Thursday, August 27, 2009
The social smile is the first sign of intelligence in infants

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We all know that one of the things infants do at about six weeks of age is begin smiling. What we do not know is how important that smile is. At birth infants do a lot of reflex things. These include sucking at the breast or on a bottle or pacifier; responding with a startle reflex to loud noises; and the grasp reflex when something is put into the infant's hand. Other reflexes include the Moro reflex. In this situation, the arms are pulled up and when they are let go, the infant throws them out and then up in a circular fashion. In the tonic-neck reflex, the child will maintain what appears to be the position of someone who is fencing. They turn their head to one side. The arm on that side is held straight out while the other arm is held flexed at the elbow. When the head is turned the opposite way, the arms change position as well. This usually appears at about two months of age. The social smile is different than these other reflexes. What happens is somewhat complicated. The first few times that an infant smiles are just accidental smiling motions of the mouth. The infant has no idea what he or she is doing. However, the parents make a huge fuss out of the smiling movement. They do this each time that movement is made. After a while the infant begins to realize that it is the mouth movement that is getting the parent excited. The parent is the one who feeds the child, changes its diaper and cuddles the child. That makes the parent important to the infant. If the parent makes a big fuss about the smile, the infant figures he or she can get the parent to spend more time with him or her by repeating the movement. Thus they begin to smile more. That gets a further positive reaction from the parent. The result is a smile that becomes reproducible when attention is paid to the infant. This is far different than the normal reflex actions at this age. In order for it to occur several things are necessary. The first is that the child needs to recognize that a fuss is being made over something. The next is that the child needs to recognize what is causing that fuss. The third is that the child needs to recognize that he or she can control what is causing the fuss. The fourth is that the child then begins doing that intentionally. What is really happening is that the infant is showing that he or she is thinking like a logical human being. The social smile is not really an accident. A smile shows that the infant has normal intelligence. It is also something that is often taken for granted. However, in childhood development, the smile is the very fist sign that the infant thinks like the rest of us.

Committee to meet Sussex County's Advisory Committee for the Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities will take its September meeting on the road, hosting a session in which the public is encouraged to attend to ask questions and learn more about the issues facing today's seniors citizens and residents with physical challenges. The Advisory Committee invites the public to attend the committee's next meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at the Greenwood CHEER Center. The forum will be an open session to discuss a variety of topics, including transportation, health, state and non-profit services, and more. The Sussex County Advisory Committee for the Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities is an 11-member panel established by the Sussex County Council to be an advocate for programs and policies that benefit older and disabled residents. The committee meets on the third Monday of January, March, May, July, September and November. All meetings are open to the public.

MS offers videoconference Thanks to live videoconferencing technology, members of the Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can stay close to home and still take part in the chapter's annual meeting on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Ammon Medical Education Center on the campus at Christiana Hospital in Newark. For the first time, the videoconference will include participants at a satellite location at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. Like the participants in Newark, Sussex County residents who attend the satellite location will also receive lunch, take part in the chapter's annual meeting and recognition awards ceremony, and enjoy a client-focused discussion about MS research. Cost is $5 per person, and anyone who wants to attend must register by Friday, Oct. 9 either online at or by calling 302-655-5610.

Amish Country Bike Tour A 25-mile bike race, Pedal Away Prostate Cancer, will kick-off the 23rd Annual Amish Country Bike Tour set for Saturday, Sept. 12. The race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Legislative Mall and end on State Street in front of Bayhealth - Kent General Hospital. Dover Urologist Michael Zaragoza, M.D., organized the Pedal Away Prostate Cancer race to increase awareness about prostate cancer and the importance of screenings. September is the perfect time to call attention to prostate cancer since it is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Annual screenings should start at age 45 for the general population, but the right age depends on the patient's level of risk. The fee for the Prostate Awareness Timed Race is $40 per person with proceeds benefiting prostate cancer research. The entry fee includes a t-shirt, water bottle and breakfast after the race. Register online at or by calling 302-734-4888

Free prostate cancer screenings If you're a male over 50, you're at risk for prostate cancer, the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. And if you're African-American, your prostate cancer mortality rate just doubled: you should get screened beginning at age 40. Bayhealth Medical Center will offer a free prostate cancer screening on Monday, Sept. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bayhealth Hematology/Oncology Associates, located at 540 S. Governors Ave. in Dover. To register, call 302-744-7135 or 1-877-453-7107. Bayhealth's free two-part screening includes a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam (DRE) performed by a urologist.

Short appointed to board Nanticoke Health Services announces Representative Daniel B. Short as a new member that will serve on the Board of Directors for Nanticoke Health Services. Representative Short is state representative for the 39th District and a member of the House of Representatives. He served four years as a Seaford councilman and four, two-year terms as mayor for the City of Seaford. Representative Short was also a past chief of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department and is still an active firefighter with more than 30 years of service. He was inducted into the Delaware Fire Service Firefighters Hall of Fame in 1982 and was also awarded the Heroic Fireman of the Year award by the Delaware State Chief's Association. An independent insurance agent in Seaford, Representative Short is the owner of Short Insurance Associates and has more than 34 years of experience in the insurance industry. Representative Short graduated from Seaford High School and earned an associate's degree from the University of Delaware. He also obtained his Certified Health Consultant designation through the Blue Cross Association and Purdue University. Prostate screenings offered September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Care Center staff at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will provide prostate screenings on Friday, Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first floor of the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center (located next to the hospital). There is a $5 screening fee and pre-registration is not required. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital encourages men over the age of 50 to take advantage of this service. Also men 40-years-old and at high risk of developing prostate cancer are also encouraged to participate. African-American men have a higher risk for developing prostate cancer, as are men who have a family history of the disease. For more information, call Nanticoke at 629-6611, ext. 3765.

duPont Hospital holds raffle Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children is holding a raffle for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The motorcycle, a Soft-Tail Fat Boy in Black Denim that includes a riding gear safety package, was donated by Concordville Nissan-Subaru. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100 and proceeds benefit the hospital. The drawing will take place in the hospital lobby on Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. For ticket information, contact Kate Handling at 302-651-4383 or

'Go Fish' for Autism Delaware "Go Fish," a bass fishing tournament to benefit Autism Delaware's southern location, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19 at eight ponds throughout southern Delaware, and will be followed by a celebration at Milford's Bicentennial Park. Anglers of all ages are welcome. Each team of two can register for $40 and will receive an information and fundraising packet. The general public is welcome to come to the celebration. Nominal fees will be charged to those not participating in the morning tournament. In addition to the tournament, benefit nights are scheduled at the Seaford (Sept. 16), Bear (Sept. 17), and Camden (Sept. 18) locations of top Go Fish sponsor Texas Roadhouse. Pro bass fisherman Mike DelVisco will appear at each event as well from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and will fish in the tournament Saturday. There are only 160 slots for fishing. To register visit or call 422-2255.

NMH holds diabetes classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a four-session diabetes educational program beginning Sept. 9 and continuing Sept. 16, 23, and 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the hospital. Registration for this class is required. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.