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May 3, 2006, 0:19 AM CT

Incarcerated Women More Likely To Use Birth Control Pills

Incarcerated Women More Likely To Use Birth Control Pills
Women who are incarcerated are much more likely to start using birth control when it is offered to them in prison than through community health services after their release, as per a research studyby scientists at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School. The results are published in the recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The study is significant because incarcerated women who are released into the community are at high risk for unplanned pregnancies, as well as medical complications to the mother and baby from alcohol and drug use.

"Women are accessing birth control services when they're made available in correctional institutions, and we should be making those services available throughout the country," says lead author Jennifer Clarke, MD, MPH, an internist at Rhode Island Hospital and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RI DOC), and an assistant professor of medicine at Brown Medical School. "If we want to help empower women in their recovery from drugs and alcohol, for example, we need to give them the tools so they can plan their pregnancy during a time when they're more stable".

The study found that women overall were 14 times more likely to start using birth control when it was offered in prison. Thirty-nine percent of incarcerated women started birth control when it was offered before their release, while only 4 percent took advantage of free birth control offered at a community health center after their release.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

May 2, 2006, 0:28 AM CT

Obesity Levels In Us Are Grossly Underestimated

Obesity Levels In Us Are Grossly Underestimated
The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. states has been greatly underestimated. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) analyzed data from health surveys, which are used to estimate obesity levels in states. Because people tend to provide incorrect information about their weight and height, particularly in telephone surveys, the scientists concluded that estimates of obesity in individual states have been too low, by more than 50%. Their study, which corrects for misreporting in those surveys, appears in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, causing some 2.6 million deaths worldwide each year. In the U.S., survey data on obesity on a national and state level is obtained using information gathered by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which uses telephone interviews; national data is also collected using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which does in-person interviews and follow-up height and weight measurements on people who agree to a clinical exam. Lead author Majid Ezzati, Associate Professor of International Health at HSPH, and colleagues analyzed and compared the data from the two surveys in order to quantify the level of bias when people self-report their height and weight, particularly in a telephone interview.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

May 2, 2006, 0:14 AM CT

Does IQ drop with age?

Does IQ drop with age?
If college students had to perform under conditions that mimic the perception deficits a number of older people have, their IQ scores would take a drop.

As people grow older, do they really lose intelligence or is something else happening that drives down IQ scores? It was a question that scientists asked in the lab during two coding experiments to test out their hypothesis that older people suffer perception problems that impair their abilities to perform well on intelligence tests.

Grover C. Gilmore, professor of psychology and dean of Case's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, led the National Institute of Health-funded investigation, "Age Effects in Coding Tasks: Componential Analysis and Test of the Sensory Deficit Hypothesis." Findings from the experiments are published in the recent issue of the American Psychological Association's journal, Psychology and Aging. Other researchers are Ruth A. Spinks and Cecil W. Thomas.

"Even subtle deficits, such as a reduction in spatial contrast sensitivity, can impair performance on intelligence tests," concludes Gilmore.

Perception deficits gradually appear over the life span of individuals and seem to reach problem levels in elderly adults and can greatly impact functions in people with dementia or other cognitive-impaired conditions.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

May 2, 2006, 0:06 AM CT

Melatonin Improves Winter Depression

Melatonin Improves Winter Depression
Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University(OHSU) have found that melatonin, a naturally occurring brain substance, can relieve the doldrums of winter depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The study is publishing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study was led by Alfred Lewy, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized pioneer in the study of circadian (24-hour) rhythm disturbances, such as those found in air travelers and shift workers, as well as in totally blind people.

Lewy and colleagues in the OHSU Sleep and Mood Disorders Lab set out to test the hypothesis that circadian physiological rhythms become misaligned with the sleep/wake cycle during the short days of winter, causing some people to become depressed. Commonly these rhythms track to the later dawn in winter, resulting in a circadian phase delay with respect to sleep similar to what happens flying westward. Some people appear to be tracking to the earlier dusk of winter, causing a similar amount of misalignment but in the phase-advance direction. Symptom severity in SAD patients correlated with the misalignment in either direction.

