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Health Bulletin


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  1. #601
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    AC classes bring down kids with respiratory problems

    Doctors at a leading hospital in Anna Nagar were befuddled when 12 kindergarten students of a CBSE school in Arumbakkam came to them with severe chest congestion. After asking a battery of questions, they zeroed in on the source of the contagion — the air-conditioner in the classroom.

    Paediatricians in the city say that with a growing number of schools switching to air-conditioned classrooms, there has been a spike in respiratory ailments ranging from colds to serious ear infections in children.

    "If children have a cold and cough, we give basic medication. If the conditions persist, it calls for further investigation. During this process, we discovered that many children with respiratory ailments study in air-conditioned classrooms," said Dr Benny Benjamin, a paediatrician at Fortis Malar hospital.

    He said many of the children had contracted an infection from their classmates, while some developed breathing problems because of an allergic reaction. "The rooms have poor ventilation which results in stale air and infections being circulated," he said. "Children who have sensitive airways and a history of asthma are the most prone to such problems."

    Upper respiratory tract infections symptomised by running nose and minor throat irritation are the most prevalent, followed by lower respiratory tract infection that shows as a wet cough and wheezing, and in later stages as ear infection. In rare instances, doctors have seen cases of pneumonia.

    Soundarya (name changed), 27, a mother of two, has been in and out of ICUs to get her children treated for severe chest congestion. "Later, I found out from the teacher that other children in the class also had respiratory problems," she said. Her three-and-a-half year old son, who studies in a school in Arumbakkam, is a hospital with tubes criss-crossing his limp body. "I can't change schools as we've paid a lakh as donation. In addition to the exorbitant school fees, we have to spend at least Rs 3,000 every month on medication. Teachers should switch off the air-conditoners and open the windows," she said.

    Schools say they face pressure from some parents who want to pay extra for air-conditioned classrooms. "I got letters from parents asking for air-conditioners. We refused," said Binita Sashi, co director of Spring and Zoom Reading and Language Centre for Children.

    Doctors say respiratory ailments are rampant among children between ages one and five, and that putting children in classrooms with poor ventilation will weaken their immune systems.


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  2. #602
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Laparoscopic surgery of hernia more effective, say experts

    Recurrent hernia in patients can be prevented by laparoscopic surgery instead of going for open surgery, suggested experts and noted surgeons during the culmination of the 6th National Conference of Indian Hernia Society- IHSCON 2013. The conference was held at KN Udupa Auditorium by Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), on Sunday.

    According to organising secretary, Dr Mumtaz A Ansari of department of general surgery, IMS, BHU, there are several villages and cities which lack even basic facilities, resources and trained surgeons for hernia operation. According to Dr Vivek Srivastava of department of general surgery, IMS, BHU, the laparoscopic surgery of hernia is a much better technique pertaining to the result and health of the patients.

    "Hernia is one of the most common surgeries performed in India, however, the adverse practices and lack of modern methods and techniques can disturb the health of the patients in the long run. The most common problem associated with hernia is its reoccurrence even after the operation. However, if the surgery is done via laparoscopic technique, it reduces the chances of its recurrence," he said, further adding that it was cosmetically better than open surgery.

    "The initial cut made in laparoscopic surgery is of 1 cm which is much smaller than the 7 cm to 8 cm cut made in open surgery of hernia. At the same time, laparoscopic surgery is followed by only 2 stitches, where as in open surgeries around 8 to 18 stitches are needed," he informed further.

    The experts also added that through modern laparoscopic surgery, patient can get back to their normal routine in less than a day's time without any complications; however, in case of open surgery the patient needs some time to get back to the normal routine life.

    During the two conferences cum workshop, several other methods, techniques and modern practices were communicated to the practicing surgeons and resident doctors from across the country who participated in the workshop. Participants from rural areas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh were also present on the occasion.

    Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Prof MC Mishra said several new techniques of hernia surgery are being developed. These new techniques are reducing the length of the patient's recovery time and the strain of the operation. These techniques need to be popularised among the surgeons and hospitals, he said.

    Meanwhile, several technical sessions and paper presentations, along with rare and interesting cases of hernia surgery were demonstrated on the occasion.

    "The programme aimed intended to update the resident doctors and practicing surgeons with the recent advances in the surgical management of different types of hernia as well as the minimal access procedures for management of hernia and thereby to benefit the patients of this region," said Dr MA Ansari.


  3. #603
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Soft drinks among biggest sources of added sugar in diet: Study

    Added sugar is the prime culprit for global diabetes and obesity epidemic and 43% of added sugars in our diets come from sweetened beverages, which comes as no surprise as one can of soft drink averages eight teaspoons of sugar. This was stated in a recent study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute titled 'Sugar: Consumption at a Crossroads', which said that 90% of doctors across US, Europe and Asia identify excess sugar consumption consumption as the prime culprit for growing health problems such as diabetes and obesity, which cost the global healthcare system billions of dollars every year.

    Recent studies, including the Credit Suisse Research Institute's analysis, show that type II diabetes and obesity are have strong links to full-calorie soft drinks. Research shows that as the sugar is in a solution, it is easily and completely ingested, giving a large injection of calories without the feeling of being full," explained Stefano Natella, head of global equity research at Credit Suisse and a co-author of the study.

    "Added sugar can be found in almost everything edible: we feed it to children, it laces our breakfast cereals and it is a key ingredient of our soft drinks. As consumption has risen over the years, so has the prevalence of type II diabetes and obesity. Nowadays, 4.8 million people die of type II diabetes every year and close to 20% of the global population is obese," stated the study.

    According to the study the world daily average consumption of added sugar per person is 17 teaspoons, when the American Heart Association recommendation is that women eat no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day and men no more than nine. "Although consumption varies considerably from country to country, current intake of added sugars is well above these recommended levels in several developed and developing countries," said Natella

    The US is currently the world's biggest consumer of sugar and caloric sweeteners, consuming an average of 40 teaspoons per person, per day. It also has the world's highest rate of adult obesity (34% of the adult population), is ranked second in childhood obesity (35%) and has a relatively high prevalence of type II diabetes (10%). Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Mexico follow closely behind in sugar intake, consuming between 35 and 38 teaspoons on average per person, per day. At seven teaspoons per day, China consumes the least among the world's largest countries.

    "Although causality is difficult to prove in this area, with such a high percentage of doctors in our proprietary survey confident of this strong link, we cannot ignore the significance and the implications for society and our economy any longer," says Natella.

    Good news is that public perception is beginning to shift, thanks to rising media attention and a growing body of medical research. But the shift varies significantly with geography, income and particularly education, said Natella.

    Food and beverages companies are diversifying into healthier products but many of these alternative products are coming under scrutiny for supplying the sugar in a healthier guise as in fruit juices or for the addition of unhealthy artificial sweeteners, said the study.

    The costs to the global healthcare system are a staggering $470 billion from diabetes alone according to the most recent estimates from the International Diabetes Federation. The report recommends higher taxation on "sugary" food and drinks as the best option among public policy initiatives to reduce sugar intake and help fund the fast-growing healthcare costs associated with diabetes type II and obesity.


  4. #604
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brain has specific radar for snakes: Study

    study on monkeys out on Monday says the brain has specific cells that fire off rapid warnings when confronted with slithery danger.

    Certain neurons respond "selectively" to images of snakes, and they outpace comparable neurons that react to visuals of faces, hands or geometric shapes, the researchers said.

    The report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers new evidence to support the notion that primates evolved keen vision skills so they could survive the threats snakes pose in the jungle.

    "It really strengthens the argument that snakes are very important for the evolution of primates," lead co-author Lynne Isbell, a professor in the anthropology department at the University of California Davis, told AFP.

    "Snakes elicited the strongest, fastest responses," said the study, co-authored by Quan Van Le of the University of Toyama and researchers at the University of Brasilia.

    The research was done using two young macaque monkeys that were born on a national monkey farm in Japan.

    Researchers said they believe the monkeys had no chance to encounter snakes prior to the experiment.

    Scientists surgically implanted micro-electrodes in a part of the brain known as the pulvinar, which is involved in visual attention and the fast processing of threatening images.

    Then they showed the monkeys various colour images on a computer screen, including snakes in various positions, threatening monkey faces, pictures of monkey hands and simple shapes like stars or squares.

    Seeing a snake caused the brain to fire off rapid fear responses that were unparalleled by those observed in reaction to faces, hands or shapes.

    Researchers found that of about 100 neurons that fired off when presented with at least one of the image types, 40 per cent had the largest response to snakes.

    That was the biggest group, followed by almost 29 per cent that were superior at responding to faces.

    While researchers have long known that primates have an uncanny ability to see snakes even in cluttered surroundings, the latest data adds a new answer to the question of why.

    Whether snakes were eating primates, or simply delivering lethal bites, the evolutionary process to boost survival in their midst likely began tens of millions of years ago, said Isbell.

    Previous research has even shown that some primates, such as the Malagasy lemurs of Madagascar where there are no venomous snakes, do not express fear of them they way other apes and monkeys do.

    "Snakes are largely responsible for the origin of primates. Vision is what separates primates from other mammals. A lot of the structures in our brain are devoted to vision," said Isbell, who wrote a book on the topic in 2009 called "The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well."

    "I pulled together indirect evidence," she told AFP. "Here is the first time that somebody has come along and actually tested some of the predictions in the book and I am really gratified that it was supported."

    While the study included only two monkeys, future research could focus on responses to other predators by primates, as well as the potential for learning more about how the human brain responds, Isbell said.

    Susan Mineka, a professor of clinical psychology at Northwestern University and an expert on primates, described the work as "absolutely fascinating" and "really important."

    She said one potential weakness was that the research team seemed unable to say for certain whether the monkeys studied had ever encountered a snake.

    "It is too bad that they didn't also document what these monkeys' behavioural responses to snakes were like," Mineka added.

    "We have known that many species of monkeys either have an innate fear of snakes or pick up a fear of snakes very readily. This provides a probable mechanism. That has been a huge question in the literature."


  5. #605
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    11 new 'risk genes' for Alzheimer's discovered

    In a breakthrough, scientists have identified 11 new risk genes involved in the deadly Alzheimer's disease in a largest of its kind study.

    The highly collaborative effort involved scanning the DNA of over 74,000 volunteers - the largest genetic analysis yet conducted in Alzheimer's research - to discover new genetic risk factors linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of the neurodegenrative disorder.

    By confirming or suggesting new processes that may influence Alzheimer's disease development - such as inflammation and synaptic function - the findings point to possible targets for the development of drugs aimed directly at prevention or delaying disease progression.

    The International Genomic Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) reported its findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

    "Collaboration among researchers is key to discerning the genetic factors contributing to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said Richard J Hodes, director National Institute on Aging (NIA).

    Until 2009, only one gene variant, Apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4), had been identified as a known risk factor. Since then, prior this discovery, the list of known gene risk factors had grown to include other players - PICALM, CLU, CR1, BIN1, MS4A, CD2AP, EPHA1, ABCA7, SORL1 and TREM2.

    IGAP's discovery of 11 new genes strengthens evidence about the involvement of certain pathways in the disease, such as the role of the SORL1 gene in the abnormal accumulation of amyloid protein in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, researchers said.

    It also offers new gene risk factors that may influence several cell functions, to include the ability of microglial cells to respond to inflammation.

    The researchers identified the new genes by analysing previously studied and newly collected DNA data from 74,076 older volunteers with Alzheimer's and those free of the disorder from 15 countries.

    The new genes - HLA-DRB5/HLA0DRB1, PTK2B, SLC24A4-0RING3, DSG2, INPP5D, MEF2C, NME8, ZCWPW1, CELF1, FERMT2 and CASS4 - add to a growing list of gene variants associated with onset and progression of late-onset Alzheimer's.


  6. #606
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Mini-neural computer' in the brain discovered

    Scientists have found that dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, act as mini-neural computers - actively processing information to multiply the brain's computing power.

