Expert: Malnutrition causes severe symptoms in coronavirus-infected children
By Sadeq Dehqan & Farzam Vanaki
Malnutrition leads to the occurrence of severe symptoms in children infected with coronavirus, said a senior expert of the Communicable Diseases Center of the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education.
In December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China. On December 31, 2019, the outbreak was traced to a novel strain of coronavirus – a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds and mild, severe and, at times, lethal respiratory tract infections in humans.
It is wrong to think that children are immune to the virus, as, like adults, they are also capable of catching it, added Hossein Masoumi-Asl, who is also a member of the board of directors of the Iranian Pediatrics Infectious Diseases Society, speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily.
However, he said, an analysis of the infected cases in China shows that, compared to adults, fewer children have caught the disease, adding and they are in the low-risk group.
The elderly, those suffering from underlying disorders – such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and heart diseases – and the individuals undergoing chemotherapy are at a greater risk of death in case of being infected with the virus, Masoumi-Asl stressed.
“This is because these individuals are either on drugs that weaken their immune system or, basically, fail to have a strong immune system.”
According to the latest statistics, so far the outbreak has infected over 139,000 people worldwide, killing more than 5,000. In Iran, the number of the infected has been announced to stand at above 11,300 with more than 500 deaths reported.
Nevertheless, babies suffering from a congenital
immunodeficiency disorder or heart defect will also be in the high-risk group, if they catch the virus, Masoumi-Asl said.
In addition, children are capable of transmitting the virus, the Iranian expert warned.
He gave assurance that no case of coronavirus transmission from an infected mother to her fetus has been reported in the northern Iranian province of Qom – the country’s coronavirus epicenter.
So far, a number of babies have been born to infected mothers in Qom Province’s hospitals, none testing positive for the virus, being completely healthy, Masoumi-Asl added.
The virus is less pathogenic in individuals with stronger immune systems, he noted, describing as useful for alleviating the virus’s symptoms anything that helps boosts the immune system, such as vitamins and minerals.
The expert, however, warned against the overuse of supplements.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the worldwide coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The virus has infected people in over 130 countries.
Study provides insights on evaluating hypertension in children
Results from a new study provide insights on evaluating high blood pressure in children.
Diagnostic workup for hypertension in children may include wearing a device that monitors blood pressure over 24 hours. Blood pressure load — the proportion of elevated blood pressure readings detected over 24 hours — is used in addition to average blood pressure as part of the criteria for diagnosing hypertension in children, news-medical.net reported.
Use of blood pressure load in everyday practice may lead to confusion in scenarios where a child has elevated blood pressure load but normal average blood pressure, however, and it’s unclear how a high blood pressure load (with normal average blood pressure) affects long-term health.
To provide insight, Jason Lee, MD (University of California, San Francisco) and his colleagues studied 533 children with chronic kidney disease who underwent 24-hour blood pressure monitoring, along with tests related to kidney and heart health over several years. Based on 24-hour blood pressure data, the team grouped children as having normal blood pressure, high blood pressure load but without high average blood pressure, and high average blood pressure.
One-quarter of the children had high blood pressure load. Having high blood pressure load by itself was not associated with higher risks of developing kidney failure or a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of the heart), which can develop in response high blood pressure.
Lee said “Our data suggest that the proportion of readings on a 24-hour blood pressure test that are high may not provide additional insight beyond the average blood pressure values surrounding a child’s risk for developing cardiac disease or worsening kidney disease.
However, having a high average blood pressure on a 24-hour blood pressure test does strongly predict a child’s cardiac and kidney disease risk.”
Can traumatic memories be erased?
Scientists from Tokyo Metropolitan University have discovered that Drosophila flies lose long-term memory (LTM) of a traumatic event when kept in the dark, the first confirmation of environmental light playing a role in LTM maintenance.
The team also identified the specific molecular mechanism responsible for this effect. LTMs are notoriously difficult to erase; this work may lead to novel treatments for sufferers of trauma, perhaps even the erasure of life-altering traumatic memories, eurekalert.org reported.
It is impossible to remember everything that happens to us in a day. But a particularly shocking event may be consolidated into our long-term memory (LTM), whereby new proteins are synthesized and the neuronal circuits in our brain are modified. Such memories may be devastating to a victim, potentially triggering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet physiologically speaking, keeping a memory is far from a trivial process; active maintenance is required to keep the changes, protecting against the constant cellular rearrangement and renewal of a living organism. Despite the importance of understanding how memory works in the brain, the mechanism by which this occurs is not yet understood and is a key topic for neuroscience today.
