Featured News on Health & Science

A Matter of Trust

You may be surprised but your three-year-old toddler can sort the grain from chaff when it comes to learning.

Ben and Jenny, the hand puppets
Three and four-year-olds develop the ability to distinguish between a good and a bad teacher very early. Canadian psychologist Susan Birch and others have found that a child of three tracks an individual’s history of being accurate or inaccurate, and then applies this to subsequent learning.

The researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver used two lovable hand puppets that many children are familiar with — a child-like girl Jenny and the boy-like Ben. The study appears in the May issue of the journal Cognition.

In the first phase of their experiment, Jenny gave correct labels for objects that children are familiar with, like “horse” or “ball”, while Ben provided wrong labels or functions, calling a spoon a “cup” or a car a “shoe”.

In the second phase, the puppets introduced words and actions that were unfamiliar to the children. The children tended to believe Jenny, who had earlier provided correct answers.

“It shows that even at such a young age children are sensitive to others’ mistakes and, quite impressively, not only use a person’s prior accuracy to decide who to learn from but do so spontaneously,” say the researchers.

“Most of our interactions with other people are based on trust — we have to trust that the food we buy from them is not going to make us sick, that the bank is really going to give us our money back when we ask for it and so on,” says Vikram Jaswal, director of Child Language & Learning Laboratory, University of Virginia in the US.

In a similar work, published in 2006, Jaswal and others had shown pre-school children a videotape with an adult actor and a child actor describing novel things. The two actors provided different names for an object unfamiliar to the participants. One called it a “blicket” and the other a “wug”. When asked what they thought it was called, the children tended to use the name that the adult had given.

What is really interesting, though, is that if before the experiment began the adult actor made several mistakes (like calling an airplane a “shoe”), the children favoured the new word that the child actor had given!

This shows that even though children seem to recognise that adults are normally good sources of information, a particular adult’s credibility could be undermined if he or she had made a few mistakes earlier, Jaswal remarks.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Ailmemts & Remedies

Cleft Lip And Plate

What is cleft lip and palate?
At around six weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s upper lip and palate develop from tissue lying on either side of the tongue. Normally these tissues grow towards each other and join up in the middle.

When the tissues that form the upper lip fail to join up in the middle, a gap forms in the lip. Usually, there will be a single gap below a nostril (unilateral cleft lip). Sometimes there are two gaps in the upper lip, each below a nostril (bilateral cleft lip). When the palate fails to join up, a gap is left in the roof of the mouth, going up into the nose.

About half of all clefts involve both the lip and palate. About 2 in 10 are of the lip alone and 3 in 10 are of the palate alone. Of clefts that involve the lip, 8 in 10 are unilateral and 2 in 10 are bilateral.

A clear upper lip and palate are among the most common defects in babies and affect about 1 in 700 babies in the us. These conditions may occur singly or together and are present at birth. both conditions are very upsetting for parents, but plastic surgery usually produces excellent results.

………….CLICK & SEE

The defects occur when the upp & SEEer lip or roof of the mouth does not fuse completely in the fetus. In many cases, the cause is unknown, but the risk if higher if certain anticonvulsant drugs, such as phenytoin, are taken during pregnancy or if the mother is a heavy drinker. cleft lip and /or palate sometimes run in families.

If a baby is severely affected, he or she may find it difficult to feed at first, and, if the condition is not treated early, speech may be delayed. Children with a cleft lip and/or palate are also susceptible to persistent buildup of fluid in the middle ear that impairs hearing and may delay speech.

Cleft lip and cleft palate, which can also occur together as cleft lip and palate are variations of a type of clefting congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. This type of deformity is sometimes referred to as a cleft. A cleft is a sub-division in the body’s natural structure, regularly formed before birth. A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery soon after birth. Cleft lips or palates occur in somewhere between one in 600-800 births. The term hare lip is sometimes used colloquially to describe the condition because of the resemblance of a hare’s lip. The Chinese word for cleft lip is tuchun , literally “harelip.”

Cleft lip
If only skin tissue is affected one speaks of cleft lip. Cleft lip is formed in the top of the lip as either a small gap or an indentation in the lip (partial or incomplete cleft) or continues into the nose (complete cleft). Lip cleft can occur as one sided (unilateral) or two sided (bilateral). It is due to the failure of fusion of the maxillary and medial nasal processes (formation of the primary palate).

