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Malaria severity not linked to parasite density

Although malaria kills some 600,000 African children each year, most cases of the mosquito-borne parasitic disease in children are mild. Repeated infection does generate some immunity, and episodes of severe malaria are unusual once a child reaches age 5.

However, the relative contributions of such factors as the level of malaria-causing parasites in a person’s blood - parasite density - to disease severity and to development of protective immunity are not well understood.

To clarify these issues, researchers from the United States and Tanzania regularly examined 882 Tanzanian children beginning at birth and continuing for an average of two years. No simple relationship between parasite density and malaria severity emerged.

For example, 253 children had a total of 444 infections characterised by high parasite density and mild symptoms. Of the 102 children who did develop severe malaria at least once while enrolled in the study, almost two-thirds (67) had high parasite density but only mild disease either before or after the episode of severe malaria.

Moreover, data from this study suggest that one or two mild episodes of malaria are not sufficient to eliminate the risk of severe malaria; a finding contrary to predictions made by some mathematical models. The researchers note that this prospective study is the first to provide direct evidence that severe malaria risk is stable over several infections.

The findings suggest a new approach to malaria vaccine development based on naturally acquired immunity. Such a vaccine would prevent severe disease and death in children, without necessarily reducing exposure to the malaria parasite.

The research team was led by Patrick E Duffy, MD, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Breastfeeding enhances kids’ immune system

A new study has revealed that breastfeeding promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut of the kids, which builds their immune system.

According to the study by National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark and University of Copenhagen, the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the gut flora is beneficial to the development of the child's immune system.

Research manager at the National Food Institute, Tine Rask Licht, said that the findings can be used to support initiatives that can be used to help children develop a type of gut microbiota, which is beneficial for the immune system and for the digestive system.

The study found that there are significant changes in the intestinal bacterial composition from nine to 18 months following cessation of breastfeeding and other types of food being introduced.

However, the scientists said that a child's gut microbiota continues to evolve right up to the age of three, as it becomes increasingly complex and also more stable.

Mexican magic mushroom weakens negative stimuli

A new study has revealed that Psilocybin, Mexican magic mushroom, has positive influences in the processing of human emotions.

The researchers at the Psychiatric University Hospital of Zurich have found that the bioactive component in the Psilocybin manipulates the amygdala, which responds to negative signals, thereby weakening the processing of depressing stimuli

According to Dr Rainer Krahenmann this observation is of major clinical significance because current available drugs for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders are not effective in all patients and are often associated with unwanted side effects.

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