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June 15, 2012 | By Jon Bardin, Los Angeles Times
In an attempt to replicate the early experiences of infants, researchers in England have created a robot that can learn simple words in minutes just by having a conversation with a person. The work, published this week in the journal PLoS One, offers insight into how babies transition from babbling to speaking their first words. The 3-foot-tall robot, named DeeChee, was built to produce any syllable in the English language. But it knew no words at the outset of the study, speaking only babble phrases.
May 12, 2012 | By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
In 2005, leaders of a gang that sold crack and other drugs near MacArthur Park decided to add a new business venture: extorting the vendors who crowd the streets each evening, selling clothes, pirated DVDs and electronics to supplement a hardscrabble existence. The new effort led to a bloody consequence in September 2007, when an 18-year-old tasked with gunning down a defiant vendor accidentally shot to death a 3-week-old infant. The baby's death triggered a large-scale crackdown on the clique that culminated with a two-month trial that began in March.
May 11, 2012 | By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times
I do not know what clothes I was wearing. Whether I'd been left in a cradle or with any note of explanation. I do not know if I cried or lay still. Looked around or slept. Minutes may have gone by. Or hours. All the official record says is that, at about 2 months old, I was abandoned at the Nambu police station in Busan, South Korea. Labeled a "foundling," I was taken to a countryside orphanage and given a birth date and a name -- Dong Hee Ahn. It was 1978. After a year and a half, I was transferred to a foster home in Seoul, where a social worker noted: Her all action development progress was slower than same aged children due to being cared at orphanage for long.
February 25, 2012 | By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from San Diego -- An attorney who once was prominent in adoption circles was sentenced Friday to five months in federal custody and nine months of home confinement for her guilty plea in what prosecutors called an international "baby-selling" ring. Theresa Erickson, whose law firm was in Poway, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud for her role in a scheme that involved hiring surrogates to carry embryos to term and then arranging for the infants to be adopted. The "intended parents" often paid more than $100,000, according to the plea bargain signed by Erickson.
February 24, 2012 | By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from San Diego -- Poway attorney Theresa Erickson was a star in the complex, competitive, and sometimes lucrative business of helping childless couples adopt babies. She was a frequent guest on national TV shows; she self-published a book on "assisted reproduction," and she presented herself on her website as a tireless, fearless advocate for adoption. Eager to expand her business, she was looking to attract gay clients. A different Erickson will appear for sentencing Friday in San Diego federal court: an admitted felon, the alleged ringleader behind an international scheme to pay surrogates to carry embryos to term so the babies could be placed with couples throughout the United States.
February 16, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Worrisome levels of arsenic have been found in two infant formulas that contain organic brown rice syrup as a main ingredient, researchers reported Thursday. Arsenic was also found in some cereal bars that contain organic brown rice syrup. The toxic element is a known contaminate found in rice because the crop absorbs arsenic from soil. According to the authors of the study, from Dartmouth College, the type found in the food products has been identified as a human carcinogen. Arsenic can also cause skin, lung and intestinal irritation as well as miscarriage and infertility.
December 22, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Wal-Mart is recalling a single batch of the powdered infant formula Enfamil Newborn, sold in 12.5-ounce cans, as a precaution after a Missouri infant died of a rare bacterial infection. The 10-day-old Lebanon, Mo., baby died Sunday of Cronobacter sakazakii, which can come from powdered infant formula. The source of the infant's infection is still unclear, but Wal-Mart choose to remove the batch with the lot number ZP1K7G from its 3,000 stores nationwide as a precaution. The baby's family purchased the formula at Wal-Mart.
December 12, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Two babies who rank among the smallest in the world are healthy and have normal motor and language development, researchers reported Monday. But the paper is not meant to celebrate the ability of high-tech neonatal medicine to save babies born midway through a normal pregnancy. Instead, the authors note, severe prematurity often leads to death or disability. The babies whose fates are reviewed in the piece are exceptions. Madeline Mann was born at Loyola University Medical Center in 1989 weighing 9.9 ounces.
November 16, 2011
At a time when government agencies are hard-pressed to find the money to serve all the genuine needs, First 5 LA has had its own peculiar problem: a nest egg of more than $800 million that it has hoarded instead of reaching out to more babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Funded by state cigarette taxes, First 5 LA is an independent county agency that provides various programs for children from birth to age 5, including preschool and health, safety and family literacy services.
November 7, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Infant weight and height are faithfully charted at each pediatrician's visit to make sure the child is growing properly. But nowadays doctors are more likely to see babies who are growing too fast rather than ones lagging behind. A new study shows that rapid growth on these charts foretells obesity in childhood. Researchers looked at the weight-for-length charts that show how a baby's weight compares to that of other babies of the same length. For example, babies on the 5th percentile growth line have a weight that puts them among the smallest 5% of all babies their length.
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