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  • Growth Curve

    Evidence is lacking that ‘cocooning’ prevents whooping cough in newborns

    Last week, I wrote about how powerfully protective whooping cough vaccines can be when babies receive their first dose before even being born, from their pregnant mothers-to-be. As I was looking through that study, another of its findings struck me: Babies didn’t seem to get any extra whooping cough protection when their moms were vaccinated after giving birth.

    I wondered if this meant...

    04/20/2017 - 07:00 Human Development, Health
  • News

    Brain gains seen in elderly mice injected with human umbilical cord plasma

    Plasma taken from human umbilical cords can rejuvenate old mice’s brains and improve their memories, a new study suggests. The results, published online April 19 in Nature, may ultimately help scientists develop ways to stave off aging.

    Earlier studies have turned up youthful effects of young mice’s blood on old mice (SN: 12/27/14, p. 21). Human plasma, the new results suggest, confers...

    04/19/2017 - 13:00 Neuroscience
  • Science Ticker

    Frog slime protein fights off the flu

    The next flu drug could come from frog mucus. It’s not as crazy as it sounds: For decades, scientists have searched for new antiviral drugs by mining proteins that animals produce to protect themselves from microbes. In lab tests, proteins found in amphibian secretions can defend against HIV, herpes and now the flu.

    David Holthausen of Emory University and his colleagues sampled slime...

    04/19/2017 - 09:00 Biomedicine, Animals
  • News

    Autism, ADHD risk not linked to prenatal exposure to antidepressants

    Taking antidepressants during pregnancy does not increase the risk of autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, two new large studies suggest. Genetic or environmental influences, rather than prenatal exposure to the drugs, may have a greater influence on whether a child will develop these disorders. The studies are published online April 18 in JAMA.

    Clinically, the message is...

    04/18/2017 - 14:56 Mental Health, Human Development
  • News

    Rules restricting artificial trans fats are good for heart health

    Taking artificial trans fats off the menu reduces hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke, suggests a study that examined what happened after several areas in New York restricted the fats’ use. The findings portend larger scale public health benefits after a nationwide ban on artificial trans fats begins in the United States in 2018.

    Hospital admission rates for heart attacks...

    04/12/2017 - 16:48 Health, Science & Society
  • Growth Curve

    Vaccinating pregnant women protects newborns from whooping cough

    When I was pregnant, my pronoun shifted automatically. My “I” turned into “we,” as in, “What are we going to eat for dinner?” and, “Should we sit in that hot tub?” I thought about that shift to the majestic plural as we got our Tdap shot in our third trimester.The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough. Doctors recommend that women receive a dose...

    04/12/2017 - 09:00 Human Development, Health
  • News

    Scientists seek early signs of autism

    Soon after systems biologist Juergen Hahn published a paper describing a way to predict whether a child has autism from a blood sample, the notes from parents began arriving. “I have a bunch of parents writing me now who want to test their kids,” says Hahn, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. “I can’t do that.”

    That’s because despite their promise, his group’s results,...

    04/10/2017 - 07:00 Human Development, Neuroscience
  • News

    Genetic risk of getting second cancer tallied for pediatric survivors

    WASHINGTON — A second cancer later in life is common for childhood cancer survivors, and scientists now have a sense of the role genes play when this happens. A project that mined the genetic data of a group of survivors finds that 11.5 percent carry mutations that increase the risk of a subsequent cancer.

    “We’ve always known that among survivors, a certain population will experience...

    04/07/2017 - 13:00 Cancer, Biomedicine, Genetics
  • News

    Common virus may be celiac disease culprit

    A common and usually harmless virus may trigger celiac disease. Infection with the suspected culprit, a reovirus, could cause the immune system to react to gluten as if it was a dangerous pathogen instead of a harmless food protein, an international team of researchers reports April 7 in Science.

    In a study in mice, the researchers found that the reovirus, T1L, tricks the immune system...

    04/06/2017 - 14:03 Health, Immune Science
  • 50 Years Ago

    50 years ago, contraception options focused on women

    Next in birth control

    The pill is a sledgehammer approach to contraception.... A second-generation of [drugs] is being designed to do the job without upsetting a woman’s normal cycle of ovulation and menstruation.... A contraceptive administered to the man can be given only for a short time without actually affecting the development of sperm … and, therefore, is not being considered for...

    04/06/2017 - 07:00 Health, Biomedicine, Science & Society