Alzheimer’s detection, 20 years in advance

Cedars-SinaI Medical Center researchers have developed a noninvasive retinal imaging device that can provide early detection of changes indicating Alzheimer’s disease 15 to 20 years before clinical diagnosis.

“In preliminary results in 40 patients, the test could differentiate between Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s disease with 100 percent sensitivity and 80.6 percent specificity, meaning that all people with the disease tested positive and most of the people without the disease tested negative,” said Shaun Frost, a biomedical scientist and the study manager at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency.

Keith Black, MD, professor and chair of Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience, said the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain is a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s, but current tests detect changes only after the disease has advanced to late stages.

Researchers believe that as treatment options improve, early detection will be critical, but existing diagnostic methods are inconvenient, costly and impractical for routine screening.

“PET scans require the use of radioactive tracers, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis requires that patients undergo invasive and often painful lumbar punctures, but neither approach is quite feasible, especially for patients in the earlier stages of disease,” he said. Positron emission tomography, or PET, is the current diagnostic standard.

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10 Nervous Habits That Hurt Your Health

Nervous habits are often more annoying to the people around you than to yourself, but some types of fidgeting and fussing can do real harm. Here, experts reveal the reasons why nail-biting, hair-twirling, and other seemingly harmless habits can be hazardous to your health.

You bite your nails

It’s one thing if you nervously bite your nails only during scary movies, but when it becomes a regular habit, it can damage both your nails and the skin around them, says Michael Shapiro, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Germs from the mouth get transferred to the skin, and vice versa. “Bacteria under the nails may also be transferred to mouth, causing infections of the gums and throat,” Dr. Shapiro says. Painting your nails may discourage you from chewing. No dice? Try tape to break the habit.

You twirl and pull your hair

Twisting and twirling a piece of hair around your finger can lead to damage to the root over time, says Ariel Ostad, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. “This can result in temporary or permanent areas of hair loss as well as infection,” Dr. Ostad says. Obsessive hair pulling may be a sign of a psychiatric impulse control condition called trichotillomania, which requires psychotherapy and medication.

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Eating meat contributes to climate change

Stanford, CA—Eating meat contributes to climate change, due to greenhouse gasses emitted by livestock. New research finds that livestock emissions are on the rise and that beef cattle are responsible for far more greenhouse gas emissions than other types of animals. It is published by Climactic Change.

Carbon dioxide is the most-prevalent gas when it comes to climate change. It is released by vehicles, industry, and forest removal and comprises the greatest portion of greenhouse gas totals. But methane and nitrous oxide are also greenhouse gasses and account for approximately 28 percent of global warming activity.

Methane and nitrous oxide are released, in part, by livestock. Animals release methane as a result of microorganisms that are involved in their digestive processes and nitrous oxide from decomposing manure. These two gasses are responsible for a quarter of these non-carbon dioxide gas emissions and 9 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions overall.

The research team, including Dario Caro, formerly of Carnegie and now at the University of Siena in Italy, and Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira, estimated the greenhouse gas emissions related to livestock in 237 countries over a nearly half a century and found that livestock emissions increased by 51 percent over this period.

They found a stark difference between livestock-related emissions in the developing world, which accounts for most of this increase, and that released by developed countries. This is expected to increase further going forward, as demand for meat, dairy products, and eggs is predicted by some scientists to double by 2050. By contrast, developed countries reached maximum livestock emissions in the 1970s and have been in decline since that time.

“The developing world is getting better at reducing greenhouse emissions caused by each animal, but this improvement is not keeping up with the increasing demand for meat,” said Caro. “As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock keep going up and up in much of the developing world.”

Breaking it down by animal, beef and dairy cattle comprised 74 percent of livestock-related greenhouse gas emissions, 54 percent coming from beef cattle and 17 percent from dairy cattle. Part of this is due to the abundance of cows, but it is also because cattle emit greater quantities of methane and nitrous oxide than other animals. Sheep comprised 9 percent, buffalo 7 percent, pigs 5 percent, and goats 4 percent.

“That tasty hamburger is the real culprit,” Caldeira said. “It might be better for the environment if we all became vegetarians, but a lot of improvement could come from eating pork or chicken instead of beef.”

