Life Style

Researchers have found: Junk food consumption ups allergy risk in kids

Researchers have found that high consumption of junk food such as microwaved foods and barbequed meats may be responsible for food allergies in children.

The study, presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition, shows that high levels of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are associated with food allergies in kids.

AGEs are present in high levels in junk foods such as sugars, processed foods, microwaved foods and roasted or barbequed meats. They are known to play a role in the development and progression of different oxidative-based diseases including diabetes, atherosclerosis and neurological disorders, said the researchers.

For the study, the research team observed 61 children aged between 6 and 12 years. They were identified in three categories – those with food allergies, those with respiratory allergies and healthy controls.

The study revealed a significant correlation between AGEs and junk food consumption, said Roberto Berni Canani, Associate Professor at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy.


Life Style

Poor sleep linked to mental health issues in students

Insufficient sleep is associated with a wide range of mental health issues such as anxiety, self-harm and suicide ideation among students and athletes, according to a study.

Published in the journal Sleep, the study analysis involved 110,496 students, out of which 8,462 were athletes.

“It was really surprising to see how strongly insufficient sleep was associated with a wide variety of mental health symptoms among college students,” said lead author Thea Ramsey from the University of Arizona in the US.

With every additional night of insufficient sleep, the risk of experiencing mental health symptoms increased on average by more than 20 per cent.

The risk also increased by 21 per cent for depressed mood, 24 per cent for hopelessness, 24 per cent for anger, 25 per cent for anxiety, 25 per cent for desire to self-harm, 28 per cent for functional problems and 28 per cent for suicide ideation.

“The fact that sleep health was so strongly related to mental health is important since the majority of college students don’t get the recommended amount of sleep needed for optimal health and functioning,” said Michael Grander from the varsity.


Business Life Style

Kolkata beef food festival cancelled over security concerns

The upcoming beef food festival in Kolkata has been cancelled over security concerns, a spokesperson said here on Friday.

The ‘Kolkata Beef Festival’ renamed the ‘Kolkata Beep Festival’ was scheduled on June 23 at a cafe in central Kolkata’s Sudder Street.

“We are afraid because everything has been blown out of proportion somehow. Things are not in our control anymore. For all of these reasons, the Kolkata Beep Festival stands cancelled,” The Accidental Note, the event organising company, wrote in a Facebook post.

The event management team had put up a Facebook post stating that “one of their team members received over 300 calls yesterday, a lot of them to show support, but a lot of them were direct threats”.

“I have been getting continuous calls and had to deactivate my social media account as well. I got calls from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and other places,” one of the team members told IANS.

He reiterated that the “event had nothing to do with politics or religion”.

“I am a secular person… my food habit says so… I had pork and beef together many times… just for the sake of maintaining secularism,” a Facebook user wrote.

The festival with a wide variety of beef preparations ranging from tenderloin, back ribs and Bolognese pasta to burgers ‘was aimed to celebrate good food’.

Initially, the organisers thought that planning the fest after the elections they would be able to avoid political tension but couldn’t avoid it.

“Most importantly, we cannot ensure the safety of all of you amazing people who were planning to attend and our team”, the post added.


Life Style

Heart disease risks in overweight, obese kids similar

 Overweight and obese adolescents have similar increased risks of developing heart disorders, say researchers.

“Until recently, overweight in adolescence wasn’t considered as important a risk as obesity for the development of cardiovascular disease. We found the risks to be similar in both cases,” said study lead author Vitor Engracia Valenti, Professor at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil.

The study involved a small group of adolescents, aged between 10 and 17. The participants performed a moderate exercise protocol, which involved walking on a treadmill. Heart rate variability was measured before and after the exercise to assess the speed of autonomic cardiac function recovery.

Prolonged autonomic nervous system imbalances after physical exertion have been shown to increase the risk of an acute event and of future cardiovascular disease, said study.

Previous studies have shown the longer the autonomic nervous system takes to stabilise after a period of exertion, the greater the risk of cardiovascular or metabolic disease, according to Professor Valenti.

The researchers found no significant difference in heart rate variability between overweight and obese adolescents or between girls and boys.

“These findings suggest overweight adolescents have the same predisposition or vulnerability as that of obese adolescents to cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and heart failure, as well as to metabolic disorders like diabetes, dyslipidemia, and high levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol,” Valenti said.

The study was published in the journal Cardiology in the Young.


Business Life Style

Biocon drug gets commercial rights to global markets

Biotech major Biocon drug Hulio’s commercialisation rights have been extended to global markets from Europe, said the biotech major on Wednesday.

“Under the terms of global partnership with Mylan for monoclonal antibodies (like Hulio), we retain our economic interest in the expanded in-licensing arrangement to a share of profits from global markets, said the city-based company in a statement here.

Biocon’s drug partner Mylan N.V. is a global generic and specialty pharmaceuticals firm registered in the Netherlands, with offices in Britain and a global research centre in the US.

Hulio, which is used to treat ulcerative colitis in adults, has been in-licensed to Biocon by Mylan on approval from the Japan-based Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin Biologics.

Mylan launched Hulio in Europe in October 2018 after the European Commission approved it in September 2018.

“We are committed to enable patient access to affordable biosimilars and the partnership accelerates that process,” said Biocon spokesperson in the statement.


Business Life Style

Cheaper Pixel smartphones unveiled at Google I/O conference

In the times of $1000 phones, Internet giant Google has unveiled its cheaper Pixel phones — Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL at a starting price of $399 and $479, respectively at its annual I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.

The 5.6-inch Pixel 3a will cost Rs 39,999 while the 6-inch Pixel 3a XL will cost Rs 44,999 in India.

The new Pixel phones are available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Purple-ish colours.

Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will be available on Flipkart; prospective users can register on the site starting May 8. The phones will be available for purchase on May 15.

The smartphones sport impressive camera features such as Night Sight — which as the name suggests is about capturing images in dim light without a flash, minus the hefty price tag of the flagship Pixel phones.

According to the company, the Pixel 3a has an adaptive battery that uses machine learning (ML) to optimise how you use your phone so you can get up to 30 hours on a single charge.

There’s OLED display on both the phones with a resolution of 1080p, not 1440p.

Both the phones have retained the look of previous Pixels with a matte finish on most of the phone’s rear that becomes glassy near the camera.

Both phones feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 670 processor, 64GB on onboard storage, and 4GB RAM.A

Both the Pixel 3A and 3A are identical: the 3A has a 5.6-inch screen and the Pixel 3A XL has a 6-inch screen. They also both have the same cameras and internals.


Life Style

Egg laying mammals become source of novel anti-microbial

A novel Anti-Microbial Protein (AMP) found in the milk of egg laying mammals Echidna can be used as alternatives to the antibiotics used in livestock, researchers said.

Scientists at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) have found that the milk of Echidna (also known as spiny anteaters) contain a novel AMP, important to keep their young ones safe from possible infections.

According to a statement from CSIR-CCMB on Wednesday, unlike mammals which directly give birth to their young ones, Echidna are unique egg laying mammals found only in Australia and New Guinea. Their young ones depend completely on their mothers’ milk. As the mammary glands of the female Echidna are devoid of nipples, the young of these egg-laying mammals lick milk from the body surface of their mothers. This also becomes a potential source of many micro-organisms entering the young ones’ bodies.

A research team led Dr Satish Kumar at CSIR-CCMB have shown that this protein creates punctures in the cell membranes of multiple bacterial species and so in future can be used as alternatives to the present antibiotics. They have also found out ways to produce the AMP in large quantities using E.coli — an easy to use system for life scientists and industry.

With antibiotics being used indiscriminately in animal husbandry to maintain healthy livestock and as growth promoters, this has also led to the rise of multiple antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.

