2 weeks since last chemo and feeling good!

I have turned the corner and feel normal again! I am back doing what I enjoy in life and have energy combined with stamina …. well for a couple of hours at a time anyway!!It has taken 2 weeks since my last chemotherapy to actually feel any energy and where breathing is less restricted/shallow.Congrats to Steve and Linda Wride in UK – today Steve celebrates 5 years since he was diagnosed – no doubt a very special celebration dinner is planned!Mavis Nye another beautiful and brave Mesothelioma warrior in the UK has started on a new trial today. Sending positive vibes to Mavis and others who are undertaking this trial now or very shortly.Rohan who has just had extensive Mesothelioma surgery in Sydney, NSW is coming out …

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£6.7 Million Compensation for NHS Medical Mistakes

Home » No Win No Fee » Latest Personal Injury News » 2014 » 7 » £6.7 Million Compensation for NHS Medical Mistakes£6.7 Million Compensation for NHS Medical MistakesA 12-year-old boy is to receive medical negligence compensation after errors by hospital staff left him with serious brain injuries.On a morning in September 2006, the child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth with stomach pains.Staff at the hospital failed to spot that the child, who was aged four at the time, was displaying signs of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.As a result, he did not get the required treatment on time and he suffered a cardiac arrest, which led to him experiencing significant brain damage and serious disabilities.The boy’s family therefore took legal action against Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the organisation that runs St Mary’s Hospital.A medical negligence compensation settlement in the amount of £6.7 million has now been agreed. This compensation will be used to fund the child’s extensive and long-term care needs, such as round-the-clock assistance and specialist technology to enable him to communicate.The boy will receive £3.2 million compensation in a lump sum up front, while he will be paid £265,000 compensation every year until he is 18. The compensation payments will then rise to £305,000 per annum for the rest of his life.Hospital Trust ApologisesPortsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has issued a formal apology to the boy and his family for the medical mistakes that were made at St Mary’s Hospital eight years ago. A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed that since liability was resolved in 2012, each party has been working together to agree a suitable compensation package.This was designed with the intention of both compensating the boy and his parents and providing them with adequate financial security for the future.The spokesperson said, “The Trust can confirm that a medical negligence compensation settlement has been reached in this case and that this has been approved by the Court. The Trust wishes them well.”Doctors ‘Should Have Listened’Speaking after the compensation settlement was agreed, the boy’s parents said that doctors should have listened to the concerns they had raised about the condition of their son.In a statement, they insisted that if this had been done, this “tragic” event “would have been easily avoided”. The parents have therefore urged other mothers and fathers to trust their instincts if their child is not well.”If you believe that something is wrong, then insist that action is taken by the doctors,” they commented. “Nothing will ever make up for the life that has been taken away from him.”The boy’s parents said their son’s life has been “completely ruined”, as his condition means he will miss out on a whole host of experiences. For instance, they stated that he will never be able to play on a beach, kick a football around with his friends, or attend his school prom.The parents went on to note that their son and his “enormous daily battle” have proved to be a source of inspiration to everybody that knows or has met him.”This is an absolute tragedy caused by medical mistakes that should never have happened,” they added.By Francesca WitneyOr Call freephone 0800 884 0321SHARE THIS

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Common blood thinner for pregnant women proven ineffective

