May 25, 2007, 7:31 PM CT
Alcohol use during pregnancy
Preterm delivery, and especially "extreme prematurity" defined as less than 32 weeks of gestation are major contributors to perinatal sickness and death worldwide. A new study has observed that maternal alcohol use during pregnancy can contribute to a substantial increase in risk for extreme preterm delivery.
Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
"Preterm birth has increased in part because of assisted reproductive technology and indicated medical intervention, however, we believed that we could also detect the impact of alcohol," said Robert J. Sokol, distinguished professor of obstetrics and gynecology and Director of the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development at Wayne State University. "In most prior studies, pregnancy dating was much less certain; but we used ultrasound dating. Its like listening to FM radio, rather than AM radio that has a lot of static; it is easier to hear whats being said with less noise in the background."
Sokol and colleagues collected data on exposure to alcohol, cocaine and cigarettes, as well as corresponding outcomes, from 3,130 pregnant women and their infants. As noted above, the scientists also used ultrasound to provide specific pregnancy dating. Of the newborns, 66 were extremely preterm, 462 were mildly preterm, and 2,602 were term deliveries.........
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May 25, 2007, 7:20 PM CT
Limiting eligibility for medical studies
A new analysis has observed that a number of alcohol therapy studies are designed in ways that inadvertently omit women and African-Americans from participation. The Stanford University School of Medicine researcher who led the effort said the findings should remind all researchers that strict study eligibility criteria can have unintended, negative consequences.
In reviewing data from a pool of 100,000 alcohol therapy patients, Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, determined that women and African-Americans were substantially more likely to be excluded from therapy studies than men or non-African-American patients, because of eligibility requirements involving psychiatric problems, employment and housing problems, and drug use.
"Researchers' own study designs are thwarting their good-faith efforts to recruit representative patient samples," said Humphreys, whose paper would be reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. "If we want health-care practice to be guided by research, we're going to have to do a better job at studying patients that clinicians actually see".
Medical studies typically exclude certain patients from participation. While some exclusions are often necessary - to protect patient safety, for example - Humphreys suspects scientists often use exclusions in their studies out of habit or tradition. In other cases, scientists may use eligibility criteria to enroll only "desirable" patients in their study, in an effort to make the trial run smoothly or to increase the chances that a favored therapy will show positive outcomes.........
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May 25, 2007, 7:09 PM CT
Coffee may lower blood uric acid levels
High uric acid levels in the blood are a precursor of gout, the most common inflammatory arthritis in adult men. It is believed that coffee and tea consumption may affect uric acid levels but only one study has been conducted to date. A new large-scale study reported in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritiscare) examined the relationship between coffee, tea, caffeine intake, and uric acid levels and observed that coffee consumption is linked to lower uric acid levels but that this appears to be due to components other than caffeine.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world; more than 50 percent of Americans drink it at the average rate of 2 cups per day. Because of this widespread consumption, its potential effects have important implications for public and individual health. Led by Hyon K. Choi, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, the current study was based on the U.S. Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted between 1988 and 1994. It included over 14,000 men and women at least 20 years old who consented to a medical exam in which blood and urine specimens were obtained. Coffee and tea consumption were determined based on responses to a food questionnaire that assessed intake over the prior month. Scientists estimated the amount of caffeine per cup of coffee or tea using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.........
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May 25, 2007, 3:41 PM CT
Binge Drinking Among College Students
People addicted to alcohol and young adults who are heavy drinkers, but not considered alcoholics, have something in common: they possess poor decision-making skills, as per psychology experts at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The findings are based on research examining binge drinking and heavy alcohol use among college students.
The study was led by Anna E. Goudriaan, a former postdoctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychological Sciences, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). She collaborated with Emily R. Grekin and Kenneth J. Sher of MUs Midwest Alcoholism Research Center. Grekin, a former MU research assistant, is now an assistant professor at Wayne State University. Sher is a Curators professor of clinical psychology at MU.
The team of scientists examined 200 participants during a four-year period by incorporating the Iowa Gambling Test (IGT) into the analysis. The IGT is a test of decision making strategy and measures peoples tendency to make immediate (disadvantageous) or long-term (advantageous) choices. The MU students were between the ages of 18 and 22. The initial alcohol use analysis was conducted when the students were freshmen and continued until their junior years in college. Scientists obtained information about the age they began drinking and their frequency of heaving drinking.........
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May 23, 2007, 9:57 PM CT
Sexual orientation affects how we navigate and recall lost objects
Scientists at the University of Warwick have observed that sexual orientation has a real effect on how we perform mental tasks such as navigating with a map in a car but that old age does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation and withers all mens minds alike just ahead of womens.
The University of Warwick scientists worked with the BBC to collect data from over 198,000 people aged 2065 years (109,612 men and 88,509 women). As expected they found men outperformed women on tests such as mentally rotating objects (NB the scientists tests used abstract objects but the skills used are also those one would use in real life to navigate with a map). They observed that women outperformed men in verbal dexterity tests, and remembering the locations of objects. However for many tasks the University of Warwick scientists found key differences across the range of sexual orientations studied.
For instance in mental rotation (a task where men commonly perform better) they observed that the table of best performance to worst was:
- Heterosexual men.
- Bisexual men.
- Homosexual men.
- Homosexual women.
- Bisexual women.
- Heterosexual women.
In general, over the range of tasks measured, where a gender performed better in a task heterosexuals of that gender tended to perform better than non-heterosexuals. When a particular gender was poorer at a task homosexual and bisexual people tended to perform better than heterosexual members of that gender.........
