Researchers at Southampton General Hospital claim that Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women can lead to their children having weaker bones later in life. Professor Cyrus Cooper said this is the first time maternal Vitamin D levels have been studied in relation to later development of the bone disease osteoporosis. [BBC Health, 6 January]
British researchers have developed a new technique that will allow doctors to screen embryos for up to 6,000 genetic disorders, including those caused by a single gene, according to a report in the Times. Peter Braude of St Thomas' Hospital, London, said that the technique, known as multiple displacement amplification (MDA) will allow pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to be used to screen for a much wider range of inherited diseases. [The Times, 6 January] Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is done in order to identify and destroy those embryos who have undesired genetic factors.
Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, has argued in a website article that reducing the human population is essential for achieving environmental sustainability. He writes: 'The truth is that the contribution [to pollution] of each individual cannot be reduced to zero. Only the lack of the individual can bring it down to nothing.' Rapley claims that an optimal population level could be calculated. Population "management" would be required, he says, but acknowledges that, '[a]s found in China, practicability and acceptability can be particularly elusive.' [BBC News, 6 January]
The US Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly on whether it will review decisions made by a federal appeals court that the 2003 partial birth abortion ban is unconstitutional. Since being passed by Congress, the ban has been challenged by three separate lawsuits. The Supreme Court's handling of the case may depend heavily on whether reputedly pro-life Judge Samuel Alito is confirmed by the Senate as a Supreme Court justice next month. [LifeNews.com, 5 January]
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