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May 12, 2008, 9:45 PM CT

Women who breastfeed for more than a year

Women who breastfeed for more than a year
Women who breast feed for longer have a smaller chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis, suggests a study published online ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study also observed that taking oral contraceptives, which are suspected to protect against the disease because they contain hormones that are raised in pregnancy, did not have the same effect. Also, simply having children and not breast feeding also did not seem to be protective.

The scientists compared 136 women with rheumatoid arthritis with 544 women of a similar age without the disease. They observed that that those who had breast fed for longer were much less likely to get rheumatoid arthritis.

Women who had breastfed for 13 months or more were half as likely to get rheumatoid arthritis as those who had never breast fed. Those who had breast fed for one to 12 months were 25 per cent less likely to get the disease.

The proportion of women breast feeding for more than six months has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. The authors concluded that it was difficult to say whether there was a correlation between higher rates of breast feeding and a corresponding fall in the number of women affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but that the results of the study provided yet another reason why women should continue breast feeding.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 11, 2008, 9:08 AM CT

UV lotion lights the way to cleaner facilities

UV lotion lights the way to cleaner facilities
A team of Canadian researchers using a lotion which glows under ultraviolet light have shown that up to a third of patient toilets are not properly cleaned. Their findings, published in BioMed Centrals journal, BMC Infectious Diseases, also show that spores from the nasty bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) linger in the loo even when it has been thoroughly wiped down.

Michelle Alfa and a team of researchers from Manitoba, Canada investigated the spread of so-called superbugs in hospitals. Hospital patients are thought to catch bugs like vancomycin resistant Enterococci (VRE), methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C. difficile because they are not eradicated from the hospital environment. These bugs may be transferred between patients through cross-contamination in the bathroom.

Various studies have looked at the most effective cleaning agents, but none of these studies considered whether housekeeping staff were actually cleaning the toilets properly, says Alfa. It is impossible to assess the effectiveness of any action against these bacteria unless you can be sure that cleaners comply with protocols.

Alfa's toilet inspectors smeared the UV lotion under the seats of 20 toilets and commodes being used by patients with diarrhoea at a hospital in Winnipeg. Seven of these patients had C. difficile infection, while 13 others did not. The toilets and commodes were tested every weekday for six months and checked using UV light to determine how well they had been cleaned. In addition, samples were taken from toilet surfaces to determine whether C difficile spores were present.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 11, 2008, 9:04 AM CT

Is divorce bad for the parents?

Is divorce bad for the parents?
The elderly are cared for by their adult children regardless of their marital status. In a unique study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, scientists found British adult children help their elderly parents as per current need (i.e. health) rather than past behaviour. This contrasts with other countries such as the US, where parents with a history of divorce see less of their children and receive less help from them.

So in the UK a parent that is living alone is more likely to receive help from children than parents with partners. Children also give more help as the parent ages. For every extra year of the parents age, he/she is 9% more likely to receive help from children not living at the same address. And parents with health problems are 75% more likely than those without health problems to be helped by their children. Curiously, divorced parents get more help from children than if they are widowed, but both groups receive more help than if they still have a partner. And it helps to have more children. Parents with more children receive more support; however, step children give step parents less support.

The research was carried out by a team from the Institute of Gerontology at Kings College London. They analysed data from an annual survey of over five thousand British households (British Household Panel Survey) from 1991 to 2003. They compared this information with a survey of over 3500 people at around retirement age (55-69 years) in 1988, and an Italian family survey.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 8, 2008, 9:11 PM CT

Major shift in HIV prevention priorities needed

Major shift in HIV prevention priorities needed
As per a new policy analysis led by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of California, Berkeley, the most common HIV prevention strategiescondom promotion, HIV testing, therapy of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), vaccine and microbicide research, and abstinenceare having a limited impact on the predominantly heterosexual epidemics found in Africa. Furthermore, some of the assumptions underlying such strategiessuch as poverty or war being major causes of AIDS in Africaare unsupported by rigorous scientific evidence. The scientists argue that two interventions currently getting less attention and resourcesmale circumcision and reducing multiple sexual partnershipswould have a greater impact on the AIDS pandemic and should become the cornerstone of HIV prevention efforts in the high-HIV-prevalence parts of Africa.

