Many second-hand toys could pose a risk to children's health as the plastic may not meet the most up to date international safety guidelines, a study has found. Scientists from the University of Plymouth in the UK analysed 200 used plastic toys which they found in homes, nurseries and charity shops. These included cars, trains, construction products, figures and puzzles, with all of them being of a size that could be chewed by young children. They discovered high concentrations of hazardous elements including antimony, barium, bromine, cadmium, chromium, lead and selenium - which are chronically toxic to children at low levels over an extended period of time - in many building blocks, figures and items of jewellery that were typically either yellow, red or black. Further tests showed that under simulated stomach conditions (involving extraction in dilute hydrochloric acid) several toys released quantities of bromine, cadmium or lead that exceeded limits set by the European Council's Toy Safety Directive, with the release of cadmium exceeding its limit value by an order of magnitude in some cases. For the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the researchers used x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry to analyse the presence of elements within individual toys. "Second hand toys are an attractive option to families because they can be inherited directly from friends or relatives or obtained cheaply and readily from charity stores, flea markets and the internet," said Andrew Turner, from the University of Plymouth.
Thinking that you may receive mosquito bites if you are sweeter may not be that far-fetched as a new study suggests that mosquitoes may abandon hosts who swat at them, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, shows that mosquitoes can rapidly learn and remember the smells of hosts and that dopamine is a key mediator of this process. Mosquitoes use this information and incorporate it with other stimuli to develop preferences for a particular vertebrate host species, and, within that population, certain individuals. However, the study also proved that even if an individual is deemed delicious-smelling, a mosquito’s preference can shift if that person’s smell is associated with an unpleasant sensation. According to the researchers, hosts who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behaviour may be abandoned, no matter how sweet they are. “We now know that mosquitoes are able to learn odours emitted by their host and avoid those that were more defensive,” said co-author of the study, Chloe Lahondere, Research Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech in the US. For the study, researchers demonstrated that mosquitoes exhibit a trait known as aversive learning by training female aedes aegypti mosquitoes to associate odours (including human body odours) with unpleasant shocks and vibrations. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are vectors for zika fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses. Twenty four hours later, the same mosquitoes were assessed in a Y-maze olfactometer in which they had to fly upwind and choose between the once-preferred human body odour and a control odour. The mosquitoes avoided the human body odour, suggesting that they had been successfully trained, the researcher said. By taking a multidisciplinary approach and using cutting-edge techniques, including CRISPR gene editing and RNAi, the researchers were also able to identify that dopamine is a key mediator of aversive learning in mosquitoes.
With early intervention in the pre-diabetes stage, or even after onset of the disease, emerging as a critical factor in checking the growing scourge, it is important for people to recognise the factors and signs that indicate the condition. Can a layman identify a person who is at risk by just looking at him? Being obese obviously puts one at risk but doctors say your neck could tell you a lot. According to Dr Anoop Misra, an expert on metabolic disorders, a double chin and heavy neck, a double layer of fat at the back of the neck and multiple skin tags over the neck are visual clues indicating a high risk for developing diabetes. "Such people should get their blood sugar, lipids and blood pressure checked," said Dr Misra, who has authored a book, DiabetesWith Delight. He added the neck circumference is independent from other known indicators such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and family history. According to Dr Misra, timely detection can help in halting the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes. "Correct diet, physical activity, and sometimes drugs could help in reverting to a normal glucose status. Intensive diet and lifestyle modifications could reverse the blood sugar levels to normal," he said. Simply put, diabetes is a condition in which the body has trouble turning food into energy. All bodies break down digested food into a sugar called glucose, their main source of fuel. In a healthy person, the hormone, insulin, helps glucose enter the cells. But in a diabetic, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or the body does not use it properly. Cells starve while glucose builds up in the blood.
There are two predominant types of diabetes. In Type 1, the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. In Type 2, which accounts for an estimated 90% to 95% of all cases, either the body's cells are not sufficiently receptive to insulin or the pancreas makes too little of it, or both.
"Indians have a genetic predisposition to diabetes and nearly 75% of patients with Type 2 diabetes have a first-degree family history of diabetes," Dr Misra explained.
A study by UK scientists, published recently in The Lancet, has showed diabetes can be reversed with radical weight loss. Similar trials are taking place in India also to fight the disease that affects more than 65 million people in the country. Nearly 8% of the population above 18 years has the condition. This figure, the doctors say, is expected to rise to 100 million by year 2030, second only to China.
Supplements live in the wild west of the wellness world. They’re largely unregulated and under-researched, so people are often left to make not-so-educated guesses about what they’re putting in their bodies. Two new resources from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Substances (ODS) may help. On Wednesday, it released two new fact sheets — one for exercise and athletic performance supplements, and another for weight loss supplements — meant to help people determine what’s safe and effective. Each database lists common dietary supplements used for a specified purpose — like creatine, protein supplements and tart cherry juice for fitness, and caffeine, green tea extract and capsaicin for weight loss — as well as a summary of the science, however minimal, available on that substance. The tools are meant to guide people as they try to improve their health, and steer them away from ineffective or unsafe ingredients. On the whole, more fitness supplements got the green light than weight loss supplements. Creatine, beet juice and caffeine were endorsed for at least some types of athletes, while things like deer antler velvet were called out for inadequate evidence. Most of the weight loss supplements were associated with very modest results at best, while others — including bitter orange and green tea extract — carried safety warnings. “Dietary supplements marketed for exercise and athletic performance can’t take the place of a healthy diet, but some might have value for certain types of activity,” said ODS director Paul Coates in a statement. “Others don’t seem to work, and some might even be harmful.” Supplement sales are projected to approach $300 million by 2024, but many experts remain skeptical of how effective they really are, since there’s not a lot of information about what they actually contain and how, or if, they work. One study even estimated that supplement misuse leads to 23,000 emergency room visits each year.
Doctors at Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital in Parel extracted an LED bulb from the lung of a seven-month-old girl who had swallowed it while playing with a toy mobile phone. The bulb was two-centimetre in diametre. Ariba Khan, whose family is from Chiplun in Ratnagiri district, had to wait for a week before the doctors could perform a bronchoscopy to remove the object as physicians in Ratnagiri couldn’t diagnose why she had persistent cough and fever. Unaware of the incident, her parents took her to doctors in Ratnagiri to treat the cough and fever. “The parents initially thought that Ariba had swallowed a thread or a small part of a toy. They took her to a local physician who couldn’t diagnose the condition. Her condition deteriorated within a week,” said doctors from the hospital. After being advised by relatives, the family admitted the child to Wadia Hospital. Dr Divya Prabhat, head of ENT department at the hospital, said an X-Ray report revealed that there was an object in the right lung. Ariba was put on antibiotics to prevent and control the infection. “A primary bronchoscopy that the lung was full of granulation tissues (tissue and microscopic blood vessels that form on the surfaces of a wound during the healing process). The tissues were hiding the object, thus making its removal difficult ,” said Dr Prabhat. The doctors continued with intravenous course of antibiotics and steroids for two days to clear the infection and granulations. On the third day, another bronchoscopy was performed, when the bulb became visible inside the lung. “Within two minutes this object, which initially looked like a strand of wire, was removed using forceps. To our surprise the object was a two-centimetre in diametre,” Dr Prabhat added.
