Baby's first poop predicts risk of allergies

Meconium contains a wealth of information.

  • A new study finds that the contents of an infants' first stool, known as meconium, can predict if they'll develop allergies with a high degree of accuracy.
  • A metabolically diverse meconium, which indicates the initial food source for the gut microbiota, is associated with fewer allergies.
  • The research hints at possible early interventions to prevent or treat allergies just after birth.
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If we do find alien life, what kind will it be?

Three lines of evidence point to the idea of complex, multicellular alien life being a wild goose chase. But are we clever enough to know?

Credit: "Mars Attacks!" / Warner Bros
  • Everyone wants to know if there is alien life in the universe, but Earth may give us clues that if it exists it may not be the civilization-building kind.
  • Most of Earth's history shows life that is single-celled. That doesn't mean it was simple, though. Stunning molecular machines were being evolved by those tiny critters.
  • What's in a planet's atmosphere may also determine what evolution can produce. Is there a habitable zone for complex life that's much smaller than what's allowed for microbes?
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Dogs digest human food better and poop less

A new study finds that dogs fed fresh human-grade food don't need to eat—or do their business—as much.

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  • Most dogs eat a diet that's primarily kibble.
  • When fed a fresh-food diet, however, they don't need to consume as much.
  • Dogs on fresh-food diets have healthier gut biomes.
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Marine biologists discover 4 new types of photoreceptor

How do these little beasties detect light anyway?

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  • The ocean is full of simple single-celled organisms that somehow follow day-night cycles.
  • Researchers have just discovered four new groups of photoreceptors that help the organisms detect light.
  • The photoreceptors may find use in studies of the human brain.
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    4 microbes may lead to new type 2 diabetes probiotics

    A new study suggests that maintaining gut health to avoid diabetes may be little simpler than previously believed.

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    • Four out of trillions of gut microbes have been identified as being especially important for health.
    • The microbes may play a role in obesity that can result in type 2 diabetes.
    • Understanding the microbes' roles may lead to new probiotics for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.
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