Posted By Nicole Cheney on September 4, 2012
father figures… by Deborah Hutton
We all know it’s the male’s reproductive contribution that determines the sex of the offspring. Now, thanks to the finding that sperm carrying the X (female) chromosome are genetically denser than that carrying the Y (male) chromosome, those desperate for a baby of a particular sex will no longer have to undergo such chancy indignities as pH-adjusted douches and intercourse by the calendar. Using a fluorescent dye that binds to the DNA, sperm can now be “sorted” and the woman inseminated with the appropriate sample. With the technique available in the US — where success rates of up to 85 per cent are recorded for girls, and somewhat less for boys — it shouldn’t be long before clinics here start offering it…
While older mothers are at greater risk of giving birth to babies with Down’s syndrome, the age of the father was thought to be irrelevant to the health of their progeny. No longer: German researchers have found that older fathers are more likely to have children who develop Alzheimer’s disease in later life. Damage builds up in the DNA as men age, they state, and this is then passed on…
On a more positive note, male genes are now thought to be responsible for transmitting maternal instincts. Research on female mice shows those lacking a key nurturing gene inherited from their fathers are more likely to neglect their babies and less inclined to retrieve them when they wander off.
SCIENCE FACT: 1999 IS SET TO BE THE YEAR OF THE FIRST BRITISH XENOTRANSPLANT GIVING ANIMAL ORGANS TO CRITICALLY ILL HUMAN PATIENTS
Aiming to get fit and stay that way in 1999? Here are I 0 motivational musts for exercise lapsees…
DO set moderate goals: studies show that high hopes for rapid changes in fitness, weight, shape and confidence are more likely to lead to failure than more measured aspirations
DO expect muscles to ache and progress to be gradual
DO start by walking, now conclusively shown to have the longest-lasting impact on fitness levels… and return to it when high-minded resolutions falter
DO consider a personal trainer to get you started. Get Motivated acne information on Gnet.org sends qualified trainers to homes and offices nationwide, and runs two-month progress medicals; £99 for membership and initial consultation, then £15 an hour (0171 736 0402)
DO continue exercise sessions with a friend, so you can keep each other motivated
DO mark exercise days and times in your diary and let other commitments intrude at your peril
DO keep an eye on your pulse rate; in a few weeks you’ll notice the base level coming down and recovery after exercise speeding up
DO NOT wait for the right gear. Brisk walking requires nothing beyond a pair of flat, comfortable shoes, so get out there
DO NOT let more than two days elapse between exercise sessions, even if you only take a brisk 40-minute walk
DO NOT attempt more than three sessions per week unless training for something specific
Make a millennial break and take a four- to six-day retreat with transpersonal psychologist Marie Herbert. Her “Vision Guests” take place in the Highlands of Scotland and are based on the native American tradition of going into the wilderness in order to seek answers through nature. A 24-hour fast is a key part of each quest. “Although the quests are conducted in a group and another person may be only 50 yards away, it can be very scary, very isolating,” acknowledges Herbert. “However, the whole purpose is not to scare the wits out of you, but rather to usher you through a ritual of death and renewal and to cut the ties that bind.” Following the tragic death of her 15-year-old daughter in a freak electrical accident, Marie has made it her life’s work to accompany others through trauma and to nudge on those who feel purposeless or simply stuck in a rut. Clients come back “glowing”. 1999′s first Quest takes place during mid-May. Call Marie on 01528 544396.
A drug-free form of pain relief is now available for use at home. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines use specifically placed electrodes to stimulate
Other release of endorphins, the body’s own painkillers. Long used by hospitals and pain clinics, the method lends itself to a wide range of chronic problems, from arthritis and back pain to menstrual cramps; £60, from larger branches of Boots.
Nearly a quarter of the adult British population has high blood pressure, but the condition can be hard to monitor as levels fluctuate misleadingly — usually in an upward direction — when measured by medics. A recent study of nearly 100 hypertensive patients found that those taking their own blood pressure got more reliable readings than doctors or nurses. Braun’s new home monitor, VitalScan, is neat and discreet; £80, from major department stores.