Having a portable air cleaner in the home can reduce the negative impacts of air pollution on brain development in children, says a new study.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that the children born to mothers who had used the air cleaners had an average full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) that was 2.8-points higher than the group that did not use an air cleaner during pregnancy.
"These results, combined with evidence from previous studies, strongly implicate air pollution as a threat to brain development," said researcher Ryan Allen from Simon Fraser University, in Canada. The team recruited 540 pregnant women in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to participate in the study.
Ulaanbaatar has some of the worst air quality in the world, well-exceeding guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The women were less than 18 weeks into their pregnancies and non-smokers who had not previously used air filtering devices in their homes. They were randomly assigned to either the control or intervention group.
The intervention group was provided with one or two HEPA filter air cleaners and encouraged to run the air cleaners continuously for the duration of their pregnancies. The air cleaners were removed from the home once the child was born.
The researchers later measured the children's FSIQ at four years of age. Children in the intervention group also had significantly greater average verbal comprehension index scores, which is consistent with results from previous observational studies.
The research suggests that a child's verbal skills may be particularly sensitive to air pollution exposure. (Agency)
Read More► Diabetes, Heart Disease Increase Dementia Risk: Study
People with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke have double the risk of developing dementia, finds a study.
Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases (ischemic heart disease, heart failure or atrial fibrillation) and stroke, so-called cardiometabolic diseases, are some of the main risk factors for dementia.
The presence of more than one cardiometabolic disease accelerated the speed of cognitive decline and doubled the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, expediting their development by two years. The magnitude of the risk was increased with a greater number of diseases, revealed the study published in the journal, Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
Prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease could therefore be a strategy for reducing dementia risk, suggest researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
"In our study, the combinations of diabetes/heart disease and diabetes/heart disease/stroke were the most damaging to cognitive function," said Abigail Dove, doctoral student at the Aging Research Centre, at the Institute.
However, individuals who had just one cardiometabolic disease did not display a significantly higher risk of dementia.
"This is good news. The study shows that the risk only increases once someone has at least two of the diseases, so it's possible that dementia can be averted by preventing the development of a second disease," he added.
Dementia develops slowly over decades. It first manifests as gradual cognitive decline that only shows up in cognitive tests. It then degenerates into cognitive impairment in which the individual notices their failing memory but can still look after themselves, and finally into full-blown dementia.
The researchers extracted data on a total of 2,500 healthy, dementia-free individuals over the age of 60 living on Kungsholmen in Stockholm. The participants were then followed for 12 years with medical examinations and cognitive tests in order to monitor changes in cognitive ability and the development of dementia.
The correlation between cardiometabolic diseases and the risk for dementia was stronger in the participants who were under 78 years old.
"We should therefore focus on cardiometabolic disease prevention already in middle age, since the risk of cognitive failure and dementia appears higher among those who develop a cardiometabolic disease earlier in life," Dove said. (agency)
Read More► Poor Sleep May Worsen Lung Disease More Than Smoking: Study
Insufficient or interrupted sleep may have more of an impact than smoking history in patients with a progressive lung disease, according to a study.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that for patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), inadequate sleep may boost their risk of a flare-up by up to 95 per cent compared to those with good sleep.
Over time, these flare-ups, which manifest with worsening shortness of breath and cough, may cause irreversible lung damage, and accelerate disease progression and mortality.
The findings appeared in the journal 'SLEEP'.
The research shows sleep deprivation is associated with a drop in infection-fighting antibodies and protective cytokines, said Aaron Baugh, a clinical fellow at the UCSF Division of Pulmonary Research Institute.
The researchers followed 1,647 patients with confirmed COPD. They recorded flare-ups, defined as short-term worsening of symptoms requiring treatment, and compared their incidence with self-reported data on sleep quality.
Pulmonologist Neeta Thakur from the UCSF School of Medicine said that questions about sleep are often overlooked by physicians evaluating patients with COPD.
"Sleep hygiene and sleep aids may significantly improve their health," she said, adding: "Sleep should be considered both in the clinic and at the wider community/neighbourhood level, where the structural factors that contribute to worse sleep can be addressed." (Agency)
Read More► Human Brains are Hotter Than Thought, Particularly Women's: Study
People infected with Covid-19 had a roughly 25 per cent increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder in the four months following their infection, compared with those who had other types of respiratory tract infections, finds a study.
Researchers at Oregon State University in the US found that Covid patients had a 3.8 per cent rate of developing a psychiatric disorder compared with 3.0 per cent for other respiratory tract infections. The 0.8 per cent difference amounts to about a 25 per cent increased relative risk.
