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What is Ulcerative Colitis – Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

Posted: December 8, 2017 at 1:47 am

If you or someone you love have recently been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, its important to begin learning as much as you can about what ulcerative colitis is. By developing a better understanding of ulcerative colitis, you will be more prepared to manage its symptoms and live a full life.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, also known as the colon, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers, that produce pus and mucous. The combination of inflammation and ulceration can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon.

Ulcerative colitis is the result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. Normally, the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect you from infection. In people with IBD, however, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign or invading substances. When this happens, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, where they produce chronic inflammation and ulcerations.

Its important to understand the difference between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Crohns disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but ulcerative colitis affects only the colon. Additionally, while Crohns disease can affect all layers of the bowel wall, ulcerative colitis only affects the lining of the colon.

While both ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease are types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), they should not be confused with irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS), a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the colon. IBS is not characterized by intestinal inflammation. Watch this webcast to learn more about ulcerative colitis.

About half of all patients with ulcerative colitis experience mild symptoms. Be sure to consult your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

People suffering from ulcerative colitis often experience loss of appetite and may lose weight as a result. A feeling of low energy and fatigue is also common. Among younger children, ulcerative colitis may delay growth and development.

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis do tend to come and go, with fairly long periods in between flare-ups in which patients may experience no distress at all. These periods of remission can span months or even years, although symptoms do eventually return. The unpredictable course of ulcerative colitis may make it difficult for physicians to evaluate whether a particular course of treatment has been effective or not.

Read more about the Types of Ulcerative Colitis and Associated Symptoms.

Although considerable progress has been made in IBD research, investigators do not yet know what causes this disease. Studies indicate that the inflammation in IBD involves a complex interaction of factors: the genes the person has inherited, the immune system, and something in the environment. Foreign substances (antigens) in the environment may be the direct cause of the inflammation, or they may stimulate the body’s defenses to produce an inflammation that continues without control. Researchers believe that once the IBD patient’s immune system is “turned on,” it does not know how to properly “turn off” at the right time. As a result, inflammation damages the intestine and causes the symptoms of IBD. That is why the main goal of medical therapy is to help patients regulate their immune system better.

Research sponsored by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has led many scientists to believe that ulcerative colitis may be the result of an interaction of a virus or bacterial infection of the colon and your bodys natural immune system response. Normally, your immune system will cause temporary inflammation to combat an illness or infection, and then the inflammation will be reduced as you regain health. In people with ulcerative colitis, however, this inflammation can persist long after your immune system should have finished its job.

Ulcerative colitis may affect as many as 907,000 Americans. Men and women are equally likely to be affected, and most people are diagnosed in their mid-30s. The disease can occur at any age and older men are more likely to be diagnosed than older women.

While ulcerative colitis tends to run in families, researchers have been unable to establish a clear pattern of inheritance. Studies show that up to 20 percent of people with ulcerative colitis will also have a close relative with the disease. The disease is more common among white people of European origin and among people of Jewish heritage.

New!! Test your knowledge of ulcerative colitis by taking this self-assessment for an opportunity to win a gift card! You can find the assessment here.

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Ulcerative Colitis – Cedars-Sinai

Posted: at 1:47 am

About half of all patients have mild symptoms, including:

Other medical problems that crop up as a result of ulcerative colitis include arthritis, eye inflammation, liver disease, osteoporosis (loss of bone mass), skin rashes, anemia and kidney stones. These conditions are usually mild and go away when the colitis is treated.

Affecting men and women equally, ulcerative colitis most often occurs in people 15 to 40 years of age. As with other conditions, ulcerative colitis has no known cause. The disease appears to run in some families. There is also some evidence that the body’s immune (disease-fighting) system reacts to a virus or bacteria by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestinal wall. However, this has not been proven.

Stress does not cause ulcerative colitis nor do certain foods or food products, but these factors may set off symptoms in some people.

About five percent of people with ulcerative colitis develop colon cancer. The risk increases with the duration of the disease and how much of the colon is involved.

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Myths and Misconceptions About Stem Cell Research …

Posted: at 1:46 am

En Espaol

There is no shortage of myths and misconceptions when it comes to stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Here we address the most common concerns.

If you have more questions that aren’t addressed here, please visit our other Stem Cell FAQ pages.

Is CIRM-funded stem cell research carried out ethically?Where do the embryos come from to create stem cell lines?I’m opposed to abortion. Can embryonic stem cell lines come from aborted fetuses?Does creating stem cell lines destroy the embryo?Are adult stem cells as goodor betterthan embryonic stem cells?Don’t iPS cells eliminate the need to use embryos in stem cell research?Can’t stem cell research lead to human cloning?

Stem cell research, like any fieldwithin biomedicine, poses social and ethical concerns. CIRM, as well as the broader research community, takes these seriously.

As a state funding body, CIRM has comprehensive policies to govern research, similar to our national counterpart, the National Institutes of Health. CIRM-funded researchers must comply with a comprehensive set of regulations that have been carefully developed and are in accordance with national and international standards.

These regulations were among the first formal policies governing the conduct of stem cell research and are in accordance with recommendations from the National Academies and from the International Society for Stem Cell Research. CIRMs Standards Working Group meets regularly to consider new ethical challenges as the science progresses and to revise standards to reflect the current state of the research.

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CIRM regulationsNational Academies of Science guidelinesInternational Society for Stem Cell Research guidelinesNational Academies of Science podcast about guidelines for embryonic stem cell research More about CIRM-grantee ethics training (4:03)

All the human embryonic stem cell lines currently in use come from four to five day-old embryos left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. In IVF, researchers mix a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs together in a lab dish. Some of those eggs will become fertilized. At about five days the egg has divided to become a hollow ball of roughly 100 cells called a blastocyst which is smaller than the size of the dot over an i. It is these very early embryos that are implanted into the woman in the hopes that she becomes pregnant.

