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November 30, 2009, 8:00 AM CT

Intervention for children with autism

Intervention for children with autism
A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism some as young as 18 months is effective for improving IQ, language ability, and social interaction, a comprehensive newly released study has observed.

"This is the first controlled study of an intensive early intervention that is appropriate for children with autism who are less than 2 years of age. Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all 18- and 24-month-old children be screened for autism, it is crucial that we can offer parents effective therapies for children in this age range," said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer of Autism Speaks and the study's main author. "By starting as soon as the toddler is diagnosed, we hope to maximize the positive impact of the intervention." .

The study, published online today in the journal Pediatrics, examined an intervention called the Early Start Denver Model, which combines applied behavioral analysis (ABA) teaching methods with developmental 'relationship-based' approaches. This approach was novel because it blended the rigor of ABA with play-based routines that focused on building a relationship with the child. While the youngest children in the study were 18 months old, the intervention is designed to be appropriate for children with autism as young as 12 months of age. Eventhough prior studies have observed that early intervention can be helpful for preschool-aged children, interventions for children who are toddlers are just now being tested. Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by repetitive behaviors and impairment in verbal communication and social interaction. It is reported to affect one in 100 children in the United States.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 30, 2009, 7:56 AM CT

Asthmatic care of minority children

Asthmatic care of minority children
Dr. Glenn Flores, UT Southwestern Medical Center.
UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have observed that informed adults can help families stave off complications linked to asthma. The findings, available online and in the recent issue of Pediatrics, suggest that interventions by parent mentors caregivers of asthmatic children who have received specialized topical training can effectively reduce wheezing, asthma attacks, emergency room visits and missed adult workdays.

"Childhood asthma disproportionately affects urban minority children," said Dr. Glenn Flores, professor of pediatrics and the study's main author. "Asthma mortality among African-American children alone is almost five times higher than for white children. The goal for this study was to determine whether parent mentors would be more effective than traditional asthma care in improving asthma outcomes for minority children".

Mentors in the study were parents or caregivers who got professional training from a nurse asthma specialist and a program coordinator on a variety of asthma-correlation topics. Training sessions and a manual were used to present examples of improving asthmatic care and focused on the importance of consistent therapy. The manual also discussed keeping asthmatic children out of hospitals, asthma medications and triggers, and cultural issues that can affect care.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 29, 2009, 11:11 PM CT

Workings of anti-cancer drug

Workings of anti-cancer drug
The copper sequestering drug tetrathiomolybdate (TM) has been shown in studies to be effective in the therapy of Wilson disease, a disease caused by an overload of copper, and certain metastatic cancers. That much is known. Very little, however, is known about how the drug works at the molecular level.

A newly released study led by Northwestern University scientists now has provided an invaluable clue: the three-dimensional structure of TM bound to copper-loaded metallochaperones. The drug sequesters the chaperone and its bound copper, preventing both from carrying out their normal functions in the cell. For patients with Wilson disease and certain cancers whose initial growth is helped by copper-dependent angiogenesis, this is very promising.

This knowledge opens the door to the development of new classes of pharmaceutical agents based on metal trafficking pathways, as well as the further development of more efficient TM-based drugs. The study will be published in Science Express Nov. 26.

"Essential metals are at the center of a number of emerging problems in health, medicine and the environment, and this work opens the door to new biological experiments," said Thomas V. O'Halloran, the study's senior author and the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. He and geneticist Valeria Culotta of Johns Hopkins University discovered the first copper chaperone function in 1997.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 29, 2009, 11:09 PM CT

New brain connections during motor learning

New brain connections during motor learning
New connections begin to form between brain cells almost immediately as animals learn a new task, as per a research studypublished this week in Nature Led by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study involved detailed observations of the rewiring processes that take place in the brain during motor learning.

The scientists studied mice as they were trained to reach through a slot to get a seed. They observed rapid growth of structures that form connections (called synapses) between nerve cells in the motor cortex, the brain layer that controls muscle movements.

"We found very quick and robust synapse formation almost immediately, within one hour of the start of training," said Yi Zuo, assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UCSC.

