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May 6, 2007, 5:13 PM CT

Nearly 28,000 US infants died in 2004

Nearly 28,000 US infants died in 2004
Preterm birth contributes to more than one-third of all infant deaths, as per the National Vital Statistics report released recently.

Eventhough the national infant mortality rate is the lowest it's been since the U.S. started collecting data a century ago, there's been little change recently 6.78 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2004 in comparison to 6.89 in 2000, the National Center for Health Statistics report found.

The report, "Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2004 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set" includes a new analysis tracking preterm birth-related infant deaths. The analysis, first reported in the October 2006 edition of Pediatrics, found preterm birth contributes to nearly twice as a number of infant deaths within the first year of life than previously estimated.

"We have long known babies born too soon face a number of developmental challenges even death," said Joann Petrini, Ph.D., director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center. "This closer look at preterm birth gives us a better understanding of the impact of prematurity on infant survival and provides insights into the factors that have contributed to the lack of improvement in the U.S. infant mortality rate".

Preterm related deaths accounted for more than 10,000 of the nearly 28,000 infant deaths in 2004, as per the NCHS. Birth defects remain the leading cause of infant death, followed by prematurity, as per official reporting systems. But, using this new classification, premature birth would be the most frequent cause of infant death. The traditional methods cannot accurately gauge the true impact of preterm birth on the infant mortality rate, the NCHS said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:12 PM CT

New technology for soft-tissue imaging

New technology for soft-tissue imaging
Soft-tissue cross-sectional imaging acquired on a flat panel C-arm fluoroscopic unit located in the interventional radiology area is feasible and useful for interventional radiology procedures, avoiding the necessity of sending patients out to a Computerized axial tomography scanner, as per a new study by scientists from the Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Miami, FL.

For the study, 35 patient examinations were conducted, covering a diverse range of both vascular and non-vascular clinical application scenarios. The on-location imaging technique was used to evaluate arterial vessel characteristics such as thrombus, calcification, and size. Additionally, the technique was utilized in the evaluation of collections before and after drainage procedures. The scientists observed that in 80% of the patients, additional clinical information was obtained that directly affected interventional treatment.

"This new imaging option allows for CT-like imaging from the acquisition of a rotational X-ray data set," said Constantino Pena, MD, lead author of the study. As per the researchers, the new technology has the possibility of making patient visits more efficient for both the doctor and the patient.

"Our report demonstrates that in selected cases the technique may be helpful in the care of patients. It gives the interventional radiologist the ability to acquire CT-like volumetric soft tissue images in the interventional suite without having to transport the patient to a Computerized axial tomography scanner," said Dr. Pena.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:10 PM CT

CTA useful in detecting ruptured cerebral aneurysms

CTA useful in detecting ruptured cerebral aneurysms
CT angiography (CTA) has a nearly 100% detection rate in acute ruptured, cerebral aneurysms, as per a recent study conducted at the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg, Canada.

The study consisted of 171 patients with acute subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who underwent preoperative 3D CTA.

CTA correctly detected the ruptured aneurysm in 170 cases when in comparison to intraoperative findings, Bijal Patel, MD, lead author of the study. Of the 22 cases where there was more than one aneurysm, CTA correctly identified the ones that were ruptured every time. As per the study, the sensitivity of CTA was 99.4% in detecting the ruptured aneurysm in the setting of acute SAH. "In the one case where CTA initially did not demonstrate the ruptured aneurysm, the study was severely degraded with motion artifact," said Dr. Patel.

"While CTA provides detailed information on the features of the aneurysm, its true accuracy in the clinical setting could only be determined when in comparison to surgical findings," said Dr. Patel "As in our institution and undoubtedly a number of others, it is the standard of practice to follow a confirmed SAH with a CTA. We felt it was important to perform a study that would evaluate the utility of CTA as the primary diagnostic investigation in detecting acute ruptured cerebral aneurysms using correlation with intraoperative findings," said Dr. Patel.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:04 PM CT

Ultra-high-field MRI for earlier diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

Ultra-high-field MRI for earlier diagnosis of multiple sclerosis A standard MRI machine
Ultra-high-field (7T) MRI can detect multiple sclerosis lesions better than MRI which can lead to possible earlier diagnosis and therapy, as per a new study by scientists from Ohio State University in Columbus, and Columbia University in New York.

