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Does Gender Affect a Person’s Attention to Art? UROP study: men may prefer street art, women museums and galleries

Emma Kalff (CAS’15) in front of the mural she designed, planned, and painted on the side of a rug store in Cambridge. Kalff is conducting a UROP study on how men and women respond to art in various scenarios. Photo by Cydney Scott

Which would you rather savor: a painting by the Spanish master Goya at the Museum of Fine Arts or the glass mosaic of Masonic symbols gracing the outside wall of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Boston?

Your answer may say less about your artistic tastes than about your gender.

Preliminary research by Emma Kalff (CAS’15) suggests that men might notice and remark on art in public spaces (on buildings and in parks, for example) more so than women. But while women are more likely to stroll by public art without a glance, that stereotype of the guy being dragged along by a gallery-going girlfriend may have some basis: women linger longer over art in privately owned environments such as galleries and museums.

“The difference is much more subtle in public settings than in private settings,” where men sprint through while women take their time, says Kalff, whose ongoing Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program study is overseen by two sociologists at the College of Arts & Sciences—Japonica Brown-Saracino, an associate professor of sociology, and Ashley Mears, an assistant professor of sociology.

A sociology major who paints as a sideline and minors in art history, Kalff stresses that this possible gender difference is just that—a possibility—and that more research, which she’s undertaking, is needed to confirm and explain it. “Do women walk with others, including children, more often than men,” she asks, “and does this limit their ability to focus on public art and make them especially appreciative of quiet moments in galleries and museums?”

Or might it be, as Brown-Saracino speculates, that women “perhaps have to be more aware of their circumstances” in public to keep safe, and thus can’t afford distraction by public artworks?

Kalff notes that museums and galleries erect a “hierarchy” that puts art and artists on a pedestal, something that doesn’t happen with publicly displayed art. “There are big, detailed paintings in these huge, gold frames, and you have to pay to get in, and there are guards standing there watching you, and there are plaques telling you what the painting means. And that hierarchy is entirely dismantled in public. You can walk by and make your own interpretation of what’s going on.”

The research was arduous. Kalff compiled a two-inch-thick sheaf of field notes last summer and fall, when she planted herself for two to four hours at a time in 10 public and 10 private art spots—rain or shine—in Boston. Public art sites included the Masonic lodge exterior, the New England Holocaust Memorial, and a sculpture in South Boston, Aqueus Humor, featuring three stainless steel circles with mosaics of marine life and scenes of fishing and shipping. Spectators can spin the circles and thereby cause the images to combine in different ways and change, like a kaleidoscope. (During her hours-long stakeout, only men played spin-the-wheels, Kalff says.)

Kalff’s private art locations included three wings each in the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art, plus art galleries in Boston from Newbury Street to Roxbury.

She chose places where she thought she could get a mix of demographic and age groups; choosing sites just in, say, college student–heavy Allston wouldn’t do. (Kalff already was aware that studying art observers in a single city limited her research.) Once at a spot, she’d look at the art for herself and record her impressions and scope out the approaches and exits to the work. Somewhat removed from the setting, scribbling furiously, and sometimes facing multiple onlookers to note and record, she had to accept that “definitely, people slip by.” But plenty did not get by: she estimates that she took notes on 500 people.

Of course, Kalff doesn’t know what people are thinking as they hover over or hotfoot it from different art venues. She’ll try to get at that in another part of the research, when she is interviewing a dozen residents, half from Cambridge and half from Roxbury, approached during the morning rush hour at subway stations. Her questions drill into how her interviewees appreciate art in different settings: Have they ever visited an art museum? Do they consider graffiti an art form? What are their immediate thoughts when Kalff shows them a photo of a public mural and another of a painting in a frame? What do they consider the ideal place to display art?

The most eye-catching aspect of public art is its creation, says Kalff, who bases that assertion on a third part of her fieldwork: she herself painted a mural on the side of a rug store (with the owners’ permission) in Cambridge, Mass., while noting the reactions of passersby. “After it’s created, the landscape completely just swallows it up,” she says, “and it becomes kind of unquestioned.” Anecdotally, it seemed that more men than women stopped to ask about her work, she recalls.

