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Children conceived using assisted reproductive technology (ART) have an increased risk of congenital malformation, according to a presentation at the European Society of Human Genetics Monday. Dr.

Children conceived using assisted reproductive technology (ART) have an increased risk of congenital malformation, according to a presentation at the European Society of Human Genetics Monday.

Dr. Geraldine Viot and several colleagues surveyed 33 ART-certified centres in France. All births between 2003 and 2007 were included, totaling 15,162 children. Parents and pediatricians filled in questionnaires about the existence of malformations compared to data obtained from national registries and published papers.

In total, Viot and colleagues said they found a major congenital malformation in 4.24 per cent of the children compared to the two to three per cent documented in previous research. Higher rates of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system were found, more often in boys than girls. ART children were also more likely to develop angioma, a series of benign tumours made up of small blood vessels near the surface of the skin, however this was found twice as often in girls compared to boys.

The research team still has 4,000 more questionnaires to sort through for the 2008 year. They also want to examine motor development in children born in 2003. Given that 200,000 children in France have been born using ART, Viot described the potential consequences as a “public health issue” and called for more research.

Diet and dust mites in the first few months of a child’s life can make the difference between developing or not developing the respiratory ailment, according to long-term study.

British researchers presented their findings at the congress of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study, composed of 120 children on the Isle of Wight, started in 1990 when the children were born. All of the children had two or more family members with an allergic disorder and were considered to be at high risk of developing allergies on that basis alone.

The children at birth were divided into prevention and control groups. In the prevention group, “ …58 infants up to one year old and their mothers … followed a diet that avoided dairy products, soya and nuts. We checked their compliance by randomly testing breast milk.”

The infants also slept on vinyl mattresses and covers. Researchers took steps to reduce the level of house dust mite. The 62 infants in the control group and their mothers made no changes to diet or bedding.

During follow-up, the researchers found that at one, two, four and eight years of age there was a consistent reduction in an immediate allergic reaction in the prevention group. By the age of 18 significantly fewer of the prevention group children had asthma compared to the control group.

The researchers said that early intervention was important in preventing the changes in a child’s airway, indicative of asthma.

“It does suggest that it is possible to prevent the onset of asthma in high-risk individuals by instituting a strict regime that avoids some of the common triggers for asthma in the first year of life,” Dr. Martha Scott, who conducted the follow-up, said.

The researchers said a larger study to identify who can benefit from their intervention strategy is required.

Researchers have known for several years that compounds found in red wine and green tea can inhibit prostate cancer growth. But now they know why.

Published online in The FAESB Journal, the study details how polyphenols produce a combined effect to disrupt cell signalling that is required for prostrate cancer growth. The research could lead to improved drug therapies that could stop or slow cancer progression.

The pathway is known as the sphingosine kinase-1/sphingosine 1-phosphate (SphK1/S1P). When mice that had been genetically altered to develop prostate cancer were given green tea and wine polyphenols, they showed reduced tumour growth because the pathway had been disrupted.

“The profound impacts that the antioxidants in red wine and green tea have on our bodies is more than anyone would have dreamt just 24 years ago,” said Dr. Geral Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FAESB Journal. “As long as they are taken in moderation, all signs show that red wine and green tea may be ranked among the most potent ‘health foods’ we know.”

Animal studies are proving that drinking coffee could play more of a role in preventing diabetes than previously thought. The key ingredient? Caffeine.

Stating that some studies could not be done on humans that could be in animals, Fumihiko Horio and some colleagues fed either water or coffee to a group of lab mice that are used to study diabetes. They found that coffee consumption prevented the development of high blood sugar and also improved insulin sensitivity. Further lab studies showed that the caffeine was “one of the most effective anti-diabetic compounds in coffee.”

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.