Infants learn language faster with traditional toys than electronic toys

Playing with books or traditional toys such as a wooden puzzle or building blocks is more effective than electronic toys for infants that produce lights, words and songs when it comes to picking up language, a study suggests. Researchers from Northern Arizona University conducted a controlled experiment with 26 parent-infant pairs where children were 10 to 16 months old. They were given three sets of toys: electronic toys (a baby laptop and a baby phone); traditional toys (wooden puzzle and building blocks with pictures); and five board books with farm animals, shape or colours. While playing with electronic toys adults said fewer words and engaged less with children. Even the infants vocalized less when playing with electronic toys compared to traditional toys and books. The study was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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Bacteria lives longer in cookies, crackers and sandwiches

Bacteria like salmonella survive longer on certain food items like cookies and crackers, shows a study. Researchers from the University of Georgia conducted a study to see how long bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses can survive in certain foods. They used five different serotypes of salmonella that had been isolated from foods reported to have led to food-borne illnesses in the past. They found that not only the bacteria survived in dry foods, like cookie and cracker sandwiches, but also lived longer. In some cases they even survived over six months. The study shows that food-borne pathogens survive longer in food items with certain ingredients and by identifying the specific ingredients and stopping their use can help avoid outbreak of food-borne diseases. The study was published in the Journal of Food Protection.

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Social factors linked to heart disease and diabetes risk in middle-aged women

Social factors may increase the risk of heart diseases and diabetes among middle-aged women, a Korean study suggests. Researchers from Yonsei University in Seoul and Hallym University in Chuncheon, South Korea, tracked 1,200 healthy South Korean women for a period of four years. They looked for social determinants of health that could have given some inkling of which women faced the highest risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases. The researchers found that middle aged women with low education and low income level were two times more likely to be diagnosed with heart diseases and diabetes. The study was published in the Journal of The North American Menopause Society.

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Blood pressure pills can reduce risk of stroke and heart failure

Taking blood pressure pills regularly can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and related deaths significantly, shows a British study. Researchers from George Institute of Global Health at Oxford University identified 123 studies with 613,815 participants for their study and found that regular use of blood pressure pills keeps systolic blood pressure less than 130mm Hg. Every 10mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure reduces the risk of heart disease by about 20%, stroke and heart failure by 25%, and the risk of death from either of the two by 13%. The study appeared in the British journal The Lancet.

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Compiled by Abhijit Ahaskar