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Health roundup: Gun deaths on the rise, vaccine linked to menstrual cycle changes, and more

Gun deaths continue rising trend in America's cities

A temporary falloff in the number of Americans who kill themselves and others with guns is over, newly released U.S. government data show.

It noted that guns were involved in 75% of all homicides and 91% of homicides involving youths between 2018 and 2019 -- a rate basically unchanged from 2016.

But those new numbers represent a significant and troubling uptick from a decade before, said Kegler, from the CDC's Division of Injury Prevention.

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COVID-19 vaccination linked to small changes in menstrual cycle length

COVID-19 vaccination is associated with a small change in menstrual cycle length, but not in menses length, according to a study published online Jan. 5 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Alison Edelman, M.D., M.P.H., from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues prospectively tracked menstrual cycle data among U.S. residents aged 18 to 45 years with normal cycle lengths (24 to 38 days) for three consecutive cycles before the first vaccine dose and three additional cycles following the first dose (including the vaccination cycle), or for six cycles over a similar time period among unvaccinated individuals. The mean within-individual change in cycle and menses length was calculated among 3,959 individuals (2,403 vaccinated and 1,556 unvaccinated).

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Zoo study finds animal DNA floating in the air

Sampling the air from local zoos, two teams of researchers collected enough DNA to identify the animals nearby. They say their study could potentially become a valuable, noninvasive tool to track biodiversity.

“Capturing airborne environmental DNA from vertebrates makes it possible for us to detect even animals that we cannot see are there,” said researcher Kristine Bohmann, head of the team at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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Children's behavior is reportedly worse at home during remote learning

Parents report that their children's health at home is worse during remote learning than with in-person learning, according to a research letter published online Jan. 10 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Emily C. Hanno, Ph.D., from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues administered online surveys four times to 405 parents of children in Massachusetts from Jan. 4 to May 23, 2021.

Parents indicated their child's current learning format in each wave and then reported their child's behavioral health on three measures: general behavioral health in the last month; number of maladaptive behavioral changes in the previous month; and frequency of dysregulated behaviors. Overall, 348 parents reported on 356 children's behaviors in at least one of the surveys.

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Exercise can save your brain, scientists say

Exercise helps you stay fit, hale and hearty, and researchers say it may also help you stave off dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Now they have a better understanding of the hidden benefits that aid the brain.

Older folks who are more physically active have higher levels of a protein that promotes better communication between the brain's synapses, a new study reports.

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Watch Now: Five ways to help you stay focused, and more videos to improve your life

Here are five tips to help you stay more focused, how to defeat the winter blues, and more videos to improve your life.


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COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States – and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Officials said Wednesday those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors  — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice.

A large number of North Koreans including leader Kim Jong Un have attended a funeral for a top official despite outside worries about its COVID-19 outbreak. Photos showed leader Kim Jong Un carrying the coffin of the late official and throwing earth into his grave. The photos showed a crowd of soldiers and officials at the cemetery and state media said “a great many” people turned out along streets to express condolences. The photos show Kim bare-faced while most other people wore masks. North Korea also maintains that its outbreak is subsiding, though outside experts doubt its figures. The omicron variant of the coronavirus was thought to have been spread by mass public events in late April.

A doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group has described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, said the leading theory to explain the more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Switzerland, France, the U.S. and Australia was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium.

The U.S. Air Force Academy says three cadets who have refused the COVID-19 vaccine will not be commissioned as military officers but will graduate with bachelor’s degrees. Academy spokesman Dean Miller says a fourth cadet who only recently decided to be vaccinated will graduate and become an Air Force officer. Miller said in a statement Saturday that the three won't be commissioned as long as they remain unvaccinated. He says the Air Force secretary will decide whether the unvaccinated students will be required to pay their educational costs in lieu of service.

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