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Health Chemistry Roundup

March 9, 2012

New research suggests that caffeine drinking by breastfeeding mothers may cause irritability in their babies.



Rosemary and the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Volunteers who sniffed the common herb rosemary did better on tests of mental speed and accuracy than those who didn’t. This according to researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. In addition, those who had the highest levels of an aromatic rosemary chemical called 1,8-cineole did the best. and also had improvements in their mood. The researchers are now trying to determine whether it’s the 1,8 cineole that’s causing the effect, or if it’s triggered by other, harder to detect compounds that accompany it.

In other news, in the Journal of Caffeine Research, scientists review evidence that caffeine consumption by women who are breastfeeding can cause distress in their babies. They report that infants can’t break down  caffeine very well, so it can accumulate in their systems, possibly causing wakefulness and irritibility. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.