World Autism Awareness Day 2016: What is autism and what causes the condition?

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There are more than 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – which is more than one in 100. World Autism Awareness Day is marked on 2 April to raise awareness of the condition and its impact on individuals and families. On the day, here are key facts, myths and statistics about the lifelong condition.

Although there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, a better understanding of therapies, support and other interventions are available to help adults, children and their parents.

What is autism?

Autism is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, behaviour and interests. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that while autistic people share certain difficulties, the condition will affect individuals differently. Unless the right support is available or given, autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating impact on individuals and their families. The right support can make a huge difference to the lives of people with autism and those around them.

“Autistic people see, hear and feel the world in a different way from other people,” the National Autistic Society (NAS) states. “If you are autistic, you are autistic for life – autism is not an ‘illness’ and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic as a fundamental aspect of their identity.”

The NAS has recently launched a campaign called Too Much Information, to raise awareness of autism.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “Autism is complex and autistic people and their families don’t expect or want people to be experts. But our research shows that when people recognise that someone is autistic, and understand the difficulties they face, they’re more likely to respond with empathy and understanding.”

What causes autism?

The exact causes are unknown, but research suggests a combination of genetic and environmental factors may be involved. The condition is not caused by a person’s upbringing or their social circumstances.

According to the NHS, most researchers believe a child’s genes inherited from their parents could make them more vulnerable to developing autism. Others believe an individual born with a genetic predisposition to autism only develops the condition if they are then exposed to specific environmental triggers, such as certain epilepsy medications.

A number of things have been linked to autism in the past, including the MMR vaccine. Various major studies worldwide have shown no evidence of a link between autism and the vaccine.

Source: ibtimes


Flesh-eating bug leaves man fighting for life after catching rare disease for second time in 12 months

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A flesh-eating bug has left a man critically-ill after attacking him for the second time.

Lee Murphy is today in hospital fighting off the killer condition a year after it first ravaged his body.

Fiancée Gaynor Chambers, 32, said: “I can’t believe this is happening all over again. It’s our worst nightmare come true.

“Lee is really struggling at the minute and has been in the operating theatre as they try to stop it spreading.

“We are engaged and were going to start trying for a family, now our whole world has fallen apart.”

It has been a nightmare 12 months for the 32-year-old former car salesman, from Stanley, who first contracted the flesh eating bug – necrotising fasciitis – this time last year, reports the Newcastle Chronicle.

Gaynor said: “Lee came in from work saying he had pulled a muscle in his leg. When we looked his right leg was starting to turn red, then it looked bruised.”

Realising there was something seriously wrong, the couple went to the University Hospital of North Durham where medics said the bug was stripping the skin off Lee’s leg, from his thigh to his foot.

Lee then spent five days in a coma before doctors were able to begin a series of skin grafts in a desperate effort to repair the damage.

A staggering 16 operations followed during the next few months.

Gaynor, of Consett, said: “He was just starting to recover well although he was struggling to walk a bit and was due another operation on his foot.

But, on Monday Lee’s worst nightmare started to happen all over again.

“The exact same thing happened,” said Gaynor. “I knew we had to get to hospital as soon as possible.

“They told us the bug had returned, this time on the back of his leg. It’s a complete and utter nightmare; they’ve even had to take some of the original skin grafts off.

Source: Mirror uk


10,000 Women Develop Cancer Because of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder

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The baby powder is usually found in every household, even when there is no baby. Most women use the talc-based powder because it makes the skin younger looking and soft. If you are one of them, you need to stop that. Baby powder, like that one from Johnson and Johnson, is increasing the risk by 33% of women of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The epidemiologist Dr. Daniel Cramer thinks that minimum 10,000 women get ovarian cancer because they use this baby powder every day.

The shocking facts

The studies provided in 1982 have shown a connection between the baby powder and ovarian cancer. Discoveries have shown that women who use talc-based powders are 300 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer. This study hit general media by the New York Times and forced the company Johnson and Johnson to unveil the truth behind their powder.

Read the labels

If you have a baby powder in your house, get it and read the label and the warnings. Johnson and Johnson warn people to avoid the baby powder coming in contact with the eyes and also to avoid inhalation. There is nothing about talc particle’s aptitude to stay on your skin for years and to go to your ovaries. Nor does it say anywhere on the bottle that talc can cause inflammation and also the perfect place to grow cancer cells.

The big company admitted to being aware of this fact as outlined in the 1982 study. The company decided that they didn’t need to warn their customers of those dangerous side effects of the use of their baby powder. The worst thing that you can do is to use that powder on your baby. The American Academy of Pediatric has advised the parents against using the baby powder, especially with talc. This mineral can very easily become airborne and also can be inhaled by infants, and can cause the mucous membranes to dry up.

This affects the breathing and also can lead to wheezing in babies. Some cases of pneumonia in infants have been linked to the use of baby powder, but we have never seen that on the warning label.

Source: healthyfoodstar


mHealth solutions: the future of health care

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Through cloud computing, people can have seamless access to shared data, resources and common infrastructure.Over the network, organizations can offer services on demand and carry out tasks that meet changing needs and standards. Electronic applications make it possible to do all this, and more, in the health care setting.

Mobile health, or mHealth, incorporates cloud computing technology and devices such as tablets, mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) for a variety of purposes.But while it can make eHealth applications and medical information available anywhere at anytime, it must also be portable, secure and easy to use.

The range of applications and services supported by mHealth systems include:

  • Mobile telemedicine, used for remote consultations
  • Storing and sharing of patient data
  • Personalized monitoring of vitals, now enhanced through interconnectedness with wearable devices
  • Location-based medical services to ensure delivery of locally-relevant information
  • Emergency response and management
  • Pervasive access to health care information
  • But as mobile technology gathers pace, the possibilities may be limited only to our imagination

Advantages and challenges of mobile technology in health care

As governments and individuals experience ever-greater pressure to increase efficiency, mHealth solutions can offer numerous advantages.The mobility of an interconnected, wireless system means that it can be used anywhere, and specifically at the point of care.

Collaboration can reduce the risk of errors: there is less physical paperwork to get lost and a reduced risk of two doctors making different decisions.Point-of-care digital tools can help to safeguard patients and protect professionals against litigation through instant recording of data and potential for verification in real time and in the future.

mHealth can save time and money by enabling instant recording of information and a reduction in the duplication of tasks. It can enable virtual meetings, eliminating the need to move physically to a new location.Pooling of data and resources can lead to closer collaboration and stronger teams. Professional development becomes more feasible due to instant, online delivery of research, training materials and other updates.

The challenges of mHealth solutions include the practicalities of data storage and management, availability and maintenance of the network, as well as compatibility and interoperability.The biggest issue is perhaps security and privacy, raising questions about permission control, data anonymity and confidentiality, as well as the integrity of the infrastructure.The initial financial outlay and training and resistance to change within an organization may pose further challenges.

Source: medicalnews today


E-cigarettes impair immune responses more than tobacco

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As evidence emerges that e-cigarettes are not as safe as advertisers claim, a new study shows that flavorings classed as “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the US Food and Drug Administration are best avoided in smoking. The findings are presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Cigarettes kill more than 480,000 people annually in the US. Since e-cigarettes appeared on the scene, many assume them to be a safer alternative, because smokers are not inhaling known carcinogens.

But as researchers analyze the contents of e-cigarettes, they are finding that some of them could be as risky as tobacco.

Ilona Jaspers, PhD, professor of pediatrics and director of the curriculum in toxicology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine has been researching new and emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Having already found that cigarette smoking significantly impairs the immune responses of mucosal cells in the respiratory system, Jaspers’ lab is now looking at how e-cigarette chemicals affect immune responses in smokers’ airways.

E-cigarette flavorings not ‘recognized as safe’ for inhalation

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may class e-cigarette flavorings “Generally Recognized as Safe,” Jaspers points out that this classification means they are safe for oral consumption.

But people do not consume e-cigarette flavorings orally, they inhale them. And the potential for toxic effects of inhalation have not been assessed, in most cases.

Researchers studied the effects on smokers of cinnamon-flavored e-liquids and cinnamaldehyde, the chemical that gives cinnamon flavor to an e-cigarette.

Results showed that the cinnamaldehyde e-liquids had a significant negative impact on epithelial cells that could set off a chain of cellular mechanisms potentially leading to impaired immune responses in the lung.

Jaspers elaborates: “The chemicals compromise the immune function of key respiratory immune cells, such as macrophages, natural killer cells and neutrophils.”

Source: medical news today


Planning for a C-section by choice? Know the risks!

