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June 7, 2010, 6:41 AM CT

Regular bedtimes for children

Regular bedtimes for children
Children in households with bedtime rules and children who get adequate sleep score higher on a range of developmental evaluations, as per a research abstract that will be presented Monday, June 7, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas, at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Results indicate that among sleep habits, having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes at 4 years of age. Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed. Having an earlier bedtime also was predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.

The study also provides a wealth of information about typical sleep patterns in 4-year-old children. As per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, preschool children should get a minimum of 11 hours of sleep each night. Getting less than this recommended amount of sleep, the study's authors found, was linked to lower scores on phonological awareness, literacy and early math skills. The data show that a number of children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which may have negative consequences for their development and school achievement.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 7, 2010, 6:34 AM CT

Alcohol use and smoking may cause headache

Alcohol use and smoking may cause headache
A novel study by German scientists reported that alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking were linked to increased migraines and tension-type headaches (TTH) in high school students. Coffee drinking and physical inactivity were associated specifically with migraines. Results of this study, the first to investigate modifiable risk factors for different types of headaches in a youth population, appear online early in Headache, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Headache Society.

Previous studies have indicated that headache is one of the most frequently reported health complaints in adolescents with 5%-15% of this age group suffering from migraine and 15%-25% with TTH. Modifiable risk factors, such as alcohol use, cigarette smoking and coffee drinking which have been linked to headache in adults, have not been fully explored in a youth population.

Astrid Milde-Busch, Ph.D. and his colleagues at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Gera number of invited 1,260 students in grades 10 and 11 (aged 14-20) from eleven area public schools to participate in the study. The students were asked to fill out a questionnaire on headache and associated lifestyle factors. Students were asked: 'Did you have headache during the last seven days/three months/six months?' and were classified as headache sufferers if the response was positive. Furthermore, migraine and TTH were differentiated by questions regarding headache characteristics and symptoms. The questionnaire also inquired about diet and lifestyle (e.g. 'Do you daily have breakfast before you go to school?'; 'How much beer, wine and cocktails do you normally drink?'; 'How much coffee do you normally drink?'; 'Do you smoke?').........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 7, 2010, 6:32 AM CT

Smoke-free air laws effective

Smoke-free air laws effective
Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have observed that children and adolescents living in non-smoking homes in counties with laws promoting smoke-free public places have significantly lower levels of a common biomarker of secondhand smoke exposure than those living in counties with no smoke-free laws.

The children living in non-smoking homes in U.S. counties with smoke-free laws had 39% lower prevalence of cotinine in their blood, an indicator of tobacco smoke exposure, in comparison to those living in counties with no smoke-free laws. Children living in homes with smokers exhibited little or no benefit from the smoke-free laws.

The study appears in the June 7, 2010 advance online edition of the journal Pediatrics

"The findings suggest that smoke-free laws are an effective strategy to protect both children and adults from exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, interventions designed to reduce or prevent adults from smoking around children are needed," said Melanie Dove, who received her doctorate in environmental health at HSPH in 2010 and led the study.

The HSPH scientists examined data from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a cross-sectional survey designed to monitor the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population. They analyzed the cotinine levels in 11,486 nonsmoking youngsters, aged 3-19 years, from 117 counties, both with and without exposure to secondhand smoke in the home.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 25, 2010, 6:50 AM CT

Fewer unnecessary imaging exams

Fewer unnecessary imaging exams
A new rule preventing medical support staff from completing orders for outpatient imaging exams that were likely to be negative resulted in a marked decrease in low-yield exams for patients, as per a research studyappearing in the recent issue of Radiology

A number of medical institutions request and schedule outpatient diagnostic imaging exams through use of web-based radiology order entry systems. Some systems offer real-time feedback, called decision support, on the appropriateness of the exams being ordered. When entering the desired examination into the system, the doctor or support staff must also enter clinical information justifying the order. Based on that information, the decision-support system provides a yield score ranging from one to nine. The score indicates the likelihood that the selected exam will yield valuable diagnostic or positive results for this set of clinical circumstances.

Following American College of Radiology appropriateness criteria, a score of one to three is considered low yield. The user is then given the opportunity to cancel the order or select a different examination. However, because medical support staff do not make clinical decisions, they are less likely to cancel or revise an order without additional clarification from the physician.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 25, 2010, 6:48 AM CT

A profile of teenage pregnancy in Spain

A profile of teenage pregnancy in Spain
The effective use of contraception once becoming sexually active is the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancy during adolescence. This is just one of the conclusions of a study by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid which additionally reveals that using no contraception or using it well after starting sexual relations increases up to six times the risk for teen pregnancy. In addition, the use of ineffective contraception (methods other than condoms, intrauterine contraceptive device [IUDs], diaphragms, or hormonal methods) quadrupled the risk.

These two conclusions are reflected in the study Teenage motherhood in Spain, led by CSIC researcher Margarita Delgado. Research was based on a survey conducted by the spanish Sociological Research Center on 9,700 women over the age of fifteen and even covered generations of women born before 1931. The study has been funded by the Spanish Contraception Foundation.

The research has enabled the authors to create a profile of teenage mothers in Spain: young women who become mothers early tend to emancipate and to be in romantic relationships earlier than their peers since pregnancy is a trigger for such events. Also, young mothers end their formal education earlier, start their first job later and rarely achieve stable employment.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


May 15, 2010, 7:42 PM CT

Testosterone levels and quality of sleep

Testosterone levels and quality of sleep
At 30 years old, male testosterone levels drop by one to two percent annually. By age 40, men's quality of sleep begins to diminish. Could there be a link between decreased testosterone and reduced sleep? Absolutely as per Zoran Sekerovic, a graduate student from the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, who presented his findings at the annual conference of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS).

Sekerovic discovered a link between testosterone levels in men over 50 and their quality of sleep specifically less deep sleep i.e. Phases III and IV of the slumber cycle. "Deep sleep is when the recuperation of body and mind is optimal," says Sekerovic, adding his is the first study to find this correlation.

In young men, deep sleep represents 10 to 20 percent of total sleep. By age 50, it decreases to five to seven percent. For men over 60, it can disappear altogether. The study didn't find any correlation with other parts of the sleep cycle: falling asleep, Phases I and II, or paradoxical sleep, when most of dreaming occurs.

The University of Montreal researcher explains that men in their 20s don't have such a correlation because their neuronal circuits are intact. "With age, there is neuronal loss and the synchronization of cerebral activity isn't as good, which is why there is a loss of deep sleep. Because deep sleep requires great synchronization," says Sekerovic. "Low levels of testosterone intensify the lack of synchronization and can explain 20 percent of men's inability to experience deep sleep".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 6, 2010, 6:39 AM CT

Dark chocolate may guard against brain injury

Dark chocolate may guard against brain injury
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered that a compound in dark chocolate may protect the brain after a stroke by increasing cellular signals already known to shield nerve cells from damage.

Ninety minutes after feeding mice a single modest dose of epicatechin, a compound found naturally in dark chocolate, the researchers induced an ischemic stroke by essentially cutting off blood supply to the animals' brains. They observed that the animals that had preventively ingested the epicatechin suffered significantly less brain damage than the ones that had not been given the compound.

While most therapys against stroke in humans have to be given within a two- to three-hour time window to be effective, epicatechin appeared to limit further neuronal damage when given to mice 3.5 hours after a stroke. Given six hours after a stroke, however, the compound offered no protection to brain cells.

Sylvain Dor, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says his study suggests that epicatechin stimulates two previously well-established pathways known to shield nerve cells in the brain from damage. When the stroke hits, the brain is ready to protect itself because these pathways Nrf2 and heme oxygenase 1 are activated. In mice that selectively lacked activity in those pathways, the study found, epicatechin had no significant protective effect and their brain cells died after a stroke.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 4, 2010, 6:27 AM CT

Pay-for-performance programs may worsen medical disparities

Pay-for-performance programs may worsen medical disparities
Rewarding primary care physicians for providing better care to patients could end up widening medical disparities experienced by poorer people and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, as per a new RAND Corporation study.

Scientists observed that under a typical pay-for-performance program medical practices that serve vulnerable populations would likely receive lower payments than other practices, a result of existing gaps in the quality of health care received by patients in these groups.

The finding suggests that pay-for-performance programs could divert resources away from medically needy communities, further eroding the quality of medical care rather than driving improved quality.

"Paying for performance may have the unintended effect of diverting medical resources away from the communities that need these resources the most," said Dr. Mark Friedberg, the study's main author and an associate natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "If you don't watch where the money goes, pay-for-performance programs have the potential to make disparities worse".

The study is the first to simulate the impact of pay-for-performance on doctor practices that serve medically vulnerable communities. The findings appear in the May edition of the journal Health Affairs that is devoted to issues in primary care.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 29, 2010, 6:34 AM CT

Could organic labels lead you to overeat?

Could organic labels lead you to overeat?
Could organic labels lead you to overeat? These labels certainly appear to make people think their organic snack has a lot fewer calories than it really does.

These findings were presented at this week's Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, Calif. They showed that people who ate organic cookies labeled as "organic" believed that their snack contained 40% fewer calories than the same cookies that had no label, as per Jenny Wan-Chen Lee, a graduate student with the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

"An organic label gives a food a 'health halo,' said coauthor, Brian Wansink, Cornell professor and author of the book, Marketing Nutrition. It's the same basic reason people tend to overeat any snack food that's labeled as healthy or low fat. They underestimate the calories and over-reward themselves by eating more."

The study even identified two personality types most likely to make these low estimates people who claim to "commonly buy organic foods," and those who typically read labels for nutritional information.

What if you don't want to overeat an organic food?.

"Take your best guess at its calorie count. Then double it. You'll end up being more accurate, and you'll probably eat a lot less," explained Wansink.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 29, 2010, 6:17 AM CT

Use of alternative therapy

Use of alternative therapy
In a University of Michigan Health System study, 1 out of 3 patients with chronic pain reported using complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic visits for pain relief.

Socioeconomic factors primarily race and age played a large role in the use of alternative treatment in chronic pain patients, the study showed. Whites used alternative modalities more frequently than blacks and older adults had a higher frequency of using alternative therapies than younger adults.

As per the main author, Carmen R. Green, M.D., U-M professor of anesthesiology and obstetrics and gynecology and associate professor of health management and policy, this pattern appears to be due to alternative medicine therapies commonly attracting individuals with higher education levels and income, or the pattern could be a result of differences in insurance coverage.

Also, as people age, there is a greater chance that they will deal with chronic pain, therefore as age increases, so does the likelihood that people will seek alternative therapies to deal with the pain.

The study which appears in the journal, Pain Medicine, highlights the importance of complementary and alternative medicine, its increasing usage, its economic impact, and concerns about safety and effectiveness.........

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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