Nancy Shute

There's a lot of worry about nearsightedness in children, with rates soaring in Southeast Asia as populations become more urban and educated. But maybe it also has something to do with how much Mom and Dad make you hit the books.

Firstborn children are 10 percent more likely to be nearsighted than latter-borns, according to a study published Thursday in JAMA Ophthalmology. And they're 20 percent more likely to be severely myopic.

There have been suggestions that low levels of vitamin D might be a factor in cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, but there's no proof that the lack of D is actually causing the problems.

A study published Monday doesn't prove that link, but it does find that people with low levels of vitamin D lost key thinking skills more quickly than people with enough.

Teenagers get dissed for being irrational and making bad decisions, which can lead to very bad things, like drunken driving, risky sex and drug use.

But what if the problem is really that teens are just a little too rational?

That's the argument of Scott Huettel, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

He and other researchers were wondering about the presumptions we make about rational/good and irrational/bad when it comes to decision-making.

I stepped out my parents' front door last Thursday, expecting a typically glorious summer day in southern Oregon. Instead, I was hit with acrid wood smoke that stung my eyes and throat. The air was thick with haze that obscured the mountains. I quickly retreated inside.

Health departments across the West are mobilizing to protect residents from smoke generated by dozens of fires that have sent smoke as far east as the Midwest.

Armadillos. Leprosy. Florida. It's hard to ignore news reports that fit all three words in the first sentence.

So when we heard that state health officials in Florida have reported nine people with leprosy and suggested that people avoid armadillos, we here at Team Shots just had to check it out.

If you've got a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, your first thought is probably not, "Does my child really need that antireflux medication?"

When you've got a bladder infection, the word "urgent" means right now.

Not urgent as in, wait two hours at the urgent care clinic. Not urgent as in, wait some more to get the prescription filled.

So when a doctor says that women should be able to self-prescribe antibiotics for simple urinary tract infections, that sounds like an idea whose time has come.

Here's more evidence that mammograms don't always deliver the results that women want. They find more small cancers, but don't lower a woman's risk of dying of breast cancer, a study finds.

The study looked at data from 547 U.S. counties that reported the percentage of women over age 40 who had a screening mammogram between 1998 and 2000. More than 16 million women lived in those counties, and 53,207 were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000.

Over the next 10 years, 15 percent of the women died of breast cancer.

Nothing like a good measles outbreak to get people thinking more kindly about vaccines.

One third of parents say they think vaccines have more benefit than they did a year ago, according to a poll conducted in May.

That's compared to the 5 percent of parents who said they now think vaccines have fewer benefits and 61 percent who think the benefits are the same.

You can now order genetic tests off the Internet and get your child's genome sequenced for less than the cost of a new car. The question is, should you?

Almost certainly not, according to the American Society for Human Genetics, which released a position paper Thursday intended to give parents some help navigating the dizzying world of genetic tests.

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