London: Vitamin B12 deficiency in infants leads to poor motor development and anaemia, according to a study which stated that its deficiency is an enormous yet overlooked problem.
For many years, there has been a focus on vitamin A, zinc and iron deficiencies when it comes to malnutrition across the globe, whereas there is a paucity of research on B12 deficiency.
A lack of vitamin B12 doesn't just potentially lead to anaemia, it can damage the nervous system. And for young children, B12 is crucial for brain development.
"B12 deficiency is one of the most overlooked problems out there when it comes to malnutrition. And unfortunately, we can see that the food relief we provide today is not up to the task," said Henrik Friis, first author of the study and a professor at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports.
A team from University of Copenhagen and Doctors Without Borders conducted a study among 1,000 children with acute malnutrition aged 6-23 months in Africa's Burkina Faso.
The results, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, showed a strong correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and poor motor development and anaemia.
The children's B12 levels were measured both before and after three months of daily food relief rations containing the recommended B12 content. During the period when children were provided with food relief, their B12 levels increased, before decreasing considerably once the programme was stopped.
Even after three months of food relief, one-third of the children continued to have low or marginal levels of B12 stored. The unfortunate explanation is that there is a cap on how much B12 can be absorbed.
"A child's gut can only absorb 1 microgram of B12 per meal. So, if a child is lacking 500 micrograms, it will take much longer than the few weeks that they have access to emergency food relief," explained Vibeke Brix Christensen, paediatrician and medical advisor with Doctors Without Borders.
She points out that it might make a difference to divide the necessary amount of vitamin B12 across several meals, which would probably allow children to absorb the same amount of B12 each time. (Agency)
Read More► Study Reveals Why 7 Hours of Sleep is Optimal in Middle Age
London: Seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep for people in their middle age and upwards as a new study has found that both insufficient or excessive sleep is associated with poorer cognitive performance and mental health, including dementia.
The study, published in the journal Nature Aging, indicates that one possible reason for the association between insufficient sleep and cognitive decline may be due to the disruption of slow-wave 'deep' sleep. Disruption to this type of sleep has been shown to have a close link with memory consolidation as well as the build-up of amyloid a key protein which, when it misfolds, can cause 'tangles' in the brain characteristic of some forms of dementia.
Additionally, lack of sleep may hamper the brain's ability to rid itself of toxins, said researchers from the University of Cambridge and Fudan University. For the study, the team examined data from nearly 500,000 adults aged 38-73 years from the UK Biobank.
Participants were asked about their sleeping patterns, mental health and well-being, and took part in a series of cognitive tests. Brain imaging and genetic data were available for almost 40,000 of the study participants.
By analysing these data, the team found that both insufficient and excessive sleep duration was associated with impaired cognitive performance, such as processing speed, visual attention, memory, and problem-solving skills.
Seven hours of sleep per night was the optimal amount of sleep for cognitive performance, but also for good mental health, with people experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depression and worse overall wellbeing if they reported sleeping for longer or shorter durations, the researchers said. (Agency)
Read More► Women More Likely to Have Asthma Attacks, Deaths Than Men: Report
London: Women with asthma who are going through puberty, pregnancy or are menstruating, are at higher risk of severe asthma attacks and deaths due to the lung disease, according to a report.
The study conducted by a non-profit Asthma and Lung UK highlights that female hormones can trigger asthma flare-ups, BBC reported.
The findings calls for more research to examine the sex-related differences in the common lung condition.
Asthma is a condition in which the airways narrow, swell and may produce extra mucus, making breathing difficult. It is characterised by wheezing, breathlessness, tightness in chest, and coughing.
There are about 136 million women worldwide who suffer from asthma. The report showed that more than 5,100 women have died from an asthma attack, compared with under 2,300 men over the past five years in the UK.
It noted that many people were unaware that fluctuations in female sex hormones can cause asthma symptoms to flare up or even trigger life-threatening attacks.
"Asthma tends to be overlooked or dismissed," Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and innovation at Asthma and Lung UK, was quoted as saying.
In childhood, asthma is more prevalent and severe in boys. However, after puberty, the situation reverses, and asthma becomes more prevalent and severe among women, the report said.
The charity said the current "one size fits all" approach to asthma treatment is "not working" because it does not take into account the impact that female sex hormones during puberty, periods, pregnancy and menopause can have on asthma symptoms and attacks.
More must be done to tackle the "stark health inequality", it added.
"Gaps in our knowledge are failing women, leaving them struggling with debilitating asthma symptoms, stuck in a cycle of being in and out of hospital and in some cases, losing their lives," Sara Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma + Lung UK, was quoted as saying.
"There is not enough research into why women are more likely to be hospitalised and die from asthma and what treatments, new and existing, could help women," added Mome Mukherjee, researcher at the University of Edinburgh. (Agency)
Read More► Vitamin-D, Omega-3, Exercise Can Reduce Cancer Risk by 61%: Study
A combination of high-dose Vitamin D, Omega-3s, and simple home strength exercises can help reduce cancer risk in healthy adults aged 70 or older by 61 per cent, claims a study.
Published in Frontiers in Aging, it is the first study to test the combined benefit of three affordable public health interventions for the prevention of invasive cancers that has grown past the original tissue or cells where it developed, and spread to otherwise healthy surrounding tissue.
Apart from preventative recommendations such as not smoking and sun protection, public health efforts that focus on cancer prevention are limited, according to Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari of the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland.
"Preventive efforts in middle-aged and older adults today are largely limited to screening and vaccination efforts," Bischoff-Ferrari noted.
Studies have shown that Vitamin D inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Similarly, Omega-3 may inhibit the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells, and exercise has been shown to improve immune function and decrease inflammation, which may help in the prevention of cancer.
