American Waistlines Still Expanding, Study Says

According to a study from U.S. health researchers, the average waistline of Americans have increased by more than an inch over the past decade.

Along with the increase in waist circumference measurements, the number of Americans with abdominal obesity increased by about eight percentage points between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012, researchers from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found.

“We’ve been doing these studies for a number of years now,” said Dr. Earl Ford, the study’s lead author. “We’ve had three previous publications. Our last one looked through 2008 so we wanted to see what was happening in recent years.”

Many studies on obesity use a measurement known as Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a measurement of weight in relation to height.

BMI may not be an accurate measure of abdominal obesity because it gives a measurement of overall body mass. BMI can’t measure how the weight is distributed.

“There are some researchers that feel waist circumference is a better measure of abdominal obesity,” Ford said.

Abdominal obesity tends to be associated with worse health outcomes. Sometimes the fat tends to collect around the body’s internal organs, but it’s still unclear why it worsens outcomes.

Abdominal obesity is defined as a waist circumference of about 40 inches for men and about 35 inches for women, the researchers write in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

For the new study, they used data from a national study conducted every two years. Overall, they had data on 32,816 men and non-pregnant women, 20 years old and older.

The average waist circumference increased from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-2012.

Overall, men had the smallest average increase in waist circumference of 0.8 inches. The average waist circumference of women increased by about 1.5 inches.

The prevalence of abdominal obesity increased from 46.4 percent in 1999-2000 to 54.2 percent in 2011-2012. Again, women had the greatest increase in rates of abdominal obesity.

African and Mexican Americans also had large increase in their waist circumference and abdominal obesity, compared to white Americans, researchers found.

In contrast to the increase in waist circumference and abdominal obesity, Ford and his colleagues write that past studies have found no change in BMI between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.

They say the difference between stagnate BMI scores and increasing waist circumference may be attributable to worse sleep, disruption of hormones and certain medications. However, those are just speculations.

“We’re still at a high level of obesity regardless of how you want to measure it,” Ford said.

“People still have to watch their diets and physical activity levels,” he said.

Source: Reuters

Non-Romantic Sexual Fantasies Can Ruin Your Love Life

Having sexual fantasies with your partner is not all bad but people with high levels of psychopathic traits lean towards non-romantic sexual fantasies with anonymous and uncommitted partners that may harm their actual sex life.

According to researchers from Trent University in Canada, psychopathic sexual behavior arises owing to a preference for sexual activity outside a loving, committed relationship rather than only an inability to form such relationships.

Most people have sexual fantasies and that is quite healthy and normal. “However, people with higher levels of psychopathic traits are more likely to report having actually engaged in those fantasized behaviors, especially when the behaviors were not within the context of established romantic relationships,” explained Dr Beth A. Visser from the Trent University, Ottawa in Canada.

To reach this conclusion, authors performed two studies;
The idea was to examine the relations between psychopathic traits and sexual fantasy content.

In the first study, they rated content themes in the fantasy narratives of 195 men and women recruited at a Canadian University.

In the second study, they administered a sexual fantasy questionnaire to 355 Canadian undergraduate students.

That is, are individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits more or less likely than other individuals to fantasize about certain fantasy content? Specifically, at higher levels of psychopathy, does partner variety take precedence over emotional connection in sexual fantasies?” asked Dr. Visser.

Furthermore, they sought to understand whether psychopathy moderated the relations between sexual fantasy and sexual behavior. “That is, are individuals with higher levels of psychopathic traits more likely to engage in the sexual activities about which they fantasize, particularly when those fantasies are deviant or outside social norms?” the authors deliberated.

They found that individuals with deviant sexual preferences and normal levels of empathy, kindness and self-control have many strategies for satisfying their needs, including negotiation, compromise, and restraint.

“However, individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits might turn to sexually aggressive strategies to attain gratification,” Dr. Visser noted. The research was published in the Journal of Personality.


Five Tips To Keep The Flu Away On Your Wedding Day

With all the nervousness cranking up your adrenaline as you approach closer to your D-day, one thing that can ruin it all is not roses instead of lilies or a different flavor for the cake; The worst that can go wrong on your weeding day is being sick. How unfortunate will it be to exchange your vows with a runny nose or a sore throat! A bad headache or a flu is even worst.

Autumn weddings might be a rage right now, but the year-end also brings along cold and flu. If you are one of those who gets sick easily, start with a prevention product to avoid ruining your wedding day.

