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News Article | November 4, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The urine of pregnant women could be used to help identify lifestyle interventions that help maintain a healthy birth weight for their baby, according to new research published in BMC Medicine. Abnormal fetal growth and birth weight are well-established risk factors for chronic diseases later in life, including the development of type-2 diabetes and obesity. Dr Mireille Toledano, co-lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "We used a technique called NMR spectroscopy to identify, for the first time, a panel of 10 urinary metabolites in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy that were associated with greater fetal growth and increased birth weight. These metabolites included steroid hormones and important biological building blocks called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)." BCAAs are essential nutrients that are vital during pregnancy as an energy source for the growing fetus. In this study, changes in BCAAs and other metabolites detected in the urine were able to explain 12% of the variation seen in birth weight, independent of other known predictors such as parent's own weight and maternal smoking or alcohol intake. Dr Muireann Coen, co-lead author from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, added: "We found that a 50% increase in the mother's level of individual BCAAs equated to a 1-2.4% increase in birth weight, or 5-11 grams. When we made comparisons with the lifestyle and environmental exposures of the women in our study we found that the variability between BCAA profiles of individual mothers could be partially explained by levels of physical activity, vitamin D, coffee consumption and smoking exposure, suggesting them to be potential areas of intervention to promote a healthy birth weight." The research team from Spain at ISGlobal, collected urine samples and lifestyle questionnaire data from over 800 pregnant women, aged 28-33 years old, from two locations in Spain (Gipuzkoa and Sabadell), making it the most comprehensive study of urinary metabolites and fetal weight outcomes to date. The two locations in Spain differed in socio-demographic factors, with women in Gipuzkoa reported to be more educated, from a higher social class and generally healthier than women from Sabadell. This distinction allowed for useful comparisons to be made between women from different backgrounds and different geographical location. Although the researchers found an association between several lifestyle factors and the metabolomic signature detected in the mother's urine, it is not clear from this study if one is the cause of the other, or if any specific lifestyle factor is associated with an individual metabolite. In observational studies like this it is not possible to rule out other factors and an experimental trial would be needed to test cause and effect. This proof-of principle study highlights the value metabolic profiling of pregnant women could have on personalizing pregnancy plans to improve fetal growth outcomes. Maternal urinary metabolic signatures of fetal growth and associated clinical and environmental factors in the INMA study During embargo period, the article is available here: https:/ After the embargo lifts, the article will be available at the journal website here: http://bmcmedicine. Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy. 2. With an ethos of transparency and accessibility, BMC Medicine is an open access, open peer-reviewed general medical journal publishing outstanding and influential research in all areas of clinical practice, translational medicine, public health, policy, and general topics of interest to the biomedical research community. As the flagship medical journal of the BMC series, we also publish stimulating debates and reviews as well as unique forum articles and concise tutorials. 3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Nature, a major new force in scientific, scholarly, professional and educational publishing, created in May 2015 through the combination of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. http://www.


Nitu M.,INMA | Matache M.,INMA | Vladut V.,INMA | Kiss I.,Polytechnic University of Timişoara
Engineering for Rural Development | Year: 2016