It’s a daily injection to the belly for pregnant women at risk of developing blood clots and it’s ineffective, according to a clinical trial led by researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and published today by the medical journal The Lancet.As many as one in 10 pregnant women have a tendency to develop blood clots in their veins, a condition called thrombophilia. For two decades these women have often been prescribed the anticoagulant low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) to prevent pregnancy complications caused by placental blood clots. This treatment requires women to give themselves daily injections — a painful and demoralizing process that requires women to poke their abdomen with hundreds of needles over the course of their pregnancy.Now, a randomized clinical trial led by Dr. Marc Rodger, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute who heads up the Thrombosis Program of The Ottawa Hospital, provides conclusive evidence that the commonly prescribed LMWH anticoagulant has no positive benefits for the mother or child. In fact, Dr. Rodger’s study shows that LMWH treatments could actually cause pregnant women some minor harm by increasing bleeding, increasing their rates of induced labour and reducing their access to anesthesia during childbirth.”These results mean that many women around the world can save themselves a lot of unnecessary pain during pregnancy,” says Dr. Rodger, who is also a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. “Using low molecular weight heparin unnecessarily medicalizes a woman’s pregnancy and is costly.”Since the 1990s, using LMWH to treat pregnant women with a tendency to develop blood clots became commonplace, despite the fact that a large, multi-site randomized clinical trial had never been conducted to prove its effectiveness. Low molecular weight heparin is also prescribed by many physicians worldwide to women, with and without thrombophilia, to prevent placenta blood clots that may lead to pregnancy loss, as well as preeclampsia (high blood pressure), placental abruption (heavy bleeding) and intra-uterine growth restrictions (low birth weight babies). The anticoagulant LMWH is also prescribed to prevent deep vein thrombosis (leg vein blood clots) and pulmonary embolisms (lung blood clots).”While I wish we could have shown that LMWH prevents complications, we actually proved it doesn’t help,” adds Dr. …

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Ceremonial PTSD therapies favored by Native American veterans

Native American veterans battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder find relief and healing through an alternative treatment called the Sweat Lodge ceremony offered at the Spokane Veterans Administration Hospital.In the Arizona desert, wounded warriors from the Hopi Nation can join in a ceremony called Wiping Away the Tears. The traditional cleansing ritual helps dispel a chronic “ghost sickness” that can haunt survivors of battle.These and other traditional healing therapies are the treatment of choice for many Native American veterans, — half of whom say usual PTSD treatments don’t work — according to a recent survey conducted at Washington State University. The findings will be presented at the American Psychological Association conference in Washington D.C. this August.The study is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nativeveterans.Led by Greg Urquhart and Matthew Hale, both Native veterans and graduate students in the College of Education, the ongoing study examines the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of Native American veterans concerning PTSD and its various treatment options. Their goal is to give Native veterans a voice in shaping the types of therapies available in future programs.”Across the board, Native vets don’t feel represented. Their voices have been silenced and ignored for so long that they were happy to provide feedback on our survey,” said Hale.Historically, Native Americans have served in the military at higher rates than all other U.S. populations. Veterans are traditionally honored as warriors and esteemed in the tribal community.A 2012 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that the percentage of Native veterans under age 65 outnumbers similar percentages for veterans of all other racial groups combined.The WSU survey provides a first-hand look at the veterans’ needs, but more importantly, reveals the unique preferences they have as Native American veterans, said Phyllis Erdman, executive associate dean for academic affairs at the college and mentor for the study.Cultural worldviewUrquhart said many Native veterans are reluctant to seek treatment for PTSD because typical western therapy options don’t represent the Native cultural worldview.”The traditional Native view of health and spirituality is intertwined,” he explained. “Spirit, mind, and body are all one — you can’t parcel one out from the other — so spirituality is a huge component of healing and one not often included in western medicine, although there have been a few studies on the positive effects of prayer.”For many years, the U.S. government banned Native religious ceremonies, which subsequently limited their use in PTSD programs, said Urquhart. …

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Epigenetic changes can drive cancer, study shows

Cancer has long been thought to be primarily a genetic disease, but in recent decades scientists have come to believe that epigenetic changes — which don’t change the DNA sequence but how it is ‘read’ — also play a role in cancer. In particular DNA methylation, the addition of a methyl group (or molecule), is an epigenetic switch that can stably turn off genes, suggesting the potential to cause cancer just as a genetic mutation can. Until now, however, direct evidence that DNA methylation drives cancer formation was lacking.Researchers at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital have now created a mouse model providing the first in vivo evidence that epigenetic alterations alone can cause cancer. Their report appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.”We knew that epigenetic changes are associated with cancer, but didn’t know whether these were a cause or consequence of cancer. Developing this new approach for ‘epigenetic engineering’ allowed us to test whether DNA methylation changes alone can drive cancer,” said Dr. Lanlan Shen, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor and senior author of the study.Shen and colleagues focused on p16, a gene that normally functions to prevent cancer but is commonly methylated in a broad spectrum of human cancers. They devised an approach to engineer DNA methylation specifically to the mouse p16 regulatory region (promoter). As intended, the engineered p16 promoter acted as a ‘methylation magnet’. As the mice reached adulthood, gradually increasing p16 methylation led to a higher incidence of spontaneous cancers, and reduced survival.”This is not only the first in vivo evidence that epigenetic alteration alone can cause cancer,” said Shen. “This also has profound implications for future studies, because epigenetic changes are potentially reversible. …