Here are some top tips to help you get through that special day in your life without falling sick:

Preparation: As the big day approaches, use a cold and flu prevention product that can be worn under make-up and catch and block airborne viruses from entering your nasal passages, preventing illness.

Use disposable tissues: Always use disposable tissues, and not a fabric handkerchief which can harbor germs as your eyes are a magnet for germs.

Wear gloves: Cold viruses can lie on the hands for up to an hour, so shaking hands with guests is an ideal way for them to transfer. Invest in some stylish gloves, which can be removed at the evening party once everyone has exchanged handshakes and greetings.

Beauty sleep: Pre-wedding nerves can be cause for a sleepless night before the big day, however sleep is key to giving your body the rest and rejuvenation it needs. Make sure that your pre-wedding plans don’t drag far into the eve before your wedding day.

Stay warm and cosy: If you are having photographs outside, then invest in a wrap or jacket to take with you.

With Inputs from IANS and

Blame Your Brain For All Those Junk Food Cravings!

Are those hot crispy fries calling out to you and you can’t resist to grab a pack! Even if you’re on a strict diet plan, sometimes that meat laden burger stares right at you from the window  and you are just too tempted to forget your weight loss frenzy for a while.

According to a recent study that appeared in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Bio-behavioral Medicine, researchers from University of Waterloo, Canada have stated that, the reason why some people cannot resist calorie-dense snacks even at the risk of gaining extra weight may be due to decreased activity in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC), which is involved in the executive functions of the brain. Executive function refers to a set of cognitive functions that enable “top-down” control of action, emotion and thought.

“Decreased DLPFC activity appeared to be associated with increased reward sensitivity – it made the participants more sensitive to the rewarding properties of palatable high caloric foods,” the researchers from University of Waterloo in Canada said.

The results suggest that interventions aimed at enhancing or preserving DLPFC function may help to prevent obesity and related diseases. “These findings shed light on the role of the DLPFC in food cravings (specifically reward anticipation), the consumption of appealing high caloric foods and the relation between self-control and food consumption,” said senior study author Peter Hall from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

The study included 21 healthy young women, selected after they reported strong and frequent cravings for chocolate and potato chips. The women were shown pictures of these foods to stimulate cravings.

The researchers then applied a type of magnetic stimulation, called continuous theta-burst stimulation, to decrease activity in the DLPFC. After the theta-burst stimulation, the women reported stronger food cravings – specifically for milk chocolate and potato chips.

Source: IANS

Post-Immunization Epilepsy Likely Not Related To Vaccine: Study

According to a new study published in Pediatrics, children who start having seizures soon after a vaccination and go on to develop epilepsy usually turn out to have an underlying cause of the seizure disorder.

“It’s reassuring to hear that with follow-up testing, the vast majority of these cases can be identified as coming from a different cause,” Dr. Shannon MacDonald told Reuters Health.

“These types of studies are important because parents have a right to expect that we take vaccine safety seriously and that we investigate any potential adverse events following immunization,” added MacDonald, who studies vaccine safety and parents’ decision-making about vaccines at the University of Calgary but wasn’t involved in the new research.

Some babies and young children are prone to have convulsions, or seizures, when they develop a high fever. One in 25 children will have at least one of these events, known as febrile seizures, according to the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

While febrile seizures can be frightening to parents, they usually are brief and cause no harm.

According to the authors of the new study, in the days after receiving a vaccine, compared to other times, children are two to five times more likely to have a febrile seizure.

“When a child has its first seizure shortly after a vaccination, and continues to have seizures thereafter, parents may think the vaccination has caused the epilepsy. However, in our study the majority of children who developed epilepsy after a vaccination, had a genetic or structural cause of the epilepsy,” Dr. Nienke Verbeek, a clinical geneticist at University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands, told Reuters Health.

“In these children, the vaccination should only be considered a trigger for the first seizure that thereby unmasks the child’s underlying susceptibility for epilepsy,” Verbeek added.

Roughly one in every 100 healthy, normally developing children will develop epilepsy after a febrile seizure, according to NINDS, but children with certain conditions, including cerebral palsy and developmental delay, are at greater risk.

The study:
To better understand the relationship between febrile seizures and epilepsy, the researchers looked at nearly a thousand children who had a first seizure within several days of being vaccinated. Twenty-six of the children were later diagnosed with epilepsy, and the researchers were able to follow up with 23 of them.

