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Inflammatory Muscle Disorder May Raise Risk for Heart Attack, Stroke
July 28, 2014

 

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A common inflammatory muscle disorder that causes pain and stiffness in older people may increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, new research suggests.

A British study found that patients with polymyalgia rheumatica are more likely to develop vascular disease -- conditions that affect the blood vessels. Doctors should carefully manage the vascular risk factors of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica to reduce their risk for complications, the study authors concluded.

Unlike other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus, the link between polymyalgia rheumatica and an increased risk for vascular disease has not been well-established.

"Polymyalgia rheumatica is one of the most common inflammatory rheumatologic conditions in older adults," the study authors wrote. To date, evidence regarding the risk of vascular disease in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica is unclear."

To gain a better understanding of the association, the researchers examined data compiled from nearly 3,250 patients with the inflammatory muscle disorder and more than 12,700 people without the condition.

None of the people involved in the study had a history of vascular disease. The patients were followed for roughly three to 12 years.

The study, published July 28 in the CMAJ, revealed the patients with polymyalgia rheumatica are at higher risk for all forms of vascular disease, including angina, heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke.

The risk for these conditions peaked six to 12 months after being diagnosed with the inflammatory muscle disorder. The results were similar for men and women, said the researchers, led by Dr. Christian Mallen, of Keele University in Staffordshire, England.

The patients at greatest risk were younger -- between 50 and 59 years old, the researchers said. These participants had a more than fivefold increased risk for vascular disease. In contrast, those 80 and older had a threefold increased risk.

"This early excess risk provides insight into potential mechanisms and supports the link between inflammation and vascular disease, given that the inflammatory burden in polymyalgia rheumatica is highest in early disease," the study authors wrote.

More information

The American College of Rheumatology provides more information on inflammatory muscle disease.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: CMAJ, news release, July 28, 2014...

Healthy 'Brown Fat' May Cut Odds for Obesity, Diabetes
July 28, 2014

 

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People with higher levels of brown fat have a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes, a new study suggests.

Unlike white fat, which lowers insulin sensitivity, researchers found that brown fat actually improves insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control and fat-burning metabolism.

"This is good news for overweight and obese people," Labros Sidossis, a professor of internal medicine in the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said in a university news release. "This is great news for people with insulin resistance and diabetes, and suggests that brown fat may prove to be an important anti-diabetic tissue."

Previous research has suggested that brown fat plays a role in regulating body temperature, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In conducting the new study, published recently in the journal Diabetes, the researchers compared the resting energy expenditure, blood sugar usage and insulin sensitivity of a group of similar, healthy men with either high or low levels of brown fat.

The men were exposed to either normal or slightly cold temperatures for five to eight hours. During this time, the researchers analyzed samples of their blood and breath to monitor changes in their hormone, blood sugar and insulin levels. The investigators also tracked their whole body oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates.

Brown and white fat tissue samples were also taken. The researchers examined these samples for any differences in cellular energy production and gene expression.

When exposed to slightly cold temperatures, brown fat can boost energy expenditure and burn calories, the study revealed.

"We showed that exposure to mild cold raised whole body energy expenditure, increased glucose [blood sugar] removal from the circulation and improved insulin sensitivity in men who have significant amounts of brown [fat]," explained Sidossis. "These results support the notion that brown [fat] may function as an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic tissue in humans."

While the study showed an association between levels of brown fat and a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about brown fat.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, news release, July 23, 2014...

Tonsillectomy for Sleep Apnea May Trigger Weight Gain
July 28, 2014

 

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Tonsillectomies are commonly done to relieve sleep apnea in children, but a new study confirms that the treatment can speed kids' weight gain -- especially if they're already overweight.

The researchers said that's a concern, because obesity is a risk factor for a range of health problems -- including, ironically, sleep apnea. But they're not advising against tonsillectomy for kids who need it.

Instead, they said, doctors and parents should be aware that a healthy diet and exercise become even more important after children have the surgery.

"You can't just treat the sleep apnea. You have to have nutrition and lifestyle counseling, too," said lead researcher Dr. Eliot Katz, a respiratory disease specialist at Boston Children's Hospital.

A pediatric sleep specialist who was not involved in the study agreed.

"Nutrition and exercise are just as important as treating the sleep apnea with a single procedure," said Dr. Sangeeta Chakravorty, who co-directs the pediatric sleep evaluation center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Obstructive sleep apnea arises when constriction in the airways causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night. In children, the most common cause is swelling in the tonsils and adenoids -- infection-fighting tissues in the back of the throat and the nasal cavity, respectively. And surgery to remove those tissues (known technically as adenotonsillectomy) is often recommended.

Doctors have long known that after the surgery, kids can gain weight at an accelerated clip, Chakravorty said.

But the new study, reported online July 28 and in the August print issue of the journal Pediatrics, offers "certainty" that it's actually an effect of the treatment, Katz said.

That's because children in the study were randomly assigned to have surgery or to "watchful waiting" -- putting off surgery and staying with other options, such as medications to better control any nasal allergies or asthma symptoms.

Altogether, 204 children aged 5 to 9 were assigned to have surgery right away, while 192 stuck with watchful waiting. Katz's team found that over seven months, children who underwent surgery showed a quicker average weight gain, versus kids in the comparison group.

It was a small difference overall, Chakravorty said. And for children who were normal weight, there was no major effect.

"It's not making normal-weight children obese," Chakravorty noted.

But there was a clearer impact on kids who were overweight before surgery. Of those children, 52 percent had become officially obese seven months after surgery, compared with 21 percent of overweight children in the watchful-waiting group, the study found.

There are a few possible explanations for the post-surgery weight gain, according to Katz's team. Calorie-burning may dip when children are no longer laboring to breathe during sleep. And some kids may burn fewer calories during the day because they become less active after their sleep apnea improves. (Paradoxically, poor sleep often causes children to be "hyperactive," rather than drowsy, Katz explained.)

Sleep apnea itself also causes metabolic changes, Katz said. Growth hormone is released at night, and the sleep disorder can interfere with that. So the body may adapt metabolism in an effort to maintain a child's growth.

"When the sleep apnea is relieved, they're set up for rapid weight gain," Katz said.

It was once common for children with sleep apnea to be underweight and have "failure to thrive," Chakravorty noted. For those kids, rapid weight gain after tonsillectomy can be a good thing.

But these days, with childhood obesity on the rise, many kids with sleep apnea are already overweight or obese. If they rapidly put on pounds, Katz said, their sleep apnea might return in six months to a year.

"After surgery, parents are often very satisfied," Katz noted. "Their kids are sleeping better, and they may be better behaved and doing better in school. But there's this insidious issue of weight gain."

Chakravorty agreed that diet and exercise are key for children with sleep apnea -- but she said that's true regardless of the treatment approach. And, for heavy kids, weight loss alone might clear up the sleep apnea.

But if children ultimately do need surgery, parents shouldn't skip it due to worries about weight gain, according to Katz. He noted that if improved sleep apnea symptoms explain the post-surgery pounds, then other treatments -- including medication or continuous positive airway pressure devices -- could also spur excess weight gain.

"I think there are implications beyond surgical treatment," Katz said.

More information

The American Sleep Apnea Association has more on treatment for children.Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCES: Eliot Katz, M.D., pulmonary and respiratory diseases, Boston Children's Hospital; Sangeeta Chakravorty, M.D., co-director, pediatric sleep evaluation center, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; August 2014, Pediatrics...

Health Tip: Risk Factors for a Herniated Disk
July 28, 2014

 

(HealthDay News) -- A herniated spinal disk may cause significant pain and discomfort as the disk matter presses on a nearby nerve.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons mentions these common risk factors for a herniated disk:

  • Lifting a heavy object improperly.
  • Being a smoker.
  • Being overweight, which adds strain to the disks of the lower back.
  • Engaging in repetitive activities that stress the lower back.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


...

Healthy Habits May Help Childhood Cancer Survivors Avoid Chronic Ills
July 28, 2014

 

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Following a healthy lifestyle may help childhood cancer survivors reduce their risk for chronic health issues, a new study indicates.

Researchers suggested that children with cancer and adults who survived childhood cancer should be educated about how their diet and certain behaviors could affect their health in the future.

"These findings are important because they indicate that adults who were treated for cancer as children have the opportunity to influence their own health outcomes," said one of the researchers, Kirsten Ness of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Adults who had cancer when they were children are at greater risk for metabolic syndrome -- a group of risk factors that increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other health problems.

People with metabolic syndrome have some combination of the following: high blood pressure; abnormal cholesterol; high blood sugar levels; and increased body fat.

The new study, published online July 28 in Cancer, found that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may lower childhood cancer survivors' risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

For the study, the researchers analyzed information on nearly 1,600 childhood cancer survivors who were cancer-free for at least 10 years.

"This study is unique because of the large, well characterized population of survivors of various diagnoses that we studied, many years from their original cancer diagnosis," said Ness in a journal news release.

Participants were given questionnaires and tests to determine whether or not they followed the seven healthy lifestyle recommendations issued by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research. In order to be considered compliant, they had to follow at least four of the recommendations.

Overall, the study revealed that nearly 32 percent of the participants had metabolic syndrome. Of those who followed the healthy lifestyle recommendations, 27 percent had the condition.

