New Dads Can Also Become Depressed After Pregnancy

man with a baby

Study finds that new dads can also suffer from depression.

Post-partum depression can be a common condition in many mothers, which they rely on the support from their partner to overcome it. However, a new study has found that new dads can also be affected by depression, before or during the pregnancy of their partner.

Previous studies have been mostly focused on studying maternal depression, in order to better recognize it and treat it before it has any major impact on the life of the family. The research has been very valuable as it had various positive health effects for both the mother and the baby.

However, researchers believe that discovering the symptoms of depression in new dads can also have health benefits for their family, overall.  The new study, one of the largest one yet involving both prenatal and postnatal depression in fathers, included over 3,500 men. The study was part of the Growing Up in New Zealand project, and its results were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

According to the researchers, other previous studies found that around 20 percent of mothers experience either postnatal or prenatal depression. They believe that the condition is caused by different hormonal changes or external factors in cases where the pregnancy was not planned, domestic violence, or when the mother does not have social or relationship support.

The study involving depression in new dads revealed that only 2.3 percent of all participants suffered from prenatal depression, while 4.3 percent became depressed after the birth of their child. This is a significantly lower rate than that of women, but it can still have major public health consequences, according to Lisa Underwood, a research fellow at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Researchers found that depression in new dads could strain the overall family relationship in various ways, either emotional or financial hardships, as well as caused cognitive development issues in the child such as behavior or emotional problems.

In the United States, more than 4 million babies are born each year. Therefore, even the small percentage of new dads who are or will become depressed will lead to a significant number of affected individuals and babies, as a consequence.

What do you think about the study’s findings?

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CDC Says Flu Vaccine Has 48% Effectiveness This Season

nurse giving a vaccine to a girl

CDC finds that the flu vaccine is 48 percent effective this season.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new report which states that the flu vaccine has only a 48 percent rate of efficiency in combating the flu virus during this season of the disease.

The current flu season, which is still expected to continue for a few more weeks, has been marked by the predominance of the influenza A (H3N2) strain of the virus. Experts initially estimated that the efficiency of the flu vaccine in combating that particular strain of the virus was just 43 percent compared to the 73 percent effectiveness of the vaccine against the influenza B virus strain.  However, the report found that overall protection of the vaccine was rated to be at 48 percent.

The CDC report is based on data collected between November 28 and February 4 from more than 3,100 adults and children who were part of the Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network.  The CDC has routinely used data from this network to estimate the effectiveness of a vaccine during a particular season of the virus.

Previous CDC reports revealed that during the2015-2016 flu season, the flu vaccine was 47 percent effective in combating the virus, while the 2014-2015 season saw a major decline in the effectiveness of the virus, to just 19 percent.

According to the scientists, the low effectiveness rate from two years ago was caused by the predominant state of the H3N2 virus strain, for which that current vaccine was not well suited. Fortunately, researchers were able to correctly anticipate that the same strain will remain predominant during this season, which allowed to develop a vaccine which was better suited to combat the virus.

In a separate but related report, the CDC revealed that the US saw an increase in the activity of the flu virus in the middle of December, and remained high until early February. Researchers expect that that flu season will continue for a few more weeks, but it will begin to drop in activity. The increased activity of the virus led strength to the recommendation of doctors to get vaccinated.

What do you think about the report’s findings? Have you received a flu vaccine this season?

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Oil and Gas Development Linked to Childhood Leukemia

oil and gas well

Childhood leukemia has been linked with nearby oil and gas wells.

Everybody is aware of the fact that the development of oil and gas is bad for the environment, but a new study has linked the industry with the increased rates of childhood leukemia in communities nearby the development zones.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado, Anschutz. The scientists revealed that kids who suffer from acute lymphocytic leukemia are more likely to live near an oil and gas development zone. No link has been found between these industrial areas and kids suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

According to Dr. Lisa McKenzie, an assistant research professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, more than 378,000 Colorado residents and several million American currently live at least within a mile of one or more oil and gas development zones.  It’s worth noting that at this point in their research, scientist only found an association between the two factors and not a direct cause of the childhood leukemia.

In this regard, further research is required in order to address the various limitations of the current study as well as better explain its results. The study was funded by the University of Colorado’s Cancer Center, and it was published in PLOS ONE journal.