Zuo's team observed the formation of structures called "dendritic spines" that grow on pyramidal neurons in the motor cortex. The dendritic spines form synapses with other nerve cells. At those synapses, the pyramidal neurons receive input from other brain regions involved in motor memories and muscle movements. The scientists observed that growth of new dendritic spines was followed by selective elimination of pre-existing spines, so that the overall density of spines returned to the original level.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 29, 2009, 11:07 PM CT

Men and women may respond differently to danger

Men and women may respond differently to danger
Scientists using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activation have observed that men and women respond differently to positive and negative stimuli, as per a research studypresented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Men may direct more attention to sensory aspects of emotional stimuli and tend to process them in terms of implications for mandatory action, whereas women direct more attention to the feelings engendered by emotional stimuli," said Andrzej Urbanik, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Radiology at Jagiellonian University Hospital in Krakow, Poland.

For the study, Dr. Urbanik and his colleagues recruited 40 right-handed volunteers, 21 men and 19 women, between the ages of 18 and 36. The volunteers underwent fMRI while viewing pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), a widely used, standardized testing system comprised of several thousand slides of various objects and images from ordinary life designed to evoke defined emotional states. The images were displayed in two runs. For the first run, only negative pictures were shown. For the second run, only positive pictures were shown.

While viewing the negative images, women showed decidedly stronger and more extensive activation in the left thalamus, which relays sensory information to and from the cerebral cortex, including the pain and pleasure centers. Men exhibited more activation in the left insula, which gauges the physiological state of the entire body and then generates subjective feelings that can bring about actions. Information from the insula is relayed to other brain structures involved in decision making.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 25, 2009, 8:15 AM CT

What do Female Breadwinners Bring Home?

What do Female Breadwinners Bring Home?
In nearly a third of U.S. households, women are the sole or main breadwinners for their families, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is increasing as a number of families experience layoffs of highly paid husbands during the economic recession. University of Missouri researcher Rebecca Meisenbach has observed that women who take the role of lead breadwinner for their families experience both benefits and tensions.

"The female breadwinner is becoming increasingly more common and important in contemporary society," said Meisenbach, who is assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science. "They challenge and impact traditional middle and upper class views of familial relations, individual identities and organizational policies".

In the qualitative study, Meisenbach interviewed 15 female breadwinners in professional occupations in the United States and had them describe their own experiences as breadwinners. Meisenbach observed that the female breadwinners described six essential experiences: opportunities for control, independence, pressure and worry, valuing partner's contributions, guilt and resentment, and ambition.

Societal standards still exist among white collar families in the United States, such as men are expected to be the breadwinners of married families, and women are expected to take care of the children, even if they are working. These societal expectations and gender norms can leave the female breadwinner with feelings of worry, pressure, guilt and resentment, Meisenbach said. For example, female breadwinners experience moments of guilt about care giving, pressure to perform at work and for their families, and occasional resentment at the demands of their multiple and atypical roles.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 25, 2009, 8:02 AM CT

Antioxidants in US chocolates

Antioxidants in US chocolates
A recent study confirms that the antioxidants and other plant-based nutrients in chocolate and cocoa products are highly linked to the amount of non-fat cocoa-derived ingredients in the product. The study expands on previously published results.

The study, reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, was conducted by a scientific team from The Hershey Company, Brunswick Laboratories, and Cornell University, compared the detailed cocoa antioxidant contents of commercially available chocolate and cocoa-containing products sold in the United States.

The flavanol compounds, with the exception of catechin, correlated very well with total polyphenols, the non-fat cocoa solids, and to a slightly lesser degree with the calculated % cacao in the products. "These studies reconfirm that the amount of flavanols, whether large or small, in products like dark chocolate, milk chocolate and cocoa powder are closely tied to the level of brown cocoa particles in the products." said David Stuart Ph.D., Director of Natural Products at Hershey's, who led the research team.

