A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division Of Laboratory Programs, Standards And Services
March 26, 2015
- Drug-resistant TB Threatens to Kill 75 Million People by 2050, Cost $16.7 Trillion
- Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome
- Medicare Panel Voices Doubts about Genetic Cancer Tests
- USPSTF: Thyroid Screens Not Supported in Asymptomatic Adults
- Graphical Display of Diagnostic Test Results in Electronic Health Records: A Comparison of 8 Systems
- Early Detection of Osteoarthritis via Blood Test in Sight, Says Study
- Genome Sequencing Offers Clues to New Species of Leprosy-causing Bacterium
- Study Identifies “Lethal” Subtype of Prostate Cancer
- New Hope for Kidney Disease
- Why is Insulin so Expensive in the U.S.?
- Older Blood Just as Good for Transfusions
- Vaccine Prevents Pneumonia Among Seniors
- FDA Must Make Smarter Use of Big Data
- AHA Urges Careful Cost-benefit Analysis of Health IT Mandates
- Nurses Blame Interoperability Woes for Medical Errors
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
Drug-resistant TB Threatens to Kill 75 Million People by 2050, Cost $16.7 Trillion
Over the next 35 years, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis will kill 75 million people and could cost the global economy a cumulative $16.7 trillion - the equivalent of the European Union’s annual output, a UK parliamentary group said. If left untackled, the spread of drug-resistant TB superbugs threatens to shrink the world economy by 0.63 percent annually, the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis (APPG TB) said, urging governments to do more to improve research and cooperation. "The rising global burden of multidrug-resistant TB and other drug-resistant infections will come at a human and economic cost which the global community simply cannot afford to ignore", economist Jim O'Neill said in a statement. The WHO said last year multidrug-resistant TB was at "crisis levels", with about 480,000 new cases in 2013.
Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome
A group of leading biologists called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited. The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. The latter is a path that many ethicists believe should never be taken. “You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue,” said David Baltimore, a former president of the California Institute of Technology and a member of the group whose paper on the topic was published in the journal Science. Ethicists, for decades, have been concerned about the dangers of altering the human germline — meaning to make changes to human sperm, eggs or embryos that will last through the life of the individual and be passed on to future generations. Until now, these worries have been theoretical. But a technique invented in 2012 makes it possible to edit the genome precisely and with much greater ease. The technique has already been used to edit the genomes of mice, rats and monkeys, and few doubt that it would work the same way in people.
Medicare Panel Voices Doubts about Genetic Cancer Tests
The Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) has expressed little confidence in genetic tests that supposedly predict common cancers. The decision raises doubts about whether the CMS will authorize Medicare coverage for such tests. “This is such a promising and exciting field, but the excitement is far ahead of the data,” said Diana Zuckerman, a panel member and president of the National Center for Health Research, an advocacy organization. These tests “could be so helpful if only we knew more.” Specifically, there was a concern among committee members about the lack of data regarding clinical utility, which indicates if a test result was actually helpful to a consumer. “The evidence got very thin, very quickly,” said Dr. Beverly Guadagnolo, a panelist and associate professor in the radiation oncology department at the University of Texas. Industry stakeholders present at the meeting disagreed. “Two hundred-plus labs around the country wouldn't be doing these tests if they didn't have clinical utility,” Dr. Jan Nowak, medical director of molecular diagnostics and cytogenetics at NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, Ill., said during public comments.
Misperceptions Keep Kids from Getting Lifesaving Treatment for Tickborne Diseases
Kids are five times more likely than adults to die from tickborne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Doctors often avoid prescribing doxycycline, the most effective RMSF treatment, for young children because the drug’s warning label cautions that tooth staining may be a side effect in children younger than 8 years. A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that for patients with RMSF, this warning may be doing more harm than good. The study led by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Indian Health Service (IHS) found that short courses of the antibiotic doxycycline can be used in children under 8 years old without staining teeth or weakening tooth enamel.