.Unilateral incomplete..….Unilateral complete..…..Bilateral complete

A mild form of a cleft lip is a microform cleft. A microform cleft can appear as small as a little dent in the red part of the lip or look like a scar from the lip up to the nostril. In some cases muscle tissue in the lip underneath the scar is affected and might require reconstructive surgery. It is advised to have newborn infants with a microform cleft checked with a craniofacial team as soon as possible to determine the severeness of the cleft. The actor Joaquin Phoenix is an example of a person with a microform cleft that did not require surgry.

Cleft palate
Cleft palate is a condition in which the two plates of the skull that form the hard palate (roof of the mouth) are not completely joined. The soft palate is in these cases cleft as well. In most cases, cleft lip is also present. Cleft palate occurs in about one in 700 live births worldwide.

Palate cleft can occur as complete (soft and hard palate, possibly including a gap in the jaw) or incomplete (a ‘hole’ in the roof of the mouth, usually as a cleft soft palate). When cleft palate occurs, the uvula is usually split. It occurs due to the failure of fusion of the lateral palatine processes, the nasal septum, and/or the median palatine processes (formation of the secondary palate).

The hole in the roof of the mouth caused by a cleft connects the mouth directly to the nasal cavity.

A direct result of an open connection between the oral cavity and nasal cavity is velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI). Because of the gap, air leaks into the nasal cavity resulting in a hypernasal voice resonance and nasal emissions. Secondary effects of VPI include speech articulation errors (e.g., distortions, substitutions, and omissions) and compensatory misarticulations (e.g., glottal stops and posterior nasal fricatives). Possible treatment options include speech therapy, prosthetics, augmentation of the posterior pharyngeal wall, lengthening of the palate, and surgical procedures.
………………..Pictures showing unilateral and bilateral cleft lip and palate

Most babies with a cleft lip can be breastfed. However, some babies have difficulty creating a seal around the nipple and may not be able to breastfeed. A special squeezy bottle can be used for feeding and can help if the baby can’t suck hard enough. These bottles are provided by specialist cleft nurses and are also available from the support charity CLAPA (see Further Information).

Babies who find it difficult to feed may gain weight slowly at first. A specialist cleft nurse can give advice about changing the type of formula milk and other feeding issues.

Cleft palate can cause problems with speech. The size of the cleft is not an indicator of how serious speech problems are likely to be – even a small cleft can affect speech. Most children go on to speak normally after some speech therapy, although sometimes further surgery will be needed to improve palate function. Children with clefts can sometimes have nasal sounding speech.


Children with clefts sometimes have hearing problems. This is because the tube that connects the ear to the palate (the Eustachian tube) can be affected. Having a cleft can increase the chance of developing a condition known as glue ear. This is quite a common condition in all children and occurs when thick, sticky fluid builds up behind the eardrum. It can cause temporary hearing loss. As part of surgery to repair a cleft palate, surgeons often put a tiny plastic tube (a grommet) into the eardrum so that the fluid can drain out.

Occasionally, a cleft palate may also affect the growth of you child’s jaw and the development of the teeth. Looking after teeth well and having regular care from a dentist or orthodontist can minimise problems.

Your child may need to have extensive orthodontic treatment to make sure the teeth come through straight and in the right place. This may involve wearing braces, especially around the time the second teeth are coming through and during the early teens. Your child may also need to have some teeth removed to prevent overcrowding.

There are many factors that hinder the joining up process of the lip or palate during a baby’s development. If you have had a child with a cleft lip or palate, your chance of future children being affected is increased.

However, doctors can’t reliably predict which pregnancies will be affected because cleft lip and palate is usually caused by a combination of genetic and other unknown factors. The unknown factors may include an illness during pregnancy or being exposed to certain substances such as tobacco smoke or certain medicines.

Specialist centres
Ideally, children with cleft lip and palate should be treated by a multidisciplinary specialist “cleft team” that may include surgeons, speech and language therapists, audiologists (hearing experts), dentists, orthodontists, psychologists, geneticists and specialist cleft nurses. Care and support of your child and the family should last from birth until your child stops growing at about age 18.

If you have a baby born with a cleft lip or palate, your maternity hospital should refer you to one specialist centre. Often they have specialist nurses who can visit you to provide immediate support and advice. This can be invaluable in the early days.

The timing of surgery varies, but usually an operation to close the gap in the lip will be done about three months after the baby is born. Surgery to close the gap in the palate is usually done at about six months.

Both operations are done while your baby asleep under general anaesthetic and involve a hospital stay of 3 to 5 days.

