Why don’t babies shiver?

When children and adults are cold, they shiver as a way to create heat.  Shivering causes muscle contraction, which in turn, creates warmth.

But did you know that babies don’t shiver?

The reason that babies don’t shiver is that they have a special type of fat (adipose) tissue, called “brown fat”.  Brown fat burns more calories than adult fat (which is whitish yellow in color) and releases more heat.  Babies have brown fat around their necks, chests, back and butt, and the brown fat acts like a warm coat to keep them warm.

Of course the brown fat is not enough to keep babies warm in the cold, and they still need to be bundled up.

A recent study with PET scans found that some adults still have brown fat.  Interestingly, these adults tended to be thinner than people without brown fat, probably because the brown fat is burning more calories.


Weird quarantine facts

As the world continues to quarantine due to Covid-19, here are some weird facts that are occurring during the pandemic:

  • Physical exercise has decreased by 48%
  • Sales of pretzels are and potato chips are up 30%
  • Traffic accidents have fallen by as much as 50% since stay-at-home orders went into place.
  • Calls to child abuse hotlines have decreased by 20%.
  • Calls to suicide hotlines have increased as much as 800% in some areas, thought due to social isolation and economic stressors.
  • Calls to Poison Centers are up by 20%,  which is thought to be due to increased use of home cleaning supplies.
  • Visits to the Emergency Department have decreased by up to 50%.  This is thought to be due to concern of getting infected by others during a hospital visit.
  • The rate of heart attacks has decreased by 40% worldwide.
  • Both alcohol and marijuana sales are up by 50%.


Can donating blood make YOU healthier?

In the United States, someone needs a blood transfusion every 2 seconds.  There are 41,000 blood donations needed per day!

What about during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?  The Surgeon General states that blood donations are needed during this time, and that appointments for blood donations should continue.

What about the people who donate blood?  Do they get any benefit?

Studies have shown that blood donors are 88% less likely to have a heart attack!   This is thought to be due to the fact that donating blood decreases the viscosity, or thickness of the blood, and therefore donors are less likely to develop heart blockages.

Blood donors are less likely to be hospitalized, and if they are, they have shorter lengths of hospital stays.

When you donate blood, you get a mini physical, as you get your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure checked.

Blood donations are tested for 13 different diseases, and if anything is positive, the donor will be notified immediately.  Of course, if a person knows they have an infectious disease, they should not donate blood.

Another benefit is that when you donate blood, your  body has to burn calories to produce new blood.  When you donate one pint of blood, you burn 650 calories!

But the most important reason to donate blood is that donating a single time can save up to three lives!


What percentage of people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom?

After using the bathroom, 10% of people don’t wash their hands at all!

Studies have shown that 15% of men and 7% of women don’t wash their hands after using the toilet.

For those who do wash, 33% don’t use soap.

It’s even worse for school students age 8-17, as researchers found that 89% of children don’t wash their hands.

Because of the lack of hand washing, researchers have found that that the doorknobs of bathrooms harbor such bacteria as streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter.

So what can you do to prevent infection in a public bathroom?  After washing your hands use a paper towel or tissue to turn the water faucets on and off, and use a paper towel to open the door when you exit.


How many people die a day in motor vehicle accidents?

In the United States, over 100 people die a day in motor vehicle accidents.   Traffic accidents cause more than 36,500 deaths each year in our country.

One in seven people people do not wear seatbelts while driving.  Seatbelts reduce the risk of death from a car crash by 45%.  People not wearing a seatbelt are 30% more likely to be ejected from their vehicle during a crash.

Alcohol is involved in 40% of motor vehicle crashes.

People who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash.  Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.

Since the start of the Coronavirus lockdown, there have been 50% fewer car accidents compared to the same period in 2019, due to less traffic on the roads.





You’re dreaming!

Even thought they may seem much longer, most dreams only last 5-20 minutes.

Dreams occur mostly during a phase of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM), which is a period of sleep with very high brain activity, and is almost like being awake.  REM phases get longer during the night, so our dreams get longer as the night progresses.

The average person has 7 different dreams per night.
Most people forget 90-95% of their dreams.
12% of people only dream in black and white.
People who were born blind have dreams but without the sense of sight.  People who became blind later in life still have dreams with visual perceptions.
Scientific studies have shown that animals have REM phases and have dreams.
There is a practice called “lucid dreaming”, where people learn to control their dreams, and even use dreams to problem solve (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-control-dreams/).

