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Unborn babies could be at risk of catching COVID-19 in the womb

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unborn babies could be at risk of catching covid 19 in the womb

Unborn babies as young as two weeks old possess genes which could put them at risk of contracting Covid-19 from their mother.

Early data shows these genes likely make proteins which the virus can use to infect human cells, including ACE2 which has been dubbed the ‘gateway to the body’. 

Researchers from the University of Cambridge created a new way to look at genes in the early human embryo to determine their function. 

It involved scrutinising chunks of genetic material called RNA and has not been validated at the protein level, in cells or in animal models. 

The researchers say this discovery could be used to further investigate the risk to unborn babies but critics have slammed the study. 

Unborn babies as young as two weeks old possess genes which could put them at risk of contracting Covid-19 from their mother. Early data shows these genes likely make proteins which the virus can use to infect human cells, including ACE2 (stock)

Unborn babies as young as two weeks old possess genes which could put them at risk of contracting Covid-19 from their mother. Early data shows these genes likely make proteins which the virus can use to infect human cells, including ACE2 (stock)

Unborn babies as young as two weeks old possess genes which could put them at risk of contracting Covid-19 from their mother. Early data shows these genes likely make proteins which the virus can use to infect human cells, including ACE2 (stock)

Professor Christoph Lees, co-chief Investigator on the study at Imperial College London, stresses it is important to note these findings are strictly hypothetical. 

At this early stage, it is impossible to know if the presence of the genes manifests itself into increased risk from coronavirus. 

When a foetus is two weeks old the embryo attaches to the mother’s womb and begins rapidly changing in shape and structure.  

‘It is important to say that this work is at a very hypothetical stage – in other words there are more question marks than there are answers,’ says Professor Lees. 

The research reignites an enormously emotional debate as to the risk Covid-19 positive pregnant mothers pose to their unborn child. 

Professor Lees says his research  does not prove the coronavirus can pass from mother to baby, but suggests a route in which it may be able to.  

When a foetus is two weeks old the embryo attaches to the mother's womb and begins rapidly changing in shape and structure.

When a foetus is two weeks old the embryo attaches to the mother's womb and begins rapidly changing in shape and structure.

When a foetus is two weeks old the embryo attaches to the mother’s womb and begins rapidly changing in shape and structure.

Coronavirus can ‘injure’ the placenta 

The coronavirus may injure the placentas of pregnant women and cut off blood supply to their unborn babies, a small study has found, a May study found.

Scientists discovered visible damage to the placentas of all 15 mothers who were involved in the research.

Lesions and blood clots were discovered in the vital organ, responsible for providing oxygen and nutrients to the foetus.

Issues with placental blood flow can lead to low birth weight, organ damage in the baby or even foetal death.

Although none of the children in the study had any health troubles, the researchers who conducted the study said the findings ‘worried them’.

The results highlight the need to monitor expectant mothers infected with COVID-19 ‘right now’, they added.

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‘What appears possible in a laboratory study is a long way removed from what might actually happen in the human embryo,’ he adds. 

Professor Ian Jones of the University of Reading admits the research is well conducted and ‘scientifically accurate’, but should be interpreted with caution. 

‘While there have been occasional reports of intrauterine transmission [of the SARS-CoV-2 virus] the overwhelming evidence is that it is very uncommon and does not represent a significant risk. To suggest otherwise borders on scaremongering,’  he says.

Very few cases of a foetus being infected with the coronavirus from its mother have been reported, and scientists are increasingly confident the babies are not at risk.

Professor Andrew Shennan of King’s College London, who was not involved in the study, says evidence is amassing which shows it is extremely rare for the virus to breach the placenta which protects the unborn baby.

‘Even if fetal cells are infected, this research does not indicate they would be harmed,’ he explains. 

‘Most cells make a complete recovery after being infected with a virus. This includes with the coronavirus. 

‘So far there have been many studies showing that babies are not at increased risk if their mother has coronavirus. 

‘About 1 in 5 babies have to be delivered early as their mother is sick, but are unharmed by the virus.’

