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December 20, 2006, 6:47 PM CT

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome In Children

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome In Children
Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) have particular difficulty understanding numbers and sequences, a University of Alberta study shows.

An assessment of 50 Canadian children diagnosed with FASD, a condition caused by the mother's alcohol consumption while a fetus is still in the womb, revealed that the youngsters had specific deficits in memory for numbers and sequences, which may contribute to common math difficulties faced by these children. Prenatal alcohol abuse often leaves them with losses in physical, behavioural, emotional and social functioning.

The findings of the study, reported in the recent issue of Child Neuropsychology, may help refine assessments of FASD children and provide a 'neurobehavioural profile' to ensure they receive the most effective therapy possible, said lead author Dr. Carmen Rasmussen, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

"Knowing this would help in classrooms with FASD children," said Rasmussen. The typical teaching rate may be too rapid for children with FASD, resulting in large amounts of missed information, she said. "The study definitely has implications for therapy and education down the road".

The FASD children, aged six to 15 years, scored lower than other 84 per cent of other children their age on memory tests for numbers and sequences.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 20, 2006, 5:06 AM CT

Androgen Therapy To Slow Progress Of Alzheimer's Disease

Androgen Therapy To Slow Progress Of Alzheimer's Disease
Experiments on mouse models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) suggest that therapy with male sex hormones might slow its progression. The findings, reported in the December 20 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, provide new insight into the relationship between testosterone loss and AD, which affects 4.5 million Americans.

Senior author Christian Pike, PhD, of the University of Southern California (USC), with colleagues at USC and the University of California, Irvine, sought to better understand the role hormones play in aging and disease. Recent studies had already established a link between testosterone loss in men and AD due to natural aging.

The research team established a connection between low testosterone and elevated beta-amyloid (A), a protein that accumulates abnormally in AD patients. This finding, they say, suggests that testosterone depletion in aging men may be a risk factor for AD by promoting accumulation of A in the brain. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is one in a group of related steroid hormones referred to as androgens. Recent studies suggest that androgens may lower A levels.

"This study raises the possibility that androgen replacement treatment might lower the risk for Alzheimer's, but this is far from proven," says Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, chair of the Alzheimer's Association's Medical and Scientific Advisory Council and director of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University. "Because testosterone is rapidly converted to estrogen after entry into neurons, the new data are logical, and they dovetail well with historical data".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


December 20, 2006, 4:41 AM CT

Impulsiveness Linked To Brain's Reward Center

Impulsiveness Linked To Brain's Reward Center
If you are acting lately very impulsively now you can blame on your brain. A new imaging study shows that our brains react with varying sensitivity to reward and suggests that people most susceptible to impulse&mdashthose who need to buy it, eat it, or have it, nowshow the greatest activity in a reward center of the brain. The study appears in the December 20 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience

In their study of 45 subjects, Ahmad Hariri, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and collaborators at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the University of Chicago showed that activity in the ventral striatum, a core component of the brain's reward circuitry, correlated with individuals' impulsiveness.

"These data are exciting because they begin to unravel individual differences in brain organization underlying differences in complex psychological constructs, such as 'impulsivity,' which may contribute to the propensity to addiction," says Terry E. Robinson, PhD, of the University of Michigan biopsychology program.

The Hariri team tested the subjects on two computer-based tasks. First, participants indicated their preferences in a series of immediate-versus-delayed, hypothetical monetary rewards. They chose between receiving an amount from 10 cents to $105 that day and receiving $100 at one of seven points up to five years in the future. "Switch points"the value at which they were equally likely to choose getting money today as getting $100 at a future point in timewere calculated for each person.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 20, 2006, 4:08 AM CT

Majority Of Ulcerative Colitis Patients Are Not Compliant

Majority Of Ulcerative Colitis Patients Are Not Compliant
New York, NY December 18, 2006 A new, large survey supported by the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) finds that 65 percent of ulcerative colitis (UC) patients are less than fully compliant with first-line therapies to treat their disease. The findings are significant because an earlier study observed that patients less than fully compliant experience five times the number of disease flare-ups.

