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Excess weight among pregnant women may hinder the development of the babies’ brains as early as the second trimester, researchers have warned.

The study, published in the journal Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, linked high body mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity, to changes in two brain areas, the prefrontal cortex and anterior insula.

These regions play a key role in decision-making and behaviour, with disruptions having previously been linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and overeating.

“Our findings affirm that a mother’s obesity may play a role in fetal brain development, which might explain some of the cognitive and metabolic health concerns seen in children born to mothers with higher BMI,” said study author Moriah Thomason from the New York University in the US.

Previous studies showing an association between obesity and brain development had mostly looked at cognitive function in children after birth.

The new investigation is believed to be the first to measure changes in fetal brain activity in the womb, and as early as six months into pregnancy.

For the findings, the research team examined 197 groups of metabolically active nerve cells in the fetal brain.

Using millions of computations, the study authors divided the groups into 16 meaningful subgroups based on over 19,000 possible connections between the groups of neurons.

They found only two areas of the brain where their connections to each other were statistically strongly linked to the mother’s BMI.

Then, the research team recruited 109 women with BMIs ranging from 25 to 47. (According to the US National Institutes of Health, women are considered “overweight” if they have a BMI of 25 or higher and are “obese” if their BMI is 30 and higher.)

The women were all between six and nine months’ pregnant.

The research team used MRI imaging to measure fetal brain activity and map patterns of communication between large numbers of brain cells clustered together in different regions of the brain.

Then, they compared the study participants to identify differences in how groups of neurons communicate with each other based on BMI.

The investigators caution that their study was not designed to draw a direct line between the differences they found and ultimate cognitive or behavioural problems in children. The study only looked at fetal brain activity.

But they now plan to follow the participants’ children over time to determine whether the brain activity changes lead to ADHD, behavioural issues, and other health risks.

Health

Eyesight problems rising among kids

Besides, cases of reflective errors in terms of myopia and hypermetropia have also surfaced among children.

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Lucknow, Sep 26 : With children spending more time on computers and mobile phones for online classes and gaming, cases of eye sight problems are on the rise.

Children and teens between the ages of 6 and 18 years have been found to be suffering from convergence efficiency, computer vision syndrome, reflective errors and other eye sight problems.

According to rough estimates, nearly 40 per cent children have complained of various eye and vision related problems in recent weeks.

Majority of the children are being diagnosed with convergence insufficiency — a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. This condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye, creating double or blurred vision, said Anil Rastogi, a well-known ophthalmologist.

Children working long hours on computers and smart phones usually complain of itching or burning in eyes, watering, loss of retention power, besides headache and eye pain, Rastogi added.

Shikha Kumar, another ophthalmologist, said that since the national lockdown, most children have been found to be spending eight to 10 hours on electronic devices.

“They are either attending online classes, or watching cartoons or television and playing video games. Parents feel that this is the best way to keep them occupied but this prolonged exposure to electronic devices is playing havoc with their eyesight,” she pointed out.

Doctors say that children are being diagnosed with computer vision syndrome where they complain of pain, redness, dryness, blurring of vision, double vision and other head and neck sprains.

Besides, cases of reflective errors in terms of myopia and hypermetropia have also surfaced among children.

Doctors suggest eye exercises, frequent breaks from TV/computer/ mobile phone screens to prevent permanent damage to the eyes.

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Health

People aged between 30-40 coming with new-found cardio issues

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New Delhi, Sep 26 : Respiratory disorders caused by Covid-19 have taken a centre-stage during the pandemic, overshadowing other burgeoning health issues, particularly cardiovascular disorders (CVDs). With the recent uptick in heart diseases over the last few months, people are facing the likelihood of cardiovascular concerns at a large scale.

The incidences of new-onset and worsening heart problems are being highlighted by medical experts. However, a worrying trend is being noticed by them where patients, coming with new-found CVD aged between 30 and 40 while the majority hails from metro cities.

“We are observing a notable shift in the trend of CVDs where people in their 30-40s are getting heart attacks and other cardiac problems, from metros like Delhi and Mumbai,” observed Dr Partap Chauhan, Director at Jiva Ayurveda, a leading Ayurvedic telemedicine organization in India.

“We had the maximum number of cases from the Maharashtra region (150+ cases), followed by Delhi (200+ cases), Uttar Pradesh (300+ cases) and Haryana (110+ cases), of which around 1,000 were males and 480 were females,” he informed.

Notably, most of these cases also had an observable trend in co-morbidity. “Our doctors consulted 670 cases for hypertension, followed by 216 cases of Hypercholesterolemia and 174 cases of Hridroga (other heart diseases),” Chauhan shared.

