Monday February 18, 2019

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.

Also Read: Report Says Majority Of Indians Mix Fats, Sugars In Their Diet

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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U.S. Adults Putting on Pounds Instead of Getting Taller

In 2016, about 18 percent of the nation's population was Hispanic, up from about 13 percent in 2000, according to U.S. Census figures.

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Weight, adults
This April 3, 2018 file photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. A government report released Dec. 20, 2018, shows that adult waistlines are expanding. VOA

You don’t need to hang the mistletoe higher, but you might want to skip the holiday cookies.

A report released Thursday shows U.S. adults aren’t getting any taller but they are still getting fatter.

The average U.S. adult is overweight and just a few pounds from obese, thanks to average weight increases in all groups — but particularly whites and Hispanics.

Overall, the average height for men fell very slightly over the past decade. There was no change for women.

One factor may be the shift in the country’s population. There’s a growing number of Mexican-Americans, and that group tends to be a little shorter, said one of the report’s authors, Cynthia Ogden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adults
The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors. Pixabay

The findings come from a 2015-16 health survey that measures height and weight. More than 5,000 U.S. adults took part.

CDC records date back to the early 1960s, when the average man was a little over 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed 166 pounds. Now, men are almost 1 inch taller and more than 30 pounds heavier. But today’s average height of 5 feet, 9 inches is about a tenth of an inch shorter than about a decade ago.

The average woman in the early 1960s was 5 feet, 3 inches and 140 pounds. Now, women are a half-inch taller and about 30 pounds heavier, on average. The average height is about the same as it was a decade earlier: 5 feet, 4 inches.

Other survey findings

* In the last decade, the average weight of men rose about 2 pounds, to 198. For women, it rose 6 pounds, to nearly 171.

exercise, Adults
Being physically active can also help prevent risk factors for stroke, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure Pixabay

* Men have 40-inch waistlines, on average. Women’s waistlines are a little under 39 inches.

* The average height of black men and white men has been holding about steady, at a little under 5 feet 10.

Also Read: Exposure to Certain Disinfectants Can Cause Obesity in Kids: Research

* Mexican-American and Asian-American men are roughly 3 inches shorter than whites and blacks, on average. There was a similar height gap in women.

In 2016, about 18 percent of the nation’s population was Hispanic, up from about 13 percent in 2000, according to U.S. Census figures. Mexican-Americans account for nearly two-thirds of the Hispanic population.(VOA)