Study: Zika’s Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation

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Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus
Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus. (IANS)

Scientists have discovered that Zika virus infection that can lead to birth defects and other complications such as seizures and long-term deficits in brain structure and behaviour, also persists in adulthood.

In the study, a team of neuroscientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, infected three-day-old infant mice with the Zika virus and monitored their behavioural and neurological development until adulthood to observe several early and late symptoms.

They found that most of the infected mice developed spontaneous seizures as soon as nine days after birth, and remained more susceptible to chemically-induced seizures in adulthood compared to controls.

This indicates that even though the spontaneous seizures may have been resolved as the animals grew older, the damage caused to the brain is permanent, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Furthermore, the infected mice demonstrated weight loss that is not recovered in adulthood, cognitive deficits and long-lasting impaired motor function.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The memory and sociability of adult mice were also affected, which may be linked to research that viral exposure shortly before or after birth may be associated to late development of autism and schizophrenia.

These behavioural deficits were also accompanied by persistent viral replication and inflammation in the brain.

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation.

One of these molecules is the Tumor Necrosis Factor Alfa, or simply TNF-a, a molecule closely linked to episodes of acute inflammation in the body.

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When administered, infliximab — a drug that inhibits TNF-a — prevented seizures in young infected mice by Day 12, suggesting that targeting cerebral inflammation could ameliorate some of the long-term consequences of neonatal Zika infection, the researchers said.

“Young mice responded very well to the TNF-a inhibitor. We found that some animals had a 50 per cent reduction in the number of seizures, on average. Also, adult animals were no longer susceptible to drug-induced seizures,” said Julia Clarke from the varsity. (IANS)

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39.9 % British Adults Indulged into Sexual Activity During Lockdown

Low levels of sexual activity was found in UK adults during lockdown

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Adults
Approximately 40% of UK adults were found sexually active during lockdown. Pixabay

Only four in 10 adults have had sex at least once a week during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, according to a new study. For the findings, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the research team investigated the levels of sexual activity during social distancing and self-isolation.

“When starting this research we expected there to be a high level of sexual activity while social isolating at home, but interestingly we found a very low level,” said study researcher Dr Lee Smith from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK.

According to the study, Only 39.9 per cent of the 868 British adults surveyed for the research had taken part in any form of sexual activity during the previous seven days. The study found that being younger, male, married and a consumer of alcohol was associated with greater sexual activity.

Previous research has shown an association between sexual activity and physical health, including helping to protect older adults against cardiovascular events. Frequent sexual activity has also been associated with various mental health benefits and improved cognitive function.

Adult
The study found that being younger, male, married and a consumer of alcohol was associated with greater sexual activity. Pixabay

The findings of this new study suggest that the UK government’s public health messaging around COVID-19 self-isolation and social distancing could include promoting sexual activity as a way of maintaining physical and mental health. This low level of sexual activity could be explained by people currently feeling anxious and stressed owing to the pandemic and not being in the mood to engage in the act, the researcher said.

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Moreover, those who are not married or cohabiting may not currently be able to meet up with their sexual partners and similarly, those who use online apps to facilitate casual sex will currently not be able to do this. “A lot of my previous research has shown that frequent and trouble-free sex life is important for higher levels of enjoyment of life and general mental health, and this is particularly true for older adults,” Smith said.

However, this study showed that older adults were less likely than younger adults to engage in sexual activity. (IANS)

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Know How Smoking Cigarettes at a Young Age Can be Harmful

Young smokers less likely to give up smoking as adults

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cigarettes
The younger you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke daily as an adult, even into your 40s, and the harder it will be to quit. Pixabay

The younger you start smoking cigarettes, the more likely you are to smoke daily as an adult, even into your 40s, and the harder it will be to quit, warn health and lifestyle researchers.

The study, published in the journal American Heart Association, focused on smoking at an early age, using information obtained directly from children and adolescents in the 1970s to 1980s and re-contacting many of them as recently as 2018.

“Based on our data coupled with a variety of other evidence, we found childhood smoking leads to adult smoking,” said study lead author David Jacobs from the University of Minnesota in the US.

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For the findings, the research team analysed smoking information on more than 6,600 people (57 per cent female) between the ages of 6-19 and during their 20s and 40s, from Finland, Australia and the US. Participants were followed from childhood into middle age as part of the International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort Consortium.

cigarettes
Even children who only tried smoking at a very minimal level – a few cigarettes – were more likely to end up as a daily adult smoker. Pixabay

The study analysis found that adolescents who smoked the most and children who started smoking at younger ages were more likely to be daily smokers in their 20s and were less likely to quit smoking by their 40s. Even children who only tried smoking at a very minimal level – a few cigarettes – were more likely to end up as a daily adult smoker.

The percentage of participants who smoked daily during their 20s was eight per cent for those who first tried smoking at age 18-19; 33 per cent for those who first tried smoking at age 15-17; 48 per cent for those who first tried smoking at age 13-14; and 50 per cent for those who first tried smoking during ages 6-12.

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Only 2.6 per cent of participants who took up smoking for the first time after their 20s smoked in their 40s, the study said. Although the current study was conducted in three developed nations, the researchers believe that the results likely apply more broadly.

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“Even in low income and developing countries, the societal reinforcement of smoking, the basic addictive qualities of nicotine, and the maturation of children and children’s judgment through adolescence are universal,” said Jacobs.

“Cigarette smoking is an avoidable health risk, and its seeds are in childhood. Cigarette smoking, even experimentally, among children of any age should be strongly discouraged,” Jacobs concluded. (IANS)

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Risk of Liver Cancer is High Among Older Adults: Study

Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions, the researchers said

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Cancer
Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions, said the researchers. Pixabay

Researchers have revealed rising rates of liver cancer in older adults, especially in men, despite advances aimed at preventing the disease.

Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions, said the researchers.

“The findings suggest the lack of attention for older people in current liver cancer prevention efforts and highlight the emerging concern of obesity as a risk factor for liver cancer,” said study lead author Xingdong Chen from Fudan University in China.

To obtain trends and estimates of liver cancer by age, sex, region, and cause, the research team examined 1990-2017 data from the Global Burden of Disease Study pertaining to 195 countries and territories. According to the study, published in the journal ‘Cancer’ liver cancer cases diagnosed before the age of 30 years globally decreased from 17,381 in 1990 to 14,661 in 2017.

But they increased in people aged 30-59 years and 60 years and older from 216,561 and 241,189 in 1990 to 359,770 and 578,344 in 2017, respectively. When applying age adjustments, the research team found that the incidences of liver cancer diagnosed before age 30 years and from 30-59 years decreased in both sexes, whereas in older adults, rates increased in males and remained stable in females.

Cancer
Researchers have revealed rising rates of liver cancer in older adults, especially in men, despite advances aimed at preventing the disease. Pixabay

Compared with women, men had a more dramatic increase in liver cancer diagnosed at aged 60 years and older and a milder decrease in cases diagnosed at 30-59 years. According to the study, decreases seen in younger adults were largely ascribed to hepatitis B vaccinations (since the hepatitis B virus can cause liver cancer) and were consistent in most regions except in developed countries, in which liver cancer rates increased irrespective of sex and age.

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Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions, the researchers said. “Liver cancer prevention strategies in both developing and developed countries should be tailored and updated,” said Chen. (IANS)