The age at which boys begin puberty is linked to when their mothers started having periods, a study suggests.
Mothers who started earlier than their peers had sons who had: • armpit hair two and a half months earlier • acne and voices breaking two months earlier.
Their daughters, meanwhile, developed breasts six months earlier.
The study, in the Human Reproduction journal, analysed data from nearly 16,000 Danish mothers and children.
One of the authors, Dr Nis Brix, of Aarhus University, Denmark, said: "Whenever a doctor meets a patient with delayed or early onset of puberty, the doctor obtains a family history.
"The relationship between the mother's pubertal age and the son's pubertal age has been taken as common knowledge but now our data from a large study confirms it."
The age boys and girls start puberty has been gradually decreasing around the world.
In the UK, it is currently starting about one month earlier every decade. And the current average age is:
- 11 for girls
- 12 for boys
Experts put this down to improved health and nutrition in the industrialised world – but studies have also shown a link between obesity and the early onset of puberty.
In 2015, a study indicated early or late onset of puberty were linked to a increased risk of:
- early menopause
- cardiovascular disease
In girls, an early puberty was defined as starting between eight and 11, while a late puberty started between 15 and 19. In boys, a normal puberty started between nine and 14.
An American study in January suggested early puberty in girls was also linked to increased likelihood of mental health problems during adolescence and into adulthood.
"Both genetic and environmental factors undoubtedly influence puberty timing," said Dr Christine Wohlfahrt-Veje, a growth and development researcher at the University of Copenhagen.
"Boys and girls inherit from both mothers and fathers – but early pubertal markers, onset of breasts and pubic hair, in girls are less dependent on genetic and hence more on environmental factors such as childhood growth patterns and possibly other environmental exposures."
‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech
Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..
Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.
The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".
They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.
Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.
How does it work?
The mind-reading technology works in two stages.
First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.
Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.
This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".
Why do it like that?
You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.
However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)
Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab
More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..
More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.
It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.
He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".
Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.
Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.
But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.
The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:
- The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
- The comparable figure for France was 600,000
- The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
- In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine
Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.
It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)
No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says
Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..
Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.
Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.
The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.
The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.
The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.
The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.
It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.
As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.
The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.
For babies: (more…)
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