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October 20, 2009, 8:57 AM CT

Blood lead levels and test scores

Blood lead levels and test scores
Exposure to lead in early childhood significantly contributes to lower performances on end-of-grade (EOG) reading tests among minority and low-income children, as per scientists at Duke University and North Carolina Central University.

"We found a clear dose-response pattern between lead exposure and test performance, with the effects becoming more pronounced as you move from children at the high end to the low end of the test-score curve," said lead investigator Marie Lynn Miranda, director of the Children's Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI) at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"Given the higher average lead exposure experienced by African-American children in the United States, our results show that lead does in fact explain part of the observed achievement gap that blacks, children of low socioeconomic status and other disadvantaged groups continue to exhibit in school performance in the U.S. education system, in comparison to middle- and upper-class whites," Miranda said.

The study, published online in the peer-evaluated journal NeuroToxicology, linked data on blood-lead levels from the North Carolina Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program surveillance registry to EOG reading test scores for 4th graders in all 100 of the state's counties.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 20, 2009, 8:35 AM CT

Chronic illnesses go undiagnosed in uninsured

Chronic illnesses go undiagnosed in uninsured
A newly released study shows uninsured American adults with chronic illnesses like diabetes or high cholesterol often go undiagnosed and undertreated, leading to an increased risk of costly, disabling and even lethal complications of their disease.

The study, published online today [Tuesday] in Health Affairs, analyzed data from a recent national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers, based at Harvard Medical School and the affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, analyzed data on 15,976 U.S. non-older adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a CDC program, between 1999 and 2006.

Respondents answered detailed questions about their health and economic circumstances. Then doctors examined them and ordered laboratory tests.

The study observed that about half of all uninsured people with diabetes (46 percent) or high cholesterol (52 percent) did not know they had these diseases. In contrast, about one-quarter of those with insurance were unaware of their illnesses (23 percent for diabetes, 29.9 percent for high cholesterol).

Undertreatment of disease followed similar patterns, with the uninsured being more likely to be undertreated than their insured counterparts: 58.3 percent vs. 51.4 percent had their hypertension poorly controlled, and 77.5 percent vs. 60.4 percent had their high cholesterol inadequately treated.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 20, 2009, 8:28 AM CT

Do you enjoy drinking vegetable juice?

Do you enjoy drinking vegetable juice?
Decades of studies have documented the link between eating a diet rich in vegetables and multiple health benefits, yet nearly eight out of 10 people worldwide fall short of the daily recommendation. Research presented at the International Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables suggests the best approach appears to be to focus on the factors that are often behind this vegetable gap: convenience and enjoyment.

Two studies presented at the symposium observed that the addition of vegetable juice in people's diets was a successful strategy to help them reach the vegetable guidelines (at least 4 servings per day). In fact, the addition of a portable drink, such as V8 100% vegetable juice, was more successful than an approach that focused solely on nutrition education, or offering dietary counseling on ways to increase vegetable intake.

Scientists at the University of California-Davis conducted a 12-week study among adults ages 40-65 years. All of the people in the study who drank at least two cups of vegetable juice met daily vegetable recommendations, yet only seven percent of the non-juice drinkers met the goal. The participants in the study with borderline hypertension who drank one to two servings of V8 juice lowered their blood pressure significantly.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 14, 2009, 7:16 AM CT

Transcendental meditation reduces stress

Transcendental meditation reduces stress
Women with breast cancer reduced stress and improved their mental health and emotional well being through the Transcendental Meditation technique, as per a newly released study reported in the current issue of the peer-evaluated Integrative Cancer Therapies (Vol. 8, No. 3: September 2009).

"A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Transcendental Meditation on Quality of Life in Older Breast Cancer Patients" was a collaboration between the Center for Healthy Aging at Saint Joseph Hospital; the Institute for Health Services, Research and Policy Studies at Northwestern University; the Department of Psychology at Indiana State University; and the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management.

"It is wonderful that physicians now have a range of interventions to use, including Transcendental Meditation, to benefit their patients with cancer," said Rhoda Pomerantz, M.D., co-author of study and chief of gerontology, Saint Joseph Hospital. "I believe this approach should be appreciated and utilized more widely".

One hundred thirty women with breast cancer, 55 years and older, participated in the two-year study at Saint Joseph Hospital. The women were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique or to a usual care control group. Patients were administered quality of life measures, including the Functional Evaluation of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B), every six months for two years. The average intervention period was 18 months.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 14, 2009, 7:05 AM CT

Information in hospital prescription records

Information in hospital prescription records
A recent study led by Dr. Khaled El Emam, the Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information at the CHEO Research Institute, observed that the information in hospital prescription records can quite easily re-identify patients.

Information on drug prescriptions are a highly sought after commodity. Pharmaceutical companies like to access this data to fine tune their marketing and sales efforts. A number of retail pharmacies in Canada sell their prescription records to commercial data aggregators who perform analyses for pharmaceutical companies; the potential privacy risk with such a practice is if the patients can be re-identified from this data. There is now more demand for this data from hospital pharmacies as well.

Dr. El Emam's study, titled "Evaluating the Risk of Re-identification of Patients from Hospital Prescription Records", demonstrates the importance of ensuring the proper de-identification of patient records. The study demonstrates a methodology for deciding which data to keep and which to de-identify, since hospital prescription data contains details such as where patients live and when they were admitted to the hospital.