Men and women who didn't follow the recommendations were more than twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome as those who did follow the guidelines, the investigators found.

Those healthy lifestyle recommendations include:

  • No smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Limiting intake of sugar, alcohol, red meat and salt

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about metabolic syndrome.Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: Cancer, news release, July 28, 2014...

Preemies May Have Higher Risk of Blood Clots, Even as Adults
July 28, 2014

 

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Babies born prematurely appear to have a slightly increased risk of potentially fatal blood clots that they will carry into adulthood, Swedish researchers report.

Doctors have previously suspected that babies born earlier than 37 weeks' gestation have a raised risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, two serious conditions caused by blood clotting in the veins, the researchers noted in background information.

This new study confirms that link, and takes it even further. Premature birth appears to be linked to an increased chance of blood clots in the veins in childhood and early adulthood, according to findings published online July 28 in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers also reported that a baby's chances of blood clot-related illnesses are directly related to the degree of prematurity. "The more premature, the higher the risk," said Dr. Edward McCabe, chief medical officer of the March of Dimes. A full-term pregnancy lasts from 39 to 40 weeks.

While parents and doctors should keep this risk in mind, they should also be aware that the risk is not huge, said Dr. Kristi Watterberg, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on the fetus and newborn. Watterberg and McCabe were not involved with the study.

The association between premature birth and clot risk seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study involved 3.5 million babies born in Sweden between 1973 and 2008, including almost 207,000 born preterm. Out of all the births, only about 7,500 children -- 0.2 percent -- suffered either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism later in life.

"I think it's important scientifically to know, but it's such a low incidence phenomenon that there are a lot of things to think about before that," said Watterberg, a professor of pediatrics and neonatology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Deep vein thrombosis involves blood clots that form in a vein deep in the body. If these clots aren't treated and dissolved, they can break off and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a blockage called a pulmonary embolism. Such a blockage can be deadly.

For the study, Dr. Bengt Zoller, of the Center for Primary Health Care Research at Lund University in Malmo, Sweden, and colleagues used records from the Swedish Birth Registry to track the babies' health. The researchers found that premature babies had an increased risk of blood clots in their veins in infancy, but also from ages 1 to 5 and from 18 to 38.

Very preterm births -- before 34 weeks of gestation -- also had a risk of blood clot-related illness in adolescence, from age 13 to 17.

Boys had an increased risk of blood clots in infancy, while girls were more likely to carry the risk into adolescence and adulthood, the study authors reported.

No one knows why this increased risk exists, but it could be due to genetic factors that caused the mother to deliver prematurely in the first place, Watterberg and McCabe said.

Diseases such as diabetes, thyroid problems and obesity are genetic in nature and can cause preterm delivery, McCabe said.

Also, some mothers who suffer a genetic deficiency in a key protein that controls blood clotting may be predisposed to give birth prematurely, Watterberg said.

"It may be that maternal genetics are a setup for preterm delivery, and those problems are passed along to the infant," she said.

The mother's wellness and lifestyle also play a role in a baby's lifelong health, and could influence their risk of blood clots, McCabe said.

Finally, this link might arise because the babies are born prematurely, and are robbed of maternal hormones and nutrition in the womb that could have decreased their future risk of blood clots.

"We are not as good at getting nutrition into those babies as the mother and placenta are, and we do know that hormones have something to do with the predisposition to clotting," Watterberg said. "It makes sense to me you'd have changes in those long-term outcomes as well."

In any case, it is something for the family and doctor of a person born prematurely to keep in mind, McCabe said.

"If a patient has a history of preterm birth, and the more preterm, the more attention it needs to have," he said. "It helps us be better prepared. If a patient comes in with unusual findings, this provides us some clue."

More information

For more on deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCES: Edward McCabe, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer, March of Dimes; Kristi Watterberg, M.D., chair, American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on the Fetus and Newborn, and professor, pediatrics and neonatology, University of New Mexico School of M...

Doctors Urge Meningitis Shots for Vulnerable Infants, Children
July 28, 2014

 

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Infants and children who are at risk of contracting meningitis because of specific health problems should be vaccinated against the infection, according to updated recommendations from the largest pediatrician group in the United States.

And routine vaccinations for the potentially deadly infection should continue for adolescents and college students, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

In its first statement on meningococcal vaccines since 2011, the academy notes that three such vaccines are now licensed for use down into infancy. They are deemed appropriate for youngsters age 2 months and older with immune deficiencies, missing spleens, sickle cell disease or other higher infection risks. Other young children don't need the shots, the guidelines say.

Those same meningococcal vaccines and boosters, long recommended for children 11 and older, should continue to be given to those kids, the academy stated.

