BATTLE OF THE PRENATAL TESTS
The news release announcing the microarray papers quotes one of the researchers: “Based on our findings, we believe that microarray will and should replace karyotyping as the standard for evaluating chromosomal abnormalities in fetuses.” But microarrays would have missed the CHARGE baby.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty in declaring a diagnostic technique obsolete.
I think one of the oldest technologies is still the most telling: ultrasound. Figure 1 in the third NEJM paper shows the fetus’s face and the shrunken right heart ventricle. In my two inversion families, the ultrasounds had been normal.
Prenatal tests are a tricky topic. For many, they are seen as necessary – they provide us with information, or even just cute pictures of our babies in utero. For others, they are bad – they are used to screen for abortions, and even if mom doesn’t abort, are things that much more different by knowing something a few weeks ahead? I’m somewhere in the middle. I was very thankful for my ultrasounds at 12 weeks and 20 weeks, but only as reassurance as I’d miscarried prior to having my daughter and was an absolute basket case during my pregnancy because of this. I also think parents should have the right to whatever technology we have available to them and that they should make educated choices. My problems stem from this latter part of “educated” because I really don’t feel that many parents are given accurate information about what prenatal tests can and can’t tell you. Parents think they’re getting answers, when they often times end up with more questions that can’t be answered. I also dislike the idea of screening and aborting babies because there might be something wrong with them or there is something but it’s not life threatening. I do understand when there is severe damage and a baby simply won’t survive birth, but when we see the rates of abortion for children who test positive for Down’s in the US (estimates range from 50-90%), I get worried. Why? Not because of the parent’s decision, though it’s not one I could make, but I haven’t walked in their shoes or know their circumstances, but because it tells me that our society has decided it’s better to kill a child (regardless of your stance on abortion, the definitive tests for Down’s can’t be done until after the first trimester – usually between 16 and 22 weeks) than provide support for families who welcome a child with disabilities into the world. And that is something I just detest.
How do you feel about prenatal testing? Is it going too far? Are parents truly educated about them?
CAVEMENT TRUMP MODERN ARTISTS AT ANIMAL DRAWING
Paleolithic people living more than 10,000 years ago had a better artistic eye than modern painters and sculptures — at least when it came to watching how horses and other four-legged animals move.
A new analysis of 1,000 pieces of prehistoric and modern artwork finds that “cavemen,” or people living during the upper Paleolithic period between 10,000 and 50,000 years ago, were more accurate in their depictions of four-legged animals walking than artists are today. While modern artists portray these animals walking incorrectly 57.9 percent of the time, prehistoric cave painters only made mistakes 46.2 percent of the time.
I’m no artist at all, so I’d make mistakes 100% of the time, but I find it fascinating that our evolution away from proximity to animals would affect even our artistic sense. Upon hearing this, it’s not surprising, but it’s definitely not something I would have thought to even look at. I would have assumed that if you wanted to draw animals, you would watch them. And then get it right. But I guess not.
Are you artistic? Do you feel that you could accurately represent an animal’s gait or do you not feel you have enough experience watching these animals to get it right?
EDMONTON PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD TO ALLOW ZEROS
Just months after a teacher was fired for giving zeros to students who didn’t complete their work, the Edmonton Public School Board is proposing making zeros part of their official policy.
Lynden Dorval made national headlines in the fall when he was fired for insubordination.
He refused to follow the policy of his school, Ross Sheppard, which required students be given an incomplete for assignments not handed in or for missed tests.
On Friday, board chairwoman Sarah Hoffman said they have a draft policy that if approved, will see students receive marks from zero to 100.
She says students will not be let off the hook for not doing their assignments.
I shared this original article on Facebook EP when it came out. I was appalled. The school board’s position was that a zero doesn’t accurately reflect what a student knows. I agree. However, if a student doesn’t make arrangements with the teacher, doesn’t do the initial work, and doesn’t do the make-up work, what other conclusion can a teach come to than they don’t know the material? It’s the most educated guess. Of course students with unique circumstances (sick family member, working full time to support their family in addition to school, etc.) should be given some leeway, but it’s still up to them to approach the teachers and make those arrangements. High school children are not idiots, they are not incapable of being responsible for the work that is expected of them. Frankly I’m glad to see that the school board has changed its mind. And that the teacher is working in an environment that supports him.
What do you think – should teachers be able to hand out zeros? Or should students just get incompletes all year?