Productivity in agriculture is influenced by the level of the working technologies applied, phytosanitary protection occupying a very important place within these technologies. Current researches and studies on the methods and equipment for applying phyto-sanitary treatments are part of the new trends for practicing sustainable agriculture, knowing that phyto-sanitary protection is one of the main sources for reducing environment pollution with chemical substances. An important aspect of the policy of each economic agent for contiguous growth of the product quality is constituted by both maintaining the conformity of machinery for plant protection, and also by increasing the premises for achieving these products in conditions of repeatability. The paper presents the experimental research conducted on a stand for a machine for applying phyto-sanitary treatments, using three types of solutions, six types of nozzles and five pressures, for each one determining the density, viscosity and superficial tension, in order to be able to determine the manner in which these properties influence the angle of the nozzle jet.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Researchers from the University of Burgos (Spain) have developed a fluorescent polymer that lights up in contact with mercury that may be present in fish. High levels of the metal were detected in samples of swordfish and tuna. According to the conclusions of another Spanish study, mercury exposure is linked to reduced foetal and placental growth in pregnant women. The presence of the toxic metal mercury in the environment comes from natural sources, however, in the last decades industrial waste has caused an increase in concentrations of the metal in some areas of the sea. In the food chain, mercury can be diluted either in organic form as methylmercury (MeHg+) or as an inorganic salt, the cation Hg2+. Now, researchers from the University of Burgos have created a fluorescent polymer, JG25, which can detect the presence of these two forms of mercury in fish samples. The development is published in the journal Chemical Communications. "The polymer remains in contact with samples extracted directly from the fish for around 20 minutes. Then, while is being irradiated with ultraviolet light, it emits a bluish light, which varies in intensity proportionally to the quantity of methylmercury and inorganic mercury present in the fish," explains Tomás Torroba, lead author of the paper. A portable polymer probe, which can be used in situ, was used to apply the technique to 2-gram samples from a range of fish species. The qualitative relationship between the mercury levels in fish and the increased fluorescence was verified using chemical analysis (called ICP-Mass). The research showed that the larger is the fish the higher are the levels of mercury: between 1.0 and 2.0 parts per million for swordfish, tuna and dogfish, around 0.5 ppm in conger eels and 0.2 ppm in panga. No mercury was found in farmed salmon. These are large fish and at the top of the food chain, but the metal is not present in captivity due to the lack of an industrial or natural source. The toxicity of fish depends on the amount mercury found in the fish presented in the diet. According to the recommendations of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the tolerable weekly intake of methylmercury should be no more than one serving containing amounts over 1.6 μg/kg (micrograms per kilogram of fish) or 4 μg/kg for inorganic mercury (this amount is close to the one detected in the study). However, the current trend for this limit is to be lowered. For example, the United States food safety agency, the FDA, goes beyond this and recommends consuming no more than one portion per week of fish containing concentrations over 1 μg/kg, a tendency other countries are likely to follow. "Contamination of above 0.5 ppm in a food is already thought to be a considerable level," Torroba explains. "Several of the fresh tuna and swordfish samples we analysed exceed and even double this amount. This is why experts recommend that pregnant women reduce their weekly intake of certain types of fish, such as swordfish, due to possible risks to the foetus." In this context, a study led by researchers from the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Community of Valencia (FISABIO, for its Spanish abbreviation) and the Spanish Consortium for Research on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP, for its Spanish abbreviation) has shown that there is an association between prenatal mercury exposure and reduced placenta size and foetal growth. The study, carried out within the Environment and Childhood (INMA, for its Spanish initials) mother-child cohort project, aimed to evaluate this link using data on 1,869 newborns from different regions of Spain (Valencia, Sabadell, Asturias and Guipúzcoa). One of the largest studies carried out to date in order to determine mercury levels in umbilical cord blood samples and its association with different reproductive effects: measurements of foetal development (weight, height and head circumference at birth), placental weight, duration of pregnancy and risk of premature birth. The findings, published in the journal Environmental Research, show a relatively high average mercury concentration in umbilical cord blood (8.2 micrograms per litre), with a 24% of samples exceeding the WHO's provisional tolerable weekly intake equivalent. "A double in the cord blood mercury concentrations (e.g. a change in the concentration from 8 to 16 micrograms per litre) is associated to a 7.7 gram reduction in the weight of the placenta and also shows a pattern of negative association with the newborn's head circumference," explain Mario Murcia and Ferran Ballester, co-authors of the study. "However no relation was found with other parameters, such as duration of pregnancy." The results of the INMA project suggest that prenatal mercury exposure may, therefore, be affecting the development of the placenta and foetal growth. Although the magnitude of these potential effects is small, reduced placental weight has been linked to the risk of high blood pressure in adulthood. Head circumference, in turn, has been associated with subsequent cognitive development. Despite preventive and surveillance measures are been considered for foods, due to the positive effects on health that are also linked to consuming fish, the researchers urge for public health efforts in order to reduce human mercury emissions. José García-Calvo, Saúl Vallejos, Félix C. García, Josefa Rojo, José M. García, Tomás Torroba. "A smart material for the in situ detection of mercury in fish". Chemical Communications 52, 11915, 2016.


