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Paper Books Beat Tablets for Parent-Child Interactions, Study Finds

MONDAY, Sept. 30, 2019 — Parents seeking quality reading time with their toddlers would do well to choose an old-fashioned book over a newfangled e-reader, a new study argues.

Parents and kids appear to have a better shared experience when they’re reading a book together than when they read with a tablet, researchers report.

Parent and child tended to tussle over the tablet, explained lead researcher Dr. Tiffany Munzer, a fellow in developmental behavior pediatrics at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“In this study, print books were great for promoting an environment that was rich with reciprocity, but the tablet appeared to create some conflict between parents and toddlers who were both trying to control the tablet,” Munzer said.

This study isn’t the first by Munzer to raise questions regarding the value of e-books when reading to young children. Another study published in Pediatrics last March looked at verbal interactions when parent and child shared an e-book.

In that study, parents and toddlers talked more when reading print books, and were more likely to hold the book or turn pages together. Toddlers presented with an e-book became focused on tapping or swiping the screen and didn’t pay as much attention to either the story being told or the parent reading to them.

Munzer’s latest study focused on nonverbal signs of “social reciprocity” — the back-and-forth exchanges that happen between parents and children when they’re sharing a task.

This act of sharing “creates moments of joy, and is the foundation for child development. It is how children learn new words, gain emotional competence, and builds on their problem-solving abilities,” Munzer said. “Social reciprocity is how relationships are nurtured and is important for our future generation’s development and achievement.”

In the latest study, Munzer and her University of Michigan colleagues observed 37 parent-toddler pairs reading together in a laboratory using three different book formats — print, basic e-readers and enhanced e-books on tablets.

The enhanced e-readers contained extra elements like sound effects and animation. The basic e-books allowed for swiping to turn the pages and tapping illustrations to elicit the appearance of words, but there was no auto-narration or sound effects.

The three books were all from Mercer Mayer’s “Little Critter” series, and were similar in length and reading difficulty.

The researchers found differences in nonverbal communication from both parents and children when engaging with a tablet, Munzer said.

“Children used the tablet books in a more solitary or independent fashion, which prevented parents from easily viewing or accessing the book and made it harder for parents to communicate with their children,” Munzer said.

Both the toddlers and their parents also tried to exert control over the experience when reading with a tablet. Rather than working together, they would push each other’s hand away or move the tablet away from each other. Toddlers might even try grabbing the tablet.

“These behaviors may interfere with the back-and-forth engagement between parents and children,” Munzer said.

The findings were published Sept. 30 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Pediatricians often stress the beneficial aspects of reading with your toddler, including better language development and more positive social interactions, said Dr. David Fagan, vice chair of pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

These findings show that “in the 21st century we as pediatricians need to think about technology as it pertains to reading,” Fagan said. “We can’t assume that reading with your child equates to sharing a book.

“It seems that tablets are perceived by children as solitary devices to be controlled by them, and their use in shared reading may promote negative interactions,” Fagan continued. “So, the message to parents about reading needs to emphasize using traditional books, and if parents choose to read on a tablet with their child they need to be aware of the behaviors described in this study.”

Dr. Michael Grosso, chief medical officer and chair of pediatrics for Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y., said “more studies of this kind are clearly warranted.”

Grosso was reminded of a science fiction story by Isaac Asimov while reading this study.

“The author described an advanced technology that involved a user interface that allowed one to modulate the flow of information from the device using nothing other than one’s eyes and mind control,” Grosso said. “The author was describing, of course, a book. Books — and parents reading to children — are as valuable for children now as they ever were.”

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about reading to your toddler.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Age Often Dampens Narcissists’ Self-Love, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 18, 2019 — Narcissism is not a good look at any age, but new research suggests it fades as people enter their 40s.

However, the degree of decline in narcissism varies between individuals and can be related to their career and relationships, the researchers added.

Overall, the “findings should bring comfort to those who are concerned that young people are problematically narcissistic,” said study co-leader Brent Roberts, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois. “With time, it seems most people turn away from their earlier narcissistic tendencies.”

Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by the belief that you’re smarter, better-looking, more successful and more deserving than others.

The study included 237 participants whose levels of narcissism — specifically vanity, belief in their leadership skills and sense of entitlement — were assessed at age 18 when they were freshmen at the University of California, Berkeley, and again at age 41.

Most of the participants showed a decline in narcissism as they aged. Only 3% had an increase and a few had the same level of narcissism at ages 18 and 41, the findings showed.

The researchers also found that each aspect of narcissism examined in the study had particular impacts on the participants’ lives.

For example, those who had higher levels of vanity at age 18 were more likely to have unstable relationships and marriages, and more likely to be divorced by middle age. However, they reported better health at age 41.

Those who felt the most entitled as young adults reported more negative life events and tended to have lower well-being and life satisfaction at age 41.

The researchers thought that the leadership aspect of narcissism would increase with age, but found that wasn’t the case.

“We know from past research that another component of personality, assertiveness, tends to increase during this time of life,” Roberts said in a university news release.

“So, I thought it was reasonable to hypothesize a similar increase in the leadership facet. This either means the past research is wrong, or our read of the leadership component of narcissism is wrong — it may actually be more negative than we thought. We have to figure this out in future research,” Roberts said.

Another finding was that vanity appeared most strongly associated with life events. For example, vanity declined more in those who had serious romantic relationships and those with children, but it declined significantly less in those who’d had more negative life events.

According to study co-leader Emily Grijalva, the investigators “also found that narcissistic young adults were more likely to end up in supervisory jobs 23 years later, suggesting that selfish, arrogant individuals are rewarded with more powerful organizational roles.” Grijalva is an organizational behavior professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

And “individuals who supervised others decreased less in narcissism from young adulthood to middle age — meaning that supervisory roles helped maintain prior levels of narcissism,” she added.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on narcissism.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Fitter Bodies Make for Healthier Brains, Study Finds

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — If you’re looking for incentives to hit the gym, new research suggests that staying in good shape may help preserve brain structure, boost memory, and improve the ability to think clearly and quickly.

The finding follows an analysis of fitness and brain health among more than 1,200 young adults, average age 30. All underwent brain scans; tests to measure memory, sharpness, judgment and reasoning; and a speed-walking trial to assess cardiovascular fitness. (Muscle strength was not assessed.)

The investigators found that study participants who moved faster and farther over the two-minute walking test performed better on thinking tests than their less-fit peers. Fitter men and women were also found to have healthier nerve fibers across the white matter portion of the brain. White matter is critical for high-quality neural communication, the researchers noted.

Study lead author Dr. Jonathan Repple offered several theories as to what might explain a strong body/strong brain connection.

For one, “exercise decreases inflammation, which then, in turn, is beneficial for brain cells,” said Repple, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist with the University of Muenster, in Germany.

Being fit may also promote better nerve-fiber insulation, and greater growth across nerve cells and nerve connections, he explained.

It may also be that fitter men and women simply have a “better blood supply to the brain,” Repple added.

Dr. David Knopman, a professor of neurology with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., seconded that thought.

“It is my opinion that these results reflect a pattern of general improved vascular health in individuals who are more physically fit,” said Knopman. He is a fellow with the American Academy of Neurology and was not part of the study team.

But Knopman said that it is also likely “that physical fitness is a characteristic of people who are more health conscious and practice better health behaviors.” In that case, a constellation of healthy behaviors ultimately might come together to foster better brain health and structure.

For couch potatoes, could a link between body and brain health mean that getting just a bit fitter might be a win-win?

Continued

Study volunteers ranged from 20 to 59. Repple said the findings held up even after accounting for factors such as age, gender, high blood pressure, diabetes and body mass index (a standard measurement of obesity).

However, he said, because the study merely observed each individual’s current status, he cannot say for sure that the newly fit will actually enjoy improved brain health (“cognition”).

But Repple did note that the fitness-brain health connection seemed to be on a sliding scale, meaning that “if you get 10 ‘units’ better on the walking test, you improve three ‘units’ on the cognitive tests.”

Also, “a lot of other studies showed that, independent of age, it is always beneficial to start exercising,” Repple said.

Knopman offered a cautious take on the study’s implications: cardiovascular fitness while relatively young “probably has beneficial consequences in mid-life and later life.” And that likely means that “the earlier one begins to practice good vascular health behaviors, the greater the benefits will be,” he said.

“The sooner the better,” Knopman added.

