Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
Week Beginning 4 November 2002
Suicide A Family Risk
People with a family history of suicide and mental illness are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers with no such family history, according to Danish researchers. The scientists, from Aarhus University, found that people who had a parent, sibling or other close relative who killed themselves were more than twice as likely to commit suicide than others with no such tendency in the family. Likewise a family history of mental illness increased a person’s risk for suicide by about 50 per cent. The findings could prove useful in suicide-prevention programmes targeting adolescents and young adults, the authors say.
Heart Disease Linked To Child Deprivation
Growing up in a low-income family may increase the odds of some major heart-disease-risk factors down the road, a UK study suggests. Researchers from the University of Bristol found that among the older women they studied, those who spent their childhood in relatively 'poor social circumstances' were more likely to be obese or have unhealthy cholesterol levels or insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. All three of these conditions, which commonly occur together, are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Exactly how family income early in life could have such a long-term impact on health isn’t fully clear, but 'a number of factors are likely to be important,' the researchers say.
Youth Back Pain On The Increase
Research shows that a generation of young people are living with back pain due to sitting in front of computer games and watching 'wall-to-wall' television shows. A study by the British Chiropractic Association has also discovered that more than half of parents believe their child’s school bag is too heavy while 38 per cent say their children spend five hours or more each week playing computer games. Meanwhile, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy estimates that half of all secondary school children are suffering back pain and discomfort.
The Daily Mail
Male Infertility Determined Young
Low birth weight may affect testicle size – and perhaps fertility – later in life, results of a preliminary study from Italy suggest. The researchers, from the Universita degli Studi di Bologna, found that teenage boys who are born small for their gestational age, meaning they were smaller than average but were not born prematurely, tended to have smaller testes and lower levels of testosterone, according to the research. Whether this finding could explain some cases of infertility in adult men needs to be further investigated, the researchers say.
The Daily Mirror
Foetuses Respond To Light
Doctors have for the first time recorded the brain activity of unborn children responding to a light outside the mother’s body. Researchers, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the US, used a sophisticated scanning device to show foetuses reacting to flashes of light shone through their mothers’ abdomens. The scanner picked up electrical brain activity triggered by the unborn babies’ eyes responding to the light. Scientists believe that once the technique is refined it may help doctors detect early signs of brain damage in a foetus.
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