,, November 6, 2009, by Bruce Bower  —  Only days after birth, babies have a bawl with language. Newborn babies cry in melodic patterns that they have heard in adults’ conversations-even while in the womb, say medical anthropologist Kathleen Wermke of the University of Würzburg in Germany, and her colleagues.

By 2 to 5 days of age, infants’ cries bear the tuneful signature of their parents’ native tongue, a sign that language learning has already commenced, the researchers report in a paper published online November 5 in Current Biology.

Fluent speakers use melodic patterns and pitch shifts to imbue words and phrases with emotional meaning. Changes in pitch and rhythm, for example, can indicate anger. During the last few months of fetal life, babies can hear what their mothers or other nearby adults are saying, providing exposure to melodies peculiar to a specific language, Wermke says. Newborns then re-create those familiar patterns in at least some of their cries, she proposes.

“Our data support the idea that human infants’ crying is important for seeding language development,” Wermke says. “Melody lies at the roots of both the development of spoken language and music.”

Newborns’ facility for imitating the underlying makeup of adult speech gets incorporated into babbling later in infancy, Wermke proposes. Earlier research has shown that, from age 3 months on, infants can reproduce vowel sounds demonstrated by adults.

Scientists already knew that, in the final months of gestation, babies can hear people talking, especially their mothers. Newborns prefer the sound of their mothers’ voices to the voices of other people, for example. In the days after birth, babies show signs of discriminating the sound of their native language from others and of recognizing when voice-like tones change in pitch.

Wermke’s team goes further, suggesting that newborns adapt their cries to melodic patterns characteristic of whatever language they have heard spoken.

She and her colleagues studied 60 healthy newborns, 30 born into French-speaking families and 30 born into German-speaking families. The researchers recorded 2,500 cries as mothers changed babies’ diapers, readied babies for feeding or otherwise interacted with the youngsters.

Acoustic measures allowed the researchers to identify 1,254 cries (in this case, a cry is a vocalization produced with a single breath) that contained clear rising-and-falling arcs suitable for a detailed analysis.

German newborns’ cries tended to start out high-pitched and gravitate to increasingly lower pitches. French newborns’ cries started out low-pitched and then moved higher. Comparable high-to-low and low-to-high intonation patterns characterize words and phrases used by fluent speakers of German and French, Wermke says.

Newborns strive to imitate their mothers’ behaviors however they can, in order to attract attention and foster bonding, Wermke proposes. Newborns can readily mimic the musical structure of what a mother says, in her view.

More work remains to be done to confirm that parental talk affects how babies cry, remarks psycholinguist D. Kimbrough Oller of the University of Memphis.

Newborns cry differently depending on their emotional states, which may have differed for French and German babies, Oller says. Mothers of one nationality may have allowed babies to cry longer before picking them up. Or, recording devices may have been set up more intrusively in one country than in the other. Either situation would complicate an acoustic comparison of French and German newborns’ cries, Oller notes.

A related scientific debate concerns whether parents’ native language influences how babies babble during the first year of life. Oller regards babies’ babbling as a universal set of sounds largely immune to cultural or linguistic influences.


When Lennart Nilsson’s pictures of developing embryos were published in Life magazine in 1965, they caused a sensation. Within days, the entire print run of eight million had sold out. More than 40 years later, the photographs have lost none of their power

Five weeks. The embryo is approximately 9mm long. A face develops, with openings for the mouth, the nostrils and eyes



Advanced technology now allows even clearer and more magnified images. Some of these pictures were taken with conventional cameras with macro lenses, while others were taken with the use of an endoscope. Scanning electron microscope technology enabled Nilsson to take pictures at a magnification of hundreds of thousands

Eight weeks. The rapidly-growing embryo is well protected in the foetal sac



His remarkable pictures have been collected in a large hardcover book, A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

10 weeks. The eyelids are semi-shut. They will close completely in a few days



16 weeks. The foetus uses its hands to explore its own body and its surroundings…



…The foetus can now grab and pull the long umbilical cord. The skeleton consists mainly of flexible cartridge. A network of blood vessels is visible through the thin skin



18 weeks: Approximately 14cm. The foetus can now perceive sounds from the outside world



20 weeks. Approximately 20cm. Woolly hair, known as lanugo, covers the entire head


Learn what’s happening in your body — and what you can do to bring your numbers down, November 6, 2009  —  When we hear “high blood pressure,” most of us think about cutting back on sodium. But the causes of high blood pressure are so much more complex than eating too much salt. In fact, only about 5% to 10% of people with high blood pressure will ever know the exact cause.

