17-24 Segment 1: Only Children and Their Parents

RHJ 17-24A Only Children and Their Parents


Only children, also known as “onlies,” have sometimes been labeled as the spoiled and selfish children of society. In studies from the 1980’s, being an only child was likened to having a disease. Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television at Rutgers University, and Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, approach the concept of only children in different ways. Salamon voices her concern that once her parents are gone, she won’t have anyone to share family memories with. In contrast, Sandler loves being an only child as well as raising an only child: “We’re just selfish people raising selfish children.” Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, points out that it makes sense that many onlies thrive more than children with siblings do, because the attention and time allotted by parents to their one child is more concentrated than if they were to divide these things among multiple children. Newman also talks about the importance of the “sibling substitute,” a friend, cousin, or family member with whom the only child can relate to and become comfortable with. By building relationships with “sibling substitutes,” onlies are able to connect with people other than their parents, which has proved beneficial in the long run. Additional studies have debunked myths about only children, concluding that the number of siblings a person has has little impact on his or her personality and life.

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  • Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television, School of Continuing Studies, Rutgers University and an only child
  • Lauren Sandler, only child, mother of an only child and author, One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One
  • Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist, contributor to Psychology Today magazine and author, Parenting an Only Child

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17-24 Segment 2: The Sense of Touch

RHJ 17-24B The Sense of Touch


If asked, most people are willing to give up their sense of touch. Yet of the five senses in the human body, touch has proven to be incredibly important. According to Dr. David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, touch is connected to emotion via our nervous system. The way humans feel and react to physical touch has an effect on everything from personality to digestive system functionality. Dr. Linden says, “The touches we share with those we love make the sense of touch much more important than we know.” Without a sense of touch, individuals are much more susceptible to health issues, as they may not feel pain or temperature and receive great injury. Additionally, touch is perceived as essential to newborns and its absence is noticeable. Dr. Linden shares a story about children in an understaffed orphanage in Romania that grew up to have neuropsychiatric issues as a result of not being held and cuddled as infants. Although the sense of touch is not commonly understood as vital to our wellbeing, both the lack of physical touch from others and our own sense of feeling may prove fatal in the end.

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Dr. David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

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Medical Notes 17-24



Medical Notes this week…

Foodmakers have removed trans fats from many of their recipes, and they’ll be banned in many foods nationwide in about a year. It’s a policy that could save plenty of lives, according to a study of counties that have already banned trans fats. The study in the journal JAMA Cardiology looked at 11 counties in New York State where trans fats have been banned in restaurants. Researchers found that heart attacks dropped by nearly 8% and strokes by more than 3%, compared to counties that didn’t restrict trans fats.

Diagnosing lung cancer in the future could be as easy as making a quick swab of the nose. A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that in people with lung cancer, cells as far away as the inside of the nose are genetically altered. People without cancer don’t have those alterations. Researchers have found 30 genes they could use as biomarkers for lung cancer. The test needs more work before it could be available as a screening test.

And finally, if you’re dieting, the tone of your Tweets give away whether you’ll lose weight. Researchers presenting to a conference of the Association for Computing Machinery say they were able to predict dieting success with 77% accuracy just by reading the dieter’s tweets. People who succeed are more upbeat and focused on the future. Those who fail send tweets that are more anxious.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.