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Breastfed babies grow up to be intelligent

Babies who are breastfed grow up to be more intelligent. The most comprehensive British study of breastfeeding to date has shown that it continues to have an effect on a child’s mental ability right through secondary school.

The study of more than 10,000 children from the Bristol area found that those breastfed exclusively for at least the first week of life consistently outperformed those put on the bottle from birth.

Researchers at Oxford University and the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) in Essex made their conclusions after ‘pairing up’ children who in all major respects, such as family circumstances and maternal IQ, were identical.

The only difference was whether or not they were breastfed. They then compared each of these ‘twin’ pairs to gauge the difference made by breastfeeding.

Maria Iacovou, a research fellow at the ISER, said breastfed babies had IQs that were on average between three and five points higher. “We wouldn’t have been surprised if the effect faded with time, but it didn’t,” she said.

HIV-infected patients at higher risk for bone fractures

A new study has found that HIV-infected patients are at higher risk for bone fractures than the general population.

Low bone mineral density in HIV-infected patients is common and raises concerns about increased risks of fracture. Although there have been several studies regarding bone mineral density, there have been few data on rates of fracture in this population.

The new study examined differences in the rates of bone fractures between HIV-infected patients and the general population and found higher rates of fracture among HIV patients.

A total of 5,826 HIV-infected patients were analysed from 2000 to 2008. The researchers were able to compare rates with persons in the general US population for the period from 2000 to 2006 and observed that annual fracture rates among HIV-infected patients were between 1.98 and 3.69 times greater.

“We confirmed that several established risk factors for fracture, such as age, substance abuse, hepatitis C co-infection, and diabetes, were associated with fractures among the HIV-infected patients,” said Benjamin Young, Rocky Mountain Centre for AIDS Research, Education, and Services in Denver.

Losing a night’s rest burns 135 calories

US scientists have discovered that going without sleep for a night uses the same amount of energy as a two-mile walk.

A study at Colorado’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory found that losing a night’s rest burns 135 calories — like eating two slices of bread or drinking a glass of milk. However, sleep deprivation is not a way to lose weight.

It actually means we store more energy while asleep than was thought, say researchers. The study found young adults used seven per cent more energy when they were forced to go 40 hours without sleep.

In contrast, they used up less energy in the recovery period, which included 16 hours of wakefulness, followed by eight hours’ sleep.

“The amount of energy storage needed to explain the obesity epidemic is 50 calories a day, so the finding is meaningful,” said Professor Kenneth Wright.

Bone marrow stem cells to heal brain injuries

Scientists have safely used stem cells derived from a patient’s own bone marrow in pediatric patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

This was part of a Phase I clinical trial at The University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston (UTHealth).

“Our data demonstrate that the acute harvest of bone marrow and infusion of bone marrow mononuclear cells to acutely treat severe TBI in children is safe,” said Charles S Cox Jr, the study’s lead author.

The clinical trial, which included 10 children aged 5 to 14 with severe TBI, was done in partnership with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. All the children were treated within 48 hours of their injury with their own stem cells, which were collected from their
bone marrow, processed and returned to them intravenously.

UTHealth’s department of neurology is also currently testing the same bone marrow stem cell procedure in adults with acute stroke.

As a Phase I trial designed to look at feasibility and safety, the study did not assess efficacy. However, after six months of follow-up, all of the children had significant improvement and 7 of the 10 children had a ‘good outcome’, meaning no or only mild disability.

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