New research shows that children who grow up near nature become happier adults
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Being in nature is soothing to the soul. The air is cleaner. The night sky is darker so it's easier to sleep. And there's something calming about being in the natural harmony of the wilderness.

But, on the other hand, it's tough to find a place to get good sushi or an exciting night club.

This begs the age-old question: is it better to live in the city or the country? The answer has always been, "depends on who you ask," but a new study out of Denmark says that being near dense vegetation is clearly better for one's mental health.

A nationwide study of over 900,000 people published in PNAS showed that "children who grew up with the lowest levels of green space had up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder independent from effects of other known risk factors."


The researchers came to this determination after studying robust population data taken by the Danish government.

"If we were talking about a new medicine that had this kind of effect the buzz would be huge," Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond, told NPR.

Igor Menezes Fotógrafo / Flickr

Researchers looked at satellite images of to see how much green space surrounded the areas where the participants grew up.

According to the study, the participants didn't necessarily have to live in a forest to enjoy the mental health benefits, just reside within a reasonable drive from wilderness areas, public parks, and urban green spaces.

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People of higher socioeconomic status tend to live in areas with greater access to parks and have the means to shield their children from some mental disorders. So the researchers factored in income data as well to weigh the relative contribution of green space against socioeconomic backgrounds.

The researchers also found that the results were "dosage dependent." The greater percentage of someone's childhood spent near green spaces, the less the chance of developing mental illness.

Lambert suggests that access to green spaces may be good for our mental health because humans evolved surrounded nature.

While the findings suggest the power that comes from human beings in their natural environment, Kristine Engemann, the biologist who led the study is cautious about saying that access to green spaces causes positive mental health outcomes.

"It's purely correlational, so we can't definitively say that growing up near green space reduces risk of mental illness," Engemann told NPR.

Further research is needed to get to the root causes of how topography affects mental health. But the article makes a great argument for more parks being built in urban areas.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Jimivr / Flickr and Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Actress Billie Lourd paid tribute to her late mother Carrie Fisher on Tuesday by sharing a photo of her son Kingston watching Fisher as Princess Leia in 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope."

Kingston was born last September to Lourd and her fiancé, actor Austen Rydell. The infant is pictured wearing a knitted hat with buns on its side and a Leia-themed onesie.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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