USPSTF: Thyroid Screens Not Supported in Asymptomatic Adults
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has again concluded there is insufficient evidence to recommend screening for thyroid dysfunction in adults who are not pregnant and who are asymptomatic, according to an article published online March 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This recommendation follows on the heels of a similar recommendation published October 27, 2014, in the same journal, in which the USPSTF also concluded there was insufficient evidence to make any recommendation for or against thyroid screening in asymptomatic adults. They also had made the same recommendation 10 years earlier.
Graphical Display of Diagnostic Test Results in Electronic Health Records: A Comparison of 8 Systems
“Accurate display and interpretation of clinical laboratory test results is essential for safe and effective diagnosis and treatment. In an attempt to ascertain how well current electronic health records (EHRs) facilitated these processes, we evaluated the graphical displays of laboratory test results in eight EHRs using objective criteria for optimal graphs based on literature and expert opinion. None of the EHRs met all 11 criteria; the magnitude of deficiency ranged from one EHR meeting 10 of 11 criteria to three EHRs meeting only 5 of 11 criteria. One criterion (i.e., the EHR has a graph with y-axis labels that display both the name of the measured variable and the units of measure) was absent from all EHRs. One EHR system graphed results in reverse chronological order. One EHR system plotted data collected at unequally-spaced points in time using equally-spaced data points, which had the effect of erroneously depicting the visual slope perception between data points. This deficiency could have a significant, negative impact on patient safety. Only two EHR systems allowed users to see, hover-over, or click on a data point to see the precise values of the x–y coordinates. Our study suggests that many current EHR-generated graphs do not meet evidence-based criteria aimed at improving laboratory data comprehension.”
Early Detection of Osteoarthritis via Blood Test in Sight, Says Study
The first blood test for early-stage osteoarthritis could soon be developed say researchers who suggest the biomarker they have identified can detect the painful joint condition before bone damage occurs. The research, led by the University of Warwick in the UK, is published in the journal Scientific Reports. The authors found that testing for citrullinated proteins (CPs) in the blood could lead to osteoarthritis (OA) being diagnosed years before physical symptoms emerge. They also found that CPs may serve as a reliable way to detect early-stage rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Lead researcher Dr. Naila Rabbani, reader of experimental systems biology at Warwick, says: "This is a remarkable and unexpected finding. It could help bring early-stage and appropriate treatment for arthritis, which gives the best chance of effective treatment." Dr. Rabbani and colleagues note that while there are established biomarker tests for early-stage RA, there are none for OA and suggest their findings could lead to a test for both that also distinguishes between the two. Using the algorithm, they found that with a single blood test they could potentially detect and distinguish between the two types of arthritis before bone damage took place. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 9.6% of men and 18.0% of women over 60 have symptomatic osteoarthritis.
Authorization of Emergency Use of an In Vitro Diagnostic Device for Detection of Ebola Zaire Virus; Availability
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the issuance of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) (the Authorization) for an in vitro diagnostic device for detection of the Ebola Zaire virus in response to the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. FDA is issuing this Authorization under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act), as requested by Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. (Roche). The Authorization contains, among other things, conditions on the emergency use of the authorized in vitro diagnostic device. The Authorization follows the September 22, 2006, determination by then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Michael Chertoff, that the Ebola virus presents a material threat against the U.S. population sufficient to affect national security. On the basis of such determination, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared on August 5, 2014, that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection of Ebola virus subject to the terms of any authorization issued under the FD&C Act. The Authorization, which includes an explanation of the reasons for issuance, is reprinted in this document. DATES: The Authorization is effective as of December 23, 2014.