The paper appears in the May 9, 2008 issue of the journal Science.

Despite relatively large investments in AIDS prevention efforts for some years now, including sizeable spending in some of the most heavily affected countries (such as South Africa and Botswana), its clear that we need to do a better job of reducing the rate of new HIV infections. We need a fairly dramatic shift in priorities, not just a minor tweaking, said Daniel Halperin, lecturer on international health in the HSPH Department of Population and International Health and one of the papers lead authors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 8, 2008, 9:08 PM CT

Drink and drugs for better sex

Drink and drugs for better sex
Teenagers and young adults across Europe drink and take drugs as part of deliberate sexual strategies. Findings published recently in BioMed Centrals open access journal, BMC Public Health, reveal that a third of 16-35 year old males and a quarter of females surveyed are drinking alcohol to increase their chances of sex, while cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis are intentionally used to enhance sexual arousal or prolong sex.

The study was conducted by scientists in public health and social sciences from across Europe. More than 1300 people aged between 16 and 35 and who routinely socialise in nightlife settings completed anonymous questionnaires.

Virtually all of the survey participants had drunk alcohol with most having had their first drink when 14 or 15 years old. Three quarters of the respondents had tried or used cannabis, while around 30 percent had at least tried ecstasy or cocaine.

Overall, alcohol was most likely to be used to facilitate a sexual encounter, while cocaine and cannabis were more likely to be utilised to enhance sexual sensations and arousal.

Despite these perceived sexual benefits, drunkenness and drug use were strongly linked to an increase in risk taking behaviour and feeling regretful about having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Thus, participants who had been drunk in the past four weeks were more likely to have had five or more partners, sex without a condom and to have regretted sex after drink or drugs in the past 12 months. Cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy use was associated with similar consequences.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 7, 2008, 6:56 PM CT

Mental Fitness and Multi-Lingualism

Mental Fitness and Multi-Lingualism
Dr. Gitit Kave
Children who speak a second or third language may have an unexpected advantage during the later part of life, a new Tel Aviv University study has observed. Knowing and speaking a number of languages may protect the brain against the effects of aging.

Dr. Gitit Kave, a clinical neuro-psychology expert from the Herczeg Institute on Aging at Tel Aviv University, together with her colleagues Nitza Eyal, Aviva Shorek, and Jiska Cohen-Manfield, discovered recently that senior citizens who speak more languages test for better cognitive functioning. The results of her study were reported in the journal Psychology and Aging.

However, Kave says that one should approach these findings with caution. "There is no sure-fire recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of mental aging. But using a second or third language may help prolong the good years," she advises.

Exercising the Brain

A person who speaks more languages is likely to be more clear-minded at an older age, she says, in effect "exercising" his or her brain more than those who are monolingual. Languages may create new links in the brain, contributing to this strengthening effect.

The research was based on a survey taken in 1989 on people between the ages of 75 and 95. Each person was asked how a number of languages he or she knew, what his or her mother tongue was, and which language he or she spoke best. The scientists compared bilingual speakers to tri- and multilingual speakers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 8:51 PM CT

Youths in towns with smoke-free restaurant laws

Youths in towns with smoke-free restaurant laws
Young people who live in towns where regulations ban smoking in restaurants may be less likely to become established smokers, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

A number of studies have examined the risk factors that lead young people to try their first cigarette, as per background information in the article. However, fewer scientists have differentiated these factors from those that cause children and teens to progress to established smoking, or having smoked 100 or more cigarettes. Yet understanding this difference is critical, the authors write. It would allow us to determine the age and stage at which youths are most sensitive to various types of interventions, thus enabling the more specific tailoring and more effective delivery of smoking prevention interventions.

Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston University School of Public Health, and his colleagues studied 3,834 Massachusetts youths who were age 12 to 17 at the first interview, conducted between 2001 and 2002. Of those, 2,791 were interviewed again two years later and 2,217 were interviewed four years later.

