Saturday, August 06, 2011

Omega-3 can reduce risk of colds in babies (?)

If I read it aright, this is just a case of data dredging. NO symptom was consistently reduced by the treatment. But SOME symptoms were less at each age point. That sounds like an entirely random set of effects. If you look at enough factors you will find some that differ by chance alone

Babies whose mothers take Omega-3 fish oil supplements during pregnancy suffer fewer colds and shorter illnesses during their first six months of life, researchers have found.

A study of more than 800 babies showed that mothers who took supplements of a particular Omega-3 acid during the second half of their pregnancy had healthier babies.

Infants whose mothers had taken 400mg Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) capsules each day had fewer colds at the age of one month than a control group, although they had longer-lasting rashes.

After three months those whose parents had taken the supplements spent 14 per cent less time ill, and at six months they had less fever, breathing problems, rashes and other illnesses but significantly higher levels of vomiting.

Researchers from Emory University in Georgia, America said the trials conducted in Mexico showed that infants in the group whose mothers had taken DHA were healthier overall.

In a study published in the Pediatrics journal, they said DHA influenced the duration of illness symptoms and reduced the infants' chances of catching colds.

Omega-3 acids play an important role in brain and eye development in foetuses, especially during the last trimester of pregnancy, but previous studies on adults and children have showed varied effects on the immune system and illness.

Additional studies are needed to examine exactly how fatty acids influence infants' immune systems and the potential benefits of taking supplements while pregnant and during breastfeeding, the researchers said.

Prenatal Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation and Infant Morbidity: Randomized Controlled Trial

By Beth Imhoff-Kunsch et al.


Objective: Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) influence immune function and inflammation; however, the influence of maternal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity is unknown. We investigated the effects of prenatal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity.

Methods: In a double-blind randomized controlled trial conducted in Mexico, pregnant women received daily supplementation with 400 mg of DHA or placebo from 18 to 22 weeks' gestation through parturition. In infants aged 1, 3, and 6 months, caregivers reported the occurrence of common illness symptoms in the preceding 15 days.

Results: Data were available at 1, 3, and 6 months for 849, 834, and 834 infants, respectively. The occurrence of specific illness symptoms did not differ between groups; however, the occurrence of a combined measure of cold symptoms was lower in the DHA group at 1 month (OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.58–1.00). At 1 month, the DHA group experienced 26%, 15%, and 30% shorter duration of cough, phlegm, and wheezing, respectively, but 22% longer duration of rash (all P ≤ .01). At 3 months, infants in the DHA group spent 14% less time ill (P < .0001). At 6 months, infants in the DHA group experienced 20%, 13%, 54%, 23%, and 25% shorter duration of fever, nasal secretion, difficulty breathing, rash, and “other illness,” respectively, but 74% longer duration of vomiting (all P < .05).

Conclusions: DHA supplementation during pregnancy decreased the occurrence of colds in children at 1 month and influenced illness symptom duration at 1, 3, and 6 months.


Wide waist, narrow mind: How middle age spread can shrink your brain (?)

I see no reason to doubt that diabetes and smoking have an adverse efect on the brain but the attribution of brain deterioration to fat is very weak. Overweight people may be more self-indulgent generally and thus more prone to destructive behaviours such as drug taking. And it could be those behaviours that are the problem, not the fat

An expanding waistline and other middle-age vices are not only bad for your heart – they could cause your brain to shrink, warn researchers. Smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure also take their toll on the grey matter, having an effect on brainpower just ten years later.

Researchers said doctors could use the information to pick out patients at a higher risk of dementia and encourage them to improve their lifestyles while there was still time.

More than 1,300 men and women in their 50s and 60s had their weight and height measured at the start of the U.S. study and had blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes tests.

Scans to measure brain volume were carried out over the next ten years and mental tests were also run on participants.

The brain shrinks with age, even in the healthiest of people. But in those with diabetes, the hippocampus, the brain’s ‘memory hub’, shrank more quickly than in those without the condition. The hippocampus also shrivelled faster in smokers. And those with high blood pressure were more prone to small lesions or areas of brain damage, known as ‘white matter hyper-intensities’.

High blood pressure was also linked to a more rapid worsening of scores on mental tests, effectively ageing the brain by up to eight years.

Those who were obese in their 50s tended to fare poorly on the mental tests in the study at the University of California at Davis, the journal Neurology reports.

Study author Charles DeCarli said: ‘Identifying these risk factors early could be useful in screening people for dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it’s too late.’

A previous study of American pensioners found that obesity ages the brain by up to 16 years. It is thought that high levels of fat raise the odds of the arteries clogging up, cutting the flow of blood and oxygen.

It is estimated that half of cases of Alzheimer’s could be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as doing more exercise, eating healthily and not smoking.

People who are overweight at 60 are more than twice as likely to get dementia by 75.


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