HEALTH news in brief


If grandma smoked while pregnant with mum, your asthma risk is higher

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 October, 2015, 8:43pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 October, 2015, 8:43pm

Children with grandmothers who smoked have an increased risk of asthma even when mothers did not smoke, according to a new study presented at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress. Data was taken from the Swedish Registry and included 44,853 grandmothers from 1982 to 1986. Smoking exposure was recorded during pregnancy and use of asthma medication was recorded in 66,271 grandchildren. The results found that if grandmothers had smoked while they were pregnant, there was an increased risk of asthma of 10-22 per cent in grandchildren, even if their mothers had not smoked during pregnancy. Dr Caroline Lodge, an author of the study and Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne says: "For us to understand more about the asthma epidemic, we require a greater understanding of how harmful exposures over your lifetime may influence the disease risks of generations to come."

High dietary fibre intake linked to healthy short chain fatty acids

Eating a lot of fibre-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes - typical of a Mediterranean diet - is linked to a rise in health-promoting short chain fatty acids, finds research published online in the journal Gut. Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced by bacteria in the gut during fermentation of insoluble fibre from dietary plant matter. SCFAs have been linked to health promoting effects, including a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The researchers gathered a week's information on the typical daily diet of 153 adults who either ate everything, or were vegetarians or vegans, and living in four geographically distant cities in Italy. They also assessed the levels of gut bacteria and the "chemical fingerprints" of cellular processes (metabolites) in their stool and urine samples. Levels of SCFAs were strongly associated with the quantity of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fibre habitually consumed, irrespective of the type of diet normally eaten. Levels of trimethylamine oxide - a compound that has been linked to cardiovascular disease - were significantly lower in the urine samples of vegetarians and vegans than they were in those of the omnivores.

Sleep may strengthen long-term protection via immune system

Deep sleep may strengthen not only our memories of facts and events, but also immunological memories of previously encountered pathogens, propose researchers writing in Trends in Neurosciences. The immune system "remembers" an encounter with a bacteria or virus by collecting fragments from the bug to create memory T cells, which last for months or years and help the body recognise a previous infection and quickly respond. Studies in humans have shown that long-term increases in memory T cells are associated with deep slow-wave sleep on the nights after vaccination. The implication is that sleep deprivation could put your body at risk. "If we didn't sleep, then the immune system might focus on the wrong parts of the pathogen," says senior author Jan Born of the University of Tuebingen. "In addition to this, there is evidence that the hormones released during sleep benefit the crosstalk between antigen-presenting and antigen-recognising cells, and some of these important hormones could be lacking without sleep."