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Social Robots Help Children With Diabetes Gain Confidence

Social robots are helping diabetic children accept the nature of their condition and become more confident about their futures, scientists have announced following a four-and-a-half year research study.

ALIZ-E – an €8.3million initiative funded by the European Commission and led by Plymouth University – has shown young people are more inclined to perform tasks related to their condition if prompted to do so by a friendly interactive robot.

Now researchers believe the robots could assist children with other medical conditions, such as autism, or act as classroom assistants aiding pupils who may be in danger of falling behind their peers.

Reported Opioid Abuse In Pregnant Women More Than Doubles In 14 Years

The number of pregnant women who abuse or are dependent on opioids (narcotics) jumped 127% in 14 years, leading to an increased risk of maternal death and stillbirth among other serious problems, according to a review of more than 57 million American women admitted for delivery. The results were published in the issue of Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists® (ASA®).

ASA_2013logoOpioid abuse or dependence in pregnant women more than doubled between 1998 and 2011, and was even greater among 20- to 34-year olds, growing by 162% in that time period. In addition to maternal deaths and stillbirths, the use of opioids was also associated with poor growth of the fetus, longer length of stay in the hospital, premature labor and cesarean delivery.

Pre-Thanksgiving Drinking Ritual Is A Real Buzz Kill

The day before Thanksgiving, nicknamed Blackout Wednesday, is a time when college students are home and reunite with friends over beers or alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants. But what often starts out as a joyous celebration all too often ends up as a senseless tragedy.

“Thanksgiving is all about being together and celebrating with family and friends. No one wants to ruin those happy memories with a visit to the emergency department,” says Mark Cichon, chair of Emergency Services at Loyola University Health System.

“Drinking and partying is something that most people can control and we all have a responsibility to help ourselves and to help each other stay out of harm’s way.”

The Dirty Side Of Soap

Triclosan is an antimicrobial commonly found in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and many other household items. Despite its widespread use, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report potentially serious consequences of long-term exposure to the chemical. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that triclosan causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice through molecular mechanisms that are also relevant in humans.

UCSDhealth_logo“Triclosan’s increasing detection in environmental samples and its increasingly broad use in consumer products may overcome its moderate benefit and present a very real risk of liver toxicity for people, as it does in mice, particularly when combined with other compounds with similar action,” said Robert H. Tukey, PhD, professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Tukey led the study, together with Bruce D. Hammock, PhD, professor at University of California, Davis. Both Tukey and Hammock are directors of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Programs at their respective campuses.

Mother’s Soothing Presence Makes Pain Go Away, Changes Gene Activity In Infant Brain

A mother’s “TLC” not only can help soothe pain in infants, but it may also impact early brain development by altering gene activity in a part of the brain involved in emotions, according to new study from NYU Langone Medical Center.

By carefully analyzing what genes were active in infant rat brains when the mother was present or not present, the NYU researchers found that several hundred genes were more, or less, active in rat infants experiencing pain than in those that were not. With their mothers present, however, fewer than 100 genes were similarly expressed.

According to senior study investigator and neurobiologist Regina Sullivan, PhD, who is scheduled to present her team’s findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, DC, on Nov. 18, the research is believed to be the first to show the short-term effects of maternal caregiving in a distressed infant pup’s brain. The study was also designed to support her research into the long-term consequences of differences in how mammals, including humans, are nurtured from birth.

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