ID Card Now Available For People Who Stutter...

Identification cards are now available for individuals in the United States who have a stutter. Stuttering is considered a disability and is covered by the Americans with Disability Act. Despite this and the fact that approximately three million Americans and 70 million people worldwide stutter, many do not take this disability seriously and are discriminated against and belittled for it. The card will speak for individuals who stutter when they are able to speak for themselves in stressful public situations where communication is essential, such as airport security and customs. The card was created in response to an incident that recently transpired involving Kylie Simmons, a U.S. resident who was detained after stuttering the words “Costa Rica” when going through customs at an Atlanta airport. The 20-year-old woman had just returned from studying abroad in Costa Rica and has struggled with the speech impediment her whole life. Simmons’ phone was taken away and she was detained for an hour, causing her to miss her connecting flight. “I felt inferior, intimidated and bullied,” she told The Mighty. Immediately afterwards, the young woman went directly to file a complaint with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office. While a supervisor on the phone issued her a verbal apology, Simmons wrote a letter asking for a formal apology. “What upset me the most was that the [customs agent] addressed my stutter as a ‘problem,’” Simmons wrote in her letter to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “I looked him in the eyes and explained to him that my disability was not a problem, but was simply a personal challenge for me that makes it difficult for me to communicate… I was continuously told that I was lying and that I was being dishonest. All my life, I...

Target Will No Longer Be Offering Recycling Services to Montana Residents...

According to NBC Montana, retail giant Target plans to end its glass recycling project all across the state by the end of February. This news comes especially hard to environmentally-inclined ears since Target is the only retailer in the state to offer glass recycling and has been since 2010. What originally began as a couple of bins outside of the store escalated to about eight 20-yard roll off boxes filled each week. Some Missoula residents reported to have saved their glass recycling all week and driven into town to deposit it. The reasons cited behind the program’s shutdown were purely financial. Each shipment of recyclable materials supposedly costed thousands of dollars, and a representative of Four Corners Recycling in Bozeman says it costs $54 a ton to crush up the glass and ship it to its final destination, Utah. Target spokespeople say that there was not sufficient infrastructure in place at a state level to continue the program or proper facilities on a corporate level. Other problems common to mass recycling programs, like the contamination of shipments by bottle lids and other rubbish caused some glass shipments to be dumped in local landfills. It may be surprising for some to see a lack of support for government subsidized recycling programs in the wake of the ever-growing green awareness and environmental movements. Investments in glass, paper, and aluminum recycling plants seem to be a very good investment when it comes to the future. A single ton of paper recycled can save up to 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space and 7,000 gallons of water. However disappointing the recent news with Target, residents of Missoula and other Montana locals still have options for recycling. Companies like I.E. Recycling specialize in...

Even Seltzer Water Is Bad for Your Teeth...

It’s no secret that sugary soda drinks are bad for your teeth, but a new investigation by The Atlantic found that sugarless seltzer water might be just as bad. As Live Science stated, most of us already know that soda pop is filled with sugar, and this sugar essentially eats away at the hard enamel that covers and protects teeth. Even diet sodas have chemicals via sugar substitutes that have a similar effect, being “nearly as corrosive to dental enamel as battery acid.” Continued exposure to sugar-filled drinks can lead to a variety of dental woes. As the enamel wears away, teeth are more susceptible to discoloration and decay. As a result, many soda alternatives have been developed and marketed quite successfully. Juices seem to be making a comeback, manifested in trendy “juice bars,” and Live Science notes that fruit juices typically have about 10 times less sugar than the average soda. Non-carbonated sports drinks were big for a while until people discovered that they can contain just as much sugar as a can of soda. Fruit-flavored water has hit the scene in a big way, and carbonated seltzer water has gained a rather large following as well. Over the past five years, seltzer water sales have more than doubled. Ironically, in the past five years, the number of teeth whitening procedures has tripled. Americans are spending more on cosmetic dental procedures than ever before to repair damaged teeth. So what’s the deal? As Mic reported, carbonated water contains something called “carbonic acid.” Without this acid, the water wouldn’t be all bubbly and fun. Even without any sugar, carbonated drinks necessarily contain this acid; drinks that are flavored (without sugar) also contain citric acid. Carbonic acid isn’t nearly as dangerous to tooth enamel as...