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Two breath compounds could be associated with larynx cancer

Participants exhaled into tedlar bags after fasting for more than eight hours.Credit: SINC[Click to enlarge image]Researchers at the Rey Juan Carlos University and the Alcorcn Hospital (Madrid) have compared the volatile substances exhaled by eleven people with cancer of larynx, with those of another twenty healthy people. The results show that the concentrations of certain molecules, mainly ethanol and 2-butanone, are higher in individuals with carcinoma, therefore they act as potential markers of the disease.Human breath contains thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and some of them can be used as non-invasive biomarkers for various types of head and neck cancers as well as cancer of the larynx.This was shown in the experiment carried out by scientists from the Rey Juan Carlos University (URJC) with 31 volunteers: 20 healthy subjects (half of which are smokers) and 11 with cancer of the larynx in various phases of the disease and who are being treated in the Alcorcn Hospital in Madrid.The results, published in the journal Chromatographia, reveal that the air exhaled by the more seriously ill patients – in a stage called T3 – contains different concentrations of seven compounds compared with the levels of healthy people or even those with a less developed tumour (T1).Specifically, in the graphics of individuals with advanced cancer, the peaks that represent ethanol (C2H6O) and 2-butanone (C4H8O) are particularly significant. These two compounds therefore become potential markers of laryngeal carcinoma.”At the moment it is still a preliminary study and a wider sample has to be obtained,” Rafael Garca, professor of Chemical Engineering at the URJC and co-author of the study told SINC, “but it is a step in the right direction, an alternative with regard to identifying biomarkers, not only for this type of cancer but for other more prevalent and serious ones such as lung cancer, where early detection is key”.As part of the experiment, the researchers asked the participants to breathe into tedlar bags after fasting for at least eight hours so there was no leftover food or drink on their breath.The samples were then analysed with solid phase micro-extraction, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, which enable very small amounts of a substance to be separated and identified. The concentrations are around or slightly above the equipment’s detection limits (40 nanograms/mL), which is equivalent to 40 ppb or parts per billion.The ultimate aim of the research is to “create an electronic nose that can be used in hospitals and health centres for the early detection of these types of diseases,” concluded Rafael Garca. This team, together with other Spanish and foreign research groups, is working hard to develop sensors capable of detecting diseases through breath analysis.Head and neck cancers represent between 5% and 10% of all malignant tumours currently diagnosed in Spain. Every year nearly half a million new cases are detected worldwide, mainly attributed to tobacco and alcohol use and approximately 90% are laryngeal cancer. The study also identified four markers in the exhaled breath that are typical of smokers, such as benzene and furfural.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Journal Reference:Rafael A. Garca, Victoria Morales, Sergio Martn, Estela Vilches, Adolfo Toledano. Volatile Organic Compounds Analysis in Breath Air in Healthy Volunteers and Patients Suffering Epidermoid Laryngeal Carcinomas. …

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Almost half of homeless men had traumatic brain injury in their lifetime

