Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
New research published this week suggests that reduced or erratic sleep may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Other studies found that a specific way to comfort babies after shots decreases their pain and that optimists may have better heart health. A report released this week shows that accidental deaths of U.S. children have fallen 30% since 2000. Traffic deaths were down. But prescription drug overdoses rose.
This Issue: Study Explores Sleep and Diabetes Risk Comfort Method Soothes Pain of Shots Study Links Optimism to Better Heart Health Fewer Kids Killed in Cars; More Overdose on Pills
In the News:
Study Explores Sleep and Diabetes Risk
New research shows how getting too little sleep, at erratic times, may cause changes in the body that increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. The study was done with 21 volunteers who spent 6 weeks living in a laboratory. After a period of normal sleep, they spent the next 3 weeks getting an average of 5.6 hours daily. They were allowed to sleep only at varying times of the day or night. This pattern was designed to imitate rotating shifts or jet lag. During this time, people's blood sugar went up after meals -- in some cases, to pre-diabetic levels. This occurred because the pancreas produced less insulin. Metabolism fell by 8%. People were kept on a diet to avoid weight gain. But researchers said without the diet people could gain 10 to 12 pounds a year under similar conditions. The journal Science Translational Medicine published the study this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Comfort Method Soothes Pain of Shots
A combination of simple comfort methods can help to ease the pain of vaccinations for babies, a new study finds. The research weighed the effect of a method called the 5 S's. This stands for swaddling (in a blanket), side or stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking (on a pacifier). The study included 230 babies who were at the doctor for their 2-month or 4-month checkups. They were due to receive vaccines. Babies were randomly divided into 4 groups. Before the shots, 2 groups were given a small amount of sugar water. The other 2 received plain water. After the shots, 2 groups received the 5 S's to comfort them. This was done by research staff. The other groups received normal comforting by their parents. Babies who received the 5 S's (with or without sugar water) showed the least discomfort using a standard pain scale. Babies who got regular parent comforting showed somewhat less pain if they also got sugar water. The journal Pediatrics published the study this week. The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star newspapers wrote about it.
Study Links Optimism to Better Heart Health
Optimists tend to have healthier hearts, a study published this week suggests. Researchers analyzed results from dozens of earlier studies. All of them measured people's psychological traits such as optimism. The optimists had about half the risk of a first heart attack compared with pessimists. People with a better sense of well-being tended to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. They were more likely to get exercise and eat healthy foods. They were less likely to smoke or have sleep problems. Researchers said they didn't know whether optimism caused people to take care of themselves, or if being healthy made people feel optimistic. Previous research has shown that negative personality traits can cause stress. This can lead to artery and heart damage. The journal Psychological Bulletin published the study. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Fewer Kids Killed in Cars; More Overdose on Pills
Accidental deaths among U.S. children and teens have dropped 30% since 2000, a report says. The actual number of deaths fell, too, from about 12,400 to 9,100. But trends for specific causes of death varied dramatically. Fatal traffic accidents fell 41%. Accidental poisonings jumped 80%. About half of the poisoning deaths were teenagers who overdosed on prescription drugs. Suffocation deaths also rose. For children under age 1, the jump was 54%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the report this week. The Associated Press wrote about it. The analysis covered the years 2000 through 2009. The CDC did not analyze why auto fatalities fell. However, officials said the trend may be related to stricter rules for teen drivers. The use of child safety seats and booster seats in cars also has increased.
Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.