Black Students Face Looming Mental Health Crisis...

By the age of 35, about two-thirds of men in the U.S. will experience some appreciable degree of hair loss. Past research has shown that a person’s family history, hormonal changes, medical conditions, and medications can all increase a person’s risk of hair loss, but a new study has found that a startling problem can also lead to hair loss — and worse. “Weathering the cumulative effects of living in a society characterized by white dominance and privilege produces a kind of physical and mental wear-and-tear that contributes to a host of psychological and physical ailments,” said study author Ebony McGee, an assistant professor of diversity and urban schooling at Vanderbilt. “We have documented alarming occurrences of anxiety, stress, depression and thoughts of suicide, as well as a host of physical ailments like hair loss, diabetes and heart disease.” Researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development argue that a looming mental health crisis is being overlooked. Black college students who have to draw on their “grit” — their mental resiliency — to achieve in predominantly white academic institutions may be doing so at the risk of their health. Although every college student is required to be mentally tough, black students also have to bear the burden of proving their intellectual worth in the face of overt and/or covert racism, a hardship that takes its toll mentally and physically. The buzzword “grit” has come to describe the type of determination necessary for academic success, but has also become particularly associated with the successes of students from disadvantaged communities and communities of color. They may have to overcome such challenges as under-staffed and under-resourced schools that also suffer from higher levels of drug and violence, as well as potentially missing support systems...

Adults Need 2.5 Hours of Exercise Per Week For Good Heart Health...

The typical American adult is an extremely busy creature. From a 40-hour workweek (sometimes even more) to familial duties, who has time to work out? According to a new survey, plenty of busy Americans share just this sentiment. And unfortunately, because of our hectic schedules, many of us aren’t getting the recommended amount of weekly exercise — clocking in at just 2.5 hours. According to a survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, this may be due in part to the fact that only one in five adults actually know what the daily recommendations are. In the study, Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic found that 51% of individuals exercise to lose or maintain weight, and only 32% of people exercise for a healthy heart. Dr. Nissen, the chairman for the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, finds these stats to be concerning, as it shows “a lot of people don’t appreciate how important exercise is for your heart.” In the U.S., especially, we should all be thinking about our hearts more often than not. Approximately 25% of Americans die from heart disease. If people exercised more, Nissen believes that these stats could be reduced by as much as 40 to 60%. But like we said earlier, sometimes the biggest impediment on the average American’s exercise regimen is a busy schedule. The study found that 41% of Americans listed job obligations as their top impediment from exercising more, 28% blame commitments to family and friends, and the rest say they are too tired. While these excuses are valid, many fail to realize that even 20 minutes of light exercise can help to increase energy levels overall. And while children and adolescents need up to 60 minutes of exercise per day, adults only...

Cisco Predicts That Mobile Phone Ownership Will Reach 5.5 Billion by 2020...

Any digital marketing whiz will tell you that the fate of internet searches and sales were placed in the hands of smart phone users long ago. The use of mobile phones for online purchasing and general internet usage has skyrocketed with a prevalence of the smart phone in the global citizen’s pocket. And according to Cisco Systems, the world’s largest supplier of the routing and switching gear that makes much of the world’s internet connections run, predicts that by 2020, 5.5 billion people worldwide will have a mobile device — that’s a whopping 70% of the global population. And on top of that, the Visual Networking Index, a survey of worldwide internet traffic trends, predicts that Internet traffic totals for this year will break the zettabyte barrier, and will double in 2019. A zettabyte is equivalent to one billion terabytes. For those unfamiliar with data lingo, a terabyte is the amount of storage one would receive on iCloud for around $10 a month. And the driver of this massive usage of data? Mobile devices, of course. Between now and 2020, Cisco predicts that the burgeoning cell phone possession and usage will help to grow mobile traffic at twice the rate that the world’s population is growing. And since the number of smartphone users is growing at a 42% annual global rate, this data isn’t exactly surprising. But what is perhaps surprising is another one of Cisco’s predictions: the number of people with a mobile phone will exceed the number of individuals who have running water, electricity, or a car. In regions like Africa and the Middle East, the use of internet is growing the fastest, at a rate of 44% per year. Countries in Asia and Pacific regions are predicted to generate the most...

World Economic Forum: 5 Million Jobs Will Be Lost by 2020, Technology to Blame...

The digital age is in full swing and industry leaders are forecasting a severe disruption in the white collar workforce at the hands of blossoming technology. As reported by WTVR, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report in late January that showcased how the digital age is revolutionizing technology while simultaneously putting millions of jobs at risk. The WEF estimates that five million jobs, spanning the world’s leading economies, will be compromised by 2020. They expect administrative and white-collar jobs to be most at risk. The significant shift is in part due to significant technological advancements and strides made in the realms of artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology. Automation is expected to be responsible for making a human workforce unnecessary within certain industries. A recent international study found that there are several factors that have a direct correlation to employee productivity (spacial arrangements, furniture, noise, lighting, and temperature). In other words, human productivity can be altered based on the environment they’re working in. With automated machines, this no longer becomes an issue. A survey of senior executives from over 350 of the biggest companies throughout 15 of the most powerful economies found that automation could be responsible for the lost of 7.1 million jobs, though new opportunities within the tech field will provide an offset of 2.1 million jobs. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning [are] expected to lead to negative employment outcomes [across] Education and Training, Legal and Business and Financial Operations. [But] our respondents do not believe that these technologies will have advanced significantly enough by the year 2020 to have a more widespread impact on global employment levels,” the report says. Another contributing aspect of a complete technology overhaul within the workforce is the rapid rate of technological advancements within many...

Multiple Industries Investing in Mobile-Friendly Websites to Best Serve Consumers...

It seems as if everyone these days has a smartphone, from kindergarten students to nonagenarians. Now, businesses are adjusting to this new phenomenon by prepping their websites for mobile traffic. According to Business2Community, two billion people currently own a smartphone, and that number is growing by the day. Approximately 89% of consumers use their mobile devices to make purchases, and companies from all types of industries are racing to make their websites more mobile-friendly. Experts cite the convenience of searching on smartphones as one of the primary reasons that consumers have ditched their desktops in favor of mobile devices. People now spend an average of 37.5 hours per month on their smartphones, which translates into several hours spent browsing for goods and services. To demonstrate the scope of industries that have embraced mobile optimization, consider the case of Load Cell Central, a company that sells strain gauge load cells. Most load cells use strain gauge technology, which is well established and has been proven for more than 40 years. After 40 years of consistency, one would assume that Load Cell Central would be content in its ways. However, the company recently optimized its website for mobile use in an effort to cater to a newer demographic of manufacturers. “It was clear to us that our mobile traffic warranted an update to our website,” said Nick Wheeler of Load Cell Central. “Many of our customers are technicians in the field or salesmen in end-user locations who required mobile access to our products.” On the opposite end of the industry spectrum, many college campuses are also utilizing smartphones to enhance the student experience. According to The Lantern, an Ohio State University newspaper, the college’s website received a makeover earlier this month. As part of the changes,...

Anti-Radiation Chip Developed for Smartphones as Scientists Study Link Between Technology and Cancer...

The potential long-term health effects of smartphones have prompted an international study and the development of an accessory that reduces cell phone radiation. According to Electronics News, a team of 31 scientists from 14 different countries have joined forces to find a link between long-term heavy cell phone usage and cancer. As part of their research, the scientists stated that their goal was to prove or disprove the claim that cell phone radiation is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This global study is in response to a joint report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC.) In the report, both organizations claim that cell phones can possibly cause brain cancer. As consumers begin to take notice of these claims, inventors are already beginning to introduce products that can drastically reduce or eliminate cell phone radiation. Telecommunication development engineer Aaron Leibovich has created a thin universal adhesive chip that “significantly reduces” radiation from all mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Users typically keep smartphones at a distance of at least an inch away from their face to limit radiation exposure, but many scientists believe this may not be enough. Leibovich agrees with this assessment, and urges consumers to educate themselves on the effects of cell phone radiation. “Parents, schools, and employers should seriously consider providing their children, students, and employees with these products given the recent court rulings in Italy and Israel and the ongoing court case in Washington D.C. where 29 high-profile law suits are being brought about by people whose brain tumors were caused by their mobile phone are finally moving to trial,” Leibovich said. Brain cancer is quite rare compared to other types of the disease, and according to the National Cancer Institute, the...