To really get a grasp on what’s causing your blood pressure to creep up, up, up over time, you have to pan back — waaay back — and look at several body systems.

The Big Picture

Your blood pressure is a measurement of the force of your blood against your artery walls as the blood passes through. If the pressure is too high, that force can literally gouge holes in your arteries over time.

Exercise, strong emotions, and other stimulating things can temporarily raise blood pressure. And blood pressure varies — it tends to be lower at night during sleep and higher in the morning.  When your blood pressure dips high or low, your body is supposed to compensate and help keep blood pressure in check. When it doesn’t, there could be a problem within any number of body systems, including your heart, your nervous system, your kidneys, and certain hormone systems.

Your Pumping Station

Your heart and arteries have a big impact on blood pressure. The amount of blood your heart pumps, how wide or narrow your arteries are, and the volume of blood in your bloodstream all affect your blood pressure. If your arteries are too narrow, if you have greater-than-normal blood volume, or if your heart beats more forcefully than it should, high blood pressure can occur. The question is, what causes these things to happen? It’s not always clear.

Your Nerves

Your autonomic nervous system is a key blood pressure player. It helps regulate your blood pressure by setting off a series of events in response to low or high blood pressure.

When your blood pressure dips too low — or when your body needs to prime itself to take sudden action against a perceived threat, such as during times of stress or fear — the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system temporarily raises blood pressure. It does this by influencing chemical messengers that affect the speed and force of your heartbeat and the size of your blood vessels.

When your blood pressure is too high, or when it’s time for sleep or rest, the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system kicks in, conserving energy and releasing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that slows down your heart.

It’s not clear if dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system may contribute to hypertension in some way. Recent research does show that the sympathetic nervous system may be overactive in some people with hypertension.

Your Kidneys

Your kidneys — those bean-shaped organs that flank your spine — also play a pivotal role in keeping blood pressure in a healthy range. The kidneys’ main trick for doing this is to excrete just enough salt and water to keep cell fluids balanced and blood volume optimal for healthy blood pressure.

If the kidneys are functioning properly, they release more sodium in response to higher salt consumption. Your kidneys might also temporarily excrete less sodium, thanks to a little kick in the butt from the autonomic nervous system when blood pressure is too low.

But if your kidneys aren’t doing their job quite right for some reason, chronic increases in blood volume and extracellular fluid volume can occur, resulting in high blood pressure.

Your Hormones

The kidneys also make an enzyme — renin — that’s tied in with a hormonal blood pressure control system (called the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone cascade). Here’s how it works:

Renin triggers the production of angiotensin, a substance that makes small arteries constrict, which in turn increases blood pressure. Angiotensin also triggers the release of aldosterone, a hormone that causes the kidneys to hold onto sodium and excrete potassium — both of which cause water to be retained and thus blood pressure to creep up.

If this renin-hormone system is too active, it could cause high blood pressure. But what might make it overactive? It’s a question that scientists continue to study.

So What Does It All Mean?

As you can see, there’s a whole lot going on when it comes to controlling blood pressure. A host of different factors may make it go too high. And while you may never know the exact cause of your high blood pressure, there is plenty of research showing what will help control it. Eating a DASH-style diet, losing weight if you need to, exercising a little more, cutting back on alcohol — and yes, cutting back on salt — are all smart and proven choices for getting blood pressure numbers down.

And it’s well worth the effort when you think of the health issues that come with high numbers — like heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

Histostem to Provide Hematopoietic Stem Cells to a Major Hong Kong Hospital for the Treatment of Leukemia,, November 6, 2009  —  Stem Cell Therapy International Inc. (OTCBB: SCII) and its soon to be subsidiary, Histostem Ltd. of South Korea (“Histostem”), announced that they recently supplied hematopoietic stem cells to The Queen Mary Hospital of the University of Hong Kong, China, for treatment of Leukemia patients. As reported October 29, 2009 in the Korean Medical Association, Histostem has become the first Korean company in the stem cell market to provide this type of hematopoietic stem cell — derived from umbilical cord blood — for transplantation in non-blood related patients. This makes Korea only the sixth nation in the world to export stem cells for international research and treatment and further illustrates Histostem’s role as a leader in the stem cell industry.

