TIME Research

Living at High Altitudes May Increase SIDS Risk, Study Says

A new study looks at how residential altitude affects newborns

A new study suggests babies that live at high altitudes may be at a greater risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) compared to infants living at lower altitudes.

Each year, around 3,500 infants under age one die unexpectedly in the United States. Still, public health experts remain uncertain for why SIDS occurs.

In a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers sought to determine whether altitude might play a role in SIDS risk. The researchers looked at residential altitude of over 393,000 Colorado infants, as well as their birth and death certificate data between 2007 and 2012.

After accouting for a variety of complicating factors, the researchers found that babies that lived above 8,000 feet had slightly over double the risk of experiencing SIDS compared to infants that lived under 6,000 feet.

The study did not determine why higher altitudes might increase the risk, but others have suggested that hypoxia, not having enough oxygen, may play a role in SIDS. Researchers suggest the findings should be kept in mind when coaching new parents.

TIME Research

Babies Who Are Breast-Fed Are Better Protected Against Pollution, Study Finds

Human milk counters impact of airborne pollutants

In a newborn infant’s initial four months, exposure to pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and airborne particles can cause negative effects on motor and mental development, but a new study reported on in Science Daily says those effects are countered in babies who are breast-fed by their mothers.

Researchers in Spain began monitoring rural, pregnant women in 2006 and analyzed samples from 638 women and their infants at 15 months. They discovered that babies who are breast-fed did not suffer from the potentially harmful developmental impact of PM2.5 (pollution particle matter) and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide).

Read more at Science Daily.

TIME animals

Panda Poop Suggests They Shouldn’t Eat Their Favorite Food of Bamboo

A photo taken on April 1, 2014 shows the giant panda Hao Hao eating bamboo at Pairi Daiza animal park in Brugelette, Belgium.
Virginie Lefour—AFP/Getty Images A photo taken on April 1, 2014 shows the giant panda Hao Hao eating bamboo at Pairi Daiza animal park in Brugelette, Belgium.

After 14 hours of eating bamboo, only 17% is digested

Giant pandas may be reliant on a highly specialized diet of bamboo, but new research suggests they are not actually very good at digesting their favorite meal.

Scientists in China discovered that, unlike most herbivores, a panda’s gut bacteria has not evolved to match its diet and remains more akin its omnivorous bear cousins.

The team took 121 fecal samples from 45 giant pandas — 24 adults, 16 juveniles and five cubs — and compared these with data from a previous study, which included seven wild pandas. Both studies indicated that the bears do not have plant-degrading bacteria like Ruminococcaceae and Bacteroides.

“This result is unexpected and quite interesting, because it implies the giant panda’s gut microbiota may not have well adapted to its unique diet, and places pandas at an evolutionary dilemma,” said Xiaoyan Pang, a co-author of the study in a press release.

The scientists also discovered that gut bacteria in late Autumn is quite different from spring and summer — which they hypothesize may be a result of the lack of bamboo shoots in the fall.

Pandas spend up to 14 hours per day consuming bamboo but only digest about 17% of their meal.

China’s most famous animal evolved from a species that ate both meat and plants and began to consume almost exclusively bamboo around 2 million years ago.

TIME Research

Giving Antibiotics to Infants is Strongly Related to Illness In Adulthood

Many red and transparent medical capsules, filled with yellow medicine, pouring out of a brown bottle, displayed on a white table n Wuerzburg, Bavaria, Germany in December 2014.
Getty Images

By altering infant gut bacteria, the antibiotics make us more vulnerable to disease

Illness may appear in adulthood because of antibiotic resistance we develop when doctors prescribe us antibiotics as newborns and infants, researchers say.

The antibiotics may alter infant gut bacteria, which are tied to everything from allergies and obesity to infectious diseases, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that antibiotics eliminated bacteria in the gut that enabled the growth of allergen-fighting immune cells. Antibiotics were also found to alter critical gut microbiota that determine our vulnerability to a number of infectious diseases.

“Over the past year we synthesized hundreds of studies and found evidence of strong correlations between antibiotic use, changes in gut bacteria, and disease in adulthood,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Dan Knights.

Antibiotics remain the most prevalent drug prescribed to children, accounting for approximately a quarter of all childhood medications. However, around 30% of prescriptions are deemed unnecessary.

“We think these findings help develop a roadmap for future research to determine the health consequences of antibiotic use and for recommendations for prescribing them,” Knights added.