"We needed to have new recommendations so that pediatricians would understand how to use these vaccines in young infants and children, since they're now available," said guidelines author Dr. Michael Brady, associate medical director at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"We're telling pediatricians that we don't feel it's necessary to give this vaccination routinely to young children," he added, "but for children with select risks, it's a good vaccine to give."

The updated meningococcal recommendations are published online July 28 in the journal Pediatrics.

Meningococcal disease is linked to a variety of infections, including meningitis and pneumonia. Meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, strikes between 800 and 1,200 people in the United States each year, according to the National Meningitis Association.

Up to 15 percent of those affected die, while about one in five who survive ends up with permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss or limb amputations.

Typically, otherwise healthy children younger than 11 who develop meningitis have contracted the "B" strain. A vaccination for this type has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is why that age group is not routinely immunized, Brady said. There are five strains of bacterial meningitis and each tends to strike a specific age group or population, according to background information in the study.

The "B" strain of bacterial meningitis is what sickened a small group of college students at Princeton University in New Jersey earlier this year and killed a student from Drexel University in Philadelphia who had been in close contact with Princeton students.

But immune-compromised children, along with those who will travel to the "meningitis belt" in sub-Saharan Africa or participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, should now be immunized with available vaccines, which target meningitis strains more common among adolescents and college students, he said.

Additionally, the updated recommendations said booster doses should be given after three years in high-risk children whose last dose was before age 7, while booster doses should be administered after five years in children whose last dose was at age 7 or older.

Brady noted that the meningitis outbreaks on college campuses over the last year from the "B" strain are not unexpected, since conditions are ripe for the disease to be transmitted among those living communally in dorms or military barracks. Higher rates of smoking and alcohol consumption are also associated with greater risks of contracting meningitis.

A meningitis "B" vaccine licensed in other countries was provided to students at Princeton through an emergency process, Brady noted. The academy's recommendations for a "B" vaccine await FDA approval, possibly next year, he said.

Dr. Melissa Stockwell, a pediatrician at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia's Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, said parents should know that meningococcal vaccinations are the best way to prevent the infection.

While parents don't need to understand all the subtypes of meningitis, she said, they should consult their child's pediatrician to make sure all appropriate immunizations are administered.

"For adolescents, young adults and the younger ones with special [vulnerabilities] -- we want to make sure if you're one of these groups, you're vaccinated," said Stockwell.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers more on meningitis.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCES: Michael Brady, M.D., associate medical director, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; Melissa Stockwell, M.D., M.P.H., pediatrician, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia's Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, and assistant professor, pediatri...

Health Tip: Recognize Signs of Bullying
July 28, 2014

 

(HealthDay News) -- With the explosion of social media outlets comes the prospect of more online bullying among children and teens.

The American Psychological Association says warning signs that a child is being bullied include:

  • A sudden reluctance to go to school.
  • Torn or dirty clothing.
  • Nightmares.
  • Sudden loss of appetite.
  • Frequent crying, anxiety or signs of depression.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


...

Health Highlights: July 28, 2014
July 28, 2014

 

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

2 Americans Working in Liberia Are Infected With Ebola

Two Americans working to help Ebola victims in the West African country of Liberia have themselves become infected, an aid organization said.

According to the Associated Press, Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, has tested positive for the highly contagious, often fatal viral disease and is currently being treated in a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. The North Carolina-based aid agency Samaritan's Purse announced his illness in a news release issued Saturday, the AP said.

Brantly, who previously worked at a family practice in Fort Worth, Texas, has been working in Liberia since October of 2013 and is the medical director for Samaritan's Purse's case management center in Monrovia.

The second American stricken with Ebola is Nancy Writebol, a worker with a group called SIM (Serving in Mission) that is allied with Samaritan's Purse. She had been working as a hygienist focused on decontaminating people who entered and left the Monrovia Ebola care center, AP said.

Both Brantly and Writebol are in "stable and serious" condition, Samaritan's Purse vice-president Ken Isaacs told the AP Sunday.

Group spokeswoman Melissa Strickland said that Brantly's wife and children had been living with him in Africa but are currently back in the United States. They left last week, before Brantly began to feel ill. "They have absolutely shown no symptoms," she said.

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 670 people across several West African nations so far this year, the AP said.


...

Wives' Higher Education May Not Affect Divorce Rate
July 27, 2014

 

SUNDAY, July 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Couples aren't more likely to get divorced if the wife has more education than the husband, new research finds.

The study only looks at trends in marriage, it doesn't prove that education levels play a direct role in affecting whether couples stay together or get divorced.

Still, "our results speak against fears that women's growing educational advantage over men has had negative effects on marital stability," Christine Schwartz, lead author of the study, said in an American Sociological Association news release.

