Australians living longer
AUSTRALIANS are living longer, with those who are married or living in cities having the greatest longevity, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Baby boys born in 2008‒10 could expect to live to 79.5 years, while life expectancy for girls was 84 years. In the past century, life expectancy has increased by 24 years for males and 25 years for females. The research was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Autism brains bigger
CHILDREN with autism have 67% more neurons in their prefrontal cortex than other children, according to new research in JAMA. The research, which was based on postmortem tissue examination, also found that autistic children had bigger brains overall. Brain weight in autistic children differed from normative mean weight for age by a mean of 17.6%, while brains in controls differed by a mean of just 0.2%. The research was reported by ABC Science.

Vegetative awareness
RESEARCHERS used an electroencephalography (EEG) technique to assess awareness in patients who appeared to be in a vegetative state, in a study published in The Lancet. Some of the patients could consistently generate appropriate EEG responses to distinct commands — to imagine moving their right-hand or toes — despite being behaviourally entirely unresponsive. The researchers said the bedside technique could be used for the re-diagnosis of patients who behaviourally seem to be entirely vegetative, but who might have residual cognitive function and conscious awareness. The research was reported by BBC News.

Sunbed misuse
EIGHTY per cent of Melbourne solarium operators allowed teenagers under age 18 access to sunbeds despite legislation banning this practice, according to new research by Cancer Council Victoria. The teenagers had concealed their age or claimed to be 18. Almost half of the surveyed operators also granted access to people with fair skin, which is also illegal. The research was reported in The Age.

Chickenpox lollipops
PARENTS in the US who don’t want their children to have the chickenpox vaccine are buying mail-order lollipops sucked on by children who have been infected with the virus, CNN reports. A Facebook group has helped parents access the infected lollipops, but lawyers say sending contagions through the post is illegal. Medical experts say the most troubling aspect of the practice is that parents are taking pathogens from complete strangers and deliberately infecting their children.

Posted 14 November 2011