Wednesday May 23, 2018

New Study: Large age gap between parents increases autism risk in kids

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New York: Children born to teenage mothers and whose parents have a large gap between their ages, are at an increased risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), says a large study involving 5.7 million children in five countries.

The study also confirmed that older parents are at higher risk of having children with ASD, which is characterised by social avoidance, repetitive behaviours and difficulty in communicating.

“When we first reported that the older age of fathers increases risk for autism, we suggested that mutations might be the cause. Genetic research later showed that this hypothesis was correct,” said study co-author, Abraham Reichenberg, neuropsychologist and epidemiologist with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City.

“In this study, we show for the first time that autism risk is associated with disparately-aged parents. Future research should look into this to understand the mechanisms,” Reichenberg noted.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, looked at autism rates among 5,766,794 children — including more than 30,000 with autism — in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Western Australia.

The children were born between 1985 and 2004, and the researchers followed up on their development until 2009, checking national health records for autism diagnoses.

Autism rates were 66 percent higher among children born to fathers over 50 years of age, than among those born to fathers in their 20s. Autism rates were 28 percent higher when fathers were in their 40s versus 20s.

Autism rates were 15 percent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s, compared to those born to mothers in their 20s.

Autism rates were 18 percent higher among children born to teenage mothers than among those born to mothers in their 20s.

Autism rates rose still higher when both parents were older, in line with what one would expect if each parent’s age contributed to risk.

Autism rates also rose with widening gaps between two parents’ ages. These rates were highest when fathers were between 35 and 44 and their partners were 10 or more years younger.

“These results suggest that multiple mechanisms are contributing to the association between parental age and ASD risk,” the authors concluded. (IANS)

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Good Heart Health Prevents Frailty in Old Age

Want to prevent frailty when you grow old? If so, then start maintaining good heart health. A new study indicates that low heart disease risks among older people may help them to prevent frailty.

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Want to prevent frailty when you grow old? If so, then start maintaining good heart health. A new study indicates that low heart disease risks among older people may help them to prevent frailty.

Frailty is a condition associated with decreased physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. The outcomes include falls, fractures, disability, hospitalisation and institutionalization.

The findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology, found that severe frailty was 85 per cent less likely in those with near ideal cardiovascular risk factors.

The study also found that even small reductions in risk factors helped to reduce frailty as well as dementia, chronic pain and other disabling conditions of old age.

“This study indicates that frailty and other age-related diseases could be prevented and significantly reduced in older adults. Getting our heart risk factors under control could lead to much healthier old ages,” said co-author Joao Delgado from the University of Exeter in Britain.

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For the study, the researchers analysed data from more than 421,000 people aged between 60-69. The participants were followed up over 10 years.

The researchers analysed six factors that could impact on heart health. They looked at uncontrolled high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, plus being overweight, doing little physical activity and being a current smoker.

Also Read: Eating Fish Twice a Week Reduces the Risk of Heart Failure

“Individuals with untreated cardiovascular disease or other common chronic diseases appear to age faster and with more frailty,” the researchers said.

“Now our growing body of scientific evidence on ageing shows what we have previously considered as inevitable might be prevented or delayed through earlier and better recognition and treatment of cardiac disease,” they noted. (IANS)

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Ebola Outbreaks in Congo

Congo has contained several past Ebola outbreaks but the spread of the hemorrhagic fever to an urban area poses a major challenge. The city of Mbandaka, which has one confirmed Ebola case, is an hour's flight from the capital, Kinshasa, and is located on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor.