For Your Health: Starfish Slime to the Rescue?

Parents may soon be able to find out if their unborn baby is prone to inherited diseases. Scientists have developed a non-invasive technique to map out a fetus's DNA by analyzing the mother's blood:

By analyzing a sample of the mother's blood, which contains DNA from the fetus, scientists in Hong Kong and the United States were able to identify all the DNA strands that belong to the child and piece them together.

"Before this work, people only could look for one disease at one time but now you can construct a screen for a number of diseases which are prevalent in any particular population," said lead author Dennis Lo, professor of medicine from the Chinese University in Hong Kong.

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A substance secreted by starfish may be the key to treating diseases like asthma and arthritis. Researchers say the "starfish slime" could help white blood cells to flow more easily:

Researchers from the Scottish Association for Marine Science have been studying a species known as the spiny starfish. They say the slimy goo that helps stop debris in the ocean from sticking to the creature is "better than Teflon," the BBC reported.

The reason why they are so interested in this substance is that it could help white blood cells flow more easily throughout the body. In inflammatory diseases, white blood cells buildup and stick to the blood vessel walls, which can cause tissue damage.

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A new study in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine shows that only about 1/4 of kids on sports teams are getting enough exercise. Parents are encouraged to make sure their child gets 60 minutes of physical activity a day:

"Based on current findings, it appears that youth sports practices are making a less-than-optimal contribution to the public health goals of increasing physical activity and preventing childhood obesity," researchers from San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego, wrote in the study.

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