Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Severe diarrheal illness — Clostridium difficile — is linked to antibiotics prescribed in U.S. doctor’s offices, federal health officials say.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the majority of pediatric C. difficile infections, which are bacterial infections that cause severe diarrhea and are potentially life-threatening, occur among children in the general community who recently took antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for other conditions.
A study by the CDC, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 71 percent of the cases of C. difficile infection identified among children ages 1 to 17 were community-associated — that is, not associated with an overnight stay in a healthcare facility.
In contrast, two-thirds of C. difficile infections in adults are associated with hospital stays, he said.
Among the community-associated pediatric cases whose parents were interviewed, 73 percent were prescribed antibiotics during the 12 weeks prior to their illness, usually in an out-patient setting such as a doctor’s office. Most of the children who received antibiotics were being treated for ear, sinus, or upper respiratory infections, the study said.
Previous studies showed at least 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for children are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, Frieden said.
“Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation’s children,” Frieden said in a statement. “When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic resistant infections.”
C. difficile causes at least 250,000 infections in hospitalized patients and 14,000 deaths every year among children and adults. Preliminary CDC data show an estimated 17,000 children age 1 to 17 get C. difficile infections every year…
When a person takes antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that protect against infection can be altered or even eliminated for several weeks to months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread from a healthcare provider’s hands.
Our culture persists in looking for easy solutions, the magic bullet that will resolve all illness with a single prescription. Preferably sugar-coated.
For at least five years, the woman’s body lay clothed in a winter jacket in the backseat of her Jeep in the garage of a home where she lived alone.
Her bills were automatically deducted from her bank account, and residents of the quiet middle-class Pontiac neighborhood said they noticed nothing amiss.
Nobody saw her, but the grass was cut and the mail didn’t pile up. Some neighbors said they thought she had moved out of the country after the recession hit several years ago.
Eventually, the money in her bank account ran out and the house went into foreclosure, leading to the gruesome discovery this week.
The body had mummified…adding to the mystery.
A contractor the bank sent to check out the house discovered the body Wednesday in the attached garage of the ranch-style home on Savanna Drive, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department.
Undersheriff Mike McCabe said investigators believe the woman has been dead since at least 2008. That’s the year the license plate on the Jeep expired…
The undersheriff said neighbors told deputies they thought the woman had moved out of the country because they had not seen her for three or more years.
An autopsy showed there was no trauma to the body; a cause of death is pending, McCabe said.
Dr. Bernardino Pacris, the Oakland County deputy medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, said the skin was intact, though internal organs had decomposed. He said he found no evidence of internal or external injuries…
Pacris said the body was on the backseat and clothed in a heavy jacket and jeans, leading him to believe the woman may have died when the weather was cold. The key was in the ignition, but in the off position, Pacris said.
Which removed my first thought on her death. I’ve known a couple folks took the blue jaunte in the back seat of their car.
She obviously wasn’t out of bucks and had bills prepaid including, I guess, lawn care.
Adults in the UK [and the US] should aim to cut their sugar intake to 5% of daily calories if they can, according to the World Health Organisation – less than the amount, for an average person, in a single can of Coca-Cola.
In a new draft guideline, the WHO said all people, at every stage of life, should try to reduce the amount of sugar they consume. It reiterated its 2003 guidance that countries should set an upper limit of 10% of daily calories from sugar – but said the ideal level would be 5%.
For an adult of average bodyweight, with an intake of about 2,000 calories a day, 5% would equate to 100 calories – which at four calories in a gram would be 25g of sugar, said Dr Francesco Branca, the WHO’s director of nutrition for health and development. A standard 330ml can of cola contains 35g of sugar.
Even at a 10% limit, said Branca, a can of sugar-sweetened drink “approaches the amount that is acceptable for an adult. For a child, since a child has a lower energy requirement, that could be a lot less. Consumption of a single serving of sugar-sweetened soda might actually exceed the limit of 10% of energy [from sugar] for a child.”
Branca added that soft drink consumption “is one of the elements that has been more constantly associated with increased weight gain, particularly in children. This is an area where more intense action needs to be taken if this guideline is to be implemented…”
The WHO’s nutrition guidance expert advisory group has been mulling over the evidence for nearly two years and commissioned scientific reviews of the evidence on the risks posed to health by “free sugars” – those added to food and drinks rather than the intrinsic sugars in fruit and vegetables.
The evidence is clearest on dental caries, the report says. Studies show an increase in tooth decay in children who get more than 10% of their calories from sugar…The link with obesity and diseases for which it is a risk factor, such as strokes, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, is less clear cut. However, analyses of all available well-conducted trials suggested that people who cut down on sugar also managed to reduce weight – and those who ate more sugar put on weight.
The new guideline is likely to be strongly opposed by the food and drink industry and their supporters, who argue that no one food or type of food is a problem – all food and drinks are fine in moderation, they say.
Meanwhile, you’ll not be harming yourself by reducing sugar intake. So, why not get off your rusty dusty, sort out your nutrition and diet, squeeze a little more exercise into your daily life – and don’t waste too many tears on the food and drink industry.
