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  • February 17, 2017
  • 04:16 AM
  • 392 views

Vitamin D halting colds and flu?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case, although flu is far more serious than the common cold."That was some of the media interpretation of the paper - "systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data" - published by Adrian Martineau and colleagues [1] looking at the collected data on vitamin D supplementation "on risk ........ Read more »

Adrian R Martineau, David A Jolliffe, Richard L Hooper, Lauren Greenberg, John F Aloia, Peter Bergman, Gal Dubnov-Raz, Susanna Esposito, & et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. info:/10.1136/bmj.i6583

  • February 16, 2017
  • 04:14 AM
  • 471 views

"early medical events are associated with clinical ASD phenotypes"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Charlotte Willfors and colleagues [1] (open-access) provides some food for thought today and the observation that various individual and cumulative medical events - "early medical events likely to be caused by environmental factors" - may be important to at least some autism.Researchers "scrutinized the early medical histories of a rare and informative sample of 13 MZ [monozygotic] twin pairs discordant for clinical ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" also including "13 M........ Read more »

Willfors C, Carlsson T, Anderlid BM, Nordgren A, Kostrzewa E, Berggren S, Ronald A, Kuja-Halkola R, Tammimies K, & Bölte S. (2017) Medical history of discordant twins and environmental etiologies of autism. Translational psychiatry, 7(1). PMID: 28140403  

  • February 15, 2017
  • 09:08 AM
  • 380 views

New Species of Polychaete Worm Discovered in Antarctica

by beredim in Strange Animals



Flabegraviera fujiae (left), the new species described in the
in the new study, and Flabegraviera mundata (right).
(Scale bar: 1cm)

A few days ago, a team of Japanese scientists from the Hokkaido University announced the discovery a new species of polychaete, a type of marine annelid worm.

The discovery took place 9-meters deep underwater near Japan's Syowa Station in Antarctica and provides... Read more »

  • February 15, 2017
  • 05:30 AM
  • 423 views

"Androgens were not associated with autistic traits at 12 months of age"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

EARLI - the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation study - has been mentioned on this blog before (see here) with the aim of the initiative to "examine possible environmental risk factors for autism and study whether there is any interplay between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility."In this post I'm bringing the paper by Bo Park and colleagues [1] (open-access) to your attention and the observation(s) that umbilical cord blood levels of testosterone and other relate........ Read more »

Park, B., Lee, B., Burstyn, I., Tabb, L., Keelan, J., Whitehouse, A., Croen, L., Fallin, M., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Montgomery, O.... (2017) Umbilical cord blood androgen levels and ASD-related phenotypes at 12 and 36 months in an enriched risk cohort study. Molecular Autism, 8(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0118-z  

  • February 14, 2017
  • 01:13 PM
  • 503 views

The Complexities of “The Love Hormone”

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

New York street art. Photo inWikimedia Commons posted by Pedroalmovar.Oxytocin, commonly known as “the love hormone”, is a small chemical that is produced in the brain of mammals, but can both act as a neurotransmitter and enter the blood stream and act as a hormone. It has long been heralded for its role in both maternal and romantic love, but more recent research is showing us just how complicated the physiology of love can be.Oxytocin is released in mammalian mothers after birth. It promo........ Read more »

Shamay-Tsoory SG, & Abu-Akel A. (2016) The Social Salience Hypothesis of Oxytocin. Biological psychiatry, 79(3), 194-202. PMID: 26321019  

  • February 14, 2017
  • 07:15 AM
  • 371 views

Amphioctopus Marginatus: The Octopus That Pretends to Be a Coconut

by beredim in Strange Animals



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family: Octopodidae
Genus: Amphioctopus
Species: Amphioctopus  marginatus
Conservation Status: Not yet assessed
Common Name: Coconut octopus, Veined octopus

Meet Amphioctopus marginatus a medium-sized octopus found in the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean The species is best known as the "coconut octopus" ... Read more »

Finn JK, Tregenza T, Norman MD. (2009) Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus. . Curr. Biol, 19(23). info:/10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.052

  • February 14, 2017
  • 04:27 AM
  • 423 views

Relative age and ADHD medication

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Youngest children in class 'more likely to be given ADHD drugs'" went the NHS Choices headline that led me to the short report produced by Martin Whitely and colleagues [1] (open-access).ADHD - attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - is something of interest to this blog; not least the idea that relative age (age relative to peers in the same school year group) might be an important variable when it comes to at least some diagnoses of the condition (see here).The Whitely paper draws on ........ Read more »

Martin Whitely, Leanne Lester, John Phillimore, & Suzanne Robinson. (2017) Influence of birth month on the probability of Western Australian children being treated for ADHD. The Medical Journal of Australia. info:/

  • February 13, 2017
  • 05:28 AM
  • 440 views

Depression, SMILES and Modified Mediterranean diet (advice)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

SMILES in the title of this post refers to the SMILES trial - Supporting the Modification of lifestyle In Lowered Emotional States - and results recently published by Felice Jacka and colleagues [1] (open-access) pertinent to the idea that "dietary improvement" might be something to consider when a diagnosis of major depressive episode (MDE) is received.Having previously published their study protocol [2], researchers set about looking at whether under "single blind, randomised controlled" ........ Read more »

Jacka, F., O’Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., Castle, D., Dash, S., Mihalopoulos, C., Chatterton, M.... (2017) A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine, 15(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y  

  • February 11, 2017
  • 05:43 AM
  • 419 views

Pregnancy exposure to SSRIs and offspring autism risk: debate continues

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"It remains unclear whether the association between first trimester SSRI [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor] exposure and child autism that was present in the case-control studies even after adjustment for MMI [maternal mental illness] is a true association or a product of residual confounding."So said the results of the systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken by Hilary Brown and colleagues [1] looking at a potentially important association between pregnancy use of a class ........ Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 08:19 AM
  • 384 views

BHD in patients undergoing chest CT and characteristics of BHD in Korea.

