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Pollution reduces kids' IQs later

Prenatal exposure to high levels of a common airborne pollutant compound can adversely affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ, claims a new study.

According to the research at the Mailman School of Public Health, fetal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can hit kids’ IQ’s in later life.

PAHs are chemicals released into the air from the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco. In urban areas motor vehicles are a major source of PAHs.

The study found that children exposed to high levels of PAHs in New York City had full scale and verbal IQ scores that were 4.31 and 4.67 points lower, respectively than those of less exposed children. High PAH levels were defined as above the median of 2.26 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3).

“These findings are of concern because these decreases in IQ could be educationally meaningful in terms of school performance,” says Frederica Perera, professor of Environmental Health Sciences.

Feeling sick after a stressful task?
Reviewing research investigating how stress can wreak havoc on the body, an expert at the Ohio State University College of Medicine has shed new light on this connection.

Psychologist Janice K Kiecolt-Glaser points out that the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) investigates how stress and negative emotions like depression and anxiety affect a person’s health.

Over the last three decades, researchers have uncovered a number of ways that stress adversely affects human health, and specifically, how stress can damage our immune system.

Numerous studies have also shown that stressed individuals show weaker immune responses to vaccines.

Dependent men likely to be violent
Young men who stay with their parents are more violent than those who live on their own, a new study has found.

The research at Queen Mary, University of London, indicates that men still living at home in their early 20s have fewer responsibilities and more disposable income to spend on alcohol.

To reach the conclusion, Professor Jeremy Coid and Dr Ming Yang surveyed over 8,000 men and women.

Participants answered questions about violent behaviour over the past five years and mental health problems.

Their results showed for the first time that staying in the parental home is a stronger risk factor for young men’s violence than any other factor.

Professor Coid said: “Young adult men living at home in Britain are no longer influenced by parents to conform to standards of behaviour expected of previous generations”.

Closer to possible diabetes cure
Identifying a master regulator gene for early embryonic development of the pancreas and other organs, scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre have moved a step closer to coaxing stem cells into pancreatic cells as a possible cure for type1 diabetes.

The researchers said, besides having important implications in diabetes research, the study offers new insights into congenital birth defects involving the pancreas and biliary system, by concluding that both organs share a common cellular ancestry in the early mouse embryo.

The researchers say that this finding reverses a long-standing belief that the biliary system’s origin is connected to early embryonic formation of the liver.

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