February is the shortest month and was a little light on relevant news this year as well. There were, however, some highlights that I’d like to share:

Children’s Health

Despite programs to promote healthy eating for children and adolescents, kids are still being exposed to food-related advertising at school (Counsel & Heal). This is prompting a call for standards to be created regarding this food. Over 60% of elementary school children are exposed to some kind of coupon and almost half of middle school students attend schools with an exclusive beverage contract. This number jumps to almost 70% for high school students. It’s nice that they are revamping the nutrition labels to include sugar content, but more needs to be done to protect young people from harmful food (CNN). March is nutrition awareness month and I’d like to see a push in this direction.

Six new toxic chemicals were added to a list of “developmental neurotoxicants that may be linked to the rise of neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia among children. The Harvard School of Public Health study provides strong evidence for the control of these substances and widespread testing of industrial chemicals (Harvard Gazette).

Proving that number fiddling isn’t limited to just corporations and law enforcement, new guidelines will reduce the number of autism cases by a third (Fox News). This action could leave thousands of children without the treatment and services that they need.

Epigenetics Research Grows Around the World

New evidence emerged from Cambodia supporting the epigenetic effects of nutrition from generation to generation (Popular Science). Cambodian thirtysomethings have staggering rates of adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes whereas people in other countries have an average age of onset at 54. Scientists believe that the starvation faced by mothers during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s is to blame. Two other epigenetics researchers are Prof Steve Horvath of the University of California and Prof Manel Esteller at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, who are studying methylation in relation to the body clock (The Telegraph). This provides fascinating insight into diseases like breast cancer and Alzheimers.

Cancer Overdiagnosed?

A somewhat controversial study was published stating that the alarming increase in thyroid cancer may be due to overdiagnosis (NPR). Now, I am aware that there are oncologists and researchers who feel that other cancers, like breast cancer, may also be overdiagnosed, with the conventional treatments doing more harm than good. This topic has only recently come to my attention so I am curious to hear others’ thoughts on the issue.

12 Years For a MTHFR Diagnosis

Finally, MTHFR got some major exposure with this story of a UK couple who finally welcomed the arrival of their “miracle” daughter after 12 years and multiple IVF cycles (Daily Mail). The mother has MTHFR gene mutations. Twelve YEARS for a diagnosis – my heart breaks for them. We have to do better than this and I hope that the continued dissemination of information about MTHFR (and other significant) gene mutations helps raise awareness among both doctors and patients.

Did I miss any news items in February that you thought were significant?

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