The study reveals that children as well as young adults, with ages from 5 to 24 years, who suffered from acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 more likely to reside in some of the densest oil and gas development zones in the state, compared to individuals with other forms of cancer. The study mostly focused on the rural areas and towns of Colorado, from 57 different counties in the state. Any urban areas with a population exceeding 50,000 people were excluded from the study.

The latest report reveals that more than 15 million Americans across the country live within a mile of gas and oil well. In Colorado’s most intensive development zones, there are hundreds of wells within just a mile of a home. Furthermore, besides the risk of developing leukemia, residents also risk other health effects from being exposed to industrial development.

The researchers used data from both the Colorado Oil and Gas Information System and the Colorado Central Cancer Registry.

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Women Tend to Skip Mammograms After False Positive Results

Nurse perfoming a mammogram

False positive mammograms leads to greater delays for the next test.

A new study has found that women suspected of having breast cancer tend to delay future mammograms after their first test was a false positive. Furthermore, some women do not even show up for their next screening, which decreases the chance of an early future diagnosis.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, was conducted on more than 261,000 women from the greater Chicago area. The study reveals that false positives have several unintended consequences which can alter the behavior of women regarding mammogram tests.

Researchers found that in the situations where women were recommended to have a test every year, those who received an initial false positive tended to delay their next test by up to 13 months, while women who had a direct negative result scheduled their next test between three to six months.

This delay could lead to reduced chances of survival if the breast cancer is subsequently diagnosed. Scientists revealed that the women who did not receive a false positive test result had a 0.3 percent of being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer tumor. However, for women with false positive tests, the chances increased to 0.4 percent.

Throughout their study, the researchers also found that some of the women never showed for their next mammogram at all. However, it is unclear whether they gave up on being tested for breast cancer or if they just received the test somewhere else.

The lead author of the study, Firas Dabbous working at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Illinois, revealed the delicate balance that is required in breast cancer diagnosis. While early detection offers the best chances of successful treatment, they also don’t want to bother women with increased number of false positive results followed by painful and expensive tests like biopsies.

In this regard, a debate has arisen whether or not the benefit of breast cancer screening outweighs the possible emotional and financial costs of the tests. A mammogram has a one in ten chance of producing a false positive result. Furthermore, an estimated 7 to 17 percent of all false positive women will end up having a biopsy.

What do you think about the study’s findings?

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Whole Grains Can Help with Weight Loss

whole grains and bread

Whole grains increased the rate of metabolism and promotes weight loss.

We have known for a long time that our diet has an important in our metabolism. However, not much was known about the impact that various types of food have on our system. A new study has found that eating more whole grains increases our metabolism and promote weight loss.

The more general study on the impact of eating whole grains was published at the same with a more specific study involving the effect of whole grain on gut bacteria. Both research papers have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Previous epidemiology studies have revealed the health benefits of a whole grains diet as well as that of a diet rich in fiber, such as higher glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. However, there has been a certain degree of controversy regarding the effect of whole grains and fiber on weight, mostly due to the fact that there isn’t a lot of data available from metabolic studies.

The new study aims to explain how the consumption of whole grain is beneficial for weight loss by providing this type of food to participants for a period of eight weeks. The researchers wanted to determine exactly how a high whole grain consumption can benefit weight management.

For their study, the scientists conducted a randomized single-blind study on 81 men and women with ages between 40 and 65, for a period of eight weeks. During the first two weeks, all participants ate the same food, as scientists determined their required caloric intake. Afterward, each group was required to either eat only a whole grain diet or a refined grain one. The main difference between the diets being in the grain and its fiber content.

Throughout the study, the searchers measured the metabolic rate, blood glucose, weight, hunger, fullness, and fecal calories of each participant. At the end of the study, they found that the whole grains diet increased the metabolic rate as well an increase in the fecal energy losses compared to the participants who ate the refined grains diet. The caloric loss was due to how fiber changes the digestibility of other types of calories.

What do you think about this study? Do you eat more whole grains or refined grains?

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Blood Test Facilitates Parkinson Diagnosis

two blood vials

Study finds that a blood test is accurate in diagnosing Parkinson’s

A new study has found that just a simple blood test could be as efficient and accurate as a spinal fluid test for determining whether a personal actually has Parkinson’s or if its symptoms are caused by a related disorder.

The study, published in the journal Neurology released by the American Academy of Neurology, reveals that difficulties of differentiating between Parkinson’s disease and other similar disorders, at the early stage of the disease, as most symptoms tend to overlap.

