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Prescribing video games for kids with sensory and attention problems

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, May 8th, 2017

FILE PHOTO – Visitors play use keyboards as they play during the Gamescom 2012 fair in Cologne August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

(Reuters Health) – The right kind of video game might one day help improve attention skills in some kids with sensory disorders that make it hard to process what they see and hear, a small experiment suggests.

For the study, researchers focused on 38 children with what’s known as sensory processing dysfunction, a condition that can make them unusually sensitive to things like the sound of a toilet flushing or the feel of a tag inside a shirt. The experiment also included a control group of 25 typically developing kids.

After four weeks of playing games designed to help kids with sensory problems, researchers found a significant improvement in attention skills among a subset of 20 kids with sensory issues who also had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“Children with sensory processing dysfunction have differences in the way their brains are wired,” said senior study author Dr. Elysa Marco of the University of California San Francisco.

“We think that there are differences in not only the wiring for sensory modulation but also for what we call cognitive control which includes the ability to sustain attention even in the face of distraction,” Marco said by email.

The University of California San Francisco and Akili Interactive Labs are developing the game kids played on a digital platform called Project: EVO. Researchers are investigating EVO as a therapy for children with cognitive impairments, including sensory processing dysfunction and ADHD.

An estimated one in 20 kids have sensory processing problems. Depending on their issues, they might be treated with occupational therapy to help them become more comfortable with input that upsets them, like loud noise or bright light, or they might be trained to become more sensitive to input they ignore, like pain, that makes them engage in reckless behavior.

The game is designed to help strengthen how the brain processes and prioritizes thoughts and external stimuli. Players help a character in the game navigate through winding paths, avoiding walls and obstacles. As they improve, the game becomes more difficult.

Kids in the study ranged in age from 8 to 11 years old. Researchers asked them to play EVO for 25 minutes, five days a week for four weeks.

At the start of the study, 54 percent of the children with sensory processing problems also had ADHD, based on symptoms reported by their parents, researchers report in PLoS ONE.

After playing the game for a month, parents of seven of the kids with both sensory issues and ADHD reported enough improvement in their children for kids to no longer meet the clinical definition for ADHD, the study found.

Beyond its small size and the experimental nature of the therapeutic game being tested, other limitations of the study include the lack of tests comparing EVO to a placebo game that wasn’t designed to achieve specific medical outcomes, the authors note.

“One wouldn’t hypothesize that any random game would help,” said Aaron Seitz, director of the University of California Riverside Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Wellbeing.

“Key to the success of this study is that the Evo game is designed to train players to selectively attend to target stimuli and ignore distracting stimuli,” Seitz, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

If it reaches the market, it might make sense to consider EVO among the behavioral interventions to give children in addition to medication, Seitz added.

“The ideal is for drugs to be temporary measures that together with therapy can help children learn to cope with their conditions and then as they improve they can be weaned off the drugs,” Seitz said. “While there is some hope that this type of video game . . . can replace drugs, the more realistic perspective is that it is an additional tool that doctors and parents can use to improve outcomes.” —  By Lisa Rapaport

SOURCE: bit.ly/2qx43Ji PLoS ONE, online April 5, 2017.

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Cigarette smoking during pregnancy linked to ADHD risk in offspring

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018

A woman is silhouetted as she smokes a cigarette in central Sydney August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

(Reuters Health) – Children born to women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy, especially when mothers are heavy smokers, are at an increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new review of medical studies confirms.

Mothers who smoked during pregnancy had an overall 60 percent higher risk of having a child with ADHD compared to women who didn’t smoke. For mothers who smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, the risk of having a child who developed ADHD was 54 percent higher than for nonsmoking mothers. For mothers who were heavier smokers, the risk was 75 percent higher than for nonsmokers.

An increased risk of ADHD for children of women who smoke while pregnant has been reported before. What’s new here, the authors say, is that the data have been pooled from studies in multiple countries and time periods, and also that as the daily tally of cigarettes went up, the risk of ADHD went up.

The findings “lend greater strength and credibility and statistical power to previous studies that likewise show that pregnant women who smoke have a greater likelihood of having a child with ADHD,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.

Adesman, who was not involved in the research, told Reuters Health by phone that the study ”has to be taken seriously. Women who smoke during pregnancy have one more reason to stop.”

According to 2011 Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) data from 24 states, approximately 10 percent of American women reported smoking during the last three months of pregnancy.

Eleven percent of U.S. children ages 4 to 17, or 6.4 million children, have been diagnosed with ADHD based on parent reports, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ADHD can affect attention, hyperactivity and self-control, causing difficulty in school and socially.

As reported in Pediatrics, Dr. Dezhi Mu and colleagues at West China Second University Hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, analyzed 20 studies published between 1998 and 2017 that looked at the potential role of smoking during pregnancy and the risk of ADHD in offspring. Altogether, the studies involved nearly 3 million people in Europe, Brazil, Japan, Australia and the U.S.

The team found lower risks for ADHD in children of mothers who smoked in the U.S. and Europe, where more smokers stop smoking when they get pregnant.

“It would be a big leap from that, but if you are a prior smoker and stop during pregnancy, the inference is that the risk of ADHD goes down,” Dr. Jeffrey Newcorn, director, The Center of Excellence in ADHD and Related Disorders, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told Reuters Health in a phone interview.

