–According to a seven-year-long survey, researchers found that 13 percent of the 994 pregnant women surveyed were active smokers, compared to 30 percent for the 3,203 nonpregnant women. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of the pregnant smokers denied the habit. The authors of the study could prove whether the women were smokers based on the blood levels of cotinine, a biological indicator of tobacco exposure.

–Researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center show that even a single exposure to acute stress can affect the way information is processed in the cerebellum, the part of the brain associated with motor control, coordination, learning and memory formation. The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that a five-minute exposure in the brains of mice to the odor of a predator changed the electrical currents and increased activity in the cerebellum. The discoveries could lead to further understanding of neurological disorders such as motor dysfunction, drug addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and stroke.

–A study by researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center has led to the discovery of the mechanism that leads to an inflammatory response in obesity. The significance of the study lies in the fact that inflammation compromises insulin sensitivity, which is a major factor leading to type 2 diabetes, plus the risk of cancers, heart disease and dementia. By blocking the activity of the mechanism and reducing inflammation, an improvement in insulin action in obese individuals is likely.

–Asthma rates in the United States seem to be increasing, according to a study by federal health officials. Around 8.2 percent of Americans claim to suffer from the respiratory disease – nearly one in 12 people – which means a total of 25 million people. Though more people are diagnosed with the disease, treatment for asthma is more effective now than in recent years; only 52 percent of patients say they’ve suffered an attack in the past year, as opposed to the rate of 60 percent in recent years.

–Sat., March 26, is the 26th Annual Ochsner Fun Run, featuring a 1-mile fun run/walk and a 5K run/walk, plus an after-party featuring The Top Cats. All proceeds benefit Ochsner Pediatrics, the Nursing Educational Grant Fund and competitive sports teams at Elmwood Fitness Center.