The Carnegie Institution for Science is a private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with six research departments throughout the U.S. Since its founding in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

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Missing sleep may hurt your memory

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Lack of sleep, already considered a public health epidemic, can also lead to errors in memory, finds a new study by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found participants deprived of a night’s sleep were more likely to flub the details of a simulated burglary they were shown in a series of images.

Distorted memory can have serious consequences in areas such as criminal justice, where eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.

“We found memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation,” said Kimberly Fenn, MSU assistant professor of psychology and co-investigator on the study. “And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls insufficient sleep an epidemic and said it’s linked to vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

The researchers conducted experiments at MSU and UC-Irvine to gauge the effect of insufficient sleep on memory. The results: Participants who were kept awake for 24 hours – and even those who got five or fewer hours of sleep – were more likely to mix up event details than participants who were well rested.

“People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion,” Fenn said. “It’s not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk.”

Fenn’s co-investigators include Steven Frenda and Elizabeth Loftus from UC-Irvine.

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Why foreign language learning is easy for kids, difficult for adults

CAMBRIDGE, MA — When it comes to learning languages, adults and children have different strengths. Adults excel at absorbing the vocabulary needed to navigate a grocery store or order food in a restaurant, but children have an uncanny ability to pick up on subtle nuances of language that often elude adults. Within months of living in a foreign country, a young child may speak a second language like a native speaker.

Brain structure plays an important role in this “sensitive period” for learning language, which is believed to end around adolescence. The young brain is equipped with neural circuits that can analyze sounds and build a coherent set of rules for constructing words and sentences out of those sounds. Once these language structures are established, it’s difficult to build another one for a new language.

In a new study, a team of neuroscientists and psychologists led by Amy Finn, a postdoc at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, has found evidence for another factor that contributes to adults’ language difficulties: When learning certain elements of language, adults’ more highly developed cognitive skills actually get in the way. The researchers discovered that the harder adults tried to learn an artificial language, the worse they were at deciphering the language’s morphology — the structure and deployment of linguistic units such as root words, suffixes, and prefixes.

“We found that effort helps you in most situations, for things like figuring out what the units of language that you need to know are, and basic ordering of elements. But when trying to learn morphology, at least in this artificial language we created, it’s actually worse when you try,” Finn says.

Finn and colleagues from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and the University of British Columbia describe their findings in the July 21 issue of PLOS ONE. Carla Hudson Kam, an associate professor of linguistics at British Columbia, is the paper’s senior author.

Too much brainpower

Linguists have known for decades that children are skilled at absorbing certain tricky elements of language, such as irregular past participles (examples of which, in English, include “gone” and “been”) or complicated verb tenses like the subjunctive.

“Children will ultimately perform better than adults in terms of their command of the grammar and the structural components of language — some of the more idiosyncratic, difficult-to-articulate aspects of language that even most native speakers don’t have conscious awareness of,” Finn says.

In 1990, linguist Elissa Newport hypothesized that adults have trouble learning those nuances because they try to analyze too much information at once. Adults have a much more highly developed prefrontal cortex than children, and they tend to throw all of that brainpower at learning a second language. This high-powered processing may actually interfere with certain elements of learning language.

“It’s an idea that’s been around for a long time, but there hasn’t been any data that experimentally show that it’s true,” Finn says.

Finn and her colleagues designed an experiment to test whether exerting more effort would help or hinder success. First, they created nine nonsense words, each with two syllables. Each word fell into one of three categories (A, B, and C), defined by the order of consonant and vowel sounds.

Study subjects listened to the artificial language for about 10 minutes. One group of subjects was told not to overanalyze what they heard, but not to tune it out either. To help them not overthink the language, they were given the option of completing a puzzle or coloring while they listened. The other group was told to try to identify the words they were hearing.

Each group heard the same recording, which was a series of three-word sequences — first a word from category A, then one from category B, then category C — with no pauses between words. Previous studies have shown that adults, babies, and even monkeys can parse this kind of information into word units, a task known as word segmentation.

Subjects from both groups were successful at word segmentation, although the group that tried harder performed a little better. Both groups also performed well in a task called word ordering, which required subjects to choose between a correct word sequence (ABC) and an incorrect sequence (such as ACB) of words they had previously heard.