Repple presented the findings Monday at a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, in Copenhagen. The report was simultaneously published online Sept. 9 in Scientific Reports.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Jonathan Repple, M.D., psychiatrist and neuroscientist, department of psychiatry, University of Muenster, Germany; David Knopman, M.D., behavioral neurologist and professor, neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and fellow, American Academy of Neurology; European College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting, Copenhagen, Sept. 9, 2019; Sept. 9, 2019,Scientific Reports, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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‘First Responders’ on 9/11 Face Lingering Heart Woes, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Sept. 6, 2019 — The firefighters who flooded into Ground Zero on 9/11 put their lives on the line to help others. Now, a new study shows they are still paying the price for their selflessness.

Those who were first on the scene or worked for months among the ruins of the World Trade Center disaster in 2001 have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack that persists to this day, researchers report.

Their exposure to the airborne dust and fine particles created by the collapse of New York City’s Twin Towers is wreaking long-term havoc on the health of their blood vessels and heart, experts said.

Firefighters first on the scene have a 44% increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, sudden heart death, cardiac surgery or other life-threatening heart problems, when compared against those who arrived later in the day, researchers found.

Further, those who worked at Ground Zero for six months or more have a 30% higher risk of a heart health emergency than those who worked fewer months on the scene.

The risk from exposure to the World Trade Center disaster was about the same as that associated with chronic high blood pressure, said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president of occupational medicine, epidemiology and prevention for Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y.

“The concern is the dust was pro-inflammatory,” said Moline, who treats World Trade Center survivors. “It makes it more likely for particles and platelets and other substances to aggregate in the coronary arteries, and that can lead to more deposits, more plaque, more build-up, more blockage.”

Prior studies have linked World Trade Center exposure with respiratory problems, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and several types of cancer, researchers said in background notes. However, studies of the site’s effect on heart health up to now have produced inconsistent results.

For this study, researchers led by Rachel Zeig-Owens and Hillel Cohen, from the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, tracked 16 years of health records for nearly 9,800 New York City firefighters who worked at Ground Zero.

They divided the firefighters into four groups:

  • Those first on the scene the morning of 9/11, who are believed to have been exposed to the most dust.
  • Those who arrived that afternoon.
  • Those who arrived the day after the attack.
  • Those who arrived 3 to 14 days following the attack.

These firefighters all were very healthy people who had to undergo regular stress tests, breathing tests and physical examinations as part of their job, said Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Three-fourths of the firefighters had never smoked, and were generally in great physical shape prior to 9/11, researchers said.

“These were all healthy workers at the onset of the study,” McLaughlin said. “They excluded anyone from the study who had prior heart disease.”

The results show that exposure to air pollution from the World Trade Center is a heart risk factor all on its own, after accounting for other risk factors like high cholesterol, smoking, excess weight, elevated blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

“The typical risk factors were present, but the World Trade Center added an additional risk,” Moline said, though the study could not prove that exposure actually caused heart risks to rise.

The greatest heart health problems were faced by those first on the scene, but working a long time at Ground Zero also created an increased risk, researchers found.

“They didn’t have that acute high exposure on that first day, but they had continued lower levels of exposure,” Moline said of people who worked six months or more at the site.

It’s very likely that the heart risk posed by exposure at Ground Zero is even greater than observed in this study, McLaughlin said.

“They may even be underestimating the results of the exposure, because the people they compared to did have some exposure, just less exposure,” McLaughlin said. “The absolute risk of heart disease may even be more if you compared them to a control group that was never exposed.”

Fine particles that are inhaled can make their way into a person’s bloodstream, contributing to inflammation and stiffening of the arteries much in the same way as cigarette smoking, McLaughlin and Moline said. Previous environmental studies have linked particle air pollution to heart health problems.

This study didn’t consider obstructive sleep apnea as a possible risk factor, but that sleep disorder could also contribute to the firefighters’ heart health problems, McLaughlin speculated.

“We know obstructive sleep apnea is considered a World Trade Center condition in those who have chronic sinusitis and snoring,” McLaughlin said. “Sleep apnea is an important risk factor for heart disease as well.”

These results show that people who volunteered at Ground Zero need to pay particular attention to their heart health, Moline said.

