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Most elderly Indians ‘die from stroke’

Chronic diseases are becoming the main source of death in people over 65 in low- and middle-income nations, with stroke being the leading cause, a new study has revealed.

Researchers surveyed 12,373 people aged 65 and over between 2003 and 2005 in a total of 10 urban and rural sites in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, China and India, documenting over 2,000 deaths over a three to five year period.

“Chronic diseases are rapidly replacing communicable diseases as the leading cause of mortality and disability in developing countries,” said Professor Martin Prince, who led the study from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London 

Since stroke is the leading cause of death in older people, and education is a strong protective factor, prevention may be possible.

Chronic diseases – particularly stroke, heart disease and diabetes – were the leading causes of death in all sites other than rural Peru. Overall, stroke was the most common cause of death (21.4 percent), ranking first in all sites other than rural Peru and rural Mexico. The authors found that education, more than occupational status and wealth in late-life, had a strong effect in reducing mortality risk in later life. Most deaths occurred at home, with a particularly high proportion in rural China (91 pe rcent), India (86 per cent), and rural Mexico (65 per cent).

Other than in India, most received medical care for their final illness, but this was usually at home rather than in the hospital or clinic.

Gestational weight not linked to kid’s cognitive development

A new study has suggested that a child’s cognitive development is not generally impacted by how much weight his or her mother gained during pregnancy.

Insufficient or excessive weight gain in pregnancy can have negative consequences for fetuses and children including infant mortality.

“One challenge for studies examining gestational weight gain and child outcomes is separating the effect of gestational weight gain from confounders,” said Sarah A. Keim, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

To address these gaps in data, Dr. Keim led a study to assess the association between gestational weight gain and the cognitive performance of children at 4 and 7 years of age.

Using data from the U.S. Collaborative Perinatal Project, Dr. Keim’s team employed two statistical approaches. The more traditional approach adjusted for factors like the mother’s weight before pregnancy, her race and the baby’s sex.

The other used a fixed-effects approach to control for all potential confounding factors that are shared among siblings, such as a proportion of genetic factors and parenting practices.

Findings showed that any observed detrimental influence of extremes of gestational weight gain on cognition can be explained by familial or shared genetic factors rather than gestational weight gain itself.

Laser beams can detect explosives over long distances

Scientists at Vienna University of Technology have developed a new method to detect chemicals inside a container over a distance of more than a hundred meters.
This suggests that explosive substances can now be easily detected while keeping a safe distance from it.

Laser light is scattered in a very specific way by different substances. Using this light, the contents of a nontransparent container can be analyzed without opening it.

“The method we are using is Raman-spectroscopy”, said Professor Bernhard Lendl (TU Vienna).

The sample is irradiated with a laser beam. When the light is scattered by the molecules of the sample, it can change its energy. For example, the photons can transfer energy to the molecules by exciting molecular vibrations.

This changes the wavelength of the light – and thus its colour.

Analyzing the colour spectrum of the scattered light, scientists can determine by what kind of molecules it must have been scattered.

“Until now, the sample had to be placed very close to the laser and the light detector for this kind of Raman-spectroscopy,” stated Bernard Zachhuber.
Due to his technological advancements, measurements can now be made over long distances.

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