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: phys.org

The presence of the toxic metal mercury in the environment comes from natural sources, however, in the last decades industrial waste has caused an increase in concentrations of the metal in some areas of the sea. In the food chain, mercury can be diluted either in organic form as methylmercury (MeHg+) or as an inorganic salt, the cation Hg2+. Now, researchers from the University of Burgos have created a fluorescent polymer, JG25, which can detect the presence of these two forms of mercury in fish samples. The development is published in the journal Chemical Communications. "The polymer remains in contact with samples extracted directly from the fish for around 20 minutes. Then, while is being irradiated with ultraviolet light, it emits a bluish light, which varies in intensity proportionally to the quantity of methylmercury and inorganic mercury present in the fish," explains Tomás Torroba, lead author of the paper. A portable polymer probe, which can be used in situ, was used to apply the technique to 2-gram samples from a range of fish species. The qualitative relationship between the mercury levels in fish and the increased fluorescence was verified using chemical analysis (called ICP-Mass). The research showed that the larger is the fish the higher are the levels of mercury: between 1.0 and 2.0 parts per million for swordfish, tuna and dogfish, around 0.5 ppm in conger eels and 0.2 ppm in panga. No mercury was found in farmed salmon. These are large fish and at the top of the food chain, but the metal is not present in captivity due to the lack of an industrial or natural source. The toxicity of fish depends on the amount mercury found in the fish presented in the diet. According to the recommendations of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the tolerable weekly intake of methylmercury should be no more than one serving containing amounts over 1.6 µg/kg (micrograms per kilogram of fish) or 4 µg/kg for inorganic mercury (this amount is close to the one detected in the study). However, the current trend for this limit is to be lowered. For example, the United States food safety agency, the FDA, goes beyond this and recommends consuming no more than one portion per week of fish containing concentrations over 1 µg/kg, a tendency other countries are likely to follow. "Contamination of above 0.5 ppm in a food is already thought to be a considerable level," Torroba explains. "Several of the fresh tuna and swordfish samples we analysed exceed and even double this amount. This is why experts recommend that pregnant women reduce their weekly intake of certain types of fish, such as swordfish, due to possible risks to the foetus." In this context, a study led by researchers from the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Community of Valencia (FISABIO, for its Spanish abbreviation) and the Spanish Consortium for Research on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP, for its Spanish abbreviation) has shown that there is an association between prenatal mercury exposure and reduced placenta size and foetal growth. The study, carried out within the Environment and Childhood (INMA, for its Spanish initials) mother-child cohort project, aimed to evaluate this link using data on 1,869 newborns from different regions of Spain (Valencia, Sabadell, Asturias and Guipúzcoa). One of the largest studies carried out to date in order to determine mercury levels in umbilical cord blood samples and its association with different reproductive effects: measurements of foetal development (weight, height and head circumference at birth), placental weight, duration of pregnancy and risk of premature birth. The findings, published in the journal Environmental Research, show a relatively high average mercury concentration in umbilical cord blood (8.2 micrograms per litre), with a 24% of samples exceeding the WHO's provisional tolerable weekly intake equivalent. "A double in the cord blood mercury concentrations (e.g. a change in the concentration from 8 to 16 micrograms per litre) is associated to a 7.7 gram reduction in the weight of the placenta and also shows a pattern of negative association with the newborn's head circumference," explain Mario Murcia and Ferran Ballester, co-authors of the study. "However no relation was found with other parameters, such as duration of pregnancy." The results of the INMA project suggest that prenatal mercury exposure may, therefore, be affecting the development of the placenta and foetal growth. Although the magnitude of these potential effects is small, reduced placental weight has been linked to the risk of high blood pressure in adulthood. Head circumference, in turn, has been associated with subsequent cognitive development. Despite preventive and surveillance measures are been considered for foods, due to the positive effects on health that are also linked to consuming fish, the researchers urge for public health efforts in order to reduce human mercury emissions. Explore further: Mirroring a drop in emissions, mercury in tuna also declines More information: José García-Calvo et al. A smart material for the in situ detection of mercury in fish, Chem. Commun. (2016). DOI: 10.1039/C6CC05977E


