Lab report

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 10:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 10:15am

Evidence links air pollution to autism, schizophrenia

University of Rochester researchers have found that exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is affected in humans who have autism and schizophrenia. In three sets of experiments, two-week-old mice were exposed to levels of air pollution typically found in mid-sized US cities during rush hour, for four hours each day for two four-day periods. The brains of one group of mice were examined 24 hours after the final pollution exposure. In all of them, inflammation was rampant throughout the brain, and appeared to have damaged brain cells and prevented a certain brain region from developing. The problems were also observed in a second group of mice 40 days after exposure and in another group 270 days after exposure, indicating that the damage to the brain was permanent.

Sleep apnea tied to diabetes in large study

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, the severity of your condition could predict your risk for incident diabetes, according the largest study to date of the link between the two ailments. People with the sleep disorder stop breathing for at least 10 seconds each hour during sleep. Tracking more than 8,500 Canadian patients for an average of 67 months, University of Toronto researchers found that patients with severe sleep apnea had a 30 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes than those without the condition. Patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea had a 23 per cent increased risk. The sleep apnea-related predictors of increased diabetes risk found in the study may allow for early preventative interventions in these patients, the researchers say.

Exposed babies may have lower allergy and asthma risk

Exposing infants to the dead skin cells of rodents and pets, roach allergens, and a wide variety of household bacteria could help reduce the child's risk of suffering from allergies, wheezing and asthma. The protective effects of both allergen and bacterial exposure were not seen if a child's first encounter with these substances occurred later than one , according to a study led by Johns Hopkins Children's Centre. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study tracked 467 inner-city newborns over three years. Children free of wheezing and allergies at age three had grown up with the highest levels of household allergens and were the most likely to live in houses with the richest array of bacterial species.