FDA Weighs Safety of Genetically Engineered Salmon
Genetically engineered salmon could be coming soon to a supermarket near you. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will decide Monday whether salmon that's been modified to grow two times faster than usual is safe for consumers to eat. It would be the first genetically modified animal to be approved for sale. The salmon, developed by biotechnology company AquaBounty, has been injected with growth hormones that allow it to reach maturity in 16 to 18 months, rather than the standard 30 months. The FDA has already said genetically engineered salmon is "safe" and that there is "reasonable certainty of no harm" from eating it, Reuters reports. But critics say the health effects haven't been properly assessed, and that it may not be safe to eat fish containing growth hormones. Last week, protesters stationed outside the White House urged the administration to block approval of genetically altered animals.
Online Personal Training: 6 Fitness and Nutrition Sites That Rock
Ever consider using technology to enhance your workouts or weight loss endeavors? There are hundreds of websites and phone applications designed to help you track your eating habits, increase the effectiveness of your workout routines, and find healthy food choices on the go. Here's a look at some of the best, according to U.S. News fitness blogger Ryan Sullivan:
DailyBurn. This free app, designed specifically for the iPhone, will help you track your eating habits, workouts, and body measurements on a daily basis. It has an extensive database with thousands of foods including nutritional data from many restaurants. It also includes a FoodScanner app that uses your phone's camera to read barcodes from different products. Simply scan the barcode and input the number of servings you consume to have the nutritional data immediately logged into the application.
LoloBurn. This can act like your virtual personal trainer. For its $5 purchase price, the app download comes equipped with 36 workout routines for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users. A trainer's voice guides you through the workout and encourages you along the way. Another great feature of LoloBurn is that the music playing in the background is automatically sped up or slowed down to match the pace of your walk, run, or jog. That means you won't have to worry about trying to sprint while a slow love song plays on the radio. [Read more: Online Personal Training: 6 Fitness and Nutrition Sites That Rock.]
Children With Autism Improve Key Thinking Skills Over Time
Children with autism think differently, and that thinking changes over time—for the better. That first statement might not seem like news: Of course their brains are different, they have autism! But children with autism do improve their thinking skills over time, according to new research. That's encouraging, particularly because most research has focused on whether communication skills and behavior can change, rather than on cognitive skills, writes U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute.
Thinking problems typical of autism include difficulties predicting other people's behavior based on their thoughts and feelings (known as theory of mind), and in problem-solving and planning (executive function). Children with autism also are often better than children without autism at focusing on tiny details, like a pattern in a carpet, or small parts of Legos. Previous research hasn't found much change in these cognitive skills, even though children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can show big improvements in behavior, especially with intensive behavioral therapies. But according to Elizabeth Pellicano, senior lecturer in autism education at the Institute of Education in London, the cognitive deficits in children with autism aren't set in stone.
She tested 37 children with ASDs and 31 non-autistic children when they were 5 or 6 years old, and tested them again three years later. While cognitive skills varied from child to child, most of the children with autism improved their abilities in theory of mind and executive function; when older, the children could better appreciate the thoughts and feelings of others and they were better able to plan and regulate their feelings than they were three years earlier, Pellicano reported in the October issue of Child Development. However, the children with autism didn't improve their detail-spotting over time, which was tested by asking them to search for shapes hidden in pictures, and to make patterns with wooden blocks. The non-autistic kids improved in those tasks over time. [Read more: Children With Autism Improve Key Thinking Skills Over Time.]
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