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Type-2 Diabetes Among Youths Saw Sharp Spike During COVID-19 Pandemic: Study

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Cases of type 2 diabetes saw a sharp 77% increase among youth during the first year of the pandemic. Researchers say some “environmental factors” may have contributed to the rise.

The incidence of “youth onset” type 2 diabetes has been rising “worldwide,” the researchers wrote in a paper, published in The Journal of Pediatrics. Previous data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCsaw a 4.8% increase in new cases of type 2 diabetes in youths per year from 2002 to 2015.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs typically in adults, even though it is also found among younger people, thanks to increasing cases of obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic.

But diabetes rates tend to “rise and fall over time,” Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine noted in a news release. For their study, the researchers looked at the rates of new type 2 diabetes cases among young people, aged eight to 21 years, in the first year of the pandemic (until Feb. 28, 2021) and also two years before that.

Indeed, they found a “substantial rise” in youth onset type 2 diabetes, with new cases increasing by a whopping 77.2% in the first year of the pandemic compared to the two years prior to it.

The disparities among racial and ethnic groups, which has been observed in previous years, also “deepened.” While cases decreased among white youths, the number of diagnoses doubled among Black youths and nearly doubled among Hispanic youths in the first year of the pandemic compared to the previous two years.

The team also found other rather “unusual” results. For instance, more boys were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the first year of the pandemic, when “historically,” more girls are diagnosed with the disease than boys.

Further, compared to pre-pandemic years when more patients were typically diagnosed with the disease as outpatients, during the pandemic year, more of them were diagnosed while being inpatients, suggesting “greater severity.”

“Inpatient admission generally suggests a more severe presentation at diagnosis,” researchers explained.

“Likelihood of presenting with metabolic decompensation and severe diabetic ketoacidosis also increased significantly during the pandemic,” the researchers wrote.

According to the researchers, “environmental factors” could help explain the trend. Because of the pandemic, school and sports activities were shut and the kids had to stay more at home.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown, children were removed from normal day-to-day routines like going to school, playing sports and other hobbies,” study co-first author Sheela N. Magge, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in the news release. “Not only were they less physically active, they were confined to their homes and spent a lot more time watching TV, playing video games, or with other electronic devices.”

Previously, the CDC noted how kids tended to snack more while watching TV than while doing other activities.

The researchers also discussed other possible factors behind the increase, such as pediatric weight gain and the psychosocial stress that the youths experienced, which may have contributed to the “pathophysiology of diabetes.” They also cited a previous study that noted an increase in diabetes incidences among youths after a COVID-19 infection. But it is not clear whether the infection itself has caused the increase.

“Whether the increase was caused by COVID-19 infection, or just associated with environmental changes and stressors during the pandemic is unclear,” they wrote.

More studies will be needed to see if the trend will “persist over time” and to look at the possible underlying causes. Researchers are urging pediatricians and parents to be more “vigilant.”

“We need to make sure we are identifying patients early so we can intervene with treatment and prevent complications,” said study co-first author Risa Wolf, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“Now is the time to focus on exercising and a healthy diet for your kids,” Magge added.





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Farts, Poop And Pee: An AI Will Listen To These Sounds And Detect Abnormalities

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Farts, Poop And Pee: An AI Will Listen To These Sounds And Detect Abnormalities


Scientists have created a machine that will listen to your farts, pee, and poop. Yes, that’s right. The machine will recognize and analyze the sound of each bathroom-related activity.

The scientists have cleverly named the machine Synthetic Human Acoustic Reproduction Testing machine (S.H.A.R.T.). It is a mechanical device fitted with pumps, nozzles, and tubes. The contraptions are meant to recreate the physics and sound of human bodily functions.

The creators of the S.H.A.R.T. machine presented their work at the American Physical Society’s annual Fluid Dynamics conference. Their results are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Scientists are training AI to detect and scrutinize scatological sounds so that it can one day help in diagnosing deadly diseases like cholera and nip a potential outbreak in the bud.

“There’s an outbreak and resurgence in Haiti  as we speak,” Maia Gatlin, an aerospace engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), said at the presentation, reported Inverse. Faster detection of cases will help curb outbreaks like these, Gatlin added.

The researchers want to use the AI model in tandem with relatively cheap sensors and put them to use in vulnerable regions.

“And as we classify those events, we can start to collect that data,” Gatlin said. “It can say, ‘Hey we’re seeing an outbreak of lots of diarrhea.’ Then we can start to quickly diagnose what’s going on in an area.’”

Sounds are a non-invasive way to remotely analyze bowel conditions. “Self-reporting is not very reliable,” David Ancalle, a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech, said, according to the outlet. “We’re trying to find a non-invasive way where people can get a notification on whether or not they should go get checked out. Like ‘Hey, your urine is not flowing at the rate that it should. Your farts are not sounding the way they should. You should check it out.’”

The AI was fed publicly available audio and video of excretions, with frequency spectrum captured of each one of them. The AI was then ready for SHART machine testing.

SHART played out different sounds of human outputs with the help of water pumped through the machine. “A lot of thought went into each of the sounds,” Gatlin said. “There was a subsystem for each sound on this little machine.”

“It actually performs pretty well,” Gaitlin continued.

The AI was able to successfully identify the correct “excretion event” with 98 percent accuracy, according to early data.

The scientists are adamant that they want their work to be budget-friendly for everyone.

“We’re not trying to come up with million-dollar equipment,” Ancalle said. “We are trying to make this something that can be afforded by just everyone, particularly since the project is focused on urban areas with weak health systems. The affordability aspect is very important for us.”

 

 





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Women, Individuals With High BMI May Face Greater Risk Of Long COVID: Study

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OVID-19 continues to haunt some patients, with many suffering from so-called long COVID. Women and those with high body mass index (BMI) may be at higher risk for the condition, a new study has found.

For their study, published Wednesday on PLOS Global Public Health, a team of researchers conducted a survey to “characterize the burden and predictors” for long COVID.

Long COVID, also known as post-COVID syndrome, is the condition wherein the symptoms patients develop during or after a COVID-19 infection persist for over 12 weeks after being diagnosed with it. Symptoms may range from coughing, fatigue and breathlessness to brain fog, tinnitus and chest pain.

“Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 syndrome is estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 836,000 people in the United Kingdom according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics, UK) report, with 244,000 saying their ability to undertake day-to-day activities had been ‘limited a lot,'” the researchers wrote.

To shed further light on the condition and potentially inform healthcare services, the researchers surveyed people in Norfolk, East England U.K. who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020. In total, some 1,487 people participated in the survey, wherein they answered queries about pre- and post-COVID conditions such as breathlessness, loss of taste or smell, and their use of healthcare services related to long COVID.

“We wanted to find out what factors might make people more or less susceptible to developing long COVID,” one of the study authors, Vassilios Vassiliou of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, said in the university’s news release.

Of all the participants, 774, or 52.1% experienced long COVID. What’s interesting, however, is that more women had the symptoms compared to men, with the male sex appearing to be “protective of post-COVID symptoms” compared to the female sex.

Having a higher BMI was also associated with higher risks of developing long COVID.

“It was found that female sex and high BMI are associated with higher likelihood of developing post-COVID19 syndrome,” the researchers wrote. “Those two factors have a significant predictive value in the use of further health services among those diagnosed with post-COVID19 syndrome.”

The results, they say, are in line with another previous research in England, wherein females were also found to have higher long COVID rates than males.

This sheds further light on the condition that many continue to suffer from. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for instance, long COVID has also been more often observed in some people such as those who had severe COVID-19, while those who weren’t vaccinated for COVID-19 may also face higher risks for it.

The impact of long COVID may go beyond just the patients, too, as an expert pointed out that it may also have a $3.7 trillion impact on the U.S. economy. Hence, the results of this study provide valuable information about long COVID and the people who are most likely to suffer from it.

“We hope that our work will help policymakers plan local services and also inform the wider public of the scale of the long COVID pandemic,” Vassiliou said, as per UEA.

“Our academic colleagues at the University of East Anglia have really helped local health and care organizations to identify local patients at risk of long COVID, helping us to do all we can to support them on their recovery journey,” another study author, Mark Lim, added.





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Scientists Find Differences In Brain Structure Of Older People With Better Cognitive Abilities

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Scientists Find Differences In Brain Structure Of Older People With Better Cognitive Abilities


An insightful study analyzing what contributes to the sharpness of mind in old age has found evolutionary hints.

The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed Chinese journal Science Bulletin, found that more developed frontal lobes were associated with sharp minds in some old people. The reason behind this occurrence may be attributed to natural selection in human evolution.

“Our team initiated the Beijing Ageing Brain Rejuvenation Initiative in 2008, which focused on elderly people with cognitive impairment because they needed more attention. But during our community-based research, we found there was a group of elderly people who aged more slowly and had a higher quality of life,” Chen Yaojing, study corresponding author and a researcher at Beijing Normal University, said, reported South China Morning Post. “We want to learn from them and find out ways to keep our brain in a healthier state.”

It was found during the study that people who had successful cognitive aging (SCA) had a better preserved frontal region of the brain. Meanwhile, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) exhibited structural deterioration in the temporal region of the brain.

The authors put forward a “frontal preservation, temporal impairment (FPTI)” hypothesis to provide an explanation for the differences in individuals’ cognitive aging.

The frontal lobes are associated with cognitive functions, such as decision-making, problem-solving, and attention. Interestingly, the frontal lobes are one of the main features that separate human beings and animals. The frontal lobes are proportionally larger in humans than in other species of animals.

Chen said the human frontal lobe was the most recent one to evolve and it exhibited age-related decline faster than other abilities.

“There’s a theory called ‘last in, first out’. The newest part in evolution will decline first because human beings tend to save their survival abilities to the end,” Chen said. “So, for most elderly people, the functions of their frontal lobes decline early. But for people with successful cognitive aging, their frontal lobes are preserved well.”

The temporal lobes are responsible for processing auditory information and preserving memory. Structural abnormalities in this region have been associated with pathological cognitive aging, according to researchers.

Three groups of older adults aged between 70 and 88 were recruited for the study. These included 64 successful cognitive aging individuals, 68 mild cognitive impairment patients, and 66 cognitively normal controls.

For the study, Chen and her colleagues analyzed gray matter volume, gray matter networks, and white matter network characteristics of the three groups.

Compared to the other two groups, the SCA group performed better on all three parameters.

“If our hypothesis is proven true, in the future we can develop the frontal lobes or slow the aging of temporal lobes,” Chen concluded. “This is a multidisciplinary effort.”





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