The final test measured skill in identifying the language’s morphology. The researchers played a three-word sequence that included a word the subjects had not heard before, but which fit into one of the three categories. When asked to judge whether this new word was in the correct location, the subjects who had been asked to pay closer attention to the original word stream performed much worse than those who had listened more passively.

Turning off effort

The findings support a theory of language acquisition that suggests that some parts of language are learned through procedural memory, while others are learned through declarative memory. Under this theory, declarative memory, which stores knowledge and facts, would be more useful for learning vocabulary and certain rules of grammar. Procedural memory, which guides tasks we perform without conscious awareness of how we learned them, would be more useful for learning subtle rules related to language morphology.

“It’s likely to be the procedural memory system that’s really important for learning these difficult morphological aspects of language. In fact, when you use the declarative memory system, it doesn’t help you, it harms you,” Finn says.

Still unresolved is the question of whether adults can overcome this language-learning obstacle. Finn says she does not have a good answer yet but she is now testing the effects of “turning off” the adult prefrontal cortex using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation. Other interventions she plans to study include distracting the prefrontal cortex by forcing it to perform other tasks while language is heard, and treating subjects with drugs that impair activity in that brain region.

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Comparing deep vein thrombosis, DVT, treatments

Utilization of catheter-directed thrombolysis (CDT, where imaging is used to guide treatment to the site of a blood clot in order to dissolve it) has increased in patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and there appeared to be no difference in in-hospital mortality rates for patients treated with CDT compared with anticoagulation alone, although patients treated with CDT had more adverse events.

DVT is a common cause of complication and death after coronary artery disease and stroke. Several small studies have suggested CDT can reduce the incidence of postthrombotic syndrome (PTS), which can impair quality of life for patients because of resulting pain, swelling and ulcerations. But CDT is controversial with conflicting directives on its use because of inconclusive comparative safety outcomes.

The authors examined in-hospital mortality, as well as secondary outcomes of bleeding complications, length of stay and hospital charges, in a group of 90,618 patients hospitalized for DVT from 2005 through 2010 as part of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database. They compared patients treated with CDT plus anticoagulation with patients treated with anticoagulation alone.

Of the 90,618 patients hospitalized for DVT, 3,649 (4.1 percent) underwent CDT. The CDT utilization rate increased from 2.3 percent in 2005 to 5.9 percent in 2010. In-hospital mortality was not significantly different between the CDT and anticoagulation groups (1.2 percent vs. 0.9 percent). However, rates for blood transfusion, pulmonary embolism, intracranial hemorrhage and vena cava filter placement were higher among patients treated with CDT. Patients in the CDT group also had longer average lengths of stay (7.2 vs. 5 days) and higher hospital charges ($85,094 vs. $28,164) compared with the anticoagulation group.

“Since our results are based on observational data, our findings could be subject to residual confounding, which further highlights the need for randomized trial evidence to evaluate the magnitude of the effect of CDT on outcomes such as mortality, PTS and recurrence of DVT. In the absence of such data, it may be reasonable to restrict this form of therapy to those patients who have a low bleeding risk and a high risk for PTS, such as patients with iliofemoral DVT.”

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JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 21, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.3415.

Authors made conflict of interest disclosures. This research was funded by the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Temple University Hospital. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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Young women with a heart attack continue to fare worse than men

WASHINGTON (July 21, 2014) — While awareness campaigns may be getting women to go to the hospital more quickly during a heart-attack, a new look at hospital data shows women have longer hospital stays and are more likely than men to die in the hospital after a heart attack.

In the study published online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers from Yale School of Medicine analyzed 230,684 hospitalizations for heart attack in patients age 30 to 54 from a total of 1.1 million hospitalizations reported in a national database from 2001 to 2010.

The study found that heart attack hospitalization rates for patients under age 55 have not declined as quickly as they have for Medicare-age patients, which have seen a 20 percent drop.

“This trend suggests we need to raise awareness of the importance of controlling cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking in younger patients,” said lead author Aakriti Gupta, MD.

All patient groups in the study saw increases in coexisting medical conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes. Men were more likely to have high cholesterol while women, especially black women, were more likely to also have hypertension, diabetes and heart failure.

The authors concluded that younger women may benefit from more aggressive control of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, including early identification and treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, and diabetes.