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More and more women are going for a caesarian birth nowadays. In some cases, C-sections are planned because of medical various reasons. However, there are cases where many women unnecessarily go under the knife to deliver their bundles of joy just to avoid the labour pain.

While C-sections are required to safe the life of a mother and baby, they carry more risks compared with a vaginal birth. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) says that they shouldn’t be performed unless they’re medically necessary.

The main risks of having a C-section include:

For the mother

Infection: Although you’ll be given antibiotic to reduce your risk, it is said that about 8% of women still go on to get an infection after a caesarean birth, such as infection in the wound, lining of the uterus and urinary tract infection (UTI).

Pain: Pain in the would and discomfort in the belly for at least a few weeks after the surgery.

Blood clot: While any surgery raises your chances of developing a blood clot, the risk is greater after a C-section than after a vaginal delivery. If a blood clot gets in to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), it can even be life-threatening.

Anaesthetic: After the operation, many women experience complications related to medication, latex, or anesthesia. Adverse reactions to these items can range from very mild like headache to severe like death from anaphylactic shock

Pregnancy: Some C-section complications like such as uterine rupture make it impossible for a woman to have another baby.

For the baby

Breathing problems: Babied born by C-section are more likely to have breathing problems at birth and even during childhood, such as asthma. They may also be at greater risk for stillbirth.

Surgical injury: Although rare, sometimes baby may get a little cut from the doctor’s scalpel.

 

Source: zee news


Air pollution linked to facial liver spots

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Traffic-related air pollution and gases associated with air pollution may lead to the formation of dark spots on the skin, known as lentigines, or “liver spots,” says research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Lentigines are small, darkened areas of the skin that tend to appear on the face, forearms, hands and upper body. They may start small but can grow bigger, and smaller patches can merge. They are normally brown but can range from yellow-tan to black.

They affect light-skinned people, in particular. In the US, 90% of white people older than 60 years and 20% of those younger than 35 years develop them as a result of sun exposure.

Lentigines contain a higher number of the melanin-forming skins cells (melanocytes) than the surrounding skin. They are generally benign, although some may be pre-cancerous.

Both nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and soot, or particulate matter, are found in higher concentrations in traffic-related air pollution.

Dr. Jean Krutmann, of the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, had already found that skin is affected by air pollution, including a link between traffic-related soot exposure and the prevalence of lentigines.

Exposure to NO2 has been associated with decreased lung function and lung cancer, but the effect of NO2 on human skin has been unclear.

Lentigines develop on faces of women exposed to NO2

Dr. Krutmann led a large-scale study of women from Germany and China to investigate a possible link between air pollution and lentigines.

The German group comprised 806 white women with an average age of 73.5 years, ranging from 67-80 years. They spent 2.6 hours a day in the sun, on average, and 61% of them used cosmetics with sun protection. Twenty percent of them had a history of smoking,

The Chinese group included 743 Han Chinese women from the Taizhou region in China, with an average age of 59, ranging from 28-70 years. They spent an average of 3.5 hours a day in the sun, but only 4.2% of this group used cosmetics with a sunscreen. Again, 20% of the women had a history of smoking.

The German group were exposed to NO2 at an average level of 28.8 µg/m3, and the Chinese women were exposed to 24.1 µg/m3.

Photo reference scales were used to evaluate the spots and a validated skin aging score system (SCINEXA) was used to quantify them.

Higher levels of NO2 were not linked to the formation of lentigines on the back of the hands or forearms, but they did seem to increase the likelihood of patches on the cheeks of both German and Chinese women aged over 50 years, particularly the cheeks of Asian women.

Overall, an increase of 10 µg/m3 in NO2 concentration was associated with approximately 25% more dark spots.

When the researchers performed analyses to identify whether the main cause of the spots was the concentration of particulate matter or NO2 gas, they found that NO2 had a slightly stronger effect.

Protecting the skin against air pollution

But the more interesting aspect, he added, is the idea of developing the equivalent of ultraviolet (UV) filters to protect against pollution.

Dr. Krutmann explained to MNT that particulate matter contains carbon particles, which are covered on the surface by what we call polyaromatic hydrocarbons. These polyaromatic hydrocarbons, he said, are lipophilic, which means they can dissolve in oil. This enables them to penetrate through the outer layer of the skin to reach viable skin cells.

The hydrocarbons can activate these cells, he continued, through the function of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) causing oxidative stress. Therefore, products containing specific antioxidants may offer some protection against the pollution and the skin damage.

However, Dr. Krautmann told us that a more “upstream” solution of blocking the receptor would be more efficient.

He added that they have already developed an antagonist for this receptor, which is a cosmetic ingredient that can be put into creams to provide protection against pollution.

Source: medical news today


Middle-Age Heart Fitness Tied to Later Brain Health

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Poorer heart health in middle age was tied to worse outcomes for the brain 20 years later, an observational study of Framingham Offspring participants has shown.
Poor cardiovascular (CV) fitness and greater diastolic blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) response to exercise were associated with a smaller total cerebral brain volume (TCBV) almost 2 decades later (all P<0.05), Nicole L. Spartano, PhD, from the the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at Boston University, and colleagues reported online in Neurology.

The study also showed that each standard deviation in less fitness was equivalent to approximately 1 additional year of brain aging in those free of heart disease, they reported.

“Our investigation provides new evidence that lower CV fitness and elevated exercise BP and HR responses in early to midlife are associated with smaller brain volumes nearly 2 decades later, thereby linking fitness over the life course to brain health in later life,” wrote the investigators. “Promotion of midlife CV fitness may be an important step towards ensuring healthy brain aging in the population, especially in prehypertensive or hypertensive individuals.”

The study looked at men and women who were offspring (n=3,548) and spouses (n=1,576) of the original Framingham Heart Study cohort. Participants in the Framingham Offspring Study have had regular clinical examinations approximately every 4 years.
Between 1979 and 1983, at the baseline examination, Framingham Offspring participants with an average age of 40 years had an exercise treadmill test. Twenty years later (1998–2001), at the follow-up examination, participants — now an average age of 58 years old — had an abbreviated treadmill test as well as MRI brain scans.
Spartano and colleagues conducted two analyses. The primary analysis looked at 1,094 Framingham Offspring participants free from dementia and cardiovascular disease at baseline. More than half were female.

The secondary analysis included 1,583 Framingham Offspring participants who had cardiovascular disease or who were taking beta blockers after the baseline exam.
In the baseline exam, 89% of participants overall were able to achieve their target HR (85% of predicted HR maximum or VO2 max), with an estimated exercise capacity equivalent to 39 mL/kg/min.

Over the 19-year follow-up period, the prevalence of hypertension rose from 9% to 28%, and 60% of participants overall had either prehypertensive or hypertensive blood pressure, the study showed.

Previous studies have provided evidence of an association between exaggerated exercise BP and target organ damage or cardiovascular events, noted Spartano and colleagues.

“Individuals with exaggerated BP response to low levels of exercise may have vascular dysfunction that may not be discernible with examination of resting BP,” they wrote. “There is also growing evidence that ambulatory BP is more strongly associated with functional and structural brain impairments than resting BP measured in a clinical setting.”

They also pointed out that drug treatment of hypertension in older age has failed to show prevention of brain volume loss, but there is evidence that treatment of BP in midlife may prevent cognitive decline in later life.

While subtle structural brain changes may precede detectable cognitive impairment by up to a decade, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) study observed that physical fitness in early adulthood (mean age 25 years) was associated with cognition in later life (mean age 49 years).

“We are unable to account for the differences between our results and the results from the CARDIA study,” Spartano and colleagues wrote, adding that the effects of lower CV fitness may be more discernible in early adulthood.

“Our findings warrant confirmation in future investigations,” they said, noting that the cohort consisted mostly of white individuals of European descent, and that brain MRI measures were only available in later life.

“This study adds to the growing evidence that mid-life healthy lifestyle habits have an effect on brain aging decades later,” said Serge Gauthier, MD, of the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging and the Douglas Mental Health Research Institute in Montreal, who was not involved in the study.

“This does not prove that you can prevent dementia simply by doing physical exercise,” Gauthier told MedPage Today. “However, it justifies long-term randomized studies in populations with different levels of risk of cognitive decline with age, possibly combining different modalities such as cognitive training, diet, and social interaction.”

Source: medpagetoday


Can a Mediterranean-Type Diet Prevent Parkinson’s Disease?

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Patients with Parkinson’s disease were less likely to adhere to a Mediterranean-type diet, compared with people without Parkinson’s disease, according to research presented at the 136th Annual Meeting of the American Neurological Association.

