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Breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing asthma and asthma-related symptoms in early childhood independent of infectious and allergic diseases, according to a new study.

Breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing asthma and asthma-related symptoms in early childhood independent of infectious and allergic diseases, according to a new study.

Using data gathered from research questionnaires on the effect of breastfeeding duration and the introduction of other liquid and solid foods in the cases of 5,368 children, researchers accumulated other data such as if a child was breastfed in their first year, when a child stopped breastfeeding and when other kinds of milk and solids were introduced.

A separate questionnaire was sent out when the children were ages 1, 2, 3 and 4, which asked about diseases and illness and asthma-related symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough or persistent phlegm.

The results showed that, compared to children breastfed for the first six months of life or more, children who had never been breastfed had an increased risk of wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough and persistent phlegm in their first four years. Specifically, children that were never breastfed had a 1.5 times higher risk of persistent phlegm and 1.4 times higher risk of wheezing. Being fed solids or other milk and breast milk in the first four months was linked to a higher risk of all asthma-related symptoms in the first four years of life compared to only breast milk in the first four months.

The researchers concluded that, “Shorter duration and non-exclusivity of breastfeeding were associated with increased risks of asthma related symptoms in preschool children. These associations seemed at least partly explained by infectious but not by atopic mechanisms.”

The team added their findings further support the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

The study was published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Measuring diabetic patients’ blood glucose levels improves predicting their risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, according to a paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

While the medical consensus is that diabetes is a risk factor for CVD and related events, recent studies have demonstrated the risk varies considerably among patients with diabetes.

Led by Dr. Nina Paynter, a team of researchers set out to determine how useful monitoring blood glucose levels might be in predicting CVD events such as heart attack or stroke. They concentrated on the HbA1c test that reflects average blood glucose over the previous eight to 13 weeks. The test is seen as a good indicator of how well patients are managing their diabetes.

Using data from the Women’s Health Study and Physicians’ Health Study II, researchers gathered data on 24,674 women, of whom 685 had diabetes, and 11,280 men, of whom 563 had diabetes. All filled out questionnaires and were tested for HbA1c, C-reactive protein and cholesterol levels. On average, the women were followed up for CVD events over 10.2 years and the men 11.8 years.

During that time, 125 out of the 685 women with diabetes experienced a cardiovascular event compared to 665 of the 24,674 without. In men, there were 170 CVD events out of the 563 with diabetes, compared to 1,382 of the 11,280 without.

Overall, modeling showed that 71.9 per cent of women with diabetes had a lower than 20 per cent risk of CVD over 10 years, compared to just 24.5 per cent of men. When blood glucose was factored in, risk prediction improved substantially for women and more modestly for men.

People who go swimming on a full stomach actually do have a higher risk of drowning, according to new research.

Published in the journal Medicine, Science and the Law, researchers gathered data on 536 autopsies between April 2000 and December 2007. Each autopsy case file was evaluated, along with police reports to determine how each person had died. They also documented blood alcohol levels and whether there were solid food residues in the stomach that were visible to the naked eye, which would indicate the person had eaten shortly before dying.

In 79 per cent of cases where stomach contents were identified, the person had died from accidental drowning. While the study establishes a link between food intake and drowning risk, more study is needed to determine how much food raises the risk and how long one should wait after eating to go swimming. The authors raised two potential factors that raise the risk of death — aspirating vomited stomach contents and asphyxiating or the excess food diverting blood to the stomach and reducing blood flow to the brain, resulting in loss of consciousness.

Individuals with a positive outlook on life and who feel generally happy are less likely to suffer a stroke, according to a study out the University of Michigan.

A research team led by Eric Kim found a significant association between positivity and stroke risk. After examining data from the Health and Retirement Study and analyzing data for 6,044 men and women over the age of 50, the team found that, based on scores for a standard optimism test, for each unit increase in a participant’s optimism score, the risk of suffering a stroke dropped about nine per cent.

The team said that individuals who expect the best things in life are more likely to take steps to promote their health.

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