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Campus briefs: Antidepressants-pregnancy link sought in psych study

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 7, 2005
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The department of psychiatry's Women's Mental Health program is seeking pregnant volunteers to study how antidepressants affect a developing fetus.

There is strong evidence suggesting that the use of antidepressants in late pregnancy may be associated with certain syndromes in babies, according to a press release.

Ten to 20 percent of women who are pregnant experience depression. The study aims to help these women choose the safest and most effective options to treat their depression, according to a press release.

The study is seeking 40 pregnant women who are experiencing or have experienced depression during their pregnancy. Volunteers either may be currently taking antidepressants or receiving non-medication treatment.

The study will compare babies whose mothers took antidepressants with those whose mothers used non-medication treatments during pregnancy in order to determine which, if any clinical syndromes are related to fetal exposure to antidepressants in late pregnancy, according to a press release.

Researchers will make home visits to assess mothers and babies.

The principal investigator of the study, which is sponsored by the Institute for Mental Health Research, is Dr. Marlene Freeman, director of the Women's Mental Health Program, according to the press release.

The UA Women's Mental Health Program focuses primarily on issues of postpartum depression, depression and anxiety during pregnancy, preconception and pregnancy planning for women, psychiatric medications, perimenopausal depression, hormone replacement therapy, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and bipolar disorder in women, according the press release.

Women who would like more information, or wish to enroll in the study, can call Marcy Watchman at (520) 626-3273.

- Ariel Serafin

Folk life festival kicks off today with help from students

UA students will be immersing themselves in the Tucson's rich multicultural heritage this weekend in part of the Tucson Meet Yourself annual folk life festival at El Presidio park downtown.

Attendants will be able to sample foods and music from around the globe, as well as try their hands at preparing traditional foods, observe a Japanese tea ceremony and other activities.

"A folk life festival is a lot more than a simple celebration of multiculturalism," said Maribel Alvarez, folklorist and professor who has been helping organize the festival since her arrival at the UA two years ago. "It is instead an effort to place the cultural artifacts of the Arizona-Sonora region in the context of everyday life through living cultural practitioners."

Participation in the event is mandatory for students in Alvarez's English 248 Intro to Folklore class.

Alvarez is continuing the tradition of involving students in the festival, which was founded 32 years ago by folklorist and former UA professor Jim Griffith.

The festival is the perfect opportunity for students to get a first-hand experience with a diverse array of cultures, Alvarez said.

"You can teach in class or read books, but there's nothing like interacting with the people who practice the cultural traditions you're learning about," Alvarez said. "It is the perfect lab for this class."

Participating in the festival also gives students who are not from Tucson an opportunity to experience the many cultures that call Tucson home, said Megan Gillum, a sociology freshman from Spokane, Wash., who is taking Alvarez's class.

"Tucson is a very diverse city," Gillum said. "A girl I asked from another class is from Serbia, and she will be there cooking traditional Serbian food."

For the past five weeks, Gillum said she and her classmates have been spreading the word about the festival, putting up posters, and recruiting people from cultural groups and restaurants to fill the festival with a variety of foods.

Students will also be at the festival tomorrow and Sunday helping organizers run the event.

"We'll be helping supervise; assisting people at their booths, bringing water to the people working the booths," Gillum said. "We'll also be setting up and tearing down both days."

The festival has free admission, though food prices vary. The festivities begin today from noon to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

- Seth Mauzy

Fundraiser and fall sale to be held at Arboretum

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum opens its doors tomorrow for the annual fall plant sale and fundraiser, that will feature various classes, tours and presentations to educate the public about the greens surrounding them.

"For decades our annual plant sales, each spring and fall, has been an important fundraiser for the arboretum," said Paul Wolterbeek, coordinator for the arboretum's volunteer program.

Located about two hours from Tucson, up the "scenic " Highway 79, the arboretum offers many possibilities to spend the day, Wolterbeek said.

Visitors are not bound to the program, they can also go for hikes or barbecue, he said.

"Even if you have a 'brown thumb' or don't have much zeal for plants, the arboretum is a great fall day trip and the park offers more than two miles of paths to explore," Wolterbeek said.

Last year the fall sale attracted almost 4,000 visitors, who spent more than $27,000 on plants, Wolterbeek said.

All money raised from the plant sale helps support the arboretum, which is a nonprofit organization, and the largest and oldest arboretum in Arizona, he said.

The arboretum is almost 80 years old and is both part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and part of the Arizona state park system, Wolterbeek said.

Admission is free for CatCard holders and anyone who rides in the same car with them. General admission is $12.50, Wolterbeek said.

The sale will be held until Oct. 23, and the arboretum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., he said.

For more detailed information about the program and location call the hotline at (520) 689-2811, or go to

- Djamila Grossman

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