Almost half of all homeless men who took part in a study by St. Michael’s Hospital had suffered at least one traumatic brain injury in their life and 87 per cent of those injuries occurred before the men lost their homes.While assaults were a major cause of those traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, (60 per cent) many were caused by potentially non-violent mechanisms such as sports and recreation (44 per cent) and motor vehicle collisions and falls (42 per cent).The study, led by Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic, a clinical researcher in the hospital’s Neuroscience Research Program, was published today in the journal CMAJ Open.Dr. Topolovec-Vranic said it’s important for health care providers and others who work with homeless people to be aware of any history of TBI because of the links between such injuries and mental health issues, substance abuse, seizures and general poorer physical health.The fact that so many homeless men suffered a TBI before losing their home suggests such injuries could be a risk factor for becoming homeless, she said. That makes it even more important to monitor young people who suffer TBIs such as concussions for health and behavioural changes, she said.Dr. Topolovec-Vranic looked at data on 111 homeless men aged 27 to 81 years old who were recruited from a downtown Toronto men’s shelter. She found that 45 per cent of these men had experienced a traumatic brain injury, and of these, 70 per cent were injured during childhood or teenage years and 87 per cent experienced an injury before becoming homeless.In men under age 40, falls from drug/alcohol blackouts were the most common cause of traumatic brain injury while assault was the most common in men over 40 years old.Recognition that a TBI sustained in childhood or early teenage years could predispose someone to homelessness may challenge some assumptions that homelessness is a conscious choice made by these individuals, or just the result of their addictions or mental illness, said Dr. Topolovec-Vranic.This study received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.Separately, a recent study by Dr. Stephen Hwang of the hospital’s Centre for Research on Inner City Health, found the number of people who are homeless or vulnerably housed and who have also suffered a TBI may be as high as 61 per cent — seven times higher than the general population.Dr. Hwang’s study, published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, is one of the largest studies to date investigating TBI in homeless populations. …

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Green tea extract boosts your brain power, especially the working memory, new research shows

Green tea is said to have many putative positive effects on health. Now, researchers at the University of Basel are reporting first evidence that green tea extract enhances the cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. The Swiss findings suggest promising clinical implications for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia. The academic journal Psychopharmacology has published their results.In the past the main ingredients of green tea have been thoroughly studied in cancer research. Recently, scientists have also been inquiring into the beverage’s positive impact on the human brain. Different studies were able to link green tea to beneficial effects on the cognitive performance. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this cognitive enhancing effect of green tea remained unknown.Better memoryIn a new study, the researcher teams of Prof. Christoph Beglinger from the University Hospital of Basel and Prof. Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics found that green tea extract increases the brain’s effective connectivity, meaning the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another. This effect on connectivity also led to improvement in actual cognitive performance: Subjects tested significantly better for working memory tasks after the admission of green tea extract.For the study healthy male volunteers received a soft drink containing several grams of green tea extract before they solved working memory tasks. …

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Morning rays keep off pounds

A surprising new strategy for managing your weight? Bright morning light.A new Northwestern Medicine study reports the timing, intensity and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight — the first time this has been shown.People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day, the study found. (BMI is a ratio calculated from a person’s weight and height.)”The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower individuals’ body mass index,” said co-lead author Kathryn Reid, research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI.”The influence of morning light exposure on body weight was independent of an individual’s physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or season. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person’s BMI.”Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” said study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. “The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.” About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI.Zee is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep and Circadian Rhythms Research Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She also is a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.”If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain,” Zee said. …

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Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to preterm birth

Antidepressant medications taken by pregnant women are associated with increased rates of preterm birth. This finding reinforces the notion that antidepressants should not be used by pregnant women in the absence of a clear need that cannot be met through alternative approaches, say researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University, MetroWest Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center.”Preterm birth is a major clinical problem throughout the world and rates have been increasing over the past two decades. At the same time, rates of antidepressant use during pregnancy have increased approximately four-fold,” says lead author Krista Huybrechts, MS PhD, from the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Therefore it is essential to determine what effects these medications have on pregnancy.”Huybrechts and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies that evaluated women who took antidepressants during pregnancy and had information on gestational age at birth. The results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE.”We studied 41 papers on this topic and found that the available scientific evidence is becoming clearer that antidepressant use in pregnancy is associated with preterm birth,” says senior author Adam Urato, MD, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at Tufts Medical Center and MetroWest Medical Center. “The complication of preterm birth did not appear to be due to the maternal depression but rather it appears likely to be a medication effect.””Several of the studies in this review controlled for maternal depression and these studies continued to show increased rates of preterm birth in the antidepressant exposed pregnancies,” adds Reesha Shah Sanghani MD, MPH, from Vanderbilt University.”It is important to keep in mind, however, that the issue of treatment of depression during pregnancy is complex and that there are many factors to consider. Pregnant women and their providers need to weigh many issues,” says Urato. “It is crucial, though, that the public gets accurate information on this topic.”Rates of preterm birth have been increasing over the past two decades and it is a major public health concern. Children born preterm have higher infant mortality rates than full-term babies and surviving infants are at increased risk of health problems ranging from neurodevelopmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy and intellectual delays to other chronic health problems like asthma. Costs to society have been estimated to be as high as $26.2 billion per year in the US.Of the 41 studies which the authors reviewed, the majority showed increased rates of preterm birth in patients taking antidepressants. …

