- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2010


Test-tube babies largely healthy

SAN DIEGO | More than 30 years after the world greeted its first “test-tube” baby with a mixture of awe, elation and concern, researchers say they are finding only a few medical differences between these children and kids conceived in the traditional way.

More than 3 million children have been born worldwide as a result of what is called assisted reproductive technology, and uniting sperm and egg outside the human body now accounts for about 4 percent of live births, researchers reported Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The majority of assisted reproduction children are healthy and normal, according to researchers who have studied them. Some of these children do face an increased risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects, and of low birth weight, which is associated with obesity, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes later in life, the researchers said.

“Overall, these children do well,” said Andre Van Steirteghem of the Brussels Free University Center for Reproductive Medicine in Belgium. “It is a reassuring message, but we must continue to follow up.”


Three teens killed on train track

MELBOURNE | Three teenage girls were joking around and taking pictures on a narrow bridge when they were hit by a train, killing them as a friend watched helplessly, police and a witness said Sunday.

The girls and the fourth teenager, a boy, had been hanging out in Melbourne’s downtown area — known for its shops and nightclubs — when they decided to cross the trestle around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Lt. Curtis Barger said. Their parents had dropped them off at a mall, and then they took a bus downtown, where they were “just goofing off,” he said.

The boy yelled for the girls to run when he saw the train approach, then told them to jump, Lt. Barger said. Crane Creek, about 20 feet below the bridge, is slow-moving and about 10 feet deep. The girls did not have enough time.

Bruce Dumas, 53, said he was fishing under the bridge when he saw the teens walk onto the trestle around sunset. He warned them to be careful, but he said they didn’t pay much attention to him.

“You know how kids are,” Mr. Dumas said. “They probably wanted pictures of themselves on the track.”


Pediatricians urge more choke labels

CHICAGO | The nation’s largest pediatricians group thinks more foods should have warning labels about choking hazards.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for sweeping changes in the way food is designed and labeled to prevent kids from choking. The group’s report was released Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Choking kills more than 100 children in the United States every year and thousands more are treated in emergency rooms. Food, including candy and gum, is among the leading culprits.

Doctors say risky foods should be cut into pea-sized pieces for small children. Those foods include hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes and apples. Some say things like hard candies, popcorn, and peanuts shouldn’t be given to young children at all.


Unclaimed jackpot finds a winner

INDIANAPOLIS | Eric White, 39, didn’t realize he’d left $2.5 million sitting on the desk in the office in his Indianapolis home for six months.

On Friday, he and his wife, Lori, cashed in, beating the odds by turning in the winning Hoosier Lotto ticket from the Aug. 19 drawing a week after the lottery officials said the prize wouldn’t be awarded because the 180-day deadline had passed. Officials extended the deadline to Feb. 22 after saying the date had been miscalculated.

Mrs. White, 38, said she sent her husband a text Tuesday night asking if he had any old lottery tickets after seeing a story about the unclaimed fortune on television. But it took another two days before he got around to looking. He found the winning ticket along with others Thursday night in his home office.

Hoosier Lottery spokeswoman Lucia Anderson said no Indiana winner has ever stepped forward so late to claim a large prize.

The couple received a check for about $697,000 after taxes after choosing the non-annuitized cash option, Miss Anderson said. The Hoosier Lottery withholds some state and federal taxes, but winners may have to pay additional taxes depending on their income level, she said.


5 soldiers probed on poison accusations

COLUMBIA | The Army has been investigating five soldiers at its largest training base since December over accusations that soldiers’ food may have been poisoned, but officials said Friday no one was ever in any danger.

While an Army spokesman at the Pentagon said the probe involved allegations of poisoning in the installation’s food service, a spokesman for Fort Jackson in South Carolina would say only that the investigation involves five soldiers and their “potential verbal threats against fellow soldiers.”

Fort Jackson is the Army’s largest training installation, where more than 50,000 men and women go through about 10 weeks of basic training. Its food service includes 13 dining halls that serve about 40,000 hot meals daily.


Two arrested in church burnings

TYLER | Federal authorities say they have charged two suspects in a series of church fires in Texas.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Tom Crowley says 19-year-old Jason Robert Bourque and 21-year-old Daniel George McAllister have been charged Sunday with five counts of felony arson in connection with fires at churches in Smith County, in eastern Texas.

Authorities think at least 11 blazes at churches in Texas since the start of the year have been set intentionally.

Mr. Crowley said he has no information on attorneys for the suspects.


Brothers earn top honors guarding Tomb

ARLINGTON | For the first time, two brothers have earned the rarest honor offered in the U.S. Army, having completed training to serve as highly regimented sentinels guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Army Spc. Mathew Brisiel of Spring, Texas, on Friday followed his brother, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Brisiel, when he became the 578th soldier awarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge.

Soldiers have 20-hour-a-day training for as long as a year to pass a series of tests. They must reach near perfection in uniform inspection, outside performance and extensive memorization of the tomb’s history and meaning at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mathew Brisiel passed in about eight months. The 24-year-old will serve with his 27-year-old brother, who is nearing the end of his tour.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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