"Further, the findings provide an important counterpoint to claims that progress toward gender equality in heterosexual relationships has stalled," said Schwartz, who is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study also found that "couples in which both individuals have equal levels of education are now less likely to divorce than those in which husbands have more education than their wives," Schwartz said.

"These trends are consistent with a shift away from a breadwinner-homemaker model of marriage toward a more egalitarian model of marriage in which women's status is less threatening to men's gender identity," she noted.

The research focuses on heterosexual marriages in the United States from 1950 to 2009. Women began to finish college at higher levels than men in the 1980s, according to the study. Since that time, the wife has more education in a growing percentage of couples.

"Rather than doggedly adhering to norms that wives should have lower status than their husbands, men and women are increasingly forming relationships in which women have the educational advantage -- so much so that it is now more common for wives to have more education than their husbands than the reverse pattern," Schwartz said.

"The relationship between one's educational attainment, marriage formation, and risk of divorce appears to suggest that couples are adapting to the demographic reality that women have more education than men," she noted.

Couples married in the 1950s were just as likely to divorce whether the husband and wife had the same level of education or the husband had more. But more recently, married couples were one-third less likely to divorce if they had the same level of education compared to marriages where the husbands had more education.

The study appears in the August issue of the American Sociological Review.

More information

The National Women's History Museum has more on how societal views on women and education have changed over time.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: American Sociological Association, news release, July 27, 2014 ...

Health Highlights: July 27, 2014
July 27, 2014

 

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Doctor Working in Liberia Is Infected With Ebola

An American physician who was helping Ebola victims in the West African country of Liberia has himself become infected, the aid organization he was working with said on Saturday.

According to the Associated Press, Dr Kent Brantly, 33, has tested positive for the highly contagious, often fatal viral disease and is currently being treated in a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. The North Carolina-based aid agency Samaritan's Purse announced his illness in a news release issued Saturday, the AP said.

Brantly, who previously worked at a family practice in Fort Worth, Texas, has been working in Liberia since October of 2013 and is the medical director for Samaritan's Purse's case management center in Monrovia.

Group spokeswoman Melissa Strixkland said that Brantly's wife and children had been living with him in Africa but they are currently back in the United States.

The Ebola outbreak has killed 672 people in several West African nations so far this year, the AP said.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


...

Don't Let Kids Drink Pool Water
July 26, 2014

 

SATURDAY, July 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Pools can provide much-needed relief from the summer heat, but kids can make themselves sick if they swallow too much chlorinated water, experts warn.

Amid the splashing and excitement, it's common for little ones to get water in their mouth. Some kids may even take a drink from a pool, despite warnings from their parents.

Although swallowing a small amount of pool water is harmless, it's important for parents to realize that ingesting too much can lead to chlorine poisoning or so-called recreational water illness, according to Dr. Sampson Davis, an emergency room physician at Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in New Jersey. Kids can also inhale water into their lungs, Davis added, which can lead to a serious condition called secondary drowning.

Recreational water illnesses can also be serious. Pool water contains chlorine -- a chemical used to help get rid of bacteria such as E. coli and parasites. Chlorine may not eliminate all of these germs, so if children swallow pool water they could become sick, Davis said.

If parents and caregivers are aware of these risks, they can take steps to prevent them from happening. By being aware, parents can also recognize warning signs and seek immediate medical attention, Davis added.

To help parents protect their children, Davis advised parents to watch out for the following symptoms that could develop within a few hours or up to 72 hours after swimming:

The first signs of trouble usually include:

  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Persistent cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fatigue

As the hours pass, recreational water illness, chlorine poisoning and secondary drowning become more distinct conditions with more specific and severe symptoms, noted Davis.

Recreational water illness and chlorine poisoning may lead to digestive distress, such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea. These conditions may seem like a bad case of food poisoning or stomach flu.

Chlorine poisoning may also cause symptoms in the nervous and respiratory systems. Children may experience trouble with their vision. Swelling and burning may also develop in their eyes, throat, nose and ears.

Secondary drowning has a greater effect on the respiratory system. Children will experience trouble breathing and have heavy, wet-sounding, persistent coughs. They will also develop uncontrollable shivering as well as hot and cold flashes.

Children who have any of these symptoms should be taken to an emergency room immediately.

Davis offered the following tips for warding off trouble:

  • Once a child is finished swimming, check for redness and irritation around the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. This could be a sign that chlorine levels were too high.
  • Listen for a nagging cough. If a child who has been swimming develops a cough that does not go away, it could be a sign that the child swallowed too much water or inhaled it.
  • Be on alert for flu-like symptoms. If a child develops symptoms of the flu or food poisoning after swimming, seek immediate medical attention.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about swimming pool safety.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, news release, June 30, 2014...

