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A Smarter Way to Sleep: Using Smartphones to Diagnose Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are often evaluated and diagnosed by polysomnography (PSG), which measures brain activity, eye movement and heart rhythms during sleep, but a new type of technology designed by researchers out of Osaka University utilizes a smartphone to help diagnose sleep disorders. It uses machine learning via a smartphone to help determine if a patient is suffering from a sleep disorder.

Using Modern Technology to Diagnose Sleep Disorders
According to Osaka University Associate Professor Ken-ichi Fukui, PSGs are ineffective because they require a patient to be monitored outside of their natural sleeping environment, typically in a sleep lab or other medical facility. He believes that because "our environment influences how we sleep...we should not expect the same patterns sleeping at a hospital [versus] or sleeping at home."[1] This could be why so many people aren’t diagnosed with a sleep disorder, even though they really do have one.

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Added Weight in Childhood Leads to Added Risk of Depression

New research from the Association for the Study of Obesity suggests that being overweight, especially during childhood, could increase the risk of developing major depression later in life. The CDC states that "the percentage of children with obesity in the U.S. has more than tripled since the 1970s," and that "today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity."[1] And with those added pounds comes the added risk for developing depression later in life.

The CDC defines obesity as "having excess body fat [which is] measured using the body mass index, or BMI, a widely-used screening tool for measuring both overweight and obesity...Children at or above the 95th percentile have obesity."1 Previous studies have shown that people who are obese are a greater risk of developing depression, but the new study from the Association for the Study of Obesity closely examined the link between early-life obesity and depression risk. The study, which analyzed 889 participants, found "that being overweight at age 8 or 13 was associated with more than triple the risk of developing major depression at some point in their lives, whilst carrying excess weight over a lifetime (both as a child and as an adult) quadrupled the chance of developing depression compared to only being overweight as an adult."[2]   

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Ditching the Dentist is Harmful to Overall Health

A recent study out of King’s College in London confirms that dental phobia, also known as odontophobia, leads to an increased incidence of tooth decay and tooth loss. It’s estimated that roughly 30 to 40 million people avoid going to the dentist because of dental phobia. With so many people steering clear of the dentist because of this, these new findings aren’t surprising, but they’re still problematic.

The new study confirms what U.S. dentists have been saying for years: skipping the dentist is harmful to your oral health. The study "found people with dental phobia tend to experience a range of dental diseases which result from their avoidance of the dentist."[i] But it also suggests that dodging the dentist can affect your quality of life.

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Need Braces? Don't Do-It-Yourself


The trend of do-it-yourself braces is sweeping the country, but many dentists and orthodontists warn patients that taking matters into their own hands could be dangerous and cause long-term damage. A quick Google search unlocks a plethora of DIY tutorials and videos ranging from how to grow your own windowsill herb garden to how to turn your bike into a Pokémon Go machine to how to make your own braces. While people may feel DIY braces are a cheaper alternative to going to the orthodontist to be fitted for braces, it may end of costing more in the long run.

According to a recent survey from the American Association of Orthodontists, 13 percent of orthodontists see patients who have attempted DIY teeth straightening.2 While the process of DIY braces may sound easy and quick, they can ultimately do more harm than good.[1] Reports indicate people are using rubber bands around two front teeth to draw the teeth together, closing the gap. Medical professionals say this may sound simple enough, but because the rubber band could imbed itself into the gum leading to an infection, it’s much more dangerous than people think. Additionally, the rubber band can travel to the root of the tooth causing the tooth to fall out.

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Untreated Sleep Apnea Could Cause Brain Damage in Children

New research suggests that children suffering from untreated obstructive sleep apnea show a significant reduction in gray matter of the brain. The study conducted by the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the journal, Scientific Reports, conveys that "there is clear evidence of widespread neuronal damage or loss compared to the general population." [1] The findings of this recent study are especially troubling as it’s estimated that currently, three percent of children suffer from sleep apnea.

The University of Chicago Medical Center study analyzed 16 children with OSA and evaluated their sleep patterns overnight in its pediatric sleep laboratory. Children were administered neuro-cognitive testing and underwent brain scans with a non-invasive MRI. These results were compared with MRI images from nine healthy children of the same age, gender, ethnicity and weight, who did not suffer from sleep apnea.  

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