The findings have been published in the journal Open Biology

What pregnant women need to know about coronavirus: Experts say there is no evidence an unborn baby can be infected during pregnancy

Pregnant women do not appear to be more susceptible to coronavirus than others and mothers are being advised to carry on breastfeeding, according to a new report. 

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have released new guidelines for pregnant women in relation to the coronavirus and have confirmed that there is no evidence the virus can be passed to an unborn baby. 

As a precautionary approach, pregnant women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus when they go into labour are being advised to attend an obstetric unit – which has more doctors than a normal midwifery unit – for birth.

The world’s youngest coronavirus victim is a newborn baby in London, whose mother also tested positive for the disease after giving birth. 

 

The mother was rushed to hospital days ago with suspected pneumonia but her positive result was only known after the birth.

They were treated at separate hospitals – the baby at North Middlesex and the mother at a specialist infections hospital.

According to The Sun, the baby is now ‘out of danger’ and recovering well.  

It is believed the baby was infected after the birth from coughs or sneezes and it was tested within minutes of its arrival. 

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has also advised that healthy babies should not be separated from infected mothers and can be breastfed. 

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

‘As this is a very new virus we are just beginning to learn about it, so the guidance will be kept under regular review as new evidence emerges.

‘Over the coming weeks and months it is likely pregnant women in the UK will test positive for coronavirus. While the data is currently limited it is reassuring that there is no evidence that the virus can pass to a baby during pregnancy.’ 

 

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People are happier with their FRIENDS than they are with family

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people are happier with their friends than they are with family

People are happier when they are with their friends than they are when in the company of their partner or children, a study has found. 

More than 400 volunteers were asked to rank how much they enjoyed a recent moment when they were with their friends and family. 

The questionnaires revealed spending time with romantic partners scored the lowest out of the three groups, with friends pipping children to the top spot. 

However, the researchers say it is not the people that are the issue, it is what people do when in the company of each group. 

When meeting up with friends, fun activities are on the agenda. On the flip side, being with children and partners often involves chores and other fun-sapping tasks.  

When meeting up with friends, fun activities are on the agenda. On the flip side, being with children and partners often involves chores and other fun-sapping tasks. this causes people to enjoy spending tie with friends more than family (stock)

When meeting up with friends, fun activities are on the agenda. On the flip side, being with children and partners often involves chores and other fun-sapping tasks. this causes people to enjoy spending tie with friends more than family (stock)

When meeting up with friends, fun activities are on the agenda. On the flip side, being with children and partners often involves chores and other fun-sapping tasks. this causes people to enjoy spending tie with friends more than family (stock)

According to the study, the activities people most frequently perform while with their romantic partners include socialising, relaxing, and eating.

People tend to do similar activities when they are with their friends, too, but these activities make up a greater percentage of their total time together. 

Naturally, people did far more chores and housework with their partners than they did with their pals.  

Study author Professor Nathan Hudson from Southern Methodist University (SMU) found 65 per cent of experiences with friends involved socialising. But people only recorded socialising with their partner 28 per cent of the time (stock)

Study author Professor Nathan Hudson from Southern Methodist University (SMU) found 65 per cent of experiences with friends involved socialising. But people only recorded socialising with their partner 28 per cent of the time (stock)

Study author Professor Nathan Hudson from Southern Methodist University (SMU) found 65 per cent of experiences with friends involved socialising. But people only recorded socialising with their partner 28 per cent of the time (stock)

Faking a smile tricks the brain into feeling happier

The power of a smile is not to be underestimated and scientists have now found that even faking one can make you happier. 

Experts found the physical task of smiling activates specific muscles in a person’s cheeks and this triggers positive emotions in the brain. 

Scientists say this has important implications on mental health and could be exploited to help people cope with stress.

 ‘When your muscles say you’re happy, you’re more likely to see the world around you in a positive way,’ Dr Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, co-author of a recent study from the University of South Australia, says.

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Study author Professor Nathan Hudson from Southern Methodist University (SMU) found 65 per cent of experiences with friends involved socialising.