“Younger women are a vulnerable yet understudied group with worse cardiac risk profiles and worse outcomes after a heart attack as compared with younger men,” Gupta said.

 

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The American College of Cardiology is a 47,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health.

The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit cardiosource.org/ACC.

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What your hand gestures say about you

New research from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) shows that what you do with your hands when you talk secretly reveals a lot about your intelligence and ability to empathise with others. The bigger the hand gestures the more empathetic you are. Crucially hand gestures can also help you get your message across.

A team of researchers led by Professor Sotaro Kita from the University of Warwick, along with Professor Antje Meyer and Dr Mingyuan Chu, both at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, found that empathic people made larger and more gestures that encouraged interaction with the listener. These included ‘conduit’ gestures where the palm of the hand faces upward and moves toward the listener as if to present an idea to them. Another is ‘palm revealing gestures’, often accompanied by a shrug, when the palm is revealed to the listener as if to indicate uncertainty, or having nothing to say by showing an empty hand.

The researchers believe that both types of gestures involve bringing the listener into the conversation. “We think that because empathic people often think about other’s thoughts and feelings, they may care more about whether the other person understands them,” explains Professor Kita.

“This means they may make more of these ‘interactive’ gestures to ensure that the conversation goes smoothly. It may also explain why they make larger gestures, as they believe this will make them more easily understood.”

The participants in the study took a variety of tests, which measured different aspects of their thinking abilities including memory span, and verbal and spatial abilities. They found that people who struggled with visual memory, visualisation, and message planning in speaking made more ‘representational gestures’, where the speaker depicts a concrete or abstract concept with the shape or motion of the hands. According to Professor Kita making hand gestures may actually help the speaker to think straight.

“We think that producing gestures may actually make certain thought processes easier. For example, making actions that depict the idea you are trying to express could actually generate images in your head, helping you to visualise better. So people who are not good at imagining things make more gestures in order to compensate for their own weaknesses.”

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Global Warming ‘Pause’ Since 1998 Reflects Natural Fluctuation

Newswise — Statistical analysis of average global temperatures between 1998 and 2013 shows that the slowdown in global warming during this period is consistent with natural variations in temperature, according to research by McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy.

In a paper published this month in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy concludes that a natural cooling fluctuation during this period largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The new study applies a statistical methodology developed by the McGill researcher in a previous paper, published in April in the journal Climate Dynamics. The earlier study — which used pre-industrial temperature proxies to analyze historical climate patterns — ruled out, with more than 99% certainty, the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth’s climate.

In his new paper, Lovejoy applies the same approach to the 15-year period after 1998, during which globally averaged temperatures remained high by historical standards, but were somewhat below most predictions generated by the complex computer models used by scientists to estimate the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The deceleration in rising temperatures during this 15-year period is sometimes referred to as a “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming, and has raised questions about why the rate of surface warming on Earth has been markedly slower than in previous decades. Since levels of greenhouse gases have continued to rise throughout the period, some skeptics have argued that the recent pattern undercuts the theory that global warming in the industrial era has been caused largely by man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Lovejoy’s new study concludes that there has been a natural cooling fluctuation of about 0.28 to 0.37 degrees Celsius since 1998 — a pattern that is in line with variations that occur historically every 20 to 50 years, according to the analysis. “We find many examples of these variations in pre-industrial temperature reconstructions” based on proxies such as tree rings, ice cores, and lake sediment, Lovejoy says. “Being based on climate records, this approach avoids any biases that might affect the sophisticated computer models that are commonly used for understanding global warming.”

What’s more, the cooling effect observed between 1998 and 2013 “exactly follows a slightly larger pre-pause warming event, from 1992 to 1998,” so that the natural cooling during the “pause” is no more than a return to the longer term natural variability, Lovejoy concludes. “The pause thus has a convincing statistical explanation.”

The methodology developed in Lovejoy’s two recent papers could also be used by researchers to help analyze precipitation trends and regional climate variability and to develop new stochastic methods of climate forecasting, he adds.

———-

“Return periods of global climate fluctuations and the pause”, Shaun Lovejoy, Geophysical Research Letters, published online July 14, 2014.
DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060478


Food Shortage, Climatic Variability, and Epidemic Disease in Preindustrial Europe: The Mortality Peak in the Early 1740s

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Eating probiotics regularly may improve your blood pressure

Eating probiotics regularly may modestly improve your blood pressure, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

Probiotics are live microorganisms (naturally occurring bacteria in the gut) thought to have beneficial effects; common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements.

