The link between the caffeine intake of expectant mothers and low birth-weight babies is being explored in a groundbreaking study which will, for the first time, link caffeine intake with individual variations in metabolism - or breakdown - of caffeine.
Research has suggested too much caffeine during pregnancy - over five cups of ordinary strength coffee a day - could increase the risk of having a low birth-weight baby. These babies are at greater risk from a range of problems in later life, including developmental delay in childhood and high blood pressure in adulthood, making this an important relationship to understand. Many previous studies have not, however, included an accurate measure of caffeine intake or taken into account other factors, such as a person’s individual metabolism of caffeine.
The CARE study is looking for the first time at the relationship between caffeine intake from a variety of sources, caffeine metabolism during pregnancy and the risk of having a low birth-weight baby. Dr Sara Kirk (below right) from the University’s Nutritional Epidemiology Group explains: “Caffeine is present in many products from chocolate to over-the-counter medications such as flu remedies. It’s also hard to measure a person’s caffeine intake as caffeine levels in drinks vary from one cup of coffee or tea to another.”
Hannah Love | alfa
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
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