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Autism study shows lasting benefits of early interaction

  A year-long training program to help parents communicate with their very young autistic children reduced symptoms of the disorder up to six years later, according to a follow-up analysis released Wednesday. Children were less impaired in their ability to communicate, and less likely to show repetitive behavior, one of the telltale signs of the disorder. They did not, however, show improvements in language skills or reduced anxiety, researchers reported in The Lancet, a leading medical journal. Autism is a complex disorder of brain development characterized, to varying degrees, by troubled social interactions, difficulty in communicating and repetitive actions or speech. It affects about one in 100 people. The findings -- praised by outside experts as a "remarkably positive" and a "major contribution" to autism research -- came as something of a surprise because the …

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Spinal muscles in astronauts shrink after months in space — study

WASHINGTON -- Astronauts on long space missions experience a weakening of the muscles supporting the spine, and they don't return to normal even after several weeks back on Earth, US researchers said Tuesday. The study, funded by the US space agency NASA and published in the research journal Spine, provided new insights into the elevated rates of back pain and spinal disc disease associated with prolonged spaceflight. Back pain is common during prolonged missions, with more than half of crew members reporting spinal pain. Astronauts are also at increased risk of spinal disc herniation in the months after returning from spaceflight -- about four times higher than in matched controls. Back issues in astronauts are accompanied by a roughly five-centimeter increase in body height, thought to result from spinal unloading and other body …

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Air pollution may damage blood vessels even in healthy young adults: study

WASHINGTON -- Air pollution may cause blood vessel damage and inflammation, even in healthy young adults, a U. S. study said Tuesday. Air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and related deaths, but it remained unclear how air pollution actually affects the blood vessels to increase the risk of disease. For this study, investigators analyzed the component of air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) -- the tiny pieces of solid or liquid pollution emitted from motor vehicles, factories, power plants, fires, and smoking. Study participants included 72 healthy, nonsmoking, adults in Provo, Utah, where the unique weather and geographical features periodically result in air pollution. During the winters of 2013, 2014, and 2015, these young adults, with an average age of 23, provided blood samples, which researchers then tested for …

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How autism in girls may help reveal the disorder’s secrets

Think autism and an image of an awkward boy typically emerges, but the way autism strikes girls — or doesn't — may help reveal some of the developmental disorder's frustrating secrets. Autism is at least four times more common in boys, but scientists taking a closer look are finding some gender-based surprises: Many girls with autism have social skills that can mask the condition. And some girls do not show symptoms of autism even when they have the same genetic mutations seen in boys with the condition. "Autism may not be the same thing in boys and girls," said Kevin Pelphrey, an autism researcher at George Washington University. The causes of autism aren't known. Genetic mutations are thought to play a role, and outside factors including older parents and premature birth also have …

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Polio worldwide reduced by 99% since 1988 – UN spokesman

UNITED NATIONS -- On World Polio Day, which falls on Oct. 24, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that since the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, polio worldwide has been reduced by 99 percent. "Despite that progress, as long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease," Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here. "There is no cure for polio, but polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life," he said. Over the past 12 months, in addition to polio endemic countries Pakistan and Afghanistan, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) have supported polio campaigns in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Djibouti, Jordan and Lebanon, he said. "Campaigns …

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Air pollution can affect blood pressure: study

Long-term exposure to urban air pollution incrementally increases the risk of high blood pressure, according to a study released Tuesday of more than 41,000 European city-dwellers. Constant noise pollution -- especially traffic -- also boosts the likelihood of hypertension, researchers reported in the European Heart Journal. High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for premature illness and death. The study found that one extra adult per 100 people of roughly the same age developed high blood pressure in the most polluted part of towns compared to more breathable neighbourhoods. The risk is similar to being clinically overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25-30, the researchers said. To carry out the study, 33 experts led by Barbara Hoffmann, a professor at Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf, Germany, monitored 41,071 people in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, …

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Infants should sleep in room with parents for first 6 months to prevent SIDS – report

WASHINGTON -- Infants should sleep in the same room as their parents, but not on the same bed, for at least the first six months of their life to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to a new report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In recommendations that drew on new research and served as the first update to a 2011 policy, the AAP said parents should place babies on their backs and on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet and avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. Optimally, parents should share a bedroom with their newborns until the baby turns one because evidence shows that room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as …

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Natural disaster may up dementia risk for elderly – study

WASHINGTON -- Dementia should be considered a health risk for elderly survivors of natural disasters, a new study led by Harvard University researchers suggested Monday. It found the number of elderly people with symptoms of dementia tripled after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, with those who were uprooted from damaged or destroyed homes and who lost touch with their neighbors at most risk. "In the aftermath of disasters, most people focus on mental health issues like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)," Hiroyuki Hikichi, research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "But our study suggests that cognitive decline is also an important issue. It appears that relocation to a temporary shelter after a disaster may have the unintended effect of separating people …

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Dengue cases up 200%, says Antique health office

SAN JOSE de BUENAVISTA, Antique -- Dengue cases had risen by 200% in Antique, said Information Officer Irene R. Dulduco of the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Antique (IPHO), thus, she appealed to the residents here to be on the alert and diligently do the ABKD (Abakada) program initiated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). In Culasi town alone, she stressed, there were eight cases in 2015 but this 2016, it rose up to 55 cases. The ABKD program, which is the acronym for Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue, is also a three-fold program of the DILG, Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). It was launched in 2011 when dengue cases became so rampant in the country. It should be done vigilantly now, because aside from dengue, …

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Australian teenagers continue to drink alcohol at alarming rate: study

MELBOURNE -- Australian teenagers are continuing to 'binge drink' and regularly consume alcohol at an alarming rate, a new study has found. Australian teenage boys aged between 16 and 19 were consuming 17 standard drinks in a typical six-hour binge. Girls of the same age, while exhibiting less extreme behaviour, were also in dangerous territory, consuming 14 standard drinks in the same period, says the study. The study was undertaken by Melbourne's Monash University with Perth's Curtin University and the University of New South Wales. It says that while the binge drinking rate amongst Australian teenagers has declined, it is still far too high. Of the study's participants, almost half admitted to riding in a car with a drunk driver, 18 percent regretted impulsive behavior while drunk, 11 percent ended up in a hospital's emergency …

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