But people only recorded socialising with their partner 28 per cent of the time.

The skewed data is not a reflection on people’s relationships however. In fact, Professor Hudson is optimistic that people do genuinely enjoy the company of their partners. 

He says that overall, spending time with friends led to the most fun, but when the data was processed to ensure all activities were similar, there was little difference between the three groups.  

‘Our study suggests that [people having more enjoyment with friends than family] doesn’t have to do with the fundamental nature of kith versus kin relationships,’ Professor Hudson says. 

‘Thus, this paper provides an optimistic view of family and suggests that people genuinely enjoy their romantic partners and children,’ he adds.   

But he urges adults to make more of a conscious effort to ‘mentally savour’ the happier experiences with family more than they do. 

Professor Hudson said: ‘It’s important to create opportunities for positive experiences with romantic partners and children and to really mentally savour those positive times.’ 

The full findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Facebook: Tech firm to launch first set of Ray-Ban ‘smart glasses’ next year

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facebook tech firm to launch first set of ray ban smart glasses next year

Facebook’s first pair of smart glasses — made in collaboration with luxury eyewear manufacturer Ray-Ban — is to be released next year, the tech firm has revealed.

The announcement coincided with CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealing his vision for the future of augmented reality (AR) — bringing holograms of friends into your home.

While this dream may seem especially appealing amid present coronavirus-related restrictions, however, such a future may still be some way off.

In fact, the smart Ray-Bans will not have an integrated display, the Verge reported — but may feature recording capacity or a voice-activated assistant.

Facebook has confirmed that the product will operate by pairing with a phone.

The tech firm has also previously indicated it is developing audio features for augmented reality which will make sounds from speakers sound more authentic.

Furthermore, its researchers are working on developing technology to facilitate ‘perceptual superpowers’ that automatically tune out background noise.

Facebook's first pair of smart glasses — made in collaboration with luxury eyewear manufacturer Ray-Ban — are to be released next year, the tech firm has revealed. Pictured, a file photo of a regular pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, which could resemble the smart design

Facebook's first pair of smart glasses — made in collaboration with luxury eyewear manufacturer Ray-Ban — are to be released next year, the tech firm has revealed. Pictured, a file photo of a regular pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, which could resemble the smart design

Facebook’s first pair of smart glasses — made in collaboration with luxury eyewear manufacturer Ray-Ban — are to be released next year, the tech firm has revealed. Pictured, a file photo of a regular pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, which could resemble the smart design

The announcement of the launch window for the smart glasses was made by Mr Zuckerberg during his keynote at the virtual Facebook Connect conference.  

‘We’re passionate about exploring devices that can give people better ways to connect with those closest to them. Wearables have the potential to do that,’ Facebook Reality Labs vice president Andrew Bosworth said in a statement.

‘With [Ray-Ban owner] EssilorLuxottica we have an equally ambitious partner who’ll lend their expertise and world-class brand catalogue to the first truly fashionable smart glasses,’ he added. 

It is unclear at present exactly what features the firm’s first smart spectacles will sport — but even though the glasses will not generate an augmented reality overlay, Facebook have said that the product is part of its larger foray into the world of AR. 

‘They are going to be the next step on the road to augmented reality glasses, and they look pretty good too,’ Zuckerberg said during a steamed presentation.

‘Delivering a sense of presence is the thing that I care about. And virtual reality and augmented reality are going to be the technologies that do that,’ Mr Zuckerberg told the Verge in a separate interview.

While virtual reality — such as, for example, Facebook’s recently announced Oculus Quest 2 headset — will immerse users in a simulate environment, he said, AR will bring people into your existing environment through the use of holograms.

‘So in the future, instead of a video chat, I’ll just be sitting on my couch and your hologram can just appear on the couch next to me, or I can hologram into your house,’ Mr Zuckerberg continued.

‘And part of why that’s going to be a lot better than video chat is that then we’ll be able to have virtual objects that we can interact with together. If we want to play a game of cards, I can have a deck of cards.’