As your child grows older, further surgery may be needed to improve the appearance of the lip and nose and the function of the palate. If there is a gap in the gum, a bone graft will normally be done when your child is between 9 and 12 years old. This will help their second teeth to anchor properly into the gum. Bone is usually taken from the hip or shin and grafted into the gap in the gum.

If you have had a child with a cleft lip or palate, you may be offered genetic counselling to find out the chances of your next child being affected. However, in most cases the most sensible approach is simply to aim to have a healthy pregnancy. Smoking and drinking alcohol have been shown to increase the risk of babies being affected, and can cause other birth defects.

Research has shown that taking a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid in the month before conception and in the first two months of pregnancy can help prevent cleft lip. This is the same amount of supplement recommended to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

It’s thought that certain medicines may slightly increase the risk of cleft lip and palate. These include anti-epilepsy medicines such as phenytoin (eg Epanutin) and sodium valproate (eg Epilim). Steroid tablets and a medicine called methotrexate (eg Metoject) that is used to treat some cancers and inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also increase the risk. If you are on these medicines, you should discuss the benefits and possible risks with your doctor before trying for a baby.

Help and support:
If you are a new parent of a child who has a cleft lip or palate, or a child who was born with a cleft, a specialist psychologist working in the cleft team can help you cope with some of the challenges you may have to deal with. It can also help to get support from other people who have had have had similar experiences, either as parents, or as someone who has grown up with a cleft leaf.

Click for more knowledge & information:
Cleft Plate Foundation
Best Way to Manage Cleft Lip and Palate

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.


Herbs & Plants

Solanum nigrum

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Botanical Name: Solanum nigrum
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. nigrum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Trade Name & Family Name :  Makoy, kaamanchi / Solanaceae

Common Names: Black Nightshad, European black nightshade or locally just “black nightshade”, duscle, garden nightshade, “garden huckleberry”, hound’s berry, petty morel, wonder berry, small-fruited black nightshade or popolo.

Habitat : Black Nightshade is a native of West Africa but is now grown all over India and introduced in the Americas, Australasia and South Africa.

Parts Used : whole plant

Black nightshade is a common herb or short-lived perennial shrub, found in many wooded areas, as well as disturbed habitats. It reaches a height of 30 to 120 cm (12 to 48 in), leaves 4 to 7.5 cm (1.5 to 3 in) long and 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2.5 in) wide; ovate to heart-shaped, with wavy or large-toothed edges; both surfaces hairy or hairless; petiole 1 to 3 cm (0.5 to 1 in) long with a winged upper portion. The flowers have petals greenish to whitish, recurved when aged and surround prominent bright yellow anthers. The berry is mostly 6 to 8 mm (0.3 to 0.8 in) diam., dull black or purple-black. In India, another strain is found with berries that turn red when ripe.


Sometimes Solanum nigrum is confused for the more toxic deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna, in a different Solanaceae genus altogether. A comparison of the fruit shows that the black nightshade berries grow in bunches, the deadly nightshade berries grow individually.




Commercial berry and vegetable crop quality is significantly reduced when black nightshade berries mix with them. The plant also produces a sticky substance that clogs agricultural equipment. Berries are poisonous to humans and to most livestock.
Cultivation : The plant grows in different kinds of soil including dry, stony, shallow, or deep soils. It usually grows in moist habitat in waste lands as weed. It can be cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical agro-climatic regions.

Berries and seed are dispersed by rodents, birds, livestock, humans, and along watercourses.The green berries and mature leaves contain glycoalkaloids and are poisonous to eat raw. Their toxicity varies and there are some strains which have edible berries when fully ripe. The plant has a long history of medicinal usage, dating back to ancient Greece.

Black nightshade is a fairly common plant, found in many wooded areas, as well as disturbed habitats. It has a height of 30-120 cm (12-48″), leaves 4-7.5 cm (1 1/2-3″) long; ovate to heart-shaped, with wavy or large-toothed edges. The flowers have petals greenish to whitish, recurved when aged and surround prominent bright yellow anthers. The fruits are oval black berries in small hanging clusters.

The vitamins and minerals present in this herb includ iron,calcium,niacin,riboflavin,phosphorus and vitamin C .The calorific value of the herb is 68.The plant and the fruit of the herb contains toxic alkaloid solanine saponin.

