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Childhood infections take toll in adult life

Adult survivors of populations that had high levels of childhood infection are shorter in stature and die younger than those who lived in times of lower infection rates, according to a new study based on historical data. Researchers link the problems to the negative health effects of chronic inflammation. In the UK, France, Sweden and Switzerland in populations born before 1899, the scientists found that infant mortality rates, an indicator of exposure to infection, highly correlated to deaths from heart and circulatory diseases 40 to 69 years later. The problem, the researchers said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that people who live with high childhood infection levels carry elevated circulating levels of inflammatory proteins throughout their lives. That leads to more risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Aircraft noise spoils attention

Children who live or attend schools near airports ' within hearing range of loud takeoffs and landings ' tend to show impaired reading comprehension, according to the results of an international study reported in Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers at the University of London found that more than 2,000 children living or attending schools near airports at Amsterdam, London or Madrid scored poorly in comprehension tests. The researchers speculate that aircraft noise reduces children’s motivation to work and the noisy situations cause them to “narrow the focus of their attention to tasks to exclude noise and this process also excludes useful sound”.

Flu virus resistant to drugs

Experts on infectious diseases are advising doctors not to use two common drugs to fight flu. Officials at the US Centers for Disease Control say that the main strain of the flu virus is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, which have been used for many years to treat the disease. However, newer flu drugs, Relenza and Tamiflu, are still effective against strains of this year’s flu virus. The flu typically goes away after seven to 10 days, even without medications. Flu drugs can decrease symptoms, which can include fever, cough, chills, body aches and fatigue, by a day or two. However, they must be used within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be effective. Flu drugs may also be able to reduce the risk of complications from the virus.

Sex potion for women

Caffeine may put females in the mood for sex, a st-udy shows. Female rats that got their first shot of caffeine before mating were quicker than uncaff-einated females to scurry back to a male rat after sex. The caffeinated females weren’t just looking for company. “It lo-oks as if they wanted to have sex again,” says Fay Guarraci from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

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