Kalff says her project spotlights the distance between an artist’s vision and the audience that will see that vision represented in oil or metal or glass. “All visual art starts as a seed in somebody’s mind, and art is a skill…to close the gap between what is in your mind and what comes out in material reality,” she says. “Not only is it difficult for the artist to master that skill, but it’s difficult to figure out where to display it.”

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Attention Politicians: For Every Low

American politicians are in a hullabaloo over the 500,000 Foxconn low-wage jobs in China that they claim could be stationed in the United States, but no one seems to pay attention to the booming “App Economy” that created roughly the same amount of decent jobs stateside. Both sides of the aisle have made public statements on how the Cupertino, Calif.-based Company should bring its grueling $0.31-an-hour factory occupations home.

President Barack Obama reportedly once asked the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, “What would it take to make iPhones in the United States?” at the Silicon Valley Summit last year, and Jobs allegedly responded: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.” The New York Times described why those positions are not returning last month. You can watch the Republicans, perhaps besides Ron Paul, be just as dumbfounded about the labor issue in the video above.

“Nothing illustrates the job-creating power of innovation better than the App Economy,” contended a new NetTech sponsored study (PDF) released today. “The incredibly rapid rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media, and [apps] that run on them, is perhaps the biggest economic and technological phenomenon today.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is currently unable to track App Economy employment numbers. TechNet is a “bipartisan policy and political network of technology CEOs that promotes the growth of the innovation economy,” and it enlisted Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics to conduct analysis from The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine database and track accurate employment statistics.

Dr. Mandel’s conclusions illustrated that the industries housed under the App Economy’s wide umbrella are responsible for an estimated 466,000 jobs (including spillovers not depicted in the above graph) across the states…

“America’s App Economy – which had zero jobs just 5 years ago before the iPhone was introduced – demonstrates that we can quickly create economic value and jobs through cutting-edge innovation,” said President and CEO of TechNet Rey Ramsey. “Today, the App Economy is creating jobs in every part of America, employing hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers today and even more in the years to come.”

Obviously the App Economy is not just Apple, but its ecosystem pioneered the new economy and is leading the charge.

The App Economy includes “pure” and “infrastructure” careers across Apple, Google, Facebook, Zynga, Electronic Arts, Amazon, AT&T and other app-related positions at large technology companies based in America. TechNet’s study claimed the No. 1 metropolis for App Economy jobs is New York City at 9.2-percent. However, San Francisco and San Jose surpass New York City with a joint 14.8-percent total. California tops the App Economy states list at 23.9-percent with New York trailing far-behind at 6.9-percent.

Measuring the App Economy involved many metrics, including counting the number of apps in each particular app store across the various platforms, as well as how many developers published. According to the study, the Apple App store saw 529,550 active apps by Dec. 12, 2011, which 124,475 active publishers uploaded. These statistics, combined with other methodology data, estimated that the App Economy generated almost $20 billion in revenue in 2011.

“The App Economy, along with the broad communications sector, has been a leading source of hiring strength in an otherwise sluggish labor market,” said Dr. Michael Mandel.

Professions in the industry include positions for programmers, user interface designers, marketers, managers, and support staff. The analysis indicates that the App Economy is fluid and booming quickly, and the amount and site  of app-related jobs are “likely to shift greatly in the years ahead.”

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Gender Gap In Life Expectancy

Often while scrolling through social media, we must come across content making fun of why men cannot outlive women and proceed to show videos of men fighting with bears or engaging in other dangerous behavior. However, is there any veracity to such posts?

Meaning and Overview

Men are often regarded as the superior gender since they are generally bigger, more robust, and appear to be tougher than women. Nevertheless, medical science has a contrary narrative to share: men are naturally inferior to women. Women generally outlast males over the world, while male lethality is greater in almost all leading sources of fatalities. For several other animal species, including humans, females outlive males in terms of durability.