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Light-activated antimicrobial surface that also works in the dark: World’s first

Researchers at UCL have developed a new antibacterial material which has potential for cutting hospital acquired infections. The combination of two simple dyes with nanoscopic particles of gold is deadly to bacteria when activated by light — even under modest indoor lighting. And in a first for this type of substance, it also shows impressive antibacterial properties in total darkness.The research, from by Sacha Noimark and Ivan Parkin (both UCL Chemistry) and Elaine Allan (UCL Eastman Dental Institute), is published today in the journal Chemical Science.Hospital-acquired infections are a major issue for modern medicine, with pathogens like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) getting extensive publicity. Although medical establishments have stringent cleaning policies, insist on frequent hand-washing by staff, and have powerful drugs at their disposal, it is difficult to eliminate these infections unless you can make the hospital environment more hostile to microbes. Surfaces, such as door handles, medical equipment, keyboards, pens and so on are an easy route for germs to spread, even onto freshly-cleaned hands.One possible solution to this is to develop alternative strategies such as antibacterial coatings that make surfaces less accommodating to germs. These surfaces are not like antibacterial fluids that just wash away — the goal is to make a surface which is intrinsically deadly to harmful bacteria.”There are certain dyes that are known to be harmful to bacteria when subjected to bright light,” explains the study’s corresponding author Ivan Parkin (Head of UCL Chemistry). “The light excites electrons in them, promoting the dye molecules to an excited triplet state and ultimately produces highly reactive oxygen radicals that damage bacteria cell walls. Our project tested new combinations of these dyes along with gold nanoparticles, and simplified ways of treating surfaces which could make the technology easier and cheaper to roll out.”The team, tested several different combinations of the dyes crystal violet (already used to treat staph infections), methylene blue and nanogold, deposited on the surface of silicone. This flexible rubbery substance is widely used as a sealant, a coating and to build medical apparatus such as tubes, catheters and gaskets, and can also be used as protective casings for things like keyboards and telephones.While work to create antimicrobial surfaces in the past has often concentrated on complex ways of bonding dyes to the surface, this study took a simpler approach. …

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Blood poisoning increases the risk of blood clots, new research shows

Every year, almost 10,000 Danes are admitted to hospital with blood poisoning, while more than 3,000 patients become infected while they are hospitalized. New research shows that Danes suffering from blood poisoning risk an extra challenge in the form of an increased risk of suffering a blood clot:”We have followed more than 4,000 people who have been admitted with blood poisoning. The study shows that the risk of suffering a blood clot in either the brain or the heart is twice as high for patients with blood poisoning in relation to other patients who are also admitted with acute illnesses,” says Michael Dalager-Pedersen , PhD student at Aarhus University and Registrar at Aalborg University Hospital. He has carried out the study in collaboration with colleagues from Aarhus University, Aarhus University Hospital, and Aalborg University Hospital.The risk of a blood clot was highest within the first 30 days after the infection, where the risk was 3.6 percent against 1.7 percent for the other acutely admitted patients, and only 0.2 percent among the population in general.The study has just been published in Circulation.In recent years there has been a growing level of interest for the correlation between the risk of blood clots and infections such as blood poisoning. The researchers hope that the new knowledge can be utilized to ensure better prevention and earlier treatment. “It is important that we have now documented that there is a clear correlation between blood poisoning and blood clots. The new knowledge can be used by the medical doctors to increase focus on this patient group so they can begin relevant treatment quicker,” says Reimar Wernich Thomsen from the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital.He explains that the correlation may, among other things, be due to the fact that the blood clots arise due to the increased strain on the heart and blood vessels that the infection causes.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Aarhus University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Healthy eating may reduce the risk of preterm delivery