Croitoru S.,University of Craiova | Vladut V.,INMA | Marin E.,INMA | Matache M.,INMA | Dumitru I.,University of Craiova
Engineering for Rural Development | Year: 2016

The paper presents experimental researches conducted in the field using a soil loosening equipment with 5 working active bodies (subsoiler), simultaneously with an equipment for breaking up the clods risen to the surface and the soil crust, resulted from passing of the subsoiler active bodies through the soil, at working depths of: 20/30/40/50 cm, respectively, with 5 different working speeds. By modifying the depth for each working speed, the specific fuel consumption and traction force necessary for performing the loosening operation were determined, taking into consideration the soil humidity and hardness.


Gageanu I.,INMA | Voicu G.,Polytechnic University of Bucharest | Bunduchi G.,INMA | Bracacescu C.,INMA
Engineering for Rural Development | Year: 2016

Materials that have a lignocellulosic structure (wood, straw, sawdust, tree bark, etc.) represent important energy resources. Their main disadvantage is represented by the fact that they have very low density, which leads to difficulties in the process of handling, transport, storage, and in consequence they have increased the production costs. These drawbacks can be improved by compacting (densifying) the material at very high pressures, thus obtaining solid biofuels with a uniform structure, such as pellets. The paper presents a series of experimental research conducted on the process of compacting wood biomass from Salix viminalis, in the form of pellets, using an experimental installation, following two of the parameters with the highest influence on the pelleting process: humidity and granulation of the raw material.


Tomoaia-Cotisel M.,Babes - Bolyai University | Cota C.,INMA | Mocanu A.,Babes - Bolyai University | Horovitz O.,Babes - Bolyai University
Materiale Plastice | Year: 2010

The present work provides new insights about the micro and nanostructure of native starch granules from potato and maize by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). SEM images revealed the shape and the size distribution of the granules as well as some features, such as holes and wrinkles, on the surface of granules. These data were confirmed by AFM observations which showed the presence of numerous protrusions (nodules) on the granules surface of both starches. The structure of granules surface consisted of small spherical particles of about 30 nm in diameter, identified particularly for potato starch. These nanoparticles might be related with highly branched amylopectin molecules in substantial agreement with amylopectin blocklets (of about 20 nm) model. Larger particles of about 60 nm up to 80 nm were also visualized especially on the surface of maize starch granules representing different associations of amylopectin and amylose. The largest elongated particles of about 100 nm to 200 nm found randomly on granules of both starches might be assigned to arise from the granule-surface components, such as starch carbohydrates attached to granule proteins and phospholipids, in general agreement with starch granule surface composition data. This investigation also supports the complex structural network for the starch granule surface (periphery) and its role in maintaining the integrity of starch granules and in the starch gelatinization process.


The article presents the part four of the study of pile displacement on the straw walker of conventional grain combine harvesters, in order to determine the structural and functional characteristics of the straw walker, to increase its working capacity. The material presented in the article represents the study of functions tsalt(k,α,δ,f) and S(k,α,δ,f,), duration and size of displacement of a pile jump on the shaking element at a complete rotation of it.


The paper presents a precise method of comparing the energy performance provided by a Diesel engine in diesel fuel supply situation and an alternative fuel option. It is motivated the need for statistical approach of engine operating parameters developments and the technique of this approach is described. Using statistical expressions of parameters developments the ways in which homologous developments, belonging to two different supply variants, can be compared to evaluations, are highlighted. The described theoretical appliance is illustrated with the results of an experiment made by the author to assess the performance of mixtures diesel -biodiesel used to alternative supply of a Diesel engine.


InfraGard National Members Alliance (INMA) has announced that the 2015-2016 election cycle has resulted in the following individuals being named to the Board of Directors and as Officers.

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