Each cycle of IVF can produce many blastocysts, some of which are implanted into the woman. The rest are stored in the IVF clinic freezer. After a successful implantation, they must decide what to do with any remaining embryos. There are a few options:

Some embryonic stem cell lines also come from embryos that a couple has chosen not to implant because they carry harmful genetic mutations like the ones that cause cystic fibrosis or Tay Sachs disease. These are discovered through routine genetic testing prior to implantation. Still other embryos might be malformed in some way that causes them to be rejected for implantation into the mother. Embryos with genetic defects of malformations would have been discarded if the couple had not chosen to donate them to stem cell research.

People who donate leftover embryos for research go through an extensive consent process to ensure that they understand embryonic stem cell research. Under state, national and international regulations, no human embryonic stem cell lines can be created without explicit consent from the donor.

Policies vary as to whether women may be paid or otherwise compensated to donate eggs. Most jurisdictions allow donors to be reimbursed for direct costs such as travel to the clinic or lodging. Some also allow payments or IVF services to be provided to egg donors.

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How do scientists create stem cell lines from left over IVF embryos? (4:11)

No. Emybronic stem cells only come from four to five day old blastocysts or younger embryos.

In most cases, yes. The hollow blastocystwhich is where embryonic stem cells come fromcontains a cluster of 20-30 cells called the inner cell mass. These are the cells that become embryonic stem cells in a lab dish. The process of extracting these cells destroys the embryo.

Dont forget that the embryos were donated from IVF clinics. They had either been rejected for implantation and were going to be destroyed, or the couple had decided to stop storing the embryos for future use. The embryos used to create embryonic stem cell lines were already destined to be destroyed.

There is, however, a second method that creates embryonic stem cell lines without destroying the embryo. Instead, scientists take a single cell from a very early stage IVF embryo and can use that one cell to develop a new line. The process of removing one cell from an early stage embryo has been done for many years as a way of testing the embryo for genetic predisposition to diseases such as Tay Sachs. This process is called preimplantation genetic testing.

Adult stem cells are extremely valuable and have great potential for future therapies. However, these cells are very restricted in what they can do. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which can grow into virtually any cell type in the body, adult stem cells can only follow certain paths.

For example, Blood-forming stem cells can grow into mature blood cells, and brain stem cells may be able to grow into mature neurons, but a blood-forming stem cell cant grow into a neuron, and vice versa. Whats more, adult stem cells dont grow indefinitely in the lab, unlike embryonic stem cells, and they arent as flexible in the types of diseases they can treat.

And, while the news is full of stories about people who had great results from adult stem cell therapies, few of these therapies are part of big trials that can test whether a potential therapy is safe and effective. Until some of these large trials take place with both adult and embryonic stem cells we won’t know which type of stem cell is superior. Even researchers who study adult stem cells advocate working with embryonic cells as well.

CIRM is excited about their potential for treating some diseases. However, our goal is to accelerate new treatments for diseases in need. At this time the most effective way of doing that is by exploring all types of stem cells. That’s why CIRM has funded researchers pursuing a wide range of approaches to finding cures for diseases.

See how much of CIRM’s funding has gone to different types of stem cells here: Overview of CIRM Stem Cell Research Funding.

Filter our list of all funded CIRM grants to see awards using different cell types.

How are adult stem cell different from embryonic stem cells? (3:29)

Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, represent another type of cell that could be used for stem cell research. . iPS cells are adult cellsusually skin cellsthat scientists genetically reprogram to appear like embryonic stem cells. The technology used to generate human iPS cells, pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka in 2007, is very promising, which is why CIRM has funded many grants that create and use these cells to study or treat disease. However, iPS cell technology is very new and scientists are looking into whether those cells have the same potential as human embryonic stem cells and whether the cells are safe for transplantation.Many CIRM-funded researchers are working to find better ways of creating iPS cells that are both safe and effective.

Experts agree that research on all types of stem cells is critical. In September 2008, a panel of experts convened by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences stated that the use of human embryonic stem cells is still necessary. As panel chair Richard Hynes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated:

It is far from clear at this point which types of cell types will prove to be the most useful for regenerative medicine, and it is likely that each will have some utility.

See a video about creating iPS cells (3:40)

No. Every significant regulatory and advisory body has restrictions on reproductive cloning. The National Academy of Sciences has issued guidelines banning the technique as has the International Society for Stem Cell Research. The California constitution and CIRM regulations specifically prohibit reproductive cloning with its funding.

Updated 2/16

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Spinal Cord Injury Levels – – Brain …

Posted: at 1:44 am

Basic Spinal Cord Anatomy

To understand this confusion and what you are actually being told when your injury is described as being at a certain level, it is necessary to understand basic spinal anatomy. The spine and the spinal cord are two different structures. The spinal cord is a long series of nerve cells and fibers running from the base of the brain to shortly above the tailbone. It is encased in the bony vertebrae of the spine, which offers it some protection.

The spinal cord relays nerve signals from the brain to all parts of the body and from all points of the body back to the brain. Part of the confusion regarding spinal cord injury levels comes from the fact that the spine and the spinal cord each are divided into named segments which do not always correspond to each other. The spine itself is divided into vertebral segments corresponding to each of the vertebrae.

The spinal cord is divided into neurological segmental levels, meaning that the focus is on what part of the body the nerves from each section control. The spine is divided into seven neck (cervical) vertebrae, twelve chest (thoracic) vertebra, five back (lumbar) vertebrae, and five tail (sacral) vertebrae. The segments of the spine and spinal cord are designated by letters and numbers; the letters used in the designation correspond to the location on the spine or the spinal cord. For example:

The spinal cord segments are named in the same fashion, but their location does not necessarily correspond to the spinal segments location. For example:

The spinal cord is responsible for relaying the nerve messages that control voluntary and involuntary movement of the muscles, including those of the diaphragm, bowels, and bladder. It relays these messages to the rest of the body via spinal roots which branch out from the cord.