In the study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the participants completed a scientifically evaluated questionnaire about what they had been eating and drinking since becoming pregnant.The researchers also had access to information about the women’s general lifestyle e.g. level of education, living conditions, income, weight, physical activity, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, number of children and medical factors such as history of preterm delivery.15% lower riskThe results show that the group of women with the ‘healthiest’ pregnancy diet had a roughly 15% lower risk of preterm delivery compared with those with the most unhealthy diet. The correlation remained after controlling for ten other known risk factors for preterm delivery.’Pregnant women have many reasons to choose a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and some types of fish, but this is the first time we can statistically link healthy eating habits to reduced risk of preterm delivery,’ says Linda Englund-gge, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.Associated with complicationsPreterm delivery, defined as spontaneous or induced delivery before the end of gestational week 37, can be associated with acute and long-term complications and is a major problem in modern maternity care. Measures to prevent preterm delivery are therefore of high priority.Should this lead to revised dietary recommendations for pregnant women?’No, and it is not harmful to occasionally eat something unhealthy. But our study shows that the dietary recommendations given to pregnant women are important,’ says Englund-gge:’Dietary studies can be very complex. Any given food item may contain a wide range of substances and is usually consumed together with other foods. This makes it difficult to find out its exact effects of one single food. We show that there is a statistically established link between a healthy diet and reduced risk of preterm delivery, but our study wasn’t designed to identify any underlying mechanisms.Encourage healthy eating habitsEnglund-gge says that studies of the overall dietary pattern and the total quality of the foods consumed are important complements to coming studies of how single food items affect the risk of preterm delivery. The researchers are hoping that the study will inspire doctors, midwives and others who work with pregnant women to encourage healthy eating habits.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. The original article was written by Krister Svahn. …

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Pre-term birth leads to increased risk of asthma, wheezing disorders

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with investigators at the Maastricht University Medical Centre and Maastricht University School of Public Health in the Netherlands and The University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, have published findings strongly suggesting that preterm birth (prior to 37 weeks gestation) increases the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood and that the risk of developing these conditions increases as the degree of prematurity increases.The findings are based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of 30 studies that investigated the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders among 1.5 million children. These studies were conducted between 1995 and the present, a time span chosen to allow for recent changes in the management of prematurity.Across the studies, 13.7 percent of preterm babies developed asthma/wheezing disorders compared with 8.3 percent of babies born at term, representing a 70 percent increased risk. Children born very early (before 32 weeks gestation) had approximately three times the risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders compared with babies born at term.”Worldwide, more than 11 percent of babies are born preterm,” said Aziz Sheikh, MD, corresponding author and Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “As asthma is a chronic condition, our findings underscore the need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders in order to develop preventive and therapeutic interventions.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Vinegar kills tuberculosis, other mycobacteria

The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, can effectively kill mycobacteria, even highly drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers from Venezuela, France, and the US reports in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.Acetic acid might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria.Work with drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria carries serious biohazard risks. Chlorine bleach is often used to disinfect TB cultures and clinical samples, but bleach is toxic and corrosive. Other effective commercial disinfectants can be too expensive for TB labs in the resource-poor countries where the majority of TB occurs.”Mycobacteria are known to cause tuberculosis and leprosy, but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment, even in tap water, and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants. When they contaminate the sites of surgery or cosmetic procedures, they cause serious infections. Innately resistant to most antibiotics, they require months of therapy and can leave deforming scars.” says Howard Takiff, senior author on the study and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation (IVIC) in Caracas.”Many cosmetic procedures are performed outside of hospital settings in developing countries, where effective disinfectants are not available.” Takiff says, “These bacteria are emerging pathogens. How do you get rid of them?”While investigating the ability of non-TB mycobacteria to resist disinfectants and antibiotics, Takiff’s postdoctoral fellow, Claudia Cortesia stumbled upon vinegar’s ability to kill mycobacteria. Testing a drug that needed to be dissolved in acetic acid, Cortesia found that the control, with acetic acid alone, killed the mycobacteria she wanted to study.”After Claudia’s initial observation, we tested for the minimal concentrations and exposure times that would kill different mycobacteria,” says Takiff. Since the Venezuelan lab does not work with clinical TB, collaborators Catherine Vilchze and William Jacobs, Jr. at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York tested TB strains and found that exposure to a 6% solution of acetic acid for 30 minutes effectively kills tuberculosis, even strains resistant to almost all antibiotics.Said another way, exposure to 6% acetic acid, just slightly more concentrated than supermarket vinegar, for 30 minutes, reduced the numbers of TB mycobacteria from around 100 million to undetectable levels.During a sabbatical in Laurent Kremer’s laboratory at the University of Montpellier 2 in France, Takiff tested how effective acetic acid was against M. abscessus, one of the most resistant and pathogenic of the non-TB mycobacteria.M. …

