College Report

On the Quads

By Jake Grubman, ’11
Photography by Dan Dry

Poverty further hampers preemies

Recent advances in neonatal care have made it easier for most infants born premature to grow up normally. Two-thirds of preemies with respiratory distress syndrome—the most common complication of a too-early birth—are now able to start school with their peers. For the rest, Medical Center researchers found, a handful of factors impede school readiness, which they define as being prepared to learn how to read, write, follow directions, interact socially, and function independently in daily activities. Led by neonatologist Michael D. Schreiber, the team studied 135 children born an average of two months early and found lower school readiness among male preemies or those with lung disease or brain hemorrhaging. The most significant determinant, however, was socioeconomic status. Children from the lowest economic class were four times more likely to be delayed in school readiness than those from wealthy families. The researchers published their findings in the July Pediatrics.

IMAGE: W. E .B. Du Bois

Du Bois adapted ideas from English poetry and German economics.

Du Bois revisited

More than a century after W. E. B. Du Bois published The Souls of Black Folk, the first full-length philosophical analysis of his political thought arrived in bookstores. In the Shadow of Du Bois: Afro-Modern Political Thu ght in America (Harvard University Press. 2009) is political scientist Robert Gooding-Williams’s inquiry into the theoretical underpinnings of Du Bois’s politics. A sociologist, historian, and civil-rights activist, Du Bois incorporated ideas from German economist and social thinker Gustav Schmoller and Romantic poet William Wordsworth to construct what Gooding-Williams calls a “politics of expressive self-realization” that could confront Jim Crow oppression. Comparing Souls to Frederick Douglass’s autobiographical slave narrative My Bondage and My Freedom, Gooding-Williams takes stock of Du Bois’s conceptual limitations—arguing that he misinterpreted, for instance, Douglass’s notion of assimilation—and gives a critical examination of Du Bois’s enduring influence in “debates about black leadership, black identity, and the black underclass.”

Divorce is a heartbreaker

When it comes to heart health, it’s worse to have married and divorced than never to have married at all. In the September Journal of Health and Social Behavior, sociologist Linda Waite and Johns Hopkins’s Mary Elizabeth Hughes show that divorced or widowed people are 20 percent more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than either their married or never-married counterparts (the researchers did not specifially examine unmarried couples who live together). The study analyzed 8,652 people between 51 and 61 years old, measuring chronic-health problems, mobility limitations, depressive symptoms, and self-assessments. Waite and Hughes found that people who divorce or lose a spouse suffer negative health effects that remarrying cannot fully reverse.

Extinction—a family affair

Ameteor might have doomed the dinosaurs, but it doesn’t take a global catastrophe to wipe out entire evolutionary lineages. New research shows that vulnerability to extinction runs in families rather than being evenly or randomly distributed, meaning that certain groups are more prone to dying out than others in both mass events—like the dinosaurs—and also in times of low extinction levels. Chicago geophysicist David Jablonski; the University of California, San Diego’s Kaustuv Roy, PhD’94; and the Smithsonian Institution’s Gene Hunt, PhD’03, coauthored the study in the August 7 Science, gathering information based on 200 million years of marine bivalve fossils, chosen for their vast extent of records. The study could change the way experts view extinction in living or fossil organisms.

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