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Breast Milk Contains Bacteria, Fungi and Yeast Beneficial To Infant Health

Fungi, yeasts and bacteria found in breast milk are beneficial to babies

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yeast, fungi and bacteria in breast milk
Yeast, fungi and bacteria are present in breast milk. Photo Credit: Pxhere

While previous studies have demonstrated that human breast milk contains bacteria, new research shows it also contains fungi. Researchers are now confident that certain fungi and bacteria are beneficial to babies’ health. Growing infants obviously derive health benefits from the yeasts, fungi and bacteria present in their mothers’ breast milk.

The study was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Beyond the health benefits conferred by fungi, yeast and bacteria to young babies, researchers are also confident that breast milk introduces fungi and bacteria to the guts on infants. To scientists, this means breast milk contains a community of various organisms (microbiome or mycobiota) under healthy conditions.

Healthy Women Everywhere Have Beneficial Fungi, Yeast and Bacteria in Their Breast Milk

The researchers first established the presence of yeast, fungi and bacteria in the breast milk of mothers in Spain. So they sampled the breast milk of mothers from Finland, China and South Africa among others. They found the same to be true: breast milk contains yeasts and other fungi not minding the geographical location, weather, diets and lifestyles of mothers.

But then, the levels of fungi are not evenly distributed across women from all over the world. South African and Spanish mothers have 70% of fungi in their breast milk, while those in China have 45% and those in Finland have 35%.

The most common fungi found in the breast milk of women across the continents are Malassezia, Davidiella, Sistotrema and Penicillium among others. Malassezia are usually found in the sebaceous glands which lubricate the skin and hair; Davidiella are found in the women vagina; and Saccharomytes are found both in the human guts as well as in breast milk.

Yeast and Fungi in Breast Milk to Be Extracted To Develop Medications for Wellness

The researchers went further to compare the amount of organisms in the breast milk of mothers who delivered naturally against those who delivered via Cesarean section. Those that delivered vaginally have more fungi Cryptococcus in their milk, but the extent of fungal richness and diversity remains largely the same in both classes of women.

Having suggested that fungi are introduced to babies’ guts via breast milk, the scientists are quick to note that the “development of mycobiota in infants” requires further research.

Considering that Saccharomytes boulardii among other yeast species are used for probiotics developed to promote infant health, other types may be beneficial for general human health. The researchers are working on isolating strains of beneficial fungi, yeast and bacteria from breast milk to develop medications useful for human wellness.

 

Veronica Owens graduated from MIT in 2013. She worked in Silicon Valley for three years before finding her feet in Journalism. She covers emerging tech trends as they relate to the health industry. She authored a book on the intersection between modern technology and health in 2016. She loves to sew and watch the Super Bowl.

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Diseases & Disorders

WHO Releases 12 Risk Factors for Dementia and Guidelines for Tackling Them

WHO identifies risk factors for dementia and recommendations for prevention

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WHO gives recommendations for dementia
WHO gives recommendations for preventing dementia. Photo Credit: Geralt/Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 12 risk factors for developing dementia and guidelines for preventing it. The WHO report is targeted at helping national governments, health policymakers and healthcare providers prevent the onset of dementia in people. As at today, it is estimated that about 50 million people around the world are suffering from dementia, with 5.8 million of them in the United States.

Dementia is a general term for neuro-degenerative conditions that affect an individual’s ability to think, remember or undertake daily routines. While it is usually associated with old age, dementia presents itself as a progressive decline in cognitive functions because of aging, brain damage or disease. Patients have problems related to memory, attention, judgment, language and problem-solving abilities.

Families and Caregivers Also Suffer From the Effects of Dementia on Patients

Health experts agree that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia – making up 50% to 70% of cases. An individual may suffer from several forms of dementia, and sometimes it could also run in families. Diagnosis is done by cognitive testing which includes medical imaging and blood tests, as well as evaluating the history of the patient’s illness.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for dementia but there are several identified risk factors.

The 12 risk factors published by WHO are –

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol
  • Impaired cognitive reserve
  • Low level of social life
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia or high cholesterol levels
  • Depression
  • Hearing loss

While these risk factors have been found to increase the chances of developing dementia, scientists are not exactly sure of what causes the brain disease. All they know is that it is related to old age. The patient is not the only one affected by dementia, family members and caregivers also suffer from caring for the patient. This goes to prove that the lives of dementia patients and their families are changed by the disease.

“The goal of the action plan is to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families, while decreasing the impact of dementia on them as well as on communities and countries,” the WHO report reads.

Number of People Suffering From Dementia May Triple In the Next 30 Years

Given that most of the risk factors for dementia advanced by WHO are lifestyle-related, health analysts say there is hope for prevention. With the new guidelines published by the international health body, people must learn to adopt healthier lifestyles to reduce the chances of developing dementia and other complicated health conditions.

Except people get proactive on their health as they advance in age, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that the number of people suffering from dementia may triple in the next 30 years.

“We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.

With adequate information, people can evaluate the risk factors for dementia and determine how they live their lives accordingly. Health experts stated that tackling the entire risk factors can prevent dementia and insure a better health. This is against the background that excessive alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet are linked to cognitive decline and other debilitating health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Public Health Approach Is Important For Dementia Management and Prevention

There is scanty medical evidence to prove that hearing aids, antidepressants and an active social life cut down the likelihood of dementia. But WHO insists they are nevertheless important for cognitive health and general wellbeing.