The spinal roots are nerves that go through the spines bone canal and come out at the vertebral segments of the spinal cord. Bodily functions can be disrupted by injury to the spinal cord. The amount of the impairment depends on the degree of damage and the location of the injury.

The head is held by the first and second cervical segments. The cervical cord supplies the nerves for the deltoids, biceps, triceps, wrist extensors, and hands. The phrenic nucleus (a group of cell bodies with nerve links to the diaphragm) is located in the C3 cord.

The thoracic vertebral segments compose the rear wall of the ribs and pulmonary cavity. In this area, the spinal roots compose the between the ribs nerves (intercostal nerves) which control the intercostal muscles.

The spinal cord does not travel the entire length of the spine. It ends at the second lumbar segment (L2). Spinal roots exit below the spinal cords tip (conus) in a spray; this is called the cauda equine (horses tail). Damage below the L2 generally does not interfere with leg movement, although it can contribute to weakness.

In addition to motor function, the spinal cord segments each innervate different sections of skin called dermatomes. This provides the sense of touch and pain. The area of a dermatome may expand or contract after a spinal cord injury.

The differences between some of the spinal vertebral and spinal cord levels have added to the confusion in developing a standardized rating scale for spinal cord injuries. In the 1990s, the American Spinal Cord Association devised a new scale to help eliminate ambiguities in rating scales. The ASIA scale is more accurate than previous rating systems, but there are still differences in the ways various medical specialists evaluate an SCI injury.

Dr. Wise Young, founding director of Rutgers W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience explains that usually neurologists (nerve specialists) will rate the level of injury at the first spinal segment level which exhibits loss of normal function; however, rehabilitation doctors (physiatrists) usually rate the level of injury at the lowest spinal segment level which remains normal.

For example, a neurologist might say that an individual with normal sensations in the C3 spinal segment who lacks sensation at the C4 spinal segment should be classified as a sensory level C4, but a physiatrist might call it a C3 injury level. Obviously, these differences are confusing to the patient and to the patients family. People with a spinal cord injury simply want to know what level of disability they will have and how much function they are likely to regain. Adding to the confusion is the debate over how to define complete versus incomplete injuries.

For many years, a complete spinal cord injury was thought of as meaning no conscious sensations or voluntary muscle use below the site of the injury; however, this does not take in to account that partial preservation of function below the injury site is rather common. This definition of a complete injury also failed to take into account the fact that may people have lateral preservation (function on one side).

In addition, a person may later recover a degree of function, after being labeled in the first few days after the injury as having a complete injury. In 1992, the American Spinal Cord Association sought to remedy this dilemma by coming up with a simple definition of complete injury.

According to the ASIA scale, a person has a complete injury if they have no sensory or motor function in the perineal and anal region; this area corresponds to the lowest part of the sacral cord (S4-S5). A rectal examination is used to help determine function in this area. The ASIA Scale is classified as follows:

At this point, if you are a patient with a spinal cord injury or the family member of a spinal cord injury patient you may be more confused than ever. How do these ratings apply to the daily life of someone with a spinal cord injury? A brief overview of the basic definitions may help.

This is the greatest level of paralysis. Complete C1-C4 tetraplegia means that the person has no motor function of the arms or legs. He or she generally can move the neck and possibly shrug the shoulders. When the injury is at the C1-C3 level, the person will usually need to be on a ventilator for the long-term; fortunately, new techniques may be able to reduce the need for a ventilator.

A person whose injury is at the C4 level usually will not need to use the ventilator for the long-term, but will likely need ventilation in the first days after the injury. People with complete C1-C4 quadriplegia may be able to use a power wheelchair that can be controlled with the chin or the breath. They may be able control a computer with adaptive devices in a similar fashion and some can work in this way. They can also control light switches, bed controls, televisions and so with the help of adaptive devices. They will require a caregivers assistance for most or all of their daily needs.

People with C5 tetraplegia can flex their elbows and with the help of assistive devices to help them hold objects, they can learn to feed and groom themselves. With some help they can dress their upper body and change positions in bed. They can use a power wheelchair equipped with hand controls and some may be able use a manual wheelchair with grip attachments for a short distance on level ground.

People with C5 will need to rely on caregivers for transfers from bed to chair and so forth, and for assistance with bladder and bowel management, as well as with bathing and dressing the lower body. Adaptive technology can help these people be independent in many areas, including driving. People with C5 tetraplegia can drive a vehicle equipped with hand controls.

People with C6 tetraplegia have the use both of the elbow and the wrist and with assistive support can grasp objects. Some people with C6 learn to transfer independently with the help of a slide board. Some can also handle bladder and bowel management with assistive devices, although this can be difficult.

People with C6 can learn to feed, groom, and bath themselves with the help of assistance devices. They can operate a manual wheelchair with grip attachments and they can drive specially adapted vehicles. Most people with C6 will need some assistance from a caregiver at times.

People with C7 tetraplegia can extend the elbow, which allows them greater freedom of movement. People with C7 can live independently. They can learn to feed and bath themselves and to dress the upper body. They can move in bed by themselves and transfer by themselves. They can operate a manual wheelchair, but will need help negotiating curbs. They can drive specially-equipped vehicles. They can write, type, answer phones, and use computers; some may need assistive devices to do so, while others will not.

People with C8 tetraplegia can flex their fingers, allowing them a better grip on objects. They can learn to feed, groom, dress, and bath themselves without help. They can manage bladder and bowel care and transfer by themselves. They can use a manual wheelchair and type, write, answer the phone and use the computer. They can drive vehicles adapted with hand controls.

