Brawn matters: Stronger adolescents, teens have less risk of diabetes, heart disease

Adolescents with stronger muscles have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to a new study that examined the influence of muscle strength in sixth grade boys and girls.Stronger kids also have lower body mass index (weight to height ratio), lower percent body fat, smaller waist circumferences, and higher fitness levels, according to the study that appears in Pediatrics.Researchers analyzed health data for more than 1,400 children ages 10 to 12, including their percent body fat, glucose level, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglycerides (a type of fat, or lipid, which may increase risk of heart disease). Those with greater strength-to-body-mass ratios — or pound-for-pound strength capacities — had significantly lower risks of heart disease and diabetes.”It’s a widely-held belief that BMI, sedentary behaviors and low cardiovascular fitness levels are linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but our findings suggest muscle strength possibly may play an equally important role in cardiometabolic health in children,” says lead author Mark D. Peterson, Ph.D, M.S., research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School.The study’s corresponding author was Paul M. Gordon, Ph.D., M.P.H, who is a Professor at Baylor University in Texas. Gordon suggests that strengthening activities may be equally important to physical activity participation.The research is based on data from the Cardiovascular Health Intervention Program (CHIP), a study of sixth graders from 17 mid-area Michigan schools between 2005 and 2008.Participants were tested for strength capacity using a standardized handgrip strength assessment, which is recently recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Researchers also measured cardiorespiratory fitness — how well the body is able to transport oxygen to muscles during prolonged exercise, and how well muscles are able to absorb and use it.The study is believed to be the first to show a robust link between strength capacity and a lower chance of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke (cardiometabolic risk) in adolescents, even after controlling for the influence of BMI, physical activity participation, and cardiorespiratory fitness.”The stronger you are relative to your body mass, the healthier you are,” Peterson says. “Exercise, sports, and even recreational activity that supports early muscular strength acquisition, should complement traditional weight loss interventions among children and teens in order to reduce risks of serious diseases throughout adolescence.”Previous, large-scale studies have found low muscular strength in teen boys is a risk factor for several major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Fewer children at risk for deficient vitamin D

Under new guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, the estimated number of children who are at risk of having insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D is drastically reduced from previous estimates, according to a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study.The study, led by Holly Kramer, MD, MPH, and Ramon Durazo-Arvizu, PhD, is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism.New Institute of Medicine guidelines say most people get sufficient vitamin D when their blood levels are at or above 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The Pediatric Endocrine Society has a similar guideline. However, other guidelines recommend vitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL.Loyola researchers studied vitamin D data from a nationally representative sample of 2,877 U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.The study found that under the Institute of Medicine guidelines, 10.3 percent of children ages 6 to 18 are at risk of inadequate or deficient vitamin D levels. (This translates to an estimated 5.5 million children.)By comparison, a 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics, which defined sufficient vitamin D levels as greater than 30 ng/mL, found that an estimated 70 percent of people ages 1 to 21 had deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels.Under previous guidelines, millions of children who had vitamin D levels between 20 and 30 ng/mL would have needed supplementation. Under the Institute of Medicine guidelines, children in this range no longer need to take vitamin D supplements.The new study found that children at risk of vitamin D deficiency under the Institute of Medicine guidelines are more likely to be overweight, female, non-white and between the ages of 14 and 18.The Institute of Medicine’s new vitamin D guidelines are based on nearly 1,000 published studies and testimony from scientists and other experts. The IOM found that vitamin D is essential to avoid poor bone health, such as rickets. But there have been conflicting and mixed results in studies on whether vitamin D can also protect against cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Moreover, excessive vitamin D can damage the kidneys and heart, the IOM found.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Life lessons: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games

