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Most Painful Days of Your Life School Desks and Chronic Back Pain

Undersize school chairs, low desks and overweight backpacks are contributing to chronic back pain in adolescents, according to a study from researchers in Portugal to be published in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics.

Ana Assunção and colleagues in the Biomechanics and Functional Morphology Laboratory, at the University of Lisbon, carried out a cross-sectional study of 138 twelve to fifteen-year olds of differing maturity to examine the effect of a mismatch between school furniture dimensions, the weight of their school bags and the student's anthropometric characteristics.

They found that almost two thirds (80) of the students studied suffered from back pain and that large differences between desk height and elbow height was associated with a greater likelihood of the adolescents having this problem. Girls were more likely to suffer from the desk height discrepancy than boys; 59% of girls and 47% of boys. "Our results also showed that there was no association between backpack weight, body mass index (BMI) and back pain," the team says.

"These results highlight the importance to study the school environment to establish preventive programs for back pain in youths," the researchers say. They point out that the number of school-aged children, and adolescents, reporting frequent episodes of back and neck pain and headache has increased in the last few decades and that it is now recognized that people suffering during childhood are likely to suffer back pain in adulthood too, unless the problem is treated appropriately.

The researchers concede that back pain is, of course, a multi-factorial problem that results from an interaction of different risk factors, such as, age, family clinical history, injury, gender, lifestyle, sport, stress and anxiety. However, ergonomic factors such as a student's desk and chair dimensions are also likely to play a significant role. This is especially true given that students spend considerable amounts of time sitting at a desk, with physical activity and sports at a low in many educational establishments despite today's supposed drive to make everyone more active. The World Health Organization recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

"These results highlight how relevant it is to study the school environment in order to establish preventive programs for back pain in children and adolescents, not only health wise, but also in terms of school education," the team asserts. "These results show the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles in what concerns physical activity and a balanced nutrition."

Source: sciencedaily.com

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Scientists Develop Candidate Vaccine Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus

 An experimental vaccine to protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a leading cause of illness and hospitalization among very young children, elicited high levels of RSV-specific antibodies when tested in animals, according to a report in the journal Science.

Early-stage human clinical trials of the candidate vaccine are planned. Scientists from the Vaccine Research Center (VRC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, built on their previous findings about the structure of a critical viral protein to design the vaccine. The team was led by Peter D. Kwong, Ph.D., and Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D.

In the United States, RSV infection is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia in children less than one year old and the most common cause for hospitalization in children under five. Worldwide, it is estimated that RSV is responsible for nearly 7 percent of deaths in babies aged 1 month to 1 year; only malaria kills more children in this age group. Others at risk for severe disease following RSV infection include adults over age 65 and those with compromised immune systems.

"Many common diseases of childhood are now vaccine-preventable, but a vaccine against RSV infection has eluded us for decades," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "This work marks a major step forward. Not only does the experimental vaccine developed by our scientists elicit strong RSV-neutralizing activity in animals, but, more broadly, this technique of using structural information to inform vaccine design is being applied to other viral diseases, including HIV/AIDS."

Earlier this year, the VRC team obtained atomic-level details of an RSV protein -- called the fusion (F) glycoprotein -- bound to a broadly neutralizing human RSV antibody. The protein-antibody complex gave scientists their first look at the F glycoprotein as it appears before it fuses with a human cell. In this pre-fusion shape, F glycoprotein contains a region vulnerable to attack by broadly neutralizing antibodies (antibodies able to block infection from the common strains of RS).

Once RSV fuses with a cell, this vulnerable area, named antigenic site zero by the researchers, is no longer present on the rearranged F protein. In natural RSV infection, the immune system produces antibodies against both the pre-fusion and post-fusion forms of F glycoprotein, but the antibodies to antigenic site zero, which is only present on the pre-fusion form, have much stronger neutralizing activity. Therefore, a vaccine against RSV would have greater chance of success by eliciting antibodies directed at F glycoprotein in its pre-fusion configuration.

In their current publication, Drs. Kwong and Graham describe how they used this structural information to design and engineer F glycoprotein variants that retained antigenic site zero even when no antibody was bound to it. The goal was to create stable variants that could serve as the foundation for a vaccine capable of eliciting a potent antibody response. The researchers designed more than 100 variants; of these, 3 were shown by X-ray crystallography to retain the desired structure. The engineered variants were then used as vaccines in a series of experiments in mice and rhesus macaques.

In both mice and macaques, the researchers found that the more stable the protein, the higher the levels of neutralizing antibodies elicited by vaccination. The levels of antibody made in response to one of the engineered F glycoproteins were more than 10 times higher than those produced following vaccination with post-fusion F glycoprotein and well above levels needed to protect against RSV infection.