Respondents to the CCFA survey were taking a variety of aminosalicylates, medications which help relieve symptoms and inflammation for a number of UC sufferers, but which require multiple pills be taken two to four times a day. CCFA conducted the survey to gain a better understanding of patients' experiences with UC and these medications.

The most usually reported reasons for non-compliance with medications were the dosing frequency, the number of pills and the inconvenience linked to the medication. Seventy-four percent of the 1,595 UC sufferers included in the survey experienced at least one flare-up of UC during the prior year. Flare-ups can involve heightened symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue as well as complications such as anemia.

"The study shows that a number of patients struggle to comply with their current medicine regimen because they have to take multiple pills throughout the day," said the survey report's author Edward V. Loftus, Jr., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. "And we know that when UC patients don't take their medications as prescribed, it can have a significant impact on their health and quality of life".........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


December 15, 2006, 5:13 AM CT

Learning During Sleep?

Learning During Sleep? Image of a hippocampal interneuron with associated electrical readings
The question of how the brain stores or discards memories still remains largely unexplained. A number of brain scientists regard the consolidation theory as the best approach so far. This states that fresh impressions are first stored as short-term memories in the hippocampus. They are then said to move within hours or a few days - commonly during deep sleep - into the cerebral cortex where they enter long-term memory. Investigations by Thomas Hahn, Mayank Mehta and the Nobel Prize winner Bert Sakmann from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg have now shed new light on the mechanisms that create memory. As per their findings, the areas of the brain work together, but possibly in a different way from that previously assumed. "This is a technically sophisticated study which could have considerable influence on our understanding of how nerve cells interact during sleep consolidation," confirmed Edvard Moser, Director of the Centre for the Biology of Memory in Trondheim, Norway.

It has been difficult up to now to use experiments to examine the brain processes that create memory. The researchers in Heidelberg developed an innovative experimental approach particularly for this purpose. They succeeded in measuring the membrane potential of individual interneurones (neurones that suppress the activity of the hippocampus) in anaethetised mice. At the same time, they recorded the field potential of thousands of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex. This allowed them to link the behaviour of the individual nerve cells with that of the cerebral cortex. The scientists discovered that the interneurones they examined are active at almost the same time as the field potential of the cerebral cortex. There was just a slight delay, like an echo.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


December 13, 2006, 8:06 PM CT

Elimination Of Menstrual Cycles Safe

Elimination Of Menstrual Cycles Safe
Scientists for the first time have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of continuous-use oral contraceptives that can eliminate menstrual cycles, as per a research studyreported in the recent issue of Contraception.

While low-dose oral contraceptives reducing the number of menstrual periods to four are on the market, this study marks the first time scientists have shown that it's safe to eliminate them, said lead investigator David F. Archer, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

"It is felt that the relief of menstrual cycle symptoms during continuous use of the contraceptive is a significant improvement in the quality of life," said Archer.

Traditional birth-control regimens include 21 days of active hormones with seven days of placebos to continue monthly menstruation. During menstruation, a number of women suffer a variety of symptoms including headaches, bloating and irritability, Archer said.

In the study, conducted at 92 sites in North America, scientists used a birth-control pill consisting of 20 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol and 90 micrograms of levonorgestrel, a formulation being developed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals under the name Lybrel. Healthy, sexually active women between 18 and 49 years old were given a continuous regimen without any breaks or placebos.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


December 13, 2006, 7:50 PM CT

Soft Drink Ads In Schools May Discourage Healthy Nutrition

Soft Drink Ads In Schools May Discourage Healthy Nutrition
Commercial activity permitted in schools, such as soft drink ads; the use of Channel One broadcasts in classrooms; sales incentives from soft drink bottlers; and exclusive beverage contracts may discourage a "nutrition-friendly" environment for students, says researchers.

Dr. Claudia Probart, Penn State associate professor of nutritional sciences who led the study, says, "Schools' newly created wellness policies as mandated by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 provide ideal opportunities to examine school environments for advertising that might conflict with their goals for a healthy climate for students."

