6 Ways Babies Can Be Dangerous


Biologically, we’re wired to adore babies. They smell terrific, their gummy smiles are delightful, and they’re a lot of fun to shop for. But not all infants subscribe to a peaceful philosophy. Some tiny terrors can wind up lashing out physically, causing harm to their adult handlers. Here are six proven ways poop-panted antagonists can inflict damage.


You wouldn’t think a baby’s tiny fingers could possibly pose any danger—but that foolish assumption could put your eyesight at risk. Babies tend to have a fascination with glasses, reaching for corrective lenses out of curiosity; other times, their arms can spasmodically shoot out into the nearest soft tissue. Parental reflexes are often too slow to avoid a direct hit to the eye, causing corneal abrasions and even subconjunctival hemorrhages. One mother, Kara Kastan, told The New York Times in 2012 that she was jabbed in the eye by her son twice. She had to wear an eyepatch. The baby did not care.


Though slight of frame, babies wield an incredibly powerful cranium, their solid skulls able to crash into unsuspecting noses or teeth with substantial force. Penny Blatt, wife of New York Times columnist David Wallis, had her nose broken in two places by their son. Pediatricians believe head butts can be a sign of frustration when infants are unable to verbalize their feelings.


What could be more seductive to a baby than a shiny, dangling earring just inches from its grasp? New York City plastic surgeon Norman Day claims he's seen several patients whose earlobes have been ripped in half after an infant has clamped down on jewelry and tugged. Other surgeons report similar cases, particularly when the mother is wearing hoop earrings.


A baby should always be handled as though you were holding a live lobster: babies can exert significant pinching power that’s often directed at the neck of their guardian. A baby that grabs a flap of skin and tugs can create a sunburn-like irritation. Experts say babies are just being curious and want to see how you react to the assault. If you exaggerate and jump back, it might amuse—and encourage—the roughhousing. Instead, gently release their grip from your Adam’s apple and tell them it hurts.


UK mother Joanne Mackie made news in 2009 when it was reported that she had an allergic reaction to her own son, James, breaking out in blisters upon contact. It was the result of a rare autoimmune disease, oemphigoid gestationis, that Mackie developed while carrying James. After a course of steroids, the reaction—which only affects one in 50,000 women—subsided.


As a baby begins to flirt with toddlerhood at the age of two, their growing ability to grasp objects can sometimes result in toys going airborne. Sarah Rosengarten was watching her son, Carter, play with Matchbox cars when he decided to test his pitching skills: the car crashed into Sarah’s jaw, resulting in a hairline fracture.

For once, a baby’s casual disregard for the safety of others had a benefit: Sarah’s CT scan detected a tumor that led to a diagnosis of kidney failure. She successfully received a transplant.

All images courtesy of iStock.

New Patient Test Could Suggest Whether Therapy or Meds Will Work Better for Anxiety

Like many psychological disorders, there's no one-size-fits-all treatment for patients with anxiety. Some might benefit from taking antidepressants, which boost mood-affecting brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Others might respond better to therapy, and particularly a form called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

Figuring out which form of treatment works best often requires months of trial and error. But experts may have developed a quick clinical test to expedite this process, suggests a new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have noted that patients with higher levels of anxiety exhibit more electrical activity in their brains when they make a mistake. They call this phenomenon error-related negativity, or ERN, and measure it using electroencephalography (EEG), a test that records the brain's electric signals.

“People with anxiety disorders tend to show an exaggerated neural response to their own mistakes,” the paper’s lead author, UIC psychiatrist Stephanie Gorka, said in a news release. “This is a biological internal alarm that tells you that you've made a mistake and that you should modify your behavior to prevent making the same mistake again. It is useful in helping people adapt, but for those with anxiety, this alarm is much, much louder.”

Gorka and her colleagues wanted to know whether individual differences in ERN could predict treatment outcomes, so they recruited 60 adult volunteers with various types of anxiety disorders. Also involved was a control group of 26 participants with no history of psychological disorders.

Psychiatrists gauged subjects’ baseline ERN levels by having them wear an EEG cap while performing tricky computer tasks. Ultimately, they all made mistakes thanks to the game's challenging nature. Then, randomized subjects with anxiety disorders were instructed to take an SSRI antidepressant every day for three months, or receive weekly cognitive behavioral therapy for the same duration. (Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of evidence-based talk therapy that forces patients to challenge maladaptive thoughts and develop coping mechanisms to modify their emotions and behavior.)

After three months, the study's patients took the same computer test while wearing EEG caps. Researchers found that those who'd exhibited higher ERN levels at the study's beginning had reduced anxiety levels if they'd been treated with CBT compared to those treated with medication. This might be because the structured form of therapy is all about changing behavior: Those with enhanced ERN might be more receptive to CBT than other patients, as they're already preoccupied with the way they act.

EEG equipment sounds high-tech, but it's relatively cheap and easy to access. Thanks to its availability, UIC psychiatrists think their anxiety test could easily be used in doctors’ offices to measure ERN before determining a course of treatment.

A Pitless Avocado Wants to Keep You Safe From the Dreaded 'Avocado Hand'

The humble avocado is a deceptively dangerous fruit. Some emergency room doctors have recently reported an uptick in a certain kind of injury—“avocado hand,” a knife injury caused by clumsily trying to get the pit out of an avocado with a knife. There are ways to safely pit an avocado (including the ones likely taught in your local knife skills class, or simply using a spoon), but there’s also another option. You could just buy one that doesn’t have a pit at all, as The Telegraph reports.

British retailer Marks & Spencer has started selling cocktail avocados, a skinny, almost zucchini-like type of avocado that doesn’t have a seed inside. Grown in Spain, they’re hard to find in stores (Marks & Spencer seems to be the only place in the UK to have them), and are only available during the month of December.

The avocados aren’t genetically modified, according to The Independent. They grow naturally from an unpollinated avocado blossom, and their growth is stunted by the lack of seed. Though you may not be able to find them in your local grocery, these “avocaditos” can grow wherever regular-sized Fuerte avocados grow, including Mexico and California, and some specialty producers already sell them in the U.S. Despite the elongated shape, they taste pretty much like any other avocado. But you don’t really need a knife to eat them, since the skin is edible, too.

If you insist on taking your life in your hand and pitting your own full-sized avocado, click here to let us guide you through the process. No one wants to go to the ER over a salad topping, no matter how delicious. Safety first!

[h/t The Telegraph]


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