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Entries in Biological (3)

Thursday
Apr072011

Couple Who Gave Up Baby to Biological Parents After Medical Mistake Expecting Twins

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sean and Carolyn Savage, the Ohio couple who gave their baby back to his biological parents after an accidental embryo switch, have announced Thursday they are expecting twins.

"We're excited and terrified and feel so very lucky," the couple said in a prepared statement.

The Savages have been working with a surrogate, Jennifer, to conceive since the birth of Logan in 2009. The little boy, now 19 months old, is the biological son of Shannon and Paul Morell.

Both couples have written books about their harrowing experience after an unnamed fertility clinic confused their records and implanted the Morells' embryo in Carolyn Savage's uterus. She carried the fetus for nine months, then handed the child over to his biological parents.

"When we brought Logan into this world, we came to understand his life was a gift," the Savages wrote. "We are humbled again as one very special woman is giving this same gift of family to us. Jennifer, our carrier -- our partner and guardian angel -- has become part of our family. We are in awe of her generosity and our gratitude is beyond measure."

The Savages had tried for another child through surrogacy last year, but Jennifer miscarried. She is now 19 weeks pregnant with twins. The Savages said they did not know the sex of the babies.

"We've been so humbled by every good wish and blessings we've received from real friends like you," they wrote. "When shock and heartbreak came, you comforted. When we started to lose hope about expanding our family, you squeezed our hands in support and told us to not lose faith." The couple tells their heartbreaking story in their 2011 book, "Inconceivable."

Just four days after finding out she was pregnant, Carolyn Savage went from the high of expecting the child she had tried so hard to conceive, to the unfathomable low of knowing the baby was not hers to keep.

Carolyn Savage had had a history of miscarriages, and she and Sean turned to in vitro fertilization. They already had three other children and hoped for a fourth.

But On Feb. 16, 2009, the Sylvania, Ohio, couple learned that the frozen embryo of another couple had been mistakenly transferred into Carolyn's womb.

The Savages could have fought for custody, or Carolyn could have had an abortion. Tethered to a strong Catholic faith, Carolyn chose to carry the baby she and Sean called "Little Man" to term.

On Sept. 24, 2009, the Savages returned their newborn son, whom they'd held for 30 minutes, to his biological parents -- Shannon and Paul Morell of Sterling Heights, Mich., who named him Logan.

In the months since Logan's birth, the Savages have had a long, painful, somewhat "ambiguous" journey.

"We have three children. Or do we have four? A strange question, but the kind that parents who have lost a child ask themselves from time to time. That absent child is always with you, a loss you feel some days as yearning and other days in a gasp of pain.

"This was a child whom I nurtured and we both protected from the forces conspiring against his survival," writes Carolyn, now 41, in the book's prologue. "Yet I understand that I may never hold him in my arms again and that the next time I see him, he will think of me as a stranger."

Throughout the 36 weeks that Carolyn carried "Little Man," the two couples maintained a respectful relationship. The Morells described in their 2010 book, "Misconception," their own harrowing wait, knowing that with Carolyn's past history of miscarriages, their child might never be born.

In an interview with ABCNews.com, the Savages said that even though they considered it a "gift" to return Logan to his biological parents, the medical mistake tore their lives apart.

Their marriage was under tremendous strain, and after the delivery, Carolyn was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Both have sought counseling.

They were in an unusual position: Their son had not died, but he was gone.

"It's a loss that has no closure," said Pauline Boss, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, who described the ambiguity in her book, "Ambiguous Loss."

"People have a difficult time resolving this," she told ABCNews.com. "There are no rituals or sympathy cards for them."

"He'll always be my baby, even though he's their son," said Carolyn. "There was no way of entering into a pregnancy and taking a 12-cell embryo and turning it into a human being and not feel a maternal connection to him."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Researchers Discover Biological Pathway Linked to PTSD

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Although most people exposed to the horrors of war, trauma or abuse recover emotionally, up to 20 percent develop post-traumatic stress disorder -- a debilitating psychiatric disorder marked by flashbacks and nightmares.

The biological basis for PTSD remains unclear. But a new study offers clues about why some people rebound from horrific events while others relive them, and may lead to predictive tests and even treatments.

To tease out factors that contribute to PTSD risk and resilience, researchers led by Dr. Kerry Ressler, associate professor at Emory University in Atlanta, studied a group of 64 highly traumatized civilians (not veterans) treated at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, some of whom developed PTSD.

"In a lot of very impoverished, high-violence neighborhoods, we see high rates of trauma, and rates of PTSD can be as high as in veterans," Ressler said.

Based on previous evidence that the hormone-like molecule known as PACAP was important in the brain's response to stress, the researchers measured PACAP levels in the blood of their subjects. To their surprise, PACAP levels were higher in people with PTSD, and correlated with the severity of symptoms. But the boost was only significant in women.

"When we started we didn't have any expectation that there was going to have a gender specificity to it," Kessler said. "We were just looking and found a smaller effect, and then we split it by gender and found that the whole effect was in females."

The team repeated the experiment in a group of 74 traumatized women. Again, PACAP levels correlated with PTSD symptoms -- especially those considered essential for a diagnosis of PTSD: intrusive flashbacks, avoidance of trauma reminders and increased startle response.

"These data may begin to explain sex-specific differences in PTSD diagnosis, symptoms and fear physiology," Ressler and his colleagues wrote in their report, published Wednesday in Nature.

Women are known to have a higher risk of a range of anxiety disorders. But the finding of elevated PACAP in women with PTSD did more than offer a biological explanation for the gender difference; it pointed to a novel biological pathway underlying the brain's response to fear.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec152010

Scientists Suggest Reason Political Rivals Can't See Eye to Eye 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- New research suggests there may be a biological reason why some folks turn left while others turn right. Maybe liberals and conservatives literally can't quite see eye to eye.

A provocative new study out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests we may not be as open-minded as we think, and it's all because of biology. Finding a biological basis for everything from believing in God to picking a mate is all the rage these days, but this study explores new territory.

"It's well established in almost any scientific discipline that there are biological influences on behavior," Mike Dodd, lead author of the study, said in a telephone interview. "But political scientists have been kind of resistant to that because they like to think that political temperament is entirely environmentally determined. It's based on your experience."

That attitude doesn't necessarily apply to Dodd's co-authors, John R. Hibbing and Kevin B. Smith, political science professors at the university who have been searching for some time now for evidence that there is a biological component to formulating our "political temperament."

And the three believe they have found something that literally separates liberals from conservatives. These opposite ends of the political spectrum respond differently to something called "gaze cues," the shifting of a person's attention from one place to another in an attempt to see where another person is looking.

What they have found so far is liberals are easily distracted when a face on a computer screen shows a person looking one way or the other. The liberal will mimic the face's action, looking in the same direction as the face. That's called following a "gaze-cue." Conservatives were far more likely to remain fixed on the eyes of the face, less distracted.

Why? Well, this gets a little debatable. In their study, to be published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, the researchers offer these assumptions:

Conservatives "tend to be more supportive of individualism, and less likely to be influenced by others, than those on the left." They value "personal autonomy."

Liberals, on the other hand, "are often thought of as more empathetic and more concerned with the welfare of others relative to conservatives, meaning that liberals may be more susceptible to the influence of social cues."

That stops short of saying conservatives are tough minded and liberals are wishy-washy. So the assumptions may not please everyone. But the research is intriguing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio