Folate, or vitamin b-9, is an essential nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folic acid is often added to bread, flour, cereal, and pasta to help eliminate deficiencies. Now new research shows supplementation is more important than we thought, because once somebody is short on folate, the damage can’t be fixed. The study in the journal PNAS shows that folate deficiency triggers errors in chromosomes that are passed on as the cell divides. Once those changes occur, they’re permanent.
If you’ve ever fibbed to your doctor, you’re not alone. In fact, a study in the journal JAMA Network Open finds that between 60 and 80 percent of people are less than forthcoming to their doctors about things that could affect their health. People apparently want to avoid being judged or lectured by doctors… or sometimes, they’re simply too embarrassed to tell the truth.
Various forms of dementia are increasing… and now scientists have found that a single specific mutation in one gene can cause one of them. “Frontotemporal dementia” accounts for about 20 percent of all early-onset forms of the disease…. which can affect people as young as their 40’s. A study in the journal Translational Psychiatry has tracked down a single mutation as the cause… and researchers say the finding could be important for both treatment and in research on Alzheimer’s disease.
And finally… a new study shows that forcing kids to apologize usually backfires. The study in the journal Merrill-Palmer Quarterly finds that children who receive an insincere apology dislike the apologizing kid even more than they did before. Transgressors feel worse, too… and don’t learn to have empathy for their victim.
American lifespans have declined for the third year in a row… the first time that’s happened since World War I. A report from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Preventions finds that a baby boy born today in the United States can expect to live to 76… while the average baby girl can expect a lifespan of 81 years. Researchers blame opioid overdoses… flu deaths… Alzheimer’s disease and suicides for the decline in the American lifespan.
Some women want to have their children as close together as possible, but a new study shows that it’s wise to wait at least a year to get pregnant again. The study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine finds that waiting a year between the birth of one child and conception of another lowers complications. Women older than 35 have a lower risk of death when they wait … and for mothers under 35, there’s a lower risk for the baby when children aren’t so close together.
And finally… if your desk is a mess, your co-workers probably make negative assumptions about you. A study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences finds that a messy office leads people to think its occupant is more cranky, careless, neurotic and less conscientious than people who have a neater space. Researchers say the finding applies to virtually any personal space.
What’s the safest level of alcohol consumption? A new study concludes there’s no such thing. Research in the journal “The Lancet” builds from the fact that nearly three million deaths a year are attributed to alcohol use… and concludes that zero alcohol consumption minimizes that risk. Therefore, researchers say, it’s a myth that one or two drinks a day are good for you. They want national health officials around the world to take action to get people to drink less… or not at all.
Set your alarm clocks accordingly—researchers have found the ideal amount of hours you should spend sleeping each night. A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress shows that six to eight hours of sleep per night is most beneficial for heart health. More than that or less than that is bad for the heart. Scientists say if you’re having trouble regulating your sleep schedule, try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends, and avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed.
Not every pregnancy is planned… and it turns out knowing you were an accident can strongly impact your relationships with others. A study in the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships” shows knowing your birth was unwanted or unplanned is associated with attachment insecurity. Experts urge parents to be careful when informing a child of their birth status. Knowing you’re an “oops” could have more serious outcomes than you might expect.
If you think your hands are germ-free after you use hand sanitizer…think again. A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine finds that a few kinds of germs are developing resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers…and people who don’t rub their hands with them long enough are helping them along. Researchers say using sanitizer is still a good idea, but you can’t expect sanitizers to make up for sloppy habits.
A new study advises surgeons to stay away from children’s tonsils. The study in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery finds that removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood triples the odds of respiratory infections and allergic diseases later on. Tonsil removal is one of the most common pediatric surgeries performed worldwide, with more than 500,000 done each year on children in the U.S. alone.
A person’s biological age is often different from their chronological age…and the number of pregnancies a woman’s had can be one reason. A study in the journal Scientific Reports shows that during pregnancy, the cells in a woman’s body appear younger. But after pregnancy, that all changes. Later on, each pregnancy a woman has in her life ages her cells by as much as two years.