Children who repeatedly play violent video games are learning thought patterns that will stick with them and influence behaviors as they grow older, according to a new study by Iowa State University researchers. The effect is the same regardless of age, gender or culture. Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, says it is really no different than learning math or to play the piano.”If you practice over and over, you have that knowledge in your head. The fact that you haven’t played the piano in years doesn’t mean you can’t still sit down and play something,” Gentile said. “It’s the same with violent games — you practice being vigilant for enemies, practice thinking that it’s acceptable to respond aggressively to provocation, and practice becoming desensitized to the consequences of violence.”Researchers found that over time children start to think more aggressively. And when provoked at home, school or in other situations, children will react much like they do when playing a violent video game. Repeated practice of aggressive ways of thinking appears to drive the long-term effect of violent games on aggression.”Violent video games model physical aggression,” said Craig Anderson, Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State and co-author of the report. “They also reward players for being alert to hostile intentions and for using aggressive behavior to solve conflicts. Practicing such aggressive thinking in these games improves the ability of the players to think aggressively. In turn, this habitual aggressive thinking increases their aggressiveness in real life.”The study followed more than 3,000 children in third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades for three years. …

Read more

Guns Loom Large in Childhood Death Statistics

You can’t go more than a couple of months without seeing another news headline about a school shooting, or a shooting incident involving a child. While these stories are shocking, school shootings account for only a small number of the gun-related injuries and fatalities that children suffer every year as a result of gunshots. In fact, most gun injuries happen in the home and at the hands of other children who had no intention of hurting anybody.Children and Gun DeathsAccording to a recent study presented to a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 500 children die every year from gunshot wounds. That number represents a 60 percent increase in a single decade. Handguns, by far, account for the most injuries and deaths. Over 80 percent of all children who are injured by firearms suffer injuries inflicted by handguns.The study looked at data compiled between 1997 and 2009. In 1997, 4,270 children under the age of 20 suffered a gunshot injury. By 2009, that number increase to 7,730, a jump of about 55 percent. Further, 317 children died of gunshot injuries in 1997, while 503 died of such injuries in 2009.Disproportionate DangerOther studies have shown that gunshots pose a disproportionately high fatality risk to children. Even though gunshot wounds account for only 1% of the total number of injuries children suffer each year, they account for 21% of deaths that result from childhood injury.When a child is shot, that child has a 32% chance of requiring major surgery. …

Read more

Child ADHD stimulant medication use leads to BMI rebound in late adolescence

A new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that children treated with stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experienced slower body mass index (BMI) growth than their undiagnosed or untreated peers, followed by a rapid rebound of BMI that exceeded that of children with no history of ADHD or stimulant use and that could continue to obesity.The study, thought to be the most comprehensive analysis of ADHD and stimulant use in children to date, found that the earlier the medication began, and the longer the medication was taken, the slower the BMI growth in earlier childhood but the more rapid the BMI rebound in late adolescence, typically after discontinuation of medication. Researchers concluded that stimulant use, and not a diagnosis of ADHD, was associated with higher BMI and obesity. The study was published in Pediatrics.”Our findings should motivate greater attention to the possibility that longer-term stimulant use plays a role in the development of obesity in children,” said Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, and Medicine at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “Given the dramatic rise in ADHD diagnosis and stimulant treatment for it in recent decades, this is an interesting avenue of research regarding the childhood obesity epidemic, because the rises in each of these roughly parallel one another.”Previous research has found substantial evidence that stimulant use to treat ADHD is associated with growth deficits, and some evidence of growth delays. However, the reported associations of ADHD with obesity in both childhood and adulthood was paradoxical and somewhat unexplained. The results of this study suggest it is likely due to the strong influence that stimulants have on BMI growth, with delays in early childhood and a strong rebound in late adolescence. The study also found longitudinal evidence that unmedicated ADHD is associated with higher BMIs, but these effects were small.ADHD is one of the most common pediatric disorders, with a 9% prevalence among children in the U.S., and ADHD medication is the second most prescribed treatment among children. Over the past 30 years, treatment for ADHD with stimulants has increased rapidly. From 2007 to 2010, 4.2.% of children under age 18 had been prescribed stimulants in the past 30 days, more than five times the amount prescribed to the same-aged children between 1988 and 1984.The study analyzed the electronic health records of 163,820 children, ages 3 to 18, in the Geisinger Health System, a Pennsylvania-based integrated health services organization. …