Yes, MI is an ingredient listed in these
“In the last two or three years, we’ve suddenly seen a big increase in people with this type of allergy,” said Dr. Matthew Zirwas, director of the contact dermatitis center at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “For some patients, their rash has been unexplained and going on for years.”
Zirwas says the chemical preservative is MI (methylisothiazolinone) and it has been around for years. MI is found in many water-based products like liquid soaps, hair products, sunscreen, cosmetics, laundry products and cleaners as well as pre-moistened personal hygiene products and baby wipes.
“Concentrations of the preservative have increased dramatically in some products in the last few years, as manufacturers stopped using other preservatives like paraben and formaldehyde,” Zirwas said.
The irritated skin can be red, raised, itchy and even blistery, appearing much like a reaction to poison ivy. The three most common areas affected by the allergic reaction include the face, from using soaps and shampoos, the fingers and hands, from handling the wipes, and the buttocks and genitals from using moistened flushable wipes.
“If someone suspects an allergy to moistened wipes, they need to stop using them for at least one month. A week or two isn’t enough time,” Zirwas said.
Zirwas is nationally-known as a kind of ‘dermatologist detective.’ He has spent nearly 10 years sleuthing out the causes of mysterious rashes that others can’t solve. Over the years, he has identified allergies to shoe glue, hot tub chemicals, nickel in food, even a chemical in escalator hand rails. Patients have traveled from as far as Alaska to have him diagnose their skin allergies.
Zirwas says it isn’t clear how many Americans might react to MI, but he says manufacturers are aware of the growing allergy problem and are working on alternatives.
The question easily comes to mind – what level of testing did manufacturers of products like moistened bum-wipes utilize if doctors are discovering allergic reactions are becoming common? Did anyone at the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the FDA happen to ask this question?
What do stopping for your morning coffee, grabbing a sandwich at noon, filling up your gas tank, and making an after-work trip to the grocery store all have in common? Although we wish that was the intro to a really bad joke, the truth is they all expose you to concerning levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical that acts like estrogen and harms everything from your brain and heart to your reproductive tract.
While canned food usually gets most of the blame when it comes to our contact with the hormone-altering chemical, more studies are finding that skin exposure to BPA is a real threat, too.
The latest research, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that handling thermal paper used for movie and airline tickets and ATM, gas-pump, and store receipts reliably leads to BPA transfer into your body…
While the average person can cut down on this unnecessary BPA exposure by saying no to trivial receipts, the researchers are even more concerned about cashiers who may spend 40-plus hours a week handling chemical-coated receipts.
Heat-sensitive thermal paper is coated in colorless BPA powder because it helps bind to dye to form the letters and numbers you see on receipts. “When you touch thermal paper, you’re getting exposed to massive amounts of BPA,” explains veteran BPA researcher Frederick vom Saal…”Until recently, we didn’t know that. It’s just one example of BPA being used in a way that I never would have thought about.”
RTFA for more ways to worry about BPA. China has banned its use in a number of products. So has Canada. And a few local initiatives in the United States. The FDA is “studying”.
We need a few markets to convert to the SQUARE system used at my favorite coffee shop in Santa Fe. After sliding your credit card and doing all the magic calculations including tip – they send the receipt to your smartphone. I worry less about low level RF than BPA.
It might seem too good to be true, but dark chocolate is good for you and scientists now know why. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. What’s more, the scientists also found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect…
“We provide a more complete picture of the impact of chocolate consumption in vascular health and show that increasing flavanol content has no added beneficial effect on vascular health,” said Diederik Esser, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from…Wageningen University, The Netherlands. “However, this increased flavanol content clearly affected taste and thereby the motivation to eat these chocolates. So the dark side of chocolate is a healthy one.”
As if I needed any special motivation to eat dark chocolate? Every day.
To make this discovery, Esser and colleagues analyzed 44 middle-aged overweight men over two periods of four weeks as they consumed 70 grams of chocolate per day. Study participants received either specially produced dark chocolate with high flavanol content or chocolate that was regularly produced. Both chocolates had a similar cocoa mass content. Before and after both intervention periods, researchers performed a variety of measurements that are important indicators of vascular health. During the study, participants were advised to refrain from certain energy dense food products to prevent weight gain. Scientists also evaluated the sensory properties of the high flavanol chocolate and the regular chocolate and collected the motivation scores of the participants to eat these chocolates during the intervention.
“The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Until the ‘dark chocolate drug‘ is developed, however, we’ll just have to make do with what nature has given us!”
I do love researchers with a sense of humor. Given the study took place in The Netherlands I’m surprised there wasn’t a parallel and supportive study on real beer.
A Mississippi man has been found literally alive and kicking in a body bag at a funeral home after being declared dead…Workers at Porter and Sons Funeral Home were preparing to embalm Walter Williams on Thursday when he moved.
A coroner pronounced the 78-year-old dead after finding no pulse when he was called to Mr Williams’ home in the city of Lexington on the previous evening.
Holmes County coroner Dexter Howard told the BBC he was called to Mr Williams’ home by a hospice nurse, who said the man had passed away.