In the years to come, it will be crucial that they eat right, exercise, control their blood pressure and cholesterol, and avoid smoking, she said.

“We know you can control all those other risk factors that are still going to be there, so it’s really important for anyone who had World Trade Center exposure that they take care of their heart and achieve good heart health,” Moline said.

The findings were published Sept. 6 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about the heart health effects of particle pollution.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Posting All Those Selfies Online Could Backfire, Study Finds

By Kayla McKiski
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Posting selfies on social media won’t do you any favors in terms of likability.

A small new study finds that many people take a dim view of others who post a lot of selfies on Instagram.

Researchers at Washington State University conducted an experiment to determine which posts lead to snap judgments about the user’s personality.

The upshot: People who posted lots of selfies were uniformly regarded as less likeable, less successful, less adventurous and more insecure than those who share photos taken by somebody else.

Lead author Christopher Barry, a professor of psychology at WSU, said the findings reveal more about perception than personality.

“Our research indicates that selfies are not necessarily a sign of self-absorption, but there is a chance that others may view us that way based on posting many selfies,” he said.

In the study, 119 college students were asked to rate the Instagram profiles of 30 students from another university.

Those who posted a posed photo taken by someone else — also known as a “posie” — were seen as more likeable, more successful, having greater self-esteem and being more outgoing. Viewers also saw them as having greater potential for being a good friend.

The reverse was true for students who had posted more selfies.

“It may be that posies seem more natural or realistic, that selfies have taken on a negative connotation in pop culture, or that people who post posies are viewed as more sociable,” Barry said. “People who post selfies may be judged as not having others around.”

Selfies that focused on physical appearance, like flexing in the mirror, drew particularly negative reactions. And the older the viewer, the more he or she tended to rate profiles negatively.

“To speculate, I would say that it’s probably a general tendency that we have to judge younger people or the next generation relatively negatively,” Barry said.

The study also found that students who were regarded as highly self-absorbed tended to have a bigger presence on the photo-sharing platform. They had more followers and followed more users.

Continued

Instagram has more than 100 million active users in the United States, and about 1,000 selfies are posted there every second.

Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, reviewed the study and explained the obsession.

“We want to feel like we matter, that we are appreciated [and] validated,” she said. “[We want] confirmation that we are attractive, to boost our confidence and self-esteem, to receive praise from others, generate attention … validate an experience.

“Because if the tree fell and no one was there to Instagram it, did it really happen?” Varma said.

Though the personality traits of selfie posters aren’t known, Varma wonders if the phenomenon reflects an era of self-absorption.

“The question becomes, ‘are we as a society more self-absorbed than before?'” she said. “It’s unclear — maybe we always have been but these tools allow us to express it and take it to the next level.”

For those in search of validation, Varma recommends looking offline, too.

“Engaging in hobbies, spending time with your loved ones, pursuing a passion project [and] giving back to your family or community all build self-esteem in a more permanent and less approval-dependent fashion,” she said.

Barry encourages users to be aware of the twofold nature of the online world.

“We should remember that despite our reasons for posting something, other people may perceive our posts in ways that are not intended,” he said. “The audience is an important part of social media.”

The study was published recently in the Journal of Research in Personality.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Christopher Barry, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Washington State University, Pullman; Sudeepta Varma, M.D., clinical assistant professor, psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City,Journal of Research in Personality, August 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Many Parents Would Switch Doctors Over Vaccination Policy, Poll Finds

MONDAY, Aug. 19, 2019 — Forty percent of U.S. parents say they would likely find a new doctor if their child’s primary care provider sees families who refuse childhood vaccines, a nationwide poll finds.

And three in 10 say their child’s primary care provider should not treat youngsters whose parents refuse all vaccines.

Those are key findings of the latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan. The findings, published Aug. 19, are based on responses from 2,032 parents of at least one child aged 18 or younger.

“When a family refuses all childhood vaccines, it puts providers in a challenging position,” poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a university news release announcing the findings.

Not only is an unvaccinated child unprotected against harmful and contagious diseases (such as measles, whooping cough and chickenpox), those who skip vaccines also pose a risk of transmitting diseases to other patients, she pointed out.

“This can be especially risky exposure for vulnerable populations, including infants too young to receive vaccines, elderly patients, patients with weakened immune systems or pregnant women,” Clark added.