Does drinking alcohol prevent Alzheimer’s?

There is evidence that moderate alcohol consumption can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.


A study by Rush University tracked 960 people who did not have dementia.  The average age of the participants in the study was 81 years old.  They found that those who drank a glass of wine daily were less likely to have cognitive decline, and had improved memory and perceptual speed.


Another study from Chicago’s Loyola University School of Medicine looked at 365,000 participants.  They found that those who consumed moderate alcohol were 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia.  However heavy drinkers (3-5 drinks per day) did not show improvement.


A recent study from the Korean Brain Aging Study for Early Diagnosis and Prediction of Alzheimer’s Disease looked at 548 individuals.   All participants underwent clinical assessments,  PET scan, and brain MRI.  A moderate lifetime alcohol intake (1-13 drinks a week) found lower amyloid deposition in the brain.  Amyloid is a type of protein that the body normally  produces, however Alzheimer’s patients develop abnormal clumps of amyloid between the brain cells.  The Korean study found that alcohol consumption appeared to reduce this abnormal amyloid deposition.


What are the new telehealth rules?

This week, the Administration broadened telehealth coverage and eased HIPAA regulations for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What changed with the new telehealth rules?

-Sanctions and penalties were waived under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which restricts where and how a patient’s health information can be shared.  The result:  Doctors and nurse practitioners can now use smartphones to communicate with their patients, which was not the case before.

-All 62 million Medicare patients can now receive telehealth services.  Telehealth can be provided in nursing homes, hospital outpatient departments, and the patient’s own home.

-The Office of Civil Rights has stated it will not impose penalties under HIPAA rules if health care providers are providing care in good faith.  Providers must use reasonable safeguards to protect patient information.

-Doctors and nurse practitioners can use Facetime or private chat apps, but cannot use public facing webcams (such as Facebook, TikTok, etc).

These steps will be important so that patients who need routine medical care  or have questions on their medical or behavioral health management do not have to venture outside of their home.

How can you access telehealth?  If you need to see a health care provider, call your doctor’s office to set up an appointment.  You can also call your insurance company to find out the coverage you have for telehealth and what services are available to you.


Young man using smart phone

Coronavirus: Do masks do any good?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is currently not recommending that people wear face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.  The CDC recommends face masks if an individual has SYMPTOMS of COVID-19, to prevent the spread to others.

Part of the reason for the CDC’s recommendation is that there is concern of a shortage of face masks for health care professionals who care caring for COVID-19 patients.  In many countries, face masks are being purchased on-line and hoarded, resulting in shortages.  Face masks are also selling for exorbitant prices due to demand.  There is a special type of mask called N95 respirators, used by healthcare workers, and there is a particular concern that these will run out.

However, we do know that COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplet.  So if someone sneezes or coughs, and a droplet lands in your mouth or nose, then you can catch the virus.  The virus can also be transmitted if you touch a surface with a respiratory droplet on it, then touch your nose or face.

Current recommendations at this time are frequent hand-washing, and not touching your face or nose.  While there are no high-quality studies at this time for COVID-19 and face mask use, at this time there is not an official recommendation to wear a mask if you do not have symptoms.


I’ve been exposed to Coronavirus, now what?

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a respiratory virus that causes fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  Most people will have a mild disease but some cases may become severe.

You would generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to become infected.  “Close contact” includes:  Living in the same house as a person sick with COVID-19, caring for a sick person with COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, or being in direct contact with a sick person with COVID-19 (being coughed on, kissed, sharing utensils, etc”.  If you have NOT had these exposures you would be considered “low risk”.

If you are “low risk”, you can continue to go to work and school, but should monitor your health for 14 days and stay away from others if you become sick.

If you HAVE had close contact as defined above, you should monitor your health for 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19.  You should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days.

If you get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should stay at home and away from other people.  If you have risk factors such as over 60-years-of age, are pregnant, or have other medical conditions, call and tell your doctor’s office.

If you do not have high risk conditions, but want medical advice, you can call your healthcare provider and discuss your symptoms and exposure, especially if you have a high fever, feel short of breath, or can’t eat or drink.

Tomorrow:  Do masks do any good?

Home quarantine: