Science & Research

Science & Research Roundup: Oct. 9, 2013

By
Features Editor
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Study reveals lasting events of smoking during pregnancy 

A 40-year study found that female children of women who smoked or had higher levels of stress hormones while pregnant were more likely to develop nicotine addictions in adulthood, according to a Lifespan press release.

The study, which was published online last month, more broadly supports the idea that prenatal conditions faced by children can determine illnesses or conditions in adulthood.  More than 1,000 pairs of women and their adult children were studied over a 40-year period following the initial Collaborative Perinatal Project at Brown from 1959-66, according to Providence Business News.

“While maternal smoking during pregnancy has been shown to be an independent risk factor for nicotine dependence, we didn’t really know — until now — which pathways or mechanisms were responsible,” said Laura Stroud, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Alpert Medical School, in the press release.

“Because mothers who smoke are often more stressed and living in adverse conditions — these findings represent a public health concern and highlight the need to help smoking moms quit and reduce stress levels,” she added. The study’s findings show a vicious cycle of increased likeliness of nicotine addiction passing from mother to daughters, she said.

Nearly one in five pregnant women continue smoking during pregnancy in the U.S., according to the release.

 

Prof wins hospice award

Professor of Medical Science Vincent Mor received the Distinguished Researcher Award from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization last month, according to a University press release. Mor was honored for three decades of researching and teaching about long-term care.

A highlight of his research was Mor’s involvement in a Medicare study that caused the national implementation of a hospice system, according to the release. The study, which Mor helped run early in his career, showed that family members of terminal cancer patients living in hospice were significantly more satisfied with the care their relatives were receiving than family members of patients living elsewhere.

“Hospice patients’ use of impatient care was much lower, and hospice cost less than usual care, as long as the patients didn’t enter hospice ‘too early’ relative to their date of death,” Mor said in the release.

The study was integral to Congress’ enactment of hospice legislation in 1982, which still stands over 30 years later, according to the release.

 

Books boost the brain

Neuroscience and English are not so different after all, argues a book by Professor of English Paul Armstrong. In his new book, “How Literature Plays with the Brain,” Armstrong compares the experiences of reading literature to other neurological functions, according to a Johns Hopkins press release. The book was published in August.

“Literature matters for what it reveals about human experience, and the very different perspective of neuroscience on how the brain works is part of that story,” Armstrong said in the press release.

“(Armstrong) makes explicit some of the most vital, yet heretofore overlooked, connections between the aims of literary criticism and cognitive neuroscience,” said G. Gabrielle Starr, dean of the college of arts and science and professor of English at New York University, in the release.

Armstrong taught ENGL 1900Z: “Neuroaesthetics and Reading” last semester.