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Science Ticker

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Science Ticker


Science Ticker

Splitting families may end, but migrant kids’ trauma needs to be studied

young child at border

FOR FAMILY  Migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border may get a reprieve from a recent policy that resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their parents.

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Faced with a growing outcry against separating migrant children from their families at the U.S. border — including this statement from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — President Trump reversed course June 20 and issued an executive order aimed at keeping detained families together.

Scientists, armed with evidence that traumatic events early in life can have dire consequences, had joined lawmakers, public health advocates and concerned citizens to object to the immigration policy. In recent weeks, 2,342 children have been removed from their asylum-seeking families, many held in institutional settings such as a Walmart–turned–children’s shelter and a newly erected tent city.

Traumatic events early in life have been linked to altered brain development and a wide range of poor health outcomes, including mental, emotional and social disorders, as well as an increased risk of suicide. But for reasons that neuroscientists are still puzzling over, some children are astonishingly resilient after trauma.

Despite these scientific clues, it’s unclear how these forced separations will affect any given child. Existing studies of childhood trauma have focused on children in slightly different circumstances, such as institutionalized Romanian orphans. Monitoring the children separated from their families at the southern U.S. border will be important, says Julie Linton, a pediatrician in Winston-Salem, N.C., who is cochair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Immigrant Health Special Interest Group. Linton coauthored a recent AAP statement condemning the detention of immigrant children.

“To better understand the short- and long-term impact of immigration-related trauma on developing bodies and minds,” she says, “it is critical to examine the traumatic experiences of children who have been held in detention and those who have been separated from their families.”

Physics

The Large Hadron Collider is getting an upgrade

By Emily Conover 2:01pm, June 15, 2018
Revamping the accelerator’s equipment will increase the rate of proton collisions.
Planetary Science

Opportunity rover waits out a huge dust storm on Mars

By Lisa Grossman 5:56pm, June 11, 2018
NASA’s Opportunity rover is in low-power mode to preserve battery life while a vast dust storm blankets part of the Red Planet.
Planetary Science

New Horizons wakes up to begin Kuiper Belt exploration

By Lisa Grossman 10:51am, June 5, 2018
The New Horizons spacecraft just woke up to get ready for its New Year’s Day flyby of the distant space rock Ultima Thule.
Exoplanets,, Astronomy

Take a virtual trip to an alien world

By Lisa Grossman 10:00am, June 4, 2018
NASA’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau website lets you view what alien landscapes might look like.
Pollution,, Ecosystems

Treating roads with oil and gas wastewater may spread harmful pollution

By Laurel Hamers 5:49pm, May 30, 2018
When spread on roads, wastewater from oil and gas production can leach radium and other contaminants into the environment, a new study finds.
Health

Ebola vaccinations begin in Congo

By Helen Thompson 5:58pm, May 21, 2018
A vaccination campaign is up and running to fight the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo. It’s the first of its kind.
Planetary Science

China is set to launch a satellite to support a future lunar rover

By Lisa Grossman 10:00am, May 20, 2018
China is set to launch a satellite to support a future lunar rover that will make the first-ever visit to the farside of the moon.
Physics

Despite a new measurement, the neutron’s lifetime is still puzzling

By Emily Conover 5:50pm, May 9, 2018
Two techniques for gauging the subatomic particle’s longevity disagree.
Anthropology

Anthropologists in Peru have unearthed the largest known child sacrifice

By Bruce Bower 5:00pm, April 26, 2018
The largest known mass sacrifice of children occurred around 550 years ago in the Chimú empire in Peru.
Quantum Physics

Split atom clouds get entangled in quantum tests

By Emily Conover 2:00pm, April 26, 2018
Scientists create quantum links between clouds consisting of thousands of atoms.
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