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C-section not linked to poorer infant health

Children's Health • • Gender: Female • • PregnancyJun 27 07

Despite some concerns to the contrary, babies delivered by cesarean may not make more visits to the doctor’s office or hospital early in life, a study has found.

Some research has suggested that C-sections may affect children’s long-term health, possibly increasing their chances of conditions such as asthma, allergies and gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Can Blindness be Prevented Through Diet?

Dieting • • Eye / Vision ProblemsJun 25 07

Increasing intake of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, found in popular fish-oil supplements, may protect against blindness resulting from abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye, according to a study published online by the journal Nature Medicine on June 24.

The study was done in mice, but a clinical trial at Children’s Hospital Boston will soon begin testing the effects of omega-3 supplementation in premature babies, who are at risk for vision loss.

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IVF pregnancies may be happier than natural ones

Fertility and pregnancy • • PregnancyJun 25 07

Women who conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are just as happy in late pregnancy as women who conceive naturally—maybe even more so, new research from Israel suggests.

It had been thought that IVF moms were more stressed than those who conceived naturally. “A lot of studies have come out and said that they were indeed more anxious and they were having a worse time of it,” Dr. Marsha Kaitz of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health. “My paper says that that isn’t necessarily the case. The women that I interviewed were really quite positive.”

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Obese people appear better protected from TB

Infections • • ObesityJun 25 07

Elderly people who are obese appear to have a lower risk of falling ill with tuberculosis compared with those who are underweight or of average weight, according to an extensive geriatric study in Hong Kong.

Although obesity has been linked to health problems such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, experts notice that among people suffering from the same ailments, those who are overweight tend to outlive those who are thin.

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Addiction experts say video games not an addiction

Children's Health • • Psychiatry / PsychologyJun 25 07

Doctors backed away on Sunday from a controversial proposal to designate video game addiction as a mental disorder akin to alcoholism, saying psychiatrists should study the issue more.

Addiction experts also strongly opposed the idea at a debate at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting.

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Women’s mortality rates for cardiovascular disease differ widely among hospitals

Gender: Female • • HeartJun 25 07

Women treated for cardiovascular disease at the nation’s best- performing hospitals have a 39 percent lower risk-adjusted mortality rate when compared with women at the nation’s poorest-performing hospitals, according to the fourth annual HealthGrades Women’s Health Outcomes in U.S. Hospitals study, released today.

The study also found that, for women, the largest quality gaps between the best-performing and poorest-performing hospitals were in heart failure and interventional cardiology procedures. Compared to poorly performing hospitals, the best-performing hospitals had a 46 percent lower risk-adjusted mortality for heart failure and a 44 percent lower risk-adjusted mortality for interventional cardiology procedures.

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Type 1 diabetes and heart disease—Heavier may mean healthier

Diabetes • • Fat, Dietary • • HeartJun 25 07

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences studying links between an early sign of heart disease called coronary artery calcification and body fat have found that, paradoxically, more fat may have some advantages, at least for people – particularly women – who have type 1 diabetes. Cardiovascular complications, including heart disease, are a leading cause of death for people with diabetes, who tend to suffer cardiovascular disease decades earlier than non-diabetics.

“Gaining weight may reflect good or better treatment with insulin therapy, which may partly explain why participants who gained weight over time had lower mortality rates,” said Trevor Orchard, M.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), who is presenting the findings during the 67th annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association. Scientific sessions take place June 22-26 at the McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago.

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Promising results from first gene therapy clinical trial for Parkinson’s disease reported

Genetics • • NeurologyJun 23 07

In what could be a breakthrough in the treatment of neurological disease, a team led by physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center has completed the first-ever phase 1 clinical trial using gene therapy to battle Parkinson’s disease.

The study of 11 men and one woman with the progressive neurodegenerative illness found that the procedure—in which surgeons inject a harmless gene-bearing virus into the brain—was both safe and resulted in improved motor function for Parkinson’s patients over the course of one year. The findings are published in the June 23 issue of The Lancet.

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Glaxo failed to warn of diabetes drug risk

Diabetes • • Drug Abuse • • HeartJun 21 07

The widow and son of a Texas man who was taking a GlaxoSmithKline Plc diabetes drug at the time of his fatal heart attack claims the drugmaker failed to warn about the drug’s risks, according to a lawsuit.

The claim involves rosiglitazone, which is sold under the brand names Avandia and Advandamet. Investors have been bracing for a flood of litigation against Glaxo after a widely publicized medical report suggested Avandia increases the risk of heart attack.

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Low vitamin D may be a heart disease risk factor

HeartJun 21 07

A new study shows an association between low vitamin D levels and risk factors for cardiovascular disease “in a nationally representative sample.”

Dr. Keith Norris, at Drew University School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), conducted between 1988 and 1994.

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Antipsychotic drugs may impair or aid cognition

Drug News • • Psychiatry / PsychologyJun 21 07

Antipsychotic medications used to relieve distress in people with chronic schizophrenia have variable effects on mental functioning and cognitive capability, according to a report sponsored by the National Institute of Medical Health.

“Some patients improve and some get worse, so their doctors need to attend to how an antipsychotic is affecting cognition,” Dr. Richard S. E. Keefe from Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina told Reuters Health.

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Fitness level predicts heart problems

HeartJun 21 07

Cardiovascular fitness may predict the odds of a future heart attack in men and women with no apparent signs of heart disease, a large study suggests.

Researchers found that of more than 26,000 adults with no symptoms of heart disease, those who showed the greatest endurance on exercise tests had the lowest risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years.

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High Blood Levels of Urate Linked to Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Endocrinology • • NeurologyJun 21 07

In a new, large-scale, prospective study exploring the link between levels of urate in the blood and risk of Parkinson’s disease, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that high levels of urate are strongly associated with a reduced risk of the disease. The findings were published online on June 20, 2007 in The American Journal of Epidemiology and will appear in an upcoming print issue of the journal.

Urate is a normal component of blood, and although high levels can lead to gout, urate might also have beneficial effects because it is a potent antioxidant. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive nerve disorder associated with destruction of brain cells producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential to the normal functioning of the central nervous system.

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Women Aged 50-59 Taking Oral Estrogen Therapy Had Reduced Levels of Coronary Artery Calcification

Gender: Female • • HeartJun 21 07

Newswise — Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth (NYSE:WYE), provides comment on the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Coronary Artery Calcium Study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study found that younger menopausal women (aged 50-59) who received a standard dose of oral conjugated estrogens had significantly less coronary artery calcification at the end of the study period compared with those taking placebo. Coronary artery calcification is a marker of plaque in the arteries and a predictor of future cardiovascular events.

“In the five years since the WHI study ended, new data have emerged that help put the initial findings into perspective. These results showed that in these younger menopausal women, estrogen therapy reduced calcified plaque buildup in the arteries,” says Howard Hodis, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine; Director, Artherosclerosis Research Unit, University of Southern California. “These data support initiation of estrogen therapy, where indicated when a woman first enters menopause and begins experiencing symptoms and bone loss.”

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Parents have an eye on kids’ media usage - study

Children's Health • • Public HealthJun 20 07

For all the hand-wringing policymakers do over television, parents say they are gaining control over what their kids watch, according to a new survey.

A Kaiser Family Foundation’s national survey of 1,008 parents of children ages 2-17 found that 65 percent say they “closely” monitor their children’s media use, while only 18 percent say they “should do more.”

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