Science News

Discrimination of children and adolescents linked to their mothers poor health

When a child suffers discrimination, the mother can suffer harm not only on a psychological level but also on a health level. Indeed, a new study analyzes the link that exists between unfair social treatment by young adults and the decline in the health of their mothers during middle age.

“Our study suggests that when a child experiences discrimination, these cases of unfair treatment are likely to harm the health of the mother as well as their own,” says Cynthia Colen, a sociology professor at Ohio State University and lead author.

This is the first study that finds a link in the “opposite” direction between discrimination and unfair treatment of children and young people and the health of their mothers. Previously, links had been found between unfair treatment of pregnant women and the health of their children.

To carry out the study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the researchers analyzed two generations of families using data from a survey started in 1979 that followed the subjects for more than forty years. The database consisted of data concerning 3,004 mothers and 6,562 children.

Discrimination levels and unfair treatment were assessed through responses to specific surveys while mothers’ health was self-assessed. All mothers were between 40 and 50 years old. The researchers also discovered racial disparities in the results: African American adolescents and young adults reported most of the experiences of discrimination and 31% of black mothers reported having poor health compared to 17% of white mothers and 26% of mothers Hispanic.

“We now know that these negative health effects are not limited to the person experiencing firsthand discrimination – instead they are intergenerational and will likely contribute to racial health disparities which means that black people can expect to die younger and live a lesser life,” reports Colen.

Science News

Study explains why during ice ages there was less carbon dioxide in the air

Scientists have long since discovered that during the ice ages on Earth the carbon dioxide contained in the atmosphere was regularly lower, by about a third, compared to the warmer phases. There is no complete explanation about this effect and various theories have been created over time to explain their causes.

One of the most popular theories goes back to the oceans: during the cold ages and the ice ages, the seas cooled, more or less at the same rate (their temperature decreased by approximately 2.5 °C) and this caused a greater release of carbon dioxide in the air since the water, when it is colder, shows a greater degree of solubility of the CO2.

However, the models that refer to this theory show that the cooling of the seas was responsible for only a few percentage points with respect to the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The mystery seems to have been solved by a new study published in Science Advances.

According to Andreas Schmittner, climatologist of the State University of Oregon, in reality the oceans, during the ice ages, would have cooled to a level much higher than previously theorized. The cooling of the water was such that it represented at least 50% of the causes that led to the decrease of CO 2 in the air.

Another third is represented by the increase in iron-laden dust in the seas, which led to an increase in the presence of phytoplankton which absorbed more carbon making it deposit on the seabed.
The seas increased the presence of iron as this, in the form of very fine dust, came from the continents and from the increase in ice in various regions of the world which in turn caused the release of iron from rocks and soil.

Adding together the two factors relating to the seas (cooling and increase in iron dust), we therefore explained, according to this study, at least three-quarters of the causes that led to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Science News

Rheumatoid arthritis pain produced by specific antibodies according to new discovery

A group of researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has discovered that joint pains, typical of rheumatoid arthritis, can exist even in the absence of arthritis and this would be caused, as scientists have seen by performing experiments on mice, by particular antibodies.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects about 1% of the world’s population; it is an inflammation of the joints which can also be very painful. However, the pain can appear before the inflammation itself and can exist even after one has recovered, as reported by the same Camilla Svensson, researcher of the Swedish Institute and author together with other colleagues of the study appeared in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

This is because the body starts producing immune antibodies to counteract the immune cells that attack the cartilage and the bones of the joints in the very early phase of inflammation and this action can, in turn, generate pain. The researchers injected these antibodies into the cartilage of mice and found that rodents suffered more from the sensation of pain even before the appearance of signs of inflammation in the joint.

Following analysis, the researchers discovered that immune cells, groups of antibodies, and cartilage proteins in the joints triggered the pain cells.

The discovery that there are antibodies in the body of mice that can affect pain neurons even if there is no actual tissue damage or inflammation could help develop new therapies to reduce pain-specific neuronal activity for human patients with rheumatoid arthritis as well as other autoimmune diseases.