Even a little coffee in pregnancy might stunt growth; Plus science reveals secrets of the clitoris, and more health news

Alcohol to blame for 1 in 5 young adult deaths in U.S.

For anyone who thinks alcoholism isn’t a deadly disease, a new government report shows alcohol abuse caused nearly 13% of deaths in American adults under 65 between 2015 and 2019.

The statistics were even more grim among younger U.S. adults: In people aged 20 to 49, alcohol abuse was the cause of 20% of deaths.

“States and communities can prevent these premature deaths using evidence-based strategies to reduce the availability and accessibility of alcohol and increase its price, including increasing alcohol taxes and regulating the number and concentration of places that sell alcohol,” said lead researcher Marissa Esser. She is lead of the Alcohol Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta.

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Even a little coffee in pregnancy might stunt a child’s growth

Most pregnant women are told it’s safe to have one cup of coffee a day because it won’t trigger miscarriages or preterm deliveries, but new research suggests a surprising risk: Moms-to-be who consume caffeine, even in small amounts, may have shorter kids.

“The main takeaway is that even low exposure to caffeine during pregnancy was associated with shorter height in childhood,” said study lead author Jessica Gleason, a research fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams (mg) per day. That is the equivalent of about two 6-ounce cups of coffee.

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Impact of racism could slow recovery after heart attack

Discrimination doesn’t just cause emotional pain in the moment, it may affect a victim’s physical recovery from a heart attack, new research suggests.

In studying more than 2,600 heart attack survivors between the ages of 18 and 55, researchers found that those reporting more perceived discrimination were more likely to have poorer outcomes.

A year after their heart attacks, they had more physical limitations and chest pain, lower quality of life and impaired mental health.

Perceived discrimination — being treated unfairly because of personal characteristics such as race, gender or sexual orientation — was already associated with risk factors for having a heart attack.

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Pregnancy often more stressful for women with autism

Women who have autism are more vulnerable during pregnancy to depression and anxiety, according to a new British study.

That makes it imperative that effective mental health screening and support is available to help this group, said lead researcher Sarah Hampton, from the University of Cambridge.

“The results also suggest that autistic people may benefit from accommodations to prenatal health care. These may include adjustments to the sensory environment of health care settings, as well as adjustments to how information is communicated during prenatal appointments,” co-author Rosie Holt said in a university news release. She is a research associate at the Cambridge-based Autism Research Center.

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Science helps reveal secrets of the clitoris

More than 10,000 nerve fibers — many more than expected — power the human clitoris, according to Oregon researchers who were able to count them for the first time while performing gender-affirming genital surgery.

That’s about 20% more than previous estimates, they said.

“It’s startling to think about more than 10,000 nerve fibers being concentrated in something as small as [the] clitoris,” said Dr. Blair Peters, a plastic surgeon from the Transgender Health Program at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland.

He said it’s particularly surprising if you compare the clitoris to other, larger parts of the body, including the human hand.

Can adults get RSV?

As health experts warn about RSV infections in infants and toddlers, adults should know that they, too, can become severely ill from the virus.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is not always the mild respiratory illness people think it is but can lead to symptoms as serious as seen with influenza, according to an expert from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The risks are particularly high for adults over 65 and those who have chronic lung disease, heart disease or diabetes, said Dr. Robert Atmar, a professor of infectious diseases at Baylor.

Fewer deer-car collisions during Daylight Saving Time

Motorists are more likely to plow into a deer on U.S. highways after the annual “fall back” end of daylight saving time (DST), a new study shows.

That’s because frisky deer in the middle of their mating season (also known as rut) are crossing roads that become shrouded in darkness earlier in the day with the time change, researchers explained.

There’s a 16% increase in deer-vehicle collisions in the week following the shift from DST to standard time, according to a report published Nov. 2 in the journal Current Biology.

What’s more, nearly 1 in 10 of all deer-vehicle wrecks occur during the two-week period around the switch from DST to standard time, researchers found.

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