The therapy of choice for most SAD patients is bright light exposure, which causes phase advances when scheduled in the morning. Because patients know when they are exposed to bright light, however, there is a considerable placebo response associated with it. Melatonin can also cause phase advances, but it has to be taken in the afternoon. The Lewy team used afternoon melatonin to test if it was more antidepressant than melatonin taken in the morning, which causes phase delays.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

May 2, 2006, 0:03 AM CT

Teenagers Who Cut Or Burn Themselves Find Support

Teenagers Who Cut Or Burn Themselves Find Support Some typical postings and images on self-injury message boards, which are bringing youths who self-injure together in unprecedented numbers.
Some 500 Internet message boards are bringing together adolescents who injure themselves -- with cuts, carvings, scratches or burns. It is a world that is invisible to adults but of increasing importance to teenage social lives.

A new Cornell University study finds that the message boards give a number of isolated teenagers a safe place to share this intimate secret.

But eventhough the majority of the postings are supportive in nature, some reinforce self-injury behaviors and could create a "social contagion" effect, the scientists warned.

"Internet message boards provide a powerful vehicle for bringing self-injurious adolescents together, and to a great extent, they provide a safe forum and a source of valuable support for teens who might otherwise feel marginalized and who may be struggling with shame," said Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behaviors and the first author of the study, which is reported in the May 2006 special issue of Development Psychology on use of the Internet by children and adolescents.

In an analysis of more than 3,200 postings on 10 message boards with a focus on self-injury (there were 406 such boards at the time of the study, and now there are more than 500), the Cornell scientists found that the leading type of posting was supportive (28 percent), followed by discussions of triggers and motivations (almost 20 percent) and concealment (9 percent). About 6 percent of postings asked for or shared techniques. Most board postings were from females describing themselves as between 14.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

May 1, 2006, 11:52 PM CT

Perfectionist Fathers Can Reinforce Tendencies

Perfectionist Fathers Can Reinforce Tendencies
Perfectionist fathers can reinforce disordered eating among college-age young people already preoccupied over their physical looks and subject to the demanding expectations of peers and media, as per a Penn State study.

A survey of 424 college students revealed that, with sons and daughters alike, the father, not the mother, is more likely to create pressures leading college-age children to indulge in erratic eating habits that in turn can lead to anorexia, bulimia and other clinical illnesses, says Dr. Michelle Miller-Day, associate professor of communication arts and sciences.

"Another finding was that food itself was not the issue with students who reported disordered eating behaviors," Miller-Day notes. "Personal perfectionism, reinforced by peer and parental expectations of perfection in combination with the allure of advertising, may cause a number of young people to feel that they are not in control of their own lives and bodies. Eating then becomes an area in which they DO have a sense of personal control."

"These findings make clear that therapy for maladaptive eating must extend to a patient's relational network and not just focus on the individual patient," she adds. "A specific focus on the patient's history of communication with parents might provide insights into the development of negative eating behaviors. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa have a very high mortality rate. The mortality rate associated with anorexia is 12 times higher than the death rate of other causes of death for females 15-24 years old."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

April 30, 2006, 11:35 PM CT

Mothers Have Inaccurate Perceptions Of Children's Body Weight

Mothers  Have Inaccurate Perceptions Of Children's Body Weight
Latina mothers of preschool-aged children frequently have inaccurate perceptions of their children's body mass index and believe they are healthy when they are overweight, as per a new study from the University of California, San Francisco.

"A significant number of women believed that their children were normal weight when they were, in fact, overweight," said lead study author Elena Fuentes-Afflick, MD, MPH, UCSF associate professor of pediatrics and a pediatrician at San Francisco General Hospital. "However, if the mother described her child as overweight, she was commonly correct, but it is concerning that a number of mothers did not perceive their overweight children as being overweight."

The study findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting today (April 29) in San Francisco. Fuentes-Afflick said the study has implications for the effort to stem the tide of pediatric obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

"It's not just Latino parents. As a pediatrician, when you start to talk to parents about their child's weight or body mass, you have to ask: How much and what are children eating? How much TV are they watching? It's particularly challenging to talk about these issues with respect to young children because parents are largely responsible for their children's dietary habits.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

April 30, 2006, 11:31 PM CT

Environmental Tobacco Smoke Linked To Behavior Problems In Children

Environmental Tobacco Smoke Linked To Behavior Problems In Children
A new Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study shows that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, even at extremely low levels, is associated with behavior problems in children and pre-teens.

