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November 17, 2009, 7:44 AM CT

US gets D on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

US gets D on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card
The US again earned a "D" on the second annual Premature Birth Report Card. No State earned an "A," and only Vermont earned a "B."

Credit: March of Dimes Foundation

For the second consecutive year, the United States earned only a "D" on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, demonstrating that more than half a million of our nation's newborns didn't get the healthy start they deserved.

In the 2009 Premature Birth Report card, seven states improved their performance by one letter grade and two fared worse. Criteria that affect preterm birth improved in a number of states:
  • 33 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;.
  • 21 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percent of uninsured women of childbearing age;.
  • 27 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico lowered the late preterm birth rate.


As in 2008, no state earned an "A," and only Vermont received a "B." The grades were determined by comparing preterm birth rates to the national Healthy People 2010 preterm birth objective, which is 7.6 percent of all live births. The U.S. preliminary preterm birth rate was 12.7 percent in 2007.

"Eventhough we don't yet understand all the factors that contribute to premature birth, we do know some interventions that can help prevent it, and we must consistently make use of all of these," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes. She cited smoking cessation programs; health care before and during pregnancy; progesterone supplementation; and improved adherence to professional guidelines on fertility therapy and early Cesarean-sections and inductions.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 17, 2009, 7:36 AM CT

Those in coed college housing engage in more binge drinking

Those in coed college housing engage in more binge drinking
A newly released study in the Journal of American College Health finds that students placed by their universities in coed housing are 2.5 times more likely to binge drink each week than students placed in all-male or all-female housing.

More than 500 students from five college campuses around the country took part in the study:

- 42 percent of students in coed housing reported binge drinking on a weekly basis.

- 18 percent of students in gender-specific housing reported binge drinking weekly.

While that doesn't put coed housing on par with fraternity and sorority houses, the scientists note that binge drinking isn't exclusively a "Greek problem".

"In a time when college administrators and counselors pay a lot of attention to alcohol-related problems on their campuses, this is a call to more fully examine the influence of housing environment on student behavior," said Jason Carroll, a study coauthor and professor of family life at Brigham Young University. BYU was not one of the participating campuses.

Carroll's former student Brian Willoughby is the main author of the study, which will be published Nov. 17. Willoughby recently earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and returned to BYU as a visiting professor.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 16, 2009, 7:53 AM CT

Vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease

Vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease
While mothers have known that feeding their kids milk builds strong bones, a newly released study by scientists at the Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City suggests that Vitamin D contributes to a strong and healthy heart as well and that inadequate levels of the vitamin may significantly increase a person's risk of stroke, heart disease, and death, even among people who've never had heart disease.

For more than a year, the Intermountain Medical Center research team followed 27,686 patients who were 50 years of age or older with no previous history of cardiovascular disease. The participants had their blood Vitamin D levels tested during routine clinical care. The patients were divided into three groups based on their Vitamin D levels normal (over 30 nanograms per milliliter), low (15-30 ng/ml), or very low (less than 15 ng/ml). The patients were then followed to see if they developed some form of heart disease.

Scientists observed that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were 77 percent more likely to die, 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78 percent were more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal levels. Patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were also twice as likely to develop heart failure than those with normal Vitamin D levels.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 12, 2009, 8:21 AM CT

Concerns about nanoparticles

Concerns about nanoparticles
Sewage treatment plants serve as the main gateway for nanoparticles to enter the environment.

In an advance that could help ease health and environmental concerns about the emerging nanotechnology industry, researchers are reporting development of technology for changing the behavior of nanoparticles in municipal sewage therapy plants their main gateway into the environment. Their study will be published online November 12 in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology

Helen Jarvie from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and his colleagues note that experts predict large increases in the production of nanoparticles particles less than 1/1000th the width of a human hair in the next decade. Manufacturers already use 2 million tons of nanoparticles each year in foods, cosmetics, medicines, and other consumer products. Studies have hinted that some nanoparticles could have adverse environmental health effects. Water discharged from sewage therapy plants is the major gateway for spread of nanoparticles to the aquatic environment. Researchers thus are focusing on how nanoparticles behave in wastewater and how that gateway might be closed off.

The study simulated (primary) sewage therapy to show that coating silica nanoparticles (similar to those used in ointments, toothpaste and household cleaners) with a detergent-like material made the nanoparticles clump together into the solid residue termed sewage sludge. Sludge often is stored in landfills or recycled as agricultural fertilizer. Uncoated nanoparticles, in contrast, stayed in the water and therefore remained in the effluent stream.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 12, 2009, 8:19 AM CT

Drug ads can be harmful to your health

Drug ads can be harmful to your health
While the debate over prescription drug advertising persists, a newly released study released online in the American Journal of Public Health offers guidelines for improving drug ads in order to minimize potential harm and maximize benefits. The study reveals that while there are some benefits from prescription drug direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA), there are significant risks that are magnified by the prominence of DTCA.

"American television viewers see as a number of as 16 hours of prescription drug advertisements each year, and the reality is that these ads are not doing a good job of helping consumers make better decisions about their health," said Dominick L. Frosch, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and main author of the study. "If the pharmaceutical industry isn't willing to change the ads to make them more useful to consumers, Congress should consider passing legislation that will regulate the ads to improve the information provided in order to help patients make more informed choices."

