Mar 30 2011
LONDON (Reuters) – Death rates among adolescents have overtaken those of young children as increasing numbers of young males are dying through violence or injury while efforts to reduce child mortality are succeeding.
A study of data from 50 countries over the second half of the 20th century found that most deaths of young people were due to incidents such as car accidents or reckless behavior, with violence and suicide also key causes of death.
The findings, published in the Lancet medical journal on Tuesday, show the reversal of an historical trend and are partly a reflection of success in reducing death rates among very young children, the researchers said.
But the strong international focus on reducing infant and child mortality has not been matched by similar efforts in older groups, they said, even though more than two-fifths of the world's population are in the five to 24 years age group.
"These trends are likely to continue because mortality in children younger than five years is expected to decline further, and injury-related mortality is expected to increase in the next 25 years," said Russell Viner from the University College London institute of child health, who led the study.
Commenting on the findings, Michael Resnick of the University of Minnesota in the United States, who was not involved in the study, said they showed how "the profound health and social changes that have accompanied economic development and urbanization are particularly toxic for young people in both high-income and low-income settings."
A study in 2009 by World Health Organization (WHO)-supported researchers found that 40 percent of adolescent deaths were due to injuries and violence.
Against this background, Resnick said breakthroughs in medical progress and service delivery were not enough to counter health ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 30 2011
TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Dangerous methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infections occur more often in the summer and fall, and this seasonal increase is more common in children than adults, a new study reports.
The findings came from an analysis of MRSA cases that occurred at Rhode Island Hospital, in Providence, over 10 years.
The researchers found that children's infections were higher in the third and fourth quarters of the year than in the first two quarters. In the later months, children had 1.85 times more MRSA infections that had been contracted outside of a health-care setting, called community-associated MRSA infections, and 2.94 times more hospital-associated infections.
By contrast, adults had 1.14 times more community-associated MRSA infections in the last two quarters of the year than in the first two quarters, and there was no seasonal variation in hospital-associated infections, according to the study, published online March 23 in PLoS One.
The researchers also reviewed published articles from the past 70 years, finding an increase in MRSA infections during summer and autumn in many temperate regions of the world and during the warmest months of the year in tropical regions.
Skin moisture plays an important role in the growth of microbes, and the presence of both heat and humidity may offer ideal conditions for the proliferation of S. aureus, the researchers said.
"It is hoped that this study will promote further investigation into the seasonality of S. aureus infections to better understand the biologic basis for this observation," lead author Leonard Mermel, medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island Hospital, said in a hospital news release.
TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Death rates among teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 are now higher than among children aged 1 to 4 years in many countries, says a new study that shows a reversal of historical death patterns.
The international team of researchers that analyzed the causes and patterns of death among children over 5 years old in 50 countries between 1955 and 2004 also found that death rates among young males aged 15 to 24 are now two to three times higher than for boys aged 1 to 4 years.
Injury is the leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults, they noted.
Here are some of the specific findings:
-In the 1950s, the death rate for children aged 1 to 4 was much higher than all other age groups. Since then, the death rate among children aged 1 to 9 fell by 80 to 93 percent, mostly because of reductions in deaths from infectious diseases.
-Over the same time, the decline in the death rate among young people aged 15 to 24 was only about half that of young children, largely because of increases in injury-related deaths, particularly in young males. By the start of this century, injuries caused 70 to 75 percent of all deaths in young males aged 10 to 24 in all the countries included in the study.
-By 2004, violence and suicide were responsible for one-quarter to one-third of deaths in young men aged 10 to 24.
The findings suggest that not enough is being done to deal with the health problems and causes of death among these young people, said the researchers.
The study appears online March 28 in The Lancet.
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Mar 30 2011
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Official reports of negative reactions to prescription drugs have increased dramatically over the last decade, according to a new study.
In a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) database launched in 1969, researchers found that over half the reports of "adverse events" suspected to be caused by a particular drug or device date from just the past 10 years.
The FDA currently receives about half-a-million such reports of health problems, and even deaths, associated with medical products each year. In 2000, they came in at a rate of nearly five for every 10,000 office visits in which at least one prescription was written. By 2005, that rate had risen to nearly seven per 10,000 visits, according to the new analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of reports coming in grew steadily by more than 11 percent every year. By 2010, they added up to 2.2 million reports -- 55 percent of the entire database total.
