From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
Most healthy children between the ages of four and 10 grow about five centimeters a year. Parents often notice this growth by how quickly their children grow out of their clothes and shoes.
However, when a child does not reach usual growth markers, it could be a sign of a health problem.
One American family knew something might be wrong when their son was able to fit into the same clothes, season after season.
Spencer Baehman is a boy who loves to play baseball.
"My goal is to play college baseball."
But at age 11, he was much shorter than everyone on his team. Although his small size did not stop Spencer from playing the sport he loves, it did make him feel different.
"I want to be as tall as these kids."
At first, Spencer's parents thought their son was just small. But over time, they began to worry that something was wrong.
When springtime came around and baseball season started, Spencer tried on his old cleats – a type of sports shoe. They still easily fit on his feet.
That is when his mom called the doctor.
"It really set in one year coming out of winter into spring when he got out his cleats for spring baseball and he put them on, and they fit. And they never should have fit. Those were from the spring prior."
Spencer's parents went to see Dr. Bert Bachrach. He is the chief of pediatric endocrinology at University of Missouri Health Care. After much measuring and testing, Dr. Bachrach found the cause of Spencer’s growth failure: a growth hormone deficiency. In other words, Spencer’s body was not making enough growth hormone.
Hormones are chemicals in the body. They send messages from one cell to another. Growth hormones are necessary for physical growth in children. The levels of growth hormone rise throughout childhood. The levels are highest during puberty.
This hormone helps to control many functions in the body. Dr. Bachrach explains.
"Growth hormone just doesn't affect your growth, it affects your muscle mass and fat distribution. So that affects your cholesterol. It also affects your overall sense of well-being."
Growth hormone deficiency is a disorder involving the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is small – about the size of a pea. It is located at the base of the brain. This gland produces many hormones, not just the growth hormone.
Several things can affect the pituitary gland’s ability to produce growth hormones.
Growth hormone deficiency is mainly the result of damage to the pituitary gland, or hypothalamus, while the fetus is growing in the mother’s womb. It can also happen as a result of a genetic mutation.
And in some cases, children who severely lack emotional and social experiences do not produce enough growth hormone and stop growing. These children often start growing again when they begin receiving the care and human interaction they need.
In Spencer’s case, he needed daily hormone injections. His mother has been giving him the injection every day for the past two years. In that time, Spencer has grown about 15 centimeters.
But just in case he does not grow as tall as he would like, he has a reminder to himself written into each of his baseball hats.
"It says HDMH -- which means ‘height doesn't measure heart’."
When used this way, “heart” means bravery, determination and emotional strength -- all things that Spencer is not in short supply of.
And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.
Quiz - Healthy Children Not Growing Properly May Lack This
Carol Person reported this story for VOA News. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
prior – adj. existing earlier in time
endocrinology – n. a branch of medicine concerned with the structure, function, and disorders of the endocrine glands
deficiency – n. a lack of something that is needed : the state of not having enough of something necessary
puberty – n. the period of life when a person's sexual organs mature and he or she becomes able to have children
distribution – n. the act of giving or delivering something to people
pea – n. a small, round, green seed that is eaten as a vegetable and that is formed in a seed case (called a pod) of a climbing plant; also : a plant that produces peas
mutation – n. a change in a gene or the resulting new trait it produces in an individual
womb – n. uterus
Lesson 18: She Always Does That
This video teaches about shortened forms of object pronouns that begin with a /th/ or /h/ sound. You also learn about two different ways to pronounce the "s" ending on verbs like "talks" and "says."
Anna: Hello, from Washington, D.C.! Today at work I am reading the news for the first time. I am really nervous. But my boss, Ms. Weaver, is here to help me.
In this lesson, Anna is nervous because she is reading the news for the first time. How do you feel when you do something for the first time? Write to us to tell us about yourself or a friend doing something at work or school for the first time. Send us an email or write in the Comments section.
Use the Activity Sheet to practice writing and using ordinal numbers.
Learning Strategies are the thoughts and actions that help make learning easier or more effective.
The learning strategy for this lesson is Classify. We can classify kinds of words we learn, or groups of things we need to remember.
In the video for this lesson, you see Caty classifying the way she wants Anna to read the news. Caty says, "When we read the news we are always reading facts. We never show our feelings." She is classifying two different things: facts and feelings. Anna needs to learn the difference to read the news the way her boss wants her to do it.
Test your understanding by taking this listening quiz. Play each video, then choose the best answer.
Quiz - Lesson 18: She Always Does That
Unit 1: The Experiment
SELECT A UNIT
The Experiment is a collection of short series that are a little different to our usual programmes - but still help you improve your English.
Our third series, Small Talk, lets you know which subjects it's best to avoid when chatting to British people.
Session 11 score
0 / 3
Subjects to avoid in British small talk: Salary
They're the conversations we have by the lifts, at bus stops and over garden fences. We call it small talk - but that doesn't mean it's of little importance. In this episode we tackle another big conversational no-no - salary.
See what happens when Neil tries to ask Callum some financial details. BBC Learning English Producers Kee and Sam then explain what's wrong with Neil's small talk and how he could make it better in future.
Watch the video and complete the activity
Did you enjoy that? You might like these…
Small tips for making small talk:
Subjects to avoid in British small talk: sex, salary, politics
These are examples of the topics it's best not to ask about when you are making conversation with people you don't have a very close relationship with. They can make people feel awkward and the conversation may end suddenly!
Do: ask general questions about work
Use the information you have about someone as a place to start a conversation. You might ask how their job or college course is going. Then you could tell them something about your experience at work or college. If you know they have family, you could ask how they are and say something about your own family.
Don't: ask how much someone earns
British people tend to avoid discussing how much money they earn or have during small talk. And asking someone about their salary will probably make them feel very awkward and want to avoid you!
Try our quiz to see what you've learnt about British small talk:
The Small Talk Quiz
See how much you've learnt about British small talk
Poll uncertainty, trade war hurting exports, investment: Somkid
business January 08, 2019 01:00
By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
THAILAND’S economic outlook for 2019 is “uncertain and gloomy” due to the upcoming general election and the US-China trade war, deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak warned yesterday.
Somkid said investors were questioning the stability of the Thai economy ahead of the election. He called it a key cause for the uncertain and pessimistic economic outlook for 2019.
“Investors are wondering which party will lead Thailand’s next government, who will be prime minister and whether current development schemes and policies will be continued,” he said.
The election uncertainty was curbing interest among both local and foreign investors, Somkid said.
With electoral laws unveiled and a ban on political activity lifted, it had been widely believed that the often-delayed election would take place on February 24.
But last week, less than two months before that date, the ruling junta again intervened, claiming post-election formalities could clash with preparations for the coronation of His Majesty the King now set for May.
It appears likely that the election will not take place next month and it remains uncertain what new date will be chosen.
The government has shown a preference for March 24, with the election results to be formally announced after the King is enthroned on May 4-6. The Election Commission would prefer March 10 if February 24 is impossible. The final say rests with the government, which critics say could time the release of the electoral royal decree to favour its preference.
“We know the election will occur within the first half of this year,” Somkid said at yesterday’s Krungthai Bank seminar on “Thailand Economic Challenges 2019”.
The other factor clouding the economic outlook is the ongoing US-China trade dispute, he said.
US President Donald Trump, he said, “has destabilised the global economy despite being able to achieve impressive domestic growth for the United States. This has a direct negative impact on export-oriented countries such as Thailand and Singapore.”
He cited a 5.2-per-cent year-on-year contraction in Thai exports in September, the first such setback the Kingdom had seen in 19 months, as evidence of the negative impact the US-China spat was having here.
Exports contribute up to 70 per cent of Thai GDP, Somkid noted.
“Furthermore, stock markets global have been at their worst since the 2008 financial crisis, largely due to the trade war. This dampens investor confidence and leads to lower consumption – another negative impact of the US-China trade war.”
Expansion plans on hold
The National Economic and Social Development Board has predicted that export growth will slow this year to a mere 4.6 per cent, down from a robust 7.2 per cent in 2018.
Bank of Thailand (BoT) senior director Don Nakornthab agreed with Somkid’s assertion that the trade war was hurting both Thai exports and investment. The BoT anticipates export growth of 4.3 per cent in 2019.
“Investors are holding off, exporters are unsure about business prospects and manufacturers are delaying plans to expand in Southeast Asia as they wait to see whether the 90-day halt [in the US-China tariff battle] will lead to settlement of the conflict,” Don said during an interview.
Despite the grim outlook, Somkid predicted that the trade war would de-escalate or be resolved by the end of the year because both Beijing and Washington were feeling negative fallout and were actively seek to end the dispute.
To stimulate growth in 2019, Somkid said the next government would need to focus on reforming the country’s economic foundation and proceed with major infrastructure projects initiated under the junta.
He urged the new government to continue promoting e-commerce for the agricultural industry, which has remained sluggish, and to improve and extend tourism infrastructure so that travellers begin visiting more places, not just the best-known attractions.