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Continuous handling of receipts linked to higher urine BPA levels

Study participants who handled receipts printed on thermal paper continuously for 2 hours without gloves had an increase in urine bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations compared to when they wore gloves, according to a study in the February 26 issue of JAMA.Human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has been associated with adverse health outcomes, including reproductive function in adults and neurodevelopment in children exposed shortly before or after birth. “Exposure to BPA is primarily through dietary ingestion, including consumption of canned foods. A less-studied source of exposure is thermal receipt paper, handled daily by many people at supermarkets, ATM machines, gas stations, and other settings,” according to background information in the article. Thermal paper has a coating that is sensitive to heat, which is used in the process of printing on the paper, and has been shown to be transferred to skin with handling.Shelley Ehrlich, M.D., Sc.D., M.P.H., of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues conducted a study to examine the effect of handling thermal receipts on urine BPA levels. The authors recruited 24 volunteers who provided urine samples before and after handling (with or without gloves) of receipts printed on thermal paper for a continuous two hours. BPA was detected in 83 percent (n = 20) of urine samples at the beginning of the study and in 100 percent of samples after handling receipts without gloves. The researchers observed an increase in urinary BPA concentrations after continuously handling receipts for 2 hours without gloves, but no significant increase when the participants used gloves.The clinical implications of the height of the peak level and of chronic exposure are unknown, but may be particularly relevant to populations with occupational exposure such as cashiers, who handle receipts 40 or more hours per week, the authors write. “A larger study is needed to confirm our findings and evaluate the clinical implications.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by The JAMA Network Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Premature infants benefit from adult talk, study shows

Research led by a team at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University has been published in the February 10, 2014 online edition of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.The research indicates that premature babies benefit from being exposed to adult talk as early as possible.The research, entitled “Adult Talk in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) with Preterm Infants and Developmental Outcomes,” was led by Betty Vohr, MD, director of Women & Infants’ Neonatal Follow-Up Program and professor of pediatrics, along with her colleagues Melinda Caskey, MD, neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics; Bonnie Stephens, MD, neonatologist, developmental and behavioral pediatrician, and assistant professor of pediatrics; and Richard Tucker, BA, senior research data analyst.The goal of the study was to test the association of the amount of talking that a baby was exposed to at what would have been 32 and 36 weeks gestation if a baby had been born full term, using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd Edition (Bayley — III) cognitive and language scores.It was hypothesized that preterm infants exposed to higher word counts would have higher cognitive and language scores at seven and 18 months corrected age.”Our earlier study identified that extremely premature infants vocalize (make sounds) eight weeks before their mother’s due date and vocalize more when their mothers are present in the NICU than when they are cared for by NICU staff,” explained Dr. Vohr.At 32 weeks and 36 weeks, staff recorded the NICU environment for 16 hours with a Language Environment Analysis (LENA) microprocessor. The adult word count, child vocalizations and “conversation turns” (words of mother or vocalizations of infant within five seconds) between mother and infant are recorded and analyzed by computer.”The follow-up of these infants has revealed that the adult word count to which infants are exposed in the NICU at 32 and 36 weeks predicts their language and cognitive scores at 18 months. Every increase by 100 adult words per hour during the 32 week LENA recording was associated with a two point increase in the language score at 18 months,” said Dr. Vohr.The results showed the hypothesis to be true. Dr. Vohr concluded, “Our study demonstrates the powerful impact of parents visiting and talking to their infants in the NICU on their developmental outcomes. Historically, very premature infants are at increased risk of language delay.The study now identifies an easy to implement and cost effective intervention — come talk and sing to your baby — to improve outcomes.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Women & Infants Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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In-hospital formula use deters breastfeeding

