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Archive for July, 2010


Posted by avnerhershlag on July 15, 2010

In this comedy, which opened in theaters last weekend, a lesbian couple, Nic and Jules (Annette Benning and Julianne Moore), live with their teenage children, Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson), in LA. As Joni prepares for college, her younger brother pesters her for a big favor—help him find their biological father. Against her better judgment, she makes a call to the sperm bank; the bank, in turn, calls Paul (Mark Ruffalo) and asks him if he’s willing to meet his daughter. He agrees, and a complicated new chapter begins for the family.

The movie’s message is that these teenage kids, raised by two mothers, are going to be all right.  Is that true?

A recent study by Catrell & Bos, published in Pediatrics, looked at 78 offspring born to 154 lesbian mothers who conceived through donor inseminations.

They found that 17-yesr-old children of lesbian mothers:

  • Were rated significantly higher in social, academic, and total competence than typical American children, as compared with Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth.
  • Had significantly fewer social problems, and less rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than age-matched children.
  • There were no differences among adolescent offspring conceived by known, as-yet-unknown, and permanently unknown donors, or between offspring whose mothers were still together and offspring whose mothers had separated.


  • The mothers’ “commitment even before their offspring were born to be fully engaged in the process of parenting.” During pregnancy, the mothers took classes and formed support groups to learn about raising a child.
  • “They were actively involved in the education of their children and aspired to remain close to them, however unique their interests, orientations, and preferences may be.”
  • The mothers were keenly aware of the prospect of discrimination, so they “took a lot of time educating people who came into contact with their families — obstetricians, pediatricians, teachers, administrators. They were always working on diversity programs and anti-bullying programs.”
  • The lower levels of externalizing problems may be explained by disciplinary styles. The mothers used verbal limit setting, and studies have shown they use less corporal punishment and less power assertion than heterosexual fathers.
  • “Growing up in households with less power assertion and more parental involvement has been shown to be associated with healthier psychological adjustment.”

In an accompanying editorial, Joseph Hagan MD, of the U of Vermont, writes:

“Our experience tells of the resilience of children who are loved and know that love. Our learning tells us of the boundless ability of children to respond to that love despite the absence of a traditional parenting relationship.

So, the kids are all right?

You bet they are!


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Posted by avnerhershlag on July 4, 2010

In a new study published in Science, Genetic Signatures of Exceptional Longevity in Humans, ( Sebastiani & Perls ,BU), the genome of over 1000 people who lived to be 100 or more was studied.  The authors constructed a genetic model that included 150 genetic markers (called SNP, pronounced “snips” – similar to the technique used by the FBI for genetic fingerprinting):  They identified 19 patterns that predicted with 77% accuracy who would live to be 100 and beyond. Currently, 1 in 6000 people may live to be 100 and 1 in 7 million makes it to 110!


  • Here we go again: nature or nurture: which is more important?
  • Dr. Sebastiani commented that Seventh Day Adventists have an average life expectancy of 88, eight years more than average US contemporaries, which has been attributed to their vegetarianism, exercise, no smoking, no alcohol, less stress because they rely on religion… question is, do they have fun living this long?
  • Now – I’m sure you’re asking – so if I have the centenarian genetics  – can I go ahead and not worry about “healthy living” – eat what I want and as much as I want… drink, smoke.. not stress about stress – and live happily ever after?
  • And If I don’t have the long life doom – should I be preparing for a short life and if that’s my genetic destiny anyway – shouldn’t I just live it up since it’s all in the genes?
  • Genetic Hedonism?
  • Life Insurance premium may soon be based on your genome: if there is a genetic test to predict that one person will get sick early in life and die young, and another will live to a hundred, disease free, insurance companies may prefer to check your longevity markers rather than your cholesterol or blood pressure!
  • From my perspective, perhaps we’ll be able to check embryos for potential longevity.   Through embryo biopsy (PGD), we may in the near future, be able to check for multiple “predictive” genes, and help patients choose to get pregnant with embryos that have the potential to live to be 100 years old and older!

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