According to WHO, a public health approach is crucial to implementing key dementia interventions. This is largely because dementia can be prevented or delayed when cognitive health and lifestyle changes are geared towards positive wellbeing. WHO is all for positive global health experiences and frequently publishes recommendations aimed at improving global wellness.

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Fitness & Exercise

WHO Says $1 Trillion Is Lost Annually To Workplace Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Should discussing mental health issues at the workplace be a taboo?

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mental health at work leads to lower productivity
Mental health at work should not be a taboo topic. Photo Credit: Shivmirthyu/Pixabay

Yesterday, April 28, was the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This is an annual celebration and promotion of occupational safety and health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), low productivity in the workplace as a result of depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year.

WHO estimates that over 300 million suffer from depression, leading to reduced work performance, around the world.

Many of the people suffering from depression also experience anxiety, even though this is not always related to work. But WHO made it clear that a negative work environment is linked to mental and physical health prooblems, as well as lost productivity as a result of absenteeism and substance abuse.

Employers Should Address Mental Health Issues at Work by Reviewing Work Cultures

“Workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains,” WHO wrote.

With the 2019 World Day for Safety and Health at Work, mental health and workplace experts agree on one thing: mental health issues start with individuals and spread to the entire workplace, impacting work culture and overall productivity, Psychology Today wrote. They therefore advise employers and work supervisors to address mental health issues in the workplace.

mental health at work costs billions in loss of productivity

Mental health at work costs billions in loss of productivity. Photo Credit: Wokandapix/Pixabay

They can do this by acknowledging that mental health is real and counterproductive. They should therefore create a workplace culture that reduces stress and anxiety, as well as encourage employees to speak up about personal or work worries. This will ultimately boost employee engagement and productivity in the workplace.

Why Discussing Mental Health in the Workplace Shouldn’t Be a Taboo

The problem however is that it has become a taboo to talk about mental issues in the workplace. Some employers do not even agree that mental health is associated with work productivity. Such employers prefer to talk about work safety and health, but not mental health. This gives employees the impression that owning up to work stress is taboo, and that it may endanger their employment status.

Morra Aarons-Mele in a Harvard Business Review disclosed that employees rarely talk about mental health at work. She said people lock up themselves in the bathroom if they feel emotional at work or offer an excuse to be absent from work. They do not ask to have a flex time or work from home unless of course they have a new baby or receive news that their parents are ill.

“The burden of depression and anxiety is shared by all members of a workplace, and it’s a vicious cycle,” Aarons-Mele said.

Working from Home Reduces the Effects of Workplace Stress and Anxiety

With newer technologies, people are able to ask to work from home if they feel down, transforming the workplace experience and giving better flexibility to workers. Mental health issues in the workplace can be reduced if people can afford to work from home.

Without this option, people get easily experience a burnout and run dangerously low on personal bandwidth.

Debilitating mental health in the workplace impacts an individual in four major areas – mental, physical, emotional/interpersonal, and financial. “Each affects the other in a downward spiral of cognitive drain, physical debilitation, compromised relationships, and a real loss of productivity and profits,” wrote Camille Preston in her 2012 book, Rewired.

 

 

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Diseases & Disorders

First Malaria Vaccine in the World to Be Administered To 360,000 Children in Africa

360,000 children in Africa to be given malaria vaccine every year – the first of such vaccine in the world

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malaria vaccine given to African children
360,000 children in Africa to be given malaria vaccine every year. Photo Credit: etinosa_yvonne/Pixabay

Every year, 360,000 African children will receive malaria vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced. The malaria vaccine is the first of such in the world. As part of a large-scale pilot project, it will roll out first in three African countries, CNN reported.

The malaria vaccine administration is already underway in Malawi. But it will be rolled out to children two years and younger in Kenya and Ghana in the coming weeks. According to WHO, the governments of each country will determine where the vaccine is to be administered.

WHO revealed that the malaria vaccine proved effective during clinical trials in protecting four out of 10 kids against malaria attack.

Malaria Vaccine May Prevent the Death of One Child Every Two Minutes

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said mosquito nets and other malaria prevention tools had proved effective in the last 15 years. But the progress has stalled and even reversed in some cases. He said new solutions are needed to get malaria control back on track and this new vaccine holds a lot of promise in that regard.

“The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children’s lives,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.

An estimated 435,000 people die from malaria every year, with 250,000 of the malaria deaths occuring in Africa. WHO says one child dies every two minutes from malaria around the world. Malaria is an infective disease caused by sporozoan parasites transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Symptoms include chills, headache and other feverish conditions.

The good news however is that malaria is preventable and treatable.

The new malaria vaccine is known as RTS,S or Mosquirix and developed in 1987 by GSK. Several health organizations have tested and trialed it over the years and it has been certified effective in protecting against malaria.

Malaria Is Most Endemic In Africa and Vaccine Provides 40% Protection – Better Than Nothing

Adrian Hill, a professor of human genetics and director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, said it can be difficult to win the war over malaria permanently.

“The tools we have are modestly effective but drugs and insecticides wear out – after 10, 20 years mosquitoes become resistant. There’s a real concern that in 2020s, [cases] are going to jump back up again,” Hill said.

The malaria vaccine will be administered in four doses. Three doses will be given to infants aged 5-9 months, and the fourth dose given when the children are about two years old.

WHO however cautioned that the vaccine should be used to complement other malaria prevention measures such as insecticide treated bed nets and indoor sprays among others.

Alena Pance, senior staff scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the vaccine is not 100% effective against malaria. But “it is very important to bear in mind that 40% protection in the most endemic part of the world, Africa, is better than no protection at all,” he said.

 

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