Health Updates 4 April 2012

  • Secondhand smoke affects young girls more than boys: study “The health effects of early life exposure to secondhand smoke appear to be greater in girls than in boys, a new study finds.  University of Cincinnati researchers looked at 476 children and found that those who were exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke and also had allergic sensitizations at age 2 were at higher risk for decreased lung function at age 7.  The investigators also found that lung function among children exposed to similar levels of secondhand smoke and allergic sensitization…was six times worse in girls than in boys. ‘Our study shows that the timing of allergic sensitization is crucial because children who are sensitized by age 2 are more  likely to suffer the greatest lung deficits during childhood as a result of secondhand-smoke exposure,’ study first author Kelly Brunst…said in a university news release.  ‘This association was not observed at age 4 or 7, emphasizing the importance of this critical window for lung development,’ Brunst added….’Our results provide valuable information regarding the interwoven relationships between early-life exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, allergic sensitization, gender and lung function,’ Grace LeMasters, a professor of environmental health and principal investigator at CCAAPS, said in a news release. ” (MedlinePlus)
  • Americans cutting back on drugs and doctor visits: Patients cut back on prescription drugs and doctor visits last year, a sign than many Americans are still struggling to pay for health care despite the economic recovery, according to a study released Wednesday by a health industry research group….The number of prescriptions issued to patients declined by 1.1 percent compared to 2010, and visits to the doctor fell by 4.7 percent, the report said.  Visits to the emergency room, by contrast, increased by 7.4 percent in 2011, an increase that the report’s authors said was linked to the loss of health insurance resulting from long-term unemployment.  Michael Kleinrock, director of research development at the institute, which consults for the drug industry, said his research showed that some people with health insurance at the start of the recession actually increased their visits to the doctor out of fear they were about the lose it.  But as the economy has failed to strongly recover, ‘we’re now seeing more people reset their expectations about how often they will use medicine’.  The study found that older Americans, in particular, used few medications: prescriptions for patients 65 and older declined by 3.1 percent last year.  The biggest declines were in prescriptions to treat high blood pressure and osterporosis….senior citizens appeared to be rationing their care of they struggled to pay their increasingly expensive bills on fixed incomes.” (Katie Thomas, NY Times)
  • Bioterror board reverses stand in flu papers: “Two scientific papers on the H5N1 avian influenza virus should be published in full, according to the US advisory board that initially urged that only parts of the research be made public.  The apparent about-face comes after months of controversy and is based on revisions and amplifications made to the papers, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity said in a statement.  The journals involved, Nature and Science, both expressed pleasure at the revised recommendation and said the two papers will be published as soon as possible….The change in position comes after the World Health Organization argued that the two papers should be published in full, rather than leaving out some of the methods and findings.  Both teams had been investigating what it would take to make the H5N1 bird flu more easily transmissible among humans.”  There initially had been concerns that the research information could be misused in ways that would endanger public health or national security. (Michael Smith, MedPage Today)
  • BBQ danger: wires from grill cleaners swallowed in food: “Several Rhode Island residents had a brush with the emergency room because of sharp wire bristles that made their way from barbecue grills into their digestive tracts.  The wire bristles, which came from the metallic brushes used to clean grills, apparently ended up in barbecued beef or chicken that the patients ate, a new report said.  From there, the bristles went to their throats and stomachs and caused serious medical issues.  Emergency physicians elsewhere said they’d never seen this happen….Scans or x-rays revealed metallic bristles in their necks or lower in their digestive systems.  The bristles caused serious problems in some cases; for instance, a bristle perforated the stomach and liver of one patient who had to stay in the hospital for six days….In each case, the patients had eaten food grilled on a barbecue that had been cleaned just before cooking.”  Doctors recommend giving the grill a good rinse in a sink or with a hose before using it after it has been cleaned. (HealthDay)

One response to “Health Updates 4 April 2012

  1. My mother smoked until I was about 7 years old. She quit when I was diagnosed with asthma. Of the three of us, I always had the worse allergies. Now, at age 57 my asthma has gotten worse and it appears I have COPD….all because of my mother’s smoking when I was young and my lungs were developing. In those days there was not the evidence there is now. It amazes me that so many young people appear to be so ignorant of the effects in this day and age!

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