Editor's note

Do you head straight for a long black the minute you crawl out of bed? Published today, new research from Daniel Hwang and others shows that people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day are more likely to have a key gene that helps them appreciate the bitter flavour of caffeine. Heavy tea drinkers, on the other hand, tend to have different bitterness-appreciation genes – such as one responsible for detecting quinine (a bitter molecule found in tonic water). Perhaps you can blame your beverage addiction on your parents.

And one in 12 Australian babies are born prematurely and spend their first weeks or months in special care. The earlier they come, the greater the chance of problems with their gut, immune system, vision, lungs and other organs. But a new Cochrane Review involving nearly 20,000 women found taking omega-3 supplements can greatly reduce the risk of premature birth. Philippa Middleton and colleagues explain how.

Sarah Keenihan

Section Editor: Science + Technology

Top story

Why does it cost so much to put a tea in a pot of hot water, anyway? from www.shutterstock.com

Why you like coffee, and I choose tea – it’s in the genes

Daniel Liang-Dar Hwang, The University of Queensland

How did you start today – tea or coffee? Or neither? A study of more than 400,000 men and women links specific genes for tasting bitter flavours like caffeine with hot beverage consumption.

The earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk of poor health. Cassidy Rowell

Omega-3 supplements in pregnancy reduce the risk of premature birth

Philippa Middleton, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Jamie De Seymour, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Lucy Simmonds, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Maria Makrides, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute

A new review of 70 studies involving nearly 20,000 women found taking omega-3 supplements in pregnancy reduces the risk of premature labour.

Health + Medicine

  • Why early diagnosis of autism should lead to early intervention

    Hannah Waddington, Victoria University of Wellington; Jessica Tupou, Victoria University of Wellington; Larah van der Meer, Victoria University of Wellington

    Unlike Australia, New Zealand doesn't fund early intervention therapy for autistic children, but there are programmes pre-school teachers and parents can use to help kids develop.

Business + Economy

Politics + Society

Arts + Culture


  • Children in the car era: bad for them and the planet

    Hulya Gilbert, University of South Australia; Andrew Allan, University of South Australia; Carolyn Whitzman, University of Melbourne; Johannes Pieters, University of South Australia

    The private car is the default transport option for many families. This reduces physical activity and increases greenhouse gas emissions, with unhealthy results for their children and the environment.

  • Rainbow pride flag’s still flying, taking on new forms and meanings in our cities

    Thomas Stoddard, University of Technology Sydney; Tom Lee, University of Technology Sydney

    In the year since the resounding Yes vote in the same-sex marriage survey, the flag has clearly escaped the pole or the street bunting of pride festival times to become ever present in our cities.

Environment + Energy


Science + Technology


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