The announcement of the launch window for the smart glasses was made by Mr Zuckerberg, pictured, during the keynote of the virtual Facebook Connect conference

The announcement of the launch window for the smart glasses was made by Mr Zuckerberg, pictured, during the keynote of the virtual Facebook Connect conference

The announcement of the launch window for the smart glasses was made by Mr Zuckerberg, pictured, during the keynote of the virtual Facebook Connect conference

The next step towards Zuckerberg’s vision of the future is likely Facebook’s previously announced ‘Project Aria’ — a pair of true augmented reality glasses.

Beginning this month, the firm’s employees and contractors will reportedly be field testing Aria prototypes out in the real world, with the aim of not only putting the tech through its paces but also exploring potential issues around privacy.

According to Facebook Reality Labs head Michael Abrash, the limitation on developing commercially-viable AR glasses is that the required display and audio hardware cannot at present be built into the required slim form factor for spectacles.

To be viable, he told Reuters, smart glasses need to weight in at under 2.5 ounces (70 grams). He added: ‘Those glasses are still years off.’

WHICH COMPANIES ARE WORKING ON AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES?

Augmented reality (AR) glasses have seen a resurgence in desirability, with a host of firms working to develop their own technology. 

Last year, Bose joined a quickly growing list of tech companies that are building augmented reality eyeglasses. 

The first company to enter the race was Google, which released the Google Glass in 2011. 

Google Glass, now referred to as Glass, has been changed from a consumer-facing product to an enterprise product, used by companies like Boeing. 

Since then, several companies have come out with their own products.

Secretive startup Magic Leap began working on a prototype several years ago, but finally debuted its ‘mixed reality’ smart glasses late last year. 

Magic Leap says its AR glasses will ship in 2018 after a multi-year wait. 

Tech company Vuzix, based in Rochester, New York, is launching its Vuzix Blade glasses later this year for about $1,300. 

Smart glasses that superimpose computer-generated images onto the world around you could start at at £1,000 when they are released this year. Magic Leap, the usually secretive Google-backed company behind the gadget, says it is working on multiple versions of the gadget

Smart glasses that superimpose computer-generated images onto the world around you could start at at £1,000 when they are released this year. Magic Leap, the usually secretive Google-backed company behind the gadget, says it is working on multiple versions of the gadget

Smart glasses that superimpose computer-generated images onto the world around you could start at at £1,000 when they are released this year. Magic Leap, the usually secretive Google-backed company behind the gadget, says it is working on multiple versions of the gadget

They use a tiny projector to show a virtual image in the top right hand corner of their lenses. 

Wearers can connect to WiFi and read emails and other messages via the display, as well as use Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, to issue voice commands. 

Amazon is also rumored to be working on its own AR glasses to be released sometime in the future. 

Additionally, Intel released its prototype smart glasses, the Vaunt, earlier this year. 

The glasses use retinal projection to put a tiny display on the wearer’s eyeball. 

Snap has launched its Spectacles and there are rumours of Facebook abd Apple working on AR glasses, 

Niantic, the American firm being Pokemon Go, has also revealed it is partnering with Qualcomm to create its own AR headset technology. 

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Stunning photo reveals a new ‘Great Red Spot’ is forming on Jupiter

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stunning photo reveals a new great red spot is forming on jupiter

A beautiful image of Jupiter taken by the NASA Hubble telescope has captured the formation of an almighty storm in the planet’s northern hemisphere.  

NASA says the storm is a ‘bright, white, stretched-out storm moving at 560 kilometres per hour’ at mid-northern latitudes.

Storms in this region are very common but this one appears different, as it has more structure and could be forming into a permanent feature.

‘Researchers speculate this may be the beginning of a longer-lasting northern hemisphere spot, perhaps to rival the legendary Great Red Spot that dominates the southern hemisphere,’ NASA says in a statement.  