Biological Reasons

From a biological perspective, men are biologically predisposed to pass away at birth sooner than women. The data suggests that male fetuses are anatomically inferior and much more susceptible to mother stress and pregnancy problems than female fetuses. The number of preterm delivery and the greater neonatal and newborn mortality rates in boys relative to girls makes this abundantly apparent. The sex disparities at birth support the biological rationale for men’s shorter life expectancy.

It is common to blame genetic abnormalities for men’s excessive morality. Sex hormones are thought to be a major factor in why women tend to live longer than men. Since the female reproductive hormone estrogen prevents cardiovascular diseases, women have a marked reduction up to menopause. Conversely, men’s higher androgen hormone levels are linked to a heightened incidence of cardiovascular illnesses. Another element that may add to the lifespan discrepancy is the better immune systems of women. Female bodies create more antibodies and better immunological responses than male bodies. This improves females’ resistance to bacterial, viral, and respiratory diseases, such as the fatal COVID-19.

Social Reasons

Men are thought to have shorter lives because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking and drinking too much alcohol and greater work-related stress. Men are often handicapped, related to workplace risks, and purportedly “masculine” behaviors that are extremely harmful and unhealthy.

They consequently lose their lives in traffic accidents, war, and sporting events. Men’s propensity for risky health behaviors has been linked to the male sex hormone testosterone, according to research. This could be why studies have linked marriage to longer life expectancy in males but not women. Men may be shielded from harmful social habits by marriage, but women, independent of marital status, are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Status in India

India started its move to better health with a dismal average life expectancy of 24.8 years, similar to many other Asian countries. India’s average life expectancy rose to 62 years at the century’s onset. After the 1990s, however, the expansion rate dropped. The world’s population will live an average of 73.3 years from 2023 onward. In addition to falling short of international norms, most of India’s neighbours are also faring superior to India. In India, there are variances in life expectancy across and within the general population and distinctions based on gender and domicile. A deeper comprehension of the chronological profile of death is necessary to create policies and implement a targeted demographic strategy to lower mortality and raise the average life expectancy.

The fact that India maintained a greater male life expectancy during the transition, in contrast to the majority of industrialized and numerous emerging regions, is another notable peculiarity of the country’s fatality switchover. In academia, the terminology “crossover” describes the shift in trend. At the national scale, female LEB had swept up to male LEB between 1981 and 1985. Following the crossovers, the gender disparity steadily closed nationally during the following 3.5 years, from 2009 to 2013.

The highest gap in male-female expectancy India attained in 2009–2013 is tiny relative to most affluent and several third-world countries. India’s experience is, therefore, distinctive in many formats. At the regional level, the male-female overlap was finished by 2003–2007 in each big state for which abbreviated life tables are obtainable from the Sample Registration System. The bulk of life tables widely available and virtually universally in industrialized nations show that females have a greater average life expectancy.

Life Expectancy in other Countries

Men’s highest incidence in the US and the gender imbalance in average lifespan in the EU are both found to be significantly influenced by gender inequality. Female survival edge is thought to develop in older ages, according to decomposition analysis used to pinpoint the age- and cause-specific causes of the gender disparity. Two, there is a life expectancy gap between men and women in Asia. It is noteworthy that, in the 1950s, there were around seven nations in the globe where women’s average life expectancy was lower than men’s, and even more intriguingly, six were in South Asia.

The substantial maternal death rate among Asian women and the conventional family and societal structure, where sons are prioritized and given access to quality healthcare and scholastic opportunities over daughters, are among the root causes of the inequalities faced by women in south Asian nations. Physiological and hereditary variables are combined with exogenous conditions, and the biological boost women enjoy against men is offset by environmental impediments for women in developing countries. Furthermore, there is proof that conflicts and natural disasters than men more negatively impact women.

Conclusion

It is obvious why women seem to be the most virtuous sex and true winners in the grand lottery of life. The female premium in life expectancy is one of the foremost prominent elements of human nature, giving women an inbuilt physiological edge over men. Biology cannot explain why the gender discrepancy in average lifespan will change over time; thus, it is just a fraction of the narrative.