People with T1-T12 paraplegia have nerve sensation and function of all their upper extremities. They can become functionally independent, feeding and grooming themselves and cooking and doing light housework. They can transfer independently and manage bladder and bowel function. They can handle a wheelchair quite well and can learn to negotiate over uneven surfaces and handle curbs. They can drive specially adaptive vehicles.

People with a T2-T9 injury may have enough torso control to be able to stand with the help of braces and a walker or crutches. People with a T10-T12 injury have better torso control than those with a T2-T9 injury, and they may be able to walk short distances with the aid of a walker or crutches.

Some can even go up and down stairs; however, walking with such an injury requires a great deal of effort and can quickly exhaust the patient. Many people with thoracic paraplegia prefer to use a wheelchair so that they will not tire so quickly.

People with sacral or lumbar paraplegia can be functionally independent in all of their self-care and mobility needs. They can learn to skillfully handle a manual wheelchair and can drive specially equipped vehicles. People with a lumbar injury can usually learn to walk for distances of 150 feet or longer, using assistive devices. Some can walk this distance without assistance devices. Most rely on a manual wheelchair when longer distances must be covered.

There are many other functional scales besides the ASIA scale, but it is the most frequently used. Neurologists find the NLOI (the Neurological level of injury) scale helpful; it is a simply administered test of motor function and range of motion. The Function Independence Measure (FIM) evaluates function in mobility, locomotion, self-care, continence, communication, and social cognition on a 7-point scale.

The Quadriplegic Index of Function (QIF) detects small, clinically significant changes in people with tetraplegia. Other scales include the Modified Barthel Index, the Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM), the Capabilities of Upper Extremity Instrument (CUE), the Walking Index for SCI (WISCI), and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM).

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About Brain Injury – BIAA

Posted: December 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm


The Brain Injury Associationof America and its network of state affiliates striveto connect people with useful, accurate information and resources in their area.If you or a family member are struggling with the effects of a brain injury, or think you may have sustained a brain injury, there is help. Here are some useful first steps:

This page offers helpful definitions and terms you might hear used.Use this page to help you understand brain injury a little better. Use the resources on other pages as well.

DefinitionsTypes of brain injuryCausesOutcomesSeverity of brain injuryTips for recovery

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)TBI is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.

Adopted by the Brain Injury Association Board of Directors in 2011. This definition is not intended as an exclusive statement of the population served by the Brain Injury Association of America.

Acquired Brain InjuryAn acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth.

There is sometimes confusion about what is considered an acquired brain injury.By definition, any traumatic brain injury (e.g. from a motor vehicle accident or assault)could be considered anacquired brain injury.In the field of brain injury, acquired brain injuries are typically considered any injury that is non traumatic.Examples of acquired brain injury include stroke, near drowning, hypoxic or anoxic brain injury, tumor, neurotoxins, electric shock or lightning strike.

Diffuse Axonal Injury (TBI)Concussion (TBI)Contusion (TBI)Coup-contre coup injury (TBI)Second Impact Syndrome (TBI)Open and Closed Head InjuriesPenetrating Injury (TBI)Shaken Baby Syndrome (TBI)Locked in Syndrome (TBI)Anoxic brain injury (ABI)Hypoxic brain injury (ABI)

Diffuse Axonal Injury

Concussion (TBI)


Coup-Contrecoup Injury

Second Impact Syndrome “Recurrent Traumatic Brain Injury”

Penetrating Injury

Sources: Brumback R.Oklahoma Notes: Neurology and Clinical Neuroscience. (2nd ed.). New York: Springer; 2006. andCenter for Disease Control and Injury Prevention.

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Source:National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome

Locked in Syndrome

Anoxic Brain Injury

Source: Zasler, N. Brain Injury Source, Volume 3, Issue 3, Ask the Doctor

Hypoxic Brain Injury

Source: Zasler, N. Brain Injury Source,Volume 3, Issue 3, Ask the DoctorColumn

Open Head InjuryThe following are terms used to describe types of skull fractures that can occur with open head injuries:

Closed Head InjuryWhen a person receives an impact to the head from an outside force, but the skull does not fracture or displace this condition is termed a “closed head injury”. Again, separate terminology is added to describe the brain injury. For example, a person may have a closed head injury with a severe traumatic brain injury.

According to theCenters for Disease and Control Injury Prevention Center, the leading causes of traumatic brain injury are:

Brain injury can result in a range of outcomes:

Among children ages 0 to 14 years, TBI results in an estimated

The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

Emergency personnel typically determine the severity of a brain injury by using an assessment called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The terms Mild Brain Injury, Moderate Brain Injury, and Severe Brain Injury are used to describe the level of initial injury in relation to the neurological severity caused to the brain.There may be no correlation between the initial Glasgow Coma Scale score and the initial level of brain injury and a persons short or long term recovery, or functional abilities.Keep in mind that there is nothing Mild about a brain injurythe term Mild Brain injury is used to describe a level of neurological injury. Any injury to the brain is a real and serious medical condition. There is additional information about mild brain injury on ourmild brain injury page.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or examination. A person with a suspected brain injury should contact a physician immediately, go to the emergency room, or call 911 in the case of an emergency. Symptoms of mild TBIcan be temporary. The majority of people with mild TBIrecover, though the timetable for recovery can vary significantly from person to person.

A moderate TBI occurs when there is aloss of consciousness that lasts from a few minutes to a few hours, when confusion lasts from days to weeks, or when physical, cognitive, and/or behavioral impairments last for months or are permanent.Persons with moderate TBIgenerally can make a good recovery with treatment and successfully learn to compensate for their deficits.

Source: Defense and Veterans Head Injury Program & Brain Injury Association. Brain Injury and You. 1996.

