Researchers have found that when children eat organic fruits and vegetables, amounts of pesticides in their bodies decline significantly.

Most organophosphorus pesticides have been phased out for residential use, but they are still widely used in agriculture. High doses in agricultural workers can be deadly.

The study, in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, included 20 children living in Oakland, California, and 20 in the agricultural community of Salinas, about 100 miles south. The children ate a conventional diet for four days and an organic diet for seven days, and then returned to conventional foods for five days.

About 72 percent of their urine samples, collected daily, contained evidence of pesticides. Of the six most frequently detected pesticides, two decreased by nearly 50 percent when children were on the organic diet.

“There’s evidence that diet is one route of exposure to pesticides, and you can reduce your exposure by choosing organic food,” said the lead author, Asa Bradman, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

There may be a link between later bedtimes and weight gain, new research suggests.

Researchers studied 3,342 adolescents starting in 1996, following them through 2009. At three points over the years, all reported their normal bedtimes, as well as information on fast-food consumption, exercise and television time. The scientists calculated body mass index at each interview.

After controlling for age, sex, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that each hour later bedtime during the school or workweek was associated with about a two-point increase in BMI.

The effect was apparent even among people who had a full eight hours of sleep, and neither TV time nor exercise contributed to the effect. But fast food consumption did.

The study, in a recent issue of Sleep, raises questions, said the lead author, Lauren D. Asarnow, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.

“First, what is driving this relationship?” she said. “And second, if we change sleep patterns, can we change eating behavior and the course of weight change?”

Filtered sunlight is a cheap, effective way to treat infant jaundice, according to a study by Stanford researchers.

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Jaundice, caused by an excess of bilirubin in the blood, leads to brain damage or death in about 150,000 babies a year in poor countries. The problem is common in newborns, whose livers sometimes need several days after birth to generate the enzymes needed to break down bilirubin, which is released when red blood cells break down. Yellow skin and eyeballs are common symptoms.

In wealthy countries, jaundiced newborns are placed for several days under sunlamps that emit extra blue wavelengths of light and minimal ultraviolet or infrared ones.

But hospitals in poor countries may be unable to afford lamps or may lack a steady electricity supply to run them.

The Stanford team, whose work was published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, treated 433 babies for jaundice at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Half received sunlamp phototherapy, and half slept in outdoor cribs or their mothers’ laps under canopies of plastic film that filtered out ultraviolet and infrared rays.

The sunlight treatment was slightly more effective, and the children did not have more sunburn, dehydration or overheating. The researchers have designed a small greenhouse to be used in windier or colder climates.

Associated Press

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