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Parenatal smoking linked to aggressive behaviour

Scientists have revealed that they have found evidence of an interaction between and genetic risk factors that increase aggressive behavior in children, especially in girls.

The study conducted by Sam Houston State University has found that children exposed to prenatal smoking, and who also had an increased genetic propensity for antisocial behavior, exhibited the most pronounced conduct problems during childhood, which was most pronounced in females.

Brian Boutwell said that the interesting issue is that not all children exposed to prenatal smoking will have behavioral problems. Some might, but others will not.

According to the researchers, prenatal environmental experiences may influence future behavioral problems in children, especially in combination with the presence of genetic risk factors.

The study also revealed that prenatal maternal smoking, when taken in isolation, did not appear to directly result in behavioral problems, influence of genetic risk factors on behavior problems were most pronounced for children exposed to prenatal smoking and interaction between genetic factors and prenatal smoking was isolated to females.
 
Hearing quality improves with bionic ear technology

In a breakthrough, scientists have for the first time used electrical pulses delivered from a cochlear implant to deliver gene therapy, thereby successfully regrowing auditory nerves.

The research also heralds a possible new way of treating a range of neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease, and psychiatric conditions such as depression through this novel way of delivering gene therapy.

"People with cochlear implants do well with understanding speech, but their perception of pitch can be poor, so they often miss out on the joy of music," said The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Professor Gary Housley, who is the senior author of the research paper.

"Ultimately, we hope that after further research, people who depend on cochlear implant devices will be able to enjoy a broader dynamic and tonal range of sound, which is particularly important for our sense of the auditory world around us and for music appreciation," said Housley.

The work centres on regenerating surviving nerves after age-related or environmental hearing loss, using existing cochlear technology.

The cochlear implants are "surprisingly efficient" at localised gene therapy in the animal model, when a few electric pulses are administered during the implant procedure.

"This research breakthrough is important because while we have had very good outcomes with our cochlear implants so far, if we can get the nerves to grow close to the electrodes and improve the connections between them, then we'll be able to have even better outcomes in the future," said Jim Patrick, Chief Scientist and Senior Vice-President, Cochlear Limited.

The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Red meat could increase heart disease risk

Researchers have found a link between heme iron, found only in meat, and potentially deadly coronary heart disease.

The study found that heme iron consumption increased the risk for coronary heart disease by 57 percent, while no association was found between nonheme iron, which is in plant and other non-meat sources, and coronary heart disease.

Along with first author Jacob Hunnicutt, a graduate student in the school’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the study’s co-authors are Ka He and Pengcheng Xun, faculty members in the department.

Hunnicutt said the link between iron intake, body iron stores and coronary heart disease has been debated for decades by researchers, with epidemiological studies providing inconsistent findings.

The new IU research, a meta-analysis, examined 21 previously published studies involving 292,454 participants.

The body treats the two kinds of iron differently. It can better control absorption of iron from vegetable sources, including iron supplements, but not so with iron from meat sources.

“The observed positive association between heme iron and risk of CHD may be explained by the high bioavailability of heme iron and its role as the primary source of iron in iron-replete participants,” the researchers wrote.

“Heme iron is absorbed at a much greater rate in comparison to nonheme iron (37 percent vs. 5 percent).

Once absorbed, it may contribute as a catalyst in the oxidation of LDLs, causing tissue-damaging inflammation, which is a potential risk factor for CHD.

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