HEALTH news in brief

Summer-born babies the healthiest; pregnancy stress affects motor skills of child

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 8:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 9:13pm

Born in June, July or August? You’re more likely to be a healthy adult – especially if you’re female – according to research by the University of Cambridge published in the journal Heliyon.  Analysing data from 450,000 men and women in Britain, the scientists found that babies born in these three months were heavier at birth and taller as adults. Girls born in the summer started puberty later – an indication of better health in adult life, the researchers say. They surmise more sunlight – and therefore higher vitamin D exposure – in the second trimester of pregnancy could explain the effect, but more research is needed.  

Stress during pregnancy related to children’s later movement, coordination

Mothers who experienced more stressful events during their pregnancies had children who scored lower on a test of movement competence, a study by the University of Notre Dame Australia  and the Telethon Kids Institute has found. Researchers followed 2,900 Australian mothers, most of them white. The mothers completed a questionnaire about stressful events – such as financial hardship, losing a loved one, relationship problems and moving residences – during the 18th and 34th week of their pregnancies. When the children born of those pregnancies were 10, 14, and 17 years old, they were assessed on their overall motor development and coordination using a 10-item movement test. Children born to mothers who experienced more stressful events during pregnancy scored lower on motor development across all three survey years. Stressful events experienced in later pregnancy had more influence on children’s motor development scores than those experienced earlier. The researchers say this may be related to the development of the cerebellar cortex,  a part of the brain that develops later in pregnancy and that controls many motor outcomes.

Scientists uncover four different types of bowel cancer

Bowel cancer can be divided up into four distinct diseases, each with its own set of biological characteristics, a study in Nature Medicine shows.  Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London,  alongside colleagues at research institutes in the US and Europe, combined data from 3,443 patients with bowel cancer from all over the world. The scientists found that 87 per cent of bowel cancers could be robustly assigned to one of the four groups. Tumours within the four “consensus molecular subtypes”  (CMSs) each had a pattern of irregularities that could leave them vulnerable to the same treatment strategy. Patients with one particular type of bowel tumour – CMS4 – were often diagnosed late, had high levels of spread to other sites in the body, and had significantly worse survival rates than the other types. Patients with another type, CMS2, had much better survival rates even if the cancer had relapsed. The researchers say their findings could help identify patients at risk of developing more serious, fast-growing disease that requires more intensive treatment. Doctors could treat each type of bowel cancer differently – and drive the design of distinct sets of targeted drugs for each type.