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Use X-rays carefully on pregnant women

Clinicians should be careful about using X-rays on pregnant women and infants because of the potential for a slight increase in the risk of children developing cancer.

A UK-US collaborative study found small increases in risk of cancer for children who had x-rays at ages less than three months and in children whose mothers had undergone an x-ray while pregnant. These increases were not statistically significant. The researchers report no increased risk from ultrasound scans.

Researchers studied the childhood cancer risk associated with exposure to radiation and ultrasound scans during gestation (in utero) and in early infancy.

Researchers compiled data on 2,690 children with cancer and 4,858 healthy children from the UK Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS). All children were born between 1976 and 1996. Data on exposure to radiographic and ultrasound examinations were collected from medical records.

A total of 305 children received 319 radiographic and related examinations while in utero and 170 children received 247 diagnostic x-ray examinations in early infancy. A total of 13,723 in utero and 138 early infant ultrasound scans were carried out.
Researchers measured the risk of childhood cancer overall, and leukaemia, lymphoma, and central nervous system tumours specifically.

Scientists enhance efficacy of TB vaccine

Researchers have improved the efficacy of the vaccine for tuberculosis. The work was done by Nele Festjens and Nico Callewaert of VIB and Ghent University.

The new vaccine affords — as already proven in mice — better protection against the disease. “Our vaccine is more effective because it is more quickly recognised by the immune system of the vaccinated person. We have, as it were, undressed the existing vaccine by removing its protective shield,” said Nico Callewaert.

The bacterium from which the BCG vaccine is derived hides as it were from the immune system of the organism in which it ends up. This may well be the reason why the vaccine is not very effective. The fact is that a vaccine is meant to trigger an immune reaction in order to be able to afford good protection.

Festjens and Callewaert have discovered that the bacterium hides behind the SapM enzyme that acts as a kind of shield.

They have used this knowledge to develop a new vaccine. They adapted Mycobacterium bovis BCG in such a way that it was no longer able to generate SapM and could therefore no longer hide from the immune system.

Men in noisy jobs likelier to suffer hearing problems

Being male and having a noisy job could increase the risk of hearing impairment and cardiovascular diseases in middle-aged adults.

“The severity of this condition has been shown to be associated with a poorer quality of life, communication difficulties, impaired activities of daily living, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction,” said reaserchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Scott D Nash and colleagues studied 3,285 participants ranging in age from 21 to 84 years, with an average age of 49. The researchers evaluated hearing impairment as a pure-tone average greater than 25 decibels hearing level in either ear, and also measured word recognition at different sound levels and with male and female voices.
Results showed prevalence of hearing impairment was 14.1 per cent and the average word recognition in quiet was 89.6 per cent, but 63.5 per cent in competing message environment.

“Hearing impairment was more likely in men, in participants with lower education levels, and in those working in noisy occupations or with a history of ear surgery,” the authors reported.

Gastric bypass surgery leads to better long-term results

Two new studies have found that gastric bypass surgery lead to better long-term results including greater weight loss, resolution of diabetes and improved quality of life compared with sleeve gastrectomy and ‘lap-band’ surgery. The most common surgical procedure for treating diabetes in the United States is the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, more commonly referred to as gastric bypass surgery.

In 2001, the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, also known as lap-band, was introduced as a less invasive alternative to gastric bypass. Sleeve gastrectomy is another surgical weight-loss procedure, which involves surgical removal of a large portion of the stomach.

In the first study, Guilherme M Campos, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, examined 100 morbidly obese patients who underwent lap-band surgery. In a second report, Wei-Jei Lee, Min-Sheng General Hospital, Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a double-blind randomised controlled trial of 60 moderately obese patients between the ages of 30 and 60, who had poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes after conventional treatment.

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