HEALTH & FITNESS

World Down’s Day is observed today
How to ensure a healthy baby
Dr Gurjit Kaur, Dr Alka  Sehgal & Dr B.S. Chavan
The birth of the healthy and cheerful baby is one of the most joyful moments in the life of a couple. This happy event can get transformed into a tragedy if the newborn is found to have a major physical or mental handicap.

Exercises help in low-back pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Low back pain patients usually stop rehabilitation as soon as they experience regression in pain and feel comfortable. This causes de-conditioning of the lower back muscles, and degeneration of the disc leading to a reduction in the shock-absorption capacity. Such individuals are more prone to suffering from chronic low back pain than a normal person.

Homoeopathy & you
Sleeplessness a serious threat to health
Dr Vikas Sharma

Nearly everyone suffers from a sleepless night once in a while. This is usually not a source of worry as sleep can get temporarily affected by some stress or too much intake of coffee, tea, alcohol, etc. But for those who suffer from chronic insomnia (sleeplessness) life can be very distressful. Insomnia is defined as having little or poor quality sleep (frequently waking up or having unrefreshing sleep).

Health Notes
15 minutes of football 'can halve obesity risk'

LONDON:
Kicking a football around for just 15 minutes a day can halve a child's risk of becoming obese, a study has found. Even small increases in daily activity, such as walking to school instead of going by car, could have impressive long-term results, researchers say.

  • The difference between  fat and thin genes

  • Calcified plaque may help determine stroke risk

  • Chicken and cabbage can mellow unruly kids

  • New pain-killer soon

 

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World Down’s Day is observed today
How to ensure a healthy baby

Dr Gurjit Kaur, Dr Alka Sehgal & Dr B.S. Chavan

The birth of the healthy and cheerful baby is one of the most joyful moments in the life of a couple. This happy event can get transformed into a tragedy if the newborn is found to have a major physical or mental handicap.

Question: What is meant by screening?

Answer: Screening means testing healthy pregnant population to pick up those mothers who are at a higher risk of carrying abnormal babies.

Q: What is antenatal screening?

Ans: Antenatal (before birth) screening tests are those which are undertaken on the pregnant women to examine the health of their foetus. These tests are physical in the form of an ultrasound and diagnostic in the form of blood tests on a small amount of the mother’s blood. At different stages during the development of the foetus, there are different biomarkers that need to be evaluated to ensure the baby’s health.

Q: Why should mother be screened?

Ans: The mother should be screened because certain biomarkers from the foetus travel to the mother’s blood stream. These biomarkers can be detected in a small amount of the mother’s blood to pick up foetuses at a higher risk for being abnormal.

Q: How do we select the population to be screened

Ans: If we screen only elderly women who are at a greater risk to develop these disorders we are likely to miss two-thirds of abnormal babies. Therefore, all pregnant women, irrespective of age, should be screened.

Q: Which disorders are covered in these tests?

Ans: The tests detect the most common chromosomal disorders and some congenital disorders such as the following:

* Down’s syndrome

*Edward syndrome

* Patau syndrome

* Neural tube defects

* Turner’s syndrome

Q: What are the available screening tests?

Ans: Screening can be carried out between 10 and 12 weeks and 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy by different sets of parameters. These parameters are the maternal age, biomarkers, foetal ultrasound, etc.

All pregnant women are advised to report for pregnancy confirmation and screening test as early as possible for further management.

Q: How is the result interpreted?

Ans: The results are interpreted in the form of ratios. By antenatal screening if the risk at any age is calculated to be approximately 1:250, it would command a follow-up invasive confirmatory test to confirm the suspicion. With increasing age, this risk rises significantly. Thus, antenatal screening helps us to pick up the patients who are at an increased risk of carrying abnormal babies despite their younger age.

Q: What are the options for high risk population?

Ans: These couples are counselled for the probability of the defects in their foetus along with the false positive and false negative possibilities of the test. They are further informed regarding the available confirmatory invasive tests.

Q: What is genetic counselling?

Ans: Genetic counselling is type which conveys medical and genetic facts to an affected or potentially affected family in a way that can be understood easily.

The writers are associated with the Genetic Centre, Govt. Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh. 

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Exercises help in low-back pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Low back pain patients usually stop rehabilitation as soon as they experience regression in pain and feel comfortable. This causes de-conditioning of the lower back muscles, and degeneration of the disc leading to a reduction in the shock-absorption capacity. Such individuals are more prone to suffering from chronic low back pain than a normal person.

Chronic low back pain is a very common affliction prevalent in society. Causes could be varying from incomplete and inappropriate rehabilitation in the case of acute low back pain patients.

Patients getting relief from back pain revert to old postures and habits. Stress to the back should be avoided and following precautions should be emphasised:

* Always wear comfortable low-heeled shoes/ sports shoes.

* Always sit with lower back touching the back rest of the chair by using a lumbar roll in the hollow of the back.

* Get up from the bed in the side on position.

* Computer screen should not be below 15-30 degrees from the level of head.

* When forced to stand for long periods of time, try resting one foot on a low stool.

* During long driving sessions, one should use a pillow or a rolled-up towel behind the small of the back and stop often during the journey.

Prior to initiating the treatment, thorough evaluation should be undertaken to identify the cause in order to advise an appropriate rehabilitation schedule. The most crucial aspect of the programme is to teach the patient the best mechanical position, specific stretching and strengthening exercises for the affected weak muscles. Rehabilitation is different for different patients and varies with age, weight, low back symmetry, body biomechanics, etc. It is advisable to use a functional progression system starting with low-level exercises and thereafter progressing to more difficult and stressful exercises.

Low back pain of a long duration can cause muscle weakness which in turn causes pain because weakened muscles have less ability to hold up the spine. Therefore, people undertaking regular exercises are less prone to back pain.

Exercises should be done according to the problem and preferably be undertaken after cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, etc. The exercises which aggravate pain should be stopped immediately. The following exercises are, however, safe in any type of back pain.

* Pelvic Tilt — Lying on the back with the knees bent. Flatten the small of the back against the floor by squeezing in the stomach. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat it 10 times.

* Hamstring stretch — Lie on the back. Raise one leg at 90 degrees. Pull the leg towards the body to feel a stretch on the back of the thigh. Hold for a count of 15 and repeat three times.

* Both knees to chest — Lie on the back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Pull both knees towards the chest. Repeat 10 times.

It is indeed imperative to follow an appropriate and comprehensive exercise programme after being treated for low back pain. This could otherwise transform into chronic low back pain, which is not only difficult to treat but also debilitating, leading to severe restriction of day-to-day activities and emotional trauma.

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Homoeopathy & you
Sleeplessness a serious threat to health
Dr Vikas Sharma

Nearly everyone suffers from a sleepless night once in a while. This is usually not a source of worry as sleep can get temporarily affected by some stress or too much intake of coffee, tea, alcohol, etc. But for those who suffer from chronic insomnia (sleeplessness) life can be very distressful. Insomnia is defined as having little or poor quality sleep (frequently waking up or having unrefreshing sleep).

It is now clearly known that sleep helps body rejuvenate itself. This means a lot of repair of tissues is carried during deep sleep. People who suffer from chronic sleep problems not only suffer from tiredness and fatigue but also from low moods and irritability. Sleep also strengthens our defence system. Thus one’s general health gets affected when he or she suffers from chronic insomnia.

Homoeopathic treatment of insomnia has distinct advantages. It is a very safe form of treatment.

Stress is usually the most common cause for sleeplessness. Stress usually involves too much of thinking which leads to an overactive brain, thus making it difficult for the body to relax the mind and get sleep. Homoeopathic medicine Coffea Cruda leads the homoeopathic table in treating insomnia. It does wonders for those who suffer from anxiety and sleeping is difficult due to overcrowding of thoughts.

Depression is another major cause which leads to sleeplessness or excessive sleepiness. This is usually due to chemical changes that occur in the brain as a result of depression. Homoeopathic medicines can be of great help when sleep problem is due to depression, but it is important to remember that the medicines in such a situation should be aimed at treating depression.

Old men who develop the enlargement of the prostate gland can suffer from insomnia as they have to wake up many times during the night to urinate. Waking up frequently prevents them from going into deep sleep, and thus their quality of sleep is usually not very good. Homeopathy can help the aged men by reducing the size of the prostate as well as controlling their frequency of urination.

Remember, relaxing the mind is the answer to most of the causes for insomnia. Regular exercise before bedtime can help your mind and body to remain fit. This leads to an improvement in the quantity and quality of sleep. Avoid or limit the intake of late night food, caffeine and alcoholic drinks.

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Health Notes
15 minutes of football 'can halve obesity risk'

LONDON: Kicking a football around for just 15 minutes a day can halve a child's risk of becoming obese, a study has found. Even small increases in daily activity, such as walking to school instead of going by car, could have impressive long-term results, researchers say.

The official advice is that children need an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day -- long enough to put off many parents who do not have the time to take their children to the sports centre. But a quarter-of-an-hour's kickaround may be all that is needed, according to the University of Bristol team.— The Independent

The difference between fat and thin genes

London: Researchers have used a new technique to hunt for rare genetic quirks that explain why some people are extremely fat or very thin.

The researchers, led by Len Pennacchio of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, studied 757 Canadians from Ottawa. Half of the participants were chosen because they were fatter than 95 of the general population for their height: on average they weighed 125 kg. The other half was thinner than 90 per cent of the population, with a mean weight of 57 kg. — ANI

Calcified plaque may help determine stroke risk

Washington: A new study has found that the proportion of calcified plaque, rather than the per cent blockage, may help determine a patient’s stroke risk.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Virginia Health System led by Dr. Kiran Nandular.

The study looked retrospectively at the composition of plaque deposits in the carotid arteries of 102 patients treated at UVA.

The study group included 35 patients who had suffered a stroke or had other neurological symptoms. The remaining 67 had no history of symptoms. — ANI

Chicken and cabbage can mellow unruly kids

London: All you need to do to mellow your unruly problem child is feed him/her lots of chicken and cabbage, for a new research has revealed that aggressive or hyperactive children could be made calmer simply by changing their diet.

Bananas, apples and brassicas, such as cabbages and sprouts, are also recommended. There is no single ingredient linking these “calming” foods, according to the analysis of 50 years of diet research.

“There are not good or bad foods but rather susceptible children can react to any of many dozens of foods in an idiosyncratic manner,” psychology Professor Dr David Benton was quoted by the Sun as saying.

Excess sugar is known to trigger hyperactivity in some cases, as are compounds in wheat and dairy. — ANI

New pain-killer soon

WASHINGTON: Boffins at the University of Leicester, along with those at the University of Ferrara in Italy have developed a potential new pain-killer drug that avoids many of the side-effects of morphine, currently the “gold standard” in pain reduction.

The drug, called UFP-101, was developed by a team of boffins led by Professor David Lambert at Leicester, in collaboration with Dr Girolamo Calo in Ferrara Italy.

"In a 2005 survey for the British Pain Society 975 people were questioned about pain. Twentyone per cent experienced pain every day or most days equating to 10million across the whole UK," said Prof Lambert.— ANI

 

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