“The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels,” said Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. “This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”

Analyzing results of nine high-quality studies examining blood pressure and probiotic consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure, researchers found:

  • Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn’t consume probiotics.
  • The positive effects from probiotics on diastolic blood pressure were greatest in people whose blood pressure was equal to or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated.
  • Consuming probiotics for less than eight weeks didn’t lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
  • Probiotic consumption with a daily bacteria volume of 109-10 12 colony-forming units (CFU) may improve blood pressure. Consumption with less than 109 CFU didn’t lower blood pressure. CFU is the amount of bacteria or the dose of probiotics in a product.
  • Probiotics with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single bacteria.

“We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance,” Sun said.

“The studies looking at probiotics and blood pressure tend to be small,” Sun said. “Moreover, two studies had a short duration of three to four weeks of probiotic consumption, which might have affected the overall results of the analysis.

Additional studies are needed before doctors can confidently recommend probiotics for high blood pressure control and prevention, she said.

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Co-authors are Saman Khalesi, M.Sc., Ph.D.; Nicholas Buys, Ph.D.; and Rohan Jayasinghe, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

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Digestive Advantage Daily Probiotics for Kids Supplement, Gummies, 80 Count

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Babies of mothers with anxiety disorders cry more


Arch Dis Child. 2014 Jun 27. pii: archdischild-2013-305562. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-305562. [Epub ahead of print]

Maternal anxiety disorders predict excessive infant crying: a prospective longitudinal study.

Petzoldt J, Wittchen HU, Wittich J, Einsle F, Höfler M, Martini J.

Author information

Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To prospectively examine relations between maternal DSM-IV-TR anxiety and depressive disorders and excessive infant crying.

METHODS:

Based on the prospective longitudinal Maternal Anxiety in Relation to Infant Development Study, n=306 expectant mothers were enrolled during early pregnancy and repeatedly interviewed until 16 months post partum. Lifetime and prospective information on maternal anxiety and depressive disorders was assessed via standardised diagnostic interviews (Composite International Diagnostic Interview for Women). Excessive crying (crying for ≥3 h per day on ≥3 days per week for ≥3 weeks) was assessed via Baby-DIPS. During the first 16 months after delivery, n=286 mother-infant dyads were available and included in the analyses.

RESULTS:

Excessive crying was reported by n=29 mothers (10.1%). Infants of mothers with anxiety disorders prior to pregnancy were at higher risk for excessive crying than infants of mothers without any anxiety disorder prior to pregnancy (OR=2.54, 95% CI 1.11 to 5.78, p=0.027). Risk was even increased when considering additionally incident anxiety disorders until delivery (OR=3.02, 95% CI 1.25 to 7.32, p=0.014) and until 16 months post partum (OR=2.87, 95% CI 1.13 to 7.28, p=0.027). Associations remained stable when adjusting for sociodemographic and perinatal covariates. Maternal depressive disorders prior to pregnancy were not significantly associated with excessive crying in this sample.

IMPLICATIONS:

Maternal lifetime and incident anxiety disorders revealed to be a robust predictor for excessive crying. Thus, early identification and monitoring of women with anxiety disorders is important to identify mother-infant dyads at risk for excessive crying.

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A “fifth taste” after salty, sweet, sour and bitter, called umami, affects weight gain, loss

Umami flavor enhances appetite but also increases satiety 1,2,3

First published June 18, 2014, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.113.080929 Am J Clin Nutr August 2014 vol. 100 no. 2 532-538

Una Masic and
Martin R Yeomans

- Author Affiliations

1From the School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom.

- Author Notes

↵2 Supported by Ajinomoto Co USA as part of a PhD studentship. Ajinomoto Co. had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

↵3 Address reprint requests and correspondence to U Masic, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9QH, United Kingdom. E-mail: u.masic@sussex.ac.uk

Abstract

Background: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been shown to increase satiety when combined with protein. Inosine 5′-monophosphate acts synergistically with MSG when tasted, is present in high-protein sources, and may potentially further enhance satiety.

