SEARCH

Tuesday
Nov092010

Early Education Can Help Prevent Preterm Birth

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) – Women who are pregnant should discuss their risk of preterm birth by the 12th week of pregnancy, according to a commentary published in the November issue of Ob. Gyn. News.

The commentary stemmed from a study by the March of Dimes and BabyCenter that found that more than two-thirds of new or expectant mothers had not discussed the risks and consequences of preterm birth with their healthcare provider.

Preterm birth, or birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of newborn death. It can also lead to serious health challenges such as learning disabilities and cerebral palsy.

The commentary suggested that early detection can help prevent premature birth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Michigan First State to Ban 'Four Loko' Drink, Others May Follow

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More states may follow Michigan's lead in banning the popular alcoholic energy drink Four Loko after reports that dozens of college students have been hospitalized after drinking too much Four Loko. Michigan's liquor control commission banned the retail sale of all alcoholic energy drinks statewide, including Four Loko, saying the drinks "present a threat to the public health and safety."

Commonly known among college students as "blackout in a can," one can of the fruity liquor malt combines 12 percent alcohol with a kick of caffeine sized to an average cup of coffee. The contrasting effects of consuming alcohol and stimulants conceal the effects of the alcohol.

Many college campuses sent notices to students warning about the potential dangers of alcoholic energy drinks, and some campuses, such as the University of Rhode Island, have banned the drink. But now, advocates in New York and Oregon are pushing for a statewide sales ban.

The Food and Drug Administration is already investigating caffeinated alcoholic drinks, including Four Loko, and is asking for justification for putting caffeine in the beverages. Attorneys general in New York and New Jersey have also called for federal investigations following incidents involving college students in those states.

The Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania (MBDA) Tuesday also asked its members statewide to stop sale of and remove Four Loko from store shelves due to health and safety concerns.

“Until the safety questions and other concerns about Four Loko are resolved, MBDA is asking its members not to sell this item," David Shipula, MBDA President, wrote in a letter to more than 600 beer distributors. "We hope all other licensee trade associations will carefully consider this issue and advise their members also to halt sales."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Controversial Findings on U.S. Kidney Dialysis Programs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An investigation of kidney dialysis programs in the United States finds taxpayers spend more than $20 billion a year to care for kidney dialysis patients yet one in four of the 100,000 patients who starts the process every year will die within a year. 

ProPublica's look at the process finds that even when you consider differences in patients, studies suggest thousands of lives could be saved if the U.S. system functioned like ones in Italy, France or Japan.  The investigation found at clinics from coast to coast, patients routinely receive treatment under unsanitary conditions and regulators have few tools and little will to enforce quality standards. 

ProPublica claims the government has withheld critical data about clinics' performance.  The online site points out that the two corporate chains that dominate the dialysis-care system in the U.S. are consistently profitable, together raking in about $2 billion in operating profits a year.

ProPublica bills itself as an independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, stories with what it calls "moral force."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

How to Make Wise Choices About 2011 Benefits

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It is health care benefits enrollment time for many workers and experts say it's more important than ever to look carefully at your policy.

Mellody Hobson, ABC News financial contributor and president of Ariel Investments, shared some tips to keep health care costs down.

Here are Hobson's top things to keep in mind when choosing your 2011 benefits:

1. Review Your Policy: According to Hobson, it's important to keep track of changes to your policy.

"You have to understand the changes that are occurring in your health plan," she said.

One study found that one in every nine employers expects to raise their co-pay amount by more than 15 percent.

While choosing the plan with the lowest premium is acceptable if you're in good shape and not anticipating any major surgeries, Hobson said your out-of-pocket costs may be much higher and might negate the savings you had in premiums.

2. Look at Premium Options: It's important to consider the level of health coverage.

Many plans now cover only 80 percent of those costs. Plans that cover more may cost you more in premium, so Hobson suggests that make sure you compare your premium versus what your average out-of-pocket costs will be with each plan.

3. Prescription Drugs Costs: The cost of prescription drugs is also another factor to consider when choosing a plan. Many plans are requiring prescription co-pays instead of a flat fee co-pay.

For example, for one drug you may pay 30 percent of the cost while another drug may cost you 50 percent.

Hobson said when you are comparing plans, consider what drugs you use and see if your total prescription co-pay amount exceeds any premium savings you get with the plan.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Kids Working on Getting Slim, Reversing Nationwide Trend

Photo Courtesy - WJRT-TV Detroit(FLINT, Mich.) -- It's unfair and unpleasant, but often unavoidable.  The overwieght kids get picked on more often than the kids who are not perceived as chubby or out of shape.  One of them in Flint, Michigan has had enough and is taking matters into his own hands.

Eleven-year-old Justin Dennie tells WJRT-TV in Detroit he is over being overweight.  "I'm just sick of being your stereotypical overweight nerd."  He stands five-foot-six inches tall and weighs 266 pounds, about 130 pounds overweight.  He realized all by himself that he was in trouble when a video game he was playing registered a nearly 60-pound weight gain in about a five-month period.

One of the big changes he is making, with the help of his mother, who also struggles with her weight, is healthier breakfasts before school, packed lunches and trips to the gym. 