Several members of Congress, including Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., are calling for changes to FDA regulations of DTCA. Advocates for prescription drug ads claim that these ads educate consumers, improve the quality of care and contribute to better patient adherence. Opponents argue that they lead to inappropriate prescribing and portray nonmedical problems as treatable medical illnesses.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 11, 2009, 10:11 PM CT

Use dark chocolate to fight stress

Use dark chocolate to fight stress
The "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research It observed that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone's favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

Sunil Kochhar and his colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions. Studies also suggest that chocolate may ease emotional stress. Until now, however, there was little evidence from research in humans on exactly how chocolate might have those stress-busting effects.

In the study, researchers identified reductions in stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical changes in volunteers who rated themselves as highly stressed and ate dark chocolate for two weeks. "The study provides good evidence that a daily consumption of 40 grams [1.4 ounces] during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of healthy human volunteers," the researchers say.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 11, 2009, 10:00 PM CT

How to curb health care expenses?

How to curb health care expenses?
Slowing the growth in U.S. health care spending will most likely require adoption of an array of strategies as well as an improved approach to moving promising strategies into widespread use, as per a new analysis by the RAND Corporation.

The most-promising option for curbing health care spending is changing the way doctors and hospitals are paid to provide care, but implementing such a system must overcome significant obstacles in order to be successful, as per the study published online by the New England Journal (NEJM)

Scientists say other promising approaches to slow health care spending include adoption of electronic health records, programs to better-manage chronic diseases, strengthening patients' use of primary care and encouraging wider use of lower-cost providers such as nurse practitioners and settings such as retail health clinics.

"Our analysis shows it is possible to reduce spending on health care services, but there are a number of barriers that first must be overcome," said Elizabeth McGlynn, a co-author of study and associate director of RAND Health. "The nation's health care system needs to improve its ability to evaluate and adopt promising cost-saving strategies in the future."

The study would be reported in the Nov. 26 print edition of the New England Journal (NEJM) RAND is a nonprofit research organization.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:23 AM CT

Short meditation could improve pain

Short meditation could improve pain
Living with pain is stressful, but a surprisingly short investment of time in mental training can help you cope.

A newly released study examining the perception of pain and the effects of various mental training techniques has observed that relatively short and simple mindfulness meditation training can have a significant positive effect on pain management.

Though pain research during the past decade has shown that extensive meditation training can have a positive effect in reducing a person's awareness and sensitivity to pain, the effort, time commitment, and financial obligations mandatory has made the therapy not practical for a number of patients. Now, a newly released study by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shows that a single hour of training spread out over a three day period can produce the same kind of analgesic effect.

The research appears in an article by UNC Charlotte psychology experts Fadel Zeidan, Nakia S. Gordon, Junaid Merchant and Paula Goolkasian, in the current issue of The Journal of Pain

"This study is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of such a brief intervention on the perception of pain," noted Fadel Zeidan, a doctoral candidate in psychology at UNC Charlotte and the paper's main author. "Not only did the meditation subjects feel less pain than the control group while meditating but they also experienced less pain sensitivity while not meditating".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 6, 2009, 8:54 AM CT

Air pollution and infants' bronchiolitis

Air pollution and infants' bronchiolitis
Infants who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution are at increased risk for bronchiolitis, as per a newly released study.

The study appears in the November 15 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"There has been very little study of the consequences of early life exposure to air pollution," said Catherine Karr, M.D. PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and the paper's main author. "This study is unique in that we were able to look at multiple sources including wood smoke in a region with relatively low concentrations of ambient air pollution overall".

The scientists analyzed nearly 12,000 diagnoses of infant bronchiolitis between 1999 and 2002 in southwestern British Columbia, with respect to the individual's ambient pollution exposure based on monitored levels of nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter from monitoring stations within 10 km of the infants' homes. They also used land-use regression maps to assess concentrations of ambient pollution with respect to traffic and wood smoke. They analyzed pollution exposure by dividing subjects into four categories, or quartiles, of concentration.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:19 AM CT

Green tea may prevent oral cancer

Green tea may prevent oral cancer
Green tea extract has shown promise as cancer prevention agent for oral cancer in patients with a pre-cancerous condition known as oral leukoplakia, as per scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, published online in Cancer Prevention Research, is the first to examine green tea as a chemopreventative agent in this high-risk patient population. The scientists observed that more than half of the oral leukoplakia patients who took the extract had a clinical response.

Long investigated in laboratory, epidemiological and clinical settings for several cancer types, green tea is rich in polyphenols, which have been known to inhibit carcinogenesis in preclinical models. Still, clinical results have been mixed.

"While still very early, and not definitive proof that green tea is an effective preventive agent, these results certainly encourage more study for patients at highest risk for oral cancer," said Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and the study's senior author. "The extract's lack of toxicity is attractive - in prevention trials, it's very important to remember that these are otherwise healthy individuals and we need to ensure that agents studied produce no harm".........

Posted by: Janet      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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