Investigating the Impact of Environment on Maternal and Child Health and Developmental Disabilities

What impact do factors such as environment, diet, stress, medication, and social factors have on a pregnant individual’s journey and subsequently, on their child’s health and development?

A new two-year study by researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago seeks to explore how various environmental aspects impact children’s health and development, particularly focusing on children with disabilities. Recently receiving a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the team will join the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program, a national consortium dedicated to understanding how early-life conditions affect children’s health trajectories. While other participants in ECHO concentrate on issues like asthma and cardiometabolic health, the Northwestern and Lurie Children’s team will specifically investigate the experiences of individuals with disabilities, a group often overlooked in medical studies.

With an extensive cohort in ECHO focusing on child health, this study aims to extend its insights to their mothers, exploring the interconnected health dynamics between mother and child. The research will target a broad and diverse group of pregnant individuals, including those frequently underrepresented in medical research.

Principal investigator Dr. Lynn Yee, Thomas J. Watkins Memorial Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg School of Medicine, emphasizes the potential of this study to inform future strategies for enhancing maternal and child health outcomes through the knowledge gained from ECHO.

This next phase in the ECHO program represents a significant shift towards understanding the complexities of maternal health and its implications on child well-being, starting from before birth. Depending on the findings from the initial years, the project may receive extended funding, potentially reaching a total of $32 million over seven years.

Comprehensive Study of Children with and without Disabilities

The study will take a comprehensive approach, including children with and without disabilities, identified as they grow. The researchers aim to include a variety of mothers, especially those at higher risk due to genetic or other factors, to eventually form a cohort that represents a broad spectrum of children’s developmental conditions.

The $5 million grant, titled “Enriching ECHO Cohorts with High-risk Pregnancies and Children with Disabilities (Enriching ECHO),” aims to enhance disability inclusivity in the ECHO research by examining a wide range of disabilities, from neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism to other conditions. The study will also draw from existing data on ECHO participants with disabilities and collaborate with other ECHO sites for further scientific research, such as studies on asthma or the impact of environmental toxins.

Recruitment for the study will begin in January 2024, targeting pregnant individuals before their 20th week of gestation from specific medical centers. This inclusive approach aims to enroll a diverse population, including those with detected prenatal complications, who are often excluded from such research.

With a seven-year follow-up plan, the study aims to provide comprehensive data on the women and their children, offering insights into early complications as well as typical development patterns. This approach will allow the researchers to uncover developmental disabilities as the children grow, providing valuable data for future interventions and support.

Exploring Key Health Aspects and Positive Outcomes

Initially, the research will focus on the health of the placenta, looking for signs of complications or conditions that might indicate a higher likelihood of developmental issues like autism. The team will collect various biological samples throughout pregnancy to study stress levels, environmental exposures, and other factors that may impact health outcomes.

The study won’t just focus on health challenges; it also aims to identify environmental and personal factors associated with positive health outcomes. By studying both high-risk individuals and those with typical pregnancies, the researchers hope to uncover ways to optimize health and understand what contributes to a healthy pregnancy and child development.

Through this comprehensive approach, the study aims to provide a deeper understanding of the complex interplay between environmental factors, maternal health, and child development, potentially informing future health strategies and interventions.

SafeGuarding Communities And Ecosystems in Sumatra’s Forests

A member of the local tribe details a collaborative effort involving the BMW Group, Pirelli, and BirdLife.

Initiated in 2021, the “Living Rubber” initiative marks a partnership between the BMW Group, Pirelli, and BirdLife, focusing on the conservation of the Hutan Harapan rainforest in Sumatra. Known as the Forest of Hope, Hutan Harapan’s preservation is critical for maintaining biodiversity and supporting the indigenous populations dependent on its resources. This is more than just a conservation effort; it’s about sustaining a way of life, requiring specific actions to be effective.

Central to the “Living Rubber” initiative is promoting the ecological production of natural rubber, honoring the inhabitants and biodiversity of the area. Moreover, it seeks to uplift and educate young women in agricultural practices and broader learning.

The Batin Sembilan tribe, residents of Hutan Harapan, are intrinsic to the project’s operations. Among them is Bi Teguh, a 44-year-old rubber farmer and a defender against illegal logging. She views safeguarding the rainforest as not just a duty but a necessity for community survival. In discussions with the BMW Group, Bi Teguh outlined the project’s significance in protecting human rights, advancing women, and conserving the local environment.

Bi Teguh recounts her realization of the rainforest’s vulnerability, tracing it back to the establishment of palm oil industries and the resultant erratic weather patterns and reduced harvests. She emphasizes the project’s objectives in maintaining Hutan Harapan, a lifeline for her community and particularly vital for the women. Through collaborative patrols and educational initiatives, the project aims to ensure a sustainable future for the next generations and the biodiversity of the rainforest.