The prevalence of certain diseases and trajectories of mortality may differ according to gender as a result of interactions between biology and society. However, the proportional impact of genetics and society on women’s longer life expectancy is debatable. There is a biological disparity in life expectancy between men and women; not just society can eliminate this.

On the other hand, the class divide in life expectancy is arbitrary and deliberate. In essence, the gender disparity in lifespan cannot be eliminated because we seldom can modify our hereditary and physiological make-ups. Even if biology only contributes a tiny fraction to the shorter life expectancy of men, gender parity in health may never be achieved. However, we can close the gap by encouraging healthy habits and planning a system where both sexes would have an equal opportunity to achieve their healthiest potency.

The Art To Having Productive Meetings

Meetings are an inescapable part of the corporate world. Everybody has to attend them whether you’re a rank-and-file worker, supervisor, manager, or even CEO. In fact, the higher one goes up the corporate ladder, the more meetings it seems there are to attend.

Meetings are very important because this is the venue where problems are solved. Meetings can also serve as a method for generating new ideas because many people can provide their own thoughts or views. Thus, the best meetings can raise a company to greater heights.

Unfortunately, not all meetings are ideal. There are badly managed meetings that cause confusion instead of resolving problems. In fact, according to a survey done by Microsoft, 32 percent of respondents say that unclear objectives, lack of team communication, and ineffective meetings can cause the team to be unproductive. This means that conducting unproductive meetings waste the time of employees which in turn add cost to companies.

Productive meetings do not happen automatically. The truth is that it requires experience and good attitude both for meeting facilitators and attendees. It is a tall order but there things that can be done to make productive meetings possible, and these are:

1. Sharing the Meeting’s Agenda Beforehand

An agenda is a list that indicates the topics to be tackled during the meeting. Thus it is very important for it to be provided prior to the meeting. The meeting’s agenda must be provided at least three days or more prior to the meeting to give attendees ample time to prepare their reports and other documents.

2. Sharing Clear and Identifiable Goals

Productive meetings have a direction, and that can only happen when there is a clear and identifiable goal. Thus it is important that the attendees be informed of the meeting’s goal to avoid unrelated topics from being raised during the meeting.

According to a study conducted by Aarhus University’s transdisciplinary Interacting Minds Centre (IMC), clear and identifiable goals “increase our perception of cooperation, trust and shared expectations”. The study also showed “that when the people involved could see the end product they felt they were sharing a collective goal and were therefore more willing to trust and cooperate with their colleagues”.

This only means that people will be more cooperative to provide idea or solve a problem when there is a clear and identifiable goal during a meeting. Increase in cooperation equates to increase in productivity.

3. Identify Actionable vs Long Term Goals and Separate Them

Actionable goals are activities that may be accomplished immediately. This is clearly different from long term goals which take long period of time and more effort to accomplish. These two should be separated so that meetings will not be bogged down with topics that need more time (or more meetings) to be resolved.

4. Discuss Only Quick Matters

Meetings should only last for an hour or less because this is a venue for resolving problems. They are not meant to tackle things that can be discussed through other means, like email. Nor should they eat up the time that are better spent on more crucial work and decisions.

5. Separate Chatty Seatmates during the Meeting

Chatty seatmates are quite common during meetings. Facilitators should ensure that all attendees focus on the meeting and not on talking about unrelated topics.

The five things written here are few of the many things that could be done in facilitating a productive meeting.

Other things that may be considered are the management of laptops or smartphones during meeting to avoid distractions, handling uncooperative and rowdy meeting participants, and communicating well during the meeting.

The list can go on and on but what must be remembered that productive meeting is an art of interpersonal relationship between all the meeting participants.

Featured Image Credit: Richard Rutter

Do Covid Vaccines Affect The Menstrual Cycle?

Do COVID Vaccines Affect the Menstrual Cycle?

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Do COVID Vaccines Affect the Menstrual Cycle?