In the study, the top-selling three or four brands of natural cocoa powder, unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, and chocolate syrup were purchased across the United States. Each product was tested for antioxidant activity, total polyphenols, and individual flavanol monomers and oligomers. These results were in comparison to the amount of nonfat cocoa solids and total polyphenols in each product, as well as to the calculated percent cacao.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 25, 2009, 7:59 AM CT

Scarless Thyroid Surgery

Scarless Thyroid Surgery
Tulane University School of Medicine surgeon Dr. Emad Kandil is one of the first in the country to perform a new form of endoscopic surgery that uses a small incision under the arm to remove all or a portion of the thyroid or parathyroid glands without leaving a scar on the neck.

The technique, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this summer, uses the latest Da Vinci® three-dimensional, high-definition robotic equipment to make a two-inch incision below the armpit that allows doctors to maneuver a small camera and specially designed instruments between muscles to access the thyroid. The diseased tissue is removed endoscopically through the armpit incision.

"This is an exciting new therapy option for certain patients who need thyroid surgery but are concerned about having a visible and permanent neck scar," says Kandil, who is chief of the Endocrine Surgery Section, assistant professor of surgery and adjunct assistant professor of otolaryngology at Tulane. "This technique safely removes the thyroid without leaving so much as a scratch on the neck".

Traditional thyroidectomies can involve a long incision at the base of the neck.

Kandil is performing the "scarless" thyroidectomy surgery at Tulane Medical Center and is one of only a few surgeons in the United States trained in the technique. In fact, he chairs an annual symposium at Tulane to teach surgeons how to perform minimally invasive thyroid surgery and will be teaching the technique to doctors from across the country.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 25, 2009, 7:57 AM CT

Do not smoke near your loved ones going for heart transplant

Do not smoke near your loved ones going for heart transplant
A study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore provides the first direct evidence that cigarette smoke exposure previous to a heart transplant in either the donor, recipient, or both, accelerates the death of a transplanted heart. The study, published this month in the journal Circulation, showed that tobacco smoke leads to accelerated immune system rejection of the transplanted heart, heightened vascular inflammation and increased oxidative stress, and a reduction in the transplanted organ's chance of survival by 33-57 percent.

The study, conducted in rats, involved exposure to levels of tobacco equivalent to that of a habitual, light-to-moderate-range smoker and included comparisons between smoking and non-smoking donors and recipients.

"Our research shows that if a heart donor has been a habitual smoker, and you put that heart in a non-smoking recipient, that heart won't work; it will be rejected," says the study's senior author, Mandeep R. Mehra, M.B.B.S., professor of medicine, head of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "This study shows beyond a shadow of a doubt how smoking affects transplantation".

This is the first study to look at the impact of smoking in heart donors, as per the principal investigator, Ashwani K. Khanna, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "There are already a number of risk factors that physicians and surgeons must consider when they try to match a donor with a recipient. This study makes clear that smoking in both the donor and the recipient should also become a part of the risk calculus in organ donation," says Dr. Khanna.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 25, 2009, 7:54 AM CT

Remove that salt shaker from the dining table

Remove that salt shaker from the dining table
Eating high amounts of salt is associated with a significantly higher risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease, states a paper published recently in the British Medical Journal

The research was carried out jointly by the World Health Organization's Collaborating Centre for Nutrition, based at the University of Warwick and University Hospital in Coventry, UK, and the European Society of High blood pressure Excellence Centre in High blood pressure based at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy.

The study looked at the relationship between the level of habitual dietary salt intake and the occurrence of stroke and cardiovascular disease by reviewing 13 prospective studies from the UK, Japan, USA, The Netherlands, Finland and China, including more than 170,000 participants, followed up for 3.5 to 19 years, who experienced nearly 11,000 vascular events.

The study provides unequivocal evidence of the direct link between high dietary salt intake and increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. A 5 g lower daily salt intake would reduce stroke by 23% and total cardiovascular disease by 17%, thus averting 1.25 million fatal and non-fatal strokes, and almost 3 million vascular events worldwide each year. The effect is greater, the larger the difference in salt intake and increases with time.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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