Read more

New guidelines employ a team approach to autism diagnosis, care

Improving diagnosis and treatment for individuals with autism has been the focus of a growing body of research. New information from these studies led the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to revise key parameters for evaluating and treating autism. Researchers led by Yale Child Study Center director Fred Volkmar, M.D., have published the new practice parameters in the Feb. issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.”Early diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorders means treatments will be introduced that lead to more positive outcomes for children,” said Volkmar the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at the Yale School of Medicine.According to the parameters, clinicians should routinely look for symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in young children undergoing developmental assessments, and in all psychiatric evaluations. If significant symptoms are detected, clinicians should then coordinate a careful medical, psychological, and communication evaluation. These evaluations should differentiate between autism and a variety of developmental and other disorders, as well as intellectual and behavioral disabilities.”Our goal was advocacy for individuals with autism and their families, and to ensure that services are coordinated across clinical care,” said Volkmar. “Our field is changing rapidly, and these parameters are meant to promote effective care and move professional medical methods closer to current practices.”Volkmar and his co-authors reviewed abstracts from 9,481 research articles on autism that were published between 1991 and 2013. They then fully studied 186 of those articles based on their quality and ability to be applied more generally.”Treatment should involve a team approach,” said Volkmar, who notes that under these treatment parameters, psychiatrists will closely coordinate diagnosis and treatment with teachers, behavioral psychologists, and speech and language pathologists, and look for commonly occurring conditions.A key addition to the new parameters is a focus on how clinicians should address the use of non-traditional therapies, like chelation and secretin. Clinicians are urged to ask families if they are using alternative/complementary treatments and to discuss the therapies’ risks and potential benefits. …

Read more

Role of infliximab examined in treating Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki Disease (KD) is a severe childhood disease that many parents, even some doctors, mistake for an inconsequential viral infection. If not diagnosed or treated in time, it can lead to irreversible heart damage.Signs of KD include prolonged fever associated with rash, red eyes, mouth, lips and tongue, and swollen hands and feet with peeling skin. The disease causes damage to the coronary arteries in a quarter of untreated children and may lead to serious heart problems in early adulthood. There is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki disease, and current treatment fails to prevent coronary artery damage in at least one in 10 to 20 children and death in one in 1,000 children.Between 10 and 20 percent of patients with KD experience fever relapse following the standard therapy with a single infusion of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and aspirin. It is known that IVIG resistance increases the risk of heart damage, most commonly a ballooning of the coronary arteries called aneurysms. These children require additional therapy to interrupt the inflammatory process that can lead to damage of the coronary arteries.A study led by physicians at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego looked at intensification of initial therapy for all children with KD in order to prevent IVIG-resistance and associated coronary artery abnormalities by assessing the addition of the medication infliximab to current standard therapy. The results of their study will be published in the February 24, 2014 online issue of the medical journal Lancet.Tumor necrosis factor &alpha (TNF&alpha) is a molecule made by the body that plays a role in the development of inflammation in KD; therefore, treatment with a TNFa antagonist is a logical therapeutic intervention, according to the researchers. Early experience with infliximab — a monoclonal antibody that binds TNFa — showed promising results. A Phase 1 trial in children with KD and persistent fever following standard therapy found no infusion reactions or serious adverse events, and subsequent studies suggested that infliximab led to faster resolution of fever and fewer days of hospitalization than a second IVIG infusion.The UC San Diego researchers conducted a trial of 196 subjects at two centers — Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, a research affiliate of UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio — to assess whether infliximab could reduce IVIG treatment resistance.”While the addition of infliximab to primary treatment in acute KD did not reduce treatment resistance, it was safe and well-tolerated, achieved a greater reduction in the size of the left coronary artery, and reduced the number of days of fever and laboratory markers of inflammation,” said the study’s first author, Adriana H. Tremoulet, MD, of the UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics and the UC San Diego/Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Kawasaki Disease Research Center. …

Read more

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. …

Read more

Does the term ‘research-based’ keep parents in the dark?

