Medical Notes this week…


We’ve all heard that face masks are essential to keep people from spreading COVID-19… but scientists at the University of California Davis say evidence is piling up that masks also cut the risk of getting COVID-19 by up to 65 percent. Other new findings? Scientists say that surface contact isn’t much of a virus threat… and that plexiglass shields in stores and restaurants only help a little in stopping the coronavirus. the big weapon against the virus, according to research? social distancing, which cuts the risk of spreading by 90 percent.

Alzheimer’s disease is marked by plaques and tangles in the brain… and scientists have learned that the tangles are apparently more important than the plaques. Now a study in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience finds that, at least in the laboratory, a common asthma drug called salbutamol can prevent the formation of tangles. Scientists say the work is in very early stages since the drug hasn’t been tried on animals yet.

Here’s more reason to save a child’s cord blood at birth. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics finds that cord blood helps some children with autism improve their social communication skills. Children with autism spectrum disorder age two to seven who didn’t have an intellectual disability showed improvements in attention ability and language communication after receiving one unit of cord blood. Those with an intellectual disability did not improve.

And finally… if you feel especially insecure about your romantic partner… it may be all in your genes. A study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry tracked nearly 100 couples using diaries to record interactions between partners and how they felt about them. Then researchers did a gene test on the participants. They found that people who were markedly insecure after a spat with their partners were much more likely to have a variation in a gene governing the opioid system… which is related to pain and reward.

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