Eight of the children had Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which seizures may be brought on by fever, infectious disease, or vaccination. Three of the children had developmental delays and structural brain defects that could cause epilepsy. Four other children had gene mutations that could cause epilepsy, brain malformations, or a family history of the disease.

“Although no underlying cause was detected in one-third of children with epilepsy with vaccination-related onset, a genetic basis of epilepsy in these children is still possible: genetic analysis were incomplete, some children had positive family histories for seizures, and molecular defects underlying many genetically determined epilepsies have yet to be discovered,” Verbeek and her colleagues write.

“For parents it is important to understand that a genetic cause (a so called DNA-mutation) for epilepsy cannot be induced by vaccinations,” Verbeek told Reuters Health. ” These mutations are already present in the child before it is born. They may have been transmitted by one of the parents, but more commonly have occurred spontaneously around the time of conception.”

The findings “provide a pretty strong case that this was not caused by the vaccination,” Dr. Jorn Olsen told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

Olsen, a professor at Aarhus University in Denmark and at UCLA who has studied febrile seizures and epilepsy, added, “They probably would have gotten epilepsy in every case so that the disease was present at least for some of these already at the time when they had the vaccination.”

Source: Reuters

U.S. Lawmakers Want To Curb The Use Of Antibiotics On Farms

Two U.S. lawmakers are calling for action to rein in the antibiotic use in livestock, in response to a Reuters investigation showing how top U.S. poultry firms have been administering drugs to their flocks.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY), said she plans to introduce new legislation authorizing the Food and Drug Administration to collect data on “farm-level antibiotic use.” The pledge was part of a letter that Gillibrand had sent  to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Tuesday. In the letter, Gillibrand said that “the scale of injudicious use” of antibiotics in poultry production documented by Reuters “was staggering.”

Another member of Congress, Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-NY), urged fellow lawmakers to address the issue at a hearing on antibiotic resistance scheduled Friday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on health.

“Industry has kept data showing the rampant, dangerous use of antibiotics hidden from the public for one reason: to protect corporate profits at the expense of public health,” Slaughter said.

Reuters reviewed more than 320 internal documents, called “feed tickets,” that detail the practices of five major companies – Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, George’s and Koch Foods. The feed tickets list the names and grams per ton of each “active drug ingredient” in feed. They also indicate the FDA-approved purpose of those medications, and specify during which stage in a chicken’s roughly six-week life the feed should be administered.

The documents show that antibiotics were given as standard practice over most of the life of the chickens, and not just when the birds are sick. In every instance of antibiotic use identified, the doses were at the low levels that scientists say are especially conducive to the growth of so-called super-bugs — bacteria that can gain resistance to conventional medicines used to treat people. Some of the antibiotics belong to categories considered medically important to humans.

In  an interview, another major producer, Foster Poultry Farms, acknowledged that it also has used the antibiotics chlortetracycline and penicillin selectively but not as part of standard feed. The two drugs are in the same class as antibiotics considered medically important to humans by the FDA.

The FDA has issued voluntary guidelines to regulate antibiotic use by producers of poultry and other livestock. The use of antibiotics rated medically important by the FDA for growth promotion is scheduled to be phased out by December 2016. The FDA says it also inspects the mills where animal feed is made but does not examine the feed tickets themselves – documents that show how drugs are administered.

In response to the Reuters report, the National Chicken Council, an industry trade group, said that the majority of antibiotics approved for use in raising chickens are not used in human medicine, and pose no threat of creating resistance.

“We understand the concern about the use of antibiotics in farm animals and recognize our responsibility to ensure they are properly used for the right reasons to protect the health of animals, humans and the food supply,” said Ashley Peterson, the council’s vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.

Gillibrand said the legislation she intends to sponsor would enable the FDA to track farm-level antibiotic use by collecting veterinary prescriptions. Under a new FDA rule, company veterinarians will be required to issue a prescription whenever antibiotics are used. But that rule doesn’t take effect until April 2016.

Some companies are reluctant to discuss how they medicate their flocks.

In a letter dated Sept. 8, Pilgrim’s Pride advised its growers to protect “our confidential and proprietary information (information such as the information contained on feed tickets for example).” Violating what the company called “biosecurity and confidentiality obligations” is “a terminable offense” and the growers could be liable for damages, the letter said. Growers were asked to sign and date the letter.