"A meaningful risk analysis requires an understanding of the nature of plausible re-identification scenarios" explained Dr. El Emam "and is typically performed with a hospital's privacy officer to ensure that the risk to patient re-identification remains as low as possible."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 13, 2009, 8:22 AM CT

Teen smoking-cessation trial

Teen smoking-cessation trial
For the first time, scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have demonstrated that it is possible to successfully recruit and retain a large number of adolescent smokers from the general population into a smoking intervention study and, through personalized, proactive telephone counseling, significantly impact rates of six-month continuous quitting. These findings, by Arthur V. Peterson Jr., Ph.D., Kathleen A. Kealey and his colleagues, are reported in a pair of papers in the Oct. 12 "Advance Access" online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

"When this study started, despite decades of research and dozens of intervention trials, there was no proven way to reach teens from the general population and recruit them into smoking cessation programs, and there was no proven way to help these teens quit," said Peterson, a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division and main author of the paper that reported the results of the Hutchinson Study of High School Smoking, the largest randomized trial of teen smoking cessation ever conducted.

The trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, involved 2,151 teenage smokers from 50 high schools in Washington. Half of the schools were randomly assigned to the experimental intervention; teens in these schools were invited to take part in confidential, personalized telephone counseling designed to help motivate them to quit. The remaining 25 schools served as a comparison group; teen smokers from these schools did not participate in the telephone intervention. The study also included 745 nonsmokers to ensure that contacting students for participation in the trial would not reveal a participant's smoking status.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 13, 2009, 8:12 AM CT

Visual impairment and risk of death

Visual impairment and risk of death
Visual problems that cannot be corrected are linked to increased risk of death among individuals between the ages of 49 and 74, and all visual impairments appears to be linked to the risk of death in elderly adults, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Visual impairment has been linked to a higher risk of death as well as factors that may lead to increased death such as unintentional injury, depression, lower body mass index (BMI), reduced walking speeds, increased risk of falls, self-reported difficulty in physical activity, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer, as per background information in the article. "Correction for these 'confounders' has been found to attenuate the association between visual impairment and mortality, but the mechanisms behind the association between visual impairment and mortality remain to be determined".

Michael J. Karpa, M.B.B.S., B.Sc., of Westmead Millennium Institute, Sydney, Australia, and his colleagues used data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, which examined visual impairment in 3,654 participants age 49 and older between 1992 and 1994 and after five and ten years, to evaluate the relationship between visual impairment and death risk among older individuals.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 13, 2009, 7:46 AM CT

Wide gap in quality between hospitals

Wide gap in quality between hospitals
The largest annual study of patient outcomes at each of the nation's 5,000 nonfederal hospitals found a wide gap in quality between the nation's best hospitals and all others. As per the study, issued today by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, patients at highly rated hospitals have a 52 percent lower chance of dying compared with the U.S. hospital average, a quality chasm that haccording tosisted for the last decade even as mortality rates, in general, have declined.

The study also observed that hospitals that have received the Stroke Certification from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) had an eight percent lower risk-adjusted mortality rate than hospitals that have not received this certification.

The twelfth annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study examined nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from the years 2006, 2007 and 2008. The study looks at trends in mortality and complication rates and also provides the foundation for HealthGrades' quality ratings of procedures and diagnoses at each individual hospital.

The new 2010 ratings for individual hospitals are available today at www.healthgrades.com, HealthGrades' public Web site designed to help patients compare the quality of care at their local hospitals for 28 different procedures and therapys, from hip replacement to bypass surgery.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 12, 2009, 7:17 AM CT

Clues to human disease from blood counts

Clues to human disease from blood counts
A new genome-wide association study published recently in Nature Genetics begins to uncover the basis of genetic variations in eight blood measurements and the impact those variants can have on common human diseases. Blood measurements, including the number and volume of cells in the blood, are routinely used to diagnose a wide range of disorders, including anaemia, infection and blood cell cancers.

An international team of researchers measured haemoglobin concentration, the count and volume of red and white cells and the sticky cells that prevent bleeding - platelets, in over 14,000 individuals from the UK and Gera number of. They uncovered 22 regions of the human genome implicated in the development of these blood cells. Of the 22 regions, 15 had not previously been identified.

The study represents the first genome-wide association of blood measurements to be completed in cohorts with large sample sizes.

"This study has been made possible by a great collaboration of researchers from the UK and Gera number of, and the contribution of clinical colleagues working in the field of heart disease, diabetes and coeliac disease in the UK, Gera number of and the United States," explains Dr Nicole Soranzo, group leader at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and co-lead of the HaemGen consortium. "This unique collaboration has allowed us to discover novel genetic determinants of blood cell parameters, providing important insights into novel biological mechanisms underlying the formation of blood cells by the blood stem cells and their role in disease.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 12, 2009, 7:10 AM CT

Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain

Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain
Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D. is a researcher at University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Credit: UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders

Children with functional abdominal pain who used audio recordings of guided imagery at home in addition to standard medical therapy were almost three times as likely to improve their pain problem, in comparison to children who received standard therapy alone.

And those benefits were maintained six months after therapy ended, a newly released study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center scientists has found.

The study is reported in the November 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics The main author is Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders.

"What is particularly exciting about our study is that children can clearly reduce their abdominal pain a lot on their own with guidance from audio recordings, and they get much better results that way than from medical care alone," said van Tilburg. "Such self-administered therapy is, of course, very inexpensive and can be used in addition to other therapys, which potentially opens the door for easily enhancing therapy outcomes for a lot of children suffering from frequent stomach aches".

The study focused on functional abdominal pain, defined according tosistent pain with no identifiable underlying disease that interferes with activities. It is very common, affecting up to 20 percent of children. Previous studies have observed that behavioral treatment and guided imagery (a therapy method similar to self-hypnosis) are effective, when combined with regular medical care, to reduce pain and improve quality of life. But for a number of children behavioral treatment is not available because it is costly, takes a lot of time and requires a highly trained therapist.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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