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Facts About Abortion: Stem Cell Research and Abortion

Posted: at 6:46 pm

Page Summary: Embryonic stem research cannot take place apart from dead human embryos. Embryonic stem cells cannot be culled without killing the embryo. Whether these tiny human beings are explicitly killed for research purposes or not, the ethics of the matter do not change.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells us this about stem cells:

Because stem cells can differentiate into specialized cell types, they have the potential to replace or repair damaged tissue, be used for organ transplants and treat all sorts of diseases. Much research is left to be done, but the use of stem cells could potentially cure diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal chord injuries, heart conditions, and more.

Before going further, it must be emphasized that there are different types of stem cells, which carry vastly different ethical implications. Until recently, researchers worked with two kinds of stem cells: embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and “somatic” or “adult” stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are the undifferentiated cells from which all our body parts, organs, tissues, etc. originally developed. These cells are obtained by transferring the inner cell mass of the embryo into a culture dish, but can only be done by killing the embryo. This is what makes embryonic stem cell research an ethical question. Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in various tissues throughout the body, including the brain, bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, muscle, skin, teeth, etc., and are thought to maintain and repair damaged tissue. These can be obtained without harm to the donor.

In 2007, a new stem cell method was discovered that actually “reprograms” ordinary cells (like skin cells) to revert into an embryonic stem cell-like state. These stem cells are called Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) and are essentially no different than embryonic stem cells, with one exception: they do not require the killing of embryos. The scientist who discovered this reprogramming technique, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, said the following:

Dr. Yamanaka states that iPSCs overcome two main problems with embryonic stem cell research: (1) immune rejection: since the embryonic stem cells that would theoretically be introduced into patients do not carry the same genetic code, the body may reject them (as has been observed in studies on mice); and (2) the ethical dilemna: the only way to derive embryonic stem cells is to kill embryos. With the discovery of iPSCs, embryo-like stem cells can be derived from a patient’s own cells, which carry the same genes and will not be rejected by the body, and, more importantly, they do not require the killing of embryos.

Despite the ethical controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research, and the scientific advances which allow for the ethical controversy to be avoided altogether, the U.S. government began providing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001. Prior to this, federal funds could not be used for embryonic stem cell research, but President Bush changed that when he adopted a policy that allowed government funding to be applied towards research on a limited number of embryonic stem cell lines. The statement that spelled out those limitations reads as follows:

President Bush tried to toe the moral line by ensuring that no new embryos would be created and destroyed for stem cell research. On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued a new executive order, revoking the former policy. Federal funding can now be used for embryonic stem cell research, without regard to creation date and without regard to the future life of the embryo. Dr. Curt Civin, who serves as the founding director of the University of Maryland Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine defends the practice this way, “This was already life that was going to be destroyed, the choice is throw them away or use them for research.” Dr. Civin conveniently ignores a third option: embryo adoption. Frozen embryos need not be consigned to the trashcan or the microscope!

Largely lost in the discussion is the fact that, in the eight years that the federal government has funded embryonic stem cell research, the proposed benefits are still wholly speculative (President Obama admits the potential benefit “remains unknown”). To date no human embryonic stem cells have actually been used to cure or treat diseases (although the FDA recently cleared the California-based company Geron to use human embryonic stem cells for clinical trial). Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already helped with over 73 diseases (this according to the Family Research Council and peer-reviewed published research). Time will tell what scientists can do with iPSCs, but remarkable research is already being done. In fact, Dr. Oz surprised Michael J. Fox and Oprah Whinfrey when he declared on her show that “the stem cell debate is dead”. It is not embryonic stem cell research that will ultimately cure diseases like Parkinson’s, he maintains, but rather iPSCs. Dr. Oz believes iPSC based cures are less than ten years away.

Of course, even if you want to defend the ethical merits of embryonic stem cell research, do not confuse the debate over the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research with the debate over embryonic stem cell research itself. The opportunity for private corporations to acquire and study fetal tissue samples has long been in place. For those individuals and companies who have no ethical qualms with the “therapeutic” killing of embryos, they have the legal freedom to pursue their research on their own time and their own dime. Objecting taxpayers need not foot the bill, until now. That’s how the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research changes the debate. To better illustrate this distinction, let’s compare embryonic stem cell research with legal prostitution. As you may or may not know, prostitution is lawful throughout much of the state of Nevada. Despite the fact that lots of people find prostitution to be morally reprehensible, the state of Nevada has made it lawful for its citizens to engage in. Now what if, instead of just making prostitution legal, Nevada also made it state funded requiring its citizens to pay the operating costs of brothels across the state? You see where we’re going with this. A strong case can be made for outlawing embryonic stem cell research outright, just as a strong case can be made for outlawing prostitution outright. But even if you’re going to defend the merits of the practices in question, how can it possibly be reasonable for objecting citizens to be made to pay for them?!

The reason people who oppose abortion tend to also oppose embryonic stem cell research is because extracting stem cells from embryos kills them. Embryonic stem cell lines cannot be established apart from dead embryos. Therefore, since embryos (just like fetuses and newborns and infants and adults) are human beings, embryonic stem cell research is unjust and unjustified. It is the killing of one person (actually many persons) in the theoretic attempt to save other people. Is it justifiable to kill one person in order to spare someone else from disease? At its essence, the driving philosophy behind embryonic stem cell research is one that places less value on individual human life than it does on the “greater human good”. While this may sound altruistic on the surface, it has been the historic basis for all manner of human rights abuses.

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Cerebral Palsy in Adults | Treatment of CP in Adults

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Generally defined: cerebral palsy is physical condition that inhibits the brain from properly controlling the functions of the body, particularly motor skills.

Cerebral palsy in adults and children can have a variety of physical manifestations that range from highly debilitating to highly manageable through a comprehensive treatment program.

Physical treatment should be augmented with support from those who have experienced CP before. Visit our cerebral palsy chat room resource page and let the strength of others in your situation become your own.

Statistics show that there are approximately half a million cases of cerebral palsy in adults and children in the United States with 4,500 new cases each year.