Study author Dr. Sheila Weiss-Smith of the University of Maryland in Baltimore cautioned that the number of reports does not equal the true number of negative reactions to drugs.
Manufacturers are required to report to the FDA any health problem they suspect stems from one of their products, but for doctors, patients, lawyers, and anyone else who reports these reactions, it's entirely voluntary, she told Reuters Health.
It's hard to estimate how many negative reactions to drugs actually occur, Weiss-Smith noted. Some experts suggest official reports represent one-tenth of the number of actual negative reactions, but she said she doesn't trust that figure. "We just don't know. We don't know what percentage of events actually gets reported."
She added that it's also difficult to determine ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
MONDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- As the debate over medical marijuana use continues, a new study among multiple sclerosis patients -- who often use the drug to relieve pain and muscle spasticity -- adds to the argument that smoking pot clouds thinking skills.
Canadian researchers studied two groups of 25 people between the ages of 18 and 65 with MS, an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system and can lead to paralysis, cognitive problems, incontinence and a host of other sensory and functional deficits. One group used marijuana heavily, while the other group reported no marijuana use for many years.
Patients using pot performed significantly worse on cognitive tests measuring attention, thinking speed, executive function and visual perception of spatial relationships between objects, the study authors said. Users were also twice as likely to be classified as globally cognitively impaired, meaning they failed at least two of 11 various assessments.
The study is published in the March 29 issue of Neurology.
"We published a paper a few years back that said cannabis use in MS patients might be linked to delays in processing speed, but it was a very small sample," said study author Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. "This confirms our earlier impressions that cannabis could, in fact, have some cognitive side effects . . but I'm surprised at the breadth. We were thinking we would probably replicate our earlier findings, but it went beyond that."
Data suggests that between 36 percent and 43 percent of MS patients have smoked pot at some time, according to the study, and "a substantial minority" find cannabis relieves pain, insomnia, spasticity, tremors, bladder problems and emotional distress.
Between 40 percent and 60 percent of MS patients ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 30 2011
MONDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Fennel extract, herbal tea and sugar water relieved colic in some infants better than a placebo, according to a new study that reviewed clinical trials of alternative remedies for colic.
But parents shouldn't get their hopes up too high. All of the trials reviewed had "major limitations," such as having too few patients, relying on parental reports of symptoms, or the study design (such as not being double-blinded).
"The notion that any form of complementary and alternative medicine is effective for infantile colic currently is not supported from the evidence from the included randomized clinical trials," the researchers from the United Kingdom wrote. "Additional replications are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn."
But because fennel extract, certain herbal teas and sugar water are generally safe, and because the research does suggest babies may benefit, pediatricians said they would feel comfortable recommending them to parents.
"It's reasonable for parents to consider those kinds of interventions for which there is some suggestion of benefit but no known risks," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
The study, published in the April print issue of Pediatrics, appears online March 28.
Colic usually starts when a baby is about three weeks old, said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and author of the Expecting 411 book series. Colic is usually defined as excessive and inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day for more than three days a week over more than three weeks.
"It's miserable for both baby and the parents," Brown said. "And although we've been studying it for years, no one has figured out what the cause is, which makes ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 30 2011
ATLANTA – As U.S. doctors in Guatemala were wrapping up one of the most unethical medical experiments they had ever conducted, a Guatemalan medical official praised the lead researcher as noble and thanked him profusely.
The Guatemalan official's praising letter from more than 60 years ago is among thousands of documents released Tuesday concerning the doctor who led the study that infected Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis in the 1940s.
The records released by the National Archives reveal new information about Guatemalan officials' involvement in the research, though it's not clear if they were aware of all the details of what the U.S. doctors were doing.
The papers that belonged to U.S. Public Health Service researcher Dr. John C. Cutler were formerly housed at the University of Pittsburgh but lay in obscurity until a medical historian discovered them. Her finding made international news in October, when the U.S. government acknowledged the research had taken place and apologized for it.
Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom, to personally apologize.
Guatemalan Embassy official Fernando de la Cerda said his country hadn't known anything about the experiment until Clinton made the call.
But the records indicate that just as the experiment was buried by government medical officials in the United States, it was also known and them apparently forgotten in Guatemala.