The involvement of women is pivotal in this project due to their daily dependence on the forest for resources and livelihood. Educating and equipping women with new skills, such as literacy and agricultural techniques, is crucial for community empowerment and forest preservation. Bi Teguh’s commitment reflects a broader movement within her community to engage actively in conservation efforts despite the challenges posed by increasing encroachment.

Bi Teguh’s leadership extends to guiding women and children in forest patrols and informational campaigns. Despite her youth, her familial responsibilities have positioned her as a community leader. Her journey from a local advocate to an international spokesperson underscores the global significance of local conservation efforts. Her hope is rooted in the possibility of halting further encroachment and ensuring a sustainable future for Hutan Harapan and its inhabitants.

Understanding the 3 Symbiosis in Interaction: Mutualism, Commensalism, and Parasitism

In this life, interactions occur with each other. The interaction shows that every creature needs each other. Humans interact with other humans, animals, and plants. This process and connection scheme is known as symbiosis.

In life, there are many symbioses that occur in humans, animals and plants. There are at least three types of symbiosis that characterize the interactions of creatures in life. What’s that? Mutualism symbiosis, commensalism symbiosis, and also parasitism symbiosis.

Curious to understand the meaning and differences of these three symbioses? Here’s an explanation:

  • Mutualism symbiosis

The first is Symbiosis Mutualism. Where the relationship between two different types of organisms is mutually beneficial.

This relationship is considered a very positive relationship because both parties benefit. In other words, both parties reap benefits or profits from the interactions that are carried out.

Take the example of butterflies and flowers. Butterflies suck nectar from flowers, thus the flowers also get help from the movement of butterflies for the pollination process to occur.

Another example of symbiotic mutualism is between humans and bacteria. E. Coli bacteria in humans can work to reduce the growth of bad bacteria and accelerate the process of decay in the large intestine. The advantage obtained by E. Coli bacteria is that they get food from the remains of the large intestine.

  • Commensalism symbiosis

Commensalism symbiosis is an interaction between two living things that only benefits one organism, while the other organism is not harmed and does not benefit (neutral).

Take a simple example that happened to Remora fish and sharks. After the shark eats, usually the leftovers will fall. When the food scraps fall, the Remora fish will stick with the shark to take the leftovers from the shark. Sharks are neither harmed nor benefited.

Another example can be observed in the interaction between orchids and mango trees. Orchids benefit because they have a place to grow, and get sunlight, water, and substances for photosynthesis, by attaching to the mango tree. While the mango tree is not harmed in any way.

  • Parasitism symbiosis

This last symbiosis is interesting and often disliked, aka has a negative tendency. The reason is, parasitism, and symbiosis is the opposite of mutualism symbiosis.

Parasitism symbiosis is a condition of dependence that occurs when one party benefits, but harms the other party. Or in other words, there is one party who is sacrificed or harmed.

Take for example this symbiosis that occurs in mosquitoes and humans. Mosquitoes benefit by sucking blood from humans, while humans are disadvantaged because they can contract dangerous diseases.

Another example can be observed in flies with fruit. Flies get food from fruit and can breed in fruit. Fruit that flies land on loses money because it will rot.

Yes, so those were the three types of symbiosis that occur in life. All three provide important lessons for humans about how the best symbiosis is one that does not harm either party. May be useful!

Green Vehicles Dominate Auto Shows in India

India Auto Expo is back in 2023 after an absence of three years. Environmentally friendly vehicles are seen dominating the largest automotive exhibition in India.

Asian brands dominated the event, including Tata, BYD, Maruti Suzuki, Lexus and Toyota. Major European manufacturers such as Mercedes, Skoda, Audi and BMW did not participate in the event.

Many startups and large corporations are showing much greater participation in showcasing sustainable and futuristic products. One of them is electric vehicles.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), a government agency that oversees brand equity, India’s electric vehicle market is growing rapidly, with more than 300,000 of them sold in 2021, up 168 percent from the previous year.

According to the exhibition organizers, this year’s India Auto Expo features many eco-friendly vehicles, reflecting the themes of sustainable living and the transition to clean energy.

India is currently the chair of the G20, a group of 20 leading economies and places climate as its top priority. Climate change has become a top issue for the country after it was hit by a heat wave and pollution is at alarming levels.

Sanjay Gopalakrishnan, vice president, director, BYD India, said the exhibition reflects the spirit of the COP, the United Nations conference on working conventions on climate change.