But many parents were unaware of their health care provider’s policies, and some were unconcerned.

Thirty-nine percent said their child’s primary care provider requires patients to get all recommended vaccines; 8% said only some vaccines are required; and 15% said their provider has no policy. Almost four in 10 weren’t sure.

But 29% of respondents said they’d be “somewhat likely” to look for another doctor if theirs saw kids whose parents had refused all vaccines. Twelve percent would be “very likely” to switch, the findings showed.

Six percent said their provider doesn’t let unvaccinated kids use the common waiting room; 2% said they are allowed do so if they wear a mask. About one-quarter said their provider had no restrictions.

Many parents favor tighter controls: 17% said unvaccinated kids should be kept out of the waiting room and 27% said any allowed in should have to wear masks. Yet, 28% of parents favored no restrictions.

About 43% said they would want to know if other patients at their child’s primary care practice had received no vaccines, while 33% would not, according to the poll.

Clark said recent measles outbreaks underscore the need for parents and providers to consider policies for unvaccinated children.

“Parents may assume that when they take their child to the doctor, they are in a setting that will not expose their child to diseases,” she said. “Parents may not have considered that there could be another child in the waiting room whose parents have refused all vaccines.”

Clark said providers need to consider whether to adopt policies to prevent exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases and then communicate them to everyone in their practice.

“Any parent — and particularly parents of infants or immunocompromised children — should ask their child’s primary care provider about policies surrounding unvaccinated children,” she advised.

The poll, administered in February to a representative sample of parents, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 to 3 percentage points.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on vaccinations.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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CPR Less Likely for Poor Black Kids Study Finds

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Cardiac arrest is rare in children. But a new study finds that if it does happen, kids are less likely to get life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they’re black and living in a poor neighborhood.

In fact, these kids were much less likely to receive CPR from a bystander than white children living in any type of neighborhood, the research showed.

Children in other racial groups were also less likely to receive bystander CPR than white children, the study authors said.

Although cardiac arrest in children is far less common than in adults, each year about 7,000 children in the United States experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating properly.

Often, bystanders who know CPR techniques can rise to the rescue. Prior studies have tracked bystander CPR rates in adults, but the researchers said they believe this is the first study to focus on how race and class might affect CPR rates among children.

The team from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed data on nearly 7,100 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred in children between 2013 and 2017. Of those, 61% involved infants, 60% were boys, 31% were white kids, 31% were black kids, 10.5% were Hispanic kids and 3% were other races/ethnicities. Ethnicity was unknown in about one-quarter of the cases.

Overall, 48% of the children did receive bystander CPR. However, compared to whites, bystander CPR was 41% less likely for black kids; 22% less likely for Hispanic kids and 6% less likely among other ethnic groups.

And compared to white children, black children in majority black neighborhoods with high unemployment, low education and low median income were nearly half as likely to receive bystander CPR (nearly 60% versus 32%, respectively), the investigators found.

The study was published online July 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The findings suggest there’s a crucial need for CPR training programs in poor, non-white, lower-education neighborhoods, said study lead researcher Dr. Maryam Naim. She is a pediatric cardiac intensive care physician at the hospital.

“As most bystander CPR is provided by family members, lower response rates are likely due to a lack of CPR training and recognition of cardiac arrests,” she said in a journal news release.

Teaching CPR to parents before a newborn is released from the hospital, or during pediatrician visits, would be good opportunities for such training, Naim suggested.

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Sources

SOURCE:Journal of the American Heart Association, news release, July 10, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Ailing Heart Can Speed the Brain’s Decline, Study Finds

MONDAY, June 17, 2019 — The strong link between brain health and heart health is reinforced in a new study. The research showed that as cardiovascular health falters, so too does thinking and memory.

In one of the largest and longest studies of its kind to date, researchers studied a group of nearly 8,000 people in the United Kingdom. The participants were over 49 years of age and their health was tracked from 2002 to 2017.

Everyone in the study had relatively healthy hearts and brains at the beginning of the research. People with a history of stroke, heart attack, angina, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease were excluded.

But over 15 years of follow-up, nearly 6% of the participants did go on to suffer a heart attack or angina (chest pain), according to a team led by Wuxiang Xie, a research fellow at the Imperial College School of Public Health in London.

