The other body part you never knew existed.

Belgian doctors have just announced that the leg has a part that nobody had noticed before. The researchers say that the anteriolateral ligament, a tiny band of connecting tissue on the back of the knee, explains certain knee injuries. It also explains why some people don’t get better after surgery: This whole time surgeons have been missing this tiny but crucial piece of tissue. (UPDATE: It had been noticed before, but never considered important enough to actually make it into any anatomy books)

Last year, doctors announced that they’d discovered a razor-thin sixth layer of the cornea that had gone unnoticed through all of human history before that.

Part of the reason why these things can continue to escape our notice is that too often, we assume that everything important has already been mapped. Things look so clean and obvious in a textbook diagram, but the real world is messy and bizarre. We’re still just beginning to open our eyes.


How to cut the odds of autism almost in half

The Link: Folic Acid For Pregnant Mothers Cuts Kids’ Autism Risk

The Story:

Having an autistic child is hugely difficult.  Doing one simple thing can dramatically reduce the odds of having it happen to you.

A study published this year found that women who took folic acid supplements were  40% less likely to have autistic children.  (The ones who got the most benefit started taking the supplement a month before becoming pregnant and continued taking it for the first two months.)

It’s an amazingly easy, cheap, effective way to improve your odds as a prospective parent.  A forty percent improvement from a single cheap, common pill.

I don’t have any kids yet, but when my fiancee and I decide to have them, we’re definitely doing this.