Chemical Constituents : solanine, a’ and a’ solamargine, solasonine and a’ and a’solaigrine, sterioidal genin

Medicinal Action and Uses–-Narcotic, diuretic, sedative, antispasmodic, mydriatic. Belladonna is a most valuable plant in the treatment of eye diseases, Atropine, obtained during extraction, being its most important constituent on account of its power of dilating the pupil. Atropine will have this effect in whatever way used, whether internally, or injected under the skin, but when dropped into the eye, a much smaller quantity suffices, the tiny discs oculists using for this purpose, before testing their patient’s sight for glasses, being made of gelatine with 1/50000 grain of Atropine in each, the entire disk only weighing 1/50 grain. Scarcely any operation on the eye can safely be performed without the aid of this valuable drug. It is a strong poison, the amount given internally being very minute, 1/200 to 1/100 grain. As an antidote to Opium, Atropine may be injected subcutaneously, and it has also been used in poisoning by Calabar bean and in Chloroform poisoning. It has no action on the voluntary muscles, but the nerve endings in involuntary muscles are paralysed by large doses, the paralysis finally affecting the central nervous system, causing excitement and delirium.

The various preparations of Belladonna have many uses. Locally applied, it lessens irritability and pain, and is used as a lotion, plaster or liniment in cases of neuralgia, gout, rheumatism and sciatica. As a drug, it specially affects the brain and the bladder. It is used to check excessive secretions and to allay inflammation and to check the sweating of phthisis and other exhausting diseases.

Small doses allay cardiac palpitation, and the plaster is applied to the cardiac region for the same purpose, removing pain and distress.

It is a powerful antispasmodic in intestinal colic and spasmodic asthma. Occasionally the leaves are employed as an ingredient of cigarettes for relieving the latter. It is well borne by children, and is given in large doses in whooping cough and false croup.

For its action on the circulation, it is given in the collapse of pneumonia, typhoid fever and other acute diseases. It increases the rate of the heart by some 20 to 40 beats per minute, without diminishing its force.

It is of value in acute sore throat, and relieves local inflammation and congestion.

Hahnemann proved that tincture of Belladonna given in very small doses will protect from the infection of scarlet fever, and at one time Belladonnna leaves were held to be curative of cancer, when applied externally as a poultice, either fresh or dried and powdered.

Belladonna plasters are often applied, after a fall, to the injured or sprained part. A mixture of Belladonna plaster, Salicylic acid and Lead plaster is recommended as an application for corns and bunions.

The nlack nightshade is used as an important ingredient in several Medicines.It is very useful in swellings, cough, asthma,wounds, ulcers, general debility etc .

The plant helps in removing catarrhal matter and phelgm from the bronchial tubes in asthma patients.The fruits of black nightsade can also be used in treating asthma.The plant is useful in chronic skin diseases. The plant is useful in the treatment of dropsy.

Urinary Disorders:
It increases the secretion and discharge of urin.It can be used as decoction or as a vegetable.
A cardiac tonic prepared from the plant is beneficial for patients.It reduces irritation pain and excitment.

As herbal medicine Black Nightshade has multivarious other uses in Neutrition,Idigestion,Stomach disorders,Fever,Skin disorders,Reeumatic Pain and gouts,Burns, etc.

Other uses:A decoction of makoy plant leaves should be used to wash tomours and inflamed,irritated and painful parts of the body. Hot leaves of the plant can be applied with gratifying results over swollen and painful scrotum and testicles.

Known Hazards:
Solanine levels in S.nigrum can be toxic. Children have died from poisoning after eating unripe berries. However, the plant is rarely fatal,[9] with ripe berries causing symptoms of mild abdominal pains, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Poisoning symptoms are typically delayed for 6 to 12 hours after ingestion. Initial symptoms of toxicity include fever, sweating, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, confusion, and drowsiness. Death from ingesting large amounts of the plant results from cardiac arrhythmias and respiratory failure. Livestock have also been poisoned from nitrate toxicity by grazing the leaves of S. nigrum. All kinds of animals can be poisoned after ingesting nightshade including cattle, sheep, poultry, and swine.

Black nightshade is highly variable and poisonous plant experts advise to avoid eating the berries unless they are a known edible strain. The toxin levels may also be affected by the plant’s growing conditions. The toxins in Solanum nigrum are most concentrated in the unripe green berries, and immature fruit should be treated as toxic. Most cases of suspected poisoning are due to consumption of leaves or unripe fruit.

There are ethnobotanical accounts of S.nigrum leaves and shoots being boiled as a vegetable with the cooking water being discarded and replaced several times to remove toxins.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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