No Need For Needles — Dentists are Using Tiny Electrical Shocks to Administer Anasthetic...

For many, a visit to the dentist is an unwanted and terrifying prospect — particularly for those who are afraid of needles. With this in mind, researchers from the University of Sao Paolo set out to find a way to deliver anesthesia to dental patients without using needles. In a recent study published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, the researchers shared their findings and results. They claim that they could not only eliminate the use of needles in the anesthesia process but could also potentially save on costs and improve the outcome of such procedures. “Needle-free administration could save costs, improve patient compliance, facilitate application and decrease the risks of intoxication and contamination,” said the study’s co-author, Professor Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez. “This may facilitate access to more effective and safe dental treatments to thousands of people around the world.” Typically, dentists use anesthetics to minimize the pain of common procedures brought on by tooth decay. And considering tooth decay is five times more common than asthma and four times more common than childhood obesity, many a dental patient will receive anesthetic treatment at some point. However, a fear of needles often stops patients from receiving treatment altogether. According to the study, those who are extremely afraid of needles will often cancel their appointments as a result. Instead, the researchers have determined that a tiny electrical current — through what is called iontophoresis — will make the anesthetics more effective while reducing the amount of pain, fear, and discomfort the patient experiences. For the study, the researchers first prepared a polymer hydrogel that would better stick to the mouth’s lining. From there, they added two anesthetic drugs — prilocaine hydrochloride and lidocaine hydrochloride. They then tested the gel on the mouth lining of...

Nothing Interrupts School Work Like Mold...

While the recent teacher protests in Detroit have been largely fueled by the poor education system in place, health concerns about the neglect of maintenance and hygiene of school buildings are equally to blame, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. After teachers began complaining of severe headaches and simply feeling ill while in the buildings, they started striking by staging “sick-outs.” At Spain Elementary School, large humps in the floor began to manifest as a result of roof damage where water from rain and snow was able to seep in. The moisture in the floor in both Spain Elementary and other city schools in turn encouraged the growth of harmful mold. “There’s cold air that just gushes through there as well as the mold,” said Nancy Muerhoff, a teacher at Carleton Elementary. State legislators have already toured some of the buildings, but city officials plan to inspect all Detroit Public Schools by the end of April. Unfortunately, Detroit schools are not the only educational institutions feeling the repercussions of indoor environments conducive to the growth of mold. The Miami Hurricane reports that a number of freshman students returned to the Rosborough Tower of Stanford Residential College after winter break to find mold growing on their clothes, shoes, appliances, and even the walls and carpets. The clothes had a lot of sentimental value and it was just a heart-wrenching experience to be welcomed back by such a sight,” said freshman, Gyles Ward. The college is located in Miami, FL, which has the perfect humid climate and high heat where mold thrives. Any area that experiences high humidity rates is at serious risk of growing mold if areas are not properly cleaned and maintained, especially in fabrics and textiles such as carpets or clothing. The cause...

Intel’s X-Ray Helmet Confirms That the Future is Now...

