Research in wild bats is reinforcing a notion crucial to stopping future pandemics: When wildlife populations stay healthy, the odds of “crossover” viruses infecting humans subsides. In Australia, deforestation has caused a deadly respiratory virus to pass from fruit bats to humans, by forcing the two species into closer contact, a new study reports. Robbed…  read on >  read on >

Exposure to even low levels of alcohol while in the womb can change the structure of the fetus’ brain, according to Austrian researchers. The study results suggest that pregnant women should strictly avoid alcohol, one author said. “Unfortunately, many pregnant women are unaware of the influence of alcohol on the fetus during pregnancy,” said lead…  read on >  read on >

The genetic abnormality that drives Down syndrome causes the same sort of abnormal brain plaques and protein tangles that are found in Alzheimer’s disease patients, a new study reports. Amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles have long been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and they’re also evident in most people with Down syndrome by age 40,…  read on >  read on >

A happy holiday can go sour quickly when food poisoning joins the party. Experts from Rutgers New Jersey Poison Control Center offer some tips on safely thawing, preparing and storing food, as well as avoiding issues with alcohol and drugs. “Forgetting about food safety is a recipe for disaster,” said Diane Calello, executive and medical…  read on >  read on >

With U.S. health officials calling childhood obesity a public health crisis, conversations about weight are important. But what you say to your kids can be challenging, and even counterproductive, a new study found. “Body weight is a sensitive issue and the way we talk about it matters,” said lead author Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of…  read on >  read on >