Besides, he also estimated that more than cases related to cardiovascular problems have increased by 50 per cent.

“Before lockdown, our doctors consulted 748 cases for cardiovascular diseases, during the complete lockdown, we got 322 cases of CVDs and post-lockdown, our doctors have consulted around 776 cases through our telemedicine centre and clinics,” Chauhan added.

Weighing on the sudden spurt in cardiovascular issues, Chauhan listed certain aggregators that contributed to the rise. “The unavailability of quality medical care and the fear of contagion is one of the few common causes for the worsening condition of patients with pre-existing heart problems. In addition to that, the sudden and disproportionate increase in causative factors such as stress, anxiety, obesity, and physical inactivity is pushing the pre-CVD segment of people in their late 40s and with existing comorbidities into becoming new patients of CVD,” he explained.

He also said that emotional factors such as Isolation, loss of employment, financial dilemmas, and the emotional burden of being away from family members or bereavement have made matters worse. “The psychological effects (loneliness, stress, anxiety, isolation, unemployment fear and economic burden) of the pandemic combined with other lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking, irregular eating habits, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity may increase CVD cases during the pandemic,” Chauhan added.

Meanwhile, stress, bad diet, and emotional turmoil is taking a toll on the heart. Chauhan said that adopting a healthy lifestyle, and adding yoga and herbs in your daily routine can help.

“Over a period, it becomes weak and coupled with incorrect lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol or eating junk food, the already high risk of developing heart diseases goes up. Practising yoga and pranayama could reduce stress levels. A gentle head massage or full body massage with oil relieves tension and reduces the load on your heart. Switch off highly charged TV broadcasts if it is causing you stress. Spend time cultivating what makes you happy, healthy and gives you peace,” he advised.

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NPPA steps in to cap price of Liquid Medical Oxygen and Medical Oxygen cylinders

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New delhi: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority of India is now capping price of Liquid Medical Oxygen and Medical Oxygen cylinders.

  1. The present situation of COVID-19 has resulted in increased demand of Medical Oxygen (MO) in the country and hence its availability is of utmost importance. Many of the States/UTs are dependent on the medical oxygen supply from other States/UTs.
  2. The demand of Medical Oxygen has gone up almost four times, from 750MT/day to 2800 MT/day. This has caused strain at all levels in the value chain of production and supply. The manufacturers of Medical Oxygen and Fillers have given representation to the Government for up to three fold price increase in the Ceiling Price of gaseous Medical Oxygen.
  3. The government is committed to uninterrupted supply of Medical Oxygen especially in the times of pandemic. Oxygen Inhalation (Medicinal Gas) is a scheduled formulation, covered under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). Its existing Ceiling Price fixed by NPPA is Rs. 17.49/CUM. However, due to absence of price cap on liquid medical oxygen, manufacturers have hiked prices to fillers. During COVID, supply of medical oxygen through cylinders has increased from 10% to around 50% of total consumption. Price regulation at this end is imperative for continued availability of medical oxygen across the country.
  4. The issue related to availability, including pricing of oxygen has been under the continued consideration of Empowered Group 2, GOI. The Empowered Group 2 has recommended NPPA to consider capping the ex-factory price of liquid oxygen in order to ensure its supply to fillers at reasonable prices. It has also requested NPPA to consider a cap for ex-factory price of oxygen in cylinders in order to ensure supply of oxygen cylinders from filler at reasonable prices.
  5. To deal effectively with the situation, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOH&FW), GOI has vide its letter dated 23.09.2020 conferred the delegation of powers under Section 10(2) (l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to NPPA to take all necessary steps to immediately regulate the availability and pricing of LMO and Medical Oxygen in cylinder.
  6. The Authority deliberated upon the matter in its extra ordinary meeting held on 25.09.2020. It has been decided to invoke extra-ordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of DPCO, 13 and under Section 10(20) (l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to deal with the emergent situation arising due to the pandemic. Accordingly it has been decided:

To cap the ex- factory price of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) at manufacturers end at Rs. 15.22/CUM exclusive of GST; and

To further cap the ex-factory cost of Medical Oxygen Cylinder at filler end at Rs. 25.71/CUM exclusive of GST in suppression of the existing Ceiling Price of Rs. 17.49/CUM, subject to transportation cost fixation at state level, for six months.

  1. The existing rate contracts of state governments for oxygen purchase, as applicable, shall continue, in consumer interest.

The ex-factory price cap of LMO and oxygen gas cylinders will be applicable to domestic production.

The above measures will ensure availability of medical oxygen at consumer end at reasonable price both at hospital level and through oxygen cylinders, especially to distant and interior districts.

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