Image of Jupiter taken by Hubble has captured the formation of an almighty storm in the planet's northern hemisphere. it also shows Europa and the legendary Great Red Spot which is a strm bigger than Earth which has been raging for more than 350 years

Image of Jupiter taken by Hubble has captured the formation of an almighty storm in the planet’s northern hemisphere. it also shows Europa and the legendary Great Red Spot which is a strm bigger than Earth which has been raging for more than 350 years 

Left of the image is Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter which is believed may harbour microbial life in its liquid oceans. Right of the image is the long white storm which NASA believes may one day rival the Great Red Spot in size

Left of the image is Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter which is believed may harbour microbial life in its liquid oceans. Right of the image is the long white storm which NASA believes may one day rival the Great Red Spot in size 

Jupiter is the biggest planet in the solar system, and it is believed the gas giant’s creation was crucial in allowing Earth, and life, to form

The new image was taken when Jupiter was 405 million miles (653 million kilometres) from Earth and also captures the planet’s icy moon, Europa.

Europa is one of the most promising locations within the Solar System for alien life, as it has a liquid ocean lurking beneath its frozen crust. 

NASA has even proposed a madcap scheme to use steam-powered robots to explore the world and look for signs of microbial life.  

The bots, called SPARROW, would run on steam from ice that was collected by mining the surfaces of the moons they explore – rather than ‘dirty’ rocket fuel. 

Hubble focused on Jupiter on August 25 and took two images, one using visible wavelengths of light to create a classical look at Jupiter, and another which combined various wavelengths, including ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared.

NASA says Hubble’s near infrared imaging, combined with ultraviolet views, provides a unique panchromatic look at Jupiter (pictured)  that offers insights into the altitude and distribution of the planet’s haze and particles. It also makes the gas giant look like a gobstopper

NASA says Hubble’s near infrared imaging, combined with ultraviolet views, provides a unique panchromatic look at Jupiter (pictured)  that offers insights into the altitude and distribution of the planet’s haze and particles. It also makes the gas giant look like a gobstopper 

Hubble focused on Jupiter on August 25 and took two images, one using visible wavelengths of light to create a classical look at Jupiter (left), and another which combined various wavelengths, including ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared (right)

Hubble focused on Jupiter on August 25 and took two images, one using visible wavelengths of light to create a classical look at Jupiter (left), and another which combined various wavelengths, including ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared (right)

Exotic weather on Jupiter is caused by slushy hailstones made of water and ammonia 

Exotic weather on Jupiter is caused by slushy ‘mushballs’ made of water and ammonia that trigger huge storms on the gas giant, studies have revealed.

Ammonia — a key ingredient in fertiliser — acts like an anti-freeze when it mixes with ice crystals, causing them to melt and in turn trigger vast storms.

Images from NASA‘s Juno mission have revealed large, rotating white clouds of ammonia covering more than 2,000 square miles of the planet’s upper atmosphere.

These spinning banks hang up to some 10 miles above Jupiter’s other clouds and cast vast shadows, as well as causing lightning flashes.

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This captures more rays of light emitting from Jupiter which are invisible to the human eye and make the planet look like a blue-purple gobstopper. 

Both images reveal the Great Red Spot, Jupiter’s most iconic feature, is still shrinking in size, but that the rate of contraction is slowing down. 

The storm driving the Giant Red Spot is thought to have first started more than 350 years ago.  

Although it is not as big as it was when it was first measured in the 1930s, it is still almost 10,000 miles in diameter — big enough to swallow the Earth. 

‘Hubble shows that the Great Red Spot, rolling counterclockwise in the planet’s southern hemisphere, is ploughing into the clouds ahead of it, forming a cascade of white and beige ribbons,’ NASA writes. 

‘The Great Red Spot is currently an exceptionally rich red colour, with its core and outermost band appearing deeper red.’

The new image also provides an update on Oval BA, known as Red Spot Jr. 

This is the mini storm that sits just below the legendary Great Red Spot.

Fifteen years ago it had a deep red hue similar to its big brother, but it has been fading over time. 

However, Hubble reveals it is now growing more crimson again as the storms within continue to rage. 

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