Easy Minecraft Cake

For my son’s 10th birthday party, I “made” a Minecraft cake (decorating a store bought cake):Minecraft Cake

I ordered a sheet cake from Safeway with green frosting on top and edges. I made brownies, which I then frosted myself with green frosting to simulate grass block, which I stacked on the left. The “lava” is orange frosting dusted with red decorating sugar.

I dug out a rectangle on the cake and filled it with blue jello to make a pool/pond. I used crushed chocolate cookies around the edge of the water, although I don’t think that was terribly successful. It might look better without it.

I lightly toasted shredded coconut and colored it with green food coloring. The paper figures are from The Ultimate Guide to Minecraft Papercraft. They were kind of tedious to make. Figure at least 20 minutes for each, and have toothpicks handy.

Dogged Persistence Pays Off, With Interest – NYTimes.com

In this episode, the story of an epic, four-year battle between a man and a health insurer. Typically, these stories end with the same score: Health Insurer 1, Patient 0.This story is different.It started in 2006, when at the age of 37, Dave Bexfield of Albuquerque learned that he had multiple sclerosis, or M.S. Three years later, the disease ramped up and he was forced to quit his job as managing editor of a car magazine, in part because he could not type. He qualified for a clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He spent three months there getting a stem cell transplant. His total bill was just under $200,000. Yes, though sponsored by the N.I.H., the treatment came with a price tag.

via Dogged Persistence Pays Off, With Interest – NYTimes.com.

Pregnancy Hormone May Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms : Shots – Health News : NPR

For decades, women with multiple sclerosis have noticed that they tend to do better while they are pregnant. That has led to an experimental drug for the disease that’s based on a hormone associated with pregnancy.The hormone is a form of estrogen called estriol. It’s abundant in a woman’s body only when she is pregnant. Adding estriol to treatment with an existing MS drug cut relapses by 47 percent in a of 158 women presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April.

via Pregnancy Hormone May Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms : Shots – Health News : NPR.

Calling Young Girls ‘Fat’ May Increase Their Teen-Obesity Risk

HealthDay News — When people tell a young girl that she’s fat, that in itself increases her risk of eventually becoming obese, according to a new study.The study included more than 2,300 young girls in California, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., who had their height and weight checked when they age 10 and again at age 19.At the start of the study, 58 percent of the girls had been told by a parent, sibling, friend, classmate or teacher that they were too fat. Those girls were 1.66 times more likely to be obese at age 19 than other girls, the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA researchers found.

via Calling Young Girls ‘Fat’ May Increase Their Teen-Obesity Risk.

New Clues to Link Between MS Drug Tysabri and Rare Brain Disease

HealthDay News — Researchers report that they think they have figured out why patients who take the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri face a high risk of developing a rare, and sometimes fatal, brain infection.A common virus that can cause the brain disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy PML likes to infect and hide in certain blood cells that are triggered to mobilize by Tysabri, the study authors explained. Even more troubling, the researchers discovered that current tests may be missing some who harbor the virus.

via New Clues to Link Between MS Drug Tysabri and Rare Brain Disease.

As Genzyme waits for FDA ruling, its multiple sclerosis drug wins approval in Canada – Business news – Boston.com

As Cambridge biotech Genzyme awaits an upcoming US regulatory decision on its experimental multiple sclerosis drug, the medicine has won approval for sale in Canada.

Genzyme said Friday that the regulatory agency Health Canada signed off on its Lemtrada therapy as a treatment for adults with relapsing remitting MS who did not respond to drugs already on the market north of the border. More than 2.3 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS, a disease of the central nervous system, including about 100,000 in Canada.

via As Genzyme waits for FDA ruling, its multiple sclerosis drug wins approval in Canada – Business news – Boston.com.

Low Iron in Brain a Sign of ADHD?

MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2013 (HealthDay News) — A newer MRI method can detect low iron levels in the brains of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The method could help doctors and parents make better informed decisions about medication, a new study says.

Psychostimulant drugs used to treat ADHD affect levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Because iron is required to process dopamine, using MRI to assess iron levels in the brain may provide a noninvasive, indirect measure of the chemical, explained study author Vitria Adisetiyo, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina.

If these findings are confirmed in larger studies, this technique might help improve ADHD diagnosis and treatment, according to Adisetiyo.

via Low Iron in Brain a Sign of ADHD?.

Childhood Depression and Sleep Apnea

We have noted a significant correlation between depression and sleep disorders in adults for years. However, in this month’s issue of Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a study entitled The Relationship between Depressive Symptoms and Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Pediatric Populations: A Meta-Analysis, demonstrated the increased incidence of depression in children from preschool up to age 18 with sleep apnea.It is well-known that childhood depression is a significant problem. Depression affects 1% of preschoolers, 2% of school-age children, and up to 8% of adolescents. If untreated, it poses a significant risk for increased psychosocial problems, as well as substance abuse and suicide. It is also known that about 2% of all children in this age group suffer from sleep-disordered breathing.

via Childhood Depression and Sleep Apnea – Sleep Answers.

Brain Connections Strengthen As Kids Sleep, Study Suggests

HealthDay News — As young children sleep, the connections between the right and left sides of their brains strengthen, according to a small new study.Researchers measured the brain activity of eight children while they slept at ages 2, 3 and 5 years. They found that connections in the brain generally became stronger during sleep as the children aged.

via Brain Connections Strengthen As Kids Sleep, Study Suggests.

Laser Toys Can Damage Eyes: Report

(HealthDay News) — Popular laser toys can cause serious and potentially permanent eye damage, a new report warns.

The high-powered blue laser gadgets, sold over the Internet, are increasingly sought after by male teens and young adults, according to the researchers.

The study authors report on 14 cases of laser-caused eye damage treated at Saudi Arabia’s King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital between 2012 and 2013. The injuries were caused by high-power blue laser gadgets and included four cases of perforations of the retina, the part of the eye responsible for detailed central vision.

via Laser Toys Can Damage Eyes: Report.