For the study, the scientists analyzed post-mortem brain slices from a multiple sclerosis patient using both 3T and 7T MRI. 7T MRI made it possible to detect numerous multiple sclerosis lesions that were not detectable at 3T MRI, said Steffen Sammet, MD, PhD, lead author of the study.

"Multiple sclerosis is difficult to diagnose in its early stages," said Dr. Sammet. The greater sensitivity of 7T MRI for multiple sclerosis can delay disease conversion, and may lead to improved monitoring of neurological deficits in multiple sclerosis. MRI at 7T can give additional information about the lesion microstructure to help us better understand the disease," said Dr. Sammet.

"Ultra-high field strength has been an experimental methodology evolving over the last decade. In recent years, and particularly as part of the OSU-based effort of the Wright Center of Innovation, we have been pushing, to evolve ultra-high field into a clinically capable imaging method. The significant advantage of higher field strength is the gain in signal that can be used in a number of different ways to increase sensitivity and increase the speed of acquisition or to increase resolution," said Dr. Sammet.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 4:41 PM CT

A frown or a smile?

A frown or a smile?
When we have a conversation with someone, we not only hear what they say, we see what they say. Eyes can smolder or twinkle. Gazes can be direct or shifty. Reading these facial expressions gives context and meaning to the words we hear.

In a report to be presented May 5 at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Seatlle, scientists from UCLA will show that children with autism cant do this. They hear and they see, of course, but the areas of the brain that normally respond to such visual cues simply do not respond.

Led by Mari Davies, a UCLA graduate student in psychology, and Susan Bookheimer, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, the research compared brain activity between 16 typically developing children and 16 high-functioning children with autism. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), both groups were shown a series of faces depicting angry, fearful, happy and neutral expressions. In half the faces, the eyes were averted; with the other half, the faces stared back at the children.

With the typically developing group, the scientists found significant differences in activity in a part of the brain called the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), which is known to play a role in evaluating emotions. While these children looked at the direct-gaze faces, the VLPFC became active; with the averted-gaze pictures, it quieted down. In contrast, the autistic children showed no activity in this region of the brain whether they were looking at faces with a direct or an indirect gaze.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 4:39 PM CT

Some hypertension drugs may help reduce dementia risk

Some hypertension drugs may help reduce dementia risk
Some hypertension medicines may help protect elderly adults from declines in memory and other cognitive function, as per new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported today at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Seattle.

The drugs that scientists believe are protective are part of a class known as ACE inhibitors specifically those types that reach the brain and may help reduce the inflammation that might contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

"For elderly adults who are going to take an ACE inhibitor drug for blood pressure control, it makes sense for their doctors to prescribe one that goes into the brain," said Kaycee Sink, M.D., M.A.S., lead researcher and an assistant professor of internal medicine gerontology.

Some ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are known as centrally acting because they can cross the blood brain barrier, a specialized system of tiny blood vessels that protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood stream. Centrally acting drugs include captropril (Capoten), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil or Zestri), perindopril (Aceon), ramipril (Altace) and trandolapril (Mavik).

The study found a link between taking centrally active ACE inhibitors and lower rates of mental decline as measured by the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam, a test that evaluates memory, language, abstract reasoning and other cognitive functions. For each year that participants were exposed to ACE inhibitors that cross the blood brain barrier, the decline in test results was 50 percent lower than the decline in people taking other kinds of hypertension pills.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

May 2, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Later-life diseases resulting from fetal and infant toxicity

Later-life diseases resulting from fetal and infant toxicity Janice and Rodney Dietert display herbal and fungal medicinal sources that show promise for addressing developmental immunotoxicity (DIT) and DIT-associated diseases.
A Cornell researcher and his wife have conducted the first comprehensive review of later-life diseases that develop in people who were exposed to environmental toxins or drugs either in the womb or as infants. They have observed that most of the diseases have two things in common: They involve an imbalanced immune system and exaggerated inflammatory reactions (at the cellular level).