TIME Research

How Self-Promotion Can Backfire

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Getty Images

There are social consequences to tooting your own horn too often

Tuesday in social faux pas news comes a paper showing that when we try to make people like us, we often come across as braggy and annoying.

We often practice a little self-promotion when we’re trying to be impressive. Turns out, it doesn’t always come across the way we want it to. New research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that people frequently overestimate how much their self-promotion works in their favor and underestimate how much it achieves the opposite effect.

“These results are particularly important in the Internet age, when opportunities for self-promotion have proliferated via social networking. The effects may be exacerbated by the additional distance between people sharing information and their recipient, which can both reduce the empathy of the self-promoter and decrease the sharing of pleasure by the recipient,” said study author Irene Scopelliti, a lecturer in marketing at City University London in a statement.

To better understand the phenomena, researchers conducted a few experiments. In the first they asked people to describe in detail a time they bragged about themselves, what emotions they felt, and how they think the person listening to them felt. Then, another group of people were asked to describe a time when they listened to someone brag about themselves, as well as what emotions they felt and how they think the other person felt. The results showed that the people who did the bragging tended to think the people who were listening to them felt happier and more proud of them than they actually did. They were also likely to underestimate how annoying the listener thought they were.

A third part of the study, where the researches asked people to make a positive impression of themselves, showed that, indeed, people tended to brag about themselves to do it. That, too, backfired.

So next time you have something to brag about, consider your audience. Your true friends and family may still want to lend an ear, but that person you’re trying to impress may just find your self-promotion irritating rather than remarkable.

TIME Careers & Workplace

You’re More Likely to Be Enthusiastic at Work If You Have a Female Boss

That applies whether you're a man or a woman

Women managers have an advantage over their male peers when it comes to motivating employees, researchers say.

A Gallup study, State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, found that 33% of employees are engaged when a woman runs the show, compared to 25% with a man at the helm.

Female managers also tend to be more enthusiastic about their own jobs than their male counterparts.

Gallup found 41% of female managers feel engaged at work compared to 35% of male managers.

The study also found that women managers were more enthusiastic at work than men, regardless of whether they had children.

When it came to same-sex management, the study found that female employees were on average more likely to feel involved in their work (35%) if their boss was a woman, compared to just 25% of male employees who show enthusiasm with a male manager.

The study also found women were better at encouraging their subordinates’ development, checking in on their employees’ progress and tended to provide more positive or constructive feedback.

Gallup says it hopes the results will encourage organizations to hire and promote more women managers. Currently only one third of Americans have a female boss.

TIME Research

See How What Makes Us Happy Has Changed Over the Past 80 Years

Man jumping in mid air on beach
Daniel Ingold—Cultura RF/Getty Images

These days we consider good humor and leisure time to be crucial to our happiness

Psychologists from the University of Bolton in the U.K. have re-created a famous study conducted in the same town almost eight decades ago that sought to find out what made people happy.

In 1938, an advert was placed in the local paper asking readers “What is happiness?” reports Science Daily. After rating the importance of 10 factors from 226 people, researchers found that people believed security, knowledge and religion were the most important aspects of happiness.

Last year, Sandie McHugh and Professor Jerome Carson repeated the social experiment and found that while security was still in the top three, good humor and leisure came in poll position.

Meanwhile, religion, which was the third most important factor in 1938, has fallen to the bottom of the current list. In 1938, most people said they were happiest at home in Bolton, whereas today 63% said they were happier away from the town.

One factor that hasn’t changed, though, is the importance people place on luck — 40% believed good fortune was vital to their happiness both back then and in 2014. And in both eras, most people said they didn’t think happiness was related to material possessions and wealth.

“The overall impression from the correspondence in 1938 is that happiness factors were rooted in everyday lives at home and within the community,” said McHugh. “In 2014, many comments value family and friends, with good humor and leisure time also ranked highly.”

[Science Daily]

Read next: 7 Easy Happiness Boosters According to Harvard Research

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Kind of Sugar Triggers Unhealthy Cravings

TIME.com stock photos Food Snacks Candy Peach Rings
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Fructose may mess with how our brains process rewards, a new study says

A new study shows a type of sugar found naturally in fruit may increase cravings for high-calorie foods.

In a small study of 24 people published in the journal PNAS, researchers found that fructose — which we primarily consume as an added sweetener in processed foods — was associated with activity in some areas of the brain that process rewards.

MORE: This Is the No. 1 Driver of Diabetes and Obesity

The researchers gave the volunteers cherry-flavored drinks that were sweetened with fructose on one day and drinks sweetened with glucose on another day, and asked them to report their hunger levels.