Data from seven studies showed that while mothers’ smoking had a greater effect than fathers’ smoking on ADHD risk, there was still a 20 percent higher risk of ADHD in children born to fathers who smoked.

The new analysis can’t prove that smoking causes ADHD. Among other limitations of the new research are that different criteria were used to diagnose ADHD in the various studies, and tobacco use during pregnancy was self-reported by the mothers.

Newcorn, who was not involved in the research, would like to see more studies on the relationship between genetic and environmental factors in developing ADHD, as well as the role of nicotine exposure.

SOURCE: bit.ly/2liopCy Pediatrics, online December 29, 2017.

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Who’s your mummy? Egyptian mummification older than was thought

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, August 15th, 2014

Two layers of textile, the inner impregnated with embalming substances, is shown from the Early Pre-dynastic in Mostagedda in this undated handout photo provided by the University of York on August 13, 2014. REUTERS/Ron Oldfield and Jana Jones/University of York/Bolton Museum/Handout via Reuters

(Reuters) – It has long been known that the practice of mummification of the dead in ancient Egypt – fundamental to that civilization’s belief in eternal life – was old, but only now are researchers unwrapping the mystery of just how long ago it began.

Researchers on Wednesday said a form of mummification was being carried out there more than six thousand years ago, much earlier than previously thought. They said embalming substances contained in funerary textiles from the oldest-known Egyptian cemeteries showed mummy-making from as early as about 4300 BC.

The embalming agents were infused into the linen used to wrap the corpse to provide an antibacterial and protective barrier. It was not as elaborate as the process used much later on the bodies of powerful pharaohs and other elites as well as many ordinary Egyptians, but came more than 1,500 years earlier than Egyptian mummification had been thought to have started.

There is evidence of mummification involving remains from around 2600 BC of Queen Hetepheres, mother of Khufu, the pharaoh who commissioned the Great Pyramid at Giza outside Cairo. There also is evidence of linen that contained resin being used to wrap bodies around 2800 BC.

The researchers were amazed to find that the plant, animal and mineral components used in preparing the mummies at the cemeteries in Mostagedda in central Egypt were essentially the same embalming “recipe” used thousands of years later at the pinnacle of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

“I was surprised that the prehistoric Egyptians, who lived in a tribal society 1,000 years before the invention of writing, were already in possession of the empirical science that would later become true mummification,” said one of the researchers, Jana Jones, an Egyptologist at Macquarie University in Australia.

Biochemical analysis identified the components from funerary textiles retrieved from the cemeteries during excavations in the 1920s and 1930s and held in Britain’s Bolton Museum. The “recipe” consisted of a plant oil or animal fat base, with smaller amounts of a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum and petroleum.

“The ancient Egyptians believed the survival of the body after death was necessary in order to ‘live again’ in the afterlife and become immortal. Without the preserved body, this was not possible,” said Stephen Buckley, an archaeological chemist at Britain’s University of York who led the scientific research.

Jones said mummification demanded rare and costly ingredients, some from distant lands. Pine resin in the Mostagedda textiles may have come from southeastern Turkey, many hundreds of miles away.

The practice of mummification reached its peak during the era known as the New Kingdom, between about 1550 BC and 1000 BC, when powerful pharaohs reigned including Ramses II and Thutmose III, as well as the “boy king” Tutankhamun, better known as “King Tut.”

It largely stopped with Christianity’s influence around AD 400. Some Christians continued it in some form until it ended completely with the arrival of Arabs spreading the new religion of Islam in AD 642.

The study appears in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

(Reporting by Will Dunham, editing by G Crosse)

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Pagbebenta ng feeding bottles na nagtataglay ng kemikal na Bisphenol A, hiniling na ipagbawal

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2013

Ang ilan sa mga halimbawa ng mga feeding bottles na may BPA o Bisphenol A. (UNTV News)

Ang ilan sa mga halimbawa ng mga feeding bottles na may BPA o Bisphenol A. (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines – Hiniling ng iba’t-ibang environmental at health groups sa Food and Drug Administration (FDA) na tuluyan nang ipagbawal ang kemikal na Bisphenol A o BPA.

Sa petisyon ng EcoWaste Coalition sa FDA, nais ng mga ito ang pagpapatupad ng agarang pagbabawal sa pagbili, paggamit at pagbebenta ng containers na nagtataglay ng BPA.

Ang BPA ay isang uri ng kemikal na karaniwang ginagamit sa paggawa ng clear feeding bottles, food can liners at cups para sa mga sanggol.

Bata sa mga pag-aaral na naisagawa, sinasabing ang exposure sa BPA ay maaaring maging sanhi ng iba’t ibang sakit tulad ng breast cancer, prostate cancer, coronary heart disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at reproductive abnormalities.

Kabilang sa mga bansang nagpatupad ng ban sa BPA sa mga baby bottle ang Canada (2008), France (2010), China (2011), USA (2012), Taiwan (2013) at 27 bansa na  miyembro ng European Union.

Ilang bansa na rin ang may BPA ban sa baby bottles tulad ng canada noong 2008, France noong 2010, ang dalawampu’t pitong states ng European Union at China noong 2011 , USA noong 2012  at Taiwan ngayong taong 2013

Inaasahan na mapapabilang ang Pilipinas sa mga bansang nagpatupad ng ban sa paggamit ng BPA sa mga food container sakali’t ipagbawal na ito ng tuluyan ng FDA. (Aiko Miguel & Ruth Navales, UNTV News)

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