Objective: We assessed effects of a combination of monosodium glutamate and inosine 5′-monophosphate (MSG/IMP) provided either alone or in a high-energy, high-carbohydrate and -protein soup on appetite during ingestion and postingestive satiety.

Design: Fixed portions (450 g) of a low-energy control and high-energy, high-carbohydrate and -protein soup preload with added monosodium glutamate and inosine 5′-monophosphate (MSG/IMP+) or without added monosodium glutamate and inosine 5′-monophosphate (MSG/IMP−) were consumed on 4 nonconsecutive days, and changes in appetite during soup intake and at a subsequent ad libitum lunch were assessed in 26 low-restraint volunteers by using a within-participant design.

Results: MSG/IMP+ conditions significantly reduced subsequent intake more than the MSG/IMP− condition did irrespective of energy. The high-carbohydrate and -protein condition also reduced intake independently of MSG/IMP. Energy compensation was greater in the MSG/IMP+ carbohydrate and protein conditions than MSG/IMP− condition. The addition of the MSG/IMP+ also increased the soup pleasantness and caused an immediate increase in appetite when the soup was first tasted.

Conclusion: The addition of MSG/IMP to a low-energy preload had a biphasic effect on appetite by stimulating appetite during ingestion and enhancing postingestive satiety. This trial was registered at www.controlled-trials.com/isrctn as ISRCTN14567895.

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Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)

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Language Delay Due More to Nature Than Nurture

Newswise — A study of 473 sets of twins followed since birth found that compared to single-born children, 47 percent of 24-month-old identical twins had language delay compared to 31 percent of non-identical twins. Overall, twins had twice the rate of late language emergence of single-born children. None of the children had disabilities affecting language acquisition.

The results of the study were published in the June 2014 Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

University of Kansas Distinguished Professor Mabel Rice, lead author, said that all of the language traits analyzed in the study—vocabulary, combining words and grammar—were significantly heritable with genes accounting for about 43 percent of the overall twins’ deficit.

The “twinning effect”—a lower level of language performance for twins than single-born children—was expected to be comparable for both kinds of twins, but was greater for identical twins, said Rice, strengthening the case for the heritability of language development.

“This finding disputes hypotheses that attribute delays in early language acquisition of twins to mothers whose attention is reduced due to the demands of caring for two toddlers,” said Rice. “This should reassure busy parents who worry about giving sufficient individual attention to each child.”

However, said Rice, prematurity and birth complications, more common in identical twins, could also affect their higher rates of language delay. A study of pregnancy and birth risks for late talking in twins is currently underway by the study authors.

Further, the study will continue at least until 2017 to continue to follow the twins through preschool and school years up to adolescence to answer the question of whether late-talking twins do catch up to their peers.

“Twin studies provide unique opportunities to study inherited and environmental contributions to language acquisition,” said Rice. “The outcomes inform our understanding of how these influences contribute to language acquisition in single born children, as well.”

Late language emergence means that a child’s language is below age and gender expectations in the number of words they speak and combining two or more words into sentences. In this study 71 percent of two-year-old twins were not combining words compared to 17 percent of single-born children.

While previous behavioral genetics studies of toddlers have largely focused on vocabulary, the researchers introduced an innovative measure of early grammatical ability on the correct use of the past tense and the “to be” and “to do” verbs. The measure was inspired by the Rice/Wexler Test of Early Grammar Impairment, developed by Rice and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Kenneth Wexler in 2001. It was the first test to detect the subtle but common language disorder, Specific Language Impairment.

Rice’s collaborators in the international longitudinal project that began in 2002 are Professors Cate Taylor and Stephen Zubrick from the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Western Australia, and Professor Shelley Smith at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The study population is located in the vicinity of Perth, Western Australia, because it is demographically practically identical to Kansas City and several other U.S. Midwestern states. But in Australia health records are available and the Western Australia Twin Registry is a unique resource for researchers since it is a record of all multiple births, said Rice.

The research group has followed the development of 1000 sets of Western Australian twins from their first words. In 2012, the group was granted $2.8 million by the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for a fourth five-year-cycle that will enable researchers to continue to monitor the twins as they develop through adolescence. In addition to formal language tests, researchers have collected genetic and environmental data as well as assessments with the twins’ siblings.