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

To date, there have been no prospective studies attempting to diagnose BHD syndrome or literature reviews on BHD in Korea. Park et al. (2017) address this in their new study that aims to detect BHD prospectively in patients undergoing chest computed tomography (CT) scans and to classify the characteristics of BHD in Korea.... Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 06:00 AM
  • 381 views

Friday Fellow: Paraná pine

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll As the first conifer Friday Fellow, I decided to choose one of my beloved ones, the Paraná pine, Araucaria angustifolia, also known as Brazilian pine or candelabra tree. The Paraná pine can reach up to 50 m … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 04:27 AM
  • 372 views

A few-foods diet for ADHD: a systematic review of meta-analyses of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"... the effect sizes of a few-foods diet are medium to large, justifying implementation of a diagnostic FFD [few-foods diet] in subgroups of children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], thus offering innovative treatment opportunities for ADHD."So said the "Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials" published by Lidy Pelsser and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) looking at various dietary interventions that have ........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2017
  • 04:01 AM
  • 372 views

On dietary and nutritional therapies for ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

ME/CFS in case you don't already know refers to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, according to the findings reported by Nadia Campagnolo and colleagues [1], is in need of quite a bit more scientific investigation when it comes to the application of dietary changes and nutritional supplements to potentially alter the course of the condition(s).Surveying the peer-reviewed literature "from 1994 to May 2016" the authors looked for peer-reviewed studies where "CFS/ME........ Read more »

Campagnolo N, Johnston S, Collatz A, Staines D, & Marshall-Gradisnik S. (2017) Dietary and nutrition interventions for the therapeutic treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a systematic review. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association. PMID: 28111818  

  • February 8, 2017
  • 06:36 AM
  • 394 views

Sex, alcohol, and structural variants in fission yeast

by Christophe Dessimoz in Open Reading Frame

Our latest study just came out (Jeffares et al., Nature Comm 2017). In it, we carefully catalogued high-confidence structural variants among all known strains of the fission yeast population, and assessed their impact on spore viability, winemaking and other traits. This post gives a summary and the story behind the paper.

Structural variants (SVs) measure genetic variation beyond single nucleotide changes …

Next generation sequencing is enabling the study of genomic diversity on unprec........ Read more »

Jeffares, D., Jolly, C., Hoti, M., Speed, D., Shaw, L., Rallis, C., Balloux, F., Dessimoz, C., Bähler, J., & Sedlazeck, F. (2017) Transient structural variations have strong effects on quantitative traits and reproductive isolation in fission yeast. Nature Communications, 14061. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14061  

Jeffares, D., Rallis, C., Rieux, A., Speed, D., Převorovský, M., Mourier, T., Marsellach, F., Iqbal, Z., Lau, W., Cheng, T.... (2015) The genomic and phenotypic diversity of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Nature Genetics, 47(3), 235-241. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3215  

  • February 8, 2017
  • 05:33 AM
  • 415 views

On atopic disease and ADHD: 'strong evidence' for an association

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This current systematic review provides strong evidence that ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] is associated with atopic diseases and that individuals have a 30% to 50% greater chance of developing ADHD compared to controls."So said the results of the systematic review and meta-analysis published by Jurjen van der Schans and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed science literature on how conditions such as asthma, eczema and rhinitis might increase t........ Read more »

  • February 7, 2017
  • 05:35 AM
  • 458 views

Psychiatric disorders among male juvenile detainees in South Korea

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Juvenile detainees evidence high rates of psychiatric disorders and comorbidities. Assessment of and intervention in psychiatric disorders, especially alcohol use disorder and comorbid alcohol use disorder with disruptive behavior disorders, may help prevent further offenses."So concluded Johanna Inhyang Kim and colleagues [1] (open-access) following their investigation into the prevalence of DSM-IV psychiatric criteria in a sample of 173 male juvenile detainees aged between 15-19 years ol........ Read more »

  • February 6, 2017
  • 05:41 AM
  • 407 views

Natural course of "chronic disabling fatigue" in adolescents

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"We use the term 'chronic disabling fatigue' (CDF) because CFS/ME [chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis] was not verified by clinical diagnosis."That was one of the important details included in the findings reported by Tom Norris and colleagues [1] (open-access) who "aimed to describe the epidemiology and natural course of CFS/ME in adolescents aged 13–18 years." Relying on data derived from The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) (so........ Read more »

Norris T, Collin SM, Tilling K, Nuevo R, Stansfeld SA, Sterne JA, Heron J, & Crawley E. (2017) Natural course of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis in adolescents. Archives of disease in childhood. PMID: 28104625  

  • February 4, 2017
  • 05:27 AM
  • 444 views

ADHD, obesity and bariatric surgery?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The findings suggest that a considerable number of patients before and after bariatric surgery screened positive for ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]. It can be hypothesized that some core ADHD symptoms improve after surgery."Bariatric surgery, where several surgical options are available to aid weight loss in those who present with 'dangerous' obesity, was the topic of the paper by Nielsen and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who set out to compare "pre- and........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2017
  • 09:00 AM
  • 531 views

American Alligator

by Jason Organ in Eatlemania!

The Eatles are munching on several juvenile American alligator skulls... Read more »

  • February 3, 2017
  • 06:00 AM
  • 513 views

Friday Fellow: Northern Plaited Radiolarian

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Some weeks ago I introduced a diatom here and mentioned that, despite the fact that they are a very abundant group, little information on species is available. Today our species is a radiolarian and, just as … Continue reading →... Read more »

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