Herbicide linked to autism

A mouse study published in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience has looked at the possible toxic effects of glufosinate ammonium (GLA) (one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture), on maternal physiology and/or behaviour. The study exposed female mice to low dose GLA during both pre- and postnatal periods and analysed potential developmental and behavioral changes of the offspring during infancy and adulthood. The study authors explain that pesticide and herbicide exposure weakens the basic structure of the brain leading to behavioral changes in offspring, that persists through adulthood and that may be specific to social interaction. The study shows that “pre- and postnatal exposure to GLA alters the developmental expression of genes related to ASD-like [Autistic Spectrum Disorder] symptoms”, and that GLA also “…induced developmental deficits, affecting communication skills and sensorimotor development in early postnatal life, and changing the relative weight of the brain”.

Obesity linked to loss of life years

A new study published in The Lancet looked at the “Years of life lost and healthy life-years lost from diabetes and cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese people.”  The team, led by Dr Steven A Grover MD and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, found that excess bodyweight was positively associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. They developed a disease simulation model and used data from 3992 non-Hispanic white participants in the National Nutrition and Examination Survey (2003—10). Obese younger people were found to lose more life years than obese older people, but losses of life years were smaller and sometimes negligible for those who were only overweight. The authors believe that their findings of the effect of excess bodyweight on cardiovascular disease and diabetes might provide a useful health measure for discussions between health professionals and their patients.

CDC links whooping cough to ineffective vaccine

In California, the state recorded close to 10,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, and in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report warns that higher incidence of pertussis could become the "new normal," at least until there's a new vaccine available, or a more effective vaccine strategy. Most of the teens who contracted whooping cough had been immunised and the CDC says the increase in cases of the disease is due to a less effective vaccine. The whole-cell vaccine was replaced in the 1990’s by an acellular one, called Tdap, that immunises for a shorter amount of time. Due to the fact that parents are becoming more and more concerned about the inherent risks in multiple vaccinations, uptake is not increasing and the CDC is now urging expectant mothers to get the Tdap vaccine in their third trimester of pregnancy.  Apparently this will ensure that mothers pass immunity onto their newborns, protecting them until they're old enough to get vaccinated.


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