A Molecular Typing for Red Blood Cell Antigens
Blood group antigens are polymorphic residues of protein or carbohydrate on the red cell surface. They can provoke an antibody response in individuals who lack them, and some antibodies can lead to hemolytic transfusion reaction or hemolytic disease of the fetus/newborn (HDFN). Researchers have identified the molecular basis of many red cell blood group antigens, and an actively maintained database currently lists more than 1,600 alleles of 44 genes. A mini-review, published in the March issue of CLN, describes the major applications of the explosion of knowledge in blood group genetics to the practice of blood banking and transfusion medicine.
Rapid Blood Test to 'Cut Antibiotic Use'
A new blood test can help doctors tease out whether an infection is caused by a virus or bacteria within two hours, research in Plos One suggests. It could stop patients being given antibiotics when they are not needed, scientists say. It is still at a laboratory stage but the team is working on a portable device too. Independent experts say the work addresses a serious problem. Further studies are being carried out. Routine tests to check the definitive identity of bugs can take days - they often involve taking a sample and then trying to grow the organism in a lab.
Kidney Cancer Detection: Simple Urine Test May become Ideal Diagnostic Tool for Disease
Detecting kidney cancer in its early stage is an important aspect of treating the disease, but it only happens by chance during CT scans. In most cases, kidney masses found by CT Scans aren’t even cancerous. A recent study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has revealed that measuring certain protein biomarkers in urine samples is more than 95 percent accurate in identifying early-stage kidney cancer. "These biomarkers are very sensitive and specific to kidney cancer," Dr. Evan D. Kharasch, the Russell D. and Mary B. Shelden Professor of Anesthesiology, said in a statement. The research team assessed the levels of two specific proteins – aquaporin-1 (AQP1) and perlipin-2 (PLIN2).
Vanderbilt Team First to Blend High-end Imaging Techniques
Vanderbilt University researchers have achieved the first “image fusion” of mass spectrometry and microscopy — a technical tour de force that could, among other things, dramatically improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Microscopy can yield high-resolution images of tissues, but “it really doesn’t give you molecular information,” said Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., senior author of the paper published in the journal Nature Methods. Mass spectrometry provides a very precise accounting of the proteins, lipids and other molecules in a given tissue, but in a spatially coarse or pixelated manner. Combining the best features of both imaging modalities allows scientists to see the molecular make-up of tissues in high resolution. “That to me is just phenomenal,” said Caprioli, the Stanford Moore Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center. Using a mathematical approach called regression analysis, the researchers mapped each pixel of mass spectrometry data onto the corresponding spot on the microscopy image to produce a new, “predicted” image.
Blood Fats Hold Vitamin E Captive, Study Shows
High levels of blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides can hold vitamin E in the blood and prevent it from reaching the tissues that require it, a small study says. The findings suggest that checking only blood levels of vitamin E may not show whether a person has adequate levels of vitamin E, the researchers said. They also suggested that past methods used to measure vitamin E levels in tissues are flawed.
FDA Clears Quidel's Trichomonas Assay
Quidel announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company's AmpliVue Trichomonas Assay for marketing. The assay detects nucleic acids isolated from vaginal swab specimens obtained by clinicians from symptomatic and asymptomatic female patients. It runs on Quidel's AmpliVue handheld molecular diagnostic device and does not require upfront DNA extraction. Quidel said the assay generates results in about 50 minutes.
Genome Sequencing Offers Clues to New Species of Leprosy-causing Bacterium
The pathogen behind a severe form of leprosy called Lucio's leprosy shares extensive genomic conservation with the previously characterized leprosy culprit Mycobacterium leprae, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from Switzerland, Germany, and Mexico did deep sequencing on M. lepromatosis isolates in a skin biopsy from an infected patient from Mexico. Through comparisons with the M. leprae genome, they found that the species share extensive sequence conservation, even though each species has experienced gene loss over the nearly 14 million years since they diverged from one another.