A Pilgrim’s Pride spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Source: Reuters

Weight Loss On Anti-psychotics Is Possible: Study

The drugs people take to help ease serious mental illnesses often contribute to weight gain and blood-sugar problems, but researchers say a lifestyle intervention can be helpful on both fronts.

The so-called “anti-psychotic drugs” that patients take to control their symptoms tend to stimulate hunger and thirst and cause metabolic changes.

But in a new test of a year-long intervention, people taking these drugs for illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were able to lose weight and improve their blood sugar levels.

“The results are somewhat surprising because people with serious mental illnesses have many barriers to losing weight,” said lead author Carla A. Green, of the Center for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Oregon. “That is really important because people with serious mental illness are already at much higher risk for obesity and obesity-related disease and they have a reduced life expectancy because of this.”

A number of medication side-effects, including weight gain, deter some people from taking their prescribed anti-psychotics, Green said.

“Our study showed that if given the right tools, they can lose similar amounts of weight as people without severe mental illnesses,” she told Reuters Health by email.

Clozapine (FazaClo), olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel) and risperidone (Risperdal), which treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses, have all been linked to increased risk of weight gain.

The study:
Green and her team studied 200 adults who’d been taking anti-psychotic medications for at least a month and who had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 27. BMI is a measure of weight relative to height; the cutoff for “overweight” is 25.

They explain in the American Journal of Psychiatry that patients were randomly assigned to an “intervention” group that participated in the new program, or a comparison group that just got their usual medical care.

In the intervention group, participants attended weekly two-hour group meetings for the first six months of the study. At each session, they met with mental health counselors and nutritionists; each meeting also included 20 minutes of physical activity.

In addition, participants recorded what and how much they ate, how much they slept and how much they exercised, with a goal of at least 25 minutes of moderate activity per day.

The intervention was focused on improved diet with more vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy, moderate caloric restriction, increased exercise primarily from walking, stress management, and improved sleep, Green said.

For the second half of the year, the participants met to discuss strategies for maintaining weight loss.

The comparison group did not participate in the weight loss or maintenance interventions.

People in the intervention group lost an average of about 10 pounds over the duration of the study. Those in the comparison group also lost some weight, but much smaller amounts, the authors write.

In the intervention group, 40 percent of participants lost at least five percent of their initial body weight, and 18 percent lost at least 10 percent of their initial weight.

Over the course of the year, fasting blood-sugar levels went down in the intervention group, but they went up in the comparison group.

Use of anti-psychotic drugs in the U.S. has been on the rise since the 1990’s, especially among kids.

The intervention resulted in a relatively modest weight loss, and did not depend on the type of medication, said Dr. Daniel J. Mueller, who has done research on ways to improve psychiatric drug treatment at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Individual motivation is key when addressing weight loss, Mueller told Reuters Health by email. Although patients with serious mental illness face more difficulties, some will be motivated enough to overcome them, he said.

“Some doctors will now routinely start treatment with relatively weight neutral anti-psychotics first, like aripiprazole (Abilify) or ziprasidone (Geodon), if they work,” he said.

But the drugs that work the best on average also have high weight gain risk, like clozapine and olanzapine, or at least moderate risk, like risperidone, Mueller said.

“In our qualitative interviews, we found that group support was one of the most important components of our intervention,” Green said. “Many of our participants said they benefited from the camaraderie of others who faced the same challenges, and this may be particularly important among people with serious mental health problems because they tend to be more socially isolated.”

People taking anti-psychotics can talk to their doctors about weight gain and medication alternatives, weight management programs and support groups while increasing physical activity, decreasing calories and portion size, she said.

“Perhaps more importantly, lifestyle change programs of this type are not routinely offered in community mental health centers because the programs focus on physical health concerns and this makes reimbursement for those services difficult if not impossible in mental health settings,” Green said.

That makes it hard to provide lifestyle change programs in the places where people with serious mental illnesses are most likely to be able to take advantage of them, she said.

Source: Reuters

5 Do’s & Don’ts for Natural Weight Loss

7_fit_in_fitness292436103_full_13594905525Human beings have a “natural” DNA-based urge to gorge at every sitting. Primitive man never knew just when his next meal would arrive, so he did what made sense: He ate as much as he could, storing the fat for lean times like winter and drought, and building up the resources for his lifestyle of high energy hunting, farming and gathering.
In light of the above, doesn’t it seem as though nature actually opposes the notion of weight loss by anyone, anywhere, at any time?Now couple the hard-wired and deeply ingrained eating habits of our species with an endless supply of food that did not exist even 100 years ago, ever-growing portion sizes at restaurants, and a barrage of ads and commercials promoting the newest triple-layered food sensation.

