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U.S. lowers threshold for lead poisoning in children

Public HealthMay 16 12

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut its threshold level for defining lead poisoning in children to 5 micrograms per deciliter on Wednesday from 10, marking the first such reduction in 20 years.

“The recommendation was based on a growing number of scientific studies showing that even low blood lead levels can cause lifelong health effects,” the CDC said, in adopting the recommendation of an advisory committee. “Today, CDC is officially announcing our agreement with that recommendation.”

The new “reference value” for lead poisoning was based on the population of U.S. children aged 1 to 5 years whose blood lead levels are in the highest 2.5 percent of children tested, the agency said.

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Genetic test identifies eye cancer tumors likely to spread

Cancer • • Brain CancerMay 14 12

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a genetic test that can accurately predict whether the most common form of eye cancer will spread to other parts of the body, particularly the liver.

In 459 patients with ocular melanoma at 12 centers in the United States and Canada, the researchers found the test could successfully classify tumors more than 97 percent of the time.

The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Ophthalmology, but is now online.

“When the cancer spreads beyond the eye, it’s unlikely any therapy is going to be effective,” says principal investigator J. William Harbour, MD. “But it’s very possible that we can develop treatments to slow the growth of metastatic tumors. The real importance of this test is that by identifying the type of tumor a patient has, we can first remove the tumor from the eye with surgery or radiation and then get those individuals at high risk into clinical trials that might be able to help them live longer.”

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High-level trauma care may limit disability

Public Health • • TraumaMay 10 12

People treated for severe injuries at a specialized trauma center may survive with fewer disabilities than those at other hospitals, a study from Australia suggests.

The findings, researchers say, add to evidence that patients fare better when they’re treated under an organized trauma system - where hospitals, emergency services and state governments have coordinated plans for getting the right patients to the appropriate treatment.

So-called Level I trauma centers provide the most comprehensive care for traumatic injuries and have to meet certain requirements - like having a specific number of surgeons and other specialists on duty 24 hours a day.

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Delayed female sexual maturity linked to longer lifespan in mice

Sexual HealthMay 07 12

An intriguing clue to longevity lurks in the sexual maturation timetable of female mammals, Jackson Laboratory researchers and their collaborators report.

Jackson researchers including Research Scientist Rong Yuan, Ph.D., had previously established that mouse strains with lower circulating levels of the hormone IGF1 at age six months live longer than other strains. In research published May 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Yuan and colleagues report that females from strains with lower IGF1 levels also reach sexual maturity at a significantly later age.

“This suggests a genetically regulated tradeoff - delayed reproduction but longer life - that is at least partially mediated by IGF1,” Yuan says.

The researchers conclude that IGF1 may co-regulate female sexual maturation and longevity. They showed that mouse strains derived from wild populations carry specific gene variants that delay sexual maturation, and they identified a candidate gene, Nrip1, involved in regulating sexual maturation that may also affect longevity by controlling IGF1 levels.

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Study shows school-based health centers boost vaccination rates

Children's Health • • Immunology • • Public HealthMay 07 12

New research from the University of Colorado School of Medicine shows that school-based health centers are highly effective in delivering comprehensive care, especially vaccines to adolescents.

The study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, highlights the value of a ‘captive audience’ in a school setting where students can be easily reminded to get recommended vaccinations.

“School-based health centers can provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents who are hard to reach,” said CU School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Allison Kempe, MD, MPH, and lead author of the study. “I think it’s a very important model especially in underserved and low income areas. School-based health centers are not prevalent across the United States but I think they should be.”

Kempe, director of the Children’s Outcomes Research Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said the scope of immunizations for adolescents has expanded markedly over the last few years, prompting discussions about a platform of inoculations for this population similar to those given to infants.

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Obesity-Linked Diabetes in Children Resists Treatment

Children's Health • • Diabetes • • ObesityMay 04 12

Obesity and the form of diabetes linked to it are taking an even worse toll on America’s youths than medical experts had realized. As obesity rates in children have climbed, so has the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and a new study adds another worry: the disease progresses more rapidly in children than in adults and is harder to treat.

“It’s frightening how severe this metabolic disease is in children,” said Dr. David M. Nathan, an author of the study and director of the diabetes center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s really got a hold on them, and it’s hard to turn around.”

Before the 1990s, this form of diabetes was hardly ever seen in children. It is still uncommon, but experts say any increase in such a serious disease is troubling. There were about 3,600 new cases a year from 2002 to 2005, the latest years for which data is available.

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Kirk leaves rehab center

Public Health • • StrokeMay 04 12

Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a major stroke in January, has left the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and will continue treatment there as an outpatient, his family and an aide said Thursday.

“We are happy to say … Mark has progressed to the point where he can move home with his family,” according to a news release Thursday from unidentified relatives.

Kirk already has left the rehabilitation institute and “will be staying with various family members during his continued recovery,” Andrew Flach, his communications director, said Thursday.

One official familiar with Kirk’s recovery said the goal is for him to return to the Senate in the fall after the congressional recess in August. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the senator’s recovery.

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