Research briefs 080208

Pregnancy stress link to schizophrenia
Stressful events in the first trimester of pregnancy could lead to schizophrenia in the child, say UK researchers. Analysis of 1.38 million births between 1973 and 1995 in Denmark showed that mothers of over 36,000 children suffered the death or serious illness of a relative during pregnancy. Children of women who went through this stress in early pregnancy had a 67 per cent increased risk of developing schizophrenia, say the researchers (Arch Gen Psychiatry 2008; 65: 146-52).

Gout caused by sugary drinks
Sugary soft drinks can boost the risk of gout by as much as 85 per cent, claim Canadian researchers. The 12-year study involved over 46,000 men aged 40 years and older with no history of gout. They completed food frequency questionnaires throughout the study and were assessed for weight and medical conditions. During this time, 755 developed gout. Men having two sugary drinks a day had an 85 per cent increased risk of gout than those having less than one drink a month (BMJ Online 2008).

MMR-autism theory debunked
A third study has ruled out the purported link between MMR and autism. The research included 98 children with autism, 52 with special needs and 90 who were developing normally. All the children were born in 1990/1 and had received at least one MMR vaccine. Blood tests when the children were aged 10-12 showed no difference in levels of circulating measles virus or antibodies between the three groups. There was no evidence of enterocolitis in the autistic children (Arch Dis Child Online 2008).

A tough pill to swallow
A pill containing a camera could boost early cancer diagnoses, say the US researchers who developed the device. This tiny endoscope will be able to take high-quality colour pictures of the GI tract. The pill is attached to a lead that is just 1.4 mm wide, compared with the 9mm width of a normal endoscope (IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 2008).

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