No wonder losing weight seems like the most unnatural activity on earth. And billions of dollars are spent worldwide on diets, supplements, exercise equipment, gym memberships, weight-loss clinics, books, DVD’s and the like, all because they promise weight loss. And for those of you looking to jump-start your weight loss regimen, there are even some new trend diets, like the 17-Day Diet and the Dukan Diet, that even promise to help you lose weight without compromising your health.

Still, I  believe that you should think of  weight loss as something natural, even though it’s difficult.

Many concepts have been promoted to guide people in their quest for natural weight loss. In the 80’s, diet gurus promoted the idea of thinking of food as fuel. While that is true, it’s also inaccurate, because it misses the point of good health. Almost any food is fuel, but not all food is nutrition. Food as fuel is just so…80’s.

It’s your view of food that has everything to do with weight loss. And how should you see food? Here are four words that will change everything:

It’s All About Nutrition!
If I had to give you one major concept to consider, it would be this: see your food as nutrition. Every food choice you make, every time you cook, every bite you take, ask yourself the following question:

“What kind of nutrients am I getting?”

Nutrients are everything in any weight loss plan. For instance, there is not a single vitamin or mineral that does not play a role in regulating blood sugar. If you can’t regulate blood sugar, you will not lose weight. Nutrients are responsible for synthesizing hormones and neurotransmitters. If your hormones or brain are out of balance, you cannot lose weight

In addition, nutrients are your only defense against disease. Your immune system needs all the essential vitamins, minerals micronutrients in order to fight off disease and function best. Which includes the ability to exercise—a crucial component of losing weight.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you in your quest to lose weight naturally. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are important big picture rules that can help you get on track and stay on track.

Five Do’s for Natural Weight Loss

  1. DO eat the highest quality food possible. That may sound like a given, but it’s rarely as easy as it seems. By high-quality food, I mean food with the most nutrition, the least amount of adulterants, and as fresh as possible. Try to eat mostly organic food, as it is usually higher in nutrition and less contaminated. This applies particularly to meat and dairy products, which are often loaded with hormones, steroids, antibiotics and pesticides.
  2. DO eat close to the ground. Eat your food as close to its natural state as possible. This means fresh, simply prepared and even raw from time to time. The less processed your food, the more likely you are to get all of the nutrients available in the food. Cooking, processing and packaging all degrade the nutritional power of your food.
  3. DO eat breakfast every day. There is overwhelming evidence pointing to breakfast as the most important meal in terms of weight loss. People who eat breakfast every day are much more likely to lose weight and keep it off, but still, too many of us skip breakfast. One way to make sure you start every day off right is to add a little variety, and try out different a different healthy breakfast recipe every day.
  4. DO make lean protein your priority. Protein is from the Greek word protos, meaning “first.” Protein is the primary building block for hormones, neurotransmitters, and your immune and detoxification systems.  And by the way, the protein rule applies to breakfast as well.
  5. DO make your diet about color and variety. And by color, I do not mean white and brown. I am talking color—red, yellow, orange, green and purple. This means fruits and vegetables. These foods contain the antioxidants and phytonutrients that are crucial for heart health, brain function, keen vision and more. You need them. And make sure to eat a variety of foods. Not only does eating variety help one avoid food sensitivities, there is an old Chinese adage that says for every food you add to your diet, you add 100 days to your life.

