Study: Talking To Teens About Sex Works, Especially When Mom Does The Talking


, ,

Mother and daughter on sofa talking

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – As uncomfortable as it may be, having “the talk” with your teen can lead to safer sexual behavior, according to a new study.

“Communicating about sex can be uncomfortable for both parents and teens, but these conversations are a critical component of helping teens make safe and healthy decisions,” lead author Laura Widman, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, told HealthDay. “What parents say to their kids about sex matters.”

The researchers found that open communication about sex helped young people make more informed choices about when to have sex, whether to use contraception, and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.

Widman and her colleagues collected data from 30 years of research, including 52 studies involving more than 25,000 teens.

They found teens who had conversations about sex with their parents were more likely to use condoms or other forms of contraception.

The association between parent communication and teen contraceptive use was much greater for girls, especially if they had the talk with their mothers.

“We know that parents tend to communicate more frequently with girls than with boys,” Widman explained. “We also know that the messages parents share are more likely to stress the negative consequences of sexual activity, like pregnancy, when they talk with their daughters.”

“When parents model how to have open and honest conversations about sex with their teens,” she added, “they can help teens learn how to have similar conversations with their dating partners.”

The CDC says nearly half of the 20 million new STDs each year were among young people between the ages of 15 to 24.

The study is published in JAMA Pediatrics.



, , ,

Children Enjoy Traditional Halloween Pumpkins

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A Georgia State Trooper is being heralded after helping a Morgan County family deal with a Halloween tragedy, reports KHTV-TV.

Donald and Crystal Howard had gone to buy candy and Halloween supplies when their SUV careened off the road and hit a tree, both were killed instantly.

Trooper Nathan Bradley was assigned the heartbreaking task of notifying four children that their parents had died in a car accident.

“Unfortunately, I was greeted by four children in full costumes,” Bradley recalled. They ranged in age from 6 through 13.

He spoke to their grandmother, who agreed to let him delay informing the kids.

“The first thing I said was, ‘Hey lets go get something to eat,'” Bradley said. “They said, ‘My parents will be here soon.’ I said, ‘Your Grandma wants you to hang out with me till she gets here.'”

Bradley treated Justin, Amaya, Damien, and Travion to dinner, movies, and Halloween candy at the Monroe State Patrol post followed by a sleepover.

“The whole purpose was to preserve their Halloween,” he explained.

The children weren’t told about their parents’ accident until the next morning when their grandmother arrived.

Bradley started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses so that Crystal and Donald can be buried in Florida. The children will be moving to the state to live with grandparents.

Bradley explained he feels a special bond with the kids.

“It’s the first time in the line of duty I told someone I loved them and I do love them,” Bradley said. “I care about them a lot.”

Study: One In Five Pediatricians Turn Away Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Children


, ,

A girl has her H1N1 vaccination injected

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – One out of five pediatricians regularly turn away families who refuse to get their children vaccinated.

“The families essentially are saying I don’t want to bring my child to a practice that accepts non-vaccinaters because I don’t want my kid getting sick in the waiting room,” lead author Dr. Sean O’Leary told CBS News.

The researchers surveyed 815 pediatricians and family physicians in 2012. 66 percent of the doctors responded; most said it was rare for a parent to refuse to vaccinate their child.

But when a parent makes that choice, 21 percent of pediatricians and 4 percent of family physicians in the survey reported that they “always” or “often” dismiss these families.

“For some pediatricians, they really feel like it actually compels some parents to get their child vaccinated,” explained O’Leary. “Imagine that you’re a parent and it’s your infant’s two-month-old visit and you’re on the fence about getting your child vaccinated. Your pediatrician tells you they feel so strongly about it that they don’t take care of people who don’t get vaccinated in their practice. That may convince you that it’s a good idea to get it done.”

The strategy is most common among doctors in private practice, those located in the South, and those in states with vaccination laws that don’t allow philosophical exemptions, the study found.

O’Leary pointed out that family physicians may be less likely than pediatricians to dismiss patients because they care for the whole family and they do not encounter as many infants, and therefor not as many many vaccine-hesitant parents, as pediatricians.

A big unknown is what happens to families who are dismissed. “We just don’t know what happens to those families,” O’Leary said. “Do they then go to an alternative provider who doesn’t provide vaccines, in which case there’s never the opportunity to vaccinate those children, or do they go ahead and get their child vaccinated? We don’t know.”

Not all doctors are taking such a hardline stand.

“For these physicians, what I’m hearing them say is they strongly feel not immunizing their children is such a great risk that they’re taking a stand,” Dr. H. Dele Davies, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases, told HealthDay.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourage the practice of refusing unvaccinated patients, instead urging doctors to build a relationship with skeptical parents that could convince them of the need to vaccinate their kids.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Study: Infants Exposed To Dogs And Farm Animals Less Likely To Develop Asthma


, ,

Two-week-old puppies play on June 4, 200

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (CBS Atlanta) – Children who grow up with dogs and farm animals may be less likely to develop asthma, suggests a new study, as reported by Newsweek.