And finally…your sparkling water may be calorie-free…but it may still sabotage your diet. A study in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice shows that carbonated water such as La Croix dramatically raises blood levels of ghrelin…the hormone that tells your brain that you’re hungry. Apparently, carbon dioxide bubbles are the culprit. Mice who drank carbonated water for a year ate significantly more than those who drank plain tap water…so they gained significantly more weight. A short study on people confirmed that ghrelin levels ended up six times higher in those drinking calorie-free carbonated water.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can cause many physical and mental problems that last a lifetime. Dr. Eva Redei, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, says that most children who grow up with fetal alcohol syndrome usually never live independently because their neurodevelopment was stalled, and if they make it to adulthood they will require help. Babies with the most severe form of FAS are characterized by wide-set eyes, a flattened crease above the upper lip, a low IQ, and other cognitive and behavioral issues. About one percent of children born in the US have a severe form of fetal alcohol syndrome, with two to five percent falling on the fetal alcohol spectrum. But because there is no definitive test, some children are never diagnosed on the spectrum.
Dr. Joanne Rovet of Hospital for Sick Children explains that adults with fetal alcohol syndrome are at risk for mental illness. They also have an increased chance of getting in trouble with the law. About fifty percent of juvenile delinquents had prenatal alcohol exposure.
A study conducted by Dr. Redei on rats indicates that FAS can be treated at birth. Rats were given alcohol and split into two groups, with one group’s babies given a thyroid drug or a diabetic drug like metformin. The other group of babies which wasn’t given medication showed signs of FAS. Both drugs were shown to reduce or reverse the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. Dr. Redei is now working on starting a human trial.
Maggie, parent of son with fetal alcohol syndrome
Dr. Eva Redei, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University
Dr. Joanne Rovet, Senior Scientists, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Senior Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto
Researchers continue to search for a brain booster to combat the cognitive effects of advancing age, and they may have found one in human umbilical cord blood. A study in the journal Nature shows that human cord blood injected into old mice significantly improved the function of their brains. Researchers were then able to isolate the responsible factor in the newborn blood, a protein called timp-2. Timp-2 injected into old mice produced the same effects. Researchers say the findings could lead to new treatments of age-related mental decline.
More women who’ve had cancer are having children, but those kids are more likely to be born prematurely, with a below average birth weight. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that breast cancer treatment produces nearly double the risk for preterm birth later, while cancers such as Hodgkins lymphoma increased the risk by 6%. Doctors don’t know if those children have greater health risks later on in life.
And finally, a study now proves that when people get their pictures taken, most of them say “take my left side. It’s my better side.” And when people view pictures, they perceive the left side of faces to be more expressive. That’s according to a study in the journal Brain and Cognition. Scientists explain that the left side of the face is controlled by the right side of the brain, which is more involved in emotion.
Women who’ve suffered a miscarriage and are trying to get pregnant again might want to think about taking a daily baby aspirin. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism tested women who had lost a previous pregnancy and scored high for inflammation in the body. Researchers found that those who took a daily low dose aspirin were 31 percent more likely to become pregnant than women who took a placebo and 35 percent more likely to carry the baby to term. However, researchers say it’s too early to recommend aspirin to prevent pregnancy loss.
Statistics show that obese girls don’t do as well in school as their thinner counterparts. But a new study in the journal Sociology of Education finds that at least part of the difference may be due to discrimination on the part of their teachers. Researchers say even when they score the same on ability tests, obese white girls receive worse grades than their thinner peers.
And finally here’s one more thing to put on the list of things to never eat—snow. And it doesn’t matter what color the snow is. A study in the journal Environmental Science, Processes and Impacts finds that snow is remarkably efficient at absorbing particulate air pollution that you find in car exhaust. It’s like a sponge. So catching snowflakes with your tongue may not be as pure as we thought.