Human Brain Has Coping Mechanism for Dehydration
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The human brain can preserve oxygen to protect itself from the effects of dehydration, a new study finds.

Although dehydration significantly reduces blood flow to the brain, researchers in England have found that the brain compensates by increasing the amount of oxygen it extracts from the blood.

"This research has helped us understand a lot more about how the human brain responds to extreme exercise in extreme conditions," study first author Steven Trangmar, a researcher at Brunel University, said in a university news release. "We can now see that blood flow to this vital organ is significantly affected by dehydration. But we can also see that this is when the brain kicks in, preserving its own oxygen consumption to ensure it sustains its function."

This coping mechanism is likely what enables athletes who become dehydrated during exercise to keep going. The study authors cautioned, however, that their findings should serve as a reminder of the importance of proper hydration, noting that getting enough fluids is essential for athletes who want to maintain peak performance.

"These findings show that the brain has remarkable ways of protecting itself from extreme circumstances, however they also clearly substantiate the recommendation that people should ingest fluids during exercise to help optimize physiological function and performance," Jose Gonzalez-Alonso, a professor of exercise and cardiovascular physiology at Brunel University, said in the news release.

In conducting the study, the researchers inserted catheters in the brachial artery and internal jugular vein of 10 experienced male cyclists. Using the catheters and Doppler ultrasound technology, they measured the blood flow of the cyclists as they rode a bike to exhaustion in heat.

As they became dehydrated, the cyclists developed reduced body mass, brain blood flow and ability to exercise, as well as an increase in their internal body temperature.

The findings were published recently in the Journal of Physiology.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips on how to prevent dehydration.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: Brunel University, news release, July 23, 2014...

Distractions Seem More Troublesome With Age
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors are more easily distracted during thinking and memory tasks than younger people, a new study finds.

"Almost any type of memory test administered reveals a decline in memory from the age of 25 on," study co-author Randi Martin, professor of psychology at Rice University, said in a university news release.

However, Martin said, this study shows that "environmental interference" has a greater impact on processing in older adults compared with younger adults.

The study included 60 seniors, aged 64 to 82, and more than 100 young adults between 18 and 32. All took a series of memory and thinking tests. While doing the tests, older participants were nearly twice as likely to be distracted by irrelevant speech or written words.

Average accuracy on the ability to remember lists of words was 81 percent for younger people and 67 percent for older people. When the researchers introduced irrelevant words meant to be ignored, accuracy rates dropped to 74 percent among younger people, and to 46 percent among older people.

The researchers hope their findings, recently published in the journal Psychology and Aging, spur further investigation into the effect of environmental distractions on the brain.

"This research is very important," Martin said. "The tests used in this study are important tools in determining how the brain is affected by environmental interference, which is critical information in treating neurological disorders, including stroke and traumatic brain injuries."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers advice for healthy brain aging.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: Rice University, news release, July 2014...

Lymphoma Treatment May Harm, Halt Men's Sperm Production
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay -- Treatment for lymphoma may lower men's fertility, new research indicates.

Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which are cancers of the body's white blood cells, often affect young people who are still in their reproductive years. For men, treatment for these cancers can harm or halt sperm production. Although most men regain their fertility within two years of treatment, the researchers cautioned that men should be counseled about the possibility of this significant side effect before treatment begins.

"While many men can look forward to their fertility returning after treatment is over, not all will be so fortunate," Dr. Rebecca Sokol, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in a society news release. "It is imperative that prior to the initiation of therapy, counseling and sperm preservation be made available to all lymphoma patients and their partners who may want to have children in the future."

In conducting the study, the researchers monitored the sperm of lymphoma patients undergoing various treatments to determine how each therapy affected the men's fertility. Specifically, they examined the sperm of 57 Hodgkin lymphoma patients and 18 non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients who used a sperm bank before starting their cancer treatment.

The researchers analyzed the men's sperm before treatment began as well as at three months, six months, 12 months and 24 months after treatment ended. The patients' sperm were compared to the sperm of 257 healthy, fertile men.

Even before treatment, the sperm of the men with lymphoma were more damaged than that of their healthy peers. These levels of damage improved between three and six months after treatment, but were still worse than the men in the control group.

Depending on their diagnosis, the men received combination chemotherapy, with or without radiation. Following treatment, their sperm density, total count, motility and vitality dropped. The lowest levels occurred three and six months after treatment.

The study, published recently in the journal Fertility and Sterility, revealed that alkylating chemotherapy was more often associated with a total halt in sperm production or a longer period of time for sperm production to resume. Alkylating chemotherapy damages DNA as it attacks cancer cells, to keep the cells from reproducing.

For all the men who received non-alkylating chemotherapy, with or without radiation, sperm production recovered between 12 to 24 months after treatment ended.

Two years after treatment ended, the researchers noted that sperm production had not recovered for 7 percent of the men in the study.

More information

The American Cancer Society provides more information on lymphoma.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, news release, July 22, 2014...

IRS Caps Fines on Uninsured Americans at $12K for Family of 5
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. taxpayers who go without health insurance this year will face fines of up to $2,448 per individual or $12,240 for a family of five, the Internal Revenue Service says.

The Obama administration on Thursday announced an upper limit on the federal tax penalties that some Americans will owe for failing to have health insurance.

The IRS cap is based on the monthly national average premium for a bronze-level health plan.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as some people call it, requires most people to have health insurance this year or pay a penalty when they file their 2014 tax returns.

The penalty, or "individual shared responsibility payment," comes in two forms: a flat amount or a percentage of adjusted gross income per household -- whichever is greater.

Penalties for this year start at $95 per adult and $47.50 for a child and rise to 1 percent of household income. In 2016, they jump to $695 per adult, and half of that per child, or 2.5 percent of household income.

The cap described by the IRS will only benefit people making more than about a quarter of a million dollars a year, the Associated Press reported. People who earn less than that would still pay fines of as much as 1 percent of their annual income, the AP said.

Only about 4 million people are expected to pay the penalties -- a fraction of the estimated 30 million who will still be uninsured in 2016, the Congressional Budget Office said in June. Experts believe many uninsured Americans will qualify for exemptions from the federal tax penalties.

The Obamacare sign-up period ended this spring, although people can still purchase coverage for this year under special circumstances, such as a move, divorce or birth of a child.

The next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15. Coverage purchased during that time won't take effect until 2015.

Separately, federal health officials on Thursday said some 6.8 million families are due to get a refund from their health insurer this summer. The refunds, averaging $80 per family, will be made in the form of a check or premium reduction, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The refunds are the result of a provision in the Affordable Care Act barring insurers from spending more than 20 percent of premium dollars on administration and marketing expenses.

In a press release, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said ACA provisions like this one "provide Americans better value for their premium dollars."

In a blog for the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free market think tank, health analyst Greg Scandlen said consumers do not benefit from the rebate provision because insurers can overcharge people and earn interest on that money over the course of a year.

"So consumers in effect are simply giving the insurers an interest-free loan for a year," he wrote.

More information

HealthCare.gov has more about Affordable Care Act coverage.Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCES: Internal Revenue Service, Revenue Procedure 2014-46; July 25, 2014, Associated Press; July 25, 2014, news release, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services ...

Rhymes Reveal Evidence of Learning in the Womb
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Babies seem to learn even before they're born, a new study suggests.

By the time women are 34 weeks pregnant, their unborn babies can respond to the sound of their mother's voice reciting a familiar nursery rhyme, the researchers report.

"The mother's voice is the predominant source of sensory stimulation in the developing fetus," Charlene Krueger, nursing researcher and associate professor in the University of Florida's College of Nursing, said in a university news release. "This research highlights just how sophisticated the third trimester fetus really is and suggests that a mother's voice is involved in the development of early learning and memory capabilities. This could potentially affect how we approach the care and stimulation of the preterm infant."

In conducting the study, published recently in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, the researchers asked 32 pregnant women who spoke English as their first language to recite a rhyme to their babies out loud a few times a day for six weeks.

The women recited a nursery rhyme or passage as directed from 28 to 34 weeks of pregnancy. At 34 weeks, the women were asked to stop reciting their rhyme. During weeks 28, 32, 33 and 34 of the pregnancy, researchers tested the babies for evidence of learning.

Using a fetal heart monitor, the researchers analyzed the babies' heart rate. A slowing of the heart rate, they explained, would be a sign of learning.

During the test, some unborn babies were played a recording of the same rhyme that had been recited by their mother. This time however, the rhyme was spoken by an unfamiliar female voice.

To determine if the babies were responding to their mother's voice or a familiar pattern of speech, a second group of unborn babies heard a different rhyme recorded by a female stranger.

The study revealed the babies' heart rate began to respond to the familiar rhyme by 34 weeks of pregnancy. By this time, they had heard their mother recite the rhyme regularly for six weeks. The researchers identified a slight slowing of the babies' heart rate for up to four weeks after their mothers stopping reciting their rhyme.

By 38 weeks, the group of babies that heard a stranger recite the rhyme spoken by their mother at home had a more significant response to the familiar words. The researchers found there was a deeper and more sustained slowing of their heart rate. Meanwhile, the babies that heard a new rhyme experienced a quickening of their heart rate.