The team looked specifically at anxiety disorders and mood disorders and found a minor but significant increase in risk for anxiety disorders and no change in risk for mood disorders.
The results speak to the need for both patients and health care providers to be more proactive when it comes to addressing mental health concerns following Covid infection, said Lauren Chan, doctoral student in nutrition in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
"For people that have had Covid, if you're feeling anxiety, if you're seeing some changes in how you're going through life from a psychiatric standpoint, it's totally appropriate for you to seek some help," Chan said.
For the study, published in the journal World Psychiatry, researchers included data of 46,610 Covid-19 positive individuals and control patients who were diagnosed with a different respiratory tract infection so they could compare how Covid specifically affected patients' mental health.
They looked at the rate of psychiatric diagnoses for two time periods: from 21 to 120 days after patients' Covid diagnosis, and from 120 to 365 days after diagnosis, limited to patients with no previous mental illness.
When patients leave a doctor's office, sometimes care stops there, but Chan recommended that providers consider calling in two weeks for a check-in.
"I don't want to say that every single person who gets Covid is going to have this type of problem, but if you start to have concern for yourself or a family member, it's not unheard of. You should definitely seek care for yourself or others around you," Chan said.
Read More► Dogs Can Detect Covid-19 Faster Than Rapid Antigen Test: Study
Sydney: Young men with a poor diet saw a significant improvement in their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet, a new study has shown.
Mediterranean diet, which consists of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and grains, caused significant impact on young men's mental health.
According to researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, the study is the first randomised clinical trial to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men aged 18-25.
The team conducted a 12-week randomised control trial, where the men were asked to switch to foods rich in colourful vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, oily fish, olive oil and raw, unsalted nuts from their regular as well as fast foods.
The findings, published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggested that doctors should recommend patients to a nutritionist or dietician as part of their treatment plan, the researchers said.
"The primary focus was on increasing diet quality with fresh wholefoods while reducing the intake of 'fast' foods, sugar and processed red meat," said researcher Jessica Bayes, a candidate in the UTS Faculty of Health.
"There are lots of reasons why scientifically we think food affects mood. For example, around 90 per cent of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel happy, is made in our gut by our gut microbes.
"There is emerging evidence that these microbes can communicate to the brain via the vagus nerve, in what is called the gut-brain axis," Bayes said.
"The results showed that nearly all our participants stayed with the programme, and many were keen to continue the diet once the study ended, which shows how effective, tolerable and worthwhile they found the intervention," the researchers said.
The study "suggests that medical doctors and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important component of treating clinical depression", she said. (Agency)
Read More► New Gene-Edited Tomatoes Could Boost Your Vitamin D Levels
London: Increased air pollution has been linked with rise in risk of autoimmune diseases, according to a twin study.
Two abstracts presented by Dr Giovanni Adami at the 2022 EULAR Congress looked at the issue of environmental exposures and their role in disease development.
Particulate matter (PM) is defined as everything in the air that is not a gas, and includes a variety of chemicals and materials, some of which can be toxic.
Data from over 80,000 people in a retrospective observational study in Italy found a positive association between PM levels measured at local air-quality stations and the risk of autoimmune diseases.
In fact, every 10 micrograms per cubic metre increase in PM10 concentration was associated with an incremental 7 per cent risk of having autoimmune disease.
Exposure to PM10 above 30 micrograms per cubic metre and PM2.5 above 20 micrograms per cubic metre was associated with 12 per cent and 13 per cent higher risks of autoimmune disease, respectively.
When broken down by individual diseases, exposure to PM10 was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but no other autoimmune diseases, whereas exposure to high levels of PM2.5 was associated with an increased risk of RA and inflammatory bowel disease.
Overall, chronic exposure to particulate air pollution above the threshold for human protection was associated with a 10 per cent higher risk of developing immune-mediated diseases.
In a separate study, the same team looked at the association between long-term exposure to PM and osteoporosis in almost 60,000 women at high risk of fracture.
The results showed that exposure to PM2.5 was negatively associated with low bone mass at the top of the thigh bone and lumbar spine.
Chronic exposure above 25 micrograms per cubic metre for PM2.5 and 30 micrograms per cubic metre for PM10 was associated with a 16 per cent and 15 per cent higher risk of having osteoporotic bone mass scores at any site.
The researchers concluded that long-term exposure to air pollution was associated with higher risk of osteoporosis.
Further, among the RA patients, high silica exposure was independently associated with lung abnormalities such as interstitial lung disease and mediastinal lymphadenopathy. (Agency)
Read More► Why 5 Minutes of Sun Makes Your Mood Better
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