940s, most hospitals had come around to using their own incubators and the Coney Island exhibit finally closed. But it, perhaps more than anything else, advanced care for premature babies. At the turn of the 20th century, only 15 percent of premature babies survived. Now, more than 85 percent do.
More Slices of History
Theory of evolution published: Aug. 20, 1858
Siamese twins come to America: Aug. 16, 1829
Aspirin created: Aug. 10, 1897
Medicare is born: July 30, 1965
First “test-tube” baby: July 25, 1978
Kissing banned: July 16, 1439
Seat belt patented: July 10, 1962Birth of SPAM: July 5, 1937
Dancing hysteria: June 24, 1374
First kidney transplant: June 17, 1950
Alcoholics Anonymous born: June 10, 1935
Bizarre stomach experiment: June 6, 1822
Heimlich maneuver born: June 1, 1974
Toothpaste in tubes: May 22, 1892
The First Vaccination: May 14, 1786
The Pill Arrives: May 9, 1960
Hello, Cheerios: May 1, 1941
Facebook, Myspace photos influence smoking, alcohol use
Social media networks, such as Facebook and Myspace, can be a source of peer pressure to engage in risky behavior, according to a new study from the University of Southern California (USC).
The new study, published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to examine the effects of social media on certain teenagers’ activities. Findings showed that seeing online pictures of friends smoking or drinking alcohol can cause teenagers to feel influenced to partake in the same activities.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,500 10-th grade students from Los Angeles County about their online and offline friendships, frequency of social media use and smoking and alcohol consumption. They found that exposure to friends’ online pictures of partying or drinking was significantly associated with both smoking and alcohol use. They also found that teenagers whose close friends did not smoke or drink alcohol were more likely to be affected by exposure to online pictures of teenagers engaging in risky behavior.
Evidence suggests that posting pictures of risky behavior is a significant source of peer pressure, researchers said. Since there is still relatively little known about how social media use affects adolescent health behaviors, researchers said that more studies might examine how online and offline friendships differ in terms of activities and interactions they have with each other.
Light drinking linked to lower risk of depression
Drinking wine in moderation may actually ward off depression, according to research published in the journal BMC Medicine. Scientists at the University of Navarra in Spain say moderate drinking of wine could have similar protective effects against depression as has been found with coronary heart disease.
The study followed more than 5,500 light-to-moderate drinkers for up to seven years. The participants were between 55-80 years old, had never suffered from depression or had alcohol-related problems when the study started. Their alcohol consumption, mental health and lifestyles were followed through yearly visits, medical exams, interviews and questionnaires. Wine was the main alcoholic beverage drunk by participants. Ultimately, researchers found that those who drank two to seven small glasses of wine per week had the lowest rates of depression.
Researchers say that the non-alcoholic compounds in the wine, such as resveratrol and other phenolic compounds, may have a protective effect on certain parts of the brain.
Fruits, but not juices, cut diabetes risk
New research suggests that eating certain fruits, such as blueberries and grapes, may reduce risk for type-2 diabetes, but it also found that the more fruit juice a person drinks, the greater their risk of developing the condition.
For the study, published in BMJ, researchers pulled data from three studies, which involved 187,382 participants, and included food frequency questionnaires that were sent out and answered every four years. Researchers analyzed the participants’ diet using 10 different fruits and certain fruit juices, such as apple, orange and grapefruit juice.
They found that over the course of the study, 6.5 percent of the people developed diabetes, but that consuming three servings per week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples or pears reduced the risk of type-2 diabetes by 7 percent. However, the more fruit juice a person drank, the greater that risk grew.
Researchers say replacing fruit juice with whole fruit is a good rule of thumb, but the fruits you choose is important. Strawberries and cantaloupe, for instance, did not appear to have the same benefit as other fruits.
Every minute of exercise counts
Briefly engaging in exercise can still have significant health benefits, even if it’s only for less than ten minutes, according to a new study published this week.
Researchers from the University of Utah found that when it comes to preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than the duration.
The new study involved more than 4,500 male and female participants between ages 18 and 64. Participants wore accelerometers for a week, after which researchers reviewed the physical activity results and ranked them into categories based on duration and intensity.
Findings showed that for every extra minute of higher-intensity exercise, chances of being obese decreased by 5% for women and 2% for men.
Adding just one minute of intense exercise a day can help people with an average body mass index (BMI) lose up to half a pound, researchers said.
Vigorous intensity exercise includes activities during which your heart rate increases to a point where you are not able to talk much without pausing for breath.
Similar health risk levels among past smokers and never-smokers
Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of heart attack and death to levels of people who have never smoked, according to a new study.
This study is the first to examine the effect of quitting smoking on the presence and severity of coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Researchers, who presented new findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2013 in Amsterdam, studied heart disease and associated risk data from more than 13,300 patients—current smokers, past smokers and never-smokers—in nine countries in Europe, North America and East Asia. Heart disease data was collected using a non-invasive scanning method that enables direct visualization of the coronary arteries.
Findings showed that while the amount of disease that smoking has already caused in the coronary arteries remains, the risk for heart attacks and death falls to that of non-smokers when smokers quit.
Researchers said that they have planned more studies to find out exactly why this is the case.