Intel’s newest creation is a very palpable reminder that the future is now. Their newest product is a helmet that has glasses with a kind of x-ray vision, using a Realsense 3D camera. The glasses have the ability to see through objects, allowing the wearer to peer at the inner-workings of anything they set their sights on. The glasses were released at CES in Las Vegas and were co-developed with an augmented reality company called Daqri. While Intel’s newest product may read similarly to consumer devices such as Hololens and Google Glass, the Daqri Smart Helmet was designed for industrial use. Typical x-ray scanners take up to 30 frames per second. But according to The Guardian, the helmet allows wearers to see through objects using “real-time overlay of information, such as wiring diagrams, schematics and problem areas that need fixing.” This innovation is a great technological achievement for Intel. For years, the company has been trying to transcend their singular reputation of making computer chips. In 2014, the company launced CES as a follow-up to its previous Perceptual Computing platform. Now, using RealSense technology equipped with a 360-degree sensor and Intel’s core m7 processor, the final product claims to be the “most powerful AR wearable device” on the market. “The Daqri Smart Helmet is a great example of integrating advanced human-machine interface into existing devices to make something smart and solve a potential problem,” said Bridget Karlin, managing director of Intel’s internet of things strategy office. According to sputniknews.com, Intel’s smart helmet hopes to help maximize safety and productivity procedures for workers, making it easier for them to solve problems in the workplace. So far, it has undergone testing via a number of Fortune 100 companies across many industries, including gas, oil, and construction....

BowieNet: David Bowie’s Prophetic Vision of the Internet...

In a world where Google was still just a number, one visionary artist saw cyberspace’s potential, and took his art to this bleeding edge. Without David Bowie, the Internet may not be what it is today. Nowadays, 3.366 billion people — 46.4 % of the global population — use the Internet. It’s become such a part of everyday life that people can take their smartphones out, ask Google a question, and get their answer. About 75% of people never even have to scroll past the first page of search engine results. However, there was a time when the Internet was a luxury. In 1998, there were only 147 million Internet users, just 3.6% of the global population. It was also the year that BowieNet was born, a service that gave users online access to a myriad of Bowie’s photos, videos, and songs, as well as his exclusive, upcoming material and chats hosted by Ziggy Stardust himself. For just $19.95 a month, users got five megabytes of space to create their own personal sites that could have music and video plugins to regular webpages. Essentially, it was “a music-centric social network,” years before the rise of MySpace and Facebook, The Guardian reported. “I wanted to create an environment where not just my fans, but all music fans could be part of a single community where vast archives of music and information could be accessed, views stated and ideas exchanged,” said Bowie at the time of his service’s launch. BowieNet was not his only online entrepreneurial venture, either. In 1994, he released a CD ROM alongside his track “Jump, They Say,” allowing consumers to create their own accompanying music video. In 1996, he put a new song — “Telling Lies” — out exclusively online, selling 300,000...

Facebook Has Been Crashing Its Own Android App — On Purpose...

Using customers as digital guinea pigs without their knowledge seems to be something that Facebook just can’t give up. According to a report from the tech publication The Information, Facebook has been purposely crashing its own Android app for long periods of time in order to find out how users would react — essentially looking for a threshold at which customer loyalty would break. The Guardian and The Telegraph reported that Facebook didn’t end up finding that threshold, but it encountered plenty of angry Facebookers when word spread that the social media monolith was experimenting on them again. Back in June 2014, the company admitted that it had been conducting a psychological experiment on 600,000 users — without their consent. It had been studying a phenomenon many call “emotional contagion,” which states that a person’s emotional state mirrors the emotional state of content which that person consumes. Facebook admins quietly skewed the subjects’ newsfeed posts to highlight either positive or negative posts, and then the actions of each subject were recorded to detect any correlations. The company apologized for its faux pas but it still received plenty of criticism. The recent experiment involving app problems seems to be less intrusive, but it has reignited the sentiments that many users felt in 2014: quite simply, can Facebook really be trusted? It’s not surprising that its first experiment didn’t actually cause many users to abandon the site altogether. Almost 90% of Millennials and 43% of elderly adults (ages 65+) use social media regularly, and Facebook is still often preferred by adults over sites like Twitter or Instagram. According to The Guardian, Facebook’s latest experiment is actually the result of its increased competition with Google. Should this competition turn into “all-out war,” Google could choose to remove...

Clean Eating Can Be Dangerous: The Rise of Orthorexia...