Cerebral palsy can be the result of complications in pregnancy, difficult childbirth, medical negligence related to either of these events, or a traumatic brain injury accident in the first few years of life. Cerebral palsy in adults is therefore a condition that these patients have had for all, or most, of their lives.

Many people with cerebral palsy can live a long productive life. Ninety eight percent of the general population survives into their twenties as compared to ninety percent of the population that has cerebral palsy.

Life expectancy and quality of life is contingent upon the severity of cerebral palsy in adults. Children who have severe mental retardation or considerable physical impairment have less of a chance of reaching adulthood. Only seven in ten of these patients will survive into their twenties.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy in adults or children. Early intervention and a comprehensive rehabilitative therapy program is the best way to manage cerebral palsy in adults and children. Treatment of cerebral palsy in adults and children can involve a whole host of different therapies including: speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, the use of adaptive equipment, surgical procedures, and other therapeutic techniques.

Treatment of cerebral palsy in adults may include a number of services that foster and facilitate functional living. Vocational and educational training can increase functioning in cases of cerebral palsy in adults. Personal assistance services, recreational and leisure activity participation, counselling, independent living services, employment opportunities, and other services are available to adults with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy in adults should be considered by parents who have children with cerebral palsy. A plan should be prepared with regards to handling care of cerebral palsy in adults if parents or guardians should pass before their child is able to adequately care for him or herself. Estate planning and other guardianship matters involving cerebral palsy in adults is also important to consider.

Cerebral palsy in adults and children does not bar these individuals from experiencing a full and satisfying life. Problems of cerebral palsy in adults can often be traced back to medical negligence or other violations that occurred throughout development. If cerebral palsy in adults is complicated as a result of another party’s wrongful actions or negligence, you should speak to a qualified legal professional who can advise you of your legal rights and options in a case to recover your losses.

For more information about cerebral palsy in adults, pleasecontact our cerebral palsy lawyers to confer with a specialized cerebral palsy attorney who can protect and maximize your interests in a legal case.

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Hypothalamus – New World Encyclopedia

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The hypothalamus, also known as the “master gland,” is a supervising center in the brain that links the body’s two control systems, the nervous system and the endocrine system, via interaction with the pituitary gland (hypophysis). The hypothalamus (from Greek , “under the thalamus”) is located below the thalamus, just above the brain stem, and occupies the major portion of the ventral region of the brain known as the diencephalon. The hypothalamus is found in all mammalian brains; in humans, it is roughly the size of an almond.

The hypothalamus gland regulates certain metabolic processes and other autonomic activities; it is a control center for functions of the autonomic nervous system. As needed, the hypothalamus synthesizes and secretes neurohormones, often called “releasing hormones,” that control the secretion of hormones from the anterior pituitary gland.

The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, blood pressure, heartbeat, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and circadian cycles. Also, among other hormones, it releases gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). The neurons that secrete GnRH are linked to the limbic system, which is primarily involved in the control of emotions and sexual activity. Specific functions are related to particular sections of the hypothalamus called nuclei.

Although the hypothalamus is envisioned as a “master gland,” regulating such aspects as emotions (fear, rage) and sexual behavior, the typical religious conception of human beings is more complicated. Rather than seeing human beings as just a physical entity, governed by physical impulses, most religions depict each person as having a spiritual essence as well as a physical essence. Emotions and sexual activity are understood to be the result of an interaction of the physical (body) component of a human being (in this case, the hypothalamus) and the spiritual component (mind). While damage to the brain will interfere with this relationship, in healthy individuals actions take place based on this reciprocal, give and receive relationship between the spiritual and the physical.

The hypothalamus is a very complex region, and even small nuclei within the hypothalamus are involved in many different functions. The paraventricular nucleus, for instance, contains oxytocin and vasopressin neurons which project to the posterior pituitary, but also contains neurons that regulate adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion (which project to the anterior pituitary), gastric reflexes, maternal behavior, blood pressure, food and liquid uptake, immune responses, and temperature.

The hypothalamus coordinates many seasonal and circadian rhythms, complex patterns of neuroendocrine outputs, complex homeostatic mechanisms, and many important stereotyped behaviors. The hypothalamus must therefore respond to many different signals, some of which are generated externally and some internally.

The hypothalamus thus is connected extensively with many parts of the central nervous system, including the brainstem reticular formation and autonomic zones, the limbic forebrain (particularly the amygdala, septum, diagonal band of Broca, and the olfactory bulbs), and the cerebral cortex.

The hypothalamus is responsive to:

Olfactory stimuli are important for reproduction and neuroendocrine function in many species. For instance, if a pregnant mouse is exposed to the urine of a “strange” male during a critical period after coitus, then the pregnancy fails (the Bruce effect). Thus during coitus, a female mouse forms a precise “olfactory memory” of her partner, which persists for several days.

Pheromonal cues aid synchronization of estrus in many species; in women, synchronized menstruation may also arise from pheromonal cues, although the role of pheromones in humans is contended by some.

Peptide hormones have important influences upon the hypothalamus, and to do so they must evade the blood-brain barrier. The hypothalamus is bounded in part by specialized brain regions that lack an effective blood-brain barrier; the capillary endothelium at these sites is fenestrated to allow free passage of even large proteins and other molecules.

Some of these sites are the sites of neurosecretion: The neurohypophysis and the median eminence. However, others are sites at which the brain samples the composition of the blood. Two of these sites, the subfornical organ and the OVLT (organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis) are so-called circumventricular organs, where neurons are in intimate contact with both blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These structures are densely vascularized, and contain osmoreceptive and sodium-receptive neurons that regulate fluid uptake (drinking), vasopressin release, sodium excretion, and sodium appetite. They also contain neurons with receptors for angiotensin, atrial natriuretic factor, endothelin, and relaxin, each of which is important in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance. Neurons in the OVLT and SFO project to the supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus, and also to preoptic hypothalamic areas. The circumventricular organs may also be the site of action of interleukins to elicit both fever and ACTH secretion, via effects on paraventricular neurons.

