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November 13, 2009, 8:18 AM CT

How long they stay in school

How long they stay in school
Queen's University researcher Steven Lehrer has won a prestigious international award in recognition of his contributions to health economics.

A professor in Queen's School of Policy Studies and Department of Economics, Dr. Lehrer shares the RAND Corporation's Victor R. Fuchs Research Award with Jason Fletcher of Yale University. Their prize-winning paper, recently reported in the journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy, examines the effects of adolescent health on educational outcomes.

"Our study shows that poor mental health in children and teenagers has a large impact on the length of time they will stay in school," says Dr. Lehrer. He notes a large number of school-based programs have recently been introduced to prevent childhood obesity through changes in lifestyle, but suggests the net should be cast more widely. "It's important for policymakers to target health conditions that are not the easiest to identify like inattention but may have larger impacts on one's future".

The findings provide good evidence that inattentive symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood and depression in adolescents are associated with the number of years of completed schooling. Dr. Lehrer says this points to potentially large benefits from childhood and adolescent health interventions that have still not been identified. "We focus on the link between health and education because unraveling the mechanisms linking the two will have important implications for policy design."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 13, 2009, 8:16 AM CT

Exercising up to the end of pregnancy

Exercising up to the end of pregnancy
Contrary to more conservative customs, exercising up to the end of pregnancy has no harmful effect on the weight or size of the foetus. This is what has been indicated in a study carried out by scientists of the Universidad Politcnica de Madrid (Polytechnic University of Madrid), which also shows the positive relationship between the weight of sedentary mothers before pregnancy and the body size of their babies. The conclusions appear in the International Journal of Obesity

"Partaking in low-level physical activity has beneficial effects on materno-foetal health". These findings have recently been reported in the International Journal of Obesity and highlight the benefits for the health of the baby and the mother when a physically-active lifestyle is maintained throughout pregnancy.

"An exercise regime carried out during the second and third trimester of pregnancy does not harm the health of the foetus", Jonatan R. Ruiz, researcher at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and principal author of this study, who has coordinated a team from the Polytechnic University of Madrid in collaboration with the Swedish centre, explains to SINC.

160 healthy women between the ages of 25 and 35 participated in the study, all of whom had sedentary habits and no risk of premature birth. Of this group of women, half followed an exercise regime under the supervision of experts in Physical Activity and Sports Science in collaboration with the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Unit of Hospital Severo Ochoa in Madrid.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


November 13, 2009, 8:03 AM CT

How youths view parental control?

How youths view parental control?
A newly released study has observed that young people feel differently about two types of parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's believed to be better for their development more positively. However, when parents are very controlling, young people no longer make this distinction and view both types of parental control negatively.

The study, conducted in the United States by scientists at rebro University in Sweden, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development Unlike a lot of previous research on parenting that's focused on control, this study looked at how adolescents view and react to parental control.

Scholars tell us that parental control falls into two categories: behavioral control (when parents help their children regulate themselves and feel competent by providing supervision, setting limits, and establishing rules) and psychological control (when parents are manipulative in their behavior, often resulting in feelings of guilt, rejection, or not being loved). It's thought that behavioral control is better for youngsters' development.

But the study, which asked 67 American children (7th and 8th graders, as well as 10th and 11th graders) to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving both kinds of control, observed that the youths put a negative spin on both types of control when the parents in the scenarios exercised a lot of control. Specifically, when parents showed moderate levels of control, they saw psychological control more negatively than behavioral control, but when parents were very controlling, they viewed both types of control negatively.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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 11, 2009, 9:57 PM CT

A view inside the body

A view inside the body
Iowa State University engineers Eliot Winer, left, and James Oliver have developed technology that converts 2-D medical scans into detailed 3-D images that can be used to plan a surgery or teach a lesson in anatomy.
James Oliver picked up an Xbox game controller, looked up to a video screen and used the device's buttons and joystick to fly through a patient's chest cavity for an up-close look at the bottom of the heart.

And there was a sight doctors had never seen before: an accurate, 3-D view inside a patient's body accessible with a personal computer. A view doctors can shift, adjust, turn, zoom and replay at will. Software that uses real patient data from CT and MRI scans. Software doctors can use to plan a surgery or a round of radiation treatment. Software that can be used to teach physiology and anatomy. Software that puts virtual reality technology developed at Iowa State University to work helping doctors and patients, teachers and students. Software that's now being sold by an Ames startup company, BodyViz.com.

Two-dimensional imaging technologies have been used in medicine for a long time, said Eliot Winer, an Iowa State associate professor of mechanical engineering and an associate director of Iowa State's Virtual Reality Applications Center. But those flat images aren't easily read and understood by anybody but specialists.

"If I'm a surgeon or an oncologist or a primary care physician, I deal with patients in 3-D," Winer said.

And so Winer and Oliver, an Iowa State professor of mechanical engineering and director of the university's CyberInnovation Institute, began to develop technology that converts the flat images of medical scans into 3-D images that are easy to see, manipulate and understand. Thom Lobe, a pediatric surgeon based at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, helped the engineers design a tool doctors could use.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 11, 2009, 9:53 PM CT

What helps you to live longer?

What helps you to live longer?
Yousin Suh, Ph.D.
A team led by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has found a clear link between living to 100 and inheriting a hyperactive version of an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres - the tip ends of chromosomes. The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Telomeres play crucial roles in aging, cancer and other biological processes. Their importance was recognized last month, when three researchers were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for determining the structure of telomeres and discovering how they protect chromosomes from degrading.

Telomeres are relatively short sections of specialized DNA that sit at the ends of all chromosomes. One of the Nobel Prize winners, Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., of the University of California at San Francisco, has compared telomeres to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces that prevent the laces from unraveling.

Each time a cell divides, its telomeres erode slightly and become progressively shorter with each cell division. Eventually, telomeres become so short that their host cells stop dividing and lapse into a condition called cell senescence. As a result, vital tissues and important organs begin to fail and the classical signs of aging ensue.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 11, 2009, 8:18 AM CT

Healthy Babies by the Numbers

Healthy Babies by the Numbers
When a fetus is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy, due to associated problems like a poorly developed heart, health concerns as severe as brain damage can result.

The condition, known as Intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), prompts doctors to use ultrasound to track a baby's health and determine the best time for delivery. But these measurements are often incomplete, and obstetricians have had to rely on educated guesses about the strength of a fetus's circulatory system.

Now, thanks to new research from Tel Aviv University, IUGR babies will have a better chance for a healthy life.

Prof. Ofer Barnea of TAU's Department of Biomedical Engineering, in collaboration with Prof. Jacob Bar from the Wolfson Medical Center, couples mathematical models with information about a baby's physiology inside the womb. Combining ultrasound with powerful algorithms based on real-life data, pediatricians get critical data on the development of the fetal circulatory system, so they can determine when the baby is strong enough to survive on its own.

"Babies with IUGR experience stress and growth restrictions inside the womb," says Prof. Barnea. "Doctors need to assess their growth, but currently have to rely on partial data from ultrasound systems. If they leave the baby inside too long, she may suffer from brain damage. Conversely, we need to be sure her heart is strong enough to survive outside the womb".........

Posted by: Emily      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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