“The government is encouraging electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, according to the global COP agreement. As industry experts, and many studies show, 30 percent penetration will be achieved in the electric vehicle market by 2030. This is an optimistic note, if all regulations are enforced, charging infrastructure will be built, and development is underway,” he commented.

Kia offers the Kia Concept EV9, an all-electric SUV. Expected to be marketed globally this year, this car is equipped with a 77.4 kWh battery. With vertical LED taillights and an upright design, the car features hood-mounted solar panels and an interior made of eco-friendly materials.

Kia claims that the EV6 can cover a distance of 700 kilometers on a single battery charge, and can go from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 5.2 seconds.

The Chinese automaker BYD offers the YD Atto 3 with a cutting-edge design and a futuristic look. The interior is sporty, with components designed to feel like you’re in a gym.

The company claims that the car has a range of up to 420 kilometers and goes from 0 to 100 Kmph in 7.3 seconds.

One of the newcomers to the auto industry present at the fair was Vayve Mobility, a startup that claims to have built India’s first solar and electric car.

Eva, the compact car that Vayve makes can accommodate up to two adults and one child. According to Vilas Deshpande, co-founder and COO of Vayve, this car is a perfect fit for India.

“This car is perfectly designed for city trips, for Indian conditions, but what I like the most, is this is India’s first solar and electric car. The battery can be solar charged,” explained Deshpande.

Toyota exhibited the Toyota Corolla Cross, which uses compressed hydrogen fuel, and the Toyota Mirai which uses electric batteries and hydrogen fuel.

Green Vehicles Dominate Auto Shows in India

India Auto Expo is back in 2023 after an absence of three years. Environmentally friendly vehicles are seen dominating the largest automotive exhibition in India.

Asian brands dominated the event, including Tata, BYD, Maruti Suzuki, Lexus and Toyota. Major European manufacturers such as Mercedes, Skoda, Audi and BMW did not participate in the event.

Many startups and large corporations are showing much greater participation in showcasing sustainable and futuristic products. One of them is electric vehicles.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), a government agency that oversees brand equity, India’s electric vehicle market is growing rapidly, with more than 300,000 of them sold in 2021, up 168 percent from the previous year.

According to the exhibition organizers, this year’s India Auto Expo features many eco-friendly vehicles, reflecting the themes of sustainable living and the transition to clean energy.

India is currently the chair of the G20, a group of 20 leading economies and places climate as its top priority. Climate change has become a top issue for the country after it was hit by a heat wave and pollution is at alarming levels.

Sanjay Gopalakrishnan, vice president, director, BYD India, said the exhibition reflects the spirit of the COP, the United Nations conference on working conventions on climate change.

“The government is encouraging electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, according to the global COP agreement. As industry experts, and many studies show, 30 percent penetration will be achieved in the electric vehicle market by 2030. This is an optimistic note, if all regulations are enforced, charging infrastructure will be built, and development is underway,” he commented.

Kia offers the Kia Concept EV9, an all-electric SUV. Expected to be marketed globally this year, this car is equipped with a 77.4 kWh battery. With vertical LED taillights and an upright design, the car features hood-mounted solar panels and an interior made of eco-friendly materials.

Kia claims that the EV6 can cover a distance of 700 kilometers on a single battery charge, and can go from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 5.2 seconds.

The Chinese automaker BYD offers the YD Atto 3 with a cutting-edge design and a futuristic look. The interior is sporty, with components designed to feel like you’re in a gym.

The company claims that the car has a range of up to 420 kilometers and goes from 0 to 100 Kmph in 7.3 seconds.

One of the newcomers to the auto industry present at the fair was Vayve Mobility, a startup that claims to have built India’s first solar and electric car.

Eva, the compact car that Vayve makes can accommodate up to two adults and one child. According to Vilas Deshpande, co-founder and COO of Vayve, this car is a perfect fit for India.

“This car is perfectly designed for city trips, for Indian conditions, but what I like the most, is this is India’s first solar and electric car. The battery can be solar charged,” explained Deshpande.

Toyota exhibited the Toyota Corolla Cross, which uses compressed hydrogen fuel, and the Toyota Mirai which uses electric batteries and hydrogen fuel.

Trump’s Policies Have Little Impact on the Recovery of the Coal Industry

At the historic 2015 Paris Summit, world leaders vowed to take steps to avoid damaging climate change. On November 6-17, UN negotiators will again work out the details of how to reduce emissions of gases that heat planet Earth.

This is the first conference since President Donald Trump said the United States would withdraw from the deal, leaving questions about the direction of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.

While Trump was campaigning for president, he promised to put coal miners back in work. Since taking office, he has sought to reverse policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and elsewhere.