David Stark, Stem Cell Therapy’s President and CEO, stated, “This is just the latest success by Histostem, which in the past has also supplied stem cells for research to the University of California San Francisco, Beijing University China, and universities in Japan and Thailand.”

He added, “We are increasing our vast repository and supply chain to meet existing worldwide demand for our accredited, certified cell line, and will further expand our market reach given our position as one of the world’s largest cord blood repositories.”

Dr. Han Hoon, President and Founder of Histostem, said, “As a doctor, my first concern is for the well being of my patients. The first Hong Kong patient will be treated for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. We have a significant opportunity to distribute our stem cells to patients with incurable diseases around the world and to scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of stem cell treatments.”

Recently, Histostem was awarded both US and EU patents for a primary technology of extracting and cultivating mesenchymal stem cells from fresh and cryopreserved umbilical cord blood. These patents, combined with Histostem’s established supply chain, extensive repository, show that Histostem’s public cord blood banking system is among the leaders in the marketplace. Histostem owns and stores at its state of the art facility in Korea, over 85,000 ethically collected and well documented cord blood units.

Andrew Norstrud, CFO of SCII, said, “Histostem is poised to be the top enterprise in the international stem cell market, which is currently experiencing a 25% annual growth rate from approximately $1.8 billion in 2009 to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2012 according to Research Impact Technologies (May, 2008). We have a significant advantage with the size of our repository in tissue matching of patients and for specific research, which will allow us to eventually become a major supplier of cord blood and stem cells.”

He added, “This new channel demonstrates that we are a major player in this market, with the distribution channels, academic connections and credentials to supply a proprietary line of stem cell products for research and — where local regulations permit — the treatment of disease.”

About Stem Cell Therapy International, Inc.

Stem Cell Therapy International, Inc. (OTCBB: SCII) is in the field of regenerative medicine. SCII (soon to have its name changed to AmStem Corporation) is a company devoted to the treatment of patients with stem cell transplantation therapy as well as providing the supplies of biological solutions containing new lines of stem cell products.

About AmStem International Corporation

AmStem is a new biotechnology company based in Northern California, in the watershed of stem cell innovation fueled by President Obama’s recent announcement to lift Federal funding limitations for stem cell research. AmStem provides biotherapeutic and cosmetic stem cell products, stem cell collection and storage know-how, and access to nanotechnology vital to cutting edge stem cell research. Its web site is under construction at

About Histostem Co. Ltd.:

Histostem was founded in Seoul, Korea in 2000, to date it has treated more than 500 patients with stem cells and currently has approximately 50 full-time employees and several part-time employees. Histostem’s intellectual property portfolio consists of six patents that have been granted and 5 patents pending. To its knowledge Histostem is one of the very few stem cell companies in the world currently earning several million dollars in income from its products and technology. A comprehensive list of Histostem’s achievements can be found at the company’s website (click on English version when entering the site)., November 9, 2009  —  If you develop chest pain when you exercise in cold weather, and not when you exercise in warm weather, check with your doctor. You could have heart disease.

The blood supply to your heart comes from arteries on its outside surface. The blood that is pumped inside your heart’s chambers brings almost no oxygen to your heart muscle. If you have arteriosclerosis, fatty plaques in your heart’s arteries restrict the flow of blood to your heart, and therefore, your heart has to pump faster to bring more oxygen to your heart. Cold wind blowing on your face constricts your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure, which increases the resistance against the flow of blood so your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. It also slows your heart rate so that less blood is pumped to your heart muscle. A harder working heart requires increased flow of blood, but a slower heart rate brings less blood to the heart. The heart suffers from lack of oxygen and hurts.

