Balanced nutritional supplement promotes growth in children

By jeremyc | October 31, 2014

According to a new study, a balanced intake of nutritional health supplements can promote weight and height gain in lean pre-pubertal children diagnosed with idiopathic short stature.

The study was led by Moshe Phillip of the Children’s Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tikva. Phillip said, “This magnitude of improvement in height approaches the successful first year minimal response to growth hormone treatment (height-SDS of 0.3) expected in idiopathic short stature.”

For this study, 171 participating children were given a supplement that had 25 percent of their recommended fat and calorie daily intake. It was high in proteins and contained 47 percent of recommended mineral, vitamin and carbohydrate intake.

Over the six-month period of the study, children who took half or more of the prescribed supplement amount achieved an average increase of 0.12 in their height standard deviation score (SDS). On the other hand, those who took less than half of the prescribed amount had no SDS change from baseline.

The children were 3-9 years old and 80 of them took the supplement and 91 took the placebo. They were all in or below the 10th height and weight percentile. The researchers said that their study results suggest growth without an obesogenic effect. They said, “We assume that the clinical effect should be even more pronounced in other areas of the world where the food supply is limited.”

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Schizophrenia patients have below par physical health management

By jeremyc | October 30, 2014

A new England and Wales national audit has found that schizophrenia patients have below-par physical ailment diagnosis and treatment.

Mike Crawford of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK said that this may be due to a confusion regarding who is responsible for psychiatric patients’ physical health.

The auditors said, “During the pilot phase of the audit, it became clear that many trusts did not keep up-to-date records of physical health monitoring and that responsibility for monitoring the health of people with schizophrenia often lay with the patient’s primary care team.”

They suggested that secondary health care services should be responsible for physical health for the six months after anti-psychotic medication is prescribed or majorly altered. After this six-month period, primary care physicians must be responsible for the patients’ physical health.

The audit looked 5,091 patients, out which 10.7 percent had a physical condition that impacted daily activities to a moderate or severe level. Among the patients, 47 percent had checks on cholesterol levels and 87.3 percent had checks on smoking status over the last 12 months. Also, 21.6 percent had all nine NIHCE-recommended indicators recorded.

Among the patients that underwent checks, 7.6-50.6 percent of them required intervention as per records. A total of 72-73.1 percent of these patients received intervention for substance abuse, alcohol consumption and body mass index. However, just 19.9 percent received intervention for cholesterol.

Nevertheless, of the 2,323 patients, 82 percent said that their physical health was being taken seriously, despite the fact that most of them did not recall going through a physical health check in the last 12 months. Crawford said, “At present it seems that most people with schizophrenia believe that their physical healthcare is being properly attended to, whereas the results of this audit show that it is not.”

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Trans fat consumption declines in Minneapolis

By jeremyc | October 29, 2014

Although still higher than dietary guidelines, a study found that trans fat consumption has declined in a an area in Minneapolis. Trans fat consumption is known to increase heart problem risk.

The study was done by Mary Ann Honors, PhD, and colleagues recruited 12,526 residents of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in Minnesota. A total of 12,526 participants from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Minnesota were part of this study.

The researchers tracked what and how much fat was consumed by participants during 1980-2009. They compared this to fat intake levels recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the US Department of Agriculture. They said, “Overall, the results of the present study demonstrate encouraging trends, but offer evidence that current dietary recommendations for fatty acid intake are not being met in this population.”

On analysis, the researchers found that trans fat intake fell 32 percent in men and 35.9 percent in women, but it was still higher than the guidelines. The researchers suggested opting for leaner cuts of meat and fruit instead of fattier cuts and cookies or cake, respectively. They also suggested reading nutritional labels.

The researchers tracked omega-3 fatty acid intake as well, but there was no significant difference in its consumption. These fatty acids are known to improve blood pressure and therefore health. Mackerel, salmon and other fatty fish are rich in this fatty acid.

