Today’s Headlines: New Guidelines to Prevent Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, Weight Gain Might Lead to Memory Loss, and Cranberry Juice to Treat a U.T.I. Could Be Wishful Thinking

To parents of newborns, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new recommendations that might help to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and other sleep-related infant deaths. The AAP suggests that parents have their children sleep in supine position (lying on their back) on a firm surface, and that parents consider sharing a room — although not the same bed — with their infants; the AAP also suggests that parents take care to dress their infants in the appropriate number of layers (no greater than one layer more than would be comfortable for an adult in the same environment) and to avoid over-bundling. These new guidelines might help to reduce the number of infants who die each year from sleep-related deaths. In the U.S., about 3,500 infants die each year from a sleep-related cause. (AAP)

A recent study from the University of Arizona suggests that weight gain can lead to memory loss. Over a period of six years, researchers recorded BMI, inflammation levels, and cognition scores for a group of adults ages 50 and older. In analyzing the data, they found that subjects with a higher BMI were more likely to experience a decline in brain function. Memory is one of the brain processes affected. Although the researchers did not put forward a definitive explanation for the link between weight gain and memory, they suspect that inflammation — which results from weight gain — is the culprit. One of the authors of the study offered this advice: “If you have high inflammation, in the future we may suggest using anti-inflammatories — not just to bring down your inflammation but to hopefully also help with your cognition.” (TIME)

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has cast doubt on the oft-repeated wisdom that cranberry juice and other cranberry products can prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI). Researchers monitored the health of two groups of subjects over 12 months; one group was given high-potency cranberry capsules and the other group was given a placebo. The group given the high-potency cranberry capsules were not better off — this group had just as many UTIs as the other group. The study’s lead author, Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta, who’s an assistant professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, said that similar research supports these latest findings: “Many other studies have been done in other populations,” she said, “which have not shown a benefit.” (CNN)