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Lauren Wise, a School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, is looking for evidence of COVID vaccines affecting periods through PRESTO (Pregnancy Study Online), an NIH-funded online study she runs. It follows women trying to conceive from preconception through six months after birth, and it’s been collecting data since 2013 on a range of aspects related to female health and fertility. 

We reconnected with Lauren in December her for an update on her research. Since we spoke, another research team funded by the NIH published a paper in early January indicating that COVID vaccines were associated with a small, temporary increase in menstrual cycle length (one day on average).

Our conversation was recorded, so you can read along with the transcript, and hear personally from Wise about her work.

Both the recorded conversation and this transcript have been condensed and edited for clarity.

BU Today: How did researchers come to this idea of studying whether the COVID vaccines may be affecting menstruation? To study the effects of the COVID vaccine on women’s menstrual cycle, which data have you been tracking?

I guess scientifically, thinking about why this could be happening, I mean, I think any agent that triggers an immune response could plausibly influence cellular processes in the uterus and ovaries that could have an impact on menstruation. Whether the effect might be short term or long term, or whether the effect is evident when we compare women who didn’t have any changes in their menses, we need to make sure that we study them, as well. And in addition to asking them about their lifestyle, their behaviors, their diet, a range of different exposures, we also ask them about their menstruation. And we also invite them to use a menstrual charting app, where they can track lots of information about their menstrual characteristics. And so, and in addition to that, we were able to add new questions on COVID vaccination and also COVID infection. And also stressors related to the COVID pandemic, which could plausibly confound these associations. And so we’ll be able to look at the COVID vaccination and changes in menstruation during six cycles of follow up, using multiple sources of data. 

So, we have self-reported questionnaire data, and then we have the menstrual charting data. And some of the outcomes that we’re actually interested in that have also come up in some of the anecdotal reports are changes in cycle regularity, cycle length, intensity of menstrual flow, women have reported heavier periods. Length or duration of the menstrual flow like longer periods. And some women have actually reported bleeding between periods, so intermenstrual bleeding, and then there’s pain associated with menses. And we have information on vaccine type. So, the brand we can look at, and as I mentioned earlier, we can control for lots of additional factors that could explain why. Some women are having these symptoms versus not, so there’s some reports about perimenopausal women having more symptoms. COVID infection itself and then just the sheer number of COVID related stressors, like financial insecurity, childcare problems, [a] range of different stressors. And then of course we know that those who received the vaccination earlier tended to have preexisting health conditions, so we need to control for that. And, finally, occupation is another important consideration. 

Since 2013, you have studied female health and fertility through the PRESTO study. Can you tell us a bit about it?

And then they can fill out the consent form if they’re interested, and then go right to the baseline questionnaire once we confirm their email address. So there’s this very innovative, efficient way of recruiting participants. And then getting them to fill out this pretty lengthy baseline questionnaire that really asks about, like medical history, contraceptive reproductive histories, just a range of different behaviors, lifestyle factors, diet, use of multivitamins, exercise. And then what we do, is we follow the women forward in time, using shorter questionnaires. So, every two months they fill out a shorter questionnaire asking whether they’ve conceived or not. And just updating any exposure information that could plausibly change over time. So, that’s why it’s so much shorter and so important to keep the participants engaged and connected to the study. And so they get followed up to 12 months or until they conceive, whichever comes first. And then they can also fill out an early pregnancy questionnaire and a late pregnancy questionnaire if they conceive, and then postpartum questionnaire six months after delivery. 

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The Brink

What’s nice about PRESTO is right after they are the participants they are offered a premium menstrual charting app. And so they can enter information about days of their menstrual cycle, characteristics of the menstrual cycle, but also their fertility signs, so did they test for ovulation, did they look at the cervical, the consistency of their cervical mucus, did they check for their basal body temperature? All of these things can be helpful for identifying the fertile window and helping couples time intercourse to the fertile window and increase their chances of conception. 