Five Don’ts for Natural Weight Loss

  1. DON’T keep “empty” foods, foods with little or no nutritional value, in the house. No one is perfect—almost everyone eats some empty foods every now and then. However, if there are no empty foods in your pantry, the less likely you are to eat them. If you have to get out of the house to indulge your cravings for the brown, white, empty foods, at least you’ll have to inconvenience yourself to eat them. Don’t make it easy on yourself.
  2. DON’T eat it if it’s not food. If it comes in a package, it is probably processed to the point of being bereft of nutrition. Read the label of any packaged food: if it contains something you have never heard of or can’t pronounce, it’s probably just empty calories rather than food, so avoid it.
  3. DON’T wait until you get ravenous. If you wait until you are starving to eat, you will lose the ability to choose wisely. If cheap, empty calories are available, your subconscious brain will lead you right to them, and your face will be stuffed with empty food before you realize it. Always have a nutritious snack or meal nearby in case of emergencies. You have to plan and prepare.
  4. DON’T eat out. First, eating out gives you a warped perspective on portion sizes. In an effort to seemingly give you more for your money, restaurants are serving up larger portions—usually of the processed, white, brown, empty foods. Also, you cannot know the quality of the food you are eating. Besides—eating at home is cheaper.
  5. DON’T  “stay off the horse” when you get thrown. Everyone chooses poorly at some point. But some people use that as an excuse to give up. They start out saying I messed up, but I’ll get back on the program on Monday, next week, after the holidays. Usually they don’t get back on the program at all. I always say that you are only one meal or one workout away from being on track—the next one. If you fall off, learn from your mistake and get back on that horse!

These simple rules are a good start for any natural weight loss plan. Stick with them, and you will see results. And don’t forget my number one health and fitness principle: “The object is to lose WEIGHT, not your MIND.”

Childrens’ Respiratory Illness Spreads To A Dozen US States –CDC

A serious respiratory illness sickening kids has spread to around 12 U.S. states, said the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ on Tuesday, as it predicted that more states are anticipated to report  such cases in coming weeks.

The growing list of states with confirmed cases now includes Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, the CDC said.

Known as enterovirus D68, the somewhat rare virus can cause symptoms ranging from mild fever to difficulty in breathing and wheezing, severe enough to require hospitalization.

Since mid-August, the CDC has received reports of 130 people with confirmed cases of the virus. There is no vaccine; and infants, children and teenagers have the greatest risk of infection. So far, there have been no reported deaths from the illness, which could be fatal in serious cases.

Many of the children who became very ill in Missouri and Illinois, where early outbreaks were seen, had asthma or a history of wheezing, said the CDC, which is working with state health officials to better understand infection trends.

U.S. health officials expect more states to confirm cases in the weeks ahead, noting that clusters of illness are under investigation in several states and that testing to confirm the virus takes time.

More reported cases may just mean a testing backlog is clearing, and not necessarily that the situation is worsening, CDC said.

On Monday, the Alabama Department of Public Health said it was investigating reports of children suspected to have contracted the virus and had confirmed several cases in the southern part of the state.

Over the weekend, the Connecticut Department of Public Health said it had received reports of young children with severe illness from two hospitals in different parts of the state that could be due to the virus.

To limit the spread of the illness, public health officials have urged frequent washing of hands and encouraged asthma patients to strictly adhere to their medications and hence prevent their illness from getting worse.

The summer and fall are prime seasons for enteroviruses to spread in the United States, according to the CDC, and health officials expect infections of the strain to taper off later this year.

Source: Reuters

Can’t Get Enough Of Music? Blame Your Genes!

Are you clueless about why your partner has an innate drive for music while you just cannot understand all that jazz and hip-pop? Blame it on your genes!

Research published in the journal BioEssay, suggests that genes that affect hearing and cognitive function may play important role in one’s musical aptitude – the ability to understand and perceive rhythm, pitch, timbre, tone duration and formal structure in music.

“The results show that genomic approaches can be applied to musical traits, that will, in effect, reveal new biological mechanisms affecting human evolution, brain function and civilization,” explained Irma Jarvela from the department of medical genetics at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The authors explained that extremes in musical aptitude (extreme capacity/no capacity) are rare within a population, with the majority of individuals having moderate aptitude. “This is a typical feature of a complex trait attributable to several underlying genes and it is influenced to varying degrees by environmental factors, such as exposure to music or musical training,” Jarvela added.

Recent genomic approaches have shown that the genes responsible for inner ear development, auditory pathways and neuro-cognitive processes may underlay musical aptitude. “Several genetic loci associated with musical aptitude have been identified in genome-wide linkage studies, that aim to find genetic variants that due to their proximity are inherited together with musical aptitude,” the authors wrote.

Intriguingly, the genome-wide analysis performed in Finnish and Mongolian populations with different music phenotype and different linkage mapping methods both identified a partly overlapping genetic region.

“The identified loci contained candidate genes that affect inner ear development and neuro-cognitive processes which are necessary traits for music perception,” Jarvela noted. This research suggests that musical aptitude is an innate ability.

The study appeared in the journal BioEssays.

Source: IANS