When you break it down, a healthy diet seems like a no-brainer: eat fewer processed foods and consume more plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables. And science supports this simple adage, with recent studies reporting that consuming vegetables and fruits three or more times a day can help to reduce the incidence of stroke and stroke mortality among adults. But when does healthy eating become dangerous? As crazy as it sounds, the notion is all too much of a reality for the men and women suffering from orthorexia nervosa, an eating disorder categorized by an unhealthy obsession with healthy or “clean” eating. Although not yet recognized as a DSM-V clinical diagnosis, MD Steven Bratman introduced the term in the late 1990s. The disorder differs from anorexia and bulimima in the sense that the sufferer’s obsession lays on healthy eating itself, rather than desired weight or aesthetic value. Jordan Younger, blogger and author of “Breaking Vegan,” experienced digestive issues throughout her life. In an attempt to cure her stomach problems, Younger looked to a clean lifestyle, eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. But as her digestive issues persisted, her restrictions became more extreme. “I started cutting out a lot of different types of fruits and then different types of nuts, and then quinoa and all kinds of grains. At one point I was just eating green vegetables,” said Younger. As a result, Younger’s diet lacked key nutrients that are necessary to function properly. In time, she began losing her hair and started experiencing feelings of fatigue. Additionally, Younger’s social life began to wane, as she avoided going out with friends in order to adhere to her strict clean eating regimen. “It was hard on everyone around me because we...

Google’s Messenger App Takes a Bite Out of Apple’s Revenue...

The feud between Google and Apple is a seemingly unrelenting rivalry. But in the sphere of messaging, it seems that Google is getting a leg up on the competition. On Dec. 22, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is working to release a new app that will allow developers to build their own applications that can easily plug into an instant messaging window. This will result in a virtual assistant of sorts, that allows users to interact more directly with applications, facilitating a number of tasks through an interface similar to Facebook Messenger. And considering the recent app boom that transpired, now is a better time than ever to be investing technology in apps. According to a recent report, app usage increased by 76% in 2014 alone; that translates to more than two trillion app sessions that year. As 2015 comes to a close, these apps with built-in messenger capabilities are certainly becoming a trend of their own. So much, in fact, that tech nerds have dubbed it “ChatOps.” And according to many a tech expert, Apple should be worried about the rise of these revolutionary messenger innovations. Matt Weinberger, Business Insider columnist feels that while Apple’s strategy has thus far been very successful, its strategy is dependent on many interdependencies. Apple has made their name through selling iPhones and creating hype after hype as they release new models. But even if customers are buying Apple products, they are using Google’s messaging applications to communicate. Weinberger writes, “If people start to get their apps from Facebook, or Google, or Atlassian, or Slack, suddenly the Apple App Store gets a lot less central to the conversation. And Apple has shown little expertise in either advanced cross-platform messaging or artificial intelligence, meaning a competitor may...

New Study Finds MERS Vaccine to Be Effective on Camels...

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness that originated in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Symptoms of this disease include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, nausea, diarrhea, and possible renal failure. Since its discovery, researchers have been working hard to develop a vaccine that will effectively prevent people from developing MERS. Now, they have found hope in the most surprising of places: the desert. After developing a vaccine that protects against the virus that causes MERS, researchers began testing it on camels. Developed by German scientists, the vaccine has shown to reduce the amount of virus found in camels infected by MERS. The findings were part of a recently published study that sought to discern the effectiveness of the new vaccine. According to the study, camels are considered the primary host for the MERS virus. Humans then contract the disease when coming into contact with an infected camel. Since the disease came into focus in 2012, 1,600 cases of MERS have been found in 26 countries, and 600 people have died after contracting the illness. Previous studies have shown the origins of the illness to be in Saudi Arabia, where the majority of the camels are said to have MERS. The vaccination might help to reduce the spread of MERS among camels, preventing them from spreading the virus to humans. For the study, the camels were administered the vaccine using a nasal spray. For a control, four camels were given a placebo spray. In eight to 10 days time, the camels that received the placebo were experiencing more symptoms of MERS (runny noses), while the camels that got the vaccine were not. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that anyone above the age of six...

Even Sugar-Free Soft Drinks Are Bad for Your Teeth, According to New Study...