The study is detailed in the current (December) issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in a paper, "Existence and Predictors of Soft Drink Advertisements in Pennsylvania High Schools." The authors are Probart; Elaine McDonnell, project coordinator, Penn State; Lisa Bailey-Davis, director of operations, Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity; and J. Elaine Weirich, project manager at Penn State.

The scientists sent surveys to 271 school foodservice directors at high schools in Pennsylvania and received 84 percent participation. The schools were representative of the entire population of high schools in Pennsylvania.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 13, 2006, 7:04 PM CT

Tobacco Prevention Ads May Backfire

Tobacco Prevention Ads May Backfire
Tobacco company-sponsored anti-smoking advertising aimed at youths not only has no negative effect on teen smoking, it may actually encourage youngsters to smoke, as per a co-author of studyed by an Oregon State University researcher.

Results from the study also show that tobacco industry-sponsored prevention ads aimed at parents often have harmful effects on students, also increasing their likelihood of smoking.

"We suspected this the minute we saw the kind of ads the tobacco companies were creating," said Brian Flay, a professor in the Department of Public Health at Oregon State University. "Their objective is to get customers, not to stop customers from finding them".

The study appears in the recent issue of American Journal of Public Health.

Flay was one of nine scientists from Bridging the Gap, a policy research program based at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Michigan, who worked on this study, which is the first to examine how youth are affected by parent-targeted ads sponsored by the tobacco industry.

More than 100,000 students from all areas of the country in 8th, 10th and 12th grades were surveyed to assess the relationship between exposure to tobacco company prevention advertising and youth smoking-related beliefs, intentions and behaviors. Scientists linked these data with Nielsen Media Research data on the exposure of youth to smoking-related ads that appeared on network and cable stations in the 75 largest United States media markets from 1999 to 2002.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 13, 2006, 6:41 PM CT

Growing Up In Bad Neighborhood

Growing Up In Bad Neighborhood
There's good news for children growing up in bad neighborhoods in a comprehensive study led by nationally renowned University of Colorado at Boulder sociology Professor Delbert Elliott.

The 8-year effort analyzing the successful development of children in different kinds of neighborhoods in Denver and Chicago observed that children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods were doing much better than expected. The rate of successful development for children from the best neighborhoods was 63 percent while the success rate for children living in high-poverty, disadvantaged neighborhoods was 52 percent.

"There's an 11-point difference between our worst neighborhoods and our best neighborhoods," said Elliott, director of the CU-Boulder Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. "That's very surprising".

"The idea that living in high-poverty, disorganized, disadvantaged neighborhoods is kind of a death sentence for kids is clearly not the case," he said. "We're getting kids coming out of those neighborhoods that are doing quite well".

The examination of neighborhoods was one of four integrated studies launched by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Network on Successful Adolescent Development. The portion of the study conducted by Elliott and colleagues looked at neighborhoods, while three other teams focused on family and school influences on development, and youth development in rural farming areas.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 13, 2006, 6:10 PM CT

Relationships Benefit When New Parents Get Help

Relationships Benefit When New Parents Get Help
The birth of a first child is commonly an exciting and eagerly anticipated milestone in any committed relationship, yet research suggests it can also be the beginning of the end for a number of couples.

As per clinical psychology expert Dr Jemima Petch, about half of all couples report a significant decline in satisfaction with their relationship during the transition to parenthood.

Conflict between the couple, psychological distress, negative relationships with their children and poorer child outcomes can be the result.

"I've realised there is an urgent need to support parents as couples because support for mothers alone in not enough. This is my way of helping children," Dr Petch said.

As part of the research for her PhD, Dr Petch has been evaluating the effectiveness of an early intervention program for couples expecting their first child.

The program, Couple CARE for Parents, included face-to-face group sessions as well as phone support after the birth. It covered issues such as expectations of parenthood, communication skills and conflict management skills.

"In couples who received our program rather than the usual antenatal and postnatal care, the typical decline in satisfaction with their relationship was largely prevented. They invested the effort and had the skills to enhance their relationship and stay happy".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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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