When mothers feed their newborns formula in the hospital, they are less likely to fully breastfeed their babies in the second month of life and more likely to quit breastfeeding early, even if they had hoped to breastfeed longer, UC Davis researchers have found.”We are a step closer to showing that giving formula in the hospital can cause problems by reducing how much women breastfeed later,” says Caroline Chantry, lead author and professor of clinical pediatrics at UC Davis Medical Center. “Despite being highly motivated to breastfeed their babies, in-hospital formula use limits this important practice. Given the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, this is a public health issue.””In-Hospital Formula Use Shortens Breastfeeding Duration” was published online in The Journal of Pediatrics today. The study only included women who intended to exclusively breastfeed their babies for at least a week, meaning they did not plan to use formula in the hospital.While previous studies have examined the relationship between formula use and breastfeeding, some have questioned the results, wondering if mothers using formula were simply less committed to breastfeeding. To examine this objection, the UC Davis team surveyed expectant mothers to determine their intentions toward breastfeeding and then followed them closely after delivery to see how they fared.In the study, 210 babies were exclusively breastfed in the hospital (UC Davis Medical Center), while 183 received at least some formula. Over the next two months, breastfeeding dropped dramatically in the formula group. Between the first and second month, 68 percent of the babies receiving in-hospital formula were not fully breastfed, compared to 37 percent of babies who were exclusively breastfed in the hospital. After two months, 33 percent of the formula babies were not being breastfed at all. By contrast, only 10 percent of the hospital breastfed group had stopped breastfeeding.Perhaps most significant, in-hospital formula feeding dramatically reduced the likelihood of later fully breastfeeding as well as any breastfeeding, even after adjusting for the strength of the mothers’ intention to continue these practices. Early formula use nearly doubled the risk of formula use from the first to the second month and nearly tripled the risk of ending all breastfeeding by the end of the second month.The study also found that breastfeeding deterrence was dose dependent. …

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Well-child visits linked to more than 700,000 subsequent flu-like illnesses

New research shows that well-child doctor appointments for annual exams and vaccinations are associated with an increased risk of flu-like illnesses in children and family members within two weeks of the visit. This risk translates to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses each year, costing more than $490 million annually. The study was published in the March issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.”Well child visits are critically important. However, our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals should devote more attention to reducing the risk of spreading infections in waiting rooms and clinics. Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by healthcare professionals, patients, and their families,” said Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study.Researchers from the University of Iowa used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the healthcare trends of 84,595 families collected from 1996-2008. Included in the analysis were demographic, office-based, emergency room, and outpatient cases records. After controlling for factors, such as the presence of other children, insurance, and demographics, the authors found that well-child visits for children younger than six years old increased the probability of a flu-like illness in these children or their families during the subsequent two weeks by 3.2 percentage points.This incremental risk could amount to more than 700,000 avoidable cases of flu-like illness each year and $492 million in direct and indirect costs, based on established estimates for outpatient influenza.In a commentary accompanying the study, Lisa Saiman, MD, notes, “The true cost of flu-like illnesses are much higher since only a fraction result in ambulatory visits and many more cases are likely to result in missed work or school days. Furthermore, these flu-like illness visits are associated with inappropriate antimicrobial use.”The authors stress the importance of infection prevention and control in ambulatory settings, suggesting pediatric clinics follow recommended guidelines that include improving environmental cleaning, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene compliance.”Even with interventions, such as the restricted use of communal toys or separate sick and well-child waiting areas, if hand-hygiene compliance is poor, and potentially infectious patients are not wearing masks, preventable infections will continue to occur,” said Polgreen.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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