It’s a well-known fact that sugary sodas and sports drinks can directly harm to your dental health, but according to new research from the government-sponsored group The Oral Health CRC, even sugar-free drinks could be causing major damage. As reported by Men’s Journal, the new study suggests that sugar-free soft drinks cause just as much erosion to tooth enamel as regular, sugar-filled versions. The researchers tested 15 different soft drinks on extracted molars. The teeth that were exposed to sugar-free soft drinks ended up with nearly the same amount of erosion as the teeth exposed to regular soft drinks. In other words, it’s not just the sugar in soft drinks that causes tooth decay. Although natural sugar does cause tooth enamel to erode, researchers believe that the chemicals in sugar-free drinks may have the same effect on teeth. Chemicals like xylitol and sorbitol have been used as sugar substitutes in “diet” soft drinks for a while now, and because these drinks contain no real sugars, many people have been led to believe that diet sodas are safer on the teeth. Another common misconception is that non-carbonated sports drinks are healthier than regular sodas, too. Considering that as many as one in five Americans have untreated cavities and dental decay — and considering that fewer Americans are drinking soda on a daily basis — it’s not entirely surprising that there are a variety of foods and drinks that contribute to poor dental...

Several Indiana Counties Funding Pre-K Program to Prepare Local Children for Kindergarten...

A publicly-funded pre-kindergarten program in Indiana is paving the way for thousands of children to hit the ground running when they enter elementary school. According to local Indiana news affiliate WANE, the state of Indiana is currently funding the On My Way Pre-K Pilot, a trial preschool program that is the first of its kind in the area. As of now, five separate counties have combined to provide a pre-K education to more than 2,000 Indiana children. About 90% of funding for the pilot program comes from the state, while participating counties fund the other 10%. The initiative has been met with widespread applause from those who believe that early education is a crucial step in ensuring that children are ready for elementary school and beyond. “It’s going well. We have a lot of children who are getting the things that they need to enter kindergarten ready to learn, so you don’t have to do years of remediation when you have a strong program starting out with,” said Greta McKinney, executive director of MLK Montessori, a school in which pre-K classes are being held. McKinney added that the program also provides children with important services such as health screenings and speech therapy, which can impact a child’s future if they aren’t addressed immediately. “If you don’t have those foundational skills when you walk in the door in kindergarten, you’re already a year and a half up to three years behind,” said McKinney. Preschool and pre-K programs are seen as crucial resources in the development of young children, and research supports its benefits. For example, kids who attend preschool do 21% better on math and reading tests in kindergarten than peers who do not attend. “Starting children out in pre-K, you can assess all of...

Pharmacists in Oregon and Cali Will Soon Be Able To Prescribe Birth Control Pills...

California and Oregon will be the first two states to allow customers to purchase over-the-counter birth control pills without a prescription from a doctor. According to the new regulations, pharmacists will be able to give out birth control pills to all women over the age of 18; customers under 18 can still be prescribed contraceptives, but will need a doctor’s prescription beforehand. There will be minimal medical screenings in place, according to Tech Times, including a mandatory medical history questionnaire and a screening questionnaire before a pharmacist determines whether or not to issue a contraceptive. Additionally, pharmacists in both states will be required to undergo extensive training before they are allowed to provide birth control pills and other contraceptives to women. According to Latinos Health, the new laws in California and Oregon differ slightly. In California, for instance, pharmacists will also be allowed to prescribe smoking cessation aids and medications for travel, provide routine vaccinations for children, and order lab tests. The Oregon law is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, while California still hasn’t determined when its new legislation will officially go into effect (though it is expected to happen within the next year). These states are the first to loosen up regulations over contraceptives, and as The New York Times reported, most Western countries still require women to obtain a doctor’s prescription before getting hormonal-based contraceptives, such as birth control pills. However, as the NYT also stated, around 6.6 million pregnancies each year in the U.S. — which equals approximately half of all pregnancies in the country — are unplanned; this is a much higher proportion of unplanned pregnancies than in most European countries. Advocates of the two new laws are hoping that this legislation will make contraceptives more...