Does applying the term ‘research-based’ to parental advice automatically provide a stamp of authority? A commentary paper published in the Journal of Children and Media suggests that parents and caregivers are frequently misled into an ‘ignorance trap’ by recommendations which are based on ill-informed research.The risk of ambiguous parental advice is a hazard across health and education journalism, but seems to particularly affect the reporting on media and children. Parents are faced with making sense of increasingly intricate research findings and so are becoming ever-more reliant on advice provided by bloggers and reporters. Meanwhile, new ways for children to use digital media arrive every year, and so clear guidance and advice is imperative to support parents in their choices.The commentary names one particular example of a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which contained advice relating to children’s use of social networking sites. The report contained reference to the phrase ‘Facebook depression’, an expression which was quickly picked up by the press and used with the cachet of a real medical term. Stories on this phenomenon appeared across newspapers and television channels worldwide, despite not being based on any real evidence. The commentary finds that the citations actually originated from a first person account in a school newspaper, and from two websites names Trend Hunter and Science a Go Go. None of the citations referred to any research showing that social media use causes depression. Yet, because of the reputation and authority of the AAP, the one small mention of ‘Facebook depression’ has had a large impact.Guernsey suggests that both reporters and professional organizations have a responsibility to communicate clear and transparent advice to parents. Reporters need to gain an understanding of how research works and professional organisations need to be able to back up their statements with carefully reviewed research. …

Read more

Mood-stabilizing drug could treat inherited liver disease, study shows

Opening up a can of worms is a good way to start hunting for new drugs, recommend researchers from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In a study published today in the Public Library of Science One, they used a primitive worm model to show that a drug typically used to treat agitation in schizophrenia and dementia has potential as a treatment for α-1 antitrypsin (AT) deficiency, an inherited disease that causes severe liver scarring.In the classic form of AT deficiency, which affects 1 in 3,000 live births, a gene mutation leads to production of an abnormal protein, dubbed ATZ, that unlike its normal counterpart is prone to clumping, explained David H. Perlmutter, M.D., physician-in-chief and scientific director, Children’s Hospital, and Distinguished Professor and Vira I. Heinz Endowed Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine.”These protein aggregates accumulate in liver cells and eventually lead to scarring of the organ or to tumor formation,” Dr. Perlmutter said. “If we could find a drug that slows or stops this process, we might be able to prevent the need for liver transplantation in these patients.”To find that drug, Dr. Perlmutter’s team worked with Pitt’s Stephen Pak, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, and Gary Silverman, M.D., Ph.D., Twenty-five Club Professor of Pediatrics, Cell Biology and Physiology, who developed a model of AT deficiency in Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans, a harmless microscopic worm or nematode typically found in soil. Previous experiments conducted by Drs. Pak and Silverman, in which more than 2,000 compounds were screened, showed that fluphenazine, a drug approved for human use as a mood stabilizer, could reduce ATZ accumulation in the worm, so the team studied it further.Worms that produce ATZ die sooner than normal ones, which typically have a life span of fewer than 20 days. …

Read more

Parents want e-mail consults with doctors, but don’t want to pay for them

Oct. 21, 2013 — Most parents would love to get an e-mail response from their kids’ health care provider for a minor illness rather than making an office visit, but about half say that online consultation should be free, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.In the poll this month, 77 percent of parents said they would be likely to seek email advice for their children’s minor illness if that service were available. Only 6 percent of parents said they could currently get that e-mail advice from their child’s health care provider.Parents in the poll reported a range of co-pays charged for office visits, from nothing to $30 per visit. But about half of those polled felt any charge for an e-mail consultation should be less than that of an office visit. And 48 percent of those polled felt an online consultation should be free.The poll surveyed 1,420 parents with a child aged 0 to 17 years old.”Most parents know it can be inconvenient to schedule and get to an office visit for a sick child. An email consultation would prevent the hassles of scheduling and allow sick children to remain at home. Email also could be available after hours when their caregiver’s office is closed, says Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H. , associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and associate research scientist in the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics.”But many health care providers don’t have co-pays established for this kind of consultation, so we decided to ask parents what they think.”Clark says the results of this poll mirror concerns that health care providers have expressed about email consultation. …

