Letters from the March 26, 2005, issue of Science News

Sleeper issue

“Goodnight moon, hello Mom and Dad” (SN: 1/22/05, p. 61) attributes behaviors of earlier bedtime, longer sleeping, and earlier weaning to “greater personal independence” in children who sleep alone. It is equally possible that these behaviors are due to something else. Research predicting which children and families will benefit from co-sleeping or alone sleeping would be more useful.

Heather Kuiper and Loren Rauch
Oakland, Calif.

Great shot

According to “Good Exposure: Contact with babies might lessen MS risk”(SN: 1/29/05, p. 68), exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus in early life produces only flu-like symptoms but exposure at adolescence or later often results in mononucleosis, which is a possible precursor of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It seems to me that much human misery could be eliminated by developing a vaccine for Epstein-Barr.

Jane Stein
Carnation, Wash.

Scientists are trying several approaches to develop a vaccine for Epstein-Barr virus.—N. Seppa

Mudder of all agriculture?

In “Cultivating Revolutions” (SN: 2/5/05, p. 88), you failed to mention a possibly important factor for the introduction of agriculture into Europe, namely, the creation of the Black Sea from a large freshwater lake at the end of the last ice age. Could this not have forced the early farmers westward after they had lost so much of their cultivable land?

John S. Garrigues
The Woodlands, Texas

Middle Eastern farmers had already colonized parts of southeastern Europe by 7,500 years ago, one geological proposal for when the Black Sea formed. But it’s possible that some farmers fled flooded areas into central Europe, says Ofer Bar Yosef of Harvard University.—B. Bower

Pill pumpers

A glaring omission in “Dangerous Practices: Critics see flaws in drug-safety monitoring” (SN: 2/5/05, p. 90) is the obvious impact that direct marketing of prescription medications to the general public, mostly via television, has had in swelling the number of people taking superfluous medications.

Stephen J. Levine
River Edge, N.J.

More Stories from Science News on Humans