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Education and early medication can prevent Asthma attacks: Docs has an estimated 15-20 million asthmatics and doctors here feel that awareness and early diagnosis play a vital role in containing this chronic respiratory disease that has been surging fast in the last decade.

According to World Health Organisation estimates, between 100-150 million people worldwide suffer from asthma of which 15-20 million belong to India.

As per a WHO report on World Asthma Day today, the fundamental cause of asthma, that is characterised by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing is not completely understood, but the strongest risk factors for developing asthma include indoor allergens like dust mites in bedding and carpets.

Outdoor allergens that may cause asthma include pollens, tobacco smoke and chemical irritants, it said.

Dr Prahlad Prabhudesai, Chest specialist at Lilavati Hospital here cautioned that there may be some people who do not show qualities like breathlessness but may still be suffering from ‘silent Asthma’, which cannot be prevented as it is a hereditary disorder.

“There is no medicine available to prevent asthma. Only the attacks can be prevented. There are some patients who do not show any qualities of being an asthmatic. People who frequently sneeze or periodically cough may also be asthmatic. They need to get a diagnosis done at the earliest,” he said.

Speaking to PTI, Dr. Vyanketesh Joshi, Chief Trustee of Siddh Dhyan Foundation said that one can have a better chance of controlling asthma if diagnosed early.

“Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled. People suffering from asthma can learn to identify and avoid the things that trigger an episode and educate themselves about medication. With proper treatment, people with asthma can have fewer and less severe attacks,” Dr Joshi said.

World Asthma Day is celebrated round the world on the first Tuesday of May. It was first celebrated by Global Initiative For Asthma (GINA) in 1998 after its first ‘World Asthma Meeting’ in 1998. The Day is celebrated in order to raise awareness among public worldwide about the precaution and prevention of this bronchial condition.

The theme of this year concentrates on cause and effects of asthma: ‘You Can Control Your Asthma’.


Scientists identify way to test autism in one year olds using blood test

AutismScientists have found the biological patterns that will enable autism to be diagnosed in children as young as 12 months.

Research into mapping gene networks that disrupt brain cell production will be presented to the Asia-Pacific Autism Conference in Adelaide today. The discovery represents a major breakthrough in autism research and is the basis for a blood screening test currently being developed. Autism affects about one in every 100 children with varying severity, but identifying the early signs can be tricky. A professor of neurosciences at the University of California, Eric Courchesne, says his new research will advance the field.

“For years I’ve wondered what might be the systems that cause autism to come about in the first place, and I have to say, this is a very exciting finding,” he said.

He says the sooner a child is diagnosed with autism, the better the outcomes from treatment.

“By coming up with early detection and early screening methods, it will eventually be possible to detect and diagnose autistic kids at a much younger age, perhaps one or two years old instead of at three, four or five,” he said.

“That means they’ll get treatment earlier, which means they’ll have a better outcome.”

Professor Courchesne says his research measures the genetic network itself rather than a gene.

“A gene is a possibility, it’s a blueprint for building or doing something, but it’s the actual activity of translating that blueprint into a building that really is more like what we’re measuring,” he said.

“This is the very first brain gene discovery. It tells us something about what gene systems may be important for future research into treatments, into the development of early markers for autism and so forth.”

Professor Courchesne says the genetic network research is accurate for detecting autism.

“It identifies roughly about 80 to 85 per cent of infants and toddlers that are at risk for autism and it makes it possible for the first time to identify potentially a very large percentage of kids if it turns out that we can replicate our findings,” he said.

He hopes further research into the gene networks that can cause autism will not only result in a better understanding of the disorder, but may one day lead to its prevention.

Autism at a glance

  • ASD is a group of neurobiological disorders affecting a person’s communication and social abilities
  • ASD affects about one in 160 children, with boys four times more likely to be affected than girls
  • Symptoms are different in each person affected but can include repetitive behaviours, difficulty relating to people, and sensitivity to stimulation including touch, sounds and sight
  • Symptoms can appear as early as the first year of life
  • There is no cure but can be managed with appropriate and early intervention
  • Genetic and environmental factors are being investigated as the cause which as yet is undetermined
  • The rates of ASD are the same in both vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations


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