"Here is a case in which information gained from structural biology has provided the insight needed to solve an immunological puzzle and apply the findings to address a real-world public health problem," said Dr. Graham. He and the VRC scientists are continuing to refine the engineered F glycoproteins and hope to launch early-stage human clinical trials of a candidate RSV vaccine as soon as clinical grade material can be manufactured, a process that takes about 18 to 24 months to complete.

"Previously, structure-based vaccine design held promise at a conceptual level," said Dr. Kwong. "This advance delivers on that promise and sets the stage for similar applications of structure-guided design to effective vaccines against other pathogens."

Dr. Fauci added, "This latest advance underscores the advantages of the VRC's organizational design, where experts in RSV virology, vaccinology and clinical studies, such as Dr. Graham, are in daily contact with Dr. Kwong and others who are experts in structural biology. Such close collaboration across disciplines allows for rapid testing of new approaches to a given problem."

Source :Science Daily

R.Sawas

National Vaccination Campaign Targeting 1.6 Million Children

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ Health Ministry yesterday  launched a national vaccination campaign against measles and polio in the health centers and temporary residence that will continue until  November 21st..

Minister of Health Dr. SaadNaev stressed , during his  tour on Kudsia suburb health center  and  temporary accommodation centers  that the  campaign is targeting 1.6 million  children in health centers and medical teams distributed all over the country 's provinces.

The minister pointed out that the campaign in temporary accommodation  centers targeted  children from one year old to  under 15 year- s old with  MMR vaccine  for  measles, rubella , mumps and vitamin A and children from the age of one day-to under five years  with oral paralysis vaccine  while at health centers, children from one day old -to- under  five years are given  oral polio vaccine , regardless of previous doses and children from year old to pre-schooling  age  are immunized by MMR vaccine and vitamin A .

The Minister of Health pointed out  that " the ministry imported  vaccines from best international companies and offered it free  for all children , at costs that  exceed billions  Syrian pounds , annually .

For her  part, UNICEF 's Deputy Resident Representative in Damascus HamidaRamadanistressed  that the organization seeks to support the efforts of the Ministry of Health and other partners to reach  and immunize every  Syrian child, especially under the current circumstances , where some families find it difficult to access medical services.

Dr. Tariq Abdul-Rahman of the regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO)  in Cairo noted that  the good cooperation between the Ministry of Health and international organizations will contribute to the success of the campaign, but "the concern comes from the possibility of lack of access to all areas under the current difficult circumstances ."

Abdul-Rahman said that the importance of the campaign comes from the timing , as a result of current circumstances,  Syria is  experiencing a decline in the percentage of children immunized and therefore , efforts should be concerted to raise the  percentage  of immunized children  again.

Last Sunday, the  Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and  UNICEF launched a vaccination campaign in the country 's schools against measles, rubella , mumps , targeting 800 thousand children from sixth grade class  to the ninth , which will last until the end of the first schooling semester.

In Homs, director of health care department  Dr. Abdul MomenQashlaq  said that the  " campaign is expected  to include 180 thousand children under the age of five against polio and 130 thousand children against measles , rubella, mumps ," pointing out that he coordinated  with the Red Crescent branch in Homs to deliver the vaccine to unsafe areas , so as to ensure that all children are vaccinated .

Meantime, Aleppo Health Directorate Aleppo started yesterday the national vaccination campaign against measles and polio in the health and temporary accommodation centers that are expected to target about  734.749 children, according  to director Dr. Waddah Hussein.

Simultaneously, Sweida Health Directorate launched   yesterday the national vaccination campaign against measles and polio , targeting  44 thousand children under the age of five in addition to 6 thousand children under the age of five years in temporary accommodation centers.

T. Fateh

Chew on This: 8 Foods for Healthy Teeth

Regular brushing and flossing help keep teeth healthy by getting rid of sugars and food particles that team up with bacteria to form plaque. Plaque produces acid that damages tooth enamel, causes cavities and sets the stage for periodontal, or gum, disease.

Now, a growing body of research is finding that certain foods may be good for teeth, too. Just as so-called "functional foods" may keep your heart healthy, for instance, others may promote oral health, according to Christine D. Wu, a pediatric dentistry researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Here are eight teeth-friendly foods that show promise.

Tea: Compounds called polyphenols, found in black and green teas, slow the growth of bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that people who rinsed their mouths with black tea for one minute, 10 times a day, had less plaque buildup on their teeth than people who rinsed their mouths with water. What's more, the size and stickness of their plaque was reduced.