So much is going on in the first few months of a baby’s life, it’s no surprise that what a baby eats can have an effect on how important structures and connections in the brain develop. To help parents understand what babies need, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a set of recommendations for foods that ensure healthy brain development in babies’ first 1,000 days. In the guidelines, just published in the journal Pediatrics, the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition say that certain nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, folate, certain vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids are critical for healthy brain development. Diets lacking these nutrients can lead to lifelong issues in brain function, they note. Dr. Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition, says that breast milk is recommended for newborns until they are about six months old. After that, she says, breast milk can’t provide the amount of iron and zinc that growing babies need, so breast milk should be supplemented with these nutrients if moms want to continue breastfeeding, or babies should be introduced to foods rich in them. Many baby foods are supplemented with zinc and iron, she says, but pureed meats are also a good natural source. Infant cereals are also enriched with these nutrients and could be good first foods for babies. After breast milk, the best diet for babies is one that includes a variety of foods, including meats rich in proteins and fruits and vegetables that contain different vitamins and minerals. “Infants are very vulnerable in the first few months of life to [nutrient] deficiencies,” says Schwarzenberg. “Their brains are developing at a rapid pace between one and two years, so we want pediatricians to be recommending a healthy spectrum of foods and not simply telling parents to give their babies certain foods. We want to make a positive statement about providing lean meats and fruits and vegetables, and also push back on the idea of superfoods.” No single food can provide babies with the variety of nutrients they need, she says. Studies show that early nutrition is important for building a healthy brain. “If you miss the opportunity to meet developmental milestones during the first 1,000 days of life, then there’s not an opportunity to go back and revisit them,” says Schwarzenberg. Iron, for example, is critical for setting up memory circuits and processing speed in the brain that can’t necessarily be recreated later. While it’s easier to feed babies their favorite foods, she says it’s important to make sure they’re eating a range of healthy foods. “We all have a tendency to pick one or two things the child likes and not stray too much from them,” says Schwarzenberg. “But if you are really looking to developing good brain health, then you really have to look at a variety of foods.”
Consuming of dietary fiber like peas, broccoli, raspberries, blackberries, coconut and figs daily can prevent obesity, suggests a recent study. According to Georgia State University researchers, consumption of dietary fiber can prevent obesity, metabolic syndrome and adverse changes in the intestine by promoting growth of "good" bacteria in the colon. The findings indicated that enriching the diet of mice with the fermentable fiber insulin prevented metabolic syndrome that is induced by a high-fat diet and they identified specifically how this occurs in the body. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions closely linked to obesity that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels and when these conditions occur together, they increase a person's risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Obesity and metabolic syndrome are associated with alterations in gut microbiota, the microorganism population that lives in the intestine. This study found the fermentable fiber inulin restored gut health and protected mice against metabolic syndrome induced by a high-fat diet by restoring gut microbiota levels, increasing the production of intestinal epithelial cells and restoring expression of the protein interleukin-22 (IL-22), which prevented gut microbiota from invading epithelial cells. Researcher Dr. Andrew Gewirtz said that manipulating dietary fiber content, particularly by adding fermentable fiber, guards against metabolic syndrome. For four weeks, the team fed mice either a grain-based rodent chow, a high-fat diet (high fat and low fiber content with 5 percent cellulose as a source of fiber) or a high-fat diet supplemented with fiber (either fermentable inulin fiber or insoluble cellulose fiber). The high-fat diet is linked to an increase in obesity and conditions associated with metabolic syndrome. The results indicated that insoluble cellulose fiber only modestly reduced obesity and dysglycemia. When they switched mice back to a chow diet, the colon mass was fully restored.
An Arizona woman who was initially diagnosed with the flu turned out to have a life-threating infection with "flesh-eating" bacteria, according to news reports. The woman, Christin Lipinski, visited her doctor with flu-like symptoms and pain under her arm. She was diagnosed with the flu on Jan. 11 and initially treated for the viral infection. But her pain continued to get worse until it was "pretty much unbearable," her husband, Nate Lipinski said. Two days after her flu diagnosis, she was rushed to the hospital, where she had surgery to treat necrotizing fasciitis. The condition is a serious bacterial infection that destroys skin and muscle tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Surgeons had to remove over 30 percent of Lipinski's soft tissue that had been infected, according to her GoFundMe page. It's not clear how Lipinski got the infection. Several types of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis, including group A Streptococcus(group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, according to the CDC. Most commonly, people get necrotizing fasciitis when the bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin, the CDC said. The bacteria can spread quickly once they enter the body, and symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis can start within hours of an injury. Some symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis appear similar to symptoms of the flu, including fever, chills, fatigue and vomiting, according to the CDC. But in addition to these symptoms, patients often experience pain that they describe as hurting much more than they would expect based on how their wound looks, the CDC said. Patients' skin may become red or purplish from the infection, and these swollen areas may spread rapidly. The condition is treated with antibiotics, but many people also need immediate surgery to remove dead tissue and help stop the infection, the CDC said. The disease has a fatality rate of about 27 percent, according to a 2008 study. Lipinski underwent seven surgeries to try to stop her infection, according to her GoFundMe page. She was transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating necrotizing fasciitis, and she will need skin grafts and "extensive reconstructive surgeries" in order to recover, the page said.
Tapeworm infection from eating sushi is now more than ever a cause of alarm after the Fresno incident. What is really the downside of consuming raw or undercooked fish? The recent news about a man pulling out a 5-foot tapeworm from his bottom while inside the toilet raises serious concern over the possible risks of eating raw fish. The man from Fresno claimed that his years of consuming sushi from raw salmon is the culprit for the tapeworm that resided inside his body. Numerous reports in the past have also linked eating raw fish delicacies to tapeworm and other parasitic infections among humans Dangers Of Eating Raw Fish The experts have warned repeatedly that eating raw fish increases the risk of Japanese tapeworm or parasitic infection in humans. "The risk of becoming infected with the Japanese tapeworm parasite is most prevalent when consuming raw or undercooked fish, particularly in dishes such as sushi, sashimi and ceviche," states a 2017 report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many fish-borne parasites can live in humans. While some parasites do not cause acute symptoms to its host, many may cause serious harm in the long run. A specific tapeworm, the Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense species, can survive in fish and infect humans, bears, and wolves. The anisakid nematodes, a type of roundworm, causes parasitic infection in humans called anisakiasis, where the worm larvae invade the stomach's lining. This kind of infection may require surgery or endoscopy to remove the parasite from the human body. Liver fluke flatworms cause opisthorchiasis, a disease that attacks and infects the liver, bile duct, and gallbladder. Likewise, eating raw seafood contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria, Salmonella and Vibrio parahaemolyticus also causes certain food-borne illnesses. In the past, tapeworm infections were only widely documented in Japan. Eating or consuming of raw fish in the country is considered as part of their diet. It was only in 2008 when tapeworm infection was first reported in North America. Last year, researchers said the Japanese tapeworm could be present in the Alaskan-caught wild salmon, increasing the risk of parasite infection in people who eat raw fish. Best To Eat Cooked Fish People with medical conditions such as liver disease, cancer, and immune system problems are strongly advised against consuming raw or undercooked fish. Pregnant women, children, and elderly people are also at high risk of being infected with fish-borne parasites and food-borne illnesses. Listeria infection, although rare, may cause fetal death in pregnant women. There are also fish species that contain high amounts of pollutants and toxic heavy metals. Mercury content is high in tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, and tuna. Raw fish dishes are growing in popularity in many cuisines. Some of the most common are sushi, sashimi, poke, ceviche, carpaccio, koi pla, soused herring, and gravlax. Although these dishes may sound and taste appetizing, experts advise people to freeze and cook fish properly before eating.
Saying no to a warm bowl of pasta or a hot pizza is difficult. Have you ever satisfied your carb craving and immediately regretted it? Well, new research finds it may not be your fault. Japanese researchers have found that neurons active under social stress increases one's appetite for carbs. In a study conducted on mice, the team at Japan's National Institute for Physiological Sciences discovered "neurons activated ate high-carbohydrate food at a rate of three times the mice under normal conditions" while decreasing appetite for fats, the report revealed. Lead author of the study, Yasuhiko Minokoshi said the research is the first to show how the brain plays a role when it comes to preference for carbohydrates or fats. Researchers hope their findings could help lead to a way for people to avoid unhealthy junk food. While we human mostly choose what we eat depending on taste, how it really works is not yet known. "Many people who eat sweets too much when stressed tend to blame themselves for being unable to control their impulses," Minokoshi said. "But if they know it's because of the neurons, they might not be so hard on themselves," he further added. However, despite the incredible insight from the research, we are still a long way from improving human diets. Minokoshi explained suppressing the neurons is no solution as it can trigger side effects. "However, if we could find a particular molecule in the neurons and target it specifically to suppress part of its activities, it could curb excessive eating of carbohydrate-heavy food," he revealed.