So, the reason why this cohort was so conducive to doing a study of vaccination and menstruation is that we have the menstrual charting app information. We also have all the menstrual characteristics from the baseline questionnaire and from follow up. And these women are not on hormones, I mean, it’s really key. One of the things that they put in the request for applications from the NIH was that the participants not be using hormones. And because all of these women are trying to conceive, none of them are on hormones, so it seemed like a really good fit. 

Can you talk about how you incorporated studying whether COVID vaccination affected menstruation into the PRESTO study?

So, the study is ongoing, we are still actively recruiting participants from the United States and Canada, from all 50 states, from all 10 provinces, no restrictions. And we now have more than 16,000 women who have enrolled since 2013. And we recruit about 3,000 women per year in a good year. And, of course, provided we have funding from the NIH, which we are lucky to have. And we also recruit their male partners but to a much smaller extent. So, we have, I want to say nearly 4,000 male partners enrolled. And so the study really has not changed its focus. This menstruation project is very much like a supplemental side focus. 

And I have to say we’ve received a lot of emails from people who are interested in the menstrual study that we’re doing, but very few of them have enrolled, very few of them are actively trying to conceive. So, we don’t think there’s gonna be a very large probability that women will enroll in the study because they’ve been having menstrual problems and they want to be able to contribute to the study. In fact, we’ve had to turn a lot of people away who wanted to enroll. That being said, the prospective design is really helpful, because what we do is we only compare women before and after they received the vaccination. So, it’s not like we’re enrolling people who have already had a vaccination and the menstrual changes into our study. We would only be looking at their data comparing before the vaccination versus after. And so that’s a good way to guard against any bias in the reporting of the menstrual factors or the selection of the participants into the study. 

Because the study is ongoing, we will have the potential to look at the effects of the booster shots. So, today, we just added some questions about the booster shots—we had to allow for participants to report a change in the brand. So, we didn’t assume that they have the same type of vaccination—for example, Pfizer, you could switch over to Moderna and vice versa. So, we didn’t make that assumption. And we also collect a lot of information on the male partner because we know that, for example, fever that might be associated with vaccination could have a profound effect on semen quality. So, we tried to get a full range of information from both partners, and perhaps in the future, we could look at the effects of the booster on menstruation and also fertility. 

Is it too soon to know if COVID vaccination affects menstruation?

We don’t know yet whether vaccination does have an effect on menstruation. So, I think we need to wait and see what the results of these studies come out with. And let’s just say there is an effect, we don’t know if it’s just a short-term effect or a longer-term effect. And so even if we see evidence of short-term effects, it may be that these effects go away and are no longer clinically meaningful or wreaking havoc on women’s lives over the long term, meaning like six months after vaccination. We also need to keep in mind what are the other types of reproductive outcomes of interest like fertility. That being said, I can tell you that I was surprised to see how low the percent vaccinated in our cohort was.

One area of concern women have raised is whether the COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility. What are you seeing so far? 

I think in particular young reproductive-aged women may be less likely to be getting vaccination against COVID because there’s so little known about the effects on their fertility. I think that’s a really major reason for vaccine hesitancy in this population. And for good reason, that maybe there’s not enough research out there on these effects. I think we find about 60 percent of the women reported vaccination and again this increases with time. And we only have gone through follow-up through early November, but still, I think some women are holding out. So, women are concerned about the anecdotal reports of effects of menstruation and some women are concerned about effects on fertility. We need to hear that, validate the concerns, and provide more data that we can use to evaluate the effects of vaccines on health outcomes. 

Now that being said, I’ve been vaccinated, everybody on my team has been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all individuals aged five and above get vaccinated. And there’s no evidence that the vaccine has any impact on menstruation, fertility, any of these reproductive outcomes.

Fertility is definitely on our minds because that’s like our main outcome variable for this study. And I can tell you that we have completed our analyses of fertility and we have a manuscript that’s currently under review.

What about women who might be thinking about pregnancy loss and vaccination?

