Wellness Tips

Does your kid need a break from smartphones? Plus, sick restaurant workers fuel foodborne illness, and more health news

Does your kid need a break from smartphones?

Summer vacation has begun for some families and screen use may already feel like too much.

A psychiatrist from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston offers some tips for making sure smartphones and tablets are put to good use and not used to excess.

Dr. Laurel Williams, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said no arbitrary number of hours spent online indicates addiction. She suggests parents should focus on their child’s behavior toward their phone. If something seems different or problematic, that might be a warning sign of too much screen time.

“It could be that your child is not talking to anyone at home, talking less, always spending time in their room or getting anxious or unhappy about whatever they see or do online,” Williams said in a college news release.

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AI system helps detect autism

A joint attention-based deep learning system provides good predictive performance for differentiating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from typical development (TD), according to a study published online May 25 in JAMA Network Open.

Chanyoung Ko, M.D., from the Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues trained deep learning models to distinguish ASD from TD and to differentiate ASD symptom severities. Joint attention tasks were administered to children with and without ASD, and video data were obtained from multiple institutions. Ninety-five of 110 children completed study measures. The analytical population included 45 children with ASD and 50 with TD.

The researchers observed good predictive performance for the deep learning ASD versus TD model for initiation of joint attention.

Worried about cataracts? Here’s what you need to know

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness around the world, but surgery can restore vision.

“Unlike many of the other major eye diseases, such as glaucoma or diabetes-related eye disease, cataracts can be easily and painlessly treated by surgery to remove and replace the eye’s lens, restoring sight for most patients,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of the nonprofit organization Prevent Blindness.

“We urge patients to work with their eye doctor to understand their diagnosis and the best available treatment options,” Todd said in a news release from the organization.

Here what else you should know about the common condition.

WEDNESDAY, May 31, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness around the world, but surgery can restore vision.

Sick restaurant workers fuel many foodborne illness outbreaks

Providing sick leave to restaurant workers could help prevent the spread of foodborne illness because ill workers are key drivers of outbreaks at restaurants, a new government report shows.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data on Tuesday covering 800 outbreaks of foodborne illness at restaurants between 2017 and 2019.

The cases were reported by 25 state and local health departments. They included outbreaks of norovirus about 47% of the time and salmonella in about 19% of cases.

Researchers could identify the cause of outbreaks in about two-thirds of cases. Among those, 41% were related to workers handling food while ill. Only 44% of restaurants surveyed offered workers sick leave, however.

Higher alcohol consumption tied to muscle loss

Higher levels of alcohol consumption could have detrimental effects on muscle mass in middle- and older-aged men and women, according to a study published online May 25 in Calcified Tissue International.

Jane Skinner, Ph.D., from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed the relationship between a full range of alcohol consumption and components of sarcopenic risk (skeletal muscle mass and function) in middle-aged and younger older-aged men and women. Analysis included 196,561 White participants from the U.K. Biobank (12,298 participants with four-year longitudinal data).

The researchers found that modelled values of the muscle mass measures all showed a peak at medium levels of alcohol consumption and a steep decline with increasing alcohol consumption.

4,000-year-old DNA identifies Britain’s oldest known cause of Plague

Researchers have identified the oldest cases of plague in Britain to date, with DNA that is 4,000 years old.

The team from the Francis Crick Institute in London has found three ancient British cases of Yersinia pestis — the bacteria that causes the plague — in skeleton samples of two children and one woman.

Two of the cases were found in a mass burial site in Charterhouse Warren in Somerset. The third was discovered in a ring cairn monument in Levens in Cumbria after researchers took skeletal samples of teeth from 34 people at the two sites.

The scientists drilled into the teeth and extracted dental pulp, which can trap DNA remnants of infectious diseases.

Ticks are resilient in tough weather

Ticks are extremely resilient even when temperatures vary wildly, according to scientists who are working to better understand the spread of Lyme disease.

In their new study, black-legged ticks, notorious for carrying pathogens, were very good at surviving both extreme cold and high heat, the scientists found. This was true both for nymph and adult ticks. Only larval ticks were more affected by weather conditions.

“We thought we would see some evidence that if there was like a very dry period, all the ticks might be at a greater risk of dying,” said lead study author Jesse Brunner, an associate professor of biological sciences at Washington State University, in Pullman. “However, just the larvae were impacted by heat and dry conditions. Cold weather had even less of an impact. Somehow, they hunker down and survive great.”


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