The Mediterranean diet—characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil and a low intake of saturated fatty acids—has been linked to a lower risk for other diseases as well. In 2009, Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, lead investigator of the current study, published research demonstrating that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet, along with more frequent physical activity, were independently associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

In the current study, Dr. Scarmeas and a team of investigators led by Roy N. Alcalay, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Movement Disorders Division of the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, also found that poorer adherence to the diet was associated with a younger age of Parkinson’s disease onset.

“The interesting question of whether adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet may reduce one’s risk for Parkinson’s disease is unknown,” Dr. Alcalay told Neurology Reviews. “There are many ongoing studies that approach populations at risk for Parkinson’s disease. Considering whether Mediterranean diet adherence reduces their risk for Parkinson’s disease can be very helpful.”

Comparing Patients and Healthy Controls
Dr. Alcalay and colleagues recruited 257 patients (115 women) with Parkinson’s disease and 198 healthy controls (96 women) from three Columbia University and community-based study populations for their case–control study. “Parkinson’s disease participants were younger (68 vs 72) and more educated (14 years vs 12 years) than controls,” the researchers noted.
All participants completed the Willett semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. A Mediterranean-type diet adherence score was calculated using a 9-point scale, with higher scores representing stricter adherence to the diet.

“The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and cereal; a high intake of unsaturated fatty acids (mostly in the form of olive oil) compared with saturated fatty acids; a moderately high intake of fish; a low-to-moderate intake of dairy products, meat, and poultry; and a regular but moderate amount of ethanol, primarily in the form of wine and generally consumed during meals,” Dr. Alcalay noted. Total daily caloric intake for patients with Parkinson’s disease was slightly higher than for controls, and patients’ mean Mediterranean diet score was lower (4.3 vs 4.7).

Source: neurology reviews


Eating soy may protect against reproductive effects of BPA

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Eating soy foods may help protect against reproductive effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in many plastic consumer products and lining the inside of some canned foods, according to a study of women undergoing fertility treatments.

“The results were actually exactly what we were expecting to find,” said lead author Dr. Jorge E. Chavarro of the Harvard School of Public Health-Nutrition in Boston.

BPA is known to mimic estrogen in the body, and therefore it’s believed to disrupt conception and implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb, the researchers write in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Experiments in rodents suggest that soy, which also interacts with estrogen receptors, could offset or mitigate those effects of BPA, they add.

“We wanted to follow-up on the results of two experimental models in rodents where two independent groups had found that some adverse reproductive effects of BPA could be prevented by placing the mice on a soy based diet,” Chavarro told Reuters Health by email. “We wanted to see whether a similar interaction occurred in humans.”

The researchers studied 239 women who underwent in vitro fertilization cycles between 2007 and 2012. The women completed dietary questionnaires and provided urine samples before egg retrieval for each fertility cycle.

The questionnaire included assessment of the women’s intake of 15 soy-based foods, including tofu, soy burgers, miso soup, soy protein and soy bars. Consumption of these items ranged from never or less than once per month to twice daily.

Almost three quarters of the women said they consumed at least some soy foods.

Most women underwent one IVF cycle, 18 percent underwent two cycles and 11 percent underwent three cycles.

As urinary BPA levels increased, the women who did not eat soy foods had lower rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy and live birth. But for women who did eat soy, increasing BPA levels were not tied to fertility outcomes.

“We still need to evaluate whether the same is also true for couples trying to get pregnant without medical help or whether risks extend to the health of children,” Chavarro said.

In one of the previous mice studies, BPA was able to switch on and off certain genes and soy prevented BPA from doing so, Chavarro said.

“We cannot be certain whether this is the same mechanism operating in our case or whether other mechanisms yet to be identified could also be at play,” he said.

BPA is safe in the current levels occurring in foods, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Based on nationally representative surveys we know that more than 90 percent of Americans are exposed at varying levels,” but exposure to BPA can be minimized by switching from consuming canned foods to their fresh or frozen counterparts, replacing hard polycarbonate plastic food containers with glass or metal containers, and not handling thermal receipts such as those used in supermarkets, ATMs and gas stations, Chavarro said.

It is important to confirm these findings, since this is the first time that an interaction between BPA and diet has been reported in humans, he said.

But soy on its own, regardless of whether or not it interacts with diet, appears to be beneficial to women who are trying to become pregnant, he said.

Source: fox news