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This Week in Health
January 31, 2014

 

Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.

A Royal Caribbean cruise was cut short this week because of an outbreak of severe stomach illness. Nearly 700 passengers and crew members got sick. Norovirus was suspected. A new study has found a big risk of teen obesity for kids who are already overweight in kindergarten. Researchers also released results this week from the largest study yet of a potential treatment for peanut allergy. Allergic children were given very small but increasing doses of peanut protein over time. After 6 months, most were able to eat 5 to 10 peanuts without a reaction. A study published this week found a major increase in the risk of dementia for older women who have diabetes and also have high estrogen levels. Another study found that about 20 U.S. children and teens each day get treated in hospitals each day for gunshot wounds.

Stay well.

This Issue:

Cruise Cut Short after Hundreds Get Sick
Study: Chubby 5-Year-Olds Risk Early Obesity
Allergic Kids Eat Peanuts after Treatment
Estrogen, Diabetes Linked with Dementia Risk
20 Children a Day Injured by Guns

In the News:

Cruise Cut Short after Hundreds Get Sick
Passengers and crew on the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas returned to port early this week after nearly 700 of them got a stomach bug. The illness was suspected to be among the largest outbreaks of norovirus in the last 20 years, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Lab results were not yet available, however. The ship was operated by Royal Caribbean. It was carrying 3,050 passengers on a Caribbean cruise. But it returned early to Bayonne, N.J., after people became ill with vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms. After the outbreak began, crew members covered all of the ship's buffets and wore gloves and masks to serve food, passengers told AP. The infirmary was overwhelmed. Some sick people remained in their rooms and took their meals there. Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) boarded the ship in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. They suspected norovirus but had not identified the source. Norovirus is highly contagious. It can be spread by contact with an infected person or by contaminated food, water or surfaces. AP wrote about the outbreak.

 

Study: Chubby 5-Year-Olds Risk Early Obesity
In a new study, about half of the children who were obese by age 14 were already overweight in kindergarten. The risk of teen obesity for those overweight 5-year-olds was about 4 times as high as for children of normal weight. The study included more than 7,700 children in kindergarten from across the United States. Their average age was about 5½ when the study began. Researchers measured the children's weight and height 7 times between kindergarten and eighth grade (about age 14). When the study began, 12.4% were obese. Another 14.9% were overweight. Those figures rose to 20.8% obese and 17% overweight in eighth grade. About 5.4% of children became overweight during kindergarten and 1.7% each year from fifth through eighth grades. Researchers suggested that children who were at highest risk tended to become overweight and then obese early. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

Allergic Kids Eat Peanuts after Treatment
Some children who are allergic to peanuts can become able to tolerate them, a study finds. The study included 99 children. They were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received powdered peanut protein that was mixed with food. The dose increased from 2 milligrams to 800 milligrams a day (equal to about 5 peanuts). The children ate the peanut protein in a laboratory and were observed for the next 2 hours. After 6 months, about 84% of the treated group were able to eat the 5-peanut daily dose. The other group avoided peanuts. After 6 months, both groups went through a food "challenge": eating 1,400 milligrams of peanut protein (about 10 peanuts). About 62% of the treatment group and none of the non-treated group were able to do this with no allergic reaction. Then the non-treatment group went through the treatment program for the next 6 months. About 91% ended up able to eat the daily 5-peanut dose. About 54% passed the 10-peanut challenge. The study is the largest to try this treatment. But researchers cautioned that it is not ready for use outside a laboratory. The journal Lancet published the study this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

Estrogen, Diabetes Linked with Dementia Risk
Women who have high levels of estrogen even after menopause may be more likely to develop dementia, a study finds. The risk is especially high for those who also have diabetes. In this study, their risk of diabetes was 14 times as high as for women who had lower estrogen and no diabetes. The study included 675 women who had passed menopause and did not take hormone replacement therapy. All were age 65 or older when the study began. Researchers kept track of the women for about 4 years. In that time, women were twice as likely to develop dementia if they had high estrogen levels. All of these comparisons accounted for other health factors that also can increase the risk of dementia. Women with diabetes had such a high risk in part because their estrogen levels were so high. Those with dementia had 70% higher estrogen levels than diabetic women without dementia. The journal Neurology published the study online this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

20 Children a Day Injured by Guns
Nearly 7,400 people under age 20 end up in U.S. hospitals each year because of a gun-related injury. So says a study in the journal Pediatrics. That's about 20 children a day. Six percent of those admitted died from their injuries, the study found. Researchers used data from the 2009 Kids' Inpatient Database to examine the types of injuries seen. They looked at the cause of these injuries. In particular, were these gunshot injuries the result of an attack, suicide or accident? They also broke it down by age, gender and race. Among the findings: Nearly 90% of those hospitalized were male; 47% occurred in black children and teens. An attack or suicide was involved in most 15- to 19-year-old hospital admits related to guns. In children younger than 10, 75% were the result of accidents. Researchers are calling for increased public health efforts to reduce this all-too-common source of childhood injury. The study was published in Pediatrics online this week. HealthDay News reported on it.

 

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.

 


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