However, there was a lack of robust clinical studies proving the effectiveness of these three simple interventions, alone or combined.
Bischoff-Ferrari and her colleagues tested the effect of daily high-dose Vitamin D3 (one form of Vitamin D supplements), daily supplemental Omega-3s, and a simple home strength exercise, alone and in combination, on the risk of invasive cancer among adults aged 70 or older.
The three-year trial, held in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, and Portugal, involved 2,157 participants.
The results show that all three treatments (Vitamin D3, Omega-3s, and exercise) had cumulative benefits on the risk of invasive cancers, Bischoff-Ferrari said.
Each of the treatments had a small individual benefit but when all three treatments were combined, the benefits became statistically significant, and the researchers saw an overall reduction in cancer risk by 61 per cent.
"Our results, although based on multiple comparisons and requiring replication, may prove to be beneficial for reducing the burden of cancer," Bischoff-Ferrari said, adding the need for further studies. (agency)
Read More► Genes Can Affect Our Nutrient Tolerance: Study
Danish researchers have found evidence that pigs can spread dangerous antibiotic-resistant superbug Clostridioides difficile to humans.
A team from the University of Copenhagen and Statens Serum Institut in Denmark found samples of the superbug C.difficile more commonly in piglets and sows than slaughter pigs across 14 pig farms in Denmark.
The difference may be due to the younger pigs having a microbiota composition that makes them more susceptible to a successful colonisation, the researchers said.
C. difficile is a bacterium that infects the human gut and is resistant to all but three current antibiotics. Some strains contain genes that allow them to produce toxins that can cause damaging inflammation in the gut, leading to life-threatening diarrhoea, mostly in the elderly and hospitalised patients who have been treated with antibiotics.
"Our finding of multiple and shared resistance genes indicate that C. difficile is a reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes that can be exchanged between animals and humans," said Dr. Semeh Bejaoui from the varsity.
"This alarming discovery suggests that resistance to antibiotics can spread more widely than previously thought, and confirms links in the resistance chain leading from farm animals to humans," Bejaoui added.
The study was presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) being held in Portugal. In the study, the team investigated the prevalence of C. difficile strains in livestock (pigs) and the potential for zoonotic spread of antimicrobial resistance genes by comparing to clinical isolates from Danish hospital patients.
Stool samples were collected from 514 pigs in two batches from farms across Denmark between 2020 and 2021. Batch A included 330 samples from sows, piglets and slaughter pigs from fourteen farms in 2020. The 184 samples in batch B were collected during slaughtering in 2021.
Out of 514 pigs samples, 54 had evidence of C. difficile. Further analyses of 40 samples, found that C. difficile was more common in piglets and sows than slaughter pigs. The researchers speculate that this may be due to the difference in age between piglets and adult pigs with the younger pigs having a microbiota composition that makes them more susceptible to a successful colonisation.
In total, thirteen sequence types found in animals matched those found in patient's stool samples. ST11, an animal-associated strain, was the most common. In sixteen cases, ST11 strains in humans and animals were identical.
All isolates from animals were positive for the toxin genes and ten were also hypervirulent, with an even greater capacity to cause disease.
In total, 38 isolates from the animals contained at least one resistance gene and overall, resistance was predicted for seven classes of antibiotics, of which the most common were macrolides, beta-lactams, aminoglicosides and vancomycin -- which are important for treating severe bacterial infections.
The team blamed the overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and as cheap production tools on farms affecting efforts to cure bacterial infections.
"Of particular concern is the large reservoir of genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides, a class of antibiotics to which C. difficile is intrinsically resistant they are not needed for resistance in this species. C. difficile thus plays a role in spreading these genes to other susceptible species," Bejaoui said. (agency)
Read More► Low Dose Lithium May Help Improve Kidney Health
Love to buy takeaway coffee in disposable cups or use nylon cooking bags such as those used in baking liners? Beware, these may be loaded with microplastics harmful for health, warns a study.
Food-grade plastics come into contact with a variety of foods and drinks that people consume every day.
For instance, nylon cooking bags help keep food moist in the oven and make clean-up easier for slow cookers. Likewise, plastic-lined paper cups are designed to keep liquids hot and prevent them from leaking out.
However, according to the study published in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology these are an underappreciated source of nanoparticles.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, US, report that the plastic in these products release trillions of nanometre-sized particles into each litre of water that they come in contact with. While that sounds like a lot, the team noted that these levels are under the regulatory limits for consumption.
Previous studies have shown that some plastic materials, including polypropylene baby bottles and polyethylene terephthalate tea bags, can shed microscopic and nanoscale particles into heated liquids, though the human health implications of ingesting these particles are unclear.
To explore whether food-grade plastic films can also be a source of small plastic particles, the team led by Christopher Zangmeister from the Institute poured room temperature or hot water into nylon slow cooker bags and low density polyethylene-lined cardboard cups from different retailers.
After keeping the slow cooker hot for an hour, the researchers found that 35 trillion plastic nanoparticles leached into the litre of water in each bag.
When the team put hot liquid in 12-fluid-ounce cups for 20 minutes, 5.1 trillion plastic nanoparticles per litre leached out.
Both materials released considerably fewer nanosized particles into room temperature water.
"A person would have to drink 13 cups of hot water from a plastic-lined cup or half a litre of water from the cooking bag to consume the equivalent of one nanoplastic particle for every seven cells in a person's body," Zangmeister said.
However, the number of particles that migrated from the food-grade plastics into both the room temperature and hot water are still well below the levels for safe human consumption, according to US Food and Drug Administration limits.
Read More► Genes Can Affect Our Nutrient Tolerance: Study