Cheese: Research published in the journal General Dentistry earlier this year reported that 12- to 15-year-olds who ate cheddar cheese had lower acid levels in their mouths than those who ate sugar-free yogurt or drank a glass of milk.

Raisins: Naturally sweet, raisins don't contain sucrose, or table sugar. Sugar helps bacteria stick to the tooth surface, letting them produce plaque, Wu said. Raisins are also a source of phytochemicals, which may kill cavity-causing plaque bacteria. Some compounds in raisins also affect the growth of bacteria associated with gum disease, Wu has found.

Crunchy foods: It takes serious chewing to break down foods such as carrots, apples and cucumbers. But all that crunching isn't in vain. Chewing "may disturb dental plaque, and serve as a cleansing mechanism," Wu said.  So instead of remaining in your mouth and settling on teeth, bacteria get cleared away.

Vitamin-rich foods: Foods containing calcium — such as cheese, almonds and leafy greens — and foods high in phosphorous — such as meat, eggs and fish — can help keep tooth enamel strong and healthy, according to the American Dental Association.

"Acidic foods and beverages may cause tiny lesions on tooth enamel," Wu said. "Calcium and phosphate help redeposit minerals back into those lesions." Calcium is also good for bones, including your jaw.

Sugarless gum: Pop a stick in your mouth after eating. Chewing boosts saliva secretion, clearing away some bacteria, Wu said. The keyword here is "sugarless." Bacteria rely on sucrose to produce plaque, Wu said.

Milk: In a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association in July, Wu and her team found that drinking a glass of milk after downing dry, sugar-sweetened Fruit Loops lowered levels of acid in the mouth more than drinking water or apple juice did.

Cranberries: Cranberries contain polyphenols (just as tea does), which may keep plaque from sticking to teeth, thus lowering the risk of cavities, according to a study published in the journal Caries Research. A caveat: Because the fruit is so tart, many cranberry products have added sugar, which may affect any potential benefits for teeth, Wu said.

Source: manyyearsyoung.com

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Mindfulness Practice Leads to Drop in Blood Pressure

The finding is reported in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.

The study included 56 women and men diagnosed with prehypertension -- blood pressure that was higher than desirable, but not yet so high that antihypertensive drugs would be prescribed. Prehypertension receives increasing attention from doctors because it is associated with a wide range of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. About 30% of Americans have prehypertension and may be prescribed medications for this condition.

One group of patients was assigned to a program of MBSR: eight group sessions of 2½ hours per week. Led by an experienced instructor, the sessions included three main types of mindfulness skills: body scan exercises, sitting meditation, and yoga exercises. Patients were also encouraged to perform mindfulness exercises at home.

The other "comparison" group received lifestyle advice plus a muscle-relaxation activity. This "active control" treatment group was not expected to have lasting effects on blood pressure. Blood pressure measurements were compared between groups to determine whether the mindfulness-based intervention reduced blood pressure in this group of people at risk of cardiovascular problems.

Patients in the mindfulness-based intervention group had significant reductions in clinic-based blood pressure measurements. Systolic blood pressure (the first, higher number) decreased by an average of nearly 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), compared to less than 1 mm Hg with in the control group who did not receive the mindfulness intervention.

Diastolic blood pressure (the second, lower number) was also lower in the mindfulness-based intervention group: a reduction of nearly 2 mm Hg, compared to an increase of 1 mm Hg in the control group.

Mindfulness-based interventions Could 'Prevent or Delay' Need for Antihypertensive Drugs Ambulatory monitoring is an increasingly used alternative to clinic-based blood pressure measurements. However, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring showed no significant difference in blood pressure with the mindfulness-based intervention.

"Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an increasingly popular practice that has been purported to alleviate stress, treat depression and anxiety, and treat certain health conditions," according to Dr Hughes and coauthors. It has been suggested that MBSR and other types of meditation may be useful in lowering blood pressure. Previous studies have reported small but significant reductions in blood pressure with Transcendental Meditation; the new study is the first to specifically evaluate the blood pressure effects of mindfulness-based intervention in patients with prehypertension.

Although the blood pressure reductions associated with mindfulness-based interventions are modest, they are similar to many drug interventions and potentially large enough to lead to reductions in the risk of heart attack or stroke. Further studies are needed to see if the blood pressure-lowering effects are sustained over time.

The researchers argue that mindfulness-based interventions may provide a useful alternative to help "prevent or delay" the need for antihypertensive medications in patients with borderline high blood pressure.

Source: sciencedaily.com

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