AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: health (Page 3 of 3)

Are premature babies a precursor for autism?

At one point in history premature babies were at a high risk of mortality. They’re organs are not fully developed and they can get very sick easily. However, now the cute less than four pound babies have a lower risk of morality because of improvements in science and technology.  Nevertheless premature babies have a new problem to worry about. Current research at the University of Pennsylvania nursing school has confirmed that low birth weight has a strong connection with autism. This study was conducted between 1984 and 1987, 21 years, in certain counties in New Jersey. They followed 862 children from birth to young adults and found that five percent had autism spectrum disorders, the umbrella of autistic disorders like Aspergers disorder, Rett’s syndrome and Autistic disorder. Since some premature babies are not fully developed their brains might not have undergone full development in the cognitive and social parts of the brain.  Dr. Pinto-Martin warned the public that “If there is suspicion of autism or a positive screening test for ASD, parents shold seek an evaluation for an ASD. Early intervention improves long-term outcome and can help these children both at school and at home”.  What do you guys think? Is five percent of 832 children a good enough sign to say that premature babies and autism spectrum disorders have a link?


Other Links:

another article on premature babies and autism

Premature babies information

Information on autism spectrum disorders

more information on premature babies




Avoid Your Vitamins?

Credit: aithom2 flickr, some rights reserved

Taking additional vitamins, or dietary supplements, has always been viewed as being positive for our diets. Parents often encourage their young children to take multi-vitamin pills on a daily basis. Flintstones Vitamins (above), which consist of vitamins such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C, are among one of the most popular multi-vitamin supplements. I even remember my parents making me take them every morning when I was a kid. Many people continue to take these dietary supplements when they are adults. Daily vitamin supplements are also extremely popular among elderly people.

The question is, do these vitamin pills truly have positive health benefits if consumed along side a normal diet? A recent study in the New York Times challenges these long-held beliefs behind dietary vitamin supplements.

In this large study, scientists followed 38,772 women who averaged 62 years of age. Over 19 years, almost half of the women died, and scientists were surprised to find out that those who consumed multivitamins or supplements of folic acid, iron, magnesium, or zinc were more likely to die over the period than those who did not take any multivitamins or supplements. Thus,  “older women who used common dietary supplements died at slightly higher rates than women who did not rely on supplements.”

The scientists were also able to notice trends from their results that showed what effects the different supplements and multivitamins had on the women’s lives. For example, supplements like iron were “directly associated” with an increase in death among the women. Certain supplements like vitamin A & vitamin D had no affect at all on the women’s lives. Multivitamins were responsible for a 2.4 % increase in risk of death. Calcium supplements, however, actually decreased the risk of death.

After a study like this one, it may be necessary to re-consider the notion that taking additional vitamins is a positive addition to our diets. Parents might now want to reconsider giving their child a Flintstone Vitamin with his breakfast every morning, and a grandmother might want to lay off the daily pills.

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