Stress in the second and third months of pregnancy can shorten pregnancies, increase the risk of pre-term births and may affect the ratio of boys to girls being born, leading to a decline in male babies. These are the conclusions of a study that investigated the effect on pregnant women of the stress caused by the 2005 Tarapaca earthquake in Chile. Although it has been known for a while that stress may affect the duration of pregnancy, until now, no study has looked at the impact of both the timing of the stress and the effect that stress might have on the ratio of male-to-female births. The research published online in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction  today (Thursday), provides answers to these questions and also suggests that it is exposure to stress itself rather than other factors that can often accompany or cause stress, such as poverty, that appears to affect pregnancy.
Governments and the nuclear industry have failed to address serious data gaps and untested assumptions guiding exposure limits to Cesium (Cs)-137 released in the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and this year's incident at Fukushima, says University of Massachusetts Amherst toxicologist Edward Calabrese. It's time now to move toward adopting more evidence-based risk assessment for the future, he adds. "It is also critical that the linear, no-threshold (LNT) model and the alternative models, such as the threshold and hormesis models, be objectively assessed so that society can be guided by scientific data and validated models rather than ideological perspectives that stealthily infected the risk assessment process for ionizing radiation and carcinogenic chemicals, " he states. Calabrese's commentary, "Improving the scientific foundations for estimating health risks from the Fukushima incident, " is included in this week's special issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences devoted to documenting the estimated release magnitude and distribution of Cs-137 from the nuclear incident in Japan after the March earthquake and tsunami.
It seems that every day another area of the economy is depressed because of the global financial crisis in the banks and governments around the world. This time it's The Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria, which has announced it will make no new grants until 2014; and there is a possibility of some existing projects being cut. The fund, which is based in Geneva, said that only "essential" programs in low or middle-income countries would receive more funding to keep them going until 2014 and hopes that new management can improve efficiency. It seems ironic that the two sectors of the economy: banking and government, which add little to the world in terms of technology or innovation, the real drivers of economic growth, have been able to stymie and depress almost all areas of activity.
Michel SidibĂ, Executive Director of UNAIDS, says that this coming AIDS day, December 1st, will be unique in that health care professionals, health authorities and scientists may be able to say with confidence that the end of AIDS really is in sight. Collective international actions have resulted in solid achievements in the fight against AIDS. Despite the global economic crisis which started three years ago, and scarce resources in comparison to what would be realistically needed in the AIDS campaign, millions of of lives have still been saved - results for HIV treatment, prevention and accessibility to medical care have been impressive, SidibĂ explained. SidibĂ has thanked world leaders for their pledges; promises he describes as "bold, tangible and realistic." It is crucial that these pledges are delivered in every single nation, every community, and to every individual who needs help.
Researchers have released a preliminary report on the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the surrounding areas, following radiation levels for approximately three months following the event and surveying more than 5, 000 people in the region. The report was published in the online journal PLoS ONE. The researchers, led by Ikuo Kashiwakura of Hirosaki University in Japan, found only 10 people with high radiation exposure levels within 1 month after the accident, but these levels were not high enough to require decontamination. Almost all of the surveyed individuals were found to have safe contamination levels. They also found that the exposure gradually decreased over time, and that indoor air had one tenth the radiation dose of outdoor air. These preliminary findings will be followed by further investigation of "hot spot areas" where radioactivity has accumulated, as well as long-term effects on human health.