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Babies’ first 1,000 days vital for health

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life – the nine months in the womb and the first two years out of it – determines their health prospects for life, a new research has suggested.

 The study has found that this period can permanently affect everything from a child’s chances of developing diabetes or having a heart attack in old age, to their future weight and life expectancy. Professor David Barker and his colleagues at Southampton University developed the theory after decades of research. They believe there are a series of critical stages in a child’s development.  Professor Barker believes many health problems can be traced back to poor growth in the womb.

He has shown that the lighter a baby is at birth, the higher its odds of heart disease in later life.  The seeds of diabetes may also be sown before birth, as the pancreatic cells that make insulin develop in the womb.

A faster, cheaper test to diagnose TB
Researchers have announced the discovery of a faster, cheaper method for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB).  Dr Olivier Braissant and his colleagues have developed a method, which could potentially decrease the time taken to make a diagnosis. Their method is also cheaper than the current fastest methods.

Dr Braissant and his colleagues used a microcalorimeter to detect the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacterium which causes TB. This method proved to be faster than growing the bacteria in the lab and as fast as other more expensive methods. Microcalorimeters, like the one used in this research, measure the heat given off during a chemical, physical or biological process, in this case when the bacteria grow.

 They convert this tiny temperature rise into an electrical signal, which can be amplified and recorded by a computer. This then produces a graphical footprint, which is unique to each species of bacteria. A further important feature of this method is that it uses readily available, cheap materials.

Moderate intake of wine may protect against weight gain
A new study from Spain has suggested that the association between alcohol consumption and body weight may appear only with heavier drinkers, but light-to-moderate consumption of wine may actually protect against weight gain.

Based on the fact that the energy content in 1 gram of alcohol is 29 kJ or 7.1 kcal, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to weight gain. However, based on their review, the scientists conclude that, “as positive associations between alcohol and weight gain were mainly found in studies with data on higher levels of drinking, it is possible that an effect on weight gain or abdominal adiposity may only be experienced by heavy drinkers.”

A second conclusion of the authors is that “the type of alcoholic beverage might play an important role in modifying the effect of alcohol consumption on weight gain,” with more favourable effects generally seen among consumers of wine.

The overall conclusions of the authors is that it is currently unclear whether alcohol consumption is a risk factor for weight gain, but if so it appears to occur mainly among heavier drinkers.

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