    Dendrites were thought to be passive wiring in the brain but researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with their colleagues have shown that these dendrites do more than relay information from one neuron to the next.

    "Suddenly, it's as if the processing power of the brain is much greater than we had originally thought," said Spencer Smith, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

    The findings could change the way scientists think about long-standing scientific models of how neural circuitry functions in the brain, while also helping researchers better understand neurological disorders.

    Axons are where neurons conventionally generate electrical spikes, but many of the same molecules that support axonal spikes are also present in the dendrites.

    Previous research using dissected brain tissue had demonstrated that dendrites can use those molecules to generate electrical spikes themselves, but it was unclear whether normal brain activity involved those dendritic spikes. For example, could dendritic spikes be involved in how we see?

    Smith's team found that dendrites effectively act as mini-neural computers, actively processing neuronal input signals themselves.

    Researchers used patch-clamp electrophysiology to attach a microscopic glass pipette electrode, filled with a physiological solution, to a neuronal dendrite in the brain of a mouse. The idea was to directly "listen" in on the electrical signalling process.

    Once the pipette was attached to a dendrite, Smith's team took electrical recordings from individual dendrites within the brains of anaesthetised and awake mice.

    As the mice viewed visual stimuli on a computer screen, the researchers saw an unusual pattern of electrical signals ? bursts of spikes ? in the dendrite.

    Smith's team then found that the dendritic spikes occurred selectively, depending on the visual stimulus, indicating that the dendrites processed information about what the animal was seeing.

    To provide visual evidence of their finding, Smith's team filled neurons with calcium dye, which provided an optical readout of spiking.

    This revealed that dendrites fired spikes while other parts of the neuron did not, meaning that the spikes were the result of local processing within the dendrites.

    "All the data pointed to the same conclusion. The dendrites are not passive integrators of sensory-driven input; they seem to be a computational unit as well," Smith said.

    The findings were published in the journal Nature.


  7. #607
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    World's most powerful MRI scanner developed

    Scientists have developed the world's most powerful MRI scanner - strong enough to lift a 60 metric tonne battle tank.

    The MRI scanner equipped with a superconducting magnet will offer unprecedented images of the human brain when it is fully developed next year, builders claim.

    The imager's superconducting electromagnet is designed to produce a field of 11.75 Teslas, making it the world's most powerful whole-body scanner. Most standard hospital MRIs produce 1.5 or 3 Teslas, IEEE Spectrum reported.

    The previous record for field strength was around 9.4 Teslas.

    The development of the scanner, known as Imaging of Neuro disease Using high-field MR And Contrastophores (INUMAC), has been in progress since 2006 and is expected to cost about USD 270 million.
    Standard hospital scanners have a spatial resolution of about one millimetre, covering about 10,000 neurons, and a time resolution of about a second.

    The INUMAC will be able to image an area of about 0.1 mm, or 1000 neurons, and see changes occurring as fast as one-tenth of a second, according to Pierre Vedrine, director of the project at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, in Paris.

    The wire in the INUMAC magnet is made from niobium-titanium, a common superconductor alloy.

    To reach the required field strength, the electromagnet must be able to carry 1500 amperes at 12 Teslas and be cooled by super-fluid liquid helium to 1.8 kelvins.

    The inner diameter of the magnet will be 90 centimetres, wide enough for a human body.

    The fully assembled magnet will be delivered by September next year, Vedrine said.


  8. #608
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bengal gram reduces diabetes risk, finds study

    Consumption of Bengal gram prior to a meal could lower your risk of diabetes, according to a new study.

    A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) compared the effectiveness of three commonly consumed legumes - Bengal gram, green gram and another variant of chickpea, Kabuli Channa in regulating carbohydrate digestion.

    The study found that Bengal gram showed consistent results in terms of reducing sugar spikes after a starchy meal. Eating about 50 grams of sprouted raw Bengal gram before a meal will rein in blood glucose levels which usually witness a jump due to the rapid absorption of carbohydrates after a meal, the study headed by scientist A K Tiwari, concluded.