Study Identifies “Lethal” Subtype of Prostate Cancer
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the journal Cancer Research defines a new, distinct subtype of “lethal” prostate cancer marked by the loss of two genes, MAP3K7 and CHD1. Overall about 10 percent of men with prostate cancer will die from the disease. The study shows that of prostate cancer patients with combination MAP3K7 and CHD1 deletions, about 50 percent will have recurrent prostate cancer, which ultimately leads to death. About 10 percent of all prostate cancers harbor combined MAP3K7-CHD1 deletions.
New Hope for Kidney Disease
Researchers have made a discovery that could see patients with kidney disease no longer having to resort to dialysis or kidney transplants. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be caused by a number of factors, and results in permanent, irreversible scarring of the kidney leading to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Once a patient has reached this point their only option is dialysis or transplantation. Research led by Monash University scientists has shown for the first time the effectiveness of combining a stem cell-based therapy with an anti-scarring agent to reverse scarring and markers of kidney injury, reducing the need for dialysis or transplantation. Associate Professor Sharon Ricardo, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, said the researchers had discovered that adult stem cells, combined with a protein called serelaxin, could reverse scarring. The research was published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Dangerous Leukemia Cells can be Forced to Mature into Harmless Immune Cells, Say Scientists
The outlook for patients suffering from B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia with a mutation called the Philadelphia chromosome is poor. But researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have made a chance discovery that raises hope for new treatments against the aggressive blood cancer. They report how they discovered it is possible to reprogram cancerous white blood cells to mature into harmless immune cells in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Precursor B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is an aggressive cancer that affects a type of white blood cell. The cells are immature B cells that are unable to fully differentiate into normal B cells. In their study, the researchers show how they reprogrammed cancerous cells from B-ALL patients to transform into cells that resemble normal immune system cells called macrophages that do things normal macrophages do - like gobble up bacteria.
World's First Method for Continuous Purification of Valuable Antibodies
The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) developed a method with the power to reduce production costs of highly valued drugs significantly. Two thirds of those molecules are produced biotechnologically using Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO). Actually the major cost factor for industry is purification using "protein A" affinity chromatography where tens of thousands of liters of culture volume have to be processed annually. About 80 % of the production costs fall upon purification. A feasibility study exemplified by the purification of immune globulin G (IgG) shows that the continuous method can compete with "protein A" affinity chromatography in terms of yield and outperforms chromatography according to the speed of operation.
Researchers Identify Enzyme that Causes Heart Failure
A new treatment for heart failure could soon be on the cards, according to a new study. A research team - including scientists from Johns Hopkins Medicine – claims to have discovered an enzyme that triggers the condition, and medications that block this enzyme are already being tested for other diseases. Senior investigator Dr. David Kass – professor of medicine at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - and colleagues publish their findings in the journal Nature.
WSU Researchers Show How Fatty Acids Can Fight Prostate Cancer
Washington State University researchers have found a mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells. A 2013 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had a greater risk of developing prostate cancer. It was not clear if the fatty acids came from food--certain fish, seeds and nuts are high in omega 3s—or supplements like fish oil. Working with prostate cell cultures, Meier and two students, Ze Liu and Mandi Hopkins, found the fatty acids bind to a receptor called FFA4, for "free fatty acid receptor 4." Rather than stimulating cancer cells, the receptor acts as a signal to inhibit growth factors, suppressing proliferation of the cancer cells. The study appears in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
WBC, Neutrophil Counts Predict Stroke Risk in Older Asian Men
Higher total white blood cell (WBC) and neutrophil counts are independent predictors of stroke in older Japanese-American men, according to a study published online March 4 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Ji Young Huh, M.D., from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and colleagues examined the correlation between total and differential WBC count and incident stroke in a prospective population-based study. Data were included for 3,342 Japanese-American men, aged 71 to 93 years, who were free from stroke and had baseline WBC counts measured in 1991 to 1993. Participants were followed for eight years.
