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NIH study shows air pollution increases pregnancy risks

  • Published in Health

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A new study released by the National Institutes of Health reveals that effects from air pollution could increase the risk of early pregnancy loss.

"We've studied air pollution and reproductive health for several years, it's an area of research for myself and my team," said Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a researcher at NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Mendola explained that after she and her colleagues published a paper earlier this year that revealed that exposure to ground-level ozone was associated with stillbirth, they were curious to see whether the same pollutants could be correlated with miscarriage as well. The study concluded that couples exposed to air pollution were more likely to experience a loss in early-stage pregnancies.

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NIH launches project to crowdsource pregnancy health information

  • Published in Health

The National Institutes of Health has launched a project to improve the understanding of pregnancy through crowdsourcing information gathered through surveys.

Known as PregSource, the project presents data collected through surveys as an informational resource for doctors, researchers, and women experiencing pregnancy.

“PregSource benefits everyone – the participants, their healthcare providers, and the research community," said Dr. Diana W. Bianchi, director of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which leads the project. “The project also will generate much-needed data to help researchers address long-held questions about maternal and fetal health.”

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NIH discovers drainage system in brain

  • Published in Health

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have confirmed the existence of a drainage system in the human brain.

“We literally watched people’s brains drain fluid into these vessels,” said Dr. Daniel S. Reich a researcher at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the senior author of the study. “We hope that our results provide new insights to a variety of neurological disorders.”

Reich explained that his research team discovered the brain had vessels that are part of the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is designed to drain waste and fight infections by distributing white blood cells to various parts of the body.

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Drinking diet soda no safer than regular soda during pregnancy

  • Published in News

Tumbler of cola with iceConsuming diet soda during pregnancy can increase a child's risk of obesity, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health.

"Our findings suggest that artificially-sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages," said Chilin Zhang, an epidemiologist at NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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Study shows binge drinking is up among Americans

  • Published in News

Binge DrinkingBinge drinking rates have increased across the country, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

"This important study reveals that a large number of people in the United States drink at very high levels and underscores the dangers associated with such ‘extreme' binge drinking," said George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"The motivation was to better understand just how much people in the U.S. actually drink," said Aaron White, Ph.D., a researcher at NIH who co-authored the study. "A percentage of that [drinking] population goes to great extremes at least once a year," he added.

Using previously compiled data, the study found that binge drinking increased overall since 2001.

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Trump's budget would force state, county to 'pick up pieces'

  • Published in State

President Trump proposed a detailed budget May 23 that kept the themes of his March budget blueprint: steep cuts to science-based agencies, many headquartered in Montgomery County, and to programs to aid lower-income people, offset by sizable increases for defense and Homeland Security.

Compared with the 80-page budget released in March, the new spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018) is a vast, eight-volume document with details on Trump’s proposals for every agency. Other subjects newly addressed include how the deficit would be affected, the major changes from previous budgets, revenue forecasts, and economic growth assumptions.

Given the size of the new document, reactions to it this week are only preliminary, with the meanings of many provisions yet to be unearthed by congressional review over the coming months.

If the proposed major cuts are enacted to Medicaid, food stamps (called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “SNAP”), elderly and school nutrition, “It would be up to the County or state government or both to pick up the pieces,” said Joy Nurmi, special assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett. For instance, she predicted, if SNAP cutbacks are adopted, many people would go to food pantries such as Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg. Manna is partially funded by the County and the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg.

“A budget is a moral document,” reflecting a community’s values, Nurmi asserted. She called the Trump budget “completely morally corrupt.”

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The eyes have it at NIH but eyes remain unseen so far

  • Published in News

The National Institutes of Health have launched a competition to award a federal prize of $1 million for a bidder that can successfully replicate production of fully functioning eye tissue.

“What we really want from this competition is a better way to understand human retina disease and also learn about drugs that could potentially be worked for those diseases,” said Jessica Mazerik, who holds a doctorate of philosophy in cell biology and is the competition coordinator at NIH’s National Eye Institute (NEI).

Contestants are aiming to grow a fully functioning eye retina in a specimen dish. Researchers, biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical companies could then use the end product to research eye diseases and test potential treatments.

“We think we’re right on the cusp of being able to replicate the human light sensitivity of a human retina,” said Steve Becker, a colleague of Mazerik’s at NEI, who also has a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in cell biology.

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Local leaders react to federal budget

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Local leaders said they are relieved after Congress passed its budget last week, avoiding the massive cuts that President Donald J. Trump proposed to federal agencies located in the County.

When Trump proposed significant cuts to federal agencies located in the County – such as the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the almost exclusively Democratic-elected politicians on the local, state and federal levels objected.

“In this deal, Democrats stood strong against terrible proposals advanced by President Trump and secured significant victories for American families, the U.S. economy, and our shared values. I’m proud of the unity and focus in the Democratic Caucus,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8).

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Federal budget could devastate county

  • Published in Local

Jobs are in jeopardy for thousands of federal government employees in Montgomery County, as the Trump administration envisions cuts to locally-based agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In his 2018 budget blueprint released last month, Trump proposes slashing NIH funding by nearly $6 billion — an 18 percent drop from its current budget of $31 billion. Approximately 17,000 NIH employees and 10,000 of its contractors work in Montgomery County, according to the agency, which makes NIH the county’s largest employer.

In total, approximately 48,000 Montgomery County residents are federal government employees — around 10 percent of the total workforce — and thousands more are federal contractors, according to the county. Many are in danger of losing their jobs if the new president, who campaigned on “draining the swamp” by gutting government spending and reducing the federal workforce, can implement his budget proposal as it is currently written.

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Blinded Me With Science!

  • Published in Local

Thousands take to the streets in the District to show support for scientific research

Science March 4Protesters in the District show up to show their support for scientific research.                  PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV

WASHINGTON – Thousands took part in the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Saturday, demanding President Donald J. Trump and his administration recognize climate change and the need to fund scientific research.

“We march today to affirm to all the world that science is relevant, useful, exciting, and beautiful,” said former New Jersey Congressman and one-time Bethesda resident Rush Holt, who currently serves as the executive director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Evidence should not be optional. Good policies start with an understanding of how things actually are,” he added, speaking to a crowd on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

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