The overall share of fat in meals eaten fell from 38.7 percent to 33.3 percent. The guidelines, however, recommend a share of 20-35 percent. The researchers said, “This research could have implications for future dietary recommendations and public health strategies aimed at improving the American diet for cardiovascular disease prevention.”

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Rates of type 1 diabetes remains flat among children aged 4 years or less

By jeremyc | October 28, 2014

According to a new study, the rate of type 1 diabetes did not increase among the white non-Hispanic children aged 4 years or less. However, the rate of this disease did rise among older youth during 2002-2009. Type 1 or juvenile diabetes is a common diabetes form seen in children.

The study was led by Jean M. Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation.

Lawrence said, “We have been seeing more children being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes over the 8 years of this study and these children will require specialized health care as they enter young adulthood.”

For this study, the researchers used data on 5,842 white non-Hispanic children under 20 years of age who had been diagnosed with the condition. In 2002, they found that the 24.4 cases were diabetic among 100,000. This rate rose to 27.4 cases per 100,000 by 2009, with a year-on-year rise of 2.72 percent.

The rate of increase was 2.84 percent for boys and 2.57 percent for girls. Cases rose significantly among children in the age ranges of 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 years. However, they did not rise for children aged 4 years or less.

Lawrence said, “Our findings indicate that the rates of type 1 diabetes in youth are increasing. These trends will continue to be monitored in the U.S. by the SEARCH study to help identify trends in type 1 diabetes in non-Hispanic white youth and youth from other racial and ethnic groups, and to identify potential causes of these increases.”

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Chronic disease increase mental health problem risk

By jeremyc | October 27, 2014

A new study suggests that asthma, diabetes and other chronic diseases may increase the risk of mental health problems in patients.

The study was led by Gina M. Piane, DrPH, MPH, of National University in San Diego. Data on 39,954 participants in the 2009 California Health Interview Survey was analyzed for this study. The researchers looked at patients who had reported one or more chronic conditions, including heart disease, asthma, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. They also looked at patients who had psychiatric impairment or distress.

On analysis, the researchers found that several groups had a greater risk of psychiatric impairment or distress. These groups included chronic disease patients, obese patients, binge drinkers, smokers and women. They particularly found that chronic disease patients had a 1.5 times greater risk of psychological impairment or distress than patients without chronic diseases. The risk increased with every additional chronic disease, with patients diagnosed with four such diseases having 4.68 times the risk of psychiatric impairment or distress.

Women too had a 1.5 times greater risk of psychiatric impairment or distress, and smokers had a 1.95 times greater risk. The researchers noted, “Further research is needed to identify ways to integrate mental health and chronic disease prevention in primary care.”

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New York City doctor tests positive for Ebola

By jeremyc | October 26, 2014

A doctor who turned from West Africa to New York City has been tested positive for Ebola. Craig Spencer, the 33-year-old doctor who returned from West Africa after treating Ebola patients, was placed in isolation at Bellevue Hospital, New York City.

Health officials have since begun searching for people who came into contact with the doctor after his return. They have identified at least three such people, who have also been placed in isolation. These people include Spencer’s two friends and fiance.

The doctor’s diagnosis is the fourth Ebola case diagnosed in the US. The Ebola outbreak is still going strong in West Africa. Spencer was in Sierra Leone, treating patients struck by the disease. He returned on 17 October 2014 and since then he had been checking his temperature for signs of fever two times a day.

Spencer was transported to the Bellevue Hospital through a highly-trained care unit. A New York City health department representative said, “The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim.”

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FDA approves Obizur for hemophilia A-related bleeding episodes in adults

By jeremyc | October 25, 2014

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug called Obizur for the treatment of bleeding episodes in acquired hemophilia A, a rare form of hemophilia.

Karen Midthun, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, “The approval of this product provides an important therapeutic option for use in the care of patients with this rare disease.”

Acquired hemophilia A is a potentially fatal bleeding disorder in which blood does not clot corretly. Obizor works with another blood clot-aiding protein to fight this disorder. It was tested in a trial where 29 adult hemophilia A patients took part, and the trial proved successful.

No safety concerns were found by the FDA in the drug, which is manufactured by pharmaceuticals company Baxter Healthcare.

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Regular doctor visits linked to lower blood pressure

By jeremyc | October 24, 2014

According to a recent study, high blood pressure patients who visited their doctor a minimum of two times a year were more likely to have their blood pressure in control. Also, patients who underwent high cholesterol treatment and had health insurance had a greater chance of keeping their blood pressure in check.

The study was led by Brent M. Egan, MD of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville. Data on 12,262 high blood pressure patients was taken from the 1999-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

On analysis of the data, the researchers found that those who visited their doctor two or more times a year were 3.2 times more likely to have lower blood pressure than those people who visited their doctor fewer times. Also, the obese patients were more likely to keep their blood pressure low because doctors prescribed pressure reduction medicine faster for these patents, according to the researchers.

The researchers noted that obese people can also reduce their blood pressure by loosing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. Also, they found that the number of people having high blood pressure did not change, but more people were being treated for it.

Jeffrey Schussler, MD, interventional cardiologist at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, gave his views on the study. He said, “This study, by Egan et al, suggests that in the last few years, improvement in the nation’s health has flattened. It seems as though patients who were more compliant (both with medical therapy and with visiting their doctors) did better. We’re seeing lack of improvement in other areas. This may be due to the obesity epidemic that we’re facing in this country.”

Schussler is not associated with this study.

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Bariatric surgery may be linked to severe headaches

By jeremyc | October 23, 2014

A new study has found that bariatric surgery may be linked to a greater risk of severe side effects due to spontaneous intracranial hypotension. Bariatric surgery is performed for weight loss.

The study was led by Wouter I. Schievink, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and it found that patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension were more likely to have undergone bariatric surgery than patients with unruptured intracranial aneurysms.

Spontaneous intracranial hypotension is the leakage of spinal cord and brain fluid, which results in severe headaches. Unruptured intracranial aneurysm is a neurological condition where the brain’s blood vessels swell up and fill with flood.

For this study, the researchers looked at 338 patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension and 245 unruptured intracranial aneurysm patients. They found that 3.3% of the first group had undergone bariatric surgery, as compared to 0.8% of the second group’s patients.

The researchers called for further researchers to understand and confirm the findings of the study. They suggested that this potential look may be due to several factors, like the effect that weight loss has on brain pressure and the malnutrition that may occur after surgery.

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Dopamine receptor agonists may be linked to pathological impulse control disorder

By jeremyc | October 22, 2014

According to a new study, dopamine receptor agonists may be associated to pathological impulse control disorders like compulsive shopping, gambling and hyper-sexuality.

Dopamine agonists are a type of medication prescribed for treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms. This new study confirms several previous reports with similar conclusions. The authors called for warnings of these side effects on the medications.

The study was led by Thomas J. Moore, AB, of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Alexandria, Virginia. A total of 2.7 million reports of adverse medication events within and outside the US was reviewed. Out of these reports, 1,580 events were indications of an impulse control disorder, with 628, 465 and 202 cases being that of pathological gambling, hyper-sexuality and compulsive shopping, respectively.

Of the events, around 45% were linked to dopamine receptor agonists. The patients were an average of 55 years of age and two-thirds of them were male. The study looked at six dopamine agonists in particular- pramipexole, apomorphine, ropinirole, cabergoline and rotigotine.

The researchers said, “Our findings confirm and extend the evidence that dopamine receptor agonist drugs are associated with serious impulse control disorders. The effects were seen for all six dopamine receptor agonist drugs.”

They added that none of the six FDA-approved medications had boxed warnings indicating a link with impulse control disorders. “Our data, and data from prior studies, show the need for these prominent warnings,” the researchers said.

The researchers recommended the FDA to make the boxed warnings a requirement for manufacturers and advised that doctors prescribing these medications monitor their patients for such disorders.

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