The researchers found that all of these participants also displayed a faster decline in their mental function, concurrent with the heart trouble.

Patients who suffered from angina had a significant decline in tests of “temporal orientation” — being able to accurately state the current date, day of week and time. Patients who had a heart attack showed a substantial decline in tests of verbal memory (assessed by a word-memory test) and language fluency. They also had the worse cognitive decline overall, the researchers found.

All of that is important, because “even small differences in cognitive function can result in an increased risk of dementia in the long-term,” Xie said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology.

“Because there is no current cure for dementia, early detection and intervention are essential to delay the progression to dementia,” Xie said. “Heart attack and angina patients need careful monitoring in the years following a diagnosis.”

The connection between declines in memory and thinking and heart disease may be as simple as the brain not getting the amount of oxygen that it used to, the researchers theorized. Tiny “microinfarcts” — heart-linked damage to small vessels in the brain — might hamper blood flow and oxygen supply.

Two U.S. experts who reviewed the findings agreed that the heart-brain connection is crucial to health.

“This study further emphasizes that approaching the body holistically is crucial for brain health and to prevent dementia,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi. She is a neurologist specializing in memory disorders at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Brain health is dependent on heart health and health of the entire individual,” Devi added.

Dr. Guy Mintz directs cardiovascular health at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. He called the new study “a wake-up call for physicians to improve the risk factors associated with atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] early in life.”

Mintz pointed out that “patients can live with heart disease, but patients and their families suffer from decline in brain function. Watching someone become mentally lost in life is tragic and, in some cases associated with atherosclerosis, may be preventable.”

Devi stressed that keeping the brain sharp involves fitness of both mind and body.

“It is not enough to do Sudoku or crossword puzzles. It is just as important to take care of the body,” she said. “Proven ways to prevent brain disease, including Alzheimer’s dementia and stroke, are to take better care of one’s heart and body, by exercising, eating and sleeping well, and refraining from smoking.”

The new report was published June 17 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on heart disease and brain health.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: June 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Antibiotics Pollute Rivers Worldwide, Study Finds

By Robert Preidt

       

         HealthDay Reporter        

THURSDAY, June 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Levels of antibiotics in some of the world’s rivers are hundreds of times higher than what’s considered safe, British researchers report.

For the new study, investigators checked rivers in 72 countries on six continents for 14 widely used antibiotics and found them at 65% of monitored sites.

“The results are quite eye-opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds,” said Alistair Boxall, a professor of environmental science at the University of York, in England.

The most common one they found was trimethoprim, which is primarily used to treat urinary tract infections. It was detected at 307 of the 711 sites, according to the researchers.

At one site in Bangladesh, concentration of the antibiotic metronidazole was more than 300 times the safe level. The drug is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections.

In Bangladesh, the maximum total antibiotic concentration was 170 times higher than in the River Thames and one of its tributaries in London, the findings showed.

Ciprofloxacin, which is used to treat a number of bacterial infections, exceeded safe levels at 51 sites, the most in the study.

Unsafe antibiotic levels were most common in Asia and Africa, but sites in Europe, North America and South America also had high levels, showing that antibiotic contamination is a “global problem,” according to the researchers.

Sites where antibiotics exceeded safe levels by the greatest degree were in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria. A site in Austria had Europe’s highest level.

High-risk sites were typically near wastewater treatment systems, waste or sewage dumps, and in some areas of political turmoil, including the Israeli and Palestinian border.

“Many scientists and policy makers now recognize the role of the natural environment in the antimicrobial resistance problem,” Boxall said in a university news release. “Our data show that antibiotic contamination of rivers could be an important contributor.”

He said solving the problem is “a mammoth challenge” that will require new infrastructure for waste and wastewater treatment, tighter regulation and cleanup of contaminated sites.

The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, in Helsinki. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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SOURCE: University of York, news release, May 27, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Video Games Don’t Hamper Boys’ Social Skills, Study Finds

TUESDAY, April 23, 2019 — Does playing a lot of video games really jeopardize a boy’s ability to make and keep friends?

Maybe not, reports a team of Norwegian and American researchers.

