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What is croup? Mothers can prevent 'barking' cough in children by taking vitamin D supplements – Study Finds

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Vitamin D and fish oil supplements could significantly help pregnant women keep their children from developing a common viral chest infection, a new study reveals.

Dr. Nicklas Brustad from Copenhagen University Hospital reports that women taking high doses of these supplements during pregnancy lowered the future risk that their children would develop croup by as much as 40 percent.

Croup is a chest infection that’s common among young children. Although most cases are mild, some toddlers may need hospitalization and mechanical support to breathe. Common symptoms of the illness are a “barking” cough, hoarse voice, and breathing issues.

“There is currently no vaccine against the pathogen that causes this disease. Therefore, other preventive strategies are needed, and measures initiated during pregnancy might be important since croup occurs in babies and young children. For such purpose, there is evidence that both vitamin D and fish oil could have an influence on the immune system,” Dr. Brustad says in a media release.

How much vitamin D should pregnant women take?

The study followed 736 pregnant women, recruited by the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood in 2010. Researchers divided the mothers-to-be into four groups, one taking a high-dose vitamin D supplement (2800 international units daily) and fish oil containing long-chain n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (2.4 grams).

The second group took high-dose vitamin D and olive oil, while the third group received a standard dose of vitamin D (400 international units) and fish oil, and the final group took a standard dose and olive oil.

These women all continued taking the supplements from their 24th week of pregnancy until the week after delivery. The groups did not know the amount of vitamin D, fish oil, or olive oil they were taking. Researchers also monitored the children until their third birthday. A doctor formally diagnosed any children who may have been dealing with the symptoms of croup throughout that time. In total, there were 97 cases of croup during the study.

Results reveal that children whose mothers took high doses of vitamin D daily during pregnancy had an 11-percent risk of developing croup after birth. That risk increased to 18 percent if the child’s mother only took standard doses — a 40-percent difference.

Meanwhile, children whose mothers took fish oil supplements also had an 11-percent risk of croup. Those whose mothers took olive oil had a 17-percent risk, a 38-percent difference.

“Our findings suggest that vitamin D and fish oil could be beneficial against childhood croup in sufficiently high doses. These are relatively cheap supplements meaning that this could be a very cost-effective approach to improving young children’s health,” Dr. Brustad reports.

“We are not sure of the exact mechanisms behind the beneficial effects of vitamin D and fish oil, but it could be that they can stimulate the immune system to help babies and young children clear infections more effectively.”

“We know that lung health in babies and young children can be influenced during pregnancy. For example, babies whose mothers smoke tend to have worse lung health. We are increasingly seeing that elements of a mother’s diet can also help or hinder a baby’s lung development,” adds Professor Rory Morty from the University of Heidelberg and chair of European Respiratory Society’s lung and airway developmental biology group.

“This research suggests that taking vitamin D and fish oil supplements during pregnancy could have benefits for babies and young children. We would like to see further research in this area to support these findings as this could lead to new recommendations for supplementation during pregnancy. Pregnant women should always speak to their doctor before taking supplements.”

Prof. Morty did not take part in the research.

Dr. Brustad presented the findings at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

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Feds lift border vaccine requirements, mandatory masks on planes and trains

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OTTAWA — Federal ministers say all COVID-19 border restrictions will be removed as of Saturday, including mandatory vaccination, testing and quarantine of international travellers, as well as the requirement for masks on planes and trains.

The cabinet order maintaining COVID-19 border measures will not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.

But Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is once again warning that pandemic restrictions could be reinstated if they are needed.

“We have learned over the last (two-and-a-half) years the type of measures that can work,” Duclos said Monday.

“We will therefore leave open all possible options when it comes to protecting the health and safety of Canadians.”

The changes mean foreign nationals will no longer require an approved series of vaccinations to enter the country.

In addition, Canada-bound travellers will no longer be subject to random COVID-19 tests, and unvaccinated Canadians will not need to isolate when they return to the country.

Cruise passengers will not have to do pre-board tests or prove they have been vaccinated.

And people who enter the country after Saturday will not need to monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

The five federal ministers making the announcement said the changes are informed by science and epidemiology, adding that modelling indicates the peak of the latest wave of the disease has “largely passed.”

But they did face questions about whether the move is at least partially politically motivated as the Liberals contend with the newly elected Opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is still strongly recommending that people wear masks, particularly in crowded environments such as planes and trains.

“The science is clear: wearing a mask is clearly a means of personal protection that is extremely effective,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief health officer.

“I hope Canadians will make an enlightened decision about this.”

Duclos said the negative attitudes of some passengers have made things very difficult for airlines and crews to enforce the mask mandate in recent months, and cited that as a factor in the decision.

“The transmission of the variants of COVID are domestic-based, for the most part, and therefore, this is what we should stress: masking is highly recommended … but it is not something that can be, in a sense, forced.”

That is a change in messaging from earlier in the summer, when the government and public health officials insisted that maintaining measures at the border was necessary to track and prevent the introduction of new variants.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said there have been 38 million entries at the border in 2022 so far, more than double the number in all of last year. “We want to keep that momentum going.”

The controversial ArriveCan app will no longer be mandatory when the order expires.

“Going forward, use of ArriveCan will be optional, allowing travellers who so choose to submit their customs declaration in advance at major airports,” Mendicino said.

So far that option is available at international airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but that will be expanded to include Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax and Billy Bishop airport in Toronto.

In addition, the Canada Border Services Agency is looking at adding features to ArriveCan to be able to provide information such as border wait times.

The changes do not remove the quarantine or testing requirements for people who enter Canada before Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Using artificial sweeteners may raise the risk of heart disease, study shows – Prestige Online Malaysia

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‘Debilitating’ heart palpitations could be sign of Long Covid – do you have the condition? – Express

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Heart palpitations can be a sign of several different problems – both mental and physical. Often, they’re caused by stress and anxiety. But over the course of the last few years, Long Covid has reportedly caused palpitations. A recent study has explored why this might happen.

Long Covid is when people suffer ongoing symptoms of Covid, 12 weeks after infection.

Some people with the condition have struggled with heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, or feeling faint.

Researchers, observing their patients, have concluded that these symptoms could be caused by problems with the autonomic nervous system – the part of your nervous system that monitors automatic activities such as heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

Doctors and nurses at Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College London believe that the “debilitating” palpitations and other symptoms were caused by “orthostatic intolerance syndrome”.

READ MORE: Princess Beatrice’s ongoing difficulty with ‘muddled’ thoughts swirling in her head

Orthostatic intolerance syndromes are when moving from a sitting or lying position to an upright position causes a low blood pressure in your arteries.

The British Heart Foundation explains: “When a healthy person stands up, some of the blood in the body will flow downwards with the pull of gravity.

“The body responds to prevent blood pressure falling – blood vessels narrow and there is a slight increase in heart rate.

“But in people with orthostatic problems, these automatic changes don’t happen.

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“Moving to an upright position causes a drop in the blood supply to the heart and brain and a fast heart rate as the body tries to compensate.”

For people that struggle with these issues with moving to an upright position, the study by Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College London made recommendations.

It suggested: “Non-upright exercise such as cycling on a recumbent exercise bike and swimming are encouraged.”

It added: “The patient should be advised on rising cautiously from a lying or seated position and avoiding exacerbating factors such as prolonged standing, warm environments, and dehydration.”

READ MORE: Princess Beatrice’s ongoing difficulty with ‘muddled’ thoughts swirling in her head

Shingles, memory loss, tinnitus, itchy skin, and tremors were among the more abnormal symptoms experienced.

Some studies have suggested that long Covid is an autoimmune disease, similar to Parkinson’s disease. An autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system attacks itself.

The body cannot tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells so causes the body to attack healthy cells.

According to one small study from 2021, 44 percent of long Covid patients involved had high levels of a type of antibody connected with other autoimmune diseases and lupus.

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