Weekly News Bites: Soothing babies, sex-sorting, and plant-based breast prosthesis

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are the best way to calm a crying baby, technology to sot sex in bovine semen, and a prosthesis for breast cancer patients made from an aquatic plant.

A universal challenge for all parents is calming down a crying baby, whether this be at 3 in the morning or in a crowded restaurant. Mammal babies become calmer and have a slower heart rate when being carried by their mothers which may be a tactic to help them evade predators or to help parents carry on with their daily activities. Curious to how this happens in humans, scientists from RIKEN found that babies calmed down quicker when being carried and walked around by their parents, more so than if the babies were left in a cot or held while sitting still. 

Managing plastic waste has become an urgent issue to tackle in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, this remains a tricky problem to solve in many parts of the world. Researchers from the Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (Cuet) reported that Chattogram, the second largest city in Bangladesh, produces 249 tonnes of plastic waste every day with 56% of it remaining uncollected. Inclusive and holistic policies could help encourage plastic recycling and proper management, as suggested in the linked article. 

A team, including the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai and the National Centre for Biological Science, has developed a sex-sorting technology for bovine semen to produce more female calves to use for dairy farming. Currently, the technology is imported so having a home-grown solution can help keep costs down and make it more accessible. 

Young design engineers from the University of the Philippines—Diliman have created a plant-based external breast prosthesis that can be used by breast cancer patients. The designers used an aquatic plant “bakong” which is easily available and has antimicrobial properties. Designed with circularity in mind, the prosthesis aims to be both affordable and sustainable.