Diagnosing the disease early is important as a benefit of treatment can vary dramatically depending on the stage of the disease and between that of actual Parkinson’s or just similar disorders. However, according to the lead author of the study, Dr. Oskar Hansson, from the Lund University, Sweden, diagnosing Parkinson’s disease can become much easier than it is currently being done today.

The researchers found the different concentrations of nerve protein in a patient’s blood can easily discriminate between the different neurological disorders. Furthermore, a simple blood test also provides the same accuracy as a spinal fluid test.  The nerve protein in question is known as neurofilament light chain protein. It acts as a component of nerve cells and can also be found in both the spinal fluid and the blood stream.

For their study, the researchers analyzed more than 500 people from three different study groups.  Two of the three groups involved people from England and Sweden who had lived with Parkinson’s or other atypical parkinsonism disorders (APD) for an average time of four to six years. The last group had people who suffered from either type of disease for just three years or less.

Among the overall number of patients, 244 had Parkinson’s, 88 suffered from multiple system atrophy, 79 were healthy and served as a control group, 70 were affected by progressive supranuclear palsy, and 23 had corticobasal degeneration.

After extensive analysis, the researchers found a simple blood test was just as accurate in detecting the specific disorder as a spinal fluid test. This new method can help doctors provide a more comprehensive diagnostic to their patients.

What do you think about the new study? Do you know anyone suffering from Parkinson’s or any other APD disease?

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Israeli Ministers Endorse Knesset Bill for Medical Cannabis Exports

marijuana leaves

Israel ministers have endorsed the medical cannabis Knesset bill.

The United States doesn’t seem to be the only country willing to acknowledge the medical or recreational benefits of using marijuana. Most recently, Ministers in Israel have recently endorsed a bill which, if approved, would allow the export of medical cannabis.

On Sunday, Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation has endorsed the Knesset bill which would allow the export of medical cannabis. If approved, the legislation would provide local companies a lot of windfall, as they are widely regarded as research leaders in this field.

The Knesset bill was initiated by MK Yoav Kisch, which stated that his proposed legislation would provide the Israeli agriculture industry with a much-needed boost. He also noted that the export of medical cannabis would the push the economy forward and lead to the development and improvement of the agricultural sector.

The Knesset bill is the first one in Israel, which defines the entire field of medical cannabis and set the terms for regulating its export practices. If Israel passes the bill, it will join the list of other countries like Canada and Australia, which approved the export of medical cannabis and are enjoying the profits from the booming industry.

According to the bill’s initiator, recent research revealed that Israel can stand to gain over a billion NIS from the taxation of medical cannabis. However, before the country reaches that point, the bill would have to go to parliament, and the process could take several months.

Since 2012, around 28 states in the US have legalized the use of medical cannabis, with only a few approving it for recreational use. The industry is currently booming and could be worth over $50 billion in the coming decade.

The Knesset bill would allow Israel the reap some of the benefits of this industry, as it is already widely regarded as one of the research leaders of medical cannabis. The country’s domestic market is quite limited, as the Health ministry has issued around 23,000 permits for purchasing the drug for medicinal purposes. The medicinal cannabis market in Israel is valued at around $15 to $20 million.

What do you think about Israel’s recent initiative regarding the export of medical cannabis?

Image source: Wikimedia

Brain-Stimulating Activities Help Older People Stay Sharp

brain-stimulating activities

Brain-stimulating activities are the ones that can help seniors defeat the aging process.

Our brain needs to be stimulated every day if we want to decline the aging process. Although it might seem easy when you are young, the older you get the harder it is to keep your mind sharp. Brain-stimulating activities are the ones that can help seniors defeat the aging process.

A new study showed that older people who engage in brain-stimulating activities like using the computers are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment in more than 4 years. Mild cognitive impairment is a medical condition that it is developed at an older age. People who develop MCI experience a decline in thinking skills and memory.

Despite the fact that they suffer from memory loss or decline of thinking skills, people who developed MCI are able to so their activities. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic mentioned that it is important to engage in brain-stimulating activities even when we are older because it helps us decline the risk of developing MCI.

There are many studies which focused on this topic but none of these studies followed the patients in the long run. This research was a long one that analyzed older people for a longer period of time. This way it is easier for researchers to see if these brain-stimulating activities have an effect on reducing the risk of MCI.

