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IVF children fare better at school than naturally conceived kids: Study

Children conceived through medically assisted reproduction treatments, such as IVF, artificial insemination, or ovulation induction, appear to perform better at school than those born through natural conception, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by University College London in partnership with Finland’s University of Helsinki, also found that while IVF children fared better at school, they were more prone to anxiety and depression in their teenage years.

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Published in the European Journal of Population, the research involved analyzing the records of over 280,000 children born over a five-year period and tracking them as they grew up. The scientists also studied the educational outcomes and mental health of those born through medically assisted reproduction (MAR).

The team also found that teenagers conceived by MAR were less likely to drop out of school and were at a lower risk of being unemployed or leaving home early compared to naturally conceived children.

“What we’re seeing here is mostly reassuring; children conceived through medically assisted reproduction do better overall and are in fact not more disadvantaged in terms of mental health outcomes,” study co-author Dr. Alice Goisis at UCL’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies said in a university release.

The observational study is thought to be the first to examine the correlations between conception methods, mental health, and wellbeing later in life.

“The fact that we observe an increased risk of mental health disorders once we account for family characteristics could be a cause for concern and merits further attention in future research,” she added.

The researchers said in a statement that the correlation for mental health was only observed when social demographics were taken into consideration, and that there was no evidence to suggest the MAR treatment itself was the source of association for mental health.

“We explicitly put a lot of focus on the social demographics of families who conceived through medically assisted reproduction – and our findings underscore the importance of integrating this perspective in studies of medically assisted reproduction and its consequences,” the statement said.

The research involved examining administrative records on over 280,000 Finnish children born between 1995 and 2000. They compared the educational and mental health outcomes among teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 who were conceived naturally (266,925) and MAR (13,757).

The authors noted that MAR children are more likely to come from better off families who may provide children with resources (financial, time and emotional) that benefit their educational outcomes. However, they could also suggest that difficulties conceiving may expose parents to mental health issues, which could have impacted their children by putting them at greater risk of psychological distress.

“Whilst we don’t have the data to explain why those born by medically assisted reproduction are at slightly higher risk of mental health disorders, we believe that this may be due to different mechanisms,” lead author Dr. Hanna Remes from the University of Helsinki said.

“The fact that MAR-conceived children tend to be the first-born – around 60 per cent of the children in the study – explained some of the excess risks. It is also possible that because of the process they went through, parents of children conceived by IVF, for example, may have been exposed mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, which may, in turn, have put the children themselves at higher risk of having mental health problems.”

Since the oldest child conceived by IVF treatment is now 43 years old, the researchers noted that this area of study is still relatively new.

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First reconstruction of 2,000 year-old Nabataean woman unveiled at Saudi’s AlUla


Saudi Arabia revealed a 3D reconstruction of the face of a Nabatean woman who lived some 2,000 years ago in Hegra in AlUla, the country’s first UNESCO world heritage site.

Archaeologists say the woman is named ‘Hinat’, and is believed to be a woman of wealth whose remains were found in a well-preserved tomb in Hegra, along with the remains of nearly 80 other people. They added that her skull and skeleton were more complete than the rest of the remains, which pushed them to use it to start the facial reconstruction project.
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The reconstruction model will be put on display at the Hegra Welcome Centre in AlUla on Monday (February 6) under the supervision of The Royal Commission for AlUla.
The Nabateaens, an Arab civilization that arose centuries before Jesus, settled in Hegra in the first century BCE, after expanding south from Petra into what is now north-west Saudi Arabia, having amassed wealth as traders in frankincense, spices, and other luxury goods, a press release said.
“They’re still a fairly mysterious civilization to a lot of people and I hope that this project will enable people to engage with the faces, the characters, the story of the Nabataeans in a much deeper way than perhaps has previously been realised,” the facial reconstruction project lead at the commission, Helen McGauran said.
The team of archaeologists and other specialists gathered in London in 2019 to put together a character imagination for ‘Hinat’ and completed the 3D reconstruction in July 2020.

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Harry Styles wins Grammy for Album of the Year, beating Beyonce, Adele 


Harry Styles on Sunday won the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year, a surprising victory over heavy favorites Beyonce and Adele.

The pop sensation scored the award, usually seen as the night’s most prestigious, for his third album “Harry’s House,” his most intimate yet, which combined twangy synths and soft acoustics with very personal lyrics.

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“This doesn’t happen to people like me very often, and this is so nice,” he said onstage.

The album’s release marked an evolution for the one-time boy band heartthrob to the teenage masses, who has steadily grown into a heartthrob for all.

“Harry’s House” conjures the sonic equivalent of a warmly lit California afternoon by the pool, and showcases Styles’ developing songwriting skills.

But it was not necessarily tipped for Grammy gold, as it faced off against blockbuster releases from pop’s titans.

Prior to Sunday, Styles had just one Grammy to his name, and was perhaps better known for his flamboyant style and campy stage presence than his musical chops.

Earlier in the night, he also scooped the award for Best Pop Vocal Album.

His Album of the Year triumph was sure to draw comparisons to the 2017 Grammys, when Beyonce lost out to Adele in the top category despite releasing the earth-shaking “Lemonade.”

This year, her album “Renaissance” was considered a near shoo-in for the night’s top award, especially after she became the winningest artist of all time, with 32 lifetime Grammys.

But it was Styles who ended up with the golden statuette.

“On nights like tonight, it’s obviously so important for us to remember that there is no such thing as bests in music,” he told his peers.

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Highest grossing movie: Avatar 2 toppled by Knock at the Cabin after seven weeks


Knock at the Cabin, an apocalyptic horror film from director M. Night Shyamalan, was the highest-grossing movie in US and Canadian theaters this weekend, knocking out Walt Disney Co.’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which held that spot for seven weeks in a row.

The Universal Pictures film generated $14.2 million in ticket sales domestically in its first weekend, researcher Comscore Inc. estimated Sunday. That’s below Boxoffice Pro’s forecast of $18 million to $27 million.

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80 for Brady, a comedy from Paramount Pictures about four octogenarian women attending the Super Bowl to watch their hero play, came in second place with an estimated $12.5 million in its domestic debut.

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Knock at the Cabin’s debut follows a string of successful original horror films last year. Although theater ticket sales are still about a third below pre-pandemic levels, the horror genre has proved more dependable than others for studios, with the likes of Universal’s Black Phone, Paramount’s Smile and Barbarian by Disney’s 20th Century Studios all selling tickets worth about 10 times their budgets.

The film, starring Dave Bautista, is based on the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay. Knock at the Cabin follows a family, vacationing at a remote house in the woods, that’s taken hostage by four armed strangers demanding they make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse.

80 for Brady, a rare film with an ensemble of older women, was the subject of an unusual promotion. AMC theaters offered seats at lower prices than other films running at the same time.

The Way of Water, directed by James Cameron and released in December, is the highest-grossing film to come out since the start of the pandemic and the fourth-highest of all time with $2.17 billion in global ticket sales. Until this weekend, it hadn’t faced much competition from new films. Disney has kept it exclusively in theaters, drawing out fans who want to see it in large screen and 3D formats.

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