ISLAMABAD  – People from blood groups A, B and AB are more at risk of heart diseases than those with the more common blood type O, a study suggests.

Those with the rarest blood group, AB, are the most vulnerable - they are 23 per cent more likely to suffer from heart diseases than those with blood group O, reports Health. The researchers from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston also found that for individuals with blood group B the risk of heart disease increased by 11 per cent, and for blood type A, by 5 per cent.

However, blood group AB has been linked to inflammation, which plays an important role in artery damage. There is also evidence that blood group A is associated with higher levels of the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL), a waxy substance that can clog arteries.

While those with blood group O may benefit from increased levels of a chemical, which helps blood flow and clotting. The findings are based on two large analytical studies - 62,073 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 27,428 adults from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They were between the ages of 30 and 75 and followed for 20 years.

Blood type is very complicated, so there could be multiple mechanisms at play. People cannot change their blood type. These findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk of developing heart diseases.

If one knows he/she is at higher risk, they can reduce the risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as eating right, exercising and not smoking. Nobody can influence what type of blood they are born with but a healthy lifestyle is something everybody can have an influence over.

As this study group was predominantly Caucasian, the researchers say it is not clear if their findings would be reflected in other ethnic groups.

Feeding during 6-23 months reduces infants’ illness

Health experts have said that appropriate feeding during 6-23 months of infants’ age reduces childhood illnesses and mortality.

According to them, complementary feeding rates are undesirably low in Pakistan compared to other countries in the region and urged to improve timely complementary feeding.

Talking to APP, they stressed the need to make strategies in this regard, including better antenatal counselling.

They said there is also a need to have uniform approach for collecting data on complementary feeding to include all World Health Organization (WHO) recommended complementary feeding indicators.

They said lack of appropriate feeding in early childhood is a major risk factor for ill-health throughout the course of life. The life-long impact included poor school performance, reduced productivity, impaired intellectual and social development and chronic diseases, they added.

They said the authorities concerned should develop a strategy to address feeding practices and the nutritional status, growth and health of infants and children. Dr Wasim Khawaja of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said nutrition plays a crucial role in the early months and years of life and that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

He said after six months, they should be fed adequate and safe complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond.

He said complementary foods should be rich in nutrients and given in adequate amounts. At six months, caregivers should introduce foods in small amounts and gradually increase the quantity as the child gets older.

He said young children should receive a variety of foods including meat, poultry, fish or eggs as often as possible. He added the consistency of foods should be appropriate for the child’s age.

Dr Wasim said infants can eat pureed, mashed and semi-solid foods beginning at six months while from eight months, infants can eat finger foods, and from 12 months, children can eat the same types of foods as consumed by the rest of the family.

He said complementary foods should be given 2-3 times a day between 6-8 months, increasing to 3-4 times a day between 9-11 months while between 12-23 months of age, 3-4 meals should be given.

Honey may ease nighttime coughing in kids

A spoonful of honey before bed may help little kids with a cough - and their parents - sleep through the night, a new study suggests.

Parents also reported that after giving honey to kids, their coughing was less frequent and less severe.

Coughs are one of the most common reasons kids go to the doctor, said Dr. Ian Paul, a paediatrician from Pennsylvania State University in Hershey.

But, he said, “The theories for cough and cold symptoms... have problems in that they’re not very effective, or not effective at all, and they have the potential for side effects.”

Many over-the-counter cough and cold products have a “do not use” warning for kids under four. One of the concerns with the medications is parents accidentally giving kids too much, or kids getting into the drugs themselves.

“As opposed to many of the other things we give - medications and medicines that do have side effects - honey over age one is almost completely safe,” Paul, who wasn’t involved in the new study, told.

Researchers from Israel randomly assigned 300 kids, aged one to five, to one of four different nighttime cough treatments. Half an hour before bedtime, parents gave their children 10 grams of one of three types of honey - including eucalyptus and citrus-based honey - or syrup made from dates that was also sweet but honey-free.

In written and telephone surveys, parents reported their kids’ cough symptoms and how well both they and their kids slept the night youngsters took a spoonful of honey or date extract as well as how well they had slept the night before. Parents rated each of the symptoms on a 7-point scale.

On average, parents initially gave their kids’ cough frequency and severity and sleep problems a rating of between 3 and 4. That improved in all groups the night after the sweet treatment was given - but to a larger extent in kids who took honey.

Cough symptoms and sleep scores fell by 2 points, on average, in kids who ate honey, compared to a 1-point drop after a spoonful of date extract.

Parents also slept better the night after their kids’ honey treatment, Dr. Herman Avner Cohen of Tel Aviv University and his colleagues reported Monday in Pediatrics.

Their study was co-funded by the Honey Board of Israel.

According to Paul, there are a couple of different explanations for why honey might help ease kids’ cough.

“Honey is very rich in antioxidants, so that may have some role in fighting whatever infection is causing the cold symptoms,” he suggested.

Cohen and his colleagues noted that different types of honey may contain different antioxidants - including vitamin C and flavonoids - and that darker honey tends to have more.

In addition, “There’s something about having a thick, viscous, sweet liquid that provides some sort of relief,” Paul said. Sweet liquid also causes salivation, he explained, which can thin mucus and lubricate the upper airway.

Paul said parents shouldn’t give honey to babies, but that otherwise it’s “worth a try” for little kids’ coughs.