While the study examined 5 to 11 year olds with asthma, the findings most likely could be extrapolated to include children without asthma who "act out" or experience depression and anxiety, as per Kimberly Yolton, Ph.D., a researcher at the Children's Environmental Health Center at Cincinnati Children's and the study's main author.

The study will be presented at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time Sunday, April 30, at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Francisco.

"This study provides further incentive for states to set public health standards to protect children from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke," says Dr. Yolton.

Dr. Yolton examined 225 children and pre-teens exposed to at least five cigarettes a day. On average, the children were exposed to approximately 14 cigarettes a day. The children were enrolled in an asthma intervention study. Dr. Yolton included additional measures to assess child behaviors.

To measure exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, Dr. Yolton measured levels of cotinine in the children's blood. Cotinine is a substance produced when nicotine is broken down by the body and can be measured in blood, urine, saliva and hair. It is considered the best available marker of environmental tobacco smoke exposure.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

April 29, 2006, 10:35 PM CT

Calcium May Prevent Fractures In Elderly Women

Calcium May Prevent Fractures In Elderly Women
Calcium supplements may be an ineffective way of preventing bone fractures among the population of elderly women because of poor long-term compliance with the treatment, but appear to be effective for women who take the supplements regularly, as per a research studyin the April 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Menopause reduces women's levels of the hormone estrogen, and these lowered levels can contribute to calcium deficiencies, as per background information in the article. Calcium supplements can be used to correct this imbalance, but it is not known if these supplements can prevent fractures in bones weakened by the loss of calcium, a condition known as osteoporosis.

Richard L. Prince, M.D., University of Western Australia, Western Australian Institute of Medical Research and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Devine, and his colleagues studied the effect of calcium supplementation on 1,460 women older than age 70 years. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to take 600-milligram calcium carbonate tablets twice per day and the other half took identical placebo tablets. X-rays, bone ultrasounds and bone scans were performed at the beginning of the study and after five years, and adverse events that mandatory a visit to a health care provider were recorded at four-month intervals. Participants returned their unused pills at the end of each year-long period and those who took fewer than 80 percent were classified as noncompliant.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

April 29, 2006, 9:31 AM CT

Use Of Information Technology In Hospitals

Use Of Information Technology In Hospitals Physician Homer Warner (seated) consults with colleagues Alan Pryor (center) and Reed Gardner in 1970—in the early days of hospital information technology. (Photo courtesy of LDS Hospital)
Eventhough information technology is now common in a number of hospitals and biomedical laboratories, in the 1950s only a small number of scientists imagined its enormous potential. In 1967, supported by NCRR, doctor Homer Warner led a seminal effort that created one of the first bioinformatics systems. This work has influenced patient care, increased safety, and produced cost-effective service in hospitals around the nation. Today, NCRR continues its support of clinical bioinformatics as an integral component of the new Clinical and Translational Science Awards.

Clinical application of bioinformatics began in earnest when the University of Utah installed a state-of-the-art computer in the early part of 1960s. Back then, Warner became intrigued by the possibility of using this new technology with patients at the Latter-day Saints (LDS) Hospital. It wasn't long before he gained access to the giant machine and began writing programs to study coronary blood flow. Because the computer was only available at night, he set a cot beside it to sleep on while the computer slowly crunched numbers.

One of the central questions in his mind was how to obtain around-the-clock physiological information from post-operative cardiac patients. Warner resolved this problem by inserting catheters into patients' arteries. When connected through a computer, the apparatus calculated stroke volume, heart rate, cardiac output, and blood pressure on demand. Resulting data were displayed on the screen of an oscilloscope, and three small lights alerted nurses of abnormal vital signs that could lead to complications. This was one of the first uses of computers for preemptive patient monitoring, a concept now propagated through nearly every intensive care unit.........

Posted by: Janet      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. Archives of society medical news blog

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