Neuroimaging scans of the participants showed more activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and visual cortex of their brains, which are involved in reward processing, when they looked at images of food after they ingested fructose compared to glucose.

The researchers also showed the men and women images of high calorie foods and asked if they would like to have food now, or if they would like a monetary bonus later on. When drinking fructose, the individuals were more likely to say they wanted the food reward right away rather than money later on.

“These findings suggest that ingestion of fructose relative to glucose results in greater activation of brain regions involved in attention and reward processing and may promote feeding behavior,” the study authors write. It’s possible, they suggest, that fructose has less appetite suppressing effects compared to glucose. As TIME has previously reported, the two types of sugar are metabolized differently in the body.

The findings are still preliminary and the study sample was small, but this isn’t the first time that fructose has been linked to possibly unhealthy effects. A previous 2015 study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that, when compared to other types of sugars and sweeteners, fructose was linked to worsening insulin levels and glucose tolerance—a driver for pre-diabetes—and it was linked to harmful fat storage and markers for inflammation and high blood pressure.

So does that mean you should give up eating fruit? No, says study author Dr. Kathleen A. Page, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California told the New York Times. “It has a relatively low amount of sugar compared with processed foods and soft drinks,” she said.

TIME Excercise/Fitness

Two Minutes of Walking Each Hour Drastically Improves Health, Study Says

Tiny Owl employees work on laptop computers as pair of sandals sit on the floor inside the company's head office in Mumbai, India, on Monday, March. 9, 2015.
Dhiraj Singh—Bloomberg/Getty Images Tiny Owl employees work on laptop computers as pair of sandals sit on the floor inside the company's head office in Mumbai, India, on Monday, March. 9, 2015.

Water cooler gossip talk may actually help you live longer

Workers who take a deliberate two minutes out of every hour to walk around the office may live longer than their colleagues who remain seated, a new study suggests.

In recent years, the theory that long periods of sitting contribute to adverse health effects has gained significant backing, reports Science Daily. However, researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine found that simply standing for a few minutes every hour did nothing to counteract the negative effects, but that engaging in “low intensity activities” — like walking — was 33% more likely to extend the lifespan of people who live a generally sedentary lifestyle.

“It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity,” said lead author Dr. Srinivasan Beddhu. “To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing.”

The study analyzed data from 2003-2004, when the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey attached an accelerometer to 3,243 participants and measured their physical activity. They were followed for three years to collect the data, during which 137 people died.

“Exercise is great, but the reality is that the practical amount of vigorous exercise that can be achieved is limited. Our study suggests that even small changes can have a big impact,” said senior author Dr. Tom Greene.

TIME Addiction

Habitual Gamblers See Patterns Where There Are None, Study Says

Las Vegas Sands deceived a Nevada court in an attempt to stall a lawsuit by the former head of its Macau operations, a state judge ruled on Friday, fining the casino operator and abridging its right to object in a fight over key evidence. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS CRIME LAW SOCIETY) - RTR386IJ
Siu Chiu—Reuters A croupier sits in front of a gaming table inside a casino on the opening day of Sheraton Macao hotel at Sands Cotai Central in Macau September 20, 2012

"Gamblers are more willing to bet impulsively on perceived illusory patterns," researcher says

Researchers have found gamblers are more prone to find non-existent patterns in completely random sequences — and are more likely to bet on those erroneous perceptions — adding to a large amount of research that suggests pathological gambling is the result of cognitive distortions.

The study, published Wednesday in Springer’s Journal of Gambling Studies, says that all humans fall victim to illusory patterns — if a roulette ball lands on black five turns in a row, for example, it is normal to think that it must surely land on red next. But compulsive gamblers see more such imaginary patterns and are different to recreational gamblers by their increased likelihood to bet on the false trends.

“Our results suggest that gamblers are more willing to bet impulsively on perceived illusory patterns,” stated co-lead author Wolgang Gaissmaier in a press release.

In a laboratory, the team compared the betting habits of 91 habitual gamblers versus 70 people who were not. Participants were shown pictures of two slot machines and had to predict the winner, but the catch was one had a 67% chance of producing a win while the other machine produced a win only 33% of the time. Participants were not explicitly told of the probability difference but the study said it “could be learned from experience via feedback.”

The results showed that gamblers were more likely than non-gamblers to use ‘probability matching’ — or making predictions based on past results.

“They are overly prone to accept random series of events as, in fact, non-random — and non-random enough to be worth betting on,” said Gaissmaier.

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