Vitamin D may help treat lethal drug-resistant TB

Taking vitamin D supplements with antibiotics can help speed up the process of clearing multi-drug resistant tuberculosis bacteria from the lungs, a study claims. The World Health Organisation estimates that 10.0 million people developed active tuberculosis (TB) in 2017, and that 1.6 million people died of this disease. “Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB is on the rise globally. It’s notoriously difficult to treat, and it carries a much worse prognosis than standard TB,” says an expert. MDR TB is caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs, causing around 500,000 cases and 150,000 deaths per year worldwide. Existing antibiotic treatments for MDR TB are lengthy, costly and often toxic due to their serious side effects. This study raises the possibility that vitamin D, which is safe and inexpensive, could benefit this hard-to-treat group of patients. Vitamin D has shown potential in boosting the immune system, but randomised controlled trials of vitamin D in TB treatment have yielded conflicting results. In the study, published in European Respiratory Journal, the research team pooled data from 1,850 TB patients who took part in clinical trials of vitamin D in eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the UK. When added to antibiotic treatment, vitamin D was found to accelerate TB clearance specifically in patients with MDR TB, even though no acceleration of TB clearance was seen when looking at the entire study population as a whole.

Absentmindedness may be a sign of ‘silent stroke’ 

People who frequently lose their train of thought or often become sidetracked may be displaying earlier symptoms of cerebral small vessel disease, also known as a “silent stroke,” a study warns. The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, found that adults with damage to the brain’s white matter, caused by silent strokes, reported poor attentiveness and being distracted more frequently on day-to-day tasks. Despite these complaints, about half of the people with identified white matter damage scored within the normal range on formal laboratory assessments of attention and executive function. The executive function is a person’s ability to plan, stay organised and maintain focus on overall goals. This study’s results indicate that in many cases of people who were at a higher risk of silent stroke and had one, they saw a notable difference in their ability to stay focused, even before symptoms became detectable through a neuropsychological test. Cerebral small vessel disease is one of the most common neurological disorders of ageing. This type of stroke and changes in the brain’s blood flow (vascular changes) are connected to the development of vascular dementia and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The strokes are “silent” since they do not cause lasting major changes seen with an overt stroke, such as affecting a person’s ability to speak or paralysis. Despite a lack of obvious symptoms, cerebral small vessel disease causes damage to the brain’s white matter (responsible for communication among regions), which can cause memory and cognitive issues over time. Typically, this type of stroke is uncovered incidentally through MRI scans or once the brain damage has worsened. There are no effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, but brain vascular changes can be prevented or reduced through smoking cessation, exercise, diet and stress management, as well as keeping one’s blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol under control, says an expert.

Chemical exposure can affect unborn baby's lungs 

Would be mothers who are exposed to toxic chemicals during pregnancy could increase the risk of decreased lung functioning in their babies later, finds a new study published in The Lancet journal. Researchers looked at data from 1,033 mother-child pairs and found links between prenatal exposure to parabens, phthalates and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and reduced lung function in children. PFAS are found in many household products and food packaging, such as non-stick or stain-resistant cookware. PFAS can be absorbed by the organism through food or water and then be passed to the unborn baby through the placenta. Preventive measures to reduce exposure to the chemical substances identified, including a stricter regulation and the labelling of consumer products to better inform the public, could help prevent lung function impairment in childhood. — Agencies

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