Investigators spent six years tracking the gaming habits and social interactions of nearly 900 Norwegian children from ages 6 to 12. They found that as a whole, children who were more adept and comfortable with socializing between ages 8 and 10 were less likely to spend time playing video games by the time they were 10, 11 or 12.

But when looking at boys only, the study found that “time spent gaming did not affect boys’ social skills [and] competence at any time point,” noted study author Beate Hygen. She’s a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

In contrast, the more time a girl spent gaming at age 10, the more social interaction difficulties she experienced by age 12.

“This finding came as a surprise to us,” said Hygen. “We did not expect to find this.”

Hygen offered a few theories as to why gaming might affect girls differently from boys.

“Girls tend to play in smaller groups than do boys,” she noted, “and their relationships are often more intimate.” So it could be that girls who game lose out on social intimacy more than their male peers.

In other words, “time spent gaming may carry less of a developmental ‘cost’ for boys,” Hygen said.

And because boys tend to spend a lot more time gaming than girls, “it could be that gaming is more integrated in boys’ play culture, and thus plays an important part of boys’ socialization,” she added.

Meanwhile, “girls may be less accepting of girls who game a lot,” Hygen noted. On the one hand, this could mean that girls have fewer girl friends to game with, while on the other they might also end up being ostracized when trying to socialize in a non-gaming environment.

But according to Dr. Anne Glowinski, a professor of child psychiatry, “It could also be that girls who have a hard time with social engagement are just more drawn to video games in the first place.”

Glowinski directs the child and adolescent psychiatry education and training program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“Causation is just very, very difficult to prove,” cautioned Glowinski, who was not involved with the study.

“But the different impact that they see with the girls is interesting,” she added, “because we do think, as a generalization, that girls have different kinds of conversations with one another than boys — often with more emotional content and focus on feelings. So it’s possible that engaging in video games does deprive girls of a certain kind of development that goes along with that, which is a loss that perhaps boys wouldn’t experience as much.”

In the study, researchers checked in with the children every two years to assess video gaming routines on tablets, PCs, gaming consoles or phones.

In turn, the team focused on how those gaming habits related to the use of specific “social skills” that kids need to develop to make friends and help them navigate social groups.

Those, said Hygen, include learning how to share, how to cooperate, how to assert oneself, how to express confidence, and how to control one’s emotions and behavior.

The children’s teachers reported on the kids’ overall “competence” on all those measures, while the kids themselves indicated how often they gamed with friends.

But despite observing that gaming may be linked to worse social skills among certain girls and at certain ages, Glowinski said the broader message is that “we can’t quite say that gaming really causes poor social skills.

“I would even say that we should be careful not to idealize the non-gaming world that we assume is a rich environment for social development,” she noted.

“There’s certainly something really unappealing about seeing a kid glued to a TV or a phone or a video game. But it might also be true that some aspects of video games are pretty socially engaging,” Glowinski pointed out.

Hygen and her colleagues report their findings in the April 23 issue of Child Development.

More information

The Center on Media and Child Health offers more about video games and children.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: April 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Longer Grass Won’t Attract Ticks, Study Finds

FRIDAY, April 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — You now have an excuse to skip cutting the grass every weekend — it’s beneficial for the bees.

And mowing your lawn less often to provide native bees a better habitat won’t lead to an increase in disease-carrying ticks, experts say.

When research ecologist Susannah Lerman began urging friends and colleagues to leave lawns a bit longer to help the bees, the “first thing people said was that letting the grass get longer would invite ticks,” she recalled.

“It was clear that before we could make the case for promoting lawns as bee habitat, we had to understand the tick risk,” Lerman added.

She and Vince D’Amico, a fellow USDA Forest Service research entomologist, studied whether less frequent mowing of 16 residential lawns in Springfield, Mass., over two summers could benefit native bees without increasing the risk of ticks.

The researchers found 111 bee species on the lawns — about one-quarter of all known bee species in Massachusetts. They also dragged a cloth across the lawns in search of ticks. In 144 tick drags, done with grass at various heights and mowing frequencies, they failed to find a single blacklegged tick. Also called deer ticks, the insects can carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can make people seriously ill.

The study was published online April 3 in the journal PLoS One.

The researchers said the study has some “obvious limitations” — they looked for only one species of tick and only studied 16 lawns in a single city.