    Tiwari said the study was aimed at finding the varieties of sprouts which are most beneficial for improving the health of diabetics. "The benefits of sprouts are well-known. But our study specifically shows how diabetics can prevent sugar spikes to delay the onset or in some cases, even prevent the disease," he said.

    Tiwari highlighted the importance of high amount of protein and presence of digestion-resistant carbohydrate in Bengal gram. "

    A protein-rich diet takes longer to be absorbed by our system. The presence of digestion-resistant carbohydrates further reduces the rate of absorption of carbohydrates into our bloodstream," he said adding that the Bengal Gram should ideally be consumed raw after germination.

    Tiwari conducted similar studies in the past.

    The findings of the latest study were published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bio-Allied Sciences.


  9. #609
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Running in heels may lead to knee problems later

    Ladies, you may not want to run after the bus in high-heeled footwear! Running in high-heeled shoes may cause knee problems later in life, according to a new study. Researchers suggest that regular use of highheeled footwear may contribute to osteoarthritis of the knee joints.

    Yaodong Gu, Yan Zhang and Wenwen Shen of the Faculty of Sports Science, at Ningbo University, in Zhejiang , China, have demonstrated that there are longterm risks for wearers of high-heels who find themselves regularly having to run. The team measured the hip and ankle movements in young women running in different types of footwear.

    They observed an increased motion of range of knee abduction-adduction and hip flexion-extension while the volunteers were running in heels. This, they explain, could induce high loading forces on knee joints. PTI


  10. #610
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Kala-azar bug has become resistant to drug of choice

    High levels of arsenic contamination in food and drinking water is fuelling one of India's worst scourges, Visceral Leishmaniasis or Kala-azar, the second largest parasitic killer in the world after malaria with a 90% fatality rate within two years if left untreated.

    A British study has found arsenic contamination of water supplies to be the main culprit in the development of widespread resistance in the Indian subcontinent to an important drug used to treat Kala-azar. Kala-azar or black fever infects around half a million people across the world every year and close to 1 in 10 of those fatally. One of the main treatments for the disease is a group of drugs known as antimonial preparations.

    However, by the end of the 20th century their effectiveness in treating the disease in Bihar, which has 90% of India's Kala-azar victims, was so low that use of the drugs was no longer recommended.

    Now researchers at the Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen have concluded that arsenic contamination of the water supply may have played a significant role in building resistance to the drugs.

    "The Indian subcontinent is the only region where arsenic contamination of drinking water coexists with widespread resistance to antimonial drugs which are used to treat visceral leishmaniasis," said Professor Alan Fairlamb of the University of Dundee.

    "The water supply in Bihar has been found to be affected by contamination from naturally occurring arsenic in the ground water. What we have been able to show through experiments is that arsenic contamination of water can build resistance in Leishmania parasites to antimonial treatments. This is important as we need to be sure of why resistance to drugs develops. Leishmaniasis is a neglected disease that has a devastating effect across the developing world and there is a desperate need for better drugs to treat it. What we cannot afford is for the existing treatments to be compromised while we search for new ones," professor Fairlamb added.
    India missed the National Health Policy target to eliminate Kala-azar -- the disease transmitted through the bite of a sandfly -- by 2010. The health ministry's new target is to eliminate or reduce the number of Kala-azar cases to 1 per 10,000 by 2015.

    Bihar is now giving incentives to those combating the disease. A patient who comes to take the 28-day treatment daily is given Rs 50 as compensation per day. Also, the health worker who detects an infected person and gets the patient to undergo the whole treatment regimen is given Rs 200 per patient.

    Attendants accompanying the patient are given regular meals. Kala-azar afflicts the poor in 62 countries. The infection causes Visceral leishmaniasis, which attacks the liver and spleen, causing irregular bouts of fever and substantial weight loss.

    In developing countries, where patients generally have poor nutrition and compromised immune function, it is 100% fatal without treatment. The disease has a tendency to re-emerge after every 15 years. Kala azar is endemic in 48 districts in Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and West Bengal. About 65.4 million people are at risk in these four states.


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