Short Science, June 23, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 4:17am


High pollution doubles risk of autism

Here's yet another good reason for cities with high pollution rates to fight for cleaner air. A first national US study has found that pregnant women who live in the top 20 per cent of locations with the highest air pollution are 50 per cent more likely to have a child with autism than women who live in the 20 per cent of areas that had the lowest pollution. Andrea Roberts, of the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences and lead author of the study, said exposure to diesel particulates, lead, manganese, mercury, methylene chloride and other pollutants are known to affect brain function and to affect the developing baby. MSN


Cheats seek pretty women for a fling

Men looking for a fling prefer women with more "feminine" facial features, said a new study that delved into the evolutionary determinants of the mating game. A smaller jawbone or fuller cheeks are linked to a woman's perceived attractiveness, which in turn was taken as an indicator of health, youth and fidelity, it said. "When a man has secured a mate, the potential cost of being discovered may increase his choosiness of short-term partners relative to unpartnered men, who can better increase their short-term mating success by relaxing their standards," wrote the study authors, in the British Journal of Psychology. But in making long-term choices, men "may actually prefer less attractive/feminine women", they added. AFP


Move to grow human organs in live animals

Proposed experiments with animal-human embryos have cleared the first regulatory hurdle in Britain, as Japanese scientists seek permission for tests that could see human organs produced inside the body of an animal. Researchers want to introduce a human stem cell into an animal embryo, to create a so-called "chimeric embryo", which they can implant into an animal's womb. They hope this stem cell will grow into a fully functioning human organ - a kidney or a liver for example. This would mean when the animal was fully grown, the organ could be harvested and used for transplants. AFP