In an invited, peer-evaluated article on developmental immunotoxicity (DIT), published in a recent issue of Current Medicinal Chemistry, Rodney Dietert, professor of immunotoxicology at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, and Janice Dietert of Performance Plus Consulting in Lansing, N.Y., observed that almost all the chronic diseases that are linked to DIT share the same type of immunological damage.

The diseases associated with DIT include asthma, allergy, suppressed responses to vaccines, increased susceptibility to infections, childhood neurobehavioral conditions, autoimmunity, cancer, cerebral palsy, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and male sterility.

Toxins that are known to cause developmental immune problems in fetuses and neonates, as per the Dieterts, include herbicides, pesticides, alcohol, heavy metals, maternal smoking, antibiotics, diesel exhaust, drugs of abuse and PCBs.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

May 2, 2007, 9:56 PM CT

New clues for treatment of disease that causes accelerated aging

New clues for treatment of disease that causes accelerated aging Boy with progeria
There is renewed hope for therapy of a rare genetic condition that causes rapidly accelerated aging and leads to an average life expectancy of 13 years.

Researchers studying the genes of two infants who died of mysterious illnesses found the infants had mutations in LMNA, the same gene altered in patients with the premature aging condition progeria. But the infants' unusual mutations caused them to make a number of more bad copies of the gene's primary protein, lamin A, than progeria patients.

Both infants died very young and before scientists could fully unravel the cause of their disorders. But when scientists treated cell samples from one of the patients with a drug targeted for progeria, they saw signs that the cells were improving.

"Our success in treating these cells, which had uncommonly high levels of bad lamin A, suggest that progeria therapy may not be as distant as we thought," says senior author Jeffrey Miner, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and cell biology and physiology. "If physicians can reduce production of bad lamin A by as little as half in progeria patients, we might see significant improvement".

Progeria therapy also has potential implications for larger populations. The LMNA gene is involved in several other more prevalent disorders including forms of muscular dystrophy and heart disease.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

May 2, 2007, 9:51 PM CT

risk of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke

risk of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke
Tens of thousands of Americans die each year from secondhand tobacco smoke, as per a 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. While the health risks linked to indoor secondhand smoke are well documented, little research has been done on exposure to toxic tobacco fumes outdoors.

Now, Stanford University scientists have conducted the first in-depth study on how smoking affects air quality at sidewalk cafs, park benches and other outdoor locations. Writing in the recent issue of the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association (JAWMA), the Stanford team concluded that a non-smoker sitting a few feet downwind from a smoldering cigarette is likely to be exposed to substantial levels of contaminated air for brief periods of time.

"Some folks have expressed the opinion that exposure to outdoor tobacco smoke is insignificant, because it dissipates quickly into the air," said Neil Klepeis, assistant professor (consulting) of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and lead author of the study. "But our findings show that a person sitting or standing next to a smoker outdoors can breathe in wisps of smoke that are a number of times more concentrated than normal background air pollution levels".

Klepeis pointed to the 2006 Surgeon General's report, which observed that even brief exposures to secondhand smoke may have adverse effects on the heart and respiratory systems and increase the severity of asthma attacks, particularly in children.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 30, 2007, 8:28 PM CT

Protecting Infants Against Future Allergies

Protecting Infants Against Future Allergies
Maybe being a fussy housekeeper isn't such a good thing after all.

Environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) say they have confirmed what other researchers have only suspected: early-life exposure to certain indoor fungal components (molecules) can help build stronger immune systems, and may protect against future allergies.

The UC team observed that infants who were exposed to high levels of indoor fungal components-known as fungal glucans-were nearly three times less likely to wheeze compared with infants exposed to low levels.

Fungal glucans are tiny molecules that researchers believe cause respiratory symptoms in adults. Crawling infants are often exposed to these molecules when they disturb dust on carpet or floors in their homes.

Study lead author and environmental health scientist Yulia Iossifova says exposure to high levels of these molecules may also protect against allergy development in high-risk infants.

"The immune system's protective effects only appear to occur when there are high levels of microbial exposure," she explains. "Cleaner environments do not have enough microbial components to trigger the immune system response."

The UC team reports their findings in the May 2007 edition of the scientific journal Allergy. This epidemiological study is the first to suggest that early-life exposure to high levels of indoor fungal glucans can have a positive impact on the human immune system.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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. Archives of health news blog

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