• New research suggests that children as young as three are capable of understanding advertising and feeling the social pressure to consume certain brands. Brand visibility can even determine whether children consider others desirable playmates.
However, kids don't care what clothes their friends wear - just what kind of snacks they have. "What matters are toys and soft drinks and fast food," said the lead researcher. • Maternal mortality rates have nearly tripled in California in the last decade, and they have risen elsewhere across the US. One doctor predicts that as many as half of these deaths are preventable. Complications including hemorrhage, DVT-caused pulmonary emboli and uncontrolled blood pressure can all be treated if caught in time. • NBC announced yesterday that they're renewing the contract to air Miss USA and Miss Universe for the next three years. Miss America, however, was dropped last week from TLC and is looking for a new home. • A family court in Australia has approved the sterilization of a disabled 11-year-old girl. The girl, identified only as Angela, experienced seizures when she had her period, which lead to judge to conclude that a hysterectomy would be in the child's best interest. • World Cup organizers predict that up to 40,000 prostitutes will flock to South Africa to service spectators. They fear that many of the sex workers will be impoverished children recruited from all over the world, especially Eastern Europe. Davis Bayever, South Africa's deputy chair of the country's Central Drug Authority, says they will attempt to stem the tide by rigorous screening to identify those trying to enter the country illegally. • According to a new study in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, many women are having healthy breasts removed with no clear benefit. The study reviews data on 108,000 women who underwent mastectomy, including 9,000 who chose to remove a healthy breast along with the cancerous one. It found that for most women, having a healthy breast removed after a cancer diagnosis had no effect on long-term survival. • A new test for ovarian cancer will become available today. OVA1 was shown to correctly flag 92% of cancers, versus current detection methods, which can only find 72%. • We often discuss the gender-based wage gap, but according to a recent report, there is an equally depressing pay gap for women of color. They found that single black and Hispanic women have a median wealth of $100 and $120 respectively, compared to single white women, who have a median wealth of $41,500. Check out Feministing for a full list of statistics. • There may be new hope for women with low sexual desire, thanks to a new drug called flibanserin that was originally developed as an antidepressant. But "research demonstrates that relationship issues are far more important in predicting women's sexual desire than are hormone levels. Before women seek medical treatments, they should consider psychological treatment," counsels professor of psychology Laurie Mintz. • In 2009, the amount of money spent on cosmetic procedures dropped another 2%, down to $10.5 million. This is the second year in a row that the number of surgical and nonsurgical procedures have declined, a figure that is most likely explained by the recession. Although the number of boob jobs dropped 22%, breast implants remained the most popular "improvement," followed by liposuction. • In 1978, convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala appeared on the television show "The Dating Game." CNN asked a crime expert to watch his performance on the show. Criminal profiler Pat Brown explains Alcala's win: "He watched the game and he gave those answers and he won, so he learned some tricks. But a psychopath's true nature comes seeping through... Here is a man portraying himself as a desirable young man when he is a violent sexual predator of children." • The coroner leading the inquest into the death of the first female British soldier killed in Afghanistan found that Corporal Sarah Bryant was unlawfully killed. Bryant, along with three of her colleagues, was killed when her Land Rover ran over a batch of explosives and "crumpled inwards." They had previously requested another vehicle - one better fortified - but they were turned down. • Doctors believe they may be one step closer to developing a new vaccine to prevent malaria in pregnant women. • Researchers from Kansas State University have found - rather counter-intuitively - that the availability of supermarkets increases the risk for obesity for women in small cities. Women living in rural and metropolitan areas did not show the same pattern. • A study has concluded that home abortions with the drug RU-486 are safe up to 63 days after conception — previous studies had only looked at safety up to 49 days. • Experts say "mean girl" behavior can begin well before the teen years — even before girls learn to talk. Says Rachel Simmons, author of a book on bullying, "They close their eyes and put their hands over their ears when they're upset with you. That's their version of withdrawing from you." • The CDC says 21% of all women, and 48% of black women, are infected with genital herpes, which is "a really important reason to use condoms on a consistent and correct basis with all of your partners." • Somewhat related: California regulators will consider a petition Thursday to mandate condom use and STD testing for porn actors. • A six-step psychological treatment for low sexual desire in women increased desire by an average of 30% in one study, without the side effects of chemical treatments like testosterone. • Another possible treatment for waning libidos: sleep. One in four Americans is "often too tired to have sex." • Men who beat their partners tend to overestimate how common their behavior is, and the more they abuse, they more they overestimate. The study, which was conduced by the University of Washington, looked at 124 men enrolled in treatment programs for domestic violence. They found that the more violent the man, the more he tried to justify his behavior by assuming it is a common occurrence among other couples.