Breaking Scientific News

Preliminary Link Between Flu During Pregnancy, Autism Found
Researchers discovered that infants whose mothers had the flu while pregnant may have a slightly higher risk of being diagnosed with infantile autism. But the Danish study also found that the overall risk of developing autism was the same as other children. Since this is the first such study on this matter, more research is necessary to conclude whether the findings are completely correct. However, researchers hypothesize that the activation of a mother’s immune system in response to an infection like the flu could affect the brain of a developing fetus.

Drug Increases Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates
In a trial of the lung and breast cancer treatment drug Abraxene, patients with pancreatic cancer who took the drug had higher chances of survival. Half of the patients in the study received chemotherapy alone, and the other half received chemotherapy plus Abraxene. The latter group lived longer. Pancreatic cancer is extremely dangerous as it is often not diagnosed until late stages, at which point patients live on average 5.6 to 6.8 months. Each year, about 46,000 Americans are diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer, and 40,000 die. Detailed information from the trial will be released in January.

US Premature Births At 10-year Low
The number of premature births in the United States dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011. The national average of premature births was 11.7 percent, earning the nation a “C” rating from the nonprofit March of Dimes. Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Maine had the lowest rates of premature births, while Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama had the highest. However, the rates of premature births in the United States ranks at 131 out of 184 countries. So March of Dimes has set a goal of lowering the US rate to 9.6 percent, an “A” rating, by 2020.

Antibiotic Resistance Problematic for Some of US
The Centers for Disease Control recently created a map of America showing the rates at which states are decreasing use of antibiotics. Nationally, human use of antibiotics has dropped by 17 percent from 1999 to 2010. But some states, especially in the Southeast, are not following the trend. People in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee barely decreased their antibiotic use by 2010, and due to growing resistance to antibiotics, people in those places are also at a higher risk for failing to respond to antibiotic treatments. The analysis is part of an effort to call for action on the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

LA Promotes Meatless Mondays
The Los Angeles City Council has tried to restrict consumption of large sugary sodas, trans fats, and fast food. Now, in a unanimous resolution, the council is urging the city to participate in Meatless Mondays. The resolution is not a law, merely an endorsement to encourage residents to make a personal pledge to abstain from eating meat one day each week. The Food Policy Council drafted the measure in hopes of lowering heart diseases associated with eating high levels of saturated fats, reducing the impact on the environment, and supporting “local, sustainable food choices.”

High Blood Pressure Ages Brain Faster
New research shows that having higher than normal blood pressure at midlife can prematurely age the brain. These changes in the brain may lead to later problems with thinking and memory. The study followed 579 people at the average of 39. Those with slightly high blood pressure, defined as systolic pressure of 139-120 and diastolic pressure of 80-89, had brains that appeared on average 3.3 years older on detailed brain scans. Those with high blood pressure, a systolic pressure over 140 or a diastolic pressure over 90, had brains that appeared on average 7.2 years older.