Swedish researchers found that exposure to dogs during infancy was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of asthma in school-age children, while farm animal exposure was linked to a 52 percent risk reduction.

“To let children have a pet in their home is likely to enrich the family life in many ways, and perhaps also enriches the child’s microbiome and immune system,” said lead study author Tove Fall of Uppsala University in Sweden.

The findings don’t prove that puppies prevent asthma, but they do suggest that parents have nothing to fear from the family dog, at least as far as breathing is concerned.

The researchers studied data on over one million children born in Sweden from 2001 through 2010.

“It might be due to a single factor or more likely, a combination of several factors related to dog ownership lifestyle or dog owner’s attitudes, such as kids’ exposure to household dirt and pet dust, time spent outdoors or being physically active,” Fall explained.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Where’s Luke? ‘Star Wars’ Fans Create Outlandish Theory


, ,

A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY (CBS Las Vegas) – The new “Star Wars” trailer seems to have everything — Tie Fighters, X-Wings, Han Solo, a desert planet that may be Tattooine, and even a glimpse of Darth Vader’s burnt helmet.

But keen-eyed “Star Wars” fans have noticed something missing: Luke Skywalker.

The absence is notable because, of course, Luke’s journey was the focal point of the Original Trilogy. And while Harrison Ford’s Han Solo features prominently in the trailer, nowhere is Mark Hamill seen.

Based on the trailers and sneak peeks so far, “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” will be the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) battling a new focus of evil: Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Much was made when it was announced that Mark Hamill would reprise his role as Luke Skywalker in the new movie. But since he has not been seen in any publicity material as Luke, fans have come up with a theory to explain why we haven’t seen the character.

On Twitter, many speculate (spoiler alert) that Luke will have turned to the Dark Side of the Force, and may even be revealed as the movie’s ultimate villain.

There’s been no word from director J.J. Abrams.

Police Dog Honored With ‘Last Call’ In Final Moments


, ,

EDINBURG, Texas (CBS Houston) – A K-9 was honored in his last moments of life by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.

Surrounded by his family, Argo received was put to sleep on October 10th after an emotional “last call” over the radio.

The 9-year-old German Shepherd had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.

“Argo was given a small and private ceremony where he was honored with the traditional Last Call, given to those who pass in the line of duty,” wrote the Sheriff’s office on a heartbreaking Facebook post.

A family member recorded video of the final tribute, which has been viewed nearly 400,000 times.

The dog had served with the department since 2009 as a narcotic detection animal.

“Argo was credited with taking thousands of pounds of dangerous drugs off of our streets as well as the apprehension of many dangerous felons,” continued the Facebook post.

Argo will also be honored at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office’s First Annual South Texas K9 Competition on November 10, 2015.

Astronomers: Strange Star May Hold Clues To Another Intelligent Civilization


, ,

TAMPA (CBS Tampa) – If there is a spacefaring civilization somewhere else in our universe, what would it look like? How would we know?

It might look like the strange conditions that have been observed around a star that is invisible to the naked eye.

The star, dubbed KIC 8462852, is about 1,500 light years from Earth.

Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have studied the star for over four years.

“We’d never seen anything like this star,” Tabetha Boyajian, who heads a group called Planet Hunters at Yale University, told The Atlantic. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”

By analyzing patterns of light and darkness coming from the star, astronomers can tell if a planet or other object may be orbiting it.

For example, a distant observer could detect the presence of planets around our sun because they block some of the light the observer would see. Of course, the amount of light involved in these observations is incredibly small, maybe just a few photons. The Kepler Space Telescope is equipped with light detectors sensitive enough to measure these minute changes.

What’s unusual about this star, is that the periods of light and dark don’t follow the regular pattern you would see if there were just natural objects around it.

That has led some to speculate what we are seeing is evidence of an intelligent civilization.

Astronomers have tried to come up with a natural explanation for the strange phenomenon, but have fallen short.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” said astronomer Jason Wright with Penn State University. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Wright suggests the unusual light patterns are is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps some sort of advanced technology that collects energy from the star.

Astronomers plan more detailed observations of the star, which is in the Northern Hemisphere between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

Survey: One-Third Of Vegetarians Admit To Eating Meat When Drunk


, ,

LONDON (CBS Tampa) – A survey of nearly 2,000 people who self-identify as vegetarians found one in three admitted to eating meat every time they get drunk.

The survey was conducted by a British coupon website

Two out of five of the 1,789 vegetarians who answered questions conceded they sometimes treat themselves to meat when they are out drinking.

