Oxytocin Therapy Found Not To Have Benefits For Children With Autism
AP reports on the largest study of its kind into the effect the "sociability" hormone oxytocin has on children with autism. Meanwhile, researchers say microRNAs found in blood may be a warning for dementia. USA Today reports on how cold therapy can help breast cancer patients keep their hair.
Study: 'Sociability' Hormone Didn't Help Kids With Autism
Children with autism didn’t benefit from an experimental therapy made with a hormone thought to promote social bonding, researchers reported Wednesday in the largest study of its kind. “This is really a major setback,” said Dr. Linmarie Sikich, a Duke University researcher who led the multi-site U.S. study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “We were really hoping to find a benefit and just couldn’t see it anywhere.” The U.S. government-funded study used a synthetic form of oxytocin, a hormone made in the brain that stimulates uterus contractions and helps mothers bond with their newborns. (Tanner, 10/13)
In other public health news —
Dementia Signs Are In The Blood, Researchers Say
Researchers have reportedly found warning signs that could indicate impending dementia in the blood. In a new study published Monday in the scientific journal "EMBO Molecular Medicine," scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University Medical Center Göttingen said that certain levels of microRNAs could be harbingers of the condition. MicroRNAs are molecules that regulate and influence the production of proteins and are a central process in metabolism. (Musto, 10/13)
Breast Cancer Patients Say 'Cold Capping' Saved Their Hair. What Is It And Why Aren't More People Doing It?
Scalp cooling is available to all cancer patients except those battling leukemia or certain other blood-related cancers, but health experts say many people don’t know the option exists. And for those familiar with the process, the high cost and spotty insurance coverage can put the option out of reach. Cancer patients, survivors and advocates want to create more awareness about scalp cooling therapy and the effect hair has on a patient’s mental health, emotional health and their recovery process. As more people learn about cold capping, they hope more insurance companies will see the value in providing coverage or reimbursement. “We cringe every time we get an email saying, ‘I just had my first chemo treatment and heard about cold caps – is it too late to save my hair?’ Sadly, it is too late," said Nancy Marshall said, co-founder of the The Rapunzel Project, a non-profit promoting cold-capping awareness. (Rodriguez, 10/14)
Americans Exercised Less And Drank More During COVID Pandemic: Study
Americans drank more, smoked more, exercised less and spent more time in front of a computer or television compared to pre-pandemic levels, a study led by UCLA researchers found. Across those surveyed, research found that alcohol consumption increased by 23% and cigarette smoking by 9%, respectively. Smoking, especially, could have adverse effects on those who contract COVID-19 — according to the research study, current and former smokers are 2.4 times more likely to need intensive care unit support or die from the disease, compared with non-smokers. Exercise decreased by almost a third and screen time increased 60%, the researchers found. Other countries like Canada, Italy, Brazil, and Poland have observed similar behaviors during the pandemic. (Tebor, 10/14)
We Accidentally Solved the Flu. Now What?
It’s easy to think of the flu as an immutable fact of winter life, more inconvenience than calamity. But each year, on average, it sickens roughly 30 million Americans and kills more than 30,000 (though the numbers vary widely season to season). The elderly, the poor, and people of color are all overrepresented among the casualties. By some estimates, the disease’s annual economic cost amounts to nearly $90 billion. We accept this, when we think about it at all, as the way things are. Except that this past year, things were different: During the 2020–21 flu season, the United States recorded only about 2,000 cases, 17,000 times fewer than the 35 million it recorded the season before. That season, the flu killed 199 children; this past season, as far as we know, it killed one. (Stern, 10/13)