The efforts include a move to overturn the Obama administration’s regulations targeting coal-fired power plants known as the Clean Power Plan.

Trump said, “Perhaps no single regulation threatens our energy workers, miners, and companies more than the attack that destroyed this American industry.”

But according to Amit Ronen of George Washington University, the impact on America’s emissions will probably be minimal.

Coal-fired power plants were shut down across the country. Power companies are turning to cheaper clean natural gas.

Renewable sources like wind and solar are in vogue, driving prices down. The price of electricity from renewable energy is competitive with fossil fuels in many places.

But other Trump administration actions can still restore coal. The trade case will soon authorize the president to place tariffs on imported solar panels – nearly all solar panels in America are imported. This could cost 88,000 jobs, said Tony Clifford of development company Standard Solar.

Experts say that many states and cities are stepping up efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, even though the federal government is pulling back. So federal tariffs won’t kill the renewable energy industry, says Rhodium Group analyst John Larsen.

DOE – the Department of Energy – has proposed paying more for coal and nuclear power than for electricity from other energy sources. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the plant provides constant, reliable power that no other source has.

Ultimately, experts say the Trump administration has limited power to save the coal industry.

However, while reducing coal use helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, experts say the results are not fast enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The Beauty, Real Picture If Garbage in the Sea is Breathing

The sea without human intervention is heaven. That is, if heaven is described as full of beauty , then the natural sea is also like that.
Then how about the sea in 2050? You may answer them; Horrible. That is when referring to the predictions of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum in a publication entitled The New Plastics Economy in 2016.

By 2050, according to the prediction, there will be more plastic waste in the sea than fish. The light nature of plastic makes it possible to reach the sea quickly, even if it is dumped on top of a mountain.

When it reaches the sea, plastic can become smaller, only 5 mm in size. This mini size is known as microplastics.Currently, microplastics have been found in human blood.

Some of the plastics do not only become inhabitants of the sea but also become inhabitants of the stomachs of marine life. Is plastic waste that terrible if it reaches the sea, yes it is.

Who is behind the plastic pouring into the sea? The answer is not animals or plants, but humans. The most perfect creature created and has intelligence.

So, intelligence is what brought humans to discover plastic. The findings were initially predicted and glorified as a savior for the environment.

Disastrous savior

The existence of plastic aims to reduce packaging made of paper. Paper made from wood, the more massively used, the thinner the wood on earth.

That’s why when John Wesley Hyatt invented synthetic polymers in 1869. It was considered a solution to save the earth. However, as time moves on, plastic, which was originally a savior for the environment or the earth, has become a disaster. But the waste, especially the plastic waste that we throw away in Pascal Schelbli’s imagination and creativity, becomes a new life in the sea. The trash turned into living things.

Pascal Schelbli demonstrates just that in an animated short film called The Beauty. Where trash transforms into living things in the ocean replacing real fish, seaweed and coral.

At first, the short film, which was produced in 2019, did not show the horrors of plastic waste in the sea. Instead, we will find fish swimming happily, changing faces into flip flops, seaweed turning into plastic straws, and plastic spoons turning into coral.

Not only that, but spectators will also find eels from used tires swimming around. Pufferfish are made of plastic air bubbles, and plastic bottles turn into fish and plastic bags turn into jellyfish.

What Pascal Schelbli displays in his short film more or less describes sea conditions in 2050 which are predicted to produce more waste, especially plastic than fish.

Garbage breathes

The animated short film does highlight the issue of pollution in the oceans. The Beauty is a poetic journey across the ocean, which is astonishing and disgusting, which illustrates that the trash in the sea is not dead—they breathe.

“Sometimes I feel numb and helpless on the topic of marine pollution. So, I have an idea of what if plastic could be integrated into marine life? Apparently, this simple dream can actually be achieved. Through sweat, tears and the help of an extraordinary team, this (project) is something to be proud of and I want to share it with the whole world,” Schelbli told Bored Panda.

For those who watch the short film, it is possible that it will give birth to feelings of guilt because they have disposed of their trash irresponsibly.

Even though the duration of the animated short film is only 4:13 minutes, it takes up to 20 months in total to be made.

In making The Beauty, Schelbli was not alone, he was assisted by 9 core crew members. The crew came from Schelbli’s colleagues at film school. If in total there are 20 people involved in the film.“Through this film, I can inject a hidden influence on someone who watches The Beauty. So far I haven’t gotten any negative feedback. When someone tells me they cried after watching this film, I’m really impressed,” he explained. Anyway, green friend, The beauty has won the 2020 Student Academy Award.