While freezing your face slows your heart and can cause chest pain, freezing your fingers makes your heart beat faster and brings more oxygen to your heart. Putting your fingers in cold water may not cause chest pain, while exposing your face to a cold wind may do so. If you develop chest pain in cold weather, check with your doctor for heart disease. Cover your face with a scarf or wear a balaclava when you go out into the cold.

By Gabe Mirkin, M.D., for CBS Radio News


Just Getting Old Does Not Cause Diabetes, November 9, 2009  —  A study from the University of Pittsburgh shows that the marked increase in diabetes in older people is caused by obesity

and lack of exercise, not by aging alone (Diabetes Care, August 2009).  

Most cases of diabetes are caused by cells not being able to respond to insulin, rather than by lack of insulin. Inability torespond adequately to insulin is caused by being overweight, not exercising, lacking vitamin D and/or eating too many refined carbohydrates. 

In this study, the same insulin responses were found in young and old endurance-trained athletes, young and old normal-weight subjects, and young and old obese subjects. Regardless of age, athletes had better insulin responses than normal-weight sedentary subjects, who had better insulin responses than overweight people. 

 If you are overweight, try to lose the extra weight.

Check with your doctor and start or continue an exercise program.

Get a blood test called vitamin D3. If it is below 75 nmol/L, you need more sunlight or vitamin D pills. 

When you are not exercising, avoid sugar water and flour.

Renal Week 2009: American Society of Nephrology (ASN) 2009 Annual Meeting,, November 6, 2009, by Norra MacReady – High intakes of certain nutrients may have an effect on renal function, Julie Lin, MD, MPH, an internist and nephrologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, said here at Renal Week 2009, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology.

In an analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study, sodium consumption in the highest quartile was associated with significantly higher odds of renal function decline compared with sodium intake in the lowest quartile. In contrast, beta carotene intake in the highest quartile was associated with a decrease in risk of nearly 40% compared with in the lowest quartile.

“This is another reason not to take a high-salt diet,” said Dr. Lin. She presented the findings here during a free communication session.

High-protein diets are thought to hasten progressive renal decline through hyperfiltration, and some data suggest that low-protein diets may protect kidney function. However, data on the effect, if any, of other nutrients on renal function are scarce, Dr. Lin explained. She and her coauthor, Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, examined long-term associations between individual nutrients and kidney function in 3296 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. The participants were included in the Kidney Function Decline or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus substudies of the Nurses’ Health Study and had had their plasma creatinine and nutrient levels analyzed in 1989 and 2000. Nutrient consumption was estimated from food diaries and frequency questionnaires, which tracked the subjects’ consumption of more than 130 foods and beverages during the previous year.

At baseline, median age was 67 years, and median estimated glomerular filtration rate was 76 mL/minute/1.73 m2, which Dr. Lin described as “well-preserved” for women of that age.

Overall, the primary outcome measure – a decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate of 30% or more – was seen in 372 (11.2%) of the participants during 11 years. This represented a median increase in plasma creatinine of 0.33 mg/dL. After multivariate adjustment, the highest quartile of sodium intake was associated with an odds ratio of 1.52 for the primary outcome compared with the lowest quartile. For beta carotene, the odds ratio was 0.62 for the highest vs the lowest quartile of intake.

No other significant associations were seen for the other nutrients analyzed, such as animal fat, low-fat dairy products, vitamin E, folate, other vitamins, protein, and monounsaturated fat, said Dr. Lin.

This study included mostly older white women, and it is possible that men, younger people, or people of different ethnicities might have different results, although “there’s no biological reason why these findings would not apply to them, too,” she noted.

Overall, these findings suggest that “dietary modification may represent an important strategy for maintaining kidney health,” Dr. Lin concluded.

“The finding of a strong association between kidney function and the highest level of nutrient intake is very interesting,” said Talat Ikizler, MD, associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and director of the university’s outpatient dialysis clinic. Dr. Ikizler, who was not involved in this research, cautioned that this was an associative study and cannot show cause and effect. Still, he said, “it suggests that we must pay more attention to the nutritional needs of our patients.”

Dr. Lin and Dr. Ikizler have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Renal Week 2009: American Society of Nephrology (ASN) 2009 Annual Meeting: Abstract SA-FC342. Presented October 31, 2009.