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New parents can spend many nights with their newborns, wondering when exactly, both of them will get to sleep through the night. A new study out of New Zealand shows that it might only be a matter of a few months.

New parents can spend many nights with their newborns, wondering when exactly, both of them will get to sleep through the night. A new study out of New Zealand shows that it might only be a matter of a few months.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, a group of researchers found that by the age of five months, about 50 per cent of all infants are following their parents’ sleeping patterns and sleeping through the night as a result.

The problem isn’t sleeping, the researchers said — newborns learn to reach non-stop sleep relatively quickly. Getting an infant to sleep when the parents are sleeping is what can take a little bit longer.

The research team spent a year studying the sleep patterns of newborn babies over the first 12 months of their life. The study involved 75 full-term infants with typical development. They asked parents to keep a sleep diary for six days each month over the span of 12 months. Video was also used to back up the data from the diaries.

The team set out to find out three criteria — when the baby slept either from midnight until 5 a.m. or five hours non-stop, when the baby slept from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. or eight hours non-stop and finally, when the sleep patterns of infants and their parents became fully synchronized.

In the end, the team found that the biggest increase in non-stop sleep took place between the end of the first month and the end of the fourth month, and that most infants were sleeping five consecutive hours by two months of age. At three months, 50 per cent of those studied were sleeping for eight consecutive hours. By the fifth month, more than 50 per cent had synchronized their sleep patterns with that of their parents.

People who have dental surgery are at an elevated risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke for several weeks afterwards, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The research team out of Great Britain was operating under the assumption that inflammation caused by bacteria leaking into the bloodstream from infected teeth was the risk factor. It believed that bacteria built up in blood vessels, leading to inflammation and a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

The researchers got their hands on a U.S. Medicaid database involving 32,060 adults who had a stroke or heart attack. They traced the medical histories of those individuals to find out if any had undergone invasive dental surgery prior and came up with about 1,100 hits — 525 people who had a heart attack and 650 who had a stroke.

After factoring in variables such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease, the team discovered there was a significantly increased risk of heart attack or stroke in the month following dental work. Furthermore, one-third of heart attacks or strokes occurred in people under the age of 50. Within six months, however, the risk had dropped to normal.

The authors admit the link is still tenuous and that the “long-term effects on vascular health will probably outweigh the short-lived adverse effects.”

Gene therapy might be the wave of the future when it comes to treating major depression, according to a study published in Science/Transitional Journal this month.

Specifically, scientists believe patients who do not respond to traditional treatment for major depression would best benefit from gene therapy.

The authors in the study note that p11, a brain protein found in a tiny part of the brain, plays a significant role in feeling reward or pleasure — two major deficiencies in individuals diagnosed with major depression.

For the study, the research team collected human and animal data by scientists in the United States and Sweden. They were working under the premise of a previous study that showed a p11 gene fault is a major factor in depression as the protein is required to bring serotonin to the surface of brain cells. The neurotransmitter is associated with regulating sleep, mood and appetite and most antidepressants target serotonin levels.

The researchers decided to test their theory on lab mice, first disabling the p11 gene’s function with a small virus. The mice subsequently began to exhibit behaviours closely linked to depression. Afterwards, the team introduced a small virus that reached the mice’s brains and dumped “a genetic payload” into the area. The new genes began producing p11 and the mice subsequently stopped acting in a depressed fashion.

Given that autopsies of depressed people have found very low levels of p11, the research team believes gene therapy, if a viable delivery mechanism can be found, could help restore p11 and potentially relieve depression in sufferers of the condition.

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