It is not clear how all peptides that influence hypothalamic activity gain the necessary access. In the case of prolactin and leptin, there is evidence of active uptake at the choroid plexus from blood into CSF. Some pituitary hormones have a negative feedback influence upon hypothalamic secretion; for example, growth hormone feeds back on the hypothalamus, but how it enters the brain is not clear. There is also evidence for central actions of prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

The hypothalamus contains neurons that are sensitive to gonadal steroids and glucocorticoids (the steroid hormones of the adrenal gland, released in response to ACTH). It also contains specialized glucose-sensitive neurons (in the arcuate nucleus and ventromedial hypothalamus), which are important for appetite. The preoptic area contains thermosensitive neurons; these are important for thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) secretion.

The hypothalamus receives many inputs from the brainstem; notably from the nucleus of the solitary tract, the locus coeruleus, and the ventrolateral medulla. Oxytocin secretion in response to suckling or vagino-cervical stimulation is mediated by some of these pathways; vasopressin secretion in response to cardiovascular stimuli arising from chemoreceptors in the carotid sinus and aortic arch, and from low-pressure atrial volume receptors, is mediated by others. In the rat, stimulation of the vagina also causes prolactin secretion, and this results in pseudo-pregnancy following an infertile mating. In the rabbit, coitus elicits reflex ovulation. In the sheep, cervical stimulation in the presence of high levels of estrogen can induce maternal behavior in a virgin ewe. These effects are all mediated by the hypothalamus, and the information is carried mainly by spinal pathways that relay in the brainstem. Stimulation of the nipples stimulates release of oxytocin and prolactin and suppresses the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Cardiovascular stimuli are carried by the vagus nerve, but the vagus also conveys a variety of visceral information, including, for instance, signals arising from gastric distension to suppress feeding. Again this information reaches the hypothalamus via relays in the brainstem.

The hypothalamic nuclei include the following:

Medial preoptic nucleusSupraoptic nucleusParaventricular nucleusAnterior nucleusSuprachiasmatic nucleus

Lateral preoptic nucleusLateral nucleusPart of supraoptic nucleus

Dorsomedial nucleusVentromedial nucleusArcuate nucleus

Lateral nucleusLateral tuberal nuclei

Mammillary nuclei (part of mammillary bodies)Posterior nucleus

The outputs of the hypothalamus can be divided into two categories: Neural projections and endocrine hormones (Weedman Molavi 1997).

Most fiber systems of the hypothalamus run in two ways (bidirectional).

Most of the hormones generated in the hypothalamus are distributed to the pituitary via the hypophyseal portal system (Bowen 1998).

The primary hypothalamic hormones are:

The extreme lateral part of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus is responsible for the control of food intake. Stimulation of this area causes increased food intake, while bilateral lesion of this area causes complete cessation of food intake. Medial parts of the nucleus have a controlling effect on the lateral part. Bilateral lesion of the medial part of the ventromedial nucleus causes hyperphagia and obesity of the animal. Further lesion of the lateral part of the ventromedial nucleus in the same animal produces complete cessation of food intake.

There are different hypotheses related to this regulation (Theologides 1976):

Several hypothalamic nuclei are sexually dimorphic. In other words, there are clear differences in both structure and function between males and females.

Some differences are apparent even in gross neuroanatomy: Most notable is the sexually dimorphic nucleus within the preoptic area, which is present only in males. However, most of the differences are subtle changes in the connectivity and chemical sensitivity of particular sets of neurons.

The importance of these changes can be recognized by functional differences between males and females. For instance, the pattern of secretion of growth hormone is sexually dimorphic, and this is one reason why in many species, adult males are much larger than females.

A striking functional dimorphism is in the behavioral responses to ovarian steroids of the adult. Males and females respond differently to ovarian steroids, partly because the expression of estrogen-sensitive neurons in the hypothalamus is sexually dimorphic. In other words, estrogen receptors are expressed in different sets of neurons.

Estrogen and progesterone act by influencing gene expression in particular neurons. To influence gene expression, estrogen binds to an intracellular receptor, and this complex is translocated to the cell nucleus where it interacts with regions of the DNA known as estrogen regulatory elements (EREs). Increased protein synthesis may follow as soon as 30 min later.

Thus, for estrogen to influence the expression of a particular gene in a particular cell, the following must occur:

Male and female brains differ in the distribution of estrogen receptors, and this difference is an irreversible consequence of neonatal steroid exposure. Estrogen receptors (and progesterone receptors) are found mainly in neurons in the anterior and mediobasal hypothalamus, notably:

In neonatal life, gonadal steroids influence the development of the neuroendocrine hypothalamus. For instance, they determine the ability of females to exhibit a normal reproductive cycle, and of males and females to display appropriate reproductive behaviors in adult life.

In primates, the developmental influence of androgens is less clear, and the consequences are less complete. “Tomboyism” in girls might reflect the effects of androgens on the fetal brain, but the sex of rearing during the first 2-3 years is believed by many to be the most important determinant of gender identity, because during this phase either estrogen or testosterone will have permanent effects on either a female or male brain, influencing both heterosexuality and homosexuality.

The paradox is that the masculinizing effects of testosterone are mediated by estrogen. Within the brain, testosterone is aromatized to estradiol, which is the principal active hormone for developmental influences. The human testis secretes high levels of testosterone from about week 8 of fetal life until 5-6 months after birth (a similar perinatal surge in testosterone is observed in many species), a process that appears to underlie the male phenotype. Estrogen from the maternal circulation is relatively ineffective, partly because of the high circulating levels of steroid-binding proteins in pregnancy.

