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Health Updates 11 October 2011

  • More states propose drug-testing public assistance recipients: Policy makers in three dozen states this year proposed drug testing for people receiving benefits like welfare, unemployment assistance, job training, food stamps and public housing.  Such laws, which proponents say ensure that tax dollars are not being misused and critics say reinforce stereotypes about the poor,  have passed in states including Arizona, Indiana and Missouri.  In Florida, people receiving cash assistance through welfare have had to pay for their own drug tests since July, and enrollment has shrunk to its lowest levels since the start of the recession.” (NY Times)
  • Dietary supplements may pose health risk for older women: “As in the broader population, women in the study who took supplements tended to be healthier – with lower rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, and lower body mass index – than women who didn’t.  But with the exception of the women taking calcium, they died at slightly higher rates.” (LA Times)
  • Study: flavonoids in chocolate may reduce stroke risk: “The results add to a growing body of evidence linking cocoa consumption to heart health, but they aren’t a free pass to gorge on chocolate…Eating too much of it could be counterproductive.” (Reuters)
  • Stress may harm preemies’ development: “The stress of living in a neonatal intensive care unit results in decreased brain size and abnormal neurological findings for very preterm babies, a small study suggests, and the more the stress, the greater the effect. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis studied 44 infants born before 30 weeks of gestation.  The researchers recorded the number of stressors the babies underwent, using a list of 36 procedures of varying invasiveness, from diaper changes to the insertion of intravenous lines.  ‘We have to move away from a focus on just pain medications and acute medical interventions towards a more developmental approach,’ said the study’s senior author, Dr. Terrie Inder, a professor of pediatrics.  These babies, she added, ‘need the opportunity to rest, recover, be nurtured and be able to grow.'”  (NY Times)
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