Genomic Evolution of High-Risk Leukemia Traced
By genomic sequencing of leukemia cells from relapsed patients at different stages, scientists have discovered key details of how acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells mutate to survive chemotherapy. These mutations enable the cells to proliferate, causing relapse and often death. The findings are important because ALL is a leading cause of cancer deaths in children, with 15 percent of ALL patients relapsing with poor survival. The researchers said their findings will lead to new tests to monitor children in remission and to detect signs of relapse.
Why is Insulin so Expensive in the U.S.?
Dr. Jeremy Greene sees a lot of patients with diabetes that's out of control. "Every week I see patients with glucose levels so high that you can't even record the number on the glucometer," he says. Greene, a professor of medicine and history of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, started asking patients at his clinic in Baltimore why they had so much trouble keeping their blood sugar stable. He was shocked by their answer: the high cost of insulin. Greene decided to call some local pharmacies, to ask about low-cost options. He was told no such options existed. "Only then did I realize there is no such thing as generic insulin in the United States in the year 2015," he says. Greene wondered why that was the case. Why was a medicine more than 90 years old so expensive? He started looking into the history of insulin, and has published a paper about his findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Older Blood Just as Good for Transfusions
Blood that's been stored for a few weeks is just as beneficial as fresh blood for patients with life-threatening conditions who require transfusions, a new study shows. "There was no difference in mortality or organ dysfunction between the two groups, which means that fresh blood is not better than older blood," study co-leader Dr. Dean Fergusson, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, said in a research institute news release. The findings offer reassurance about the safety of blood routinely given to critically ill patients, according to the researchers. The study was published online March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Vaccine Prevents Pneumonia Among Seniors
The 13-valent polysaccharide conjugate vaccine protected older people against some strains of pneumococcus, researchers reported. And it was most effective against invasive pneumococcal disease, one of the more severe consequences of infection, according to Marc Bonten, MD, PhD, of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended in August that the 13-valent vaccine be routinely used by people 65 and older, largely because of the CAPITA results. The recommendation became official in September when it was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
U.S. State Officials Knock on Doors to Stop Spread of Bird Flu
From Minnesota to Arkansas, state officials are knocking on doors and quarantining areas in a fight to stop the spread of the biggest U.S. bird-flu outbreak on record. After a strain of the highly contagious variety of avian influenza was detected in Boone County, Arkansas, state officials are checking backyard birds at every address in a 10-kilometer zone around the infected flock, according to Bruce Holland, director of the state’s Livestock and Poultry Commission in Little Rock. Animals will be tested twice to ensure they are negative for the virus, he said.
FDA Must Make Smarter Use of Big Data
A bipartisan think tank is calling on Congress to enable the Food and Drug Administration to use hospital electronic health records and crowd-sourced patient experience data to transform the drug and medical device approval process. At the kick-off event in Washington, D.C., panel members Marc Boutin, CEO of the National Health Council, and Mark McClellan, former administrator for CMS and commissioner of the FDA, and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, agreed that the FDA's primary reliance on pre-market clinical trials to review the risks and benefits of medical innovations needed to catch up with innovations in healthcare data and systems.
The recommendations will focus on five key areas:
- Improving the time and cost associated with the discovery, development, and delivery of safe and effective drugs and devices for patients;
- Reviewing the scope of activities within the FDA;
- Advancing a more efficient and effective regulatory framework for medical products;
- Strengthening FDA's ability to carry out its mission; and
- Maintaining U.S. global leadership in medical innovation.
AHA Urges Careful Cost-benefit Analysis of Health IT Mandates
Hospitals need more flexibility in complying with Meaningful Use mandates and more certainty that the current ICD-10 deadline will stand, the American Hospital Association (AHA) said in a statement to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. It also asked Congress to enact policies to hold vendors accountable for designing and marketing safe, interoperable products. While the federal incentives were helpful in offsetting the costs of purchasing and installing electronic health records, the organization said those payments covered only 10 percent of members' implementation costs. It estimated that between 2010 and 2013, hospitals spent an average of $47 billion per year on IT operating and capital costs. Data are not yet available for 2014.