"This study helped us understand more about how early a fetus could learn a passage of speech and whether the passage could be remembered weeks later even without daily exposure to it," Krueger said. "This could have implications to those preterm infants who are born before 37 weeks of age and the impact an intervention such as their mother's voice may have on influencing better outcomes in this high-risk population."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on the human brain.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, July 22, 2014...

Genes May Be Key to Language Delay in Kids
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Twins' genes may play a greater role in language delay than their environment, according to a new study.

Researchers found more evidence that language traits, such as vocabulary, putting words together and grammar, were largely inherited.

The study involving 473 sets of twins revealed that the "twinning effect" (a lower level of language performance for twins than single-born children) was greater for identical twins than non-identical twins.

"This finding disputes hypotheses that attribute delays in early language acquisition of twins to mothers whose attention is reduced due to the demands of caring for two toddlers," explained the study author Mabel Rice, a University of Kansas distinguished professor. "This should reassure busy parents who worry about giving sufficient individual attention to each child."

The twins involved in the study were followed from birth until 2 years old. They were also compared to single-born children. None of the children had a disability that would affect their language development.

Language delay means children are not using the number of words or combining two or more words into sentences in a way that is expected for their age and gender.

Besides vocabulary, the researchers also took children's early grammatical skills into account, such as their use of the past tense and the "to be" and "to do" verbs.

After two years, 47 percent of the identical twins and 31 percent of the non-identical twins had language delays.

The researchers also found that 71 percent of the twins were not combining words by age 2, compared to 17 percent of the single-born children.

Overall, the twins had double the rate of language delay compared to the single-born children, according to the study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

With funding from the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the study authors will continue to follow the twins until at least 2017. By examining their performance from preschool through elementary school, they plan to determine if "late talkers" eventually catch up to other kids their age who did not have a language delay.

In addition to language tests, the researchers collected genetic and environmental data on the twins. They also assessed the twins' brothers and sisters.

"Twin studies provide unique opportunities to study inherited and environmental contributions to language acquisition," said Rice. "The outcomes inform our understanding of how these influences contribute to language acquisition in single-born children, as well."

Although genetics accounted for roughly 43 percent of the overall twins' deficit, the researchers said premature birth and delivery complications -- sometimes associated with language delay -- are more common among identical twins.

While the study showed an association between having an identical twin and greater language delays, the study was not designed to prove cause-and-effect.

More information

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association provides more on language delay.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: University of Kansas, news release, July 21, 2014...

Most Adults Are Members of 'Clean Plate Club'
July 25, 2014

 

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Unlike children, the vast majority of adults finish all of the food they put on their plate at mealtime, according to a new study.

This is true for adults from much of the world -- not just Americans, researchers from Cornell University revealed.

They noted their findings could help those trying to lose weight or improve their eating habits make better choices.

"If you put it on your plate, it's going into your stomach," researcher Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, said in a university news release. "Just knowing that you're likely to consume almost all of what you serve yourself can help you be more mindful of appropriate portion size."

The findings were recently published in the International Journal of Obesity.

The researchers analyzed almost 1,200 diners in eight different countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Taiwan, Korea, Finland, and the Netherlands. Despite differences in gender and geography, the result after each meal was almost always a clean plate. The average adult eats 92 percent of what is on his or her plate.

"Part of why we finish most of what we serve is because we are aware enough to know how much we'll want in the first place," said study co-author Katherine Abowd Johnson of Cornell University in the news release.

Although adults are likely to clean their plates, the same is not true for kids. After analyzing 326 participants younger than 18 years, the researchers found the average child only eats about 59 percent of what is on his or her plate.

"This might be because kids are less certain about whether they will like a particular food," added Wansink. "Regardless, this is good news for parents who are frustrated that their kids don't clean their plate. It appears few of them do."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on how to improve your eating habits.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, July 23, 2014 ...

Health Highlights: July 25, 2014
July 25, 2014

 

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

CDC Resumes Transfer of Biological Samples Between Labs

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that it would allow the first transfer between its labs of potentially hazardous biological material since a ban on such shipments was put in place earlier this month.

The ban followed revelations of recent incidents involving mishandling of potentially dangerous samples of anthrax, botulism bacteria and the H5N1 flu virus, the Washington Post reported.

So far, resumption of sample transfers is only happening at the CDC's tuberculosis laboratory, and involves the movement of inactivated TB bacteria to lower-level CDC labs for DNA analysis, according to an agency statement. The ban is still in place at the agency's other laboratories, pending a safety review, according to CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

In addition, the CDC has also appointed an 11-member external laboratory safety group to advise CDC officials on what safety improvements are needed at agency labs, the Post reported.

On Tuesday, the director of the CDC laboratory implicated in the anthrax incident, Michael Farrell, tendered his resignation, Skinner announced.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


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