Health Updates 17 February 2012

  • Arsenic found in infant formula, energy bars: “In the quest for healthier sweeteners, many manufacturers have turned to organic brown rice syrup, but in the process may inadvertently have introduced high levels of arsenic into their products, researchers reported.  The syrup itself and products made from it – including baby formula and energy bars – have significant concentrations of arsenic, according to Brian Jackson, PhD, and colleagues at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  In some cases, the levels are as much as six times higher than Environmental Protection Agency limits for safe drinking water….There are no US regulations governing arsenic in food, although there are for drinking water, and the findings suggest ‘an urgent need’ for such guidelines, the researchers concluded.” (Michael Smith, MedPage Today)
  • ‘Autoinjector’ offers safe, speedy care for life-threatening seizures: “Using an autoinjector device to deliver anti-seizure drugs into muscle is a fast, safe and effective way to treat status epilepticus, a prolonged type of seizure that lasts longer than five minutes, researchers report.  ‘This is a very important study for persons with epilepsy,’ said one outside expert, Dr. Jacqueline French, first vice president of the American Epilepsy Society.  ‘Prolonged seizures and status epilepticus can lead to brain damage, prolonged hospitalization, and other serious harm.  The earlier treatment is initiated, the greater the likelihood that the seizure can be aborted quickly, and the harm can be avoided,’ she added….Status epilepticus is a serious, potentially life-threatening medical emergency that causes 55,000 deaths each year in the United States.  First line treatment typically involves intravenous (IV) delivery of anti-seizure drugs.  However, starting an IV in a patient having a seizure can be challenging for paramedics and takes up precious time.” (MedlinePlus)
  • 1 in 10 kids lives with parent who has abused alcohol: “About 7.5 million American children under the age of 18 live with a parent who’s struggled with alcohol abuse over the past year, a new government report finds.  That’s equal to 10.5 percent of children across the country….’The enormity of this public health problem goes well beyond these tragic numbers as studies have shown that the children of parents with untreated alcohol disorders are at far greater risk for developing alcohol and other problems later in their lives,’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration administrator Pamela Hyde said in an agency news release….Hyde said that help is available for people with drinking problems, and her agency and other groups ‘are promoting programs that can help those with alcohol disorders find recovery not only for themselves, but for the sake of their children’.” (
  • Is grief an illness? The debate heats up: “The loss of a loved one can trigger deep emotional turmoil, but is the grief that follows a normal part of being human or is it a form of mental illness in need of diagnosis and treatment? That’s the gist of a major debate now unfolding in the world of psychiatry, as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) prepares to issue the fifth edition of its seminal reference guide to mental disease, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)The issue: For the first time, the manual – a touchstone for mental health professionals across the United States – may not exclude the concept of ‘bereavement’ from the constellation of behaviors and experiences that it deems worthy of consideration when clinicians set out to diagnose a major depressive disorder.  What does this mean? That feelings or outbursts accompanying the passing of a family member or close friend – such as crying, insomnia, fatigue, confusion and profound sadness – may now be viewed as a treatable illness rather than as a normal reaction to life’s most shattering moments.” (NIH/MedlinePlus)

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