Today’s Headlines: Being Bilingual, Early Autism Signs and Testosterone Risks

Speaking a second language delays dementias, even in the illiterate, study finds: Speaking more than one language can significantly delay the onset of three different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, new research says. The study, conducted in India, showed that speaking two or more languages can slow the onset of certain dementias by an average of 4.5 years. Researchers suggest that being bilingual requires ongoing “mental training” that “keeps the brain nimble and may ward off not only Alzheimer’s disease, but other cognitive conditions such as frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia.” (NBC News)

Autism sign may appear in first months of life: New research suggests that behavioral predictors of autism may be apparent as soon as eight weeks after birth – the earliest signs of autism ever recorded. “The study of 110 babies found that infants later diagnosed with autism showed a decline in the amount of attention they paid to other people’s eyes beginning at 2 months and continuing until 24 months.” Autism is not usually diagnosed until children are between 16 and 30 months old, but earlier diagnosis could allow for quicker interventions. “It’s estimated that one in 88 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder.” (U.S. News & World Report)

Testosterone treatments linked with risk of heart problems, deaths: The findings of a recent study suggest that “men with signs of heart problems who take injections of testosterone or use gel containing the hormone may have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.” Testosterone therapy is often used to counteract age-related changes in muscle mass and sex drive in men, and in 2011, 5.3 million testosterone prescriptions were written in the U.S. The study found that “the men who used testosterone therapy had a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, stroke or dying, compared with men who didn’t use the hormone.” (Fox News)