Overall, 9.3 percent of the participants became established smokers over the study period, including 9.6 percent of those living in towns with weak restaurant smoking regulations (where smoking is restricted to designated areas or not restricted at all), 9.8 percent of those in towns with medium regulations (smoking is restricted to enclosed or ventilated areas, or no smoking is allowed but variations are permitted) and 7.9 percent of those in towns with strong regulations (complete smoking bans). The strength of local smoking regulations was not linked to the transition from non-smoking to experimentation, but was linked to the transition from experimentation to established smoking.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 6:10 PM CT

Preference for alcohol may lead to heavy drinking

Preference for alcohol may lead to heavy drinking
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have shown a correlation between early drinking patterns and a tendency to be a heavy drinker in adulthood, in a study of adolescent rats.

Drinking patterns in adolescents may be set after only a few exposures to alcohol, said Nicole L. Schramm-Sapyta, research associate in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine. Rats that demonstrated a taste for alcohol after only three nights of drinking were very likely to be the biggest drinkers after longer-term exposure.

During the first three nights of the study, the rats were given only alcohol to consume. After that, for 10 days, they had a choice of water or alcohol. Their drinking was measured right after they had traveled through an elevated maze, a way to raise anxiety levels and measure stress-related hormone levels. They also were tested for drinking after researchers observed their preference for new objects and for exploring a new place.

We decided to examine stress and novelty seeking because these are two characteristics we see among people who develop problem drinking, said Schramm-Sapyta, first author of the study reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 3, 2008, 7:51 PM CT

Uninsured kids in middle class

Uninsured kids in middle class
Nationwide, uninsured children in families earning between $38,000 and $77,000 a year are just as likely to go without any health care as uninsured children in poorer families. More than 40 percent of children in those income brackets who are uninsured all year see no physicians and have no prescriptions all year, as per new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Theres an assumption that children in families with higher income levels dont need insurance, that they are uninsured but are somehow still receiving health care anyway, said Laura Shone, Dr.P.H., M.S.W., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of the study being presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. This study shows that in reality, a large percentage of these children dont receive any care at all which pediatricians say is unacceptable, and parents know is unrealistic. Even healthy, older children need to see their physicians at least once over the course of a year.

Overall, almost 3 million uninsured children had no medical care and no prescription use for a full year, as per an analysis of nationally representative data from the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Of those, about 1.6 million children may qualify for public coverage but are not enrolled, and about 1 million more could be covered through expansions that were proposed yet vetoed at the national level in late 2007. The percentage of uninsured children who forego all health care for a full year is:........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 3, 2008, 7:36 PM CT

Unemployment having impact on kids' health-care

Unemployment having impact on kids' health-care
Two new studies conducted by scientists at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center point to the negative impact of parental job loss on childrens healthcare and the importance of having continuous health insurance coverage to meet childrens healthcare needs and reduce healthcare disparities.

The studies will be presented Saturday May 3 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu.

These studies describe a situation that should be of grave concern to parents, health care providers and policymakers, says Gerry Fairbrother, Ph.D., a researcher in the division of health policy and clinical effectiveness at Cincinnati Childrens who was an author of both studies. The impact of not having insurance coverage in place year-round hurts children in a number of ways, including not being able to get the prescribed medications they need, and not having a regular source of health care and that puts their health at risk.

The first study shows that children whose parents lose or change jobs were twice as likely to lose their health care coverage as children whose parents did not lose or change jobs. In addition, children with private insurance were more than three times as likely to lose coverage.

This is a especially disturbing finding, coming at a time when job loss is becoming more common due to the economy, says Dr. Fairbrother, Ph.D., the studys lead author. As unemployment rises, more and more children are likely to experience a break in coverage that affects their health care. Our study showed that most of these children are eligible for public coverage but are not getting the coverage to which they are entitled. Much more needs to be done to reach out to children with private coverage when their parents experience job loss or change.........

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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