Mr Howard said he went through the “normal procedure” of checking for Mr Williams’ vital signs, but found none.
Mr Williams was taken to Porter and Sons Funeral Home and was being prepared for embalming when “we noticed there was some kicking and moving going on”, Mr Howard said…
The farmer and school board employee was taken to a hospital for treatment, where Mr Howard visited him…
Mr Howard said he had never seen anything like this in more than two decades as a coroner…”It’s an unusual case,” he said. “I hope he keeps on keeping on.”
Phew! Ain’t nothing miraculous; but, I begin to wonder if there might be a few more tests thrown in before folks are declared dead. I read stories like with daunting frequency.
BioEthicists whine about “designer babies” – as more important than the lives of children facing genetic defects
The Food and Drug Administration is weighing a fertility procedure that involves combining the genetic material of three people to make a baby free of certain defects, a therapy that critics say is an ethical minefield and could lead to the creation of designer babies.
The agency has asked a panel of experts to summarize current science to determine whether the approach — which has been performed successfully in monkeys by researchers in Oregon and in people more than a decade ago — is safe enough to be used again in people.
The F.D.A. meeting, on Tuesday and Wednesday, is meant to address the scientific issues around the procedure, not the ethics. Regulators are asking scientists to discuss the risks to the mother and the potential child and how future studies should be structured, among other issues. The meeting is being closely watched. The science of such therapies has advanced significantly in recent years, and many scientists are urging federal regulators to ease requirements for study in humans…
The procedure in question involves mitochondria, the power producers in cells that convert energy into a form that cells can use. Mitochondria with defects that could be passed to a fetus are replaced with healthy mitochondria from another woman. This is done either before or after an egg is fertilized…
The practice raised questions and eventually led the F.D.A. to tell researchers that they could not perform such procedures in humans without getting special permission from the agency. Since then, studies have been confined to animals…
So, for thirteen years, research has been confined to a precursor.
Such genetic methods have been controversial in the United States, where critics and some elected officials wonder how far scientists plan to go in their efforts to engineer humans, and question whether these methods might create other problems.
“Every time we get a little closer to genetic tinkering to promote health — that’s exciting and scary,” said Dr. Alan Copperman, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York…“The most exciting part, scientifically,” he said, “is to be able to prevent or fix an error in the genetic machinery…”
Then, the TIMES lurches into predictable fears ranging from spooky anti-science to repeating truly incompetent suggestions about diet and stress for test monkeys. RTFA if you think they’re saying something Luther Burbank didn’t hear.
Dr. Celia Witten, director of the office of Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies at the F.D.A., gave few clues to the agency’s thinking.
“We haven’t made any decision about whether clinical trials will be allowed to proceed,” she said.
The conference was brought together in the first place to examine methodology and practical results. The kind of discussion science has been limited to since the days of our most recent King George.
No one ever had to wonder whether or not ethics questions would be evaluated in parallel. Most science simply doesn’t operate without such concerns as part of the process. Then, there are sufficient “bio-ethics” experts building anti-science consultancies, ready to turn them into cash cows at the drop of a teabagger’s silly hat. Questions will be raised whether prompted by real concern – or as PR for quasi-religious hustlers.
The arguments are the same as those advanced over stem cell research. We already lost a number of researchers to other nations during the Bush years. Bureaucrats are becoming accustomed to being second-guessed by 14th-Century moralists. They ain’t about to stick their collective necks out over something as “furrin” as genetic science. Especially since the topic scares the Ignorant Left as much as the Ignorant Right.
Let’s move on folks. Try to catch up with the last couple of decades of the 20th Century before we continue to limit 21st Century medicine – in the United states. Just maybe save the lives of a few kids.
Federal officials Thursday confirmed a leak of nuclear waste at a southeastern New Mexico repository, but it could be weeks before workers can safely access the underground dump to determine what happened…
The DOE on Saturday announced that it had shuttered operations in response to an underground radiation sensor. But it wasn’t until Wednesday night that DOE confirmed that radiation had also been released above ground, about a half mile from the plant. And it wasn’t until a Thursday press conference that Jose Franco, manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office, confirmed publicly that readings from the monitors matched materials from the waste that is stored there, indicating a leak…
Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said…”We will demand that federal officials share information with the public in real time. That’s the reason we are here…”
Flynn…said, “Events like this should never occur. From the state’s perspective, one event is far too many. Our primary concern continues to be public safety.”
“Even though the levels detected are very low,” he said, “radiation is simply not supposed to be released outside the building.”
The DOE is calmly issuing updates containing soothing noises. Carefully, cautiously, they’re working most of all to keep anyone from noticing they haven’t the slightest idea what is going on.
Thursday night they said they’d soon be able to identify the source of the leak of plutonium and americium — in about three weeks when they believe they’ll be able to re-enter the facility.
UPDATE: Thirteen employees of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were exposed to radiation – americium-241 – according to test results taken the day a radiation leak was detected at the nuclear waste repository.
Next up? WIPP will have to test any employees who worked the same area – the following day.