Read more

Action is needed now to lower the content of aluminium in infant formulas

Oct. 10, 2013 — New research from Keele University shows that infant formulas are still heavily contaminated with aluminium.In 2010 the group at Keele, headed by Professor Chris Exley, published a paper showing that the aluminium content of infant formulas was too high (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/10/63).The Keele group has now followed up this research with an even more extensive study looking at the 30 most popular brands of infant formula in the United Kingdom.The results show high levels of aluminium in each of the 30 infant formulas.In the publication the aluminium content of the infant formulas are listed from lowest to highest so that parents might choose to use a product with the lowest content of aluminium.Professor Exley said: “Clearly the manufacturers of infant formulas are not concerned about reducing their content of aluminium and the extensive use of aluminium-based packaging for infant formulas seems to confirm this.”There are no adequate criteria upon which to base a safety level for aluminium in infant formulas and for this reason it would be sensible to take action to reduce the level of aluminium to a lowest practicable level.”Since manufacturers are not willing to address the aluminium content of infant formulas it must now be time for the government, through the Food Standards Agency, to provide guidance on this matter and to indicate a maximum allowable concentration, for example, 50 ppb (50 mg/L) aluminium in the product at point of use, as a precautionary step to protect infants against chronic aluminium intoxication during the earliest weeks, months and years of their lives.”The new paper is published by BMC Pediatrics.

Read more

Innovative ‘pay for performance’ program improves patient outcomes

Sep. 10, 2013 — Paying doctors for how they perform specific medical procedures and examinations yields better health outcomes than the traditional “fee for service” model, in which everyone gets paid a set amount, according to new research conducted by UC San Francisco and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.”Pay for performance’ programs shift the focus from basic care delivery to high quality care delivery,” said first author Naomi Bardach, MD, assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Pediatrics. “So they are designed to incentivize people to improve care.”In a study scheduled to be published on Sept. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Bardach and her colleagues tested a tiered pay for performance program at physicians’ offices in New York City with high proportions of Medicaid patients. The program rewarded physicians successful in preventive health care to reduce long-term risks of heart attack and stroke — for instance, in blood pressure control and aspirin prescription for those who need it.The innovative “pay for performance” model they tested rewarded physicians for every single patient who did well, and paid extra for “high-risk” patients who were difficult to treat based on co-morbidities such as diabetes or coronary artery disease or socioeconomic factors (uninsured and Medicaid patients).”The worry about pay for performance programs that pay only if physicians meet the quality target, is that the financial incentive discourages physicians from caring for more complicated patients,” said Bardach. “This program did not penalize physicians for patients they were caring for whose blood pressure might be more difficult to control than others, for medical or for socio-economic reasons. It also recognized, through higher payments, the additional work it might take.”Improvements with Incentivized Patient GroupIn this randomized clustered controlled study conducted from April 2009 through March 2010, improvements in the incentivized group compared to the control group ranged two-fold to eight-fold (9.7 percent versus 4.3 percent, and 9 percent versus 1.2 percent). With the help of electronic medical record data, researchers examined 7,634 patients (4,592 in the incentivized group and 3,042 in the control group) for this study.”The numbers are meaningful because the rates of blood pressure control were so low to begin with, for instance, only 10 to 16 percent of patients with diabetes had normal blood pressure control, so an improvement of even 5 percent of patients is relatively quite large,” Bardach said. This is a high-risk population for heart attack and stroke and so getting their blood pressure under control will make a difference.”While the findings are encouraging, Bardach said further research is needed to determine whether or not this trend can continue over time since these pay for performance programs are intended to remain in place for more than a year.”The hope is to study this over a longer time period, since the goal of health care is to improve long-term outcomes among our patient population,” she said.Bardach is the first author of the paper. Co-authors include Jason J. …