It is well known that light, particularly the cycle of night and day, plays an important role in regulating animal physiology. Examples include circadian rhythm, mood and cognition. But how about long-term memory? Thus, a team led by Prof. Takaomi Sakai from Tokyo Metropolitan University set out to study how light exposure affects the memory of diurnal Drosophila fruit flies. As an instance of
long-term memory or trauma, they used the courtship conditioning paradigm, where male flies are exposed to female flies which have already mated. Mated females are known to be unreceptive and exert a stress on male flies which fail to mate. Once the experience is committed to long-term memory, they no longer attempt to court female flies, even when the females around them are unmated.
The team found that conditioned male flies kept in the dark for 2 days or more no longer showed any reluctance to mate, while those on a normal day-night cycle did. This clearly shows that environmental light somehow modified the retention of LTM. This was not due to lack of sleep; flies on a diurnal cycle were slightly sleep deprived to match with flies in the dark, with no effect on the results. Thus, they focused on a protein in the brain called the Pigment-dispersing factor (Pdf), known to be expressed in response to light. For the first time, they found that Pdf regulated the transcription of a protein called the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) in the mushroom bodies, a part of the brain of insects known to be implicated in memory and learning. Thus, they identified the specific molecular mechanism by which light affects the retention of long-term memory.
Traumatic experiences are very difficult to forget and can severely impair a victim’s quality of life. But the team’s discoveries show that these memories can, in fact, be significantly affected by environmental factors in living organisms. This opens up the exciting possibilities of new treatments for victims of trauma, perhaps even the ability to erase traumatic memories which prevent them from leading normal lives.
Combo of heart drugs may also lower dementia risk
Certain combinations of cholesterol and blood pressure drugs may do more than help the heart — they might also lower a person’s risk of dementia, a new study finds.
The drugs in question include two common types of blood pressure medications — ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) — as well as cholesterol-lowering statinsm UPI reported.
It’s long been known that keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control is important for a healthy heart. But “this study tells us there might be certain combinations of drugs that have additional benefits for Alzheimer’s and other dementias beyond the management of those targeted conditions,” study coauthor Douglas Barthold said in a University of Southern California news release.
Barthold is a research assistant professor in the department of pharmacy at the University of Washington in Seattle.
In the study, a team led by USC researcher Julie Zissimopoulos tracked 2007-2014 data from nearly 700,000 Medicare beneficiaries. The participants were ages 67 and older, and had used both a high blood pressure drug and a cholesterol-lowering statin drug for the two previous years. None had been diagnosed with dementia, and they had never taken any Alzheimer’s disease-specific medications.
The use of the statins pravastatin and rosuvastatin, combined with ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) for high blood pressure, was associated with a reduced risk for dementia, compared to other combinations of drugs.
One combination — pravastatin or rosuvastatin in combination with ARBs — was especially good at lowering the risk, with men benefiting even more than women.
For example, using a combination of ARBs and pravastatin was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of dementia diagnosis over the seven years of the study, compared to other combinations of drugs, according to the study.
Dementia affects about seven million Americans and that number is expected to increase to 12 million over the next two decades.
“We don’t currently have drugs that are proven to treat dementia, but even small delays in onset can dramatically reduce the burden on patients, caregivers, and the health system as a whole,” Zissimopoulos said in the release. She directs the Aging and Cognition program at USC’s Center for Health Policy and Economics. “Our research found dementia risk may be reduced with specific combinations of drug treatments for vascular health.”
If these findings are replicated in future research, they might lead to specific combinations of statins and high blood pressure drugs being recommended to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, the researchers said.
Two experts in brain and heart health said the new findings make sense, given links between the two organs.
“Yet another study that says heart health equals brain health,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi, a neurologist and psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
She said that besides using meds to better your heart health, people interested in keeping their brain healthy should consider “eating a Mediterranean diet, doing aerobic exercise 30-45 minutes three to four days a week, maintaining healthy sleep habits and having community involvement.”
Dr. Guy Mintz directs cardiovascular health at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. Reading over the findings, he said that “this choice of medications make sense because not only do ARBs reduce blood pressure, but they have an anti-inflammatory effect,” as do statins — and inflammation negatively affects blood vessel health in the brain.
“As we move into an era of precision medicine, the idea of targeted combination therapies for hypertension and cholesterol in patients over 67 years of age — translating to better vascular health in the brain and leading to a reduction of brain dysfunction — is exciting and warrants further research,” Mintz said.
Rising breast cancer rates in the US during the last 40 years have long been linked with women opting to have children later in life, if at all, UPI reported.