Nurses Blame Interoperability Woes for Medical Errors
Each year, a staggering 400,000 people are estimated to have died due to medical errors. What's more, each day there's also 10,000 serious complications resulting from medical mistakes. Part of the blame, nurses are saying, can be attributed to the lack of interoperability among medical devices. That's according to new data published by the non-partisan Gary and Mary West Health Institute, which sought input from nurses nationwide. The results are telling. Some 60 percent of registered nurses said medical errors could significantly decrease if hospital medical devices were coordinated and interoperable. Even more marked was that half of them said they actually witnessed a medical mistake due to the lack of interoperability of these devices, which include infusion pumps, electronic medical records and pulse oximeters.
5 Tips for Strengthening EHR Data Security
While electronic health records systems and databases have enabled the healthcare industry to modernize patient care and information collection, an unintended side effect is that these vulnerable systems have made also data more accessible to hackers.
By following a few simple guidelines, in fact, healthcare providers can enhance data security efforts.
- Spearhead campaigns toward a culture of security
- Conduct risk-assessments of EHRs
- Practice comprehensive penetration testing on a regular basis
- Adopt a strict data architecture model
- Develop strategic plans to avoid and survive data breaches
Google Files Patent for Wearable it Claims Could Target Cancer
Google has filed a patent for a wearable device that it claims can target particles in the blood and change their function, with the potential to treat cancer. The device was invented by Andrew Jason Conrad, a project manager at Google[x], the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's hardware products and research side. The wearable is designed to attach to the wrist and is affixed to a magnet aimed at subsurface veins. The magnet is tuned and configured to a target type of cell that has the ability to cause adverse health effects. The patent suggests using it to treat Parkinson's disease by providing particles that attach to proteins that have been indicated to a partial cause of Parkinson's. Cancer is another suggested target, saying the device could selectively target and modify or destroy cancer cells, effectively stopping its spread. The device has not been built or tested yet.
Patients Will Record Encounters, and Docs Must Adjust
Physicians must accept the possibility that every conversation with a patient may be secretly recorded by the patient, wrote two physicians and a lawyer in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That is the first step for physicians to protect themselves from possible negative consequences of such encounters, said Michelle Rodriguez, JD, who is also a medical student, and colleagues at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, in a Viewpoint. Federal law allows the recording of a private conversation as long as at least one party to the conversation consents to the recording. Some states, such as California and Massachusetts, require the consent of all parties to record.
New UN Report Highlights ‘Terrifying’ Impact of Ebola on Nine Million Children
Some nine million children have seen “death and suffering beyond their comprehension,” and protecting them and their communities is critical in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a report released today. UNICEF said the report, which was released in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, Geneva, and New York, “looks at the dramatic impact Ebola has had on children as it hit some of the most vulnerable communities in some of the world's most vulnerable countries.” Of the more than 24,000 people infected, some 5,000 are children, while more than 16,000 children have lost one or both parents or their primary caregiver, according to UNICEF.
Breastfeeding 'Linked to Higher IQ'
A long-term study has pointed to a link between breastfeeding and intelligence. The research in Brazil traced nearly 3,500 babies, from all walks of life, and found those who had been breastfed for longer went on to score higher on IQ tests as adults. Experts say the results, while not conclusive, appear to back current advice that babies should be exclusively breastfed for six months. But they say mothers should still have a choice about whether or not to do it.
The Toll of a Solitary Life
Do you like being alone? New research from Brigham Young University shows just how bad loneliness and social isolation, even for people who prefer their own company, can be for health. The researchers analyzed data collected from 70 studies and more than 3.4 million people from 1980 to 2014. The studies, which followed people for about seven years on average, showed that people who were socially isolated, lonely or living alone had about a 30 percent higher chance of dying during a given study period than those who had regular social contact. Notably, the effect was greater for younger people than for those over 65, according to the report in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
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