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May 21, 2007, 12:14 AM CT
'Healthy' children with smoking parents aren't really so healthy
Children of smokers who dont show any signs of respiratory problems may still be experiencing damaging changes in their airways that could lead to lung disease during the later part of life, as per a new study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference, on Sunday, May 20.
"Everyone knows that children of smokers have more respiratory problemsmore puffing, wheezing, cases of pneumoniabut until now we havent known if lung function is impaired in children of smokers who dont have any respiratory complaints or diagnosed lung problems," says researcher Bert Arets, M.D., Ph.D., of University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.
The study included 244 children ages 4 to 12 without any history of lung or airway disease. They were divided into four groups as per the smoking pattern of their parents: never smokers, smoking after birth but not during pregnancy, during pregnancy but not after birth, and both before and after birth.
The scientists observed that children of smoking parents had significantly reduced lung function similar to that seen in smokers. Smoking after birth appeared to be more harmful than smoking during pregnancy alone. The scientists have now expanded their study to include 2,000 healthy children of smokers.........
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May 21, 2007, 11:41 AM CT
Sleep Apnea Patients And Risk Of Car Crashes
People with obstructive sleep apnea have a markedly increased risk of severe motor vehicle crashes involving personal injury, as per a research studypresented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference, on Sunday, May 20.
The study of 800 people with sleep apnea and 800 without the nighttime breathing disorder observed that patients with sleep apnea were twice as likely as people without sleep apnea to have a car crash, and three to five times as likely to have a serious crash involving personal injury. Overall, the sleep apnea group had a total of 250 crashes over three years, compared with 123 crashes in the group without sleep apnea.
While a number of prior studies have shown that sleep apnea patients are at increased risk of car crashes, this study is the first to look at the severity of those crashes. We were surprised not only about how a number of of the sleep apnea patients crashes involved personal injury, but that some patients had fairly mild sleep apnea and were still having serious crashes, says Alan Mulgrew, M.D., of the UBC Sleep Disorders Program in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Patients self-reported feeling of sleepiness was not found to be linked with an increased risk of car crashes, suggesting that patients are unaware of their driving hazard, Dr. Mulgrew says. Even patients with fairly mild sleep apnea were at increased risk of car crashes. Based on these findings, I now consider driving risk when deciding on therapy for patients with mild sleep apnea, he says.........
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May 21, 2007, 10:48 AM CT
Persistent Smokers May Have Higher Risk Of Depression
Based on a Finnish study, persistent smokers may have higher risk to become depressed compared to never smokers. Also those smokers who quit have an elevated risk of depressive symptoms in short run. However, in long run this risk declines to the level of never smokers. In other words, both completely smoke-free life style and successful smoking cessation in long run seem to protect from depressive symptoms.
It is known that depression is linked to cigarette smoking, but the nature of this association is discussed under various hypotheses. First, as per the so called self-medicine hypothesis, those who suffer from depressive symptoms smoke cigarettes in order to alleviate their symptoms. As per the second assumption, chronic persistent smoking may have a role in the etiology of depression. The third hypothesis suggests that there is a reciprocal mechanism between smoking and depression. The fourth hypothesis says that there are shared underlying genetic factors explaining this co-morbidity.
This study conducted in the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki explored, which of those assumptions would be supported by the data, when smoking behavior and changes in it is considered as a predictor of depressive symptoms. The scientists had access to the data collected within the Finnish Adult Twin Cohort Project. There were about four thousand male and five thousand female twins, whose health and health behavior were followed-up through 15 years.........
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May 17, 2007, 7:07 PM CT
Healthy Humans Not Harmed By Taser
Using a Taser to control agitated suspects in police custody is standard operating procedure for a number of law enforcement agencies. In some circles, however, the idea that using a Taser could lead to a suspects death has caused controversy.
Now, the final results of a study conducted by emergency medicine physicians at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center showed no lasting effects of the Taser on healthy test subjects.
"Evaluating in-custody deaths following use of a Taser is a process that requires looking at the totality of the event. It is like putting a puzzle together. The data from this study helped shape another piece of the puzzle by looking at the physiological effects of a single Taser activation in human subjects," said study director Gary Vilke, M.D., professor of clinical medicine and director of Clinical Research for Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego. Vilke presented his findings at the 2007 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Annual Meeting, May 16-19, 2007, Chicago, IL.
Taser subdues a person by delivering an electrical current that interferes with the bodys neuromuscular system, temporarily incapacitating the recipient.
"I have been Tazed," said Vilke. "The experience is painful while its happening but afterward, you only feel sore, like you might after a tough workout. Our goal was to find out how, in the absence of alcohol, drugs or other stimulants, humans are affected physiologically."........
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May 17, 2007, 6:46 PM CT
Obese women are more likely to skip medical screening tests
Women who are severely overweight and obese are more likely than other women to skip cancer screenings. This happens despite the fact that being severely obese increases their risk of developing and dying of cancer.
Scientists from the United States analyzed data from a total of 8,300 women who were aged 40 to 74 who participated in the 2000 National Health Interview survey. The scientists observed that those women who were severely obese were up to 10 percent less likely than normal-weight women to be up-to-date on clinical breast exams, mammograms and Pap smears. The scientists note that this decreased compliance with the medical tests comes in the face of increased health risk linked to this group of women.
The study also indicated that women were severerly obese were 51 percent less likely to adhere to doctors' recommendations for mammography and 83 percent less likely to adhere to Pap recommendations. This one-sided and the study observed that doctors equally likely to recommend mammography and Pap smears to obese and non-obese women.
This study is reported in the latest issue of American Journal of.
Preventive Medicine. It was also presented at a meeting of the American Society of Preventive Oncology in March.........
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