Justin is not alone.  The National Health and Nutriction Examination Survey recently found nearly 40 percent of calories taken in by children up to age 18 come from foods sure to pack on weight -- sugary drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream, pizza. 

Justin says its not just about dropping pounds.  He wants people to know him for the person he is, not, as he says, "the dorky, computer kid that doesn't really talk to many people, that just sits on the computer, plays video games."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Should the Government Pay for Costly Cancer Therapies; Debate Reignites Over New Drug

 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Government officials are reviewing Provenge, a costly new vaccine for treating prostate cancer that's stirring debates about whether cost should be considered when drugs are approved by federal health care programs, according to The Washington Post.

Provenge, approved in April, cost about $93,000 per patient and can extend a patients’ life up to four months.  The new cancer therapy is under review just as the Food and Drug Administration considers a withdrawal of approval for Avastin, another costly treatment meant for metastatic breast cancer.

For Medicare, Medicaid and the FDA, cost is not supposed to be a factor in determining approval or coverage.  However, the costly nature of these treatments has caused some alarm by officials, prompting the launch of a formal examination.

“At some point, if we keep paying these very high prices for treatments that provide very limited benefit, we’re going to reach the point where we can no longer afford health care,” Alan Garber, a Stanford University professor of medicine and economist, told The Post.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Military Deployment Stress Seeps to Children 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- A study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests children whose military parents have been deployed are more likely to suffer from behavioral or mental health disorders.

"Military deployment doesn't just affect the soldier, but it's the family back home. Not just the spouse but children, too," said Dr. Gregory Gorman, a military-based commander and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., and lead author of the study.

"We hear this anecdotally, but now medical records show that it's true."

Gorman and his colleagues tracked health claim records during 2006 and 2007 of nearly 650,000 children ages 3 to 8 and found that those with a parent deployed within the two years had an 11 percent higher rate of clinic visits because of mental health or behavioral issues than military children whose parents were not deployed. Researchers also noted the rate of visits increased as the child grew older.

Previous studies have looked at emotional and behavioral changes during one point in time. This is the first study of its kind to track children of all military branches over time, Gorman said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Study: Are Fast Food Restaurants Really Promoting Healthy Options?

Photo Courtesy - Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- How well is the effort to improve fast food and offer more healthful alternatives to kids really working? A new study by Yale University researchers is raising that question.

They say that while healthy options for kids are available, restaurant servers rarely mention them to parents.

Yale calls this new study the most comprehensive look yet at the nutritional content and marketing of fast food to kids.

The results are jarring.

Some key findings include restaurants don't guide people to healthier choices, children's exposure to fast food ads is increasing and companies actively target African American and Latino youth.

Of the more than 3,000 possible combinations of children's meals at eight different fast food restaurants, only 12 met nutrition criteria set by Yale for preschoolers and only 15 for older children.

"It's possible to get a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant but it's very difficult. You have to go in, you have to know exactly what you're looking for and you have to take the initiative to ask for it," said Marlene Schwartz, deputy director at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Researchers sent people into 250 fast food restaurants across the country and found that when customers asked for kids meals, servers offered them the choice of healthy sides like apples only six-eight percent of the time at McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.

Healthy drink alternatives like milk were offered by servers just 26-28 percent of the time at McDonald's and Burger King.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Researchers Identify Gene That Makes You Feel Tipsy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHAPEL HILL, NC) -- Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine recently discovered new information about how alcohol affects the brain. The scientific team led by Dr. Kirk Wilhelmsen uncovered a gene variant in 10 to 20 percent of the population that protects against alcoholism by making a person feel more inebriated than most after just a few drinks.   “Basically, we gave alcohol to college kids,” Wilhelmsen told the Charlotte News Observer.  He reported the discovery in the journal Alcoholism:  Clinical and Experimental Research.

The kids were pairs of siblings who had at least one alcoholic parent.  Researchers gave them alcohol then asked them how they felt, testing to see whether their level of drunkenness was linked to any specific gene. 

Researchers zeroed in on the gene that carries an enzyme that breaks down alcohol, CYP2E1.  The enzyme works in the brain, not the liver, where most alcohol gets broken down.  Wilhelmson says that means the people with the “tipsy” variant don’t act drunker  than anyone else but they do feel more intoxicated.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Drowsy Drivers Account for One in Six Deadly Car Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Falling asleep while driving is too common an occurrence, according to a government study which finds that one in every six deadly car crashes involves drivers who doze off at the wheel.  A new survey by the AAA Foundation backs these statistics, finding that 40 percent of drivers say they've fallen asleep at the wheel.

The survey also found that one in ten, or 10 percent of drivers, admit they have fallen asleep while operating their vehicles in the past year.

"Many motorists underestimate the real dangers associated with driving when they're that tired," says AAA Foundation's Peter Kissinger.  "I, for example, have in many instances when I'm at home at night watching TV and all of a sudden I wake up and I realize I missed half the show.  Now, if that were to happen when I was driving a car, the results could be catastrophic."

Kissinger advises drivers who feel tired to pull over and rest.  "As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and get some rest," he says.  "It could just save your life.  A power nap of 20-30 minutes is sufficient."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio