Sunday, December 20, 2009

Swedens Secret Weapon Against Swine Flu

A number of Swedish churches have decided to serve fortified wine during communion in hopes of reducing the risk of spreading swine flu, according to several media reports.
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Church authorities hope that fortified wine will provide better protection than light or alcohol-free wine against the spread of swine flu when the communion cup is passed around.

Karlskoga church in central Sweden has decided to reintroduce fortified wine and the issue is also being debated among parishes in Piteå in northern Sweden.

“We will have a vicars meeting where we will discuss this issue. Everything points to the fact that we will decide to reintroduce fortified wine during communion,” dean Stieg Berggren told Piteå-Tidningen newspaper.

The question of whether or not to serve fortified wine remains a local one.

“At the national level, we haven’t made any recommendations about fortified wine,” Stefan Håkansson, press secretary at the offices of the Church of Sweden, told TT news agency.

Several churches have recommended that visitors shouldn’t partake of communion at all to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Smoking During Pregnancy Changes Child’s DNA

Women who smoke during pregnancy, increase the risk of asthma, heart conditions and respiratory diseases in their babies. A new study could now help to explain why this happens. Maternal smoking imposes health risks not only on the mother but also on her baby, and the findings show this may affect both the child’s health later in life and the health of succeeding generations, according to the authors of study.

Researchers at the University of South California discovered that smoking during pregnancy could transform the DNA of unborn baby. The study found that maternal smoking is linked to the changes in epigenetic mechanism for DNA methylation. Epigenetic studies how chemical compounds are added to DNA and how they switch genes on and off. This causes the differences in gene expression without changing the genetic information itself. Epigenetic has played a crucial role in cancer research, but little is known how epigenetic changes occur under the influence of environmental factors.

Researches used data from USC Children’s Health Study as well as the survey on maternal smoking during pregnancy. The findings have been published in September issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

This study showed for the first time that the environment affects fetal growth. Such environmental exposures as tobacco smoke can trigger genetic changes.