At a time when antibiotic resistance is one of the major problems facing America and parents are being cautioned against widespread antibiotic use among children, more and more people are beginning to realize that bacteria is not such a dirty word after all.
In fact, there are trillions of “friendly” bacteria called probiotics that reside in the gut and help support digestion and immune health—and results from a recent study out of Mexico City show that daily probiotics may be the key to promoting a balanced intestinal environment in younger children and, as a result, supporting overall health.‡
In total, more than 300 preschool children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years participated in the study. While half of the participants received a placebo, the other half received the beneficial probiotic Lactobaccillus reuteri each day for three months. In the latter group, researchers saw a significant effect in reducing episodes and duration of occasional diarrheai along with fewer missed days at preschool (as well as fewer missed work days for the parents).‡
Results of the study were published in the March 2014 issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
With more than 80,000 chemicals currently in use today and a thousand more introduced every year, there’s no doubt we are living in a toxic world—and scientists at Oregon State University are on a mission to find out just how toxic.
You know those nifty little silicone wristbands everyone’s sporting? In a recent study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, the OSU Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship Program, and the National Institutes of Health, researchers turned the popular fashion accessory into a wearable toxin detector—one that creates an eye-opening readout of the harmful chemicals and pollutants we encounter on a daily basis. How’d they do it?
It turns out the absorbent silicone material is perfect for soaking up the chemicals we frequently come into contact with, everything from caffeine and nicotine to harmful pesticides and the hidden chemicals in our personal care products. With a little modification, OSU scientists were able to turn the bands into a helpful tool for monitoring toxic exposure and the corresponding health risks. According to the university, wearers can be screened for 1,200 different chemicals.
“The wristbands show us the broad range of chemicals we encounter but often don’t know about and may be harming us,” said OSU College of Agricultural Sciences Professor Kim Anderson in a recent press release. “Eventually, these bracelets may help us link possible health effects to chemicals in our environment.”
Anderson and her team followed 30 volunteers for an entire month. During that time, the lightweight bands soaked up a broad range of chemical compounds, including several that appear on the Environmental Protection Agency’s priority list. So what’s their next step? Right now they are using the bracelets to determine the effects of chemical exposure on pregnant women in a study in New York City, and later this year they will use them to measure the effects of agricultural chemicals on West African farmers.