Read more

Peering into genetic defects, scientists discover a new metabolic disease

Sep. 5, 2013 — An international team of scientists, including University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado researchers, has discovered a new disease related to an inability to process Vitamin B12.The disorder is rare but can be devastating.”Some people with rare inherited conditions cannot process vitamin B 12 properly,” says CU researcher Tamim Shaikh, PhD, a geneticist and senior author of a paper about the new disease. “These individuals can end up having serious health problems, including developmental delay, epilepsy, anemia, stroke, psychosis and dementia.”The discovery is important because it could help doctors diagnose the disease and, eventually, could lead to prevention or treatment. But there is more to the story than that.A 9-year-old Colorado boy named Max Watson, who because of his metabolic disease uses a computer to communicate, was the first patient in whom this discovery was made.His older sister Abbey, 15, volunteered in the CU lab that helped achieve this medical breakthrough.His parents cooperated with the study knowing that the results likely would not help their son but might help future patients.The discovery, published today in The American Journal of Human Genetics, illustrates the complex and relatively new realm of medical discovery where researchers peer into the genetic make-up of patients to discern what went wrong to cause a disease.Vitamin B 12 also is called cobalamin. The new disease is called cobalimin X, or cblX.Obtained from foods such as milk, eggs, fish and meat, B 12 is essential to human health because it helps the body convert food into fuel. It’s vital to the nervous system and for making red blood cells.Max was born with symptoms that looked like he had a B 12 problem called cobalamin C deficiency or cblC for short, which, like its newly discovered counterpart, can show up in utero.The gene for cblC had been discovered by researchers who studied several hundred patients with similar symptoms. A few of those patients, however, did not have the genetic mutation that that was common to the cblC patients. And some, like Max, had symptoms that didn’t quite match up.”We knew from early on that something was unusual about this patient,” says Johan Van Hove, MD, a CU professor in the Department of Pediatrics, who saw Max when the boy was just a few months old.Max was labeled as having cblC — but Van Hove and others on a team of metabolism experts at Children’s Hospital Colorado had their doubts. Some of Max’s symptoms seemed too severe for that diagnosis.So Shaikh, an associate professor in the medical school’s pediatrics department, and CU colleagues, used what is called next generation genetic sequencing to delve into Max’s DNA. They also looked at genes of patients who didn’t fit the cobalamin C model, obtained from partners at the National Institutes of Health, and in Canada and Switzerland.All of those patients carried mutations that hadn’t been identified before. …

Read more

Why energy drinks are harming children, adolescents

Sep. 4, 2013 — Parents beware. If your tots and teens get their hands on your energy drinks, they could experience seizures, heart palpitations or other problems that drive them to the hospital emergency room.Children most at risk appear to be those who regularly consume the increasingly popular caffeine-laden energy drinks or gulp down a relatively large amount of the liquid in a short span, according to Rutgers University’s poison control experts.”These drinks are made for adults. When young children drink them, they consume a large quantity of caffeine for their body mass. At the minimum, they become wired — just as an adult would — and it might be difficult for parents to console them or calm them down,” says Bruce Ruck, director of drug information and professional education for the New Jersey Poison Information & Education System (NJPIES) at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark. “Children also might have trouble falling asleep or experience tremors, anxiety, agitation, heart palpitations, nausea or vomiting. Of more concern, they may experience a rapid heart rate or seizures.”Parents need to be aware of the risks and treat these drinks as they would a medication. Store them on a high shelf, away from view. If they have teenagers, they should monitor their exposure,” Ruck adds.Energy drinks also pose hazards to adolescents, especially when mixed with alcohol or punishing workouts. Steven Marcus, the executive and medical director of NPIES, emphasizes that teens and young adults are inherently risk takers. …