So, it is not as alarming as one would think—pregnancy loss is actually pretty common. It’s about 20 percent of all confirmed pregnancies. So, all pregnancies that might be confirmed by a home pregnancy test, about 20 percent of them do result in a loss after that point. So, it’s much more common than scientists initially conceived. And there have been two studies that have come out at least showing no effect of COVID vaccination on miscarriage. The data have been pretty limited. They’ve been looking at later losses because they’ve been using claims databases. Some of them actually might rely on self reported data. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the v-safe. So, it’s basically when I got my vaccination I actually got invited to participate. It’s like this link that was sent to me and I just filled it out based on how I was feeling, what are my symptoms. And I’d get a questionnaire through my text messages, I think it was like every week after I was first vaccinated, and then it was like every month thereafter. That is a sort of national dataset of individuals who did opt in to complete the questionnaires after they were vaccinated. And that study also did not find any association between COVID vaccination and miscarriage.

So, given all that, do you recommend women trying to conceive get vaccinated?

There’s a wealth of information that COVID infection itself has a really negative impact, a harmful impact on pregnancy outcomes and birth outcomes. And so taking into account all the available information right now, from all the data out there, I think the evidence is still weighing for vaccination. And so, it’s tough being a researcher in this area, because while we recognize the lack of data, as trained as an epidemiologist, we are strongly encouraging our participants to get vaccinated. So again, given the biology, what we know about how these vaccines could affect reproductive health given the available evidence. And there has been one study on fertility outcomes, a very small study that came out last month. And then all that data on the negative effects of COVID infection on pregnancy and birth outcomes. We strongly encourage women to get vaccinated against COVID.

Needless to say, COVID has caused a lot of stress in people’s lives, and in particular women, research has shown. Is it possible that’s causing menstruation changes?

There’s a lot more research out there on the effects of chronic stress and fertility. I don’t know as much about menstruation, but there’s certainly a link between the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that produces stress hormones and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis that produces ovarian hormones that are important for menstruation. So, there is quite a bit of literature on the connectedness, the interrelatedness between those two axes. And so, for sure in PRESTO and many previous studies, we have found that higher levels of perceived stress, as measured by the perceived stress scale, have been associated with reduced fertility. And that makes a lot of sense. So, certainly a part of the association we’re seeing here, or the anecdotal reports that we’re seeing when we look at vaccination and menstruation, could be driven by increased levels of stress related to the COVID pandemic. So, it’ll be very important to control for that. And, yes, I would say the evidence to support that is much clearer. Stress can harm reproduction, stress is negatively associated with menstruation. 

So, has the study begun? And is there any progress you can talk about?

Yes, we have started cleaning the data and taking a look at the distribution of some of the variables that we’re interested in, like the menstrual characteristics. Part of the challenge is trying to identify the precise timing of the vaccination relative to each menstrual cycle. So, we’ve been doing a lot of additional coding and cleaning of the data. And so just looking at the first and second doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and the J&J dose, the first dose, we should be able to produce some results by spring 2023. And be able to look at those short-term and long-term effects over a six-month period. And then if there’s any interest in looking at the effects of the booster—which you’ve probably heard that the CDC is recommending that all adults get their booster shots at this point, not just specific subgroups who are at high risk. So, all adults are now being encouraged to get a booster. We would anticipate that as the prevalence of that increases, we will be able to start looking at the effects of the booster administration. Maybe by the summertime we should have some results there or next fall. So, the key thing is to be able to look not only at short-term effects, but also long-term effects, to see if these vaccination effects, if they do exist, if they linger or go away. 

What can you say about results at this time?

I agree that it’s frightening. There’s so little that’s known. We need to validate the feelings that people have, their fears about vaccination. But I can tell you that millions of people have been vaccinated and they’re doing just fine. And again, there’s very little reason to think that the vaccine would be harmful to menstruation, fertility, or any of these other outcomes.

I imagine you are excited about seeing results and being able to share them, now that you have seen the overwhelming response to the study you are conducting. Can you briefly talk about who is involved in this research with you?

