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May 2, 2006, 0:17 AM CT

Children Living Near Major Roads Face Higher Asthma Risk

Children Living Near Major Roads Face Higher Asthma Risk
Young children who live near a major road are significantly more likely to have asthma than children who live only blocks away, as per a research studythat appears in the May 1 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study found that children living within 75 meters (about 82 yards) of a major road had a 50 percent greater risk of having had asthma symptoms in the past year than were children who lived more than 300 meters (about 328 yards) away. Higher traffic volumes on the different roads were also correlation to increased rates of asthma.

"These findings are consistent with an emerging body of evidence that local traffic around homes and schools may be causing an increase in asthma," says lead author Rob McConnell, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. "This is a potentially important public health problem because a number of children live near major roads".

More than 5,000 children ages 5 to 7 were involved in the study which was an expansion of the Children's Health Study, currently underway in 13 southern California communities. The scientists determined how far each participating child lived from a major road - a freeway, large highway or a feeder road to a highway.........

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, 11:39 PM CT

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes
A quality improvement initiative at four school-based health centers in Cincinnati has resulted in significant improvements in outcomes for children with asthma.

The results of the project provide support for the concept of school-based health centers in urban areas and for community partnerships to improve child health, as per scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center involved in the initiative. They will present their study of the project at 3:15 p.m. Pacific time Saturday, April 29, at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Francisco.

"Improving outcomes through evidence-based care shows that school-based health centers can improve child health," says Mona Mansour, M.D., a doctor at Cincinnati Children's and medical director of the school-based health centers. Dr. Mansour co-authored the study with Barbara Rose, M.P.H., who was project manager of the quality improvement initiative.

Rose and Dr. Mansour followed 212 children with asthma who are enrolled in four school-based health centers in Cincinnati that are operated by Neighborhood Health Care, Inc., a federally qualified health center organization. The centers provide comprehensive primary, mental and dental health services to children in grades K-8. Cincinnati Children's provides physicians and nurse practitioners for these centers and collaborates with the Cincinnati Health Department, which provides school nurses; the Cincinnati Public Schools; and, parents of children with asthma.........

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 30, 2006, 11:28 PM CT

Pros And Cons Of Internet Use

Pros And Cons Of Internet Use
Between 75 and 90 percent of teenagers in the United States use the Internet to email, instant message (IM), visit chat rooms and explore other sites on the World Wide Web. As per the latest research presented in a special issue of Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), spending a lot of time on the Web can have both negative and positive effects on young people, i.e., the sharing of self-injury practices by some and the improvement of academic performance and health awareness by others.

"A major goal for this cumulation of research is to show the good and bad sides of the Internet as it relates to children," said coeditors of the special issue Patricia Greenfield, PhD, of the Children's Digital Media Center, University of California at Los Angeles and Zheng Yan, PhD, of the State University of New York at Albany.

In a series of six articles, leading scientists examine normal behavior in chat rooms and the use of message boards by adolescents who self-injure, uses of the Internet to improve academic achievement among low-income youth and ways to provide health information to youth living in developing countries. Researcher Yan examines the importance of age in understanding the social and technical aspects of the Internet; Subraha number ofam and his colleagues look at why adolescents reveal their identities and sexuality online differently when in monitored versus nonmonitored virtual environments; while Cassell and his colleagues investigate how language use and linguistic styles of adolescents in an online community can predict leaders.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 30, 2006, 11:25 PM CT

New Gene Associated With Abnormal Heart Rhythm

New Gene Associated With Abnormal Heart Rhythm
Using a new genomic strategy that has the power to survey the entire human genome and identify genes with common variants that contribute to complex diseases, scientists at Johns Hopkins, together with researchers from Munich, Gera number of, and the Framingham Heart Study, U.S.A., have identified a gene that may predispose some people to abnormal heart rhythms that lead to sudden cardiac death, a condition affecting more than 300 thousand Americans each year.

The gene called NOS1AP, not previously flagged by or suspected from more traditional gene-hunting approaches, appears to influence significantly one particular risk factor - the so-called QT interval length - for sudden cardiac death. The work will be published online at Nature Genetics on April 30.

"In addition to finding a genetic variant that could be of clinical value for sudden cardiac death, this study also demonstrates how valuable large-scale genomics studies can be in detecting novel biological targets," says the study's senior author, Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute for Genetic Medicine at Hopkins. "This study, conducted during the early days of a new technology, would have been impossible without the pioneering support of the D.W. Reynolds Foundation in their generous support of our clinical program in sudden cardiac death here at Hopkins".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         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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