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A summary of important health news from the past week.

3 Feet Between Students Is Enough for Schools to Reopen

By: Amy Jamieson

Guidance around how much distance is needed between students in school settings has shifted. A new study led by physician researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that physical distancing policies with fewer feet between students may be adopted in school settings without negatively affecting the safety of students or staff, as long as masking mandates are in place. The researchers analyzed publicly available data from 251 eligible school districts during a 16-week period from the time schools opened in September through January. They looked at the cases of COVID-19 among in-person students and school staffers and compared case rates in districts with 3 feet of distancing with districts that had 6 feet of distancing.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their recommendations to suggest it is safe for schools to space seats or desks at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where students and staff are wearing masks. This new data is positive news for schools that struggle to reopen due to limited space for students.

Masking, handwashing, using plastic barriers in certain areas, and having one-way hallways are some other guidelines the CDC recommends in school settings.

First baby in U.S. born with antibodies against COVID-19 after mom receives dose of Moderna vaccine while pregnant

By: Sophie Lewis

A frontline healthcare worker from Florida received her first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and gave birth 3 weeks later to a healthy baby born with COVID-19 antibodies. The doctors found the antibodies after analyzing blood from the baby’s umbilical cord. Medical experts believe the newborn to be the first known case of a baby born with COVID-19 antibodies in the U.S. A study in Israel found antibodies in the newborns of all 20 women tested who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. These findings could help more pregnant women consider vaccination because the antibodies could offer their newborns some protection against the virus. Currently, there is no approval for COVID vaccinations in children. However, this safe transmission of antibodies from mother to newborns seems promising.

Cancer has a smell. Someday your phone may detect it.

By: Noam Hassenfeld

Dogs are capable of smelling conditions that cause changes in human body odor, such as cancer, Parkinson’s, and malaria. Scientists can train dogs to detect these conditions, but this kind of training would be difficult and time-consuming. Instead, scientists are working to engineer a robotic nose capable to detecting disease like a dog’s nose can. In the latest episode of Unexplainable, Vox’s weekly podcast, you can listen to how scientists are researching dogs to understand how they can unlock the mystery of smell and built a cancer detecting robotic nose.  

Even modest consumption of added sugar may affect the liver

By: Beth JoJack

Recent findings suggest that even modest amounts of added sugar may affect an individual’s metabolism, according to researchers in Austria and Switzerland. Added sugar includes that of processed foods, which numerous research has suggested is dangerous to the body. Conducted from 2013-2016, the research revealed that those who drank 80g of sugary beverages containing the chemical fructose had double the amount of fat production than those who did not. Even 12 hours after their last consumption of sugar, individuals who drank sugary beverages still had more fat production than the control group.