I just feel like I owe a lot of credit to our wonderful research team and also to Boston University for supporting our research way before we even got funding from the National Institutes of Health. We would apply for seed grants through BU. And we have so many students now at various levels of training in master’s degree program, doctoral program, postdoctoral fellows, who are actively engaged in the research and just contributing so much to collecting the data, analyzing the data, summarizing the data, disseminating the data. And really, it’s a team effort. It takes a village to do this kind of work. And I just really appreciate all their contributions, as well. So, I just want to make sure I give credit to Dr. Amelia Wesselink, who has been taking the lead on this analysis of COVID vaccination [and] menstruation. She’s also the first author of the paper on COVID vaccination and fertility that’s under review. There’s a brand new doctoral student, Sharonda Lovett, who is doing the analyses on the menstruation data. And these are really complicated analyses. So, I just wanna give her a lot of credit. And also Tanran Wang, who is our senior data analyst, who has just carefully processed the data and made them available to the team in a way that was conducive to getting their results generated and getting the results out there. So, it definitely takes a village. And we are very committed to getting these results out there for women who are really concerned about vaccination, and menstruation, and fertility, and miscarriage. And I certainly feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to get the most accurate data out there in a timely fashion.

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The Phantom X Might Just Be A Work Of Art

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

It’s not easy to break into the Android smartphone realm these days. The premium competition is tight, and the mid-range market is just as loaded with options. Now, TECNO is bringing a new option to the table with hopes of bridging the gap — the PHANTOM X. PHANTOM is the newest redefined sub-brand from TECNO dedicated to high-end consumers, and it’s also the highest-end flagship from TRANSSION who holds TECNO, Infinix, and Itel.

Beyond the exciting name, there’s a lot to look forward to with this brand-new product line. It’s designed for the artist in you, so let’s check out what TECNO MOBILE has in store.

Improvements from top to bottom

Tecno Mobile

Of course, the PHANTOM X doesn’t just look great — it packs camera specs that can punch above its weight. The 50MP main lens with the 1/1.3-inch sensor brings you a wider ISO range and less noise, packing full-pixel Dual Focus as well as laser focus for accurate images no matter the light. You can even tap into 50mm portrait mode from the 13MP backup lens. By accurately separating scenery and the aesthetic spot effect, the 50mm focal lens offers just the right amount of bokeh without distorting the human face.

TECNO MOBILE also packed a powerful selfie shooter into the PHANTOM X, complete with a 105-degree field of view. It’s more than large enough to fit all of your friends, and the 48MP resolution should capture every last detail.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Whether you’re tapping into the laser-focused main shooter or the selfie lens, you can go confidently into the dark. PHANTOM X’s Super Night View and Super Night Portrait blend flash, HDR, and a healthy dose of AI to bring the night to life. Even videos taken in the dark look sharper than ever with a clever Night Video Algorithm.

You’ll find a large 4,700mAh battery tucked away on the PHANTOM X, and TECNO MOBILE’s 33W flash charging should get you back up to speed in just over an hour. In the meantime, you can test out the 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for a few of your favorite apps.

Innovation for a new future

Tecno Mobile

The PHANTOM X is the first of its kind from TECNO’s sub-brand, PHANTOM, which means it has plenty of room to flex its innovative muscles. There’s no better place to start than with the powerful portrait camera. You can choose seven diversified portrait lighting effects without changing the photo background. It also packs three professional portrait color schemes for the skin color needs of different geographic areas, giving you a solid result every single time.

You can even give Beauty Mode a try on the PHANTOM X, which is perfect for preserving your eyebrows, beard, or simply giving yourself a little touch-up.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Once you’ve had your fill of the impressive camera features, it might be time to test out Ella, TECNO MOBILE’s new smart assistant. You can place calls and seek out answers with support for plenty of languages worldwide. Ella even works without your mobile network if you need an answer while you’re off the grid. If you’re deep in conversation, AI Live Transcribe can transcribe messages from up to 70 languages in real-time, and it adjusts to subtle nuances in speech.

There’s more than enough to look forward to with TECNO MOBILE’s new PHANTOM X. You can learn even more about the new device at the button below.

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