In order to conduct this study, researchers analyzed more than 2,000 elderly people. These people were from Minnesota and they had an average age of 77. Before starting the study the researchers tested all the participants to see if they have any cognitive problems. After that, the researchers made the same tests every 15 months.

Due to the fact that they repeated the same tests, it was easier for the researchers to see what changed in that period of time. The findings showed that the participants who engaged in a brain-stimulating activity at least once a week were 30% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment during this study.

The researchers were not able to find out the reason for which these activities help seniors reduce the risk of MCI. This is why they mentioned that they are going to make more studies focusing on this topic.

What is your opinion about this study? Do you think that brain-stimulating activities can reduce the risk of MCI?

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FDA Finds Belladonna in Teething Products

baby sleeping

FDA finds belladonna in homeopathic teething products for babies.

The United States’ Food and Drug Administration has released a warning for any parents that have purchased homeopathic teething products, as they have found an inconsistent amount of poisonous belladonna. The FDA simply recommends that all the products must be discarded to avoid any further possible exposure.

Homeopathic teething products which contain small amounts of belladonna are widely used by parents who want to provide temporary pain relief to their babies just as their first teeth being to show. This type of products have been popular in the US ever since the 1900s.

However, a new report from the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, led by the Dr. Janet Woodcock, has revealed that the belladonna can cause an unpredictable response in the bodies of babies which are younger than two years. This puts the toddlers at unnecessary risk and the homeopathic teething products should be carefully avoided.

As an alternative, the FDA recommends that parents should consult their health care professionals to safer options and ways to provide the same relief to babies, but without any dangers. Furthermore, in cases where the babies start to experience seizures, lethargy, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, constipation, or agitation after using teething products, parents should immediately seek medical care.

The FDA previously warned parents about the danger of teething products in 2016, after it received a few dozen reports about babies experiencing adverse effects like seizures or even in extreme cases, infant deaths.

Furthermore, the homeopathic teething products have not been approved nor properly evaluated by the FDA for their proposed effectiveness to provide relief for babies or their overall safety standards.  Thus, the agency has not confirmed the supposed health benefits of such products.

The homeopathic teething products targeted by the warning of the FDA are mainly produced by a company based in Los Angeles known as Hyland, which outsource the actual manufacturing to the Standard Homeopathic Company. At this point, the company did not issue a recall of their products despite the FDA’s suggestion. However, in the past, companies like Raritan Pharmaceuticals have recalled several of their teething products due to the levels of belladonna.

What do you think about the FDA’s warning regarding the homeopathic products?

Image source: Pixabay

Antibody Combination Is Effective in Suppressing HIV

HIV virus

Researchers created an antibody combination for suppressing the HIV virus.

HIV infections have seen a drastic increase in several countries like South Africa, where the epidemic is out of control. However, a new study reveals that a combination of three antibody drugs is effective in suppressing the HIV virus.

Researchers from the Rockefeller University published their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine. They revealed that when the antibody combination is administered in the HIV patient, the virus eventually dies despite its ability to mutate and becoming hard to eliminate.

Antiretroviral drug treatments have been essential in suppressing the HIV virus from developing into AIDS. Without these types of treatments, the body of the infected patient tends to eventually lose the power to control the virus.

Other promising HIV treatments resulted mostly in failure due to the fact that the virus mutates and escapes the grasp of the immune system. However, the new antibody combination treatment claims to actually trap the virus for good.

For their study, the researchers administered HIV-infected mice a combination of three antibodies. They discovered that the treatment leads to the complete suppression of the HIV virus in the respective mice. The study was performed at the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at The Rockefeller University.

The researchers developed the antibody combination treatment by administering BG18, BG1, and NC37 antibodies to the mice. The combined drug attaches itself to a part of the virus and each antibody supports the other in the endeavor to shut down the HIV virus.

According to the scientists, some HIV-infected people produce the three antibodies, but eventually, the virus manages to escape thanks to its mutation. The researchers then compared the association between the antibodies and the virus. The newly developed antibody combination determines the virus to mutate and escape but after several such attempts, the virus runs out of options and it is eventually shut down.

For their study, the researchers used the blood serum of a man who contracted HIV 30 years ago, to create the antibodies used in their experiment.

What do you think about this new antibody combination treatment? Do you know anyone infected with HIV? What treatments do they undergo to suppress the virus?

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