Family News & Events

Family News & Events
Plague may have caused die-offs of ancient Siberians

Ancient people brought the plague to Siberia about 4,400 years ago, which may have led to a collapse in the region’s population, new genetic analysis suggests.

Evolutionary geneticists Gülşah Merve Kilinç and Anders Götherström, both of Stockholm University, led a team which extracted DNA from the remains of 40 human skeletons excavated in parts of Eastern Siberia. Among the collected samples was found DNA from Yersinia pestis, a bacterium that causes plague, in two of the Siberians, the researches reported in the January 6 edition of Science Advances. One person lived around 4,400 years ago, while the other dated to roughly 3,800 years ago.

It’s unclear how the plague bacterium first reached Siberia or whether it caused widespread infections and death, Mr Götherström says. But he and his colleagues found that genetic diversity in their ancient samples of human DNA declined sharply from around 4,700 to 4,400 years ago, possibly the result of population collapse.


Publication of Northern Ireland’s Children’s Social Care 2019/20

The NI Department of Health published the ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2019/20’ January 7.

The figures revealed that as of 31 March 2020, 22,414 children in Northern Ireland were known to Social Services as a child in need, and some 33,885 children were referred to Social Services during 2019/20, the largest proportion of these children being referred by the Police (33%).

The report also noted that as of 31 March 2020  2,298 children were listed on the Child Protection Register, with neglect and physical abuse the main reasons for a child being on the Register and accounting for over three quarters of all on the register (78%).

Finally, as of 31 March 2020, 3,383 children and young people were in care in Northern Ireland. This was the highest number recorded since the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.


Lifting weights may help relieve anxiety

A new study published in scientific reports suggests that lifting weights, along with other resistance training, may help to relieve anxiety. The study, which involved healthy young adults and a variety of exercises indicates that regular weight training substantially reduces anxiety.

Evidence already existed to support the notion that exercise helps alleviate depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, while promoting feelings of happiness and contentment, but most of it focuses on cardiovascular exercise such as running and cycling.

The new study also did not delve into how weight training can affect anxiety directly, but co-author of the study Brett Gordon and his colleagues suspect increased physical and psychological potency figure in. The lifters became stronger over time and able to lift heavier weights, which may result in “feelings of mastery”.

The findings are to be taken with a grain of salt though, as the study was conducted on those with good mental health, as well as being limited to a youthful group.