Oral Probiotic Reduces Ear and Throat Infections in Children and Adults

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Italian researchers have confirmed that a certain oral probiotic species significantly reduces ear infections, throat infections and tonsillitis among children and adults with recurring infections.

In the most recent study, published in March’s Journal of Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy from Continue reading

The Drink That Could Shield Against Dementia

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Alzheimer’s disease is sure making the health news rounds lately. What’s promising about this scary illness is how much we are able to help shield our minds from it. A brand new health breakthrough proposes that coffee could help older adults avoid dementia.

A new study Continue reading

Ideal Exercise Details Finally Revealed

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The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans detail the types and amounts of physical activity needed for maintenance of good health. A new paper has broken them down into what we all need to know about exercise:

— Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate- intensity exercise, 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination of both. For greater health benefits, increase levels to Continue reading

Brown Fat Measured by Thermal Imaging

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Heat-seeking cameras could be used to measure people’s “good fat” and determine which foods they ought to be avoiding, scientists claim. Continue reading

Cell Phones: 50 Percent Increase in Frontal and Temporal Lobe Tumors in Children

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The office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom discovered a 50 percent increase in frontal and temporal lobe tumors in children during the ten year span covering 1999 to 2009. Was this a result of cell phone radiation?

The Department of Health in the UK would appear to think so. Continue reading

Discharged ER Patients often Miss Instructions

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People who are discharged from emergency departments are often unable to tell what symptoms should raise alarms and make them return to the hospital, a review suggests. Continue reading

Babies Are Born With “Intuitive Physics” Knowledge, Says MU Researcher

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Numerous infant studies indicate environmental knowledge is present soon after birth Continue reading

Dreaming Takes the Sting Out of Painful Memories

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UC Berkeley researchers have found that stress chemicals shut down and the brain processes emotional experiences during the REM dream phase of sleep Continue reading

The Truth about Bariatric Surgery You Must Know

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With 31% of men and 33% of women being obese in the United States, the problem is an epidemic. Today, morbid obesity affects one in 50 adults. The most alarming trend may be the rising incidence of obesity among children.

While drugs and behavior therapy have had poor results, bariatric surgery for obese people can help sustain weight loss and treat related problems such as sleep apnea, asthma, diabetes, and clogged arteries. More than 140,000 bariatric surgeries are performed annually in the U.S. In the future, that number is set to rise three-fold.

There are three common procedures. To understand the nutritional complications involved, it’s important to know how your gastrointestinal tract is altered by the surgeries. Continue reading

How to Cut Your Diabetes Risk by 80%

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According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes in the U.S. alone. Why the epidemic? It has a lot to do with lifestyle choices. In fact, a recent study has found that living a healthy lifestyle could cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 80%.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health have of course known for some time that diet, exercise, smoking and drinking have an impact on whether someone is likely to develop type 2 diabetes. What they didn’t know was how each individual factor affects the risk.

So they devised a clinical trial that looked at physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, Continue reading

New Findings on Therapeutic Hypothermia Following Cardiac Arrest in Children

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Intravenous delivery of cold fluids to reduce body temperature quickly after a heart attack and improve neurologic outcomes may not be as effective in children as it is in adults, according to a study reported in Therapeutic Hypothermia and Temperature Management, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/ther

In adults, therapeutic hypothermia to minimize neurological complications caused by cardiac arrest can be achieved by rapidly infusing cold (4oC) intravenous fluid. However, this might not be the optimal approach in children. Alexis Topjian, Michael Hamid, Larissa Hutchins, and Vinay Nadkarni, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, studied the effect of the infusion rate on the temperature of the cold IV fluid in three simulated pediatric patients of different weights. They describe the study design and their results in the article entitled, “Can a Cold (4oC) IV Fluid Bolus to Induce Therapeutic Hypothermia Really Deliver 4oC to Children?”

“This is an important and timely contribution because it reinforces the point that children are not just small people Continue reading

Less Age-Related Vision Loss Linked to Omega-3s

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Women who get lots of omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease affecting millions of older adults in the U.S.

That’s the conclusion of a new study, which jibes with earlier research linking fish consumption to slower progression of AMD. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA include salmon, trout, sardines, herring and tuna.

AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth behind the retina or breakdown of light-sensitive cells within the retina itself, both of which can cause serious vision impairment. Some 1.7 million Americans have severe vision loss due to the disease, making it the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Continue reading

Anxiety Can Be Controlled by Flashes of Light to Brain

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Stimulating certain parts of the brain with pulses of light could prevent feelings of anxiety, US researchers claimed.