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Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology)

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Mothers of children with autism benefit from peer-led intervention

Peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression and anxiety in mothers of children with disabilities, according to new findings released today in the journal Pediatrics.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from Vanderbilt University examined two treatment programs in a large number of primary caregivers of a child with a disability. Participants in both groups experienced improvements in mental health, sleep and overall life satisfaction and showed less dysfunctional parent-child interactions.

“The well-being of this population is critically important because, compared to parents of typically developing children, parents of children with developmental disabilities experience substantially higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and as they age, physical and medical problems,” said lead author Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor and director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and professor of Psychology and Human Development, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. “Add to this the high prevalence of developmental disabilities – about one in five children – and the fact that most adult children with intellectual disabilities remain at home with aging parents, we have a looming public health problem on our hands.”

Nearly 250 mothers of children with autism or other disabilities were randomized into one of two programs: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Positive Adult Development (PAD). The MBSR approach is more physical, emphasizing breathing exercises, deep belly breathing, meditation and gentle movement. The PAD approach is more cognitive and uses exercises such as practicing gratitude.

Supervised peer mentors, all mothers of children with disabilities, received four months of training on the intervention curriculum, the role of a mentor and research ethics. The peer mentors led six weeks of group treatments in 1.5-hour weekly sessions with the research participants.

At baseline, 85 percent of participants had significantly elevated stress, 48 percent were clinically depressed and 41 percent had anxiety disorders.

Both the MBSR and PAD treatments led to significant reductions in stress, depression and anxiety and improved sleep and life satisfaction among participants, and mothers in both treatments also showed fewer dysfunctional parent-child interactions. While mothers in the MBSR treatment saw the greatest improvements, participants in both treatments continued to improve during follow-up, and improvements in other areas were sustained up to six months after treatment.

“Our research and findings from other labs indicate that many mothers of children with disabilities have a blunted cortisol response, indicative of chronic stress,” Dykens said.

“Compared to mothers in control groups, this population mounts a poorer antibody response to influenza vaccinations, suggesting a reduced ability to fight both bacterial and viral infections. They also have shorter telomeres, associated with an advanced cellular aging process, and have poorer sleep quality, which can have deleterious health effects. All of this results in parents who are less available to manage their child’s special needs or challenging behaviors.”

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Dykens conducted this research with Vanderbilt’s Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator, and former Vanderbilt Kennedy Center post-doctoral fellows Marisa Fisher, Ph.D. and Nancy Miodrag, Ph.D.

Forthcoming research will examine how fathers fared in the interventions and the health status and medical conditions in mothers. Dykens and colleagues will also look at the differences in civilian versus military parents of children with developmental disabilities.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Grant No. 5RC1AT005612), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant No. P30HDO15052), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Grant No. UL1TR000445) and the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant No. K01MH92598).

Source

Also see:

Study: Mothers raising children with autism prone to depression, stress

10 things not to say of parents of children with autism

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CDC plague symptoms page last reviewed, updated more than two years ago

PLAGUE: SYMPTOMS

Plague symptoms depend on how the patient was exposed to the plague bacteria. Plague can take different clinical forms, but the most common are bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic.

Bubonic plague: Patients develop sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). This form usually results from the bite of an infected flea. The bacteria multiply in the lymph node closest to where the bacteria entered the human body. If the patient is not treated with the appropriate antibiotics, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body.

Septicemic plague: Patients develop fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly bleeding into the skin and other organs. Skin and other tissues may turn black and die, especially on fingers, toes, and the nose. Septicemic plague can occur as the first symptom of plague, or may develop from untreated bubonic plague. This form results from bites of infected fleas or from handling an infected animal.

Pneumonic plague: Patients develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous. Pneumonic plague may develop from inhaling infectious droplets or may develop from untreated bubonic or septicemic plague after the bacteria spread to the lungs. The pneumonia may cause respiratory failure and shock. Pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the disease and is the only form of plague that can be spread from person to person (by infectious droplets).

Plague is a serious illness. If you are experiencing symptoms like those listed here, seek immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment with the correct medications is critical to prevent complications or death.

Contact CDC:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Bacterial Diseases Branch
    Foothills Campus
    Fort Collins, CO 80521
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC–INFO


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Posted in Infectious Disease: Plague, Public Health | Leave a comment