Sex steroids are not the only important influences upon hypothalamic development; stress (positive or negative) in early life determines the capacity of the adult hypothalamus to respond to an acute stressor. Unlike gonadal steroid receptors, glucocorticoid receptors are very widespread throughout the brain; in the paraventricular nucleus, they mediate negative feedback control of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRF) synthesis and secretion, but elsewhere their role is not well understood.

Studies in female mice have shown that both Supraoptic nucleus (SON) and Paraventricular nucleus (PVN) lose approximately one-third of IGF-1R immunoreactive cells with normal aging. Also, Old caloricly restricted (CR) mice lost higher numbers of IGF-1R non-immunoreactive cells while maintaining similar counts of IGF-1R immunoreactive cells in comparison to Old-Al mice. Consequently, Old-CR mice show a higher percentage of IGF-1R immunoreactive cells reflecting increased hypothalamic sensitivity to IGF-1 in comparison to normally aging mice (Saeed et al. 2007; Yaghmaie et al. 2006; Yaghmaie et al. 2007).

Median sagittal section of brain of human embryo of three months.

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Hypothalamic disease – Wikipedia

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Hypothalamic disease is a disorder presenting primarily in the hypothalamus, which may be caused by damage resulting from malnutrition, including anorexia and bulimia eating disorders,[1][2] genetic disorders, radiation, surgery, head trauma,[3] lesion,[1] tumour or other physical injury to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the control center for several endocrine functions. Endocrine systems controlled by the hypothalamus are regulated by anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), corticotropin-releasing hormone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, growth hormone-releasing hormone, oxytocin, all of which are secreted by the hypothalamus. Damage to the hypothalamus may impact any of these hormones and the related endocrine systems. Many of these hypothalamic hormones act on the pituitary gland. Hypothalamic disease therefore affects the functioning of the pituitary and the target organs controlled by the pituitary, including the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes, and the thyroid gland.[2]

Numerous dysfunctions manifest as a result of hypothalamic disease. Damage to the hypothalamus may cause disruptions in body temperature regulation, growth, weight, sodium and water balance, milk production, emotions, and sleep cycles.[1][2][4]Hypopituitarism, neurogenic diabetes insipidus, tertiary hypothyroidism, and developmental disorders are examples of precipitating conditions caused by hypothalamic disease.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are tightly integrated. Damage to the hypothalamus will impact the responsiveness and normal functioning of the pituitary. Hypothalamic disease may cause insufficient or inhibited signalling to the pituitary leading to deficiencies of one or more of the following hormones: thyroid-stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, beta-endorphin, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and melanocytestimulating hormones. Treatment for hypopituitarism involves hormone replacement therapy.[1]

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus may occur due to low levels of ADH production from the hypothalamus.[1][5][6] Insufficient levels of ADH result in increased thirst and urine output, and prolonged excessive urine excretion increases the risk of dehydration.[6]

The thyroid gland is an auxiliary organ to the hypothalamus-pituitary system. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) produced by the hypothalamus signals to the pituitary to release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which then stimulates the thyroid to secrete T4 and T3thyroid hormones.[7][8] Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when TSH secretion from the pituitary is impaired, whereas tertiary hypothyroidism is the deficiency or inhibition of TRH.[7]

Thyroid hormones are responsible for metabolic activity. Insufficient production of the thyroid hormones result in suppressed metabolic activity and weight gain. Hypothalamic disease may therefore have implications for obesity.[9]

Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) is another releasing factor secreted by the hypothalamus. GHRH stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete growth hormone (GH), which has various effects on body growth and sexual development.[1][5] Insufficient GH production may cause poor somatic growth, precocious puberty or gonadotropin deficiency, failure to initiate or complete puberty, and is often associated with rapid weight gain, low T4, and low levels of sex hormones.[5]

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Hypothalamus Hormones | Function of the Hypothalamus Gland

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Known as the bodys messengers, hormones affect the way the body feels and functions, and are produced by many different parts of the body. The hypothalamus, a part of the brain, is responsible for many hormones. Understanding these “brainy hormones” will help you take control of your body and your health.

The hypothalamus produces hormones that control the production of hormones in the pituitary gland. These two parts of the body work together to tell the other endocrine glands when it is time to release the hormones they are designed to make. Because of this, hypothalamus function is directly related to overall hormone health. If the hypothalamus is damaged due to traumatic brain injury or genetic factors, overall hormonal health will suffer.

The hypothalamus produces seven different hormones:

Each of these hormones must be in careful balance in order for the body to function properly. Too much or too little of any of these will affect the body’s health and well-being. For example, too much of the anti-diuretic hormone can lead to water retention, while levels that are too low can cause dehydration or a drop in blood pressure.

The corticotropin-releasing hormone can lead to problems with acne, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, infertility and muscle problems if the body has too much of it. Low levels can cause weight loss, increased skin pigmentation, gastrointestinal distress and low blood pressure.

People struggling with gonadotropin-releasing hormone levels may notice problems with poor bone health or a lack of fertility. Low levels can cause infertility, while high levels can disrupt communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

The growth-hormone releasing hormone, in high levels, can cause abnormal enlargement of the skull, hands and feet, as well as problems with menstruation or diabetes. Low levels can delay puberty in children or decrease muscle mass in adults. Somatostatin, the growth-hormone-inhibiting hormone, can cause digestive problems, diabetes and gallstones while low levels of this hormone can cause uncontrolled growth hormone secretion, leading to psychological problems.

High levels of oxytocin have been linked to enlarge prostate glands, while low levels can cause breastfeeding difficulties and symptoms of autism or a lack of social development.

Finally, patients with high levels of the thyrotropin-releasing hormone may experience fatigue, depression, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair loss. Weight loss, weak muscles, excessive sweating and heavy menstrual flow are symptoms of levels that are too low.

If you suspect that you may have problems with your hypothalamus function, talk to your doctor and endocrinologist about the proper testing, so you can get back to a normal life free from the problems caused by a poorly functioning hypothalamus.

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