Scientists from Stanford University pinpointed the neural circuit that controls anxious behavior in mice and were able to manipulate it using light, according to research published Wednesday.

During tests, the amygdala region of the mice’s brains was exposed to specially-structured fiber-optic cables, and depending on which cells were exposed to the light, the mice became less fearful of their surroundings or more inhibited.

Rodents usually try to avoid wide-open spaces that could expose them to predators, but during simulations, the mice were much more willing to explore open areas when light was pulsed into the brain circuit.

The scientists were also able to make the mice more anxious by deactivating the cells with a different light frequency.

The human brain is structured in a similar way to those Continue reading

Why Babies Digest Milk More Effectively than Adults

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WASHINGTON – A new study has pointed out that infants are more efficient at digesting milk than adults due to a difference in the strains of bacteria that dominate their digestive tracts.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, and Utah State University have identified the genes that are most likely responsible for this difference.

“Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the third-largest solid component of milk. Their structural complexity renders them non-digestible to the host,” said the researchers.

“Bifidobacterium longum strains often predominate the colonic microbiota of exlusively breast-fed infants. Among the three recognized subspecies, B. longum subsp. infantis achieves high levels of cell growth on HMOs and is associated with early colonization of the infant gut,” they added.

The researchers used whole-genome microarray comparisons to associate genotypic biomarkers among 15 B. longum strains exhibiting various HMO utilization patterns.

They identified 5 distinct gene clusters on B. longum that were conserved (showed little or no variation) across all strains capable of growth on HMOs and have also diverged in strains incapable of growing on HMOs.

The results suggested that B. longum has at least 2 distinct subspecies: B. longum subsp. infantis, adapted to ultilize milk carbon and found primarily in the digestive tract of children, and B. longum subsp. longum, specialized for plant-derived carbon metabolism and associated with the adult digestive tract.

“Although early gut colonization is likely dependent on a multitude of dietary and non-dietary factors, the delivery of complex oligosaccharides through milk creates an ideal and unique nutrient niche for the establishment of, and colonization by, B. longum subsp. infantis strains,” said the researchers.

“During weaning, a gradual transitioning from milk-based to plant-based diets generates a shift in carbon availability in the gastrintestinal tract favorable for the expansion and formtion of an adult-like gastointestinal tract microbiota,” they added.

The results are published in the current issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.B

Study Predicts Risk of Memory Loss in Healthy, Older Adults

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The combined results of a genetic blood test and a five-minute functional MRI successfully classified more than three-quarters of healthy older adults, many of whom were destined to develop cognitive decline within 18 months of testing.

John Woodard, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, is lead author of “Predicting Cognitive Decline in Healthy Older Adults Using fMRI” published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (vol. 21, no. 3).

“No one had studied these combinations of tests in such a large sample,” Woodard said. The results have strong implications for determining who is most likely to benefit from preventive Alzheimer’s disease treatments.

Woodard and his colleagues performed five tests on 78 healthy elders: a structural MRI (sMRI) that measures the size of the hippocampus region of the brain; a functional MRI (fMRI) that shows how the brain is activated during mental tasks; a blood test that identifies the APOE ε4 allele (a known genetic marker for Alzheimer’s disease); and two standard neuropsychological tests that measure mood and ability.

The most effective combination of tests to predict near-term cognitive decline was the fMRI and the APOE ε4 test. The APOE ε4 allele alone correctly classified 61.5 percent of participants, but the combination of the ε4 allele and low activity on the fMRI test correctly classified 78.9 percent of participants, including 35 percent who showed significant cognitive decline 18 months post-testing.

Age, years of education, gender and family history of dementia were not accurate predictors of future cognitive decline. Dr. Woodard and his colleagues also found that persons with larger hippocampus volume, greater functional brain activity and no APOE ε4 allele were less likely to demonstrate cognitive decline over the following 18 months.

The APOE and fMRI tests that combined as the best predictors are readily available, not time-consuming, and don’t require special skills or effort on the part of the participant.

“Use of these tests could play a major role in development of medications for prevention of Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Woodard said. “If we can intervene before people become symptomatic, we might be able to slow the progression of the disease or eliminate it altogether.”

Alzheimer’s is age-correlated; the older the person, the greater the likelihood the person will display symptoms.

“If we could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years, we could cut the number of new cases in half,” Dr. Woodard said. “If we could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 10 years, we could potentially eliminate the disease completely.”