Read more

Collagen patch speeds repair of damaged heart tissue in mice

Aug. 29, 2013 — You can’t resurrect a dead cell anymore than you can breathe life into a brick, regardless of what you may have gleaned from zombie movies and Dr. Frankenstein. So when heart cells die from lack of blood flow during a heart attack, replacing those dead cells is vital to the heart muscle’s recovery.But muscle tissue in the adult human heart has a limited capacity to heal, which has spurred researchers to try to give the healing process a boost. Various methods of transplanting healthy cells into a damaged heart have been tried, but have yet to yield consistent success in promoting healing.Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have developed a patch composed of structurally modified collagen that can be grafted onto damaged heart tissue. Their studies in mice have demonstrated that the patch not only speeds generation of new cells and blood vessels in the damaged area, it also limits the degree of tissue damage resulting from the original trauma.The key, according to Pilar Ruiz-Lozano, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, is that the patch doesn’t seek to replace the dead heart-muscle cells. Instead, it replaces the epicardium, the outer layer of heart tissue, which is not muscle tissue, but which protects and supports the heart muscle, or myocardium.”This synthetic tissue has the mechanical properties of the embryonic epicardium,” said Ruiz-Lozano, who is the senior author of a study that describes the researchers’ findings. The study will be published online Aug. 29 in Biomaterials. Vahid Serpooshan, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in cardiology, is the lead author.Embryonic epicardium is significantly more flexible than adult epicardium, but more rigid and structured than existing materials, making it more conducive to growth of new tissue. …

Read more

Mountain high: Genetic adaptation for high altitudes identified

Aug. 15, 2013 — Research led by scientists from the University of California, San Diego has decoded the genetic basis of chronic mountain sickness (CMS) or Monge’s disease. Their study provides important information that validates the genetic basis of adaptation to high altitudes, and provides potential targets for CMS treatment. It will be published online August 15 in advance of print in the September 5 issue of American Journal of Human Genetics.More than 140 million people have permanently settled on high-altitude regions, on continents ranging from African and Asia to South America. The low-oxygen conditions at such high altitudes present a challenge for survival, and these geographically distinct populations have adapted to cope with hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen in the blood.Interestingly, many humans living at high elevations, particularly in the Andes mountain region of South America, are maladapted and suffer CMS. The disease is characterized by an array of neurologic symptoms, including headache, fatigue, sleepiness and depression. Often, people with CMS suffer from strokes or heart attacks in early adulthood because of increased blood viscosity (resistance to blood flow that can result in decreased oxygen delivery to organs and tissues). Past studies of various populations show that CMS is common in Andeans, occasionally found in Tibetans and absent from Ethiopians living on the East African high-altitude plateau.Therefore, the researchers dissected the genetic mechanisms underlying high-altitude adaptation by comparing genetic variation between Peruvian individuals from the Andes region with CMS and adapted subjects without CMS, using whole genome sequencing.They identified two genes, ANP32D and SENP1, with significantly increased expression in the CMS individuals when compared to the non-CMS individuals, and hypothesized that down-regulating these genes could be beneficial in coping with hypoxia.”While a number of published articles have described an association between certain genes and the ability for humans to withstand low oxygen at high levels, it was very hard to be sure if the association was causal,” said principal investigator Gabriel G. Haddad, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief and Chief Scientific Officer at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, a research affiliate of UC San Diego.The researchers therefore looked at genetic orthologs – corresponding gene sequences from another species, in this case the fruit fly – to assess the impact of observed genetic changes on function under conditions of hypoxia.”We found that flies with these genes down-regulated had a remarkably enhanced survival rate under hypoxia,” said Haddad.According to the scientists, their findings have important implications – not only for those who live at high altitudes, but also in treating certain cardiovascular and brain diseases related to low oxygen levels in individuals living at any altitude.Next steps include whole genome sequencing for the almost 100 remaining patient samples to test if biomarkers exist to predict CMS. The researchers also retrieved skin samples from these individuals, which can be reprogramed into induced pluripotent stem cells. …

