A weekly round-up of news affecting your health.
Couples undergoing IVF may have a better chance of having a baby if frozen embryos are used within about a month of their creation in the lab.
Researchers from Monash University and the University of Melbourne found that delaying the embryo transfer was associated with lower rates of pregnancy and live births.
They studied about 5000 women who had embryos transferred within 25 and 35 days and compared their outcomes with those who had 50-70 days of IVF stimulation cycle and embryo freeze.
Women who had a 25-35 days gap between embryo freeze and transfer had pregnancy rates of 33.2 per cent compared to 26.8 per cent of those with a gap of 50-70 days.
Live birth rates also improved from 21.5 per cent in the 50-70 days group, to 27.5 per cent in the 25-35 days group.
The researchers say while the study published in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is the largest of its kind, more trials are needed.
People wanting to protect themselves from being infected with the flu are better off wearing small respirators covering their nose and mouth than medical masks, researchers have found.
Masks are recommended in hospital infection control guidelines worldwide as the best way to protect health workers from infections spread by droplets, such as influenza.
University of NSW researchers put the recommendation to the test by examining data from two large randomised controlled trials involving 3591 people who either wore surgical masks or N95 respirators in Beijing.
They found the respirators provided superior protection for droplet-transmitted infections.
“Respirators are designed to provide respiratory protection through filtration and fit, and properly fitted respirators provide better protection compared to medical masks,” said their study, published in Wiley Online Library.
Australian brain researchers are hopeful trials showing how experimental drugs can help reduce brain damage in rats and mice after a stroke may help develop future treatments for people.
The trials were carried out after Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health researchers discovered that a protein which plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease progression is also involved in stroke.
Levels of the protein, named tau, were found to drop following a stroke, and spark a build-up of iron in cells. That build up can then start killing off brain cells.
The researchers used five experimental drugs designed to stop the build up of iron in older rats and mice which had endured a stroke, and found they reduced brain damage by half.
The animals functioned significantly better on tests of motor coordination and cognitive performance, said the researchers, whose work was published in Molecular Psychiatry.
New artificial intelligence software could soon help speed up the process of testing people with diabetes for a condition that can cause blindness.
The technology was developed by the CSIRO so GPs can test people for diabetic retinopathy, which affects one in three people with diabetes and can cause them to go blind if left untreated.
The software has been trialled in Perth, where 187 diabetic patients had high resolution images of their eyes analysed for signs of diabetic retinopathy. The images were also analysed by an ophthalmologist.
The software was found to be as effective as the specialist in detecting signs of diabetic retinopathy and grading its severity.
“Patients at risk of this condition would usually be referred to a specialist for screening, waiting six weeks or more – now it can potentially be done in a single 30-minute visit to a GP,” CSIRO Professor Yogi Kanagasingam said.
The software has been licensed by TeleMedC, which plans to install it at 20 GP clinics in Western Australia before rolling it out across Australia.
Researchers in Queensland are trialling a foot control device to see if it can help improve the walking ability of young people with cerebral palsy.
Problems with foot control can affect and reduce independence for people with cerebral palsy.
Researchers from the University of Queensland have developed new equipment and a training program they want to trial among 15 to 25 year olds who are diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy and can walk independently, with or without an aid.
Paricipants will receive six weeks of supervised training including assessments on foot control during walking and while performing tasks in the custom-designed ankle device.
“The device has been designed to teach the brain to use muscles at the right time with the right amount of force in a progressive manner,” researcher Shari O’Brien said.
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