Indeed, it was a Guatemalan who first proposed the country as a setting for the research. The idea came from Dr. Juan Funes, chief of the venereal disease control division of Guatemala's national health service, who had been assigned to a public health lab in New York for a year, Cutler wrote in a summary of the study.
From 1946-48, the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
MONDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Some women who've been treated for early-stage breast cancer are more likely than others to worry excessively that the cancer will return, a new study has found.
This type of anxiety, the researchers say, can compromise a woman's medical care and quality of life.
"How much women worry about recurrence is often not aligned with their actual risk for cancer recurrence," study author Nancy Janz, of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a news release from Cancer, which published the findings online March 28.
For most women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, the risk for recurrence is low. Nonetheless, many worry a lot, and "we need to better understand the factors that increase the likelihood that women will worry and develop strategies and appropriate referrals to help women with excessive worry," Janz said.
The study included 2,290 women diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer between June 2005 and February 2007.
Those found to be least likely to worry about cancer recurrence included women who were more easily able to understand clinical information presented to them, who had fewer symptoms and who received more coordinated care.
Factors associated with higher levels of worry included being younger, having a job, experiencing more pain and fatigue and undergoing radiation treatment.
The researchers also found that Hispanic women who were less acclimated to the U.S. culture were particularly vulnerable to high levels of worry and that black women experienced much less worry than did women of other races and ethnic backgrounds.
To help ease their worries, Janz said, programs developed to help women who've been through breast cancer treatment should be culturally sensitive and reflect differences in women's communication style, social support and coping strategies.
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MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – A judge ordered a Michigan woman to spend a year in jail Tuesday for scamming thousands of dollars from donors by drugging her 12-year-old son to make him appear to have cancer — a sentence that her family complained was too lenient.
Carol Schnuphase, 47, pleaded no contest in February to charges of second-degree child abuse and acting under false pretenses. On Tuesday, she apologized for her actions in Macomb County Circuit Court before Judge Richard Caretti announced he would send her to the county jail rather than his preference — state prison.
"Your conduct, ma'am, in this case is reprehensible. To tell a vulnerable, defenseless young boy that he is dying of cancer for your own pecuniary gain is almost beyond the realm of comprehension," said Caretti, who based his sentence on a deal reached with Schnuphase's lawyer. "To then give your son strong opiate-based pills crushed up in his apple sauce to further your despicable scheme defies all reason."
The defendant's aunt, Lorraine Kelsch, said after the sentencing that the family had wanted Schnuphase to be sentenced to five years in prison.
"My reaction is disgust," Kelsch said. "That sentence stinks. It's horrible."
Prosecutors said a hospital tested the boy, who is now 13, and declared him cancer-free, although he was going through opiate withdrawal.
Defense attorney Dominic Greco, however, said Schnuphase denies having given her son "opiates of any kind.
"There are other ways for the test being false," he said, pointing to the possibility that the medication Schnuphase was giving her son to combat acid reflux may have resulted "in a false positive."
As for the other accusations, Greco said Schnuphase admits telling her son he had leukemia, "which is terrible. She has no ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Mar 30 2011
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Smokers face an increased risk of certain types of throat and stomach cancers, even years after they quit, a new study finds.
Combining the results of 33 past studies, Italian researchers found that current smokers were more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop cancer, either in their esophagus or in a part of the stomach called the gastric cardia.
In some of the studies, the risk of esophagus cancer remained high even when people had quit smoking three decades earlier.
The two cancers, both known as adenocarcinomas, are relatively uncommon in Western countries. Rates elsewhere are much higher, especially in less developed countries. But in recent decades, rates of the cancers have been rising in the U.S. and Europe -- possibly related to growing rates of obesity.
Smoking has long been considered a risk factor for the two cancers.
But these latest findings offer a "better quantification" of the risks, said senior researcher Dr. Eva Negri, of the "Mario Negri" Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan.
What's more, they suggest that the risks remain higher than average for some time after smokers quit.
"Stopping smoking is highly beneficial at any age, but it appears that for these cancers the risk decreases only slowly," Negri told Reuters Health in an email.
For their study, published in the journal Epidemiology, Negri and her colleagues pooled the results of 33 previous studies. In most of them, researchers had compared a relatively small group of patients with either esophagus or gastric cardia tumors against a cancer-free group. In three studies, researchers had followed large groups of adults over time, charting any new cases of esophageal or gastric cardia cancers.
Overall, Negri's team found, current smokers had more than ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)