Mastitis, an infection of mammary gland of lactating dairy animals, is one such challenge where the number of effective antibiotics is on a decline. In some extreme cases, mastitis causes permanent damage to the mammary tissue. Dr Kumar’s team has been able to show that the AMP from Echidna is potent against mastitis causing bacteria.

“Studies such as these give us novel approaches to fighting infectious diseases by taking clues from nature. They are the best way forward in this emerging scenario of increased infectious disease burden and resistance to current treatments,” said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CSIR-CCMB.



Life Style

Diabetes in pregnancy ups the risk of disorder in kids later

Children and youths whose mothers had diabetes during their pregnancy are themselves at an increased risk of the disorder, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

The study showed that a child or teenager whose mother had gestational diabetes — diabetes during pregnancy — was nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes before the age of 22 years.

The association was found in children from birth to the age of 22 years, from birth to 12 years, and from 12 to 22 years, said the study, published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“Although Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes in parents are well-established risk factors for diabetes, we show that gestational diabetes mellitus may be a risk indicator for diabetes in the mother’s children before age 22,” said Kaberi Dasgupta, clinician-scientist from the McGill University in Canada.

“This link of diabetes in children and youth with gestational diabetes in the mother has the potential to stimulate clinicians, parents, and children and youth themselves to consider the possibility of diabetes if offspring of a mother with gestational diabetes mellitus develop signs and symptoms such as frequent urination, abnormal thirst, weight loss or fatigue,” said Dasgupta.

According to World Health Organzation, diabetes can be treated and its consequences can be avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.

For the study, the researchers included 73,180 mothers.


Life Style

Taking short breaks may help learn new skills better

If you are in a process of learning new skills, then taking short breaks in between may help you grasp it better, say researchers.The study, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests our brains probably take short rest periods to strengthen memories.

“Everyone thinks you need to ‘practice, practice and practice’ when learning something new,” said co-author Leonardo G. Cohen from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the US. “We found resting, early and often, may be just as critical to learning as practice,” Cohen said.

For the study, researchers recorded brain waves from a group of right-handed volunteers with a highly sensitive scanning technique called magnetoencephalography or MEG.

They were asked to type numbers as many times as possible with their left hands for 10 seconds, then take rest for 10 seconds and to repeat the cycle until they had typed the numbers 35 more times.

The findings showed the volunteers’ speed at which they correctly typed numbers improved dramatically during the first few trials and then levelled off around the 11th cycle. This suggested volunteers’ performance improved primarily during the short rests, and not during typing, the team said.

By looking at the brain waves, researchers also found activity patterns that suggested the brains of participants were consolidating, or solidifying, memories during the rest.

Specifically, they found the changes in the size of brain waves, called beta rhythms, correlated with the improvements the volunteers made during rests. The team plans to explore, in detail, the role of these early resting periods in learning and memory.


Life Style

Researchers have found this gene could reduce inflammation after stroke

Researchers have found that a gene could help the brain heal itself after a stroke or any other head-related injuries.

The study, published in Cell Reports, suggested that a dose of the TRIM9 gene could reduce brain swelling after stroke, prevent damage following a blow to the head (concussion) or encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain.

In addition, in a lab model, the researchers from the University of Southern California found that older brains with low TRIM9 levels — or engineered brains missing the TRIM9 gene entirely — were prone to extensive swelling following a stroke.

The is because TRIM9 is abundant in the youthful brain but grows scarce with age.

On the other hand, when the team used a harmless virus to carry a dose of the gene directly into TRIM9-deficient brains, the swelling decreased dramatically and recovery improved, the findings further revealed.

It is unlikely that gene therapy delivered by viruses will become the go-to treatment for strokes, head injuries or encephalitis as the best shot at treating stroke is within the first 30 minutes to one hour, said lead author Jae Jung at the varsity.

Jung further added that not all inflammation in the brain is bad as it plays a role in fighting infection and helps clear away dead tissue. However, inflammation for a long duration could lead to the death of neurons.