Kebabs and hamburgers were the most popular non-vegetarian options, with 39 and 34 percent picking those options, respectively.

The next most popular food was bacon, with 27 percent saying it was their meat of choice; 19 percent preferred fried chicken and 14 percent said they couldn’t resist sausage when out on the town.

George Charles, founder of the website, told The Independent he was not surprised by the results of the survey.

“I know a few ‘vegetarians’ who sometimes crave meat,” he said. “But it seems that a few are giving into their cravings when drunk.”

Most of the lapsed vegetarians reported guilty consciences as nearly 70 percent said they kept their meat binges to themselves.

“I think it’s important for friends of these ‘vegetarians’ to support them when drunk and urge them not to eat meat as I’m sure they regret it the next day,” advised Charles.

While this survey was taken in Britain, there’s evidence that American vegetarians are not immune to the call of meat.

A 2014 study found 84 percent of vegetarians eventually give up their meatless diet.

Study: Black-Sounding Names Imagined As More Threatening Than White-Sounding Names


, ,

LOS ANGELES (CBS Sacramento) – A study exploring racial bias finds that when asked to think about someone with a stereotypically black name, people tend to imagine someone who is bigger and more violent than someone with a stereotypical white name.

“I’ve never been so disgusted by my own data,” said lead author Colin Holbrook. “The amount that our study participants assumed based only on a name was remarkable. A character with a black-sounding name was assumed to be physically larger, more prone to aggression, and lower in status than a character with a white-sounding name.”

The researchers conducted a series of studies, involving over 1,500 people, reports Medical Express.

In one study involved mostly white participants from ages 18 to their mid-70s. They were picked from all over the United States and self-identifyed as slightly left of center politically.

They were read nearly identical vignettes, with the only difference , read one of two nearly identical vignettes. Only the names were different, with Jamal, DeShawn, or Darnell in one version, and Connor, Wyatt, or Garrett in the other.

Previous research has shown those names are most commonly associated with different ethnic groups.

They were asked to read the following:

[NAME] woke up Saturday morning and began his day by brushing his teeth and taking a shower. After eating breakfast, [NAME] watched TV for a while and talked on the phone. Then [NAME] went to a nearby store and bought some groceries. Once he had gotten home, [NAME] received a text message from a friend inviting him to go out later. That night, [NAME] went out to meet his friends at a bar. As he entered the crowded bar, he brushed against the shoulder of a man walking the other direction. The man turned, glared at [NAME], and angrily said “Watch where you’re going, a—hole!”

Then the participants were asked a series of questions about the individual who was named.

They envisioned characters with black-sounding names as larger than those with white-sounding names. Not only that, but the larger they pictured the black-sounding named person, the lower that person was believed to be in terms of financial success, social influence, and respect from their communities.

In another version of the study, volunteers read a story with one of the two types of names. A control group read the story with “neutral” names. The other groups read the same story, but with an important addition: a “success” scenario in which the character was a college graduate and business owner, or a “threat” scenario in which the character had been convicted of aggravated assault.

Then they were asked about their impressions of the character’s height, weight, build, social status, and aggressiveness, among other traits.

“In the ‘successful’ scenario, the white and black characters are similarly perceived,” Holbrook explaned. “And when the character is convicted of assault, they again have similar outcomes, no matter their name. But people imagine the neutral black character as similar in size to the white criminal character, and we know that this shift in size is a proxy for how violent and aggressive they implicitly perceive the person to be. It’s quite disturbing.”

The researchers say the results show how deeply racial stereotypes are ingrained in our mind’s eyes.

“I think our study participants, who were overall on the liberal end of the spectrum, would be dismayed to know this about themselves,” Holbrook said. “This study shows that, even among people who understand that racism is still very real, it’s important for them to acknowledge the possibility that they have not only prejudicial but really inaccurate stereotypes in their heads.”

The study is published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Study: Tweets Reveal Income And Social Status Of Users


, ,

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – If you’re active on Twitter, you may think you’re only sending out 140 characters when you share your thoughts and feelings online.

But a new study finds you’re unknowingly letting people know your socio-economic status.

Researchers at Penn State collaborated with Johns Hopkins University and University College London to analyze over 5,000 Twitter users and more than 10 million tweets.

“No one has studied this at [such a] large scale, and especially with Twitter,” said study author Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro. “We’re the first to actually have access to this data.”

They found that people with higher incomes tend to have more followers and more often discuss politics and corporations, while tweets from lower income users include more links to other pages and more profanity.

The researchers also said people with lower incomes more often talk about religion, especially Christianity.

“We are all natural language processing researchers. Our specialization is analyzing written text. But we didn’t limit ourselves to text,” explained Preotiuc-Pietro. “We also looked at other social media features like number of friends, number of followers, that kind of basic stuff.”