Read more

ADHD and texting found to significantly impair teenage driving

Aug. 12, 2013 — ADHD and texting both significantly impair driving performance among teenagers, according to a study published online today in JAMA Pediatrics.Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center used a driving simulator to test the driving performance of 16- and 17-year-old drivers; approximately half of the study’s 61 participants had been diagnosed with ADHD, the other half had not. During the 40-minute driving simulation, researchers measured the speed and lane position of the young drivers as they texted and talked on the phone.Texting significantly affected drivers’ speed and lane position for all study participants and further increased the risk for drivers with ADHD, according to researchers.”Texting is especially dangerous because it involves visual, manual and cognitive distractions,” said senior author Jeffery N. Epstein, PhD, director of the Center for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder at Cincinnati Children’s. “Those are the very kinds of distractions that lead to car accidents.”The study found that even when no distractions were present, drivers with ADHD demonstrated significantly more variability in speed and lane position than did teens without ADHD. Researchers report texting added to existing ADHD driving impairments, essentially doubling the amount of time kids with and without ADHD strayed from their lane.The Cincinnati Children’s study is believed to be the first to investigate the effects of texting on the driving performance of adolescent drivers with ADHD.”Teens as a group are already at increased risk of distracted driving accidents. Now we know that an ADHD diagnosis and texting while driving increase those risks,” added Dr. Epstein. “Our results demonstrate the need for increased education and enforcement of regulations against texting while driving for this age group.”

Read more

School lunch and TV time linked with childhood obesity

Aug. 12, 2013 — Among middle-school children, the behaviors most often linked with obesity are school lunch consumption and two hours or more of daily TV viewing, according to a new look at the dramatic increase in childhood obesity.The findings by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center will be published in the September issue of Pediatrics.While some habits were the same for all overweight and obese children, the study found some gender differences in the habits influencing body weight.Data from 1,714 sixth grade students enrolled in Project Healthy Schools showed girls who drank two servings of milk each day were less likely to be obese, and boys who played on a sports team were also at a healthier weight.”Additional work is needed to help us understand the beneficial impact of improving school lunches and decreasing screen time,” says cardiologist and senior study author Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. “Presumably playing video games, or watching TV replaces physical activity.”Students enrolled in sixth grade at 20 schools in the southeastern Michigan communities of Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Owosso were eligible for participation in this study. The median age was 11.Obese boys and girls had poor cardiovascular profiles with lower HDL-cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher blood pressure and higher heart rate recovery — indicating a lower level of fitness — compared to normal weight kids.”Cardiovascular disease doesn’t just start in adulthood, and there may be factors that could help us identify during youth or adolescence who might be at increased risk for developing health problems later on,” Jackson says.Other studies have linked eating school lunch with obesity, but a major issue with such studies, Jackson says, is the influence of socioeconomic status. Poor children eligible for free or reduced school lunch may already be overweight, considering the link between obesity and lower socioeconomic status.”Although we were not able to examine the specific nutritional content of school lunches, previous research suggests school lunches include nutrient-poor and calorie-rich foods,” Jackson says.The University of Michigan study adds a new element in the fight to reduce childhood obesity by providing a real-world view of the gender differences in obesity risk factors.Milk consumption seemed to protect girls from obesity, but made no difference for boys. A possible explanation would be a reduction in sugary drinks, which girls replaced with milk.In the study, 61 percent of obese boys and 63 percent of obese girls reported watching television for two or more hours a day. The assumption is watching television mediates physical activity, but there were gender differences in how children spent their so-called “screen time.”When asked, obese girls were more likely than any other group to use a computer. Obese boys reported playing video games more often than normal weight boys, although the association was not as strong as in other studies.”We did not find a significant association between time spent playing video games and obesity among boys, which has been observed in other studies,” says study lead author Morgen Govindan, an investigator with the Michigan Cardiovascular Research and Reporting Program at the U-M. “Although we saw a similar trend, the association was not as strong perhaps due to our smaller sample size.”She adds: “Exploring such gender-related differences in a larger group may help in refining the interventions to promote weight loss and prevent obesity among middle school children.”The Project Healthy Schools program is designed to teach sixth graders heart-healthy lifestyles including eating more fruits and vegetables, making better beverage choices, engaging in 150 minutes of exercise per week, eating less fast food and less fatty foods, plus reducing time spent in front of computer and video game screens.

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close