Category Archives: Uncategorized

Goldie Blox Giveaway! (link)

My daughter received a Goldie Blox set for her third birthday, and we love it.  She has fun building the machines, playing with the animals, and has even tried building things in our home with objects we have around (even  a spinning-machine for her brother, but let’s not talk about that).
Here’s an opportunity to win a set of three Goldie Blox kits.  These are a great introduction to engineering concepts for young girls, although honestly, I think boys would have a blast with it, too.


Here’s the link:


Baby Cured of HIV has… HIV

I’m not surprised to hear this.  I wish I was.  I wish this child nothing but the best in life.  But I’m not surprised that the baby is not cured of HIV.  The definition of “cure” in the media is not accurate.

“Cure”, in most peoples’ minds, means to get rid of a whatever illness/infection/whatever is causing problems.  The problem with HIV, though, is that our tests can’t determine if we’ve cured it or not.


The tests for HIV measure either virus in the blood, or, more commonly, antibodies produced by the  infected person’s body in the blood.  But HIV doesn’t lurk only in the plasma.  It’s not always building new virus particles.  HIV is clever.  HIV becomes a *part* of the patient.  The HIV genome incorporates itself into the host’s genome.  That’s not something the current tests check for. So even if the body is keeping viral replication in check, the virus can still be waiting, lurking,  hiding until it can come back out.


This was my first thought when it was announced that a bone-marrow transplant patient had been cured of HIV.  This was my thought when it was announced this baby was cured.  Until we can see every last resting CD4 T cell, we will never be able to declare someone completely free of the virus.


I don’t say this to be negative. I am optimistic that this child has a good chance at controlling viral loads and living a happy, healthy life with the right medications.  I am saying this because I still feel it is somewhat dangerous to throw around the word “cured.”  HIV cannot be cured.  Yet.  HIV can be prevented, with some thinking and being safe. Protect yourself. Protect your child.


But don’t protect the virus itself.





Breastfed Babies DO Need Vaccines

I’ve recently heard of people declining to vaccinate their babies because they breastfeed.

“My antibodies will protect the baby.  S/He doesn’t need vaccines.”


Yes and no.  Breast milk definitely has tons of health benefits to babies.  But it’s not a be-all end-all magic potion of invincibility.

Breast milk primarily passes IgA antibodies.  If you don’t understand what that means, then you are not educated enough about immunology to make the conclusion stated above.  If you do understand what that meant, you most likely already know that vaccines are an amazing, life-saving technology.


In case you’re wondering what IgA antibodies are, allow me to explain.  Humans have 5 main isotypes of antibody.  IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE, and IgD.  While all isotypes of antibody are present in breast milk, IgA is far and away the most prominent.  IgA is considered a secretory antibody- it’s secreted into the gut and respiratory mucosae.  While IgA serves a lot of vital functions, a concert of all the antibody isotypes is important for protection against infection.  In addition to an imbalance of antibody isotypes, breast milk only offers temporary protection.  Once the antibodies have passed through baby, the protection is gone.  Vaccines teach the body how to make whatever antibody isotypes are necessary, and they can remain effective for many years.


Babies are incredibly susceptible to infection.  Why would you risk your baby’s health when there are so many protective vaccines available?

No, You Did Not “Research” Vaccines

There’s been an outbreak of mumps, a vaccine-preventable illness, in my hometown.  It annoys me because at the center of the outbreak are, most likely, parents that refused to vaccinate their kids.


“‘But but but!  My research told me that vaccines are bad!  They cause autism and allow the government to control you and make you more delicious tasting to aliens!”


Anyone thinking that, or something similar, I have a message for you:  No.  You did not “research” vaccines.


There is a big difference between a Google search, in which you most likely used anti-vax keywords, and actual research.  Research involves being at the lab bench, seeing which B cells are making antibody in response to the vaccine.  Research involves testing vaccines in volunteers.  Research involves following hundreds of thousands of case studies.  Research involves reading scientific papers, understanding the statistical significance reported in clinical trials, and finding real flaws with the trial design.  Research does not involve reading blogs written by random, but vocal, stupid actresses.

Free Micronytes App’s free app of the day is “Micronytes“!  Micronytes is a game in which you go into a body (on a microscopic level, of course) and go around killing germs.  While it’s not entirely accurate- most bacteria don’t have teeth, it’s an entertaining little game for your Android phone.  Head over to Amazon for a download.  It’s free today; you’d have to be a fool not to take advantage of that deal!

Free Germs!

Giving yet another reason why they’re so awesome, the folks over at Peace, Love, and Poop are having a GIANTMicrobes Giveaway. GIANTMicrobes are super-cute, super-sized microbes (shocking!) made to look like common infectious organisms and other super-small critters. They’re an essential for any Science Momma or Poppa.

I’ve already got malaria! The puppy (who is actually 8 years old) enjoyed chewing it up- but be careful if you give them to pets or small children, because the eyes are hard plastic.

Head on over to Peace, Love, and Poop for your chance to win!


Falling For You

Fall is coming quickly.  The temperature has dropped, the leaves are turning beautiful shades of orange and red, and noses are stuffing up.

Around here, Fall brings with it a couple different reasons to be stuffy.  First, there’s the allergies.  Fall means hay, and leaf-burning, and corn mazes, which lead to itchy eyes and running noses.  Rosie seems to have inherited hay fever from her parents.  While her sneezes may be one of the cutest sounds on earth, it’s hard not to feel bad for her when she’s congested and can’t sleep.

Then there are colds.  Winter in Chicago can be very unforgiving- cold, snowy, and gray.  Between being bummed out by the overcast skies, sloshing through a sooty mixture of what you can only pray is slush, and being stuck inside with drying heaters, it’s hard not to get a little sick.

Like most moms, I don’t like watching my daughter feel miserable.  I try to help her the best I can.  Decongestants haven’t been an option- they were shown to be dangerous for babies and young children years ago.  To me, and to many others, the best bet is keeping the mucosal pathways flushed and clean.  Like most babies, Rosie HATES having stuff put into her nose.  To her, saline drops and the “booger sucker” are implements of torture.

Enter “Boogie Wipes”.  Boogie Wipes are kind of like a moist towelette.  Except instead of some mystery solution, they’re covered in saline, so they can help clean out a nose and get rid of all the bad stuff in there.  And they’re available in scents, so kids actually like having them near noses.  Head on over to Peace, Love, and Poop (my new favorite blog- tons of fun, cute ideas for families, and loads of great giveaways!) to enter to get some FREE Boogie Wipes!