Health Updates 9 February 2012

  • Study links high levels of cadmium, lead in blood to pregnancy delay: “Higher levels of cadmium in females, and higher blood levels of lead in males, delayed pregnancy in couples trying to become pregnant, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other academic research institutions.  Cigarette smoke is the most common source of cadmium, a toxic metal found in the earth’s crust, which is used in batteries, pigments, metal coatings and plastics.  Smokers are estimated to have twice the levels of cadmium as do non-smokers.  Exposure also occurs in workplaces….Lead, a toxic metal also found in the earth’s crust, is used in a variety of products, such as ceramics, pipes and batteries.  Common sources of lead exposure in the United States include lead-based paint in older homes, lead-glazed pottery, contaminated soil and contaminated drinking water.  Exposure to these metals is known to have a number of effects on human health, but the effects on human fertility have not been extensively studied…”.  (NIH News)
  • Quality day care predicts later parental involvement in school: “Mothers whose kids went to high-quality day care were more involved in their children’s schools later on than the moms of kids in poorer quality day care or no day care, new research finds….The study revealed that mothers who placed their children in high-quality day care since birth were more likely to be in close contact with their children’s teachers and become more involved in their children’s school-related activities later on, such as attending open houses or befriending the parents of their children’s classmates….Making connections between young children’s home life, child care setting and school supports early academic progress” the study lead author concluded.  (HealthDay)
  • Zap to brain boosts memory: “A trickle of electricity deep in the brain enhanced memory in a small study, researchers reported.  Stimulating the entorhinal cortex with embedded electrodes allowed participants – patients awaiting surgery for epilepsy – to improve their scores on a spatial memory task….On the other hand, direct stimulation of the hippocampus, which is involved in the consolidation of memory, had no consistent effect….The entorhinal cortex is ‘the golden gate to the brain’s memory mainframe’ [Dr. Itzhak] Fried said in a statement.  ‘Every visual and sensory experience that we eventually commit to memory funnels through that doorway to the hippocampus’.” (Michael Smith, MedPage Today)
  •  Female soccer players may face health problems: “Intense training combined with insufficient nutrition may threaten the health of young female soccer players, suggests a new study that finds menstrual irregularities and stress fractures common among these athletes.  Nearly one in five elite female soccer players reported having irregular menstrual cycles, while 14 percent had a stress fracture in the past year, the study found.  Though the toll of so-called ‘aesthetic sports’ such as dance and gymnastics, and endurance sports, such as running, on young women’s bodies has been well studied, soccer has largely escaped scrutiny.” (

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