“Still,” Lerman said, “our study has two significant take-aways: you do not necessarily invite ticks if you mow the lawn every other week instead of every week, and common assumptions about nature are always worth investigating; scientists may be surprised by what we find.”

While there’s no doubt that blacklegged ticks lurk in people’s yards, a lawn is probably too dry for them, according to D’Amico.

“This species needs near 100% humidity for at least part of the day,” he explained in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service news release. “Where we have leaf litter, the ticks do very well.”

In the United States, about 40 million acres of lawn managed by homeowners, businesses, government agencies and cemeteries have the potential to become habitat for threatened native bee species.

WebMD News from HealthDay

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SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Northern Research Station, news release, April 3, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Science Finds a Way for Transgender Males to Maintain Fertility

SATURDAY, March 23, 2019 — People transitioning female to male face issues around future fertility. But new research suggests children in the future are a real possibility for these transgender men.

Now, research shows that transgender men can remain fertile after even one year of testosterone treatment.

It’s common for transgender men — those who were born female but who identify as male — to undergo testosterone therapy as a gender-affirming treatment. But some may later want children through their own pregnancy or via surrogate, the Israeli researchers explained.

“Because the long-term effects of testosterone therapy on fertility are unknown, the current recommendation is to stop testosterone at least three months before fertility treatments,” said lead investigator Dr. Yona Greenman. She heads the Transgender Health Center at Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center.

The study included 52 transgender men, aged 17 to 40, who received testosterone therapy over 12 months. They had the expected increase in testosterone blood levels and decrease in estrogen, but their levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) remained in the normal range for fertility.

AMH levels are used to appraise remaining eggs in the ovaries. Average levels in study participants decreased only slightly, suggesting their ovarian function was well-preserved, according to Greenman.

Participants also showed no changes in the thickness of their uterine lining. A thick lining is crucial for embryo implantation and a successful pregnancy.

The findings are to be presented Saturday at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, in New Orleans.

“Our research shows for the first time that after one year of testosterone treatment, ovary function is preserved to a degree that may allow reproduction,” Greenman said in a meeting news release. “This information is important for transgender men and their partners who desire to have their own children.”

She said more study is needed to examine the effects of testosterone on other benchmarks of fertility, including the quality of eggs and embryos fertilized in vitro.

“These results are a further step toward providing transgender people basic rights such as reproduction,” Greenman added.

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on transgender health.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: March 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

ADHD Meds Safe With Epilepsy, Study Finds

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often occurs in people with epilepsy. Now, new research provides reassurance that taking ADHD medications won’t raise their risk of seizures.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from thousands of epilepsy patients in Sweden. Taking ADHD medications such as Ritalin (methylphenidate), was associated with a 27 percent reduction in seizures, compared with not taking the medications, the investigators found.

“When you compare risk between individuals, there’s a lot of factors that might explain associations that have nothing to do with the medication itself,” said study author Kelsey Wiggs, a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, in Bloomington.

The study was published online recently in the journal Epilepsia.

“It’s a good feature of this study that we were able to compare the same individual on and off the medication — we could rule out a lot of other confounders,” Wiggs said in a journal news release.

Another expert said the results are reassuring.

“This study provides another piece of evidence that medications for kids with ADHD do not increase the risk for seizures,” said Kimford Meador, a professor of neurology and neurosciences at Stanford University.

“I think that physicians should feel safe prescribing these medications within standard doses,” said Meador, who was not involved in the study.

Another expert, Torbjorn Tomson, a professor of neurology and epileptology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, pointed out in the news release that people with epilepsy are often denied effective treatment for their psychiatric conditions out of fear the medications might negatively affect seizure control.

A study published last year in the journal Neurology found no evidence that taking ADHD medication increased seizure risk in people with and without epilepsy. The findings were based on data from more than 800,000 people in the United States.

Approximately 9 percent of children aged 2 to 17 have had an ADHD diagnosis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And ADHD is more common in people with epilepsy than in the general population. Among epilepsy patients, as many as half of children and 20 percent of adults have been diagnosed